Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Blockers: Stopping the Run

Sounds like a football post, doesn't it? I'm actually talking about Dungeon Twister again, here.

I've mentioned previously that I divide the game's characters into four groups - Hitters, Blockers, Runners, and Specialists. Hitters excel at attacking other characters. Runners are all about escaping the board. Blockers slow down opposing Runners so that your Hitters can inflict pain. Specialists do everything else.

In general, Hitters are characters with a Strength greater than 3; Runners have a Speed greater than 3; Specialists are all over the map in terms of Strength and Speed.

Technically, I think Blockers are a subset of Specialists - they are characters who excel at slowing opposing runners down. Most Blockers will have Strength and Speed hovering around 3 - but not all of them.

Using the Block as your strategy is very similar to using the Hit - the difference is that you wait for your opponent's runners to come to you before you pound them. It's a little riskier, because your opponent's fast characters will be close to your starting line (and their freedom).

To block effectively, you need to be aware of the choke points on the map. The key is to force your opponent to choose the wrong ones. To do so, you need visible menace near a few of them to steer your opponent towards the less-safe ones. The goal of the Block is to get your opponent's characters to a position where your Hitters can reach them.

The Wizard with the Fireball Wand is one of the better route deterrents - but he's a one-shot.  If he's sitting (visibly) a few AP away from a choke point, your opponent should be hesitant about wandering in his range. But he's one of the most versatile characters in the game - he can Hit (once), he can Run, his magic-using makes him a Specialist ...

The Stone Elemental is an amazing Blocker. His Speed of 3 makes him an effective mover. His Strength of 8 makes him ideal for planting in front of a choke point.  The fact that he can't attack means that you just need to put him in the way, forcing your opponent to attack him in order to get past.

The Ice Dragon is excellent for stopping your opponents in their tracks. His power to freeze opponents makes him extremely useful for the Block. He's a bit too slow to be completely effective, however.

The Living Trap is ... odd, but extremely useful when forcing your opponents to find another way around.  If your opponent is having trouble dealing with Traps, he's an excellent Blocker. Because you can't move from one obstacle to another with a rope, he can very easily be placed next to a trap, forcing your opponent to find another way around.  And he's fast enough to reposition himself in a hurry.

The Araknis is another good Blocker - provided your opponent isn't using torches.  Torches are one of those items that not everyone takes. They're potentially critical.

Any character who can drop more characters into play - the Breeder or the Necromancer - can be useful. More characters makes it easier to set up group combat.

The Red Dragon with a good line of sight makes an excellent Blocker - much like the Wizard with the Fireball Wand. Only significantly less flexible.  He can cover a single choke point (or more, depending on how the rooms are).

The Prophet let you decide how rooms start. I've mentioned numerous times that controlling the rooms is one of the keys to the game - the Prophet gives you an edge right from the beginning of the game.

The Mechanork is the king of Room Control. I've talked a great deal about him previously, so I won't belabor the point here.

The Illusionist is one of the best Blockers in the game. Her ability to throw up illusory barricades should not be underestimated, as there are very few ways to clear them.

So what about items?

The Fireball Wand should always be in play if the Wizard is in play. If you didn't bring your Wizard, don't bring your Wand. Which, I realize is, common sense that doesn't need to be repeated.

Ropes help your Blockers get into position without a great deal of re-routing. Just don't let the rope fall into your opponent's hands.

Armor makes your Blockers more durable when you start fighting. In general, I prefer Armor to weapons. I think I've discussed this in the past.

The Charm Scroll is useful for forcing your opponent into places they don't want to be in. The only drawback is that it requires a Magic-User to use. Mind you, since you should have the Illusionist in the party, you have that covered already.

Cursed Items are useful for forcing your opponent to either find another way around or suffer the consequences for the remainder of the game. Placing one in a choke point makes that choke point a whole lot less appealing.

The Ring of Chaos is another tool of room control that not only strengthens your control, but it can also weaken your opponent's control.

Hopefully these pointers will help your game more than they've helped mine.

One quick reminder: We're only a few weeks off, now from SCARAB. I'm going to be there.  Stephanie will be there. I hope it'll be big.


  1. It's always good to read posts about Dungeon Twister.

    Blocking is very interesting since it can be practiced by all characters -- although as you've mentioned some excel at it.

    In my last game, my opponent actually blocked my wizard from escaping, which is surprising since the wizard can fly. He lined up his cleric and wizard in two squares behind a pit trap, effectively denying my wizard passage since he couldn't stop on any of those three squares. It was very clever...

    This also shows that just about any character can block, depending on the strength and movement of the characters that you need to block.

    I'm also surprised that you didn't mention the Courtesan, who is also an excellent blocker since she can't be attacked. Just about the only way to move her is with the Charm Scroll.

    Nice post!

  2. Geoff, I left the Courtesan out because I forgot about her - which is funny, because she was one of my primary inspirations for the post.