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BattleCON: Devastation of Indines» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Introductory strategy please? rss

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Peter Drake
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My wife and I tried this once and we're a bit lost on strategy. We're stuck at "pick the most powerful attack you have available that might be in range, then cross your fingers". As a result, the game feels tedious and random.

The strategy guides here, often about using a particular character, feel too advanced.

Can someone give us a nudge in the right direction?
 
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Steven Jakeman
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I would recommend grabbing two or three characters that look interesting--probably from Flight 1 or 2--and just play them several times. Rotate who plays the specific characters. At first you might feel like it's all luck, or Rock, Paper, Scissors. However, after a few games something will click and you'll start seeing a bigger picture. I think, because all of the characters are different, a single general strategy would be hard to recommend.

However, if you get used to the flow of the game, and get to know a character or two, the game clicks and you can play any of the characters with some sort of strategic plan.


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Steven Jakeman
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Also, consider the biggest, strongest attack that might be within range doesn't necessarily lead up to the biggest, strongest attack. For example, Shekthur can do 10 damage (whistle) and heal 2 life in a single attack if you plan a couple cards in advance. Drop that on your opponent a few times and see how they adjust their play...
 
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Peter Drake
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sthej wrote:
if you plan a couple cards in advance


That's the problem. I have no idea what our positions and available options are going to be two turns from now, so I can't begin to form a plan.
 
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Ken Sinn
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Well, if you know your opponent/wife is going to pick her most powerful attack within range -- then pick the move that'll either beat our her move (based on priority), or get yourself out of range.

but then, if she knows you'll be dodging, then she can play something else other than her biggest attack ..

and then the mindgames start.
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Jools Thomas
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I agree that familiarity is required for more advanced strategy. You need to either stick at it (switching to new characters as little as possible) or move on to a simpler game.
 
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Steven Jakeman
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mundungus wrote:
That's the problem. I have no idea what our positions and available options are going to be two turns from now, so I can't begin to form a plan.


After the first two beats you will know exactly what options she will have available (consider, the two pre-game discards are face down, but all discards during the game are face up. So, assuming she always chooses greatest power within range, you can predict what is coming after those first two beats.)
 
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Peter Drake
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This game might be a bust for us. We played again and she won -- even though she literally played almost all of her cards randomly. We had more of a sense of what was going on this time, but there was never a sense of "I did something clever!", just "I got [un]lucky."

The rock-paper-scissors aspect is reminiscent of Hoity Toity, which she loves but I loathe.

It's not a question of complexity. We play things like Agricola, Tigris & Euphrates, Concordia, and Fury of Dracula. I'm a Go player.

For me, it's perhaps a question of "boardfeel": aside from the hit point wheel, I'm not getting any sense of "progress" or "positioning". It doesn't feel like, "Okay, I'm closer to making my big move", but rather "Well, here's a new matrix of random numbers to solve."

I tried to "set some things up" (e.g., getting Marmalee up to 5 Concentration tokens), but they never lasted long enough for even a single follow-up move (in that case, I got stunned and lost them all).

We'll keep trying, but probably not too many more times. She's not excited about the theme and the artwork doesn't really do it for either of us. Obviously a lot of people here love this game (which is why I bought it), but it might not be for us.
 
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Jools Thomas
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That might be your problem there, Marmalee is one of the trickiest fighters (and maybe even under powered) of the game.
 
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Marmelee is hard to play if you don't understand the rest of the game. Every once in a while a newbie who instinctively plays evasively can make her work. For everyone else, pick a different character.

But yeah, it sounds like if the game gets as strategic as you want it to be, she'll stop enjoying it as much. Did you try the suggested initial matchup for Eligor vs Shekhtur?

Also, to eliminate the feeling of just solving the beat, I recommend playing under a per-beat time limit. Two minutes to set attacks should be enough for experienced players; maybe three or four for newcomers.
 
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Larry Witte
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I felt your frustration and posted a similar comment a few years ago after playing Marmalee. The posts attracted more comments than any that I have posted on BGG.

I strongly suggest you check out the BattleGUIDES videos in the video section. They are probably the best instructional videos I have seen for any game and every character is covered thoroughly. Watch a video and then play that character a few times.

Battlecon was an acquired taste for me. I enjoy it and will keep it, but it doesn't have a huge appeal for me. If I had more opportunities to play it and discuss it with others I would appreciate it more. It is an amazing package in terms of variety and imagination. I will never learn the finer points of the game.
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Peter Drake
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tankbard wrote:
Did you try the suggested initial matchup for Eligor vs Shekhtur?

Yes, that was our first matchup.

Quote:
Also, to eliminate the feeling of just solving the beat, I recommend playing under a per-beat time limit. Two minutes to set attacks should be enough for experienced players; maybe three or four for newcomers.

We didn't set an explicit limit, but I think our card selection always takes less time than that.
 
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Dom Hiob
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sthej wrote:
the two pre-game discards are face down


Whence does this come? I always thought even the initial discards were face up... I even looked through the rulebook right now. It neither says face-up nor face-down, but the illustrations are all face-up.

-------------

More to the OP's point: what others said: Stick to basic characters for starters. Eligor and Shektur are fine. Play a few games as Shektur vs. Eligor. Then switch characters. Play a couple of games that way. Then switch back. You'll now know both fighters from experience. You'll know where they are strong (Shektur: speed, Eligor: positive tradeoffs) and where they're weak. Try to find out at what range a fighter works best. You'll know some particularly nasty card combinations. You'll know when to Dash and when to keep the Dash in your hand to have your opponent play sub-optimally for fear of getting Dashed out of her best attack pair. Watch Marco's "Magic Numbers" video.

If you want to (I think it helps greatly), while choosing the attack pair, have each player put down all of their cards on the table (once both players have chosen an attack pair, they'll of course take all cards into their hand, pick their attack pair and put it on the table). That way, you can see exactly what's available to the other player while choosing your attack. This should greatly inform your choice. Do they have any Start of Beat movement effects that could get them out of range? Do they have Before Activating movement and higher speed than you? Half of my choices are not about what I have in hand but what my opponent has in hand.

Last: The game's not over before it's over. I once played against the AI, I had Adjenna. I was down to 1 hp. I not only survived 4 beats, but managed to stay close to the other fighter, giving him lots of petrification tokens and finally winning that way.
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Marco Santos
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DomHiob wrote:
Watch Marco's "Magic Numbers" video.


Linking for OP:


mundungus wrote:
My wife and I tried this once and we're a bit lost on strategy. We're stuck at "pick the most powerful attack you have available that might be in range, then cross your fingers". As a result, the game feels tedious and random.

The strategy guides here, often about using a particular character, feel too advanced.

Can someone give us a nudge in the right direction?


Hey, OP. Guy who makes those strategy guides here!

I can understand where you're coming from. In fact, if you're at this stage, you don't actually need "introductory" strategy. The moment that you understand that "solving the current beat" is a good strategy, you're at LEAST an average player in my book.

It's advanced strategies where all the cool strategic stuff happens. BattleCON is a game that's about making reads and guesses, based off how your opponent plays (which is why BattleCON's really engaging when played with someone you know, rather than a random).

Like you've said, it's basically a REALLY complicated Rock-Paper-Scissors (add Lizard and Spock, if you want). This means that, once you're at this level, the game's less about figuring what attacks are good. Instead, it's figuring out which attack the opponent will play.

I've written a guide about this. You can find it here:
https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1316645/advanced-attack-pai...

Here, you will read about figuring out what the opponent will do and adjusting your strategy to match it.

mundungus wrote:
sthej wrote:
if you plan a couple cards in advance


That's the problem. I have no idea what our positions and available options are going to be two turns from now, so I can't begin to form a plan.


However, this is where the "advanced" part comes out. The definition of what attack is "best" is really relevant to your strategy. Sometimes, it's not about "having the right tools so that you can do things at this range." I believe that this paradigm is the wrong idea to approach the game's strategy.

Instead, you should think of it like this: "I want to do X, so I will keep my opponent at Y range." You are actively trying to maintain the range, rather than just hoping you have the correct tools to deal with the range.

BattleCON's basically a game of resource management (even if it doesn't seem that way). Your cards are your most precious resource as they are what allow you to "do things." If we were to make a rock-paper-scissors analogy, try playing Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock with the following house rule: you can't use the same move twice in a row.

This kind of experience makes the game a LOT more tactical. Sure, you can start the game off with just randomly throwing out any of the 5 moves, but once you and the opponent have a move that you "can't use," it heavily warps the game's dynamic. Without access to Paper, your opponent's Rock seems a LOT more attractive to use, which can EASILY bait them into doing a Rock (which you can then counter by doing a Spock)

This is KINDA what the core of BattleCON is like. It's about managing your "resources" in order to have the better chance of winning the turn. It's VERY rare that the opponent can't literally do anything to counter a play you can make. However, you can make it so that countering your play is going to be VERY costly (such as forcing them to use their Dash or Burst).

mundungus wrote:
This game might be a bust for us. We played again and she won -- even though she literally played almost all of her cards randomly. We had more of a sense of what was going on this time, but there was never a sense of "I did something clever!", just "I got [un]lucky."

The rock-paper-scissors aspect is reminiscent of Hoity Toity, which she loves but I loathe.

It's not a question of complexity. We play things like Agricola, Tigris & Euphrates, Concordia, and Fury of Dracula. I'm a Go player.

For me, it's perhaps a question of "boardfeel": aside from the hit point wheel, I'm not getting any sense of "progress" or "positioning". It doesn't feel like, "Okay, I'm closer to making my big move", but rather "Well, here's a new matrix of random numbers to solve."

I tried to "set some things up" (e.g., getting Marmalee up to 5 Concentration tokens), but they never lasted long enough for even a single follow-up move (in that case, I got stunned and lost them all).

We'll keep trying, but probably not too many more times. She's not excited about the theme and the artwork doesn't really do it for either of us. Obviously a lot of people here love this game (which is why I bought it), but it might not be for us.


In terms of "progression," I think it's about how you view the board state. For me, seeing my Opponent's Burst in the Discard is 100% a sense of progression (because it almost always doubles the amount of viable attacks I have). If the pressure I've applied has caused them to play their Burst (or better yet, their Dash), I usually feel good about it.

There's a TON of strategy to be had. There's things like Parries, which involve purposely clashing your opponents out of a specific attack.

If you see that Eligor's about to play a Martial Shot, have you considered playing an attack like Reaver Burst? Though, on paper, it might seem like doing a Reaver Burst against a Martial Shot is bad, it actually can really mess Eligor's game-plan up, because you will clash and he now has to find a good base to pair with Martial (which has "poor" hit confirm). If his Drive is down, you've essentially just won the entire beat.

Progress is BattleCON doesn't materialize itself in giant awesome end-game plays like it does in a Control Deck in MTG. Instead, it's more of a moment to moment kind of thing. You gain small advantages and you capitalize on them. When you "plan" something, it's usually only for the next beat, or the one after that. You usually do not plan for beat 10, when you've just started the game.

This is not just because of the ranges, but also because of the whole "my opponent's resources at that time are not known yet."

At the end of the day, BattleCON's main draw is less about the actual game itself, if that makes sense. Much like fighting games, it's the "mind games' that make it truly entertaining. Seeing people make good reads and watching them capitalize on it is the enjoyment you get.

This can materialize itself as a Rook suddenly being at range 6 against a purely melee character, resulting in a 2 beat onslaught of free hits.

It can be the Seth playing an Omen against an attack that seemed so powerful, resulting in that attack getting stuffed really easily.

It can be a purely melee character catching a ranger off-guard by purposely Dashing on a weird beat in order to maintain range, even if it means eating a hit (instead of playing some weird Shot play).

Big "pay-outs" in BattleCON absolutely happen. A lot of characters can easily set-up big plays. Look at people like Demitras, Burman, and Shekhtur. I'm quite surprised that you didn't seem to get any "big play" moments as Shekhtur. She's big play city!

I will admit that most of the enjoyment comes in a beat-per-beat basis. However, there's plenty of strategy to be found. Most of it is just obscured by the fact that the game is "complex random" due to your opponent essentially being random (as you can't literally read minds).

Hopefully this post has helped you out. If you or your partner have any more questions, please do ask them! I can provide strategies for most circumstances, match-ups, and core concepts! I mean, they're not TOP TIER pro strategies, but they're, at least, decent ones!
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Steven Jakeman
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DomHiob wrote:
sthej wrote:
the two pre-game discards are face down


Whence does this come? I always thought even the initial discards were face up... I even looked through the rulebook right now. It neither says face-up nor face-down, but the illustrations are all face-up.


Huh... Yup, Looks like an anomaly from first game maybe? Thanks for catching that.
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Kyle
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Just play a few more matches with the same 2 heroes. The strategy starts to show it's self after you lose a few rounds. This game has perfect information, nothing is hidden. Meaning the game is perfectly logical. You know what's in your hand and you know what's in theirs. Every beat is about trying to figure out what pair has the best chance of countering their pair. If you know they have a pair that counters all of yours it's about dodging the attack or making the best of a bad situation. There is really nothing random about BC. The real fun starts when you start to learn your opponent and their bluffs / tells. It gets intense.

If you like logical games, and it sounds like you do, keep playing. It's my favorite game of all time by far.
 
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Jared Voshall
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I'll jump in with what the others have said - learning the game can be rough, but there's a lot of depth there to reward the effort you put in. Knowing your character, your opponent's character, and how the two interact is key in learning how to play, and it's very rewarding once you get it.

The place to start is, of course, with the basics. Every character has different ways of using them, and each has a preference on what they want to use (Drive, for example, generally isn't too useful for a Ranged character - unless you're already adjacent to the opponent and you can use it to get some space VS your opponent and potentially set up a Burst next turn), but they all work from the same, well, bases. Learn how those work and interact, what counters what when, and how each player's board position changes that.

Once you get that down, you can start seeing how you character's Styles interact with them - how they make them better, how they make them worse, and where they stay the same. Once you have that side down, you can identify what attack pairs will be your most powerful, what are your most reliable, and which pairs end up being pretty bad. At this point, you can also start seeing what ranges you want to be at to hit, and you'll be able to start playing the positioning game.

After this, it's learning the importance of setting up the next beat. It doesn't matter if you hit your opponent for 4 damage this turn if they are able to hit you for 6 next turn - and it doesn't matter if your opponent hits you for 3 damage if you can set up to hit them for 4+ next turn.

Once you reach this point, you've gotten most of the strategy down, and it's time to start learning all the different characters - and there are a lot of characters to learn in this game!
 
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Micah
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When I was first learning Battlecon, I remember finding the possibility space of the game a bit overwhelming. It finally started feeling manageable to me once I had memorized all the generic bases (Dash, Grasp, Strike, Shot, Drive, and Burst). The Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock aspect of the game *generally* revolves around those six cards. The individual character styles and unique base significantly modify things from there, but I think it's difficult to wrap your mind around a match until you can look at the opponent's discards and think things like, "Okay, he has his Burst and Strike in his discard pile, so I don't need to worry about him backing out of my short range attack or stun guarding through it... but he could dash away or grasp me out of range."
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