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Subject: Worst Rulebook I've read in a while rss

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Bryan Gerding
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Offering reviews, rulebooks, editing, playtesting, and Polish translation. PM me for details.
Seriously, I sat down trying to digest this book and it is absolutely frustrating. It's so disorganized and has absolutely no flow.

Seriously publishers, put the goals of the game at the very front! I need to know what I'm trying to do and why doing action X is beneficial and why mechanic Y is hurtful.

I don't think it's just the English version either. My girlfriend tried to read the Polish one and got just as frustrated as I did.

Does anyone know of a walkthrough or something to help us have a good first game that won't consist of us staring at the rulebook for 45% of the time?
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Orion Free
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The rulebook I find isn't necessarily bad, after reading it through a few times it did have what I needed to play.
The flow isn't what you described, however, as the rulebook is presented as Backstory -> Setup -> Round -> Actions -> Goals,
which may be confusing as some players may need this back to front to pick the game up.

Part of the difficulty of the rulebook flow is that there are 3 win conditions that need to be managed, and it is easy to make mistakes -
if you fall behind in one of these the other players can take advantage.
These are outlined in the back of the book, as Player Goals, Victory Points, and the Dead Snow track.
At the same time, there are 3 main decision points that occur throughout the game -
At the beginning of the round, with the Round Markers, during the Action Selection phase, where you select your actions in Worker Placement Fashion,
and during the Action Resolution phase, when you are able to activate your selected actions and activate and attack with your units.

I'm not sure of any walkthroughs but I'll give a shot to explain the key parts of the game and what you might need to watch out for.

At a basic level, you need to influence regions. You can gather influence through either influence cubes, or units - one per cube and unit level (Level 3 unit is 3 influence).
At the end of every round, you dominate each region that you have the most influence in, and get resources, the use of certain abilities, and points during some rounds(marked red on the round track).
The region control is a key part of the game, and whether you want to win through goal or by points you will need to dominate regions to achieve that.

------------- WINNING ---------------

As mentioned before, there are 3 ways to win.
- Player Goals are different for each character, and generally require 6 rounds to complete. If a player completes theirs, they win the game.

The Goals are all different an affect the game in different ways, and they all rely on two things - level 2 units, and region domination.
Every level two unit has a different effect in a region that they belong in that you dominate at the end of the round, that advances your personal goal. The way that it is set up,
the Black player character has a slightly quicker goal, and the Green player character has a slightly more difficult goal, as it also requires the Level 3 unit to achieve.
Black PC - This character starts with the Thorn building. Whenever this player dominates a region that contains one of their level 2 units and a Magical reserve, they move that magical reserve to the region that contains the Thorn. Then, whenever they dominate the region containing the Thorn while it also contains Magical Reserves, they absorb the magical reserves and claim them. Once all 4 of these are claimed they win the game. Note that you cannot 'absorb' a magical reserve during the same round that you move it. The most efficient method for this is to dominate the 4 magical reserve spaces, and then after that round finishes, to dominate the Thorn region to win. This makes Black able to win in 5 dominations/rounds, while the other characters require 6 dominations to achieve their goal.
Red PC - Whenever this character dominates a region that contains one of their level 2 units and does not contain a red tower, they place a red tower in that region. This is possibly the simplest to focus on, as it just requires winning domination in 6 different regions. This character will spread out when possible, hoping to dominate and move around the map to win different regions.
Blue PC - Whenever this character dominates a region that contains one of their level 2 units and at least one influence cube belonging to an opponent, they take one of those influence and put it on the Ice Garden on the side of the map. Once they have 6, they win the game. This character will want to go after other players, and focus on places where they have straggling influence they can't move away.
Green PC - This character is a little trickier. Whenever this character dominates a region with their Level 3 unit, they place a nightmare token in that region. Additionally, whenever this character dominates a region that contains 2 of their nightmare tokens and one of their level 2 units, they lock the region. All units inside aside from the level 2 unit are destroyed, and half their influence is left inside. That region cannot be moved to or targeted for the rest of the game. Once 2 regions have been locked, Green wins.

- Victory Points, if the last scoring is done (a Round marker makes it to the end of the round track and final scoring completes), or a player gets to 50 points,
then the player with the most Victory points wins.
Victory points are achieved in two ways - by dominating and maintaining control over regions during the 4 red scoring rounds, and when killing influence cubes and enemy units through attack. One VP for each cube and one VP per level of the enemy unit.

- Dead Snow track, every time you summon a unit, move magic tokens, or upgrade a unit, the Dead Snow track is moved up.
The game ends at a certain number depending on the number of players - 18 for 2 players, 24 for 3 players. If the game ends here, then the player with the best Reputation wins.
Reputation is lost through the same actions that move up the dead snow track, and regained through the use of the 'Raven Shadow' action.

Note here, that if any of these requirements become complete, that the other tracks are useless. If somebody achieves their goal, it does not matter how many points you have or what your reputation is (unless you both achieve your goal in the same round.) If somebody reaches 50 victory points, it does not matter how good your reputation is. If somebody causes the game to reach the end on the Dead Snow track, it does not matter how far along you are in your goal, or how many points you have.
Because of this, let's say you focus too much on completing your goal, and just destroy your reputation to get as many units out as possible. Another player may be able to force the game to end by using too much magic (ending on the dead snow track), and winning through reputation.

The difficulty here is the need to balance these, and either taking the risk to focus on one win condition, or try to manage all of these.
Generally you would be attempting to win by goal or points, as holding back just to maintain reputation might not work as well - a player dominating a number of areas will most likely be able to bring their reputation back up anyway.


Action Selection and Resolution -
Now for what to do during the round. During the first round you get to take 3 actions, in the guise of Worker Placement. The actions are -
Gain a resource (and permanently lose an influence cube)
Place Influence (where you have influence)
Move some influence/units
Move all influence/units
Raise your reputation/Discard a Vuko token
Use Magic (Move magic markers, summon, upgrade a unit, each can be done once)

The first set of these should be fairly straightforward, after choosing the actions in the selection phase you take actions one at a time in action order, adding influence, moving cubes, etc.
The Magic Action is the most complex, and where the most difficulty can come in with managing the game.
You can do each part of the magic action once, and each time you do you move the Dead Snow track up one space and lose reputation. Reputation lost is based on number of units and unit level for summoning units, and 1 for the other actions.
This way, if you use all 3 actions, you will move the Dead Snow track 3 spaces and lose at least 3 reputation.
The tricky part about this game is managing magic. You are very able to be a terrible wizard, and misuse magic to the point of causing a magical nuclear winter.
The magic marker action gives you 5 moves for your magic tokens on your track, which seems counter-intuitive: higher does not necessarily mean better.
Level 0 tokens are used for upgrading and for the Raven Shadow action, whereas tokens on the other levels of the track are used for summoning units.
Managing magic here is important because each token on a level can only be used to summon units of that level - you cannot, for example, summon 2 level one units using a magic token on level 3 and move it down two spaces.
A level three magic token summons a level 3 unit, a level 1 magic token summons a level one unit. You can summon multiple of the same level
This is why magic movement is an important thing to worry about - you can only summon units of one level for each magic action.
You cannot summon 2 level 2s, and 2 level 1 units in the same action - you would need to use a separate magic action to summon the 2 level 2 units, and another magic action to summon the 2 level 1 units.
To summon all 6 of your units, would take 3 Actions, 10 moves on the magic track, and cost 10 reputation and move the Dead Snow track 5 times (2 magic movement and 3 summons).
If you were to upgrade at the same time it could cost more reputation and Dead Snow movement, so it is very easy to drown in magic, so to speak.

Not for the other key decision point in the game - the Round Selection marker. There are four round groupings with 3-5 actions represented each. Starting after the first round, at the beginning of each round you move each marker forward. However, for each grouping in the round track, each player has the choice to move forward twice rather than once. This does three things, it may bump you into playing ahead of other people, it can determine whether you have more or less actions during the round, and it can make the game faster or slower.
This is another way that a player can force an endgame. If all the players are even, having more rounds means more time for players to complete their goals. However, if one player is ahead in their goals, it might make sense for the other players to try to rush the game ahead early and win by points.
It can be tempting here to skip the low action rounds and have more actions to play, but we find that this can restrict the turns we have to complete our goals - 7 rounds rather than 10. However, choosing to keep the game slow and move to a 3 action space round number can backfire - if other players jump past you or hang back, you can have a difficult round with only 3 actions versus 5.

The last thing to worry about is that Vuko guy.
He's like a big puzzle. He attacks a region every round based on where the player with the least reputation has the most influence.
Then he nukes a unit, and gives you a token - you do not count one influence cube (units still count) in the region that he is in for each of his tokens that you hold towards domination during that round.
This guy is annoying, mostly for the first move. If you decide to summon 3 level one units during the round, and nobody has summoned yet, one of them is most likely going to just die.
This makes it dangerous to bring out a level 3 or level 2 unit early on without having a meat shield, and forces a slower ramp up in units.
Later on, having multiple Vuko tokens can cause you to lose a key domination, so sometimes pushing too hard to get units out and upgrade them can work against you in the long run. It's all a balance.


Sorry for the wall of text, hopefully this makes some sense, and if not, maybe someone else will.
Partly it may not ever seem very clear because there are many different paths, and the path to complete your own goal or hinder another is not necessarily straight. Does a slow, well balanced approach, or a quick spike to one goal work better in this game? I need to play more to figure that out.
It's very tight and complex, some might feel needlessly so. I enjoy the challenge, however.

TLDR: Get influence, dominate regions. If you want to finish your goal, get your Level 2 units into regions you dominate. If you like points, dominate high point regions during red scoring rounds, and kill stuff. Don't worry about reputation too much to start with. Except for that Vuko guy.
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Michal Kazimierczuk
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orionstein wrote:

The last thing to worry about is that Vuko guy.
He's like a big puzzle. He attacks a region every round based on where the player with the least reputation has the most influence.
Then he nukes a unit, and gives you a token.

Actually, he gives you a token first.
There are some ways of circumventing Vuko, even when you adopt a summoning-heavy strategy. First, he must change region every turn (the sole exception is when the player with the worst reputation has no influence at all except from the region Vuko already occupies). So, if the player uses this rule to his advantage, he may gather / summon all his units to the region Vuko moved into the last turn, leaving some cubes (but not units) in another one, where Vuko will be forced to move.
Meatshield method is way less profitable, as it not only causes you to finish with one unit less, but also makes you either summon thrash, which has little in common with your personal goals, or to lose a T2 unit, with 2 pts of reputation still substracted and keeping you low in subsequent turns.
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