Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Dungeon Twister on BoardGameArena

I haven't been able to play Dungeon Twister in a very long time, so I'm really very rusty, but, thanks to BoardGameArena, I can now play online.

Yes, the game is available on PS3, but that publisher has folded and so we will not be seeing expansions or bug fixes or anything of the like. And the number of players there was never significant and has already dwindled to almost nothing.

But now it's on BoardGameArena!

I've spent the last few days watching people play when it was slow, and I'm gratified to see that there are a ton of new players. But I've also spotted a number of familiar faces in the crowd - there are a ton of the best DT players on the planet actively playing the game on BGA right now. In fact, I've seen at least one former world champion wandering the maze.

This odd mix has led to some very lopsided games, and, I suspect, some discouraged rookies.

Rookies: Please do not grow frustrated at your losses. Please keep coming back for more. And not just because I'd like to have people around I can beat ...

Feel free to challenge me to turn-based games on BGA, by the way.  While I won't let you win, I'll probably be easier to beat than most experienced players because I'm always trying new things to see how well they work (or don't).

The following Wall of Text details the most common rookie mistakes I'm seeing on BGA (and a few tips):

Objects are not color-restricted. Blue characters can carry and use Yellow objects and vice-versa.

Characters can only carry one thing at a time. If you end an action in the same space as a thing, you are assumed to be carrying it (not sure if this part is implemented in BGA's interface, though).

If you are walking across an item as part of your movement and are not already carrying something, pick it up.  It may not be immediately useful, but if you're carrying it then your opponent can't pick it up and use it against you.

Wounded characters are treated as though they are objects (but they are color-restricted). You can carry your own Wounded.

Initial Setup
DO NOT PUT YOUR GOBLIN IN THE ROOM NEXT TO YOUR OPPONENT'S STARTING LINE. The player who reveals a room places the characters in that room. A Goblin in a room next to my starting line is going to be placed by me, and I'm going to put in him right in front of my Warrior.

While you can put your Troll on your starting line as one of your initial four characters, he's too slow for that to be effective or useful against experienced players.  It's not a bad idea to put your Troll in a room adjacent to your opponent's starting line.  It's very effective against rookies. It's still useful against more experienced players, but less-so.

Here is what the above two notes end up looking like:

I've turned the hidden pawns in that upper-left room face-up just for convenience.  It's Blue's turn, and they started the turn with three actions.

Action 1 was Reveal Room, which is where that Troll and the Treasure came from.

See that Troll placement?  The Troll is too slow to catch anyone, and moving the Troll to the Treasure will cost four actions. These are four wasted actions, by the way. because by the time the Troll gets there, more rooms will be revealed and it's entirely possible that Blue will have grabbed that treasure with another character.  There are almost certainly more efficient ways to spend those actions.

It's also worth noting that the Troll can also move himself back down to reveal a room, but - again - that's a ton of actions, most of which will be wasted.  In his current position, this Troll will never even see an enemy character. As soon as he moves forward, he escapes the maze and is worth a point for Yellow. He also stops being vulnerable to attacks.

For Blue's second action, they reveal that other room up there, giving this:

I've placed two Goblins in this room to highlight two different situations.

If Blue has done this as Action 2 of Three, then the Goblin goes where the Yellow goblin is on the image.  Then Blue spends their third (and final) action to use their Warrior to wound the Goblin. The Warrior has a Strength of three. The Goblin's Strength is one. Unless Blue does something really silly, that Goblin is Wounded and will be dead the following turn.

Had Blue only had two actions, the Goblin would have wound up where the Red Goblin is in the image. It keeps the Goblin from going anywhere (or doing anything) and sets Blue up for a future turn in which the Mechanork turns the room Clockwise and then the Warrior kills the Goblin.  The only real difference between the two situations is how long it takes Blue to deal with (and kill) that Goblin.

This situation, by the way, has come up for me a number of times when playing the game.

There are times when your opponent won't be able to effectively deal with your placement, but most of the rooms have somewhere you can place the characters to make them effectively useless. Or doom them.

This also isn't great initial placement by Blue. You rarely want to let your opponent completely take over one room like Blue did in that room with the Troll and the Treasure. You can sometimes get away with it adjacent to your starting line, but be cautious.  Chris Boelinger once beat me without ever activating one of his starting four characters or revealing those rooms.

Room Rotation 
Rotation isn't limited to the room you are currently occupying. The rooms are in pairs. So someone sitting on a grey rotation gear can turn either of the grey rooms (provided they've been revealed).

Each room has a specific direction it's capable of rotating (unless the Mechanork is the one doing the rotating). Each pair has one clockwise room and one counter-clockwise room.

Once used, Combat Cards do not come back (other than the zero).  This makes them different from the Action cards that come back once all of them have been used.

Jump Cards also don't come back after they've all been used.

The restriction on which Action Card can be played only applies to the first round. Once the cards cycle, you can play any of them.

Most experienced players will play a Combat Card that is just high enough to win the combat. Some players will "bluff" and play for the tie (that is play one short of the guaranteed win) in an attempt to burn their opponent's high-numbered Combat Cards.

Character Movement
Remember that picking up and dropping objects doesn't cost an action or part of your movement. It can be done in the middle of a movement action.

Remember that you can't move through unwounded enemies, but once they're wounded, they no longer block movement. You just can't stop on them.

If a wounded enemy is carrying something and you walk through that space, you can steal whatever item they're carrying.

Remember that you can move through friendly characters, you just can't stop on them (unless they're wounded).

The exception to a lot of movement rules is the Wizard, who is flying.  He can move through enemy characters and traps but can't stop on them.

The Wall-Walker can walk through walls, but it costs a full action to do so.

The Thief disables traps by sitting on them. Because of this, you can walk across traps that your Thief has disabled for you. If she becomes wounded while sitting on a trap, she will die immediately.

Jumping across a trap costs an action. Because of this, it can't be done as part of a movement. To jump on the BGA interface, move next to a trap, end your movement action, and then move to the space past the trap. It'll pop up a note informing you that it'll cost a jump card to do this.

General Notes
The Fireball Wand is, for experienced players, the key focus of the early game.  You want to get your Fireball Wand and deliver it to your Wizard.

If you attack with the Troll, be aware that a loss will make that Troll vulnerable to attack (and death) on your opponent's turn.

If your Cleric is wounded, he cannot heal himself or the rest of the team.  So if you're going to be doing a lot of combat, you need to protect your Cleric.

Hopefully this is useful and helpful and not just a Wall of Text.   Because - again - I want new players to keep playing, get better, and play more.

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