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Subject: O say can you see by the dawn's early light rss

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2nd session report below the ***.

The 1st thing I notice is that, with a board printed to letter size cardstock, a centimeter cube token covers about 1.5 units on the time track. There HAS to be a way to make this bigger. Worse I need to place 2 cubes here, so one goes below the track making it particularly hard to see which slot it is on. If the track had numbers too, I might have an additional mnemonic.

And fairly quickly I’m confused, not knowing what to do. I hope experience playing this will teach me, but it is certainly not clear what, if any strategies or tactics to try. On your 1st turn, you don’t have any zombies yet, so you draw cards for them. I think you do ALL of the card drawing before on your next turn you do the zombies attacking phase (also in total). But there are exceptions. If you draw a bite card or a move card, those take effect immediately.

I did 2 treatments initially, drew a bite card, and had a matching color on my 1st turn. Since this gives me a zombie Rebecca, a lesser-win condition and all around tougher time, I decided to reset and do the 3rd treatment.

It seems risky to use Jasper, the dog. If he’s at an entrance with a zombie (and a move card comes up), he dies. But if the zombie has a + he neutralizes that zombie (nope just the extra draw effect of the +)? I’m supposed to rationally use this how? I wonder what the exact odds are of drawing the move card that would kill Jasper are, because again, losing him is a lesser win.

So I start attempting a plan by how I place the zombies on my 1st turn, and I get a move card, rotating about half my zombies and making the concept of planning meaningless. I’m beginning to suspect this is either a hard luckfest, or a deep puzzler, or both. In Castle Panic, a rotate just means you use different cards to kill the monsters. In this game, different combinations of colors of zombies (all the same or 1 of each), as well as collections of the same zombie type, can have negative effects for you. So I guess I’ve got my next turn to try to mitigate that.

I shoot 1 zombie, which causes the next one at that entrance to move clockwise. I also add a barrier. (It is not clear if I can run out of barriers if all of them get discarded. I assume yes.) The zombies attack, taking down a couple of barriers but discarding themselves to do so. But, I have a screamer already attacking (from last turn’s move). He was not on top, so it would have taken 2 shots to eliminate him. Anyway, his attack is to draw 2 more cards, attacking, and resolve those this turn as well. A chain of 4 screamers and a sneaker later and I have an unavoidable breach and 3 cards in the bite pile.

I pull a bite which does not match and place another screamer. I build a barricade where the 2 screamers are, and treat the entire bite pile. No zombies are attacking, but I’ll have 5 cards to draw. A hoard of 8 “+” cards turns 5 into something like 10-15, finished off by a move giving me 3 attackers + whichever attackers I’ll have from the color combinations which were inevitable with that many card draws. 5 shotgun blast later, only 1 zombie will attack removing a barricade. Time for 5 more card draws.

With only 1 card in the bite pile, the 1st draw is a bite, which matches the other color, creating zombie Rebecca again, giving me at most a lesser win. I’m about 2/3 though the time track, so I’ll tough this out. Here is an example of what feels like a no win situation. I draw a sneaker, and any place I play it will cause an attack. Even if I shoot it, the zombie that moves will also cause an attack. The cascades are brutal. And, I’m beginning to not care. If I was a chess master, maybe I could look enough actions and reactions into the future to figure out the best of a bad situation, but it looks like they are ALL bad.

I have 5 cards at 1 entrance, 8 at another, 5 and Rebeca at the 3rd. Rebeca also moved, which means I could not even plan on that. Oh, and yet another cascade of + cards. I’ve had to reshuffle the discarded zombies. I have 2 shots, 3 barricades, and 0 hope of avoiding massive numbers of attacking zombies tearing through whatever feeble defenses I can muster. I’ve seen 2 move cards, giving me a 2 out of 38 (minus whatever cards I can see) chance that Jasper would bite it if I risked using him, which again is a lesser win even if you survive. Oh, zombie Rebecca, who I treated so often, will intensify zombie attacks at her location, as if they needed the help.

So if you get a breach the remaining cards move to the next entrance, thankfully not attacking. But it is easy to have so many there that they will soon all be attacking. I got 3 time units from the end, with 1 shotgun and 3 barricades left, but all zombies at 1 entrance, so they’d overwhelm it on their phase.

I don’t like feeling beat up, and I know I don’t have the chess like look ahead. I suspect this game forces you to push your luck, where doing so always risks a lesser win, in order to have a chance at winning at all. I’d like to know people’s win rate at this, and then just roll the d6, d20, or d100 at the start and call it done. How am I supposed to take on risk in the bite pile, when twice a single card at 1/3 odds has come up? (The bite pile tops out at 5 cards.)

Blue and green colors are indistinguishable on the cards at more than 6 inches away, and there is no symbol to distinguish between them on the bite cards. Zombies do have different names, but even that was confusing the 1st game.

Out of 38 cards, 2 are moves, 18 are + cards, and 18 are normal cards. Out of the 38, 6 are bite cards. Supposedly you can hide regular zombies in your bite bile, countering your treatment actions, but if you do you’ll be increasing your odds of losing that way. Sure, if you have a perfect memory and a math mind, it might help in a rare case. You absolutely MUST know the odds in the deck before you play to have a chance of winning.

Once Rebecca is zombified, you have a different section to read when it comes to zombie attacks. The cards do have text on them, but more information is in the rules, so you end up having to read the rules explanation each time anyway. Draw a bite card in the cards section, and you also have to read in the bite section. Jasper is likewise split across multiple parts of the rules. And then there are misc rules at the end, so you’ll have to have read through all of the rules before you start play.

My play, with ses typing, took 3 hours. Maybe half of that is the typing.

If you can get both move cards in the discard pile, then you can use Jasper for awhile to slow some of the free + actions, assuming you place all the 1st / turn of those cards at the 1 entrance Jasper is guarding, increasing the odds of attacks there as any grouping of cards above 3 is increasingly likely to attack. It is a calculated damned if you do and damned if you don’t affair. At 6 cards, an attack at that entrance is guaranteed.

Building barricades felt mostly useless. A move can rip what you’ve built down, and other zombies are actively ripping them down too. Yet, you must have at least 1 to stop 1 type of zombie, and potentially several to stop another type. Again, I suspect there is a calculated luck in employing them.

I’ve not said it yet, but every action that you take, gives the zombies a card draw. You need those actions to knock them down, block them, reduce your risk, and advance the time toward winning, but it is very easy for things to cascade. I think I may not like the style of play where you are forced to leave certain things undone, taking on 1 kind of risk, in order to keep the odds of cascade lower. Again, it is a calculated balancing act that I don’t have the talent or inclination for.

To have a pile of zombies not attacking at an entrance go to attacking with the flip of a card, feels harsh. I’m not sure choosing a death by inches would be any better. Inevitably cards will pile up. There are just too many different ways to lose and suffer. If you manage to not get unlucky with the bite pile, and not get unlucky with the timing of the move cards, optimally use Jasper, and take tiny time increments risking all in the interim, maybe it is possible to win, but I highly doubt any level of skill will help you if you are unlucky at any of several points.

Maybe, all + cards go to Jasper’s entrance, and then you shotgun those down to not attacking levels? But at ½ + cards, you don’t have enough blasts. You get 8 over the course of the game, so you have to be calculated in their use. And if a screamer ever attacks, his extra draws go there, attacking, no choice. So how much reserve do you have to make sure that never happens?

Too many wheels within wheels for me.

Your odds of getting a + card are even worse than you think. You seed the bite pile with 3 non +, each different, zombie cards, taking them out of the draw pile.

***
I was starting to get mad at this game, so I played again. Now familiar with the game, it took about 45 minutes. Generally I was keeping my turns to 1 or 2 actions, hoping to use Jasper after the 2nd move card came out. It did not until just before the reshuffle. The last turn or so after the last move put an attacking screamer in a pile of 3 sneakers with 3 barricades. The 1st barricade took out the sneakers as planned, but the screamer called 2 more cards, at least one of which was another screamer. Eventually that cascaded to wiping out all the barricades there and at the next entrance, which also had an attacking screamer (due to that same move). Now, barricadeless, that screamer breached, and so did the next entrance, again due to a stack of cards with an attacking screamer due to a move. This put the entire pile at the front door with zombie Rebecca. But I still had more cards to draw. I get a bite, and it matches, so game over. I’d not let bites pile up at all the whole game, but you can’t interrupt screamers. If I did not get bit, I’d have been able to breach my next to last entrance and unattack the whole stack, (which would still have probably killed me on the following turn). But to add insult to injury, the card after the bite was a move, which would have meant 2 immediate breaches.

I got to 4 time units from the end, with 2 barricades left and no shotgun blasts, which I’d used to mostly keep stacks from all attacking or all of a color everywhere from attacking. So, about the same results with a different strategy utilizing a better knowledge of the cards.

The key must be in risking Jasper versus the luck of losing him. But, even this must be a fine edge. In rereading the rules, Jasper will only stop the 1st + card, and then force you to place the remaining draws that turn elsewhere. With a more than 50% chance of another +, you will only slightly diminish cascades, and all at the cost of forcing colors to 2 locations that you may not want.

I played this 2nd game realizing I did not have to place barricades too early (giving the zombies an extra action). And, at least a couple of times I used the trick of discarding 3 sneakers at the cost of 1 barricade. All to no avail. When you get a move, you are at the mercy of whatever color zombies are on top of all the entrances. Any emergency actions at that point only fuel one of several kinds of cascades.

I’m not sure what I could do in a 3rd game other than get luckier. Maybe I could have snuck 1 extra barricade in somewhere and stopped the 4 entrance breach in 1 turn at 2. But that action would have had its own cost.

I will say I had much less rules look up my 2nd game, but that is because they were back to back. Knowing myself, in a week I'll have to be reading the rules on card effects again.

Feels too hard for me. So if you like hard, zombie waves, this is for you.
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Mo
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This game can be brutal. And it certainly won't be everyone's jam. But I think it's great fun...and not as luck dependent as it may seem, IMO. Practically every card game in existence has some level of luck, but I don't feel UD is a worse offender than any other. There is a mix of strategy, timing, luck, and math involved in playing. You are building your own logic puzzle that doesn't want to be resolved as planned.

I hadn't played in quite some time, but just recently I broke this back out. You can read my SGoyT report HERE, if you're interested. I lost two and won two. There are definitely things I look to accomplish and set up before the Final Assault. If Rebecca turns, the game becomes significantly more difficult to win.

Some very basic tips as I don't want to give too much away (that's what makes playing games fun): managing the Bite Pile is very important; don't be afraid to force a zombie attack; use Jasper wisely and when you know the odds of him surviving are high; and finding the right balance of using the time track to meet your goals is both necessary and tough to do.

I agree that the time track needs to be bigger. I would remove the Bite Pile location on the board and make the trackers larger.

Anyway, as with any game, this isn't going to be for everyone. But if you enjoy thinky logic puzzles that fight back, this is a really fun one.
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Jack Bennett
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Thanks for the great writeup (and great title)! Really good to hear your thoughts on the game. A couple responses:

ThroughTheDeckGlass wrote:
But if the zombie has a + he neutralizes that zombie (nope just the extra draw effect of the +)? I’m supposed to rationally use this how?


That's correct, Jasper makes you able to ignore the +, so he stops the chaining and you do the next Zombie turn (if they have one). It's hard to know what his full effect would be, since you don't know what you WOULD have drawn (yet), but he never hurts. I find it best to use him when doing so will bring it back to your turn, allowing to respond to a bad situation that just developed.

And if Jasper dies, you can still win the game. A win is a win! Not using him is worse than using him once and him dying, at least in terms of a win. And there are only two move cards, once those both come out then you know it's completely safe!


Quote:
(It is not clear if I can run out of barriers if all of them get discarded. I assume yes.)


Once they're discarded, you can rebuild them. The 8 is just a maximum number you can have out at once.

Quote:
I’d like to know people’s win rate at this


By the end of playtesting, I was getting about a 40-50% win rate. Close to, but just under, half my games.

Quote:
Blue and green colors are indistinguishable on the cards at more than 6 inches away, and there is no symbol to distinguish between them on the bite cards. Zombies do have different names, but even that was confusing the 1st game.


This and board size are really good comments for me. This was Caroline and I's first card game, so we were new to working together and doing stuff like this. This is not the first time I've heard either of these comments, and I've got them all written down for if we come back to this for an eventual update/expansion.

Quote:
Feels too hard for me. So if you like hard, zombie waves, this is for you.


I can definitely understand that! It is a hard game (because that's what I personally enjoy), and I can absolutely understand the turnoff. My wife won't play UD because she just doesn't like feeling like she's always losing.

Thanks for giving it a try! If you go again, definitely heed Mo. He's better at this game than I am.
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I agree with you that this game can be brutal but in many ways it's one of the endearing qualities of the game. I would probably hate this game if it had a higher than 40% win rate. I sometimes feel this game has a 0% win rate!

I've been playing this game a lot to get ready for a play through video I'm doing and although I feel as if I'm losing every game it still is fun to try different strategies.

Some of the main strategies are:

1. Take very minimal turns! Since the zombies can't attack unless they fulfill the requirement of 3 of the same color or 3 of each color, you can take single move turns "without worrying about barricades" until you start to get close to this possibility happening.
2. You have to get rid of the bite pile period! Keeping Rebecca from turning is an all out imperative! When she turns "and I've also had this happen on turn one" the game is unwinnable! "At least it has been for me"!
3. When I can, I stack all the BLUE zombies at one entrance because if they attack and breach you get to remove ALL but one of them!
4. I never use Jasper until at least one of the MOVE cards shows up. This way I have a better statistical chance of Jasper being useful before he dies, which I've seen him do a lot!
5. Plan your zombie placement with the thought that you will get a move card and it will cause one of the two zombie requirements to occur. Example: If I have a RED zombie at an entrance and it is first, I try to avoid putting 2 RED zombies on the next entrance.
6. Since you only have 8 shotgun blasts you have to remember to mitigate their use and avoid losing track of its use before the turn tracker runs out.
7. I use the shotgun to remove the GREEN zombies first because these damn things are F-ing brutal! You draw two cards and end up getting two zombies with + symbols! UGH! Shot them as soon as possible!
8. Don't every start the game trying to put up a bunch of barricades thinking you need to secure the doors because just putting four barricades out will give four card draws that can turn into 4 (+) card zombies, that can turn into 10 plus zombies! Again UGH!
9. Remember that if you have 3 breached entrances and you are being attacked by a group of Scratcher "RED" zombies, they end up doing nothing but moving around to the same entrance again and not attacking!

I liked reading your session report and feel your pain but don't give up on the game just yet... at least until you see my 3D minis play through version!

Also, Jack has said he plans on making a major upgrade version to the game and I've suggested he change the zombies cards so the text is white and the entire top portion is the color of the zombie instead of black! This to me will have the zombie cards much easier to see.

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Some great tips! One thing to note:

kingspud wrote:

7. I use the shotgun to remove the GREEN zombies first because these damn things are F-ing brutal! You draw two cards and end up getting two zombies with + symbols! UGH! Shot them as soon as possible!


I also do this because the Screamers can really kink up the works. But remember that you IGNORE + symbols on the cards you draw. So if you draw zombies with +'s that's actually good for; sure they'll stack up at the door and attack, but at least you got the + cards out of the deck!

And if Screamers draw move cards they're ignored. If they draw bite cards, you still have to add them to the pile, but at least they didn't "go off." So yeah, Screamers can really gum up the planning the most, but every now and then they can randomly help!

Quote:
Also, Jack has said he plans on making a major upgrade version to the game and I've suggested he change the zombies cards so the text is white and the entire top portion is the color of the zombie instead of black! This to me will have the zombie cards much easier to see.


We'll have to see about an update. At the moment, it's on the list of stuff I'd like to do one day, but there's not any plans. Caroline's pretty busy, so I'd have to get her back into working on this, too. The idea is to work on an expansion, with a few new things to add and maybe a new board. If we do get working on this, then it makes sense to make updates to the current version. But if this happens, it'll definitely be a ways off.
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pusherman42 wrote:
Some great tips! One thing to note:

I also do this because the Screamers can really kink up the works. But remember that you IGNORE + symbols on the cards you draw. So if you draw zombies with +'s that's actually good for; sure they'll stack up at the door and attack, but at least you got the + cards out of the deck!

And if Screamers draw move cards they're ignored. If they draw bite cards, you still have to add them to the pile, but at least they didn't "go off." So yeah, Screamers can really gum up the planning the most, but every now and then they can randomly help!



I totally forgot about this!! CRAP! I was not using this rule and now I know why I wasn't winning any games! UGH^2!

Question: When I use the shotgun can I shoot either the first attacker or non-attacker at an entrance? I've been playing you can only shot the non-attacker?

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Hi Jack,

Question: Do you mind if I upload a new version of the game board that is usable with the cards but bigger so as to utilize the new sized tokens?
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kingspud wrote:
pusherman42 wrote:
Some great tips! One thing to note:

I also do this because the Screamers can really kink up the works. But remember that you IGNORE + symbols on the cards you draw. So if you draw zombies with +'s that's actually good for; sure they'll stack up at the door and attack, but at least you got the + cards out of the deck!

And if Screamers draw move cards they're ignored. If they draw bite cards, you still have to add them to the pile, but at least they didn't "go off." So yeah, Screamers can really gum up the planning the most, but every now and then they can randomly help!



I totally forgot about this!! CRAP! I was not using this rule and now I know why I wasn't winning any games! UGH^2!

Question: When I use the shotgun can I shoot either the first attacker or non-attacker at an entrance? I've been playing you can only shot the non-attacker?



Always the top one, attacking or not!

Quote:
Hi Jack,

Question: Do you mind if I upload a new version of the game board that is usable with the cards but bigger so as to utilize the new sized tokens?


The more fan-made stuff out there the better! Especially since I'm not sure when I'll have time to do it "officially." Have at!
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Here is an example of luck. If a player draws 2 moves on their 1st turn, they won't get hardly any attacking zombies from it AND they have the entire rest of the deck to use Jasper without fear. Contrast that with at least 1 of the moves at the end of the deck (though you don't know that in advance) and the other move that comes out at a time that makes a couple of screamers attack. And if those screamers draw other screamers, even without +'s, you still get a cascade.

Or, from my 2 ses, 1 card goes in the bite pile and before I can even treat it another bite comes and matches it. This can happen from a screamer cascade, or a + cascade, or a move forcing you to do more than 1 action in reaction.

I'll reread the comments, but on the 1st read it seemed like I was already doing the recommended stuff. I am tempted by trying a game to use Jasper after just the 1st move card. (But what happens if both are near the end of the deck, then I'm playing the same game of not using Jasper again.)

There are 27 zombies to deal with before the reshuffle. If you have 4 entrances open, you can fit 20 of them there before an attack is forced somewhere. If an entrance gets breached, that holding capacity goes down. I need to go count the number of time units/actions on the board, but I'll bet it is more than 20. I guess I'm wondering, with perfect play, how many games will be unwinable due to the way the deck is ordered?
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If the game isn't for you, don't force it. There are plenty of games out there to play. Having fun is the key. Games are supposed to fun. UD is fun for me, but it might not be so for you.

But in regards to using Jasper, he is only killed when with a zombie and a move card is drawn. So you don't have to wait for both move cards to be drawn; you can play him when they are both available. Jasper can be on an open door and on the zombies' final turn, you can put one with him to stop additional draws. The turn ends. Jasper goes back to the safety of his rug, and a new round begins.

It's not luck of the draw that didn't kill him. It's the player using the luck of the draw to his own advantage. Even if one move card came out, he would still be fine.

Could you draw both move cards in that situation? Yeah, it's possible, but I can say similar things about the draw deck of hundreds of games, probably including some of your favorites.

Also, I don't recommend building up a large mob of zombies. Remember that you're in control of when zombies attack. The less there are on the board at the end of the game (or anytime, really), the better your chances of surviving the final assault.
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mo7189 wrote:

But in regards to using Jasper, he is only killed when with a zombie and a move card is drawn. So you don't have to wait for both move cards to be drawn; you can play him when they are both available. Jasper can be on an open door and on the zombies' final turn, you can put one with him to stop additional draws. The turn ends. Jasper goes back to the safety of his rug, and a new round begins.


Wait, Jasper returns to the rug after use? So, put him on an empty entrance, and shove a + zombie there on the zombies last action, and NEVER risk him regardless of the move cards? I definitely need to reread that section(s). But even if that is true, how do you use him a 2nd time, since there is now a zombie at that entrance? Or a 5th time if you want to be technical, because by then you'll have a zombie at every entrance?

***
I'm not getting to the final assault. So, low zombie count may be good for getting there, but it is not clear how to keep that count low to begin with.

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ThroughTheDeckGlass wrote:
mo7189 wrote:

But in regards to using Jasper, he is only killed when with a zombie and a move card is drawn. So you don't have to wait for both move cards to be drawn; you can play him when they are both available. Jasper can be on an open door and on the zombies' final turn, you can put one with him to stop additional draws. The turn ends. Jasper goes back to the safety of his rug, and a new round begins.


Wait, Jasper returns to the rug after use? So, put him on an empty entrance, and shove a + zombie there on the zombies last action, and NEVER risk him regardless of the move cards? I definitely need to reread that section(s). But even if that is true, how do you use him a 2nd time, since there is now a zombie at that entrance? Or a 5th time if you want to be technical, because by then you'll have a zombie at every entrance?

***
I'm not getting to the final assault. So, low zombie count may be good for getting there, but it is not clear how to keep that count low to begin with.



Jasper goes back to the rug at the end of the zombie turn (which was my example), not after a card is placed. I suggested only placing the last card drawn on the zombie turn with Jasper. And you won't use him turn after turn after turn. Or at least I don't. That's why I also mentioned that you are in control of when the zombies attack. Set up an attack that you know you'll win to remove some zombies from the board. Then you can bring Jasper back out.

And just to be clear, I think there is a certain level of luck involved in UD. But I think with good gameplay, you should feel like you have a chance most games. I think Jack is right with a win percentage of 30-40%.
 
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I think I want to see either a video of gameplay or a detailed turn by turn, card by card, session report, because I'm NOT seeing how to go from my 2 losses to anything near a win. And if you've played this to a win, post something in the strategy section. I'm half convinced someone is playing a rule wrong.
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ThroughTheDeckGlass wrote:
I think I want to see either a video of gameplay or a detailed turn by turn, card by card, session report, because I'm NOT seeing how to go from my 2 losses to anything near a win. And if you've played this to a win, post something in the strategy section. I'm half convinced someone is playing a rule wrong.


I'll be putting together a play through video soon!
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ThroughTheDeckGlass wrote:
I'm half convinced someone is playing a rule wrong.

It wouldn't be my first time.
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I played again. It took me an hour and 15 minutes.

My 1st turn I did 3 treatements and moved Jasper (4 actions). I put a + on Jasper, another + comes out (meaning 5 cards), then a move came out, killing Jasper. Since the point of my 3rd play is to see if Jasper helps, I restarted.

In the restart I got to dawn, had 6 shotgun blast left, and a pile of 14 zombies at the last entrance who only needed the 1st in the stack to defeat me. Over all, I think I used Jasper twice. It is dificult to manage bites (2-3), use Jasper(1), and place barriers(often 3+), all of which take actions giving the zombies equal (if not more) actions. I couldn't risk Jasper on an already zombie filled spot, due to the moves. My last turn, I literaly ran out of actions, unable to use enough barriers to not get 2 breaches, leaving me with 1 entrance.

I have very little means of dealing with screamers. A barrier can discard 1, at the cost of calling out 2 more cards, which could very well be another screamer. And, unless activated by a move, I'll have 2 more screamers beheind it or one each of the others. If could deliberately trigger an attack by a single zombie, before I get stacks of 3, I'd at least have a choice. But if I use a shotgun blast, not only is it a limited diminishing resource, I give the zombies another action.

I give up. I have no clue how to proceed.
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Joseph Propati
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Hello,

I've put together a video covering the game, components and rules for Until Dawn.

Right now the video is in Dropbox but I'm working on getting it loaded into Youtube "it's looooong 45min"!

Here is the link, let me know what you think and if it helps with understanding the rules and playing the game.

Enjoy,

Joseph P.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/wejg9odfb151y35/AACF3xcT8VmXjdzNX...
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