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Duel of Ages Set 1: Worldspanner» Forums » General

Subject: Thoughts after 10+ games rss

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Chris Kessel
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I thought I'd give some various unrelated thoughts after having played DoA probably 10 times now.

In a nutshell, I jumped on the fanboy wagon early, found a few niggles I wasn't happy with and wondered if I'd regret it, but I've found I like DoA very much.

Variety
Probably the first thing I really like is the variety. This is both a pro and con. On the negative side, it takes a while to get familiar with things. For the first few games I'd look at the board and think "I don't have a clue who's who." Sure, each character has a unique symbol, but mentally mapping that symbol to the abilities takes a while. It's very frustrating to lose because you just didn't really know who was going where and used them poorly.

On the plus side, variety keeps things from getting stale. The strategy you used with that killer melee group you had last game isn't going to work well with the fast/wimpy guys you've got this game, or with the somewhat dull, but smart guys that can use almost any equipment the following game.

Come on, put the board together already, let's play:
Board setup seems, well, kind of pointless the first few games. Sure, you know you're better in swamps, but it's only 1-2 of your 6-8 characters, is it really that big of a deal? In short, yes, it's a big deal. The board setup influences the lines of movement in the game and getting influence over those lines is huge. You'll want to consider not just your characters, but the enemies. Are you good at a couple particular labyrinths? Then you want them easy to reach. Conversely, make the ones the enemy is good at hard to reach. You've got a good combat characters? Do you need lines of fire?

Dome and key placement is a big deal, but a subtle one. The game isn't won or lost in setup, but it certainly tilts the odds significantly.

Chaos! Where are the battle lines?
I was really annoyed after my first couple games that I couldn't really set up any battle lines. Being an old wargamer I desparately wanted to set up a "this is the line of death, do not cross" type of scenario. But, as I mentioned before, there's a pattern in the chaos: lines of movement.

People have to go from domes to labyrinths to get points, simple as that. You can't control where the enemy gets dismissed, but you can control the lines of movement. If you've got combat heavy types or shooters, don't have them adventure during the part of the game they have the advantage (combat=early, ranged=late). Use them to control the lines of movement, force the enemy to go through your guantlet or around it.

What if you don't have any combat characters? Well, that happens sometimes, but usually you have a couple. If not though, you've got to lure your opponent into wasting time attacking your sacrifical lambs while the rest of your guys push points in the labyrinths. It's easy to get suckered into killing lots of the enemy, only to find out you don't have time left to use that numerical advantage to catch up in the labyrinths.

Strategic patterns:
There are a few common scenarios that come up in each game, strategies you'll want to look at and see if they make sense:

The Blocker: Most characters have to stop when they enter the same hex as an enemy. Labyrinths have one way in... Some characters are really good at soaking up attacks, even if they can't dish it out. These are the blockers. Park them at the front of the labyrinth, stop the enemy, step back one hex, stop them again next turn, and so on. You can hold up multiple enemies for multiple turns this way, either holding a point advantage in a labyrinth or at least keeping enemies from pushing points. Pile of weewaks, agent 911, Jolie, and others are excellent at this.

<b>The Watcher[/b]: Some combat characters, particularly the slow ones, are best used to influence an area. A prime example is the Titanium renegade. Park him in a critial line-of-movement. You're characters can freely move through, knowing if someone attacks them the Escort will come stomp them the next turn. Wimpy enemy characters meanwhile have to go around the Watcher, probably wasting a turn's movement in the process. As your characters roam through they can supply the escort with new equipment as needed. A decent sentinel makes a nice poor-man's Watcher.

Kill them all: Some charactes are just obvious, like the Bladed Terror. Go hunting for enemies...

the Adventurer: The adventurer has average stats across the board, good at nothing, competent at everything. These are typically your adventurers, always having around a 7 to pass challenges. They don't generate AMAZE results much, but they push labyrinht points and gain equipment. Adventurers are sometimes hard to spot, they might have a good ranged ability or combat ability, but don't be overly tempted to misuse them in a combat way. Whack at someone on your way to a labyrinth, but don't bog down in combat against someone less capable of pushing labyrinth points.

These are mostly obvious roles (aside from maybe the watcher), but it's not necessarly obvious what role a character plays. That's a big part of the learning curve, seeing how to use a character. Plus, some characters best mode of use may depend on what other characters you have. In a set of strong melee character's, maybe Sgt Grit should go adventuring?

Plus, equipment can change things. You've got Minx/Jinx, a decent adventurer. Oooh...but you pick up a couple grenades and Minx/Jinx has a White throw ability. Ok, now maybe she's a Watcher or a Blocker variant that kills people as they come into the labyrith.

Conclusion
I'm pretty much suckered in. I like DoA, I like analyzing it afterwards to figure out what happened. I don't like getting diced to death, which does happen, but it happens in Settlers, ASL, and other games, so I don't think it's any worse. But, if you get diced to death in the first hour, concede and start again. This way bad games are short and good games run the full time.

 
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Chris Kessel
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Re:Thoughts after 10 games
A couple points of clarification. The Watcher/Escort are the same. I originally was thinking escort, but the character doesn't really escort others, he just watches over an area of the board. Sorry for the mismatched terminology.

Second, by lines of movement I mean areas that people will often have to go through to reach a labyrinth. A labyrinth stuck at one end of the map only has one real way to get to it, regardless of where the enemy comes from. Sometims in setup you'll have a cluster of dome keys at one end of the map and you know characters will tend to funnel from those through particular areas of the board. This is very noticeable in boards with lots of terrain.

 
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Gregory Wong
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Re:Thoughts after 10 games
I have not played that many games. I don't know all the characters
yet, and I don't know the maps well enough to know how to place
the platters. I often find myself teaching newbies how to play.
When that happens, I explain that there are rules for placing
the platters that we're going to skip in the interest of time. I then
proceed to set up a board randomly.
 
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Cliff Fuller
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Re:Thoughts after 10 games
ckessel (#19174),

I agree with the "diced to death" option of conceding in this game, and it's probably bumped up my rating on this game because I have no angst with finishing each game to it's sometimes bitter end in blowouts. Better to cut a game short and possibly fit in a much more evenly matched and tense game.

In this game - as any involving dice - someone oftens goes on a supernaturally good or bad run of dice rolls. I liken it to tipping the king in chess, if a game is clearly getting away from one player.

The danger is to "not" concede too early either, to avoid the pouting quitting mentality. Often we take a moment to go over the score and "inventory" our situations, and then decide if it's worth continuing.
 
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Svein M. Gaasholt
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Re:Thoughts after 10 games
hackryder (#61355),

My group has played 40+ games of DOA now. Only once has one side resigned a game before the time was up. I believe resigning is something that will mostly be useful for inexperienced players as part of the teaching process. One of the great things of DOA is how even the most hopeless situation can sometimes be turned around to a last minute win.
 
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Svein M. Gaasholt
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Re:Thoughts after 10 games
hackryder (#61355),

My group has played 40+ games of DOA now. Only once has one side resigned a game before the time was up. I believe resigning is something that will mostly be useful for inexperienced players as part of the teaching process. One of the great things of DOA is how even the most hopeless situation can sometimes be turned around to a last minute win.
 
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