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Subject: White Knight - unstoppable killing machine? rss

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Lee Kennedy
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Caveat: I am still learning Magic Realm.

I've played three straight solo games as the White Knight. Each time I started at the chapel, sold the sword to buy the morning star and then traded until I got the T7/H4 warhorse on a boon. The most that has taken me is 2 1/2 days. After that it seems like the WK can just walk through the realm. Each time I've made my victory conditions, last time with a total score of 28! Barring a bad map where you are cutoff by caves, and avoiding a few baddies (like the pool) it seems like there is nothing to challenge the WK. I haven't been wounded in any of the 3 games.

I know there is an optional rule to remove the chance at a boon, and that if there were more characters the WK would be a big target. But in solo play, is the WK really that strong or have I just been lucky?
 
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Jay Richardson
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A warhorse will make any character nearly (but not completely) invincible in the standard game. White Knight + warhorse is a REALLY strong combination.

If this bugs you, then you could try the Optional Combat Rules... no more invincible warhorses! But the game also becomes much harder, as the monsters are much more deadly (and thus the Optional Combat Rules are NOT recommended for beginners).
 
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Robt. Ferrett
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I don't have the 3rd edition rules in front of me--but isn't there an option where the Order is just Friendly to the White Knight, not Allied? That lowers the cheap trade possibility.
 
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Devon Harmon
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Admittedly, I'm not the best Magic Realm player (just read my session reports), but I just tried what you described, and died rather quickly. Of course I did fail my hide roll, so I was out in the open when the T and H dragons game in. I also hadn't spent an action to ready the morning star (I was busy searching the Cairns). I missed the T dragon on the first turn, so I was in his clutches and he killed me the next turn (I also sold my armor to buy the warhorse cause I got bored just taking trade actions).

So maybe the White Knight is an unstoppable killing machine, if you never go into a cave and devote two actions to hiding and one action to readying the morning star each and every day, but what fun is that?
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Steve McKnight
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thelivekennedy wrote:
I've played three straight solo games as the White Knight. Each time I started at the chapel, sold the sword to buy the morning star and then traded until I got the T7/H4 warhorse on a boon. The most that has taken me is 2 1/2 days. After that it seems like the WK can just walk through the realm. Each time I've made my victory conditions, last time with a total score of 28! Barring a bad map where you are cutoff by caves, and avoiding a few baddies (like the pool) it seems like there is nothing to challenge the WK. I haven't been wounded in any of the 3 games... in solo play, is the WK really that strong or have I just been lucky?

You are right, the White Knight, allied with the Order and with his -1 "Honor" die roll on the Meeting Table, is seriously overpowered.

It isn't the Morning Star (at least not in the Second Edition where the Morning Star has a speed 6 on its unalerted side), it's the ability to pick up a warhorse at the beginning of the game that puts the White Knight over the edge. In two days, 8 Trade phases, the White Knight has a 60% chance of getting a warhorse as a Boon. If you don't want to wait that long you can trade in your armor to buy the warhorse in less than a day.

With the Tremendous and armored warhorse the White Knight becomes invulnerable to most medium and heavy monsters - including the Goblins, Wolves, and Bats that are so devastatingly effective against the unmounted Knight. In addition, the warhorse's speed 4 maneuver removes the White Knight's main weakness, his inability to maneuver at speed 4 for more than three rounds without having to fatigue his only Move H4**. With a speed-4 warhorse, the White Knight can dodge the T Troll without fatiguing a Move chit and still use his T Fight chits to kill it off. There really isn't much that can stop him as long as he stays out of the caves. (For an exception that proves the rule, look at: http://www.triremis.com.au/pmwiki/pmwiki.php?n=Main.RoundOfF...)

To be fair, you've discovered a strategy that took me many years of playing the game before I learned the opening from a posting by Jerrod January. But it does remove the suspense from playing the White Knight. When I pointed this out to Richard Hamblen, he agreed that something had to be done, and we came up with the Knight's Adjustment as another (in addition to the Elf's) optional Special (dis)Advantage in the Third Edition rules. The Knights' Adjustment, which you can activate as a "Third Edition Option" in RealmSpeak, reduces the White Knight from Allied to Friendly with the Order (and, for other reasons, reduces the Black Knight from Allied to Friendly with the Company). Once you've had as much fun as you want bouncing around the board as super-Knight, I recommend checking the "Knights' Adjustment" so you can play the White Knight at a reasonable level of challenge. I always play the White Knight with the "Knights' Adjustment."

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Lee Kennedy
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Thanks Steve. I will definitely use the Knight's Adjustment from now on. In terms of finding the strategy quickly, I did have some help from reading through some strategy guides and session reports

@Devon - I didn't say that the WK + warhorse was invulnerable. In your situation you should have alerted the weapon instead of hiding. It's guaranteed and much more valuable then being hidden. With the alerted morning star you undercut the T dragon and kill it on round 1 (using a T fight chit). You can safely play the T7 side of the warhorse and the H dragon cannot hurt you.
 
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Steve McKnight
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Quote:
I just tried what you described, and died rather quickly. Of course I did fail my hide roll, so I was out in the open when the T and H dragons game in. I also hadn't spent an action to ready the morning star (I was busy searching the Cairns). I missed the T dragon on the first turn, so I was in his clutches and he killed me the next turn (I also sold my armor to buy the warhorse cause I got bored just taking trade actions).

Since there are no Roar or Slither sound chits that would end up in the Cairns' clearing 5, to get both the T Dragon and H Dragon at the same time at the Cairns either both Dragons must have already been in the tile or else the one Dragon was already in the tile and the tile had Smoke C Warning chit. In either case you would have been well advised to take some precautions: an extra Hide or Alert phase during the day.

Nevertheless, with a warhorse and a Morning Star the White Knight has a excellent chance to survive against the Tremendous Dragon and Heavy Dragon, even if he is unhidden, doesn't have any armor, and the Morning Star isn't alerted. In fact, he's home free if the Dragon head doesn't flip to its T4 side.

Against the T Dragon alone, the White Knight could alert his Morning Star with a Fight H5* and swing it with a Fight T5* to undercut and vanquish the Dragon. But with the move speed 4 H Dragon on his sheet as well, he doesn't have a fast enough Fight chit to alert the Morning Star in the Encounter Step. Since the Morning Star speed on the unalerted side is 6, he'll have to match directions with the T Dragon to kill it.

In Round 1 the Knight maneuvers with the warhorse on its H4 side in Dodge and attacks the T Dragon in Swing with his unalerted Morning Star and his Fight T5* chit. The warhorse doesn't have to be played on its T7 side to have Tremendous vulnerability - the H4 or T7 notation indicates what the carrying capacity of the warhorse is, not its vulnerability. A warhorse's vulnerability is always Tremendous and armored regardless of the letter on the face-up side.



Round 1: The White Knight with a warhorse vs. two Dragons.


If the T Dragon lines up with with the warhorse, the White Knight's attack lines up and kills the T Dragon without losing anything. If the H Dragon lines up it doesn't do any damage against the warhorse on either its H4/4 or M4/3 side, and the Morning Star is alerted for Round 2 because it missed in Round 1. If the T Dragon head lines up but doesn't flip, the H4 attack doesn't hurt the warhorse, but the T Dragon turns red side up for Round 2.

If the head lines up and flips to its T4 side (about a 1 in 10 chance), the warhorse is killed and and the T Dragon turns red side up. In this case the White Knight is in serious trouble because in Round 2 he can't maneuver with his Move H4** and still swing his Morning Star with his Fight T5* because he's only allowed to use two effort asterisks per round of combat. The White Knight will kill the T Dragon as below, but, without his warhorse and armor he will be undercut and killed by the H Dragon, unless it flips to its M4/3 side.

Lets assume that the Dragon head lines up but doesn't flip to its T4 side. In that case in Round 2 shapes up as below. The Knight maneuvers again in Dodge with the warhorse on its H4 side and attacks in Swing with the alerted speed-3 Morning Star and the Fight T5* chit. In this case, the T Dragon and the Morning Star both attack with speed 3, undercut, and hit. (The H4/T4 head attack is slower and won't hit until after the Morning Star does its work.) Since the attack speeds are the same, the order of inflicting harm goes by weapon length and the length 8 Morning Star beats out the length 0 (tooth/claw) T Dragon Body. The T Dragon, along with its head, is killed before it can inflict any harm.



Round 2: The White Knight with a warhorse vs. two Dragons, assuming the T Dragon head hit in Round 1 but didn't "change tactics."


After that, mopping up the H Dragon is trivial. So the White Knight with the warhorse and Morning Star has a better than 90% chance of taking out the T Dragon / H Dragon combo, even unhidden and unalerted. I don't think I need to sketch out the same combat with the White Knight on foot to indicate why I think that the ability to get himself a warhorse on Day 1 is an unfair advantage!

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Mark W
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mcknight wrote:
The Knights' Adjustment, which you can activate as a "Third Edition Option" in RealmSpeak, reduces the White Knight from Allied to Friendly with the Order (and, for other reasons, reduces the Black Knight from Allied to Friendly with the Company). Once you've had as much fun as you want bouncing around the board as super-Knight, I recommend checking the "Knights' Adjustment" so you can play the White Knight at a reasonable level of challenge. I always play the White Knight with the "Knights' Adjustment."

Steve,

Could I ask for your opinion on the Black Knight adjustment? I don't have enough BK experience to judge, but someone on the mailing list offered the following opinion. And do you know if Richard Hamblen agreed to this adjustment also? Thanks!

Here it is:

And TBH, I'm not even 100% convinced the Knights Adjustment is really all that necessary (at least not for the BK). Sure, he has a 1 in 6 every turn of having the Company turn up at the in, but then he has to roll another 1 in 6 to get them for free with the standard rules. He can, of course, spend multiple turns waiting for that '1', but that is time he is wasting while others are out accomplishing things. I dont see how this strategy is really more overpowering than the Witch or Witch King absorbing any armored T critter and going around fragging all the weaker natives with no risk whatsoever. Regardless, without that strategy, I think the BK is at a disadvantage even compared to the faster 'Mediums' like the Amazon and the Captain (especially the latter since he starts with friends already in his location for hire, trade, or slaughter).
 
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Lee Kennedy
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Wow. Thanks Steve for the detailed breakdown. It's great as a relative newcomer to the game to get those kind of examples. Plus I forgot that a horse's vulnerability does not change.
 
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Steve McKnight
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Quote:
Could I ask for your opinion on the Black Knight adjustment? I don't have enough BK experience to judge, but someone on the mailing list offered the following opinion. And do you know if Richard Hamblen agreed to this adjustment also? Thanks!

Richard did think it was a good idea to adjust the Black Knight to make him Friendly instead of Allied with the Company. Richard thinks that Magic Realm needs to be more than hanging around the dwellings waiting for native groups to show up to hire or slaughter. "Get out into the clean air of the country," is how he expressed it. The Witch or Witch King have a very strong strategy with "Absorb Essence," but they have to go out and find a Tremendous monster before they are all killed by the Dwarf, White Knight, or Berserker, and successfully cast a spell on it before they can become rampaging terrors. (And, of course, a clever Pilgrim could appropriate all their Notoriety by reducing them to virtual helplessness with a well-timed "Exorcise" and finishing them off with his Fight M2** Staff.)

The Black Knight doesn't have to leave the confines of the Inn to have the Company come to him and doesn't need any extra gold to hire them - it should take him only two days of Hire phases to have nearly a 70% chance of picking them up on a Boon.

I've attached the end of my correspondence with Richard Hamblen below:

Quote:
Dear Stephen,

Sounds good to me. My concern about the Black Knight is whether he will
be able to work alone for a while and then start building up an army,
which is one of the strategic lines I want to have available for him.
Making the Company merely friendly hurts him when he gets to raising
armies. On the other hand, leaving things as they are allows him to move
directly to the army stage, which is not the idea!
So, yeah, making the Knights friendly seems like the simplest and best
available solution.

Warmest regards,
Richard Hamblen

Quote:
Stephen McKnight wrote:

> Richard--
>
> For the sake of simplicity I vote for a "Knight's Adjustment":
> convert the Allies to Friends for both Knights just because the hiring
> advantages make Allies too powerful. I'm not sure if this would make
> the Black Knight too weak or not. On paper he doesn't seem like a
> shoe-in (run into a Tremendous Troll and the game's over), but it
> seems to me that I've rarely seen a bad result with Sir Mordred.
>
> Of course the real answer here may be John Hickman's comment that
> once you start trying to adjust the character strengths, you just don't
> know where to stop!


Hamblen: You think this is a problem now? You should have been there when
I was designing the game!
My solution to this problem was to visualize the characters and then
devise reasonable strategies for them to follow, and then to set their
attributes to enable those strategies. That way, I only had to worry about
whether they were strong enought to follow their strategies.
I guess my point is that you have to have something solid to aim at when
you're trying to fiddle with the characters. Trying to balance them
precisely is just an exercise in infinite regression, given all of the
ways things interact in the game.

One of the joys of Magic Realm is starting with a perceived under-powered
character and taking him or her to the top.
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Mark W
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Ok, thanks for your input Steve!
 
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Steve Malczak
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Quote:
The Black Knight doesn't have to leave the confines of the Inn to have the Company come to him and doesn't need any extra gold to hire them - it should take him only two days of Hire phases to have nearly a 70% chance of picking them up on a Boon.


Not quite. There might be a 70% chance of getting on a Boon if they are there, but its only a 1 in 6 each day, not each phase of them being present. The odds of actually hiring the Company in 2 days are extremely low.


Quote:
Richard thinks that Magic Realm needs to be more than hanging around the dwellings waiting for native groups to show up to hire or slaughter. "Get out into the clean air of the country," is how he expressed it


A laudable goal. But in this case, I believe its simply narrowing the options available to what is already one of the weaker intital characters. Unlike the Captain, he doesnt start where better equipment is available easily and unlike the Amazon, he cant move faster to get to where better equipment can be bought. Also, unlike either of them, he cant run from Move-4 critters making any 'going out into the clean air' alone far more hazardous.

To me, depriving the BK of his potential to hire his posse makes him one of the weaker characters. Sure, if he gets his hirelings, that makes him quite nasty but many other characters have similar ability to be unpleasant. And its not exactly like hanging around the Inn is completely risk free either. There are other, less friendly natives than can happen by and even the Rogues can occasionally cause trouble. Yes, the BK can Hide to avoid trouble, but he can easily lose an entire week sitting and waiting for the Company to even show up (only 1 in 6 chance each day...a week is certainly not unrealistic to lose).

At any rate, I think the game should play differently for different characters. Some might want to go 'out into the open air', but it shouldnt be required for all IMO. As an example, the Captain never really has to go out and dig for treasure. He can slaughter the Guard on Turn 1, loot them and eventually slaughter the Patrol if/when they arrive (after selling them the Guard's loot which he will take back after the Patrol is vanquished). That can give him a lot of early VPs in Notoriety and Gold and a chance for Great Treasure without ever leaving his starting spot. Does that mean that the Captain should be changed too?

I do agree about the WK because he is already a strong contender and he starts with his Allies already present in his starting location. But for the BK, changing it just to force him to go out and treasure hunt seems unnecessary.

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