Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Dungeon Twister: Prison - A Few Combo Suggestions

I promised last time that I'd talk more about Dungeon Twister - items and characters and combos.

I'm going to start with Prison, and I'm going to go item-by-item and then character-by-character to suggest combos and items for them.

The Rope is the single most useful item in the game. This includes all of the expansions. The only characters who can't benefit significantly from a rope are flying or levitating characters - in this set, that means the Wizard. I generally give the Rope to a runner - that way, they can run ahead and form a bridge for the other characters to get across an obstacle. In this set, I've found that the Naga and Banshee are the best Runners.

The Banshee is tricky to get into a good position to repel opponents into traps. Giving him (her?) a Rope makes it that much easier to find that perfect spot to stand, which is why I usually give my rope to my Banshee in standalone play.

The Key is - honestly - an item I don't use very often. It's ... useful, but not as overwhelming as the Rope. There are 20 Portcullises in DT2, and only 16 Traps. But the Rope is free - the Key costs an Action to use.

Give your Key to a character who will otherwise struggle or who has no other objects easily available. But feel free to drop the Key off if you get something better.

Fireball Wand
If you can't figure out who to give this item to, then perhaps you need another glance through the rulebook. Seriously. The goal is to get this item to your Wizard. If that means handing them off to your Naga for delivery, than go for it - but send that Naga back to the Wizard. If your Wizard is dead, then give the Wand to the Colossus. That way, your opponent can't get it. If both Wizards are dead (or escaped), then leave it alone. It's not worth carrying.

Large Shield
I think the Large Shield is the weakest item in the set. It's not useful against the Banshee's repulsion or the Fireball Wand. There are no Falling Rocks squares in this set, so the Shield is less useful than it can be, as well.

That said, however, the Bow can be a nuisance if your opponent is clever with it. Give the Shield to the party member who is most vulnerable to the bow at any given time.

Telescoping Spear
The ability to attack through the Arrowslits is ... okay. But if you give this to your Telepath, you can burn off your opponent's highest combat cards at no cost to you, other than a bit of movement.

Believe it or not, I like the Bow. It's only Strength of 1, but if your Telepath is carrying it, you can improve his combat stats and force your opponent to think when choosing a defensive card. If I have the Telescoping Spear in the hands of my Telepath already, then I'll give the Bow to whichever character is closest to the Telepath, as the Spear will break soon enough.

So far, so good, right?

Here are a couple of Character combos you may have missed:

Place your Cleric directly behind your Telepath, and go pick fights with your opponent. Just cover their back somehow, and save at least 1 AP to heal the Telepath. You can get rid of your opponent's combat cards fairly quickly (or at least the good ones ... ), and then heal the Telepath as needed.

Having trouble getting past your opponents to set up a Group Combat? Sometimes, you can't go around them. Thankfully, the Wizard can fly through them to land on the other side. Wizard + Backstabber is a 5 Strength team. That'll make even the Colossus nervous.

It also keeps the Wizard useful after the Fireball Wand is expended - in the original Base Set, I was a big fan of "I've fireballed you, and now I'm running out because I'm nearly useless for anything else."

The Naga is another good partner for the Backstabber - he's fast enough to get into a decent flanking position on a regular basis, and his ability can get him in to spots you would otherwise not be able to reach.

In more open play (including expansions), Assassin/Backstabber is an extremely brutal 6-strength instant-killing force, if you can get them into position. The Mummy/Backstabber combo is brutal, too. The fact that the Mummy's speed is decent helps a great deal - I don't suggest pairing the Backstabber with a slow-moving partner. Honestly, a Speed of Three is the bare minimum I'd pair her with.

If you can get the General into the same room as your Backstabber, then she is provides 5 Strength to a Group Combat. General + Asassin + Backstabber = 8 Strength.

Over the next year or so, I'll be going over characters and items, suggesting combos. Much as I've done here, I'll start with items, and then suggest a few character combos.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Amber Diceless

As you may or may not know, I received a copy of Amber Diceless Role-Playing for Christmas.

I'd read through it once when it was still in print (when I was much younger than I am now). I'd started looking for it a few years ago, when I picked up Nobilis - I wanted to compare the systems. By then, of course, the price for Amber had skyrocketed, and I was unable to do any sort of comparison, even for myself.

So, now that I have (and have read thoroughly) Amber, what do I think?

Here's the thing you have to keep in mind: Amber kicked off diceless roleplaying. I'm sure there were diceless games before it came out, but none of them were as big as Amber was.

So why did Amber make it so big?

Good question.

Having read the game, I still can't tell you. I can tell you that it's phenomenal on several levels. The game is one where the demand for trust between GM and player is higher than most. This is in large part because - after character generation - players don't necessarily know what their stats are, or how they compare to the other PC's.

This, by the way, is brilliant.

Having players participate in an auction for their attributes is clever - but the brilliant part here is the ability to secretly increase your attributes after the auction.

The game is based on Roger Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber. If you aren't familiar with them, I suggest buying this book and reading them. PC's are the children of Corwin's generation - grandchildren of Oberon.

Obviously, there are probably other siblings and cousins around, but the PC's are the key players.

The mechanics of play themselves are honestly nothing special: Highest number wins. Yes, it's that simple.

The key is to maneuver circumstances to your advantage before comparing numbers. Are you the best wrestler of your generation? Make sure your opponent is unarmed before engaging.

Where this book shines, however, is when it gives advice to the GM. Some of the advice is specific to Amber, but there is a fair amount that can be used in any game. I'd suggest that the majority of the advice is usable in most games.

The book has numerous examples of the various types of conflict players tend to get into, complete with multiple examples, ranging from melee combat when the player is significantly better than their opponent to psychic conflict when weak-willed PC's face stronger NPC's.

It's a fascinating read, and well worth looking for.

You can still, by the way, order a PDF version of the game, and its lone supplement, Shadow Knight.

A lot of fans of Amber disliked Shadow Knight. While I have Shadow Knight, I haven't read it, yet, so I can't comment on whether it's worth the $12. I can tell you that print copies of Shadow Knight are usually available for less than $15, including shipping (I got it for $11 including shipping from Troll and Toad).

And all of this reminds me: I need to write sometime about the importance of GM-player trust and how to use (and abuse) that trust.

Next week, however, I'm planning to talk about Dungeon Twister a bit more - players have been asking me for help with items, and I plan to talk about items and characters and combinations next week (Planned future posts are, of course, subject to sudden change without warning).

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Claustrophobia Errata

So, remember a few weeks back when I first wrote about Claustrophobia?

Remember my comment about how the human player had "more and more interesting choices" to make? Okay - that may not have been here - it may have been over on the 'Geek.

Either way, I take it back. See, there is some errata - the rules say the Red-marked items on the Demon Player's Board of Destiny are usable once per Game. They are, in fact, usable once per Turn. It takes a fairly bland Demon Player's turn and makes it significantly more interesting. It also means the Demon Player will (more often than not) be rolling four dice on their turn. And the Human Player will have a tougher time of it.

CROC has been very active on the actual BGG forums answering questions and clarifying rules - but there isn't a lot of clarification necessary. The English rules I received were very good and required only minor changes. And, so far, none of my suggested changes have required further clarification. That's a good feeling.

Also: My session report was linked to directly by Asmodee on their US Website. Another good feeling.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

New Year's Eve

Like many of you, we played games all night. All. Night.

It was great.

My wife and I started dating on New Year's Eve six years ago, so we always go out for dinner before heading to gaming. During dinner, we received a text message from Brian - there were 38 people at the game store.

The largest gathering we'd had previously was 33 - and that was when I was still hosting game night in my apartment. In fact, that was part of why game night moved to the game store.

I expected to arrive and find the store overrun with small children playing Pokemon or YuGiOh - I didn't expect to find two tables of Race for the Galaxy, a large game of Werewolves of Miller's Hollow, and several other games that I actually rate fairly highly. I didn't see any collectible games of any sort being played (unless you count Heroscape.

By the end of the gathering (5:30am), we'd had 47 people though. Thank you, those of you who attended, for making the event a success.

There are a few photos up on the Facebook Events Page, and I expect more will follow. I failed to even open my camera, which was a mistake.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Dungeon Twister Tournament - Triangle, NC

The first Official Dungeon Twister Tournament in North America since the release of Prison is just over two weeks away!

Geoff Heintzelman is hosting it at SciFi Genre in Durham, North Carolina on January 16th.

Registration will begin at noon, with play starting around 12:30. It'll be a Swiss-format tournament.

He has Goodies, too.

Details are here.

It saves time if you set up an IDTL account in advance through - it's free, and makes tournament organization (and recording) easier for Geoff (and anyone else who is planning on an official tournament). I'd also suggest spending the money to become a full LIDT Member. As membership lasts from Jan 01 through Dec 31, now is the perfect time to do so.