Thursday, August 25, 2011

Descent: Players Guide to Not Getting Killed

Alright, so when last we looked at the world of Descent we explained to the overlord not to outright kill you.  However, this does not always stick so here is your crash course in Dungeon Survival.

5. Balanced Party.  Right at character selection you want to make sure you have at least one of the three types of heroes: ranged, melee, and magic.  Now, the ranged guy can be replaced if you wish, the only reason to have one is they can use ranged skills better however I understand they have low damage...really low damage.

4. Line of Sight.  Here is where you try and make sure you can see far enough down nooks and crannies so the overlord does not overkill you with spawning.  You can't cover every hall and corner, but you can cover far enough that you will be able to move through the next rooms while the overlord moves his spawns very slowly towards you.

3.  TREASURE!  Yes, this is very important in the game, if you have an opportunity to buy treasures in town or trade out useless items for new one's, TAKE IT.  Nothing drives the monster back like a new shiny sword and magic spell.  Eventually with enough good equipment you won't care if the overlord spawns monsters because you can slaughter anything he throws at you.

2. Patience.  This is important for your survival and not getting trapped in a section of the dungeon.  DO NOT open doors at the end of a round, it will only allow the monsters to act first, give the overlord opportunity to spawn monster and trap you in, and it is just overall a bad plan of moving through a dungeon.  Not much else to say there, if you can wait a turn while all the monster are dead before opening a door things will do much smoother.

1. Party Cohesion.  This is where the strategy comes to fruition.  The best way to slay monsters is to talk to your party and make sure they understand what you are going to do, what they need to do, and the best order to go in to maximize success.  Every other strategy for Descent is pointless if you do not work together and make full use of your party members pros and avoid the cons.

Agricola: Farming for the Rest of Us

Now, Stephan is not a farmer so he needs to play the board game about farming as I'm sure most of you do.  This is one of those games that you have to actually play to truly enjoy because "Great Board Game on Farming" does not scream play me play me.  And so, for those who have played this game, I am sorry, because you will never want to stop playing for as long as you live.  And so, to you I present 5 tips on how to farm with the best of them.

5. Jack of All Trades.  This one is quite the simple rule: make some of everything so you do not receive negatives.  The only difference between one score and the next is how much of certain things you do.  Just remember, you CANNOT get maxed out in everything.  Pick and choose wisely based on the actions of the other players.

4. Free Food!  If you have the opportunity to make food without all the work, TAKE IT.  Having to spend an action grabbing food wastes time.  It seems like you have plenty to get all the things done you want, but eventually you find you could have done it differently if you hadn't done some Day Laboring.

3. Big Family, More Workers.  You want to have a 5 member household by the game's end, preferably before the last turn.  This helps you get more things done and basically will rocket you ahead.  A two family household will never beat a 5 member household, so don't wait around to jump off the good foot and do the bad thing.  Also, the best time to add a new member is right before harvest so they need half the food.

2. The Minor Improvement Game.  These are what make you different from your opponents.  Step one is to look at your cards and make a logical strategy out of the seven improvement and seven occupations.  Once you find that the game will go easier and it will give you answers to what you wish to focus on.  All five of these strategies need to be laced together to make a perfect game.  This goes well with doing everything because it makes it so certain this are easier than others.

1. Don't get Boxed Out.  There are many paths to get to your overall goal set out by your improvement and occupation cards.  I said this before in my strategy in Kingsburg and it applies here even more so: don't leave yourself with only one option to complete your goal.  The more goals you complete at once the less chance you will get boxed out and have to wait a full round to get things done.  Agricola is an interactive game to the extent that players can take and usually will take that one thing you might need to get it first.  Also, don't be afraid to grab the first player marker if you think you will have one thing you need to complete first.  It is a good set up if you miss something that you wish to grab in the following round.

And so, hit the fields and farm your land until you circular disks sweat their last drops.  Though it is only a game so it is much less labor intensive than that.  Have fun.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

50 Fathoms: The Great Library Fiasco

Now, I would like to take you into the role-playing world of 50 Fathoms which is a plot point game (a game which is presented with various plots which may come up if the players choose to take them on) presented by Savage Worlds.  Savage Worlds is a great introductory system to the world of role-playing, it is quick, easy, and fun.  Even if you are not new to gaming this system offers much in the way of fun for all levels of experience.

The crew had just infiltrated a party to gather information on finding a solution to the giant whirlpool at the center of the world.  This whirl pool was slowly sucking the entire world into itself and this brave crew had decided to take on the challenge themselves.

The Kraken, Loharis, had sneaked his way into the library in hopes of reading up on the subject.  On the top shelf he noticed a book entitle Sorcery of the World.  Being a sorcerer himself he climbed up to take a peak at this book.  As he was engrossed in his read two armed guards were walking by and noticed the strange creature sitting there reading.

"You are not supposed to be in here." They called out drawing their weapons. "We are going to have to..."

Before they could finish what they were saying, Loharis erupted with a blast of fire disintegration the two guards.  Once he collected what had just transpired he moved to leave, but the library began to catch fire.  He tried casting a water spell upon it.  The flames slowed in an area, but soon caught fire from the remaining.  Seen no other choice, he summoned his rock creature outside the window below and leaped out of the building.

Now, having someone to catch him to reduce the fall damage was a sound plan.  Having a rock golem catch you however was the same as hitting the ground.  Falling two stories into the golem's ready arms he hit with great force knocking the wind out of himself.  Feeling weakened he merely ordered the golem to carry him the rest of the way so they could escape.

Descent: Overlord in the Darkness

Alright folks, Stephan is going to talk about what of his all time favorite games, Descent.  Now, if you have heard of this game you probably know it is a huge 90 dollar box filled with more cardboard than a moving company with 6 additional expansions this game is something you find your rich friend to buy so you can bathe in it's glory.  Anyway, outside of the impressive price tag this game is a dungeon delve and as I usually wish to bring you strategies to win games, this time I'm changing it up a bit to tell you how to enjoy this game to the fullest.  It is a role-playing game at heart and as such your goal is more to enjoy than to win.

Now, to my overlords out there, this one goes to you.  You are the most important role in making this game rich and engaging for your players.  If you think this game is you versus the players, well, it's not quite the case.  As in rpgs, you are not out to kill the party but make in challenging and engaging for them.  Of course, in the game of Descent a player dying is not as serious because they can come back.  So, I give you a list of ways to be the best overlord.

5. Spawning monsters.  This is one of the most annoying issues for players.  This prevents them from pushing forwards because more monsters appear in areas they can't see forcing them to rework their strategy.  So, I say that this is a good challenge but don't overdo is.  If the players are still in the first couple of rooms because you spawn so much, SLOW DOWN.  There are other cards and them killing your monsters just drags out the game.

4. Description.  I know that the text seems long and tedious to read, but this is an adventure for the players and the background is engaging and rich, the game designers spent time on writing it all out so you might as well read it.  You are telling the story, though unlike in standard rpgs the story is laid out for you and you have rules to follow more closely.

3. Focusing.  So, no one likes to be singled out in the game so try not to continually kill one character throughout the game because they are squishy.  Killing each person equally is the best way to make everyone enjoy the game.

2. Build the dungeon ahead of time.  If the dungeon is all laid out while you get down to playing it allows the players to just play the game not sit an watch you.  There are a lot of pieces in this game and they don't provide you with the tools to organize the game so do it yourself.  You will save much time and everyone will want to play this game whenever possible.

1. Judgement. If something comes up in the game that I have not mentioned, use your own judgement.  Try and vote on the side of making this game enjoyable because and overlord that wins every game just pushes players from the game.  If they win every once in a while they will not feel cheated, but don't pull punches too much you still want a challenge.

Alright all you overlords out their, read up on these 5 easy steps to make your game the best ever.  Next time I shall review the players ways to defeat the dungeon.  Stay tuned, and try not to lose hope in the game until it arrives.

Happy Gaming role-players.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Journeys Through the Abyss

Not only am I, Stephan the Master Tactician, but I am also an explorer of the various worlds in Role-Playing Game history.  Here I am going to bring to you stories of great adventures I have had for both entertainment and knowledge of all the role-playing games I have encounter.  And, for our first adventure I shall take us back to the basics, Dungeons and Dragons®.  I am sure you have all heard of this legend, but everything must start from the beginning…

Michaiah, a Rakshasa Sorcerer, stands before a friend she once cared for greatly now turned to the side of darkness and despair.  He wishes to take hold of the powers of the Abyss by becoming the next Demon Prince.  A Demon Prince has not seen for millennia but, for the great Captain, it is a goal he has almost reached.

“The path of darkness shall not bring you the answers you seek!” Michaiah shouted trying to hold the foul beast at bay.

He had already taken the powers of the lesser demons through destroying them and even went so far as to kill the great Dagon.  In an effort to overpower him and claim the powers for good, Michaiah too has obtained the powers of several demons equaling their power levels.

“I shall become a God through whatever means possible.  If you stand in my way, I shall destroy you.”
With that the battle began.  Michaiah casts spells wildly.  A fireball erupted in brilliance.  A shocking lightning bolt flung out.  A Cloud of Death covered the field.  Even the great Last Judgement was cast upon the fowl beast, but it kept coming.  Tentacles flailed wildly.  Michaiah leapt to dodge.  The captain gnashed his razor sharp daggers for teeth.  Finally, Michaiah was struck down and laid helpless before the foul beast.

“You…have won…Eric…finish…this…” Michaiah spoke collapsing to the ground unconscious.
A light flashed before Eric’s eyes as he recalled the adventures they shared together.  The battles against evil they fought, the closeness they shared, the wedding. 

“Michaiah?” he spoke as he returned to his original form and kneeled down before her.  He touched her as a single tear fell from his eye.

Michaiah awoke seeing him there before her and lashed out with her claws instinctively.  She saw Eric look at her with surprise. “No!” she cried out.

“It’s alright, Michaiah, you have won…take these powers…and bring…good…to the world…” Eric collapsed with one last breath.

The powers flushed over Michaiah and she could see with the eyes of Dagon what needed to be done.
Michaiah went on to control the Abyss and with that power she conquered the Nine Hells bringing evil under the power of good.  Still, she never forgot the sacrifice her comrade gave her to accomplish her goal.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Shadows Over Camelot: Traitors

If you've ever played Shadow's Over Camelot, this is the list for you.  Here I will list the top 5 ways to be a successful traitor in the game, no underhandedness experience required.

5. Playing a Normal Game
This is the easiest and not as enjoyable way to do it, but if you play just well enough that no one thinks there is a traitor at the end of the game you turn the tables on a close game.
"But Stephan, it is not a close game."
Strategist rule number 1: adapt your strategy for your audience, you get stuck on one it is bound to be broken.

4. Almost Helpful
Here is where you pretend like your way is the great way while actually doing nothing.  The stall tactic.  Shadow's over Camelot is a game of stalling the doom that encroaches upon you.  The best thing a traitor can do is not help stall the doom but stall the players from accomplishing anything.  First, go to a location no one is at (the best is Excalibur or the Grail which are hard to do alone) then begin to "help" complete the quest which is utterly futile.  Down side to this tactic: it's easily figured out.  Upside to this tactic: by the time they figure it out they have to play catch up before accusing you.

3. The Excalibur Throw Away
This quest just lends itself to a traitor.  Throwing away white cards to advance a quest.  Oh, is that a Merlin card...they don't know that so have fun Excalibur.  This tactic just requires you to sit at Excalibur and get rid of all the useful white cards in the game.  It is hard for anyone to notice because they cannot see the cards and you are helping with the quest.  However, if you throw too many cards or even your whole hand, people begin to see what you are doing.  The trick is to get rid of useful cards while keeping the useless cards in your hand like you have good stuff.
"Hey...uh...the Excalibur Quest got completed before I could do much."
Lucky for you this little trick is compatible with any of the other four.

2. Playing Dumb
Easier for your first game and takes lots of skills for most, if you act fully convinced that your traitorous ways are actually loyal, they are bound to side with you if you make it seem like you don't fully understand your actions.  Trust me, this works wonders as a traitor and causes much mayhem and maybe even wrongfully accusations and will be the most fun you have ever had being a traitor.  And the most fun ever because after you pull this stunt it never works again.

1. Lancelot: The Great Traitor of Camelot
Yes, just like the legend itself this is one of the most diabolical tactics in the game if you can pull it off.  You are magic no matter what you do as if the powers at be blessed you with greatness, Lancelot's Armor is the coup de grace to all loyal knights unless they can get to it first.  Allowing you to draw two black cards you can fake like you have two terrible decisions because all the black cards are terrible and decimate the loyal knights while you reap the benefits.  Oh, they found out you were the traitor, oh well, the fun continues as a traitor keeps the armor and continues to draw two black cards and play the worst.

And there you have it ladies and gentlemen, make the loyal knights cower in fear as you now have the beginning book of the Traitor's Bible.

 This is Stephan telling you goodnight, and be careful, a good traitor is not always well liked
Have fun.


This is my first strategy for all of you to see and as such it is my greatest, unbeatable, unparalleled, get the idea.  I have played this game many many times and won it I dare say every time.  Is this strategy flawless you ask...sure why not.  It always works for me against many people many other strategies some times it is closer than others.  But you did not come to hear about my greatness you came to gaze upon the strategies at hand.

Now, I will point out that this strategy includes the expansion To Forge a Realm (so if you don't have it these strategies won't make much sense and I will also tell you GET IT, it makes the game 10 times better).  First, you need to decide on the governor you wish to use and if you want to replace any rows.  Since it is random it is hard to point out a proper strategy for this.  Basically, the strategy will work regardless of your choice.  Though, when choosing a governor go for the ability that lasts that entire game.  A quick boost might sound nice but after it is used up the others will still be taking advantage of theirs.  If you have a governor that boosts combat, TAKE IT.  I cannot stress this enough, winning combats is the number one way to win this game.  Any boost that helps with this is worth taking.  You lose even one battle you might as well throw in the towel, your game is over.  As for optional rows, if you have the replacement for row B (the holy buildings) I would take it as well as the replacement for row E (the second battle oriented one).  The basilica is a good replacement for the Cathedral because it is far less costly and the Cathedral only gives you one additional point.  The replacement for row E gives you a great combo with the small palisade and griffon ranch.  Out of the three seasons in a round you are bound to get less than a 9 once or twice, with this combo you get the two for one deal.  Now, the replacement for row D (the first battle row) is also nice because you get a free peak in rounds 4 and 5 which are the toughest battles but most rewarding.  And the Alchemist Guild is cheaper than the Wizard's guild, but the difference is substantial compared with row B.  If you take a governor that doesn't worry about resources that much stick with the original.  If you need something more cost effective take the replacement.  Now, the other row replacement don't matter at all except DO NOT replace row F.  The crane is the most useful building you will ever buy.  Wood is far easier to come by than gold and the buildings to column 3 and 4 all have large gold costs.

Alright, now that the initial set up is out of the way on to building up your city.  First phase take stone as your free resource.  Why?  It takes the highest number to get and you want to give yourself options.  First season you want to build either a Guard Tower (stone and gold), barricade (wood), or palisade (2 wood).  This of course means you need to get wood, guard tower or not.  Luckily wood is easy to come by and if you have a 9 you got money, wood and gold right away.  To sum up, first round you need a gold or wood, two wood and a gold if at all possible.  Important thing to remember in this game, THINK AHEAD, every good strategy focuses on the overall outcome not the present outcome.  If you leave yourself with only one option in the game then you are doing it WRONG.

Now, to go through the game phase by phase would be a very long drawn out discussion.  If you need more direction please comment and I will give you specifics of a round but I am going to give you the basics here of the goal you want to reach by the end of the game.

Round 1: By the end of autumn phase you want to have three buildings.  If you can afford to buy a column 2 building go for it as long as it does not leave you closed off for options.  Right now you want to focus in rows D, E, and F (the row with the crane).  You want to have the barricade done this round, and with it's cheap cost you should have no problem.  The barricade seems useless, but the column two building is what you are after, the blessed crane of glory.  You don't really want to buy the crane first round, you are building up for it in the second.  It is great to have, but you want the battle for round 1's winter season.  Guard Tower is a must because it is an auto 1 battle.  If you have the Look Out Tower instead, the same applies.  Palisade is also good to have, if you have the small palisade it is even more important to get out of the way first season.  The regular Palisade you can pass on if you can afford the Blacksmith which will make up for it fully.  Now, in the winter, if you can play the 0 token or the 1 token.  If you play anything higher than you messed up the strategy slightly, but you can still come back it will just take more work.  There are only one 4 in round 1 so if you built the barricade, guard tower, palisade/blacksmith all you need is the 1 token.

Now, as I said, you want to have the crane done in round 2.  If you are thinking about buying a building in column 3 DO NOT until you get the crane.  Then after that buy them if you can afford them.  A good strategy to follow is to build up one row quickly leaving the others relatively low.  Then if you do not meet your desired quota of goods for the following seasons to buy a big building you can go back and fill in.  Leaving a column one open like the palisades is good in this way, or you can always buy the statue or bridge (if you have the replacement row).  The goal is to try and build every round.  It is alright to miss one round of buying if you need a column 4 building, but other than that you should be able to keep it going.  The row you want done first will probably be D (the first battle row) which will give you the great +2, no strings attached.  It is the best battle building in the game.  If you are think row C looks nice to finish, don't, it leads to battle disaster with the farms.  The first building is alright to get because it gives you those +2 tokens and can give you something to buy in a lull.  Though, after completing row D you will want to work on E (the second battle row).  And finally you will want row B (the holy row).  If you have the normal row you will probably not be able to get all 15 buildings by the games end, you will only have 14 or maybe even 13.  This is alright, it happens often because the Cathedral is expensive!  It is why that crane is so glorious though.  If you get 15 buildings with the Cathedral than you had a great game and luck is a gift that comes every so often don't let it inflate your ego, this does not happen often but you can win without it still.  If you have the basilica you can crank out 14 buildings easy and 15 with only a little trouble.  What you do with your 15th building is your call.  I prefer to buy a large building if I can, buy at that point you should have the game wrapped up.  The last thing to note, if you built up your army as I suggested by round 5 you should still have your 3 and 4 token.  The 3 token will defeat anything if you have row D and E filled so with the 4 token that is 4 points in the bag.  DO NOT tie the final battle.  Those points are crucial in grasping victory, but with the rows filled out, again, it is in the bag at that point.

So, to all my fans, Stephan hopes you are successful in your endeavor to conquer Kingsburg.  If you have further questions you can comment down below and I will answer you promptly within 24 hours.  If you have anything that you believe people will find helpful feel free to add it as well in the comments.

Thank you and remember that board games are for fun so...HAVE FUN!