Mission Parameters and Overview
My friends and I introduced another new player to DoA2 yesterday and had a great time playing. We finally got to see how Encounters work out, and we tried a mission type that was new to us. Two other factors were different about this session: we used a chess clock to try to speed things along, and there may have been just a bit of whiskey in the ol’ Coke Zero. Both factors meant that my notes from the session were a bit spottier than usual. But I’ll do my best to reconstruct the session!
Mission: Rush Triad
Characters count: 8 per team
Character selection: Standard
Character entry: Distance
Game length: Medium, although it ended sooner
After dealing and selecting our characters we determined who was Team White based on the highest Respect character. Creating the map was a lot simpler this time around than it has been with our previous Standard Labyrinth games. That’s because the overall layout is predetermined: Team White just has to pick a platter and three dome keys, and Team Black just picks a platter and one dome key. The rest just comes down to determining the random platter and orienting the platters to best effect.
Before we started both teams thought that the Escape mechanic was going to be more crucial than it ended up being (more on that later), so Team White selected the Monument platter to try to funnel the opposing characters through a narrow chokepoint. White had two Respect 9 characters who were both base-busters, so this would allow them to start off in position to open up the Black base. It was a bit of a risk because if those two characters were to fail then White would be trapping themselves on their own platter for a while.
The random platter was Impact--another platter with a big obstacle on it. Hmmm, this would make for an interesting Rush game. After Team White selected their dome keys, Black picked a dome key and their platter, The Forge, and just like that the map building was finished.
Laying out the Encounter markers was quick and a little more strategic than we anticipated it would be. For example, Team White thought that they were being clever when they placed an Encounter on a fire hex on Black’s home platter. The idea was to place it inefficiently for spacing purposes and to make it off-limits to Black’s characters. Little did they know that Team Black had a character who could enter fire hexes!
After placing the Encounters both teams had a look at the opposing characters. As usual, each side immediately felt doomed. “Whoa, look at this guy, he’s a nightmare!” “Oh no no no no nooooooo, they have Princess Sunglow.” I love that part of the game. Everyone drew their cards and Team Black placed their characters, then Team White placed theirs. The Distance method of character entry meant that things were going to jump off to a fast start! Team Black was going to begin closer to their entry ring than White was. This would give White a bit of an advantage, and it did end up allowing Big Herr to start on the other side of the Monument obstacle. Pretty cool! Here’s a list of the characters with their Respect ratings:
Team BlackRaygun Roger, The Gallant Space Hero
(7)Jack Hammer, The Lone Wolf
(5)William Wallace, The Inspiring Leader
(5)Seveneyes, The Seer
(3)Ulshasa, The Fire Dweller
(3)Yori Blackpad, The Cave Dweller
(3)Thotus, The Pulsating Brain
(1)Sandman, The Urban Legend
Team WhiteBig Herr, The Rock Star
(9)Princess Sunglow, The Dainty Princess
(9)Ardin Glynn, The Envoy
(7)Ironhead McRay, The Boxer
(7)Milena Arrebato, The Freedom Fighter
(6)Amanda Pierce, The Freelancer
(4)Mr. Catskill, The Vigilante
(4)Thorn, The Opportunist
Highlights from the game will come later, but first here’s my assessment of how the different characters performed. As before, this isn’t a review of the characters themselves, just how they worked out in this session.
Big Herr: Such a memorable character. He was extremely valuable at the beginning of the game because he was able to bust open Team Black’s low gate in the first turn. He would have liked to have stayed on Modern terrain in order to take advantage of his special abilities, but the demands of the game kept him more in the center of the map. He crushed one Respect-based encounter, but for the most part his abysmal stat ratings made him better as bait than as an adventurer. He started with the Brainy Venusian henchman, who stuck with Big Herr through thick and thin.
Princess Sunglow (Team White MVP): We all thought she’d be effective and she sure was. She was able to charm her way through the Black base’s high gate, then talk the guards into knocking the door down. Later she effectively ended the game when she flipped one of Black’s characters, thus almost triggering a Valor Victory. Team White was able to keep her away from dishonorable enemies, and that ended up being decisive. Just the threat of her special ability kept some characters at bay though. In mid-game she dismissed herself to Black’s home platter so she could introduce herself to Raygun Roger, and the armor-wearing, weapon-wielding Roger had to flee! This saddened Princess Sunglow. He seemed awfully sweet.
Ardin Glynn: Ardin is a very solid character. He can use just about any piece of equipment that he comes across and is a great adventurer. He succeeded at several encounters and set up a sentinel (the Hedgehog) in an important spot.
Ironhead McRay: He’s a tough son-of-a-gun, that’s for sure. He was good on encounters too, although mostly because he had a couple of high attributes (Melee and Strength) that were a bit lacking on Team White. That meant he could mop up encounters that others had failed. He was a physical threat and mixed it up with the enemy quite effectively.
Milena Arrebato: Milena’s speed allowed her to mop up encounters that others had failed, then deliver important items to her teammates. She seems solid but just didn’t end up accomplishing anything dramatic for Team White.
Amanda Pierce: Great Bond villainess name on this character, hehe. Amanda mostly earned her keep with encounters and by using her Wits and natural hand-to-hand ability to hit the Black base and keep Team Black away from it. Her inability to trade cards was a significant handicap though.
Mr. Catskill: Fortunately for Team White, Mr. Catskill didn’t get the chance to use his special ability. He did get his hands on a rifle at one point though, and he was quite good with it. He’s not a true sniper character because his Stealth is not exceptional. Mr. Catskill seems like the kind of character who needs to remain unremarkable to the opposition for as long as possible. The more equipment he can get the scarier he’ll be.
Thorn: Thorn seems like he’d be much better in a Standard Labyrinth game than in one with encounters. The relative lack of dismissing in this session and complete lack of future adventures meant that his special abilities were not useful. He wasn’t a bad character though, and was able to complete encounters quite well.
Victoria, The Daredevil: Victoria was brought into the game by Team Black, actually, when Seveneyes passed a Lith challenge. Fortunately for Team White Victoria has a Respect 9, and when Princess Sunglow finally cornered her for a nice tea party the Princess convinced her to switch teams. Victoria is a really, really solid character. She didn’t come into the game for a few rounds though, and spent a couple of more rounds ducking Princess Sunglow. She managed some base repair and a couple of encounters though.
Raygun Roger: Give Roger a pistol and he’s okay to go! Unfortunately he never did get a pistol, but he did get some very useful armor. His mobility came in very handy for Team Black, and he proved to be a capable adventurer. He met his end when he and Jack Hammer tried to take out Ironhead McRay.
Jack Hammer: A solid character with a surprisingly effective special ability, Jack Hammer became positively scary once he found a javelin and a grenade launcher. His high speed helped him reach several encounters, and he was in position to avenge Raygun Roger when Team Black conceded the game.
William Wallace: One of Wallace’s better qualities is his high speed and overall average to above average adventuring stats. His ability to help teammates hit with attacks was a factor in the mid-game but did not prove to be decisive.
Seveneyes: Definitely the runner-up MVP for Team Black, Seveneyes is a neat character and a solid adventurer. She was shaping up to be Black’s Lith adventurer when she was cut down by some vicious opportunity fire from Mr. Catskill and Ardin Glynn’s sentinel. Before that, she was able to complete two or three encounters and use a Lith challenge to bring Victoria into the game.
Ulshasa: Ulshasa ended up being useful to Team Black: mobile on his own fire-specked platter and quite tough to boot. He really needed weapons in order to make a big difference, but his 2 Intellect hampered his ability to equip items. Eventually Team White learned to pick juicier targets though.
Yori Blackpad (Team Black MVP): Yori is a great little adventurer! He is downright scary in cavern spaces, and somehow he always seemed to be in caverns: Lith’s Lair, the Alliance Key, or Team White’s base. The poor guy never got to use a crossbow, but his high mobility and defenses made him a great blocker.
Thotus: Thotus was such a threat to Team White that they prioritized him as a target. That proved to be his undoing, and he was imprisoned somewhat early in the game and was never busted out. Thotus seems like a one-trick pony, but wow, what a trick!
Sandman: Scary! The Sandman was seriously hampered by his mobility and by having to start directly in Team Black’s starting ring. Team White kept its distance throughout the entire game. It seems like this character needs an urban platter or two to shine. The Alamo or Tombstone would really make the Sandman shine/
Game Highlights and Notes
I apologize for the sparseness of the highlights to come, but did I mention the whiskey? We also used a chess clock app this time around in order to a) get us all to play a bit faster, and b) identify any and all Analysis Paralysis victims. I really liked playing on the clock! It kept me on task without lessening my enjoyment of the game. I think at least one of my friends wasn’t a fan of the clock though. We’ll see about using it in the future.
In this picture you can see Team White’s chokepoint on the Monument platter. They had to use Black’s base to get off the platter, but luckily for them Big Herr and Princess Sunglow were able to demolish the gates. Big Herr especially had a great time doing it because he was in modern terrain for his adventure to get through the low gate. This meant that instead of having to pay one card to get in he was able to draw a card! Then he just used the newly drawn card to bribe the low gate guard to demolish the gate.
You can also see that Seveneyes has already succeeded in bringing Victoria into the game (she's in the Black HQ hex). It happened very quickly, and Team White was outnumbered early.
The encounter markers were bright shiny objects that grabbed players’ attention, perhaps more than they were worth. Here you can see that both teams still have a couple of characters deep in their own backfields trying to scoop up encounters. Meanwhile, it doesn’t look like it yet but the middle platter is shaping up to be a killing field.
The cluster of White activity in Team Black’s base is from trying to pin down Victoria so that Princess Sunglow could flip her to Team White. It didn’t work (this time!) because she was able to move to a damaged gate and dismiss herself out of there after trying to repair it. Mr. Catskill was going to take an OpFire shot at her and perhaps even attack her in melee, but the Princess insisted that he leave Victoria unharmed. For his troubles he got a broken nose (2 damage in melee) before Victoria repaired the gate and got the heck out of there.
Here you can see that Ardin Glynn has placed his Hedgehog in a good spot for covering the approach to the Impact platter and Lith’s Lair. Team White was fortunate that the sentinel just damaged opposing characters--it never quite took them out altogether--so its threat persisted through to the end of the game.
By this time Princess Sunglow had talked Team Black’s high gate guards into demolishing the gate again, and there was some back-and-forth in the Alliance key.
Also, Team White looked like it might be trying to get Ironhead McRay to escape for that achievement point (he's in the southeast area of the map in this photo), but for the most part Escape didn’t look like it was going to be a big part of this session. The geography of that middle platter forced characters into confrontation.
Speaking of Ironhead McRay, you can see that he doesn’t really fear Raygun Roger and is trying to get to that Respect 8 modern encounter so he can scoop up the three-card reward. Sure enough, he was able to do that, but Jack Hammer joined the party later and things got ugly.
This is how things looked at the end of the game. A lot is going on at this point.
William Wallace has unleashed Hatchetbeak on Big Herr. Big Herr couldn’t quite reach modern terrain--where he would be completely immune to Hatchetbeak--so he has rendezvoused with Amanda Pierce for some protection.
Team Black has tied things up in the Alliance Labyrinth, and there’s a cluster of characters around its entrance. William Wallace and Victoria are right in the entryway, and Ardin Glynn has maneuvered next to the crashed starship in order to line up a shot on them with his bazooka. However, a stern look from Princess Sunglow has stayed his hand, allowing Sunglow to move in and convince Victoria to change sides. She had been tempted to flip Wallace instead so that Hatchetbeak would change sides with him, but the odds just weren’t favorable enough.
You can see that Sandman has deployed the Coffee Fiend monument just outside the White base. This let him move to the White prison in one turn and attempt to break Thotus free. Despite his 7 Strength the Sandman failed, but was dismissed closer to its opponents. This would have become more scary in later turns, no doubt.
Finally, far to the southeast Ironhead McRay has managed to take down Raygun Roger although he’s almost finished as well (Ironhead is underneath the blue stone that we used to mark the position of Roger’s dropped items). In the previous turn he used a previously unrevealed halberd to take Roger down to 2 Health, and then in this turn he knocked Roger out with his bare hands. Yori and Jack Hammer are about to finish Ironhead off though.
Both sides agreed that a huge turning-point-that-never-was occurred in mid-game, when Thotus ended his movement just one hex away from being able to use his special ability to OpFire Ironhead McRay or Big Herr into switching teams. One hex made all the difference in the world there.
The Alliance Labyrinth was interesting. I think we would need to have a significantly longer game for it to become decisive in its own right, but just its location made it a center of activity once the teams had run into each other.
All in all, this was a very fun session. Rush missions are well named: things happen quickly and teams are practically forced to collide in the midfield. It’s like a kickoff return in American Football. In any case, we’re getting faster and we’re having as much fun as ever. I can’t wait for our next session!
Combat: White (Thanks to drasher25 for his handy combat achievement player aid)
Team Base: White
Lith’s Lair: tie
Alliance Labyrinth: tie
Encounters: White (11 encounters to 10)
Final Score: Team White wins handily, 3 to 0!
Great review! Love the look of the ipad dual timer, what's it called?
That clock is part of a small app for iPhone or iPad called Gaming Tools. Here's a link to it: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/gaming-tools/id688265946?mt=.... The clock is really simple, but it's all we needed.
Thanks John, downloaded
Just letting you know that your session reports are being appreciated even a year later.
Are you still playing DoAII as much as you were in '13? If so, you should write another one of these entertaining reports!
Also, I liked reading your comment about the whiskey. I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one to enjoy a couple of stiff drinks when playing DoAII!
Thanks very much indeed, MacDouglass. We did play a lot of DoAII this year! It has been a couple of months since our last game though, so I'm hoping we can get in another match before the end of the year.
This is probably my group's favorite game (with Bohnanza and Love Letter as strong runners up), so folks are almost always up for a session. The only "problem" is that we get together to game infrequently enough that when we do it turns into a big, fun social occasion. We talk and catch up while playing, and before we know it six hours have passed and we're only on Round 12 or thereabouts.
Not a terrible problem to have, I know.