Monday, May 28, 2007

Dungeon Twister Characters: Multiple Uses Part II (Paladins and Dragons)

I'm going to preface this with the same warning I used last time: What I'm about to say is my analysis. There are players who are better than I who will disagree with every word I type. There are also players who can regularly trounce me who will agree with every word I type. Your mileage may vary.

This is my second entry on Dungeon Twister Character Strategy, and will cover Paladins and Dragons.

Base Set Average Movement: 3.62
Base Set Average Strength: 2.00

Paladins and Dragons Average Movement: 3.63
Paladins and Dragons Average Strength: 2.5

As you can see, P&D has a higher average combat value than the base set, and the average speed is up just a hair. I don't think of it as Power Creep, however, because the set of special abilities is so different.

Red Dragon: A very powerful piece. But also limited – the Red Dragon will never escape the maze. If your opponent reveals this Dragon, you'll need to scramble to get the Teleportation Ring to him for him to be useful. If you reveal your own dragon, then you'll want to put him in one of two places: A corridor with good line of sight so he can control that rank and/or file, or a chokepoint where your opponent has to get through. There are a few spots that occasionally fit both ideals, but they are few and far between.

For Free Choice play, I rarely take this character – his inability to move combined with the number of rooms where his breath doesn't have any sort of range makes him almost useless for my needs. On those rare occasions when I DO take him, I'll always include the Teleportation Ring in my collection of items.

Elf Scout: He's fast. Very fast. His Speed of 7 makes him the fastest character in the game, even when the other expansions are added to the mix. His ability to run across Trap spaces can be either very powerful or completely useless, depending on the rooms in play. Even when there aren't a lot of traps, his speed still makes him useful. He's an excellent retriever, and is the character in this set with the best chance to escape the maze. He also makes a very good ambulance – send him out to rescue your wounded characters and bring them to the Fountain or to your Cleric for healing.

In a Free Choice game, I'll occasionally use my Scout, but I'm more likely to use a Thief, as she is more well-rounded.

Ghost: Since I'm so fond of items, I don't use the Ghost anywhere near full potential. I usually use the Ghost to hang out in the Pentagram Chamber or to rotate rooms (which seem to be the primary uses for this character). Occasionally, I'll plant the Ghost on an object so that my opponent has to fight me in order to get it. He's also a fairly easy victory point if you just head towards your opponent's starting line.

In Free Choice play, I'm more likely to take the Spectre than the Ghost (for reasons I'll get into with my next strategy entry).

Golem: The ability to clear a path is a double-edged sword. Every wall I bash is another shortcut you can use, too. Even so, the ability to smash out a shortcut is useful, even though it's only 3x per game. A few sets from now, there will be ways to repair walls (or so Chris tells me). Pairing the Golem with a character who can repair walls makes for an interesting plan - open the wall up, send the party through, close it behind you.

I've also seen the Golem used as an ambusher - most people forget that he can smash walls. for two Action Points, I can smash your Cleric if you're not paying attention. I can also wait an action or two and trigger a group combat that is larger than you expected.

For Free Choice play, I will occasionally use the Golem. His Strength of 4 is nice, but I'd rather use a Troll, because of how much more useful the Troll's ability is.

Illusionist Lots of people use the Illusionist to throw up obstacles to impede their opponent's movement. I tend to throw up the Rubble square to block my opponent's Red Dragon's line of sight. I'll also use it to block critical passageways to slow my opponent's advance (which is what it was designed for). Don't forget that she's also a Magic User, so can use any of the Scrolls. There are 3 Scrolls in Fire and Water, and another one in Creatures of the Forest.

Weapon Master The second-most straightforward character in the set. I tend to use my Weapon Master in Group Combat against the Red Dragon. Her ability is among the most useful in the game, and she fits well into play with multiple expansions. Her abilities sync very well with the Mercenaries character abilities and objects.

I will nearly always use her in Free Choice play.

Paladin Here's a quick question for you: How many suits of armor can the Paladin wear? See, Dungeon Twister is not a simulation. It's a game. The Paladin can carry and use two objects – the Paladin can wear two suits of armor. I've seen a lot of people use the Paladin solely for Dragon-slaying. The 2 VP's are nice, if you can get them, but the Weapon Master is better-suited to it. I frequently see the used Paladin as a heavy ambulance, as well.

Pick-Pocket As I said a few characters ago – use of objects is essential. So is denial of objects – Magic Users lose a fair amount of their cool if they don't have scrolls to use, for example. My favorite trick to use with the Pick-pocket is stealing my opponent's key or rope, limiting their mobility – I won't necessarily hang on to it, either. I'll either drop it in the maze where they can't easily get to it or else I'll hand it off to another of my characters.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Dungeon Twister Characters: Multiple Uses Part I: Base Set

I'm going to preface this with a warning: What I'm about to say is my analysis. There are players who are better than I who will disagree with every word I type. There are also players who can regularly trounce me who will agree with every word I type. Your mileage may vary.

There was a thread on BoardGameGeek recently where a player questioned the viability of the Spectre as a character. The limits placed on his escaping the maze seemed overly complex - and it occurred to me that I had no such issues with the Spectre. That, indeed, I find the Spectre one of the better characters in the Forces of Darkness expansion.

I thought it'd be a good idea to go over the characters and outline some possible alternative uses for characters that may seem less-useful.

I'm sure some of you will have ideas I've missed - feel free to leave a comment and contribute. I'm going to go set-by-set with tips for standalone play. I may have tips for play with mixed sets, but most of those tips will come from Expansion characters. And the order in which I plan to proceed is the order of English release - that way, I'll have a better grasp of the Fire and Water characters before I write about them.

Base Set Average Movement: 3.62
Base Set Average Strength: 2.00

Cleric: Much like the Mekanork, the Cleric's primary use is clear and well-developed enough that I haven't seen alternate uses. I have, however, seen the Cleric used with the Warrior in a "Living Wall" strategy (see the Troll below).

Goblin: Decoy. I usually don't even try to get my goblin out of the maze. I make it look like I'm trying, but if I can (for 1 AP) get my opponent to waste two or more AP pursuing or attacking my Goblin, I call it a success.

Warrior: I freely admit that the Warrior is one of my weaker characters, so I have to rely on what I've seen others do. The most amusing use I saw for the Warrior was as a pathfinder - my opponent handed his Warrior a rope, and proceeded to bash down every portcullis between himself and the exit. Even Chris Boelinger laughed at how many portcullises had been knocked down - but it did the trick. The Warrior escaped the maze, along with another character that he had in tow.

Wizard: Once the Fireball Wand is gone, the Wizard is less useful in the base game. I tend to use him as a retriever. He's slower than the Thief, but his ability to fly over enemy characters makes him invaluable in this role - especially when there is a race to an item. This ability becomes more useful with the more complex boards in later expansions (such as Fire and Water), where movement becomes difficult.

Mekanork: To be honest, I've not seen any alternative uses for the Mekanork. His primary use (control rooms) is very clear and very well-developed. Skilled use of his ability is one of the keys to the game.

Wall-Walker: I've seen a lot of people just run their Wall-Walker out of the maze as quickly as possible. She's my weakest base-set character, strategically - I'll either just run her out of the maze or use her as a retreiver. I have seen her ability used solely to add an additional +1 in Group Combat - her ability makes it relatively easy to get to the combat.

Troll: A lot of people see the Troll as nothing more than a slow combat monster. I have never used my Troll like this. I use my Troll as a living wall - I'll find a critical corridor and put my troll smack in the middle of it so that my opponent has to fight the troll (and burn a combat card) or find a way around it. If he wounds the Troll, I just regenerate on my next turn. Note that this does not work as well with the 3/4 Player Expansion, as the troll is vulnerable for up to two turns before you can regenerate him.

Thief: Chris Boelinger describes the Thief as a "Toolbox" - she is the best support character in the basic game. She can disarm traps so that friendly characters can move through, she can open doors (and close them again behind), and she can quickly carry wounded characters back to the Cleric for healing. I very rarely move my Thief out of the maze unless she's about to die in combat or she's my fifth Victory Point.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Hobby Games Survey

Do you have a bit of time to spare?

Ohio State University, GAMA and The Wargamer are interested in getting into the mindset of the hobby gamer.
The purpose of this study is to investigate patterns of motivation and usage by card, role-playing, and board game players, known in this study as hobby game players.
The survey takes between 30 and 45 minutes.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mission: Red Planet Errata and Clarifications

There isn't a lot of errata for Mission: Red Planet. There also aren't many clarifications. Other than the production issues, this turned out pretty well.

First, the Errata:

Page 4, 2nd Paragraph. Change the sentence about "starting from" the starting player - it should read "starting with" the starting player.

Page 6, 1st Paragraph. Remove the last sentence. This is a HUGE error, and I don't know how it slipped past both myself and Mr. Faidutti.


1) When performing character actions, always load your Astronauts first before using the character abilities.

2) No, the "Analysis Error" card and "Lost in Space" card were not deliberately mangled. I have a pre-printing .pdf of all the cards, and there are no missing letters on these cards in that file - it's apparently an issue with the printer.

The actual text should read:
Analysis Error
The resource token in this zone is discarded and replaced with another resource token chosen at random. If there were any score tokens left in this zone, they are also replaced by new score tokens matching the new resource.

L.I.S. (Lost In Space Memorial)
At the end of the game, received one Bonus Point for each of your Astronauts lost in space, killed by the Femme Fatale, the Saboteur or the Soldier

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Small Update

Sorry for the delay in posting: I'm picking through my copy of Mission: Red Planet for errata. I should have it up some time on Saturday.

Also of note: Asmodee wanted me to go to Kublacon over Memorial Day weekend. I can't make it, but my wife will be there demoing Dungeon Twister (Including Forces of Darkness, which is now available).

And, finally: Yehuda also posted this entry that is well worth reading. In fact, I suggest reading his blog regularly.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

XBox Live Arcade

Apparently, The Settlers of Catan is scheduled to appear on XBox live tonight.

I'll be buying it, but I won't review it here. I also will not be adding it to my Games Played.

I don't consider it a board game when it's in this format.

There is a lot of discussion here and there about what does it take to be considered a board game - I love The Settlers of Catan, and it's an excellent board game. When it's played on a tabletop with cardboard and wooden pieces. Or plastic. Or resin.

Once you're using a controller and the board is projected onto a screen, however, you've changed the game. It's now a video game, and is no longer a board game to me.

Board Gaming to me is (first and foremost) a social activity - it's something done in person with friends. It's not something done online with whoever happens to wander by. There are people who will argue that online gaming is just as social as tabletop - and, for them, it may be true. It just doesn't apply for me.

I think that having these games (Carcassonne is due in a few months) leap to XBox Live Arcade is a good thing - don't get me wrong. Anything which makes good games more visible is a good thing.

The new challenge for me is getting the XBox Live gamers to try other games which haven't made the leap.

I'm still figuring out how - it'll take lots of online practice research, I expect.

Sizzletoad: My Gaming Prejudices Revealed

Dave Weinstock, who designed Sizzletoad left me a comment last night (or earlier this morning), letting me know that there were updated rules to the game up on his website.

I freely admit - I don't tend to give lighter games a fair shake. I like depth and meat. Sizzletoad is a very light game. I'm also 30 years old and childless. This means that I'm not in the Sizzletoad target audience, so I'm not expected to be a raving fan of the game.

Honestly, I've been thinking about getting a set for my parents, who recently adopted three children, ages 3, 5, and 7. It's a great low-level strategy game to start young gamers on. Most of them already know how to play "Rock, Paper, Scissors" and "Tic-Tac-Toe." This is just a step or two past that, and uses mechanics from both.

I guess this means I need to visit my parents, to if the kids like playing my copy. I've previously expressed doubts as to whether Sizzletoad was $20 good or not - maybe a few games with its target audience will tip that for me.

I'll let you know what I find out.