Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Hitting The ... Tablet. The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game

Most of my boardgaming lately has been solo - on my Kindle Fire tablet. It helps that there are a number of really good digital versions of some fantastic board games.

A couple of years back, Steph backed The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game (DFCO) on Kickstarter. It delivered in a reasonable amount of time - late, but not obscenely so. And the game itself ... sat.  The physical version has only hit our table in solo play as I read the rules and figured it out.

It's good. It really is. And if the digital version weren't such a ridiculously faithful recreation of the physical game, I'd be doing two posts on the game - one for the physical, and one for the digital.

Because the app version was released earlier this month. It's in the Google Play Store, it's in the Apple App Store, and - relevant for me, it's in the Amazon App Store as well.

Gameplay is simple.

Here's the thing with cooperative games: They're pretty much all either crazy-random or they're puzzles that can be solved. If they can be solved, their replay value is usually low. DFCO has a random element, but that randomness is entirely at game setup.

You'll be playing a book. One of the Dresden Files books. Each book is 12 cards. A mix of cases, foes, obstacles, and advantages.  Different books have different mixes - Storm Front is 4 cases, 4 foes, 2 obstacles, and 2 advantages. Some of these have interdependencies - "When you solve this case, inflict 2 hits on this foe."  "You cannot take this Advantage until that case is solved."

These cards are shuffled and laid out in two rows of six. This order matters, and is the first random element in this game.

Then each player gets a character.  Someone must be Harry Dresden.  Each character has two cards listing their specials and another deck of cards.  This other deck is shuffled and each player draws a hand of cards. The size of this hand depends on the number of players. This is the second random element in the game.

Harry chooses which character gets the first turn, and play begins. At this point, it becomes a puzzle more than a game. Players have cards that deal with the game's cards. Attacks put damage onto Foes, Investigation cards put clues into Cases. There are other cards that deal with Obstacles or take the Advantages.  Player cards all have costs associated with them, and have a set range.

To win, you need to solve more cases than there are foes remaining on the board. Which means that Attacks tend to be more important than Investigations, but you need to solve _at least_ one case.

Players can't openly discuss the contents of their hand. You can say, "I can inflict [X] hits on that foe," but you can't say, "I have Soulgaze!"

There's another random element, too. Player cards list a cost, and a range, and a number of hits (or clues).  Mostly, they're just a number.  Sometimes, they're a number with another number in a box next to it.  So, for example, a card might list its range as 3[2].  What that means is "3 plus 2 Fudge dice."  Fudge dice, of course, have two blank faces, two faces with plus signs, and two faces with minus signs.  So 3[2] is usually going to be 3, but it could be anywhere between 1 and 5.

The game is ... good. It's a different puzzle every time you play it, which is not to everyone's liking. I like occasional puzzles, but this isn't a game I can play with other people very often. Which makes the tablet version all the better for me.

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