Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dungeon Twister Terrain

I'd like to talk - briefly - about terrain today.

See, someone did the math on my reference sheet and called me out via GeekMail:
The numbers for your Dungeon Twister File seem odd when I look at room pair 7 - it looks like you have more than 25 squares in your file!
Since I'm going to be releasing an update to it within the next two weeks, I figured it would be a good time to explain the "Rooms" tab, which appeared a few updates ago.

I don't know if anyone uses this tab or not, but I decided that I wanted a list of how much of each terrain appeared in each room. I figured it might help me gauge the usefulness of certain characters and/or help me pick a tournament force.

I ran into a problem pretty early, however. Room Pair seven has two squares that troubled me. Square #25 in Room 7A has both Mist AND Falling Rocks. Square #18 in Room 7B has Mist and a Trap.

So what do I do when there is Mist over a Trap - is it a Mist Square, a Trap Square, or both? How do I count it?

What I did instead was classify Mist as an "Overlay Terrain" - Thus, room 7A has 25 total squares - 21 of them are floor tiles, 1 Rotation Gear, 1 Trap, and 2 Falling Rocks. Of these 25 squares, nine of them are covered by Mist.

I did so with a handful of other terrains as the project went on.

I debated the Portcullises for a good long while - I ended up leaving them as a "base" terrain, rather than as a Wall Overlay. There were two reasons for this:
1) They were introduced in the base set.
2) They have their own set of markers (Open/Broken). (Okay, not really. It's because the rules for walls are not the same as the rules for portcullises - the Wall Walker can go through arrow-slits, for example, but not through Portcullises. The Golem can break walls, but not ... you get the idea.)
The Overlay Terrain Types are (in order of appearance):
Pentacle Room
Small Bridge
Wall Sconces*
Secret Passage*
Fallen Tree
Snowy Ground
Ice Bridge
Ice Mirror

Terrains marked with an asterisk (*) are wall overlays. The others are floor tile overlays.

If you do have comments or corrections to the file, please e-mail or GeekMail me. I appreciate and accept corrections (because I want the file to be perfect.

And your weekly DT1 Solo Card Update:
I have a few cards done. This isn't an easy project - especially when my goal is to have the same number of Character cards as DT2 does. For each set.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


It's that time of year, again. Essen.

Do you not know what Essen is?

It's here. For eurogamers, Essen is like GenCon for Roleplayers - all of the new games release there. It's a place I want to go. Every year.

This year, I have a personal connection to a release - Cyclades, which I had a chance to play at GenCon, will be released there.

Even more important (for me, at least): Cyclades is my wife's first print credit.

Hrm. I have personal connections to several releases:
Ghost Stories: White Moon, Werewolves of Miller's Hollow: The Village, Mr. Jack In New York, Nefertiti Expansion, Nostra citY. And, of course, the official English release of Dungeon Twister: Prison.

In fact I've seen the rules to all but two of those ...

Looking through this GeekList, it looks like the Old West is a popular theme this year. A very popular theme. The Mafia are also a popular theme. Now if only there were a way to combine them ...

And I'm seeing more and more games from Poland that catch my interest (and that of the community over at Boardgamegeek).

My goal is to, at some point, attend Essen.

We'll see how that shakes out.

Oh - and if anyone reading this is attending and feels like grabbing me a gift, I'd love to have a copy of Powerboats Expansion 1.

Next week, I may have my copy of Dungeon Twister: Prison. I'm working on trying to adapt the Solo rules to the other (already released) sets. Since the 2E cards have all the "triggers" for solo play, a copy of DT2 will still be required. I'll keep you in the loop on my progress, as there are items which don't easily fit into solo play.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Random Dungeon Twister Updates

One of the many things I enjoy about Dungeon Twister is the ability to rewind a few turns and show people where the game went South for them. Not everyone can pick out "that moment" in a game - and I can't pick it out every time. But I love being able to define the key moment.

Even when it works against me.

Frequently, that key moment is only a turn or two before the end of he game.

One of my more regular opponents of late is a man named John. We've been playing a game every few days - and I nearly always win. Before this weekend, I would have said "Always win." See, he beat me for the first time the other day.

And I can exactly trace back the critical moment - but it's only a turn before.

We were playing Paladins and Dragons, and he was ahead. In fact, the score was four to two in his favor. I'd struggled for effectiveness for he entire game. P&D is my weakest set in play. He did an excellent job of making my characters completely ineffective.

His Elf Scout was in a position to score that critical fifth point - I saw this, and moved my Paladin (who was in the area) to block one of the possible routes. I then moved my Pickpocket in to try to block his other possible route. Unfortunately, I misplaced my Pickpocket by moving him one space too far. Had I moved him one space fewer, I would have completely blocked his exit to the point where he would need to engage in combat in order to escape (and I didn't think he had enough actions to fight and escape). As it was, John had enough actions to run past my Pickpocket and out of the maze.

The day before, we played the with just the basic set. I beat him because of a jump his Goblin made about three turns before the end of the game - had his Goblin jumped to the right instead of directly across the track, he would have been in a position to grab a Potion of Speed and a treasure and make it out of the maze. Since he jumped directly across, I was able to ignore the Goblin as a threat and just sprint for the exit myself.

This, by the way, is not to say John is a bad player - he's not. And his skill improves noticably after every game. He's a very quick study. I give him two to three more games before he starts to beat me more often than I beat him.

I also suffered a rather humiliating defeat the other night. I learned a few lessons that game, which I hope to be able to share later. The first lesson? I play DT really poorly against French-speaking opponents. Seriously. These days, I seem to do very well against English-speaking opponents.

It may be my opponents - I seem to only play people who are active in the French and Belgian tournament scene.

Speaking of which, congratulations to Fabrice "Sherinford" Weils. As of this weekend, he is the Dungeon Twister World Champion. Phil Goude (LIDT President) posted the standings here.

I've also been appointed to the LIDT Board of Directors (as has Geoff Heintzelman) for the LIDT. This will last at least until elections which are held at the end of February.

Again, I would like to encourage you to join the LIDT. Even if you choose not to join, you should check out the forums. There is a lot of good discussion - if you don't speak French, do what I do and use Google Translate. And don't be afraid to post in English - or to respond to French posts in English. I do this all the time, actually. And I usually receive responses in English. In other words: Language is only a barrier if you allow it to be one.

And, in blog news, I've also made it a bit easier for those of you looking for character advice - this link will bring you all of my "Dungeon Twister Characters: Multiple Uses" posts. The link is also on the side of the page, under "Key Posts From This Blog."

My file listing characters, items, terrain, etc. has been updated. It now includes characters from Prison.

Next week, I may talk about Cyclades, or Steam, or Stronghold or Neuroshima Hex. I may also break down and talk about Eclipse Phase or Cthulhutech - both of which deserve discussion. I may also discuss Terrain or Items in Dungeon Twister - after all, there's more to the game than the characters.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Dungeon Twister Characters: Multiple Uses Part VI - Prison

Here's the same warning I've put on each of the other Multiple Uses posts: The following is my analysis. There are very good players who disagree with me. There are very good players who agree with me.

This is my sixth set-by-set entry in the series - I'm skipping the French-Only sets for now, but will get back to them, because they bear discussion. This entry will discuss Dungeon Twister: Prison.

Base Set Average Movement: 3.625
Base Set Average Strength: 2.00

Prison Average Movement: 3.875 (Includes 3 characters repeated from the original base set)
Prison Average Strength: 1.875 (Includes 3 characters repeated from the original base set)

As you can see, this set is a hair faster and not quite as strong as the original base set was. This set also includes three repeat characters - the Wizard, the Cleric, and the Mechanork.

I'm not going to rehash the Wizard, Cleric, or Mechanork - you can find them here.

Chris did a great job with this set - there isn't much in the way of ambiguity about what these characters are meant to do. This makes Prison an excellent intro to the game, so this is more of an overview of these characters than necessarily multiple uses for them, although I hope to hit a few of those as well.

The Colossus is an excellent Hitter. In fact, he's the strongest non-Dragon Hitter in the game. He has a few advantages over the Dragons in this role, too - he's only worth 1 VP if killed and he isn't vulnerable to the DragonSlayer.

He's slow, but he can help your Runners by breaking the portcullises open (just like the Warrior could previously). Just be sure to back him up - there are three characters in this set alone who can run right between his legs. I suggest leaving an empty space between him and his backup (unless there is an intersection to slip through) - it makes Group Combat more likely.

The Naga's ability to move through the Arrow-Slits combined with his Speed of Six makes him an excellent Runner. You can also use him very effectively as a flanker to set up Group Combat, or as a retriever to grab items you want (or want to keep away from your opponent). Give him a Rope, and he's nearly unstoppable anywhere on the map.

For 2AP, the Banshee may push any character in line of sight back one space. The Banshee is a ranged Ring of Repulsion. Those of you who have played Fire and Water are cringing already. The ability to push a character back a spaces is a nice quick way to kill off your uncareful opponents.

A lot of people complained at how dramatically the Ring changed play when Fire and Water was released. By including the Banshee in the new base set, people get to start paying attention to positioning right off the bat. The Banshee also introduces a bit more Action Management by having a special ability which requires an additional Action Point.

With the Banshee's speed of 5, it's also a good Runner, especially if given a rope.

The backstabber can open Portcullises like the Thief. She's a bit slower and has the same basic combat stats as the Thief, but she has +2 Strength in Group Combat if at least one unwounded friendly is involved.

She's completely straightforward in terms of ability, and I expect a lot of people will have her following the Colossus around. I'd argue that doing so is a waste of the Backstabber's ability - she should follow one of your runners around. Pairing her with the Colossus means you'll have combat strength of 9 + card, which is completely overwhelming. Pairing her with the Naga gives you 6 + card, which is nearly as difficult to overcome and means you have a fast-moving flexible hit squad that doesn't look all that scary until after their first combat.

In extended play, pair her with the Assassin.

The Telepath chooses his opponent's combat card in one-on-one combat. This ability reminds me a great deal of the Weapon Master from Paladins and Dragons, but it's both more and less useful - for one, the Telepath has a base strength of zero. Since he can't choose to force his opponent to play a '0,' he will have to play at least a three in order to beat even the weakest characters. And that number goes up the more often he's in combat. If your opponent hasn't thought through this themselves, his ability looks pretty scary. It means your opponent may devote significant resources to taking the Telepath out, making him an effective decoy.

The best use I've found for the Telepath involves cleaning up wounded opponents - since the Strength for wounded characters is zero already, it's easier for the Telepath to be useful against them.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Heroes of the World

So, after several on-again/off-again posts about what was in the booth at GenCon, it's time to talk about what (in my opinion) was the best new game in the booth.

That's not to say the other games in the booth were bad - in fact, one reason I like demoing for Asmodee is the fact that I won't get stuck demoing a lemon. I can honestly and without hesitation say that I liked every game in the booth. I'll admit that I'm a bit burned out on Ghost Stories, but I'll still tell you (honestly) that it's a good game.

The Game of the Show for me? Heroes of the World.

It's funny that I like this one, too - after reading a few of the comments posted about it on BGG, it really doesn't sound like a very good game. In fact, it sounds boring and derivative.

That is not at all the impression I have of the game. At the moment, I have more recorded plays than anyone. I don't know if that makes me an expert, but it does mean I've played it more than just about anyone.

The game is very simple. Each turn, players will add a Hero to their hand, and then choose a Hero from their hand to play.

You then run through four steps with each Hero.

Step 1: Add population to the board. You get to add a number of population markers equal to the number shown on the Hero you play. They can only be played in regions influenced by this particular Hero, however.
Step 2: Educate the People. Some Heroes provide Discovery Markers, which are drawn from a bag and must be played in the regions influenced by that Hero. These are things like "Pottery" and "Roads." Each Marker also has a point value. There are "bad" advances - Slavery and Epidemic, for example, are worth 0 points. If playing a marker causes one Region to completely fill, then the turn pauses so that region can be scored. I'll go over scoring in a bit.
Step 3: Make War. Not all Heroes have a conquest value. If they do, you may choose a region (which, again, must be on the Hero's card), choose a target, and roll the die. Four results are good for the Attacker, one is good for the Defender, and one is bad for both.
Step 4: Make & Spend Money. Each Hero has a Treasury number - this is what is added to the player's pocket. You can then spend money on one of three things: Moving population around, Wonders (which have a variety of effects), and Victory Points.

I mentioned that I'd get to scoring:
Once all of a region's Discovery Marker spaces are full, each player counts the number of Population markers they have in that space. The first three places may score points - First place scores the total value of the Discovery Markers in that Region. Second scores first place, rounded up. Third place scores the lowest value Discovery Marker in that region. The scoring timing gives an edge to the player who triggers the scoring, as they have the ability to inflate their numbers before triggering the scoring.

Once four of five regions are scored, the game is paused again to set up for the Modern Epoch. The unbuilt Wonders are discarded, and the draw pile of Heroes is swapped for a different set. There's a different set of advances for the modern world, too.

The game ends when seven out of eight regions are scored.

So what's new mechanically?

Not much, actually. Area Control is old hat. Role Selection is old hat. Card Drafting isn't new. Using money to move pieces isn't new, either.

But re-using old mechanisms doesn't mean a game is bad - Mission: Red Planet is a lot of fun, and it's mechanics are all recycled. It borrows its role selection from Citadels, and its area control (and scheduled scoring) from El Grande.

Heroes of the World sold a copy every time we demoed it. Over the last five years, we have had some really good games in the booth, but never before has every single demo led to a sale.

Of all the games in the booth this year, it's the one I've played the most post-GenCon, as well. It's also held up very well to repeated replays - I love Ghost Stories, but I got burned out on it after GenCon. Although I'm getting the itch to play it again ...

I love Senji, too. Again: Burned out on it.

Part of the reason for the lack of burnout is the "weight" - Heroes of the World is a fairly light game. But don't mistake its weight for anything resembling weakness.

Next week, I'm probably going to talk a bit about Dungeon Twister: Prison. It's out in Europe and the rules are available online, so I can talk more freely, now, and I have a few things to say.