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Mechs vs. Minions» Forums » Sessions

Subject: [Session Report] Missions 3 & 4: The Art of Shuffling rss

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Dr Gosburo Coffin
Germany
Frankfurt am Main
Germany
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[Warning: Obviously, there will be spoilers for Missions 3 and 4 ahead. You knew that already when you saw the thread title, right? And again, I'll assume that everyone who keeps on reading is familiar with the basic setup and rule/component additions of these missions, because I won't explain every detail.]

Mission 3, first try
Two weeks ago, my wife and I played Mission 3, which finally allowed us to open that big extra box with the axe poking out. We followed our usual modus operandi and looked at the content only after setting up the board for the mission, so the surprise would still be fresh during the first few turns. As it turned out, this approach had a disastrous side effect, which directly influenced the outcome of the game. More on that soon ...

We went over the new rules (again, they’re easy to understand and very thematic), finalised the board setup and went right into the game, with my wife controlling Heimerdinger and me playing Tristana. Tristana managed to get an early Ripsaw hit in, but after that, we were only making sporadic progress on the health meter of the Boss Mech. (Yeah, that's what's in the box ... Surprised?)

However, in the fourth round, it became apparent that we might have a serious problem soon: Drafting Command Cards for the Boss Mech had given us a yellow, a red and a green card so far, but now we faced a choice of two yellow cards (we went for Electrostomp, because Recharge looked so much worse ...). One round later the next Boss draft came up: Again, two yellow cards! So we knew the game would be over very soon, and the Boss Mech was still at 6 health points. Heimerdinger had a really heroic turn and managed to chip off 3 more points, but that wasn’t enough of course, and the GG-101 Doom Cannon went off in the sixth round. zombie

After our defeat, I took a quick look at the stack of remaining Boss Command Cards, and in its bottom half, there were six blue cards in a row, so while working through the new rules and preparing everything, we apparently hadn’t shuffled those cards thoroughly enough. This “strategic mistake” was easy enough to avoid for our next attempt, which we started rightaway.

Mission 3, second try
We kept the mechs we had used the first time around. My wife gave up Auto-Wrench and traded it for another Schematic Card (sorry, I don’t remember which one) because we had noticed that we were rarely close enough to each other to benefit from the repair effect. Of course we knew what we would be facing this time (even though we hadn’t seen any of the blue Boss Command Cards in action so far ), and everything went much smoother. Heimerdinger and Tristana cooperated really well when it came to switching off Rune Shields and attacking. Still, the Boss Mech dished out some serious damage and was by no means a pushover!

The Boss Mech’s abilities to move around itself as well as the players on the board created a few very entertaining situations. For example, while I was going through my own Command Line, my wife had planned out her next turn already, which would allow her to deactivate two Rune Shields and put her in a good position to damage the boss. However, the boss used Get Over Here! to pull her Heimerdinger to a different part of the map and she also had to add Stuck Controls to her Command Line. At first my wife was disappointed that her ‘perfect’ turn had been made impossible, but then she started to evaluate her current options and noticed that her new position and the damage card actually allowed her to deactivate three shields and still do some damage.

When the Boss Mech was down to 4 health points, I triggered Tristana’s Ka-boom! All Rune Shields were down at that time, and based on our mech’s positions on the board, I thought it would be best to reactivate the red shield. This was a mistake though. During the Boss Mech’s phase, we were moved around a lot and ended up far away from any red rune squares. As it turned out, Heimerdinger would have been able to remove the remaining 3 health points in his next turn if I had picked the blue shield instead. But now the Boss Mech managed to survive Heimerdinger’s turn with one point left. Luckily, Tristana was able to shut down the green shield again on her turn and used a weak Level 1 Hexmatic Aimbot at point-blank range for the final attack.

Mission 3 Observations
I had expected that Ripsaw would turn out to be our weapon of choice because it would have allowed us to stay well out of range of most of the Boss Mech’s attacks. In practice however, Ripsaw proved to be rather unreliable since it also requires precise aiming, which is difficult when your target is Electrostomping all over the place. Many of the Boss Mech’s attacks also spin around the player mechs, so we were facing the wrong direction all the time and Ripsawed some poor unsuspecting minion instead.

Hexmatic Aimbot was much more useful than Ripsaw and allowed us to do damage consistently, even though we had to get a bit closer to the Boss Mech (it’s difficult to stay away from him anyway ). I think I saw a discussion somewhere on BGG in which the general consensus was that Hexmatic Aimbot is the least useful Command Card, but it really did shine in this mission, and the 'disadvantage' that it only kills one single minion doesn’t matter at all when it’s about damaging the Boss Mech. In close combat, we also had some very good results with Blaze and Scythe.

My wife and I have been notoriously slow players so far, but we were able to complete both playthroughs of Mission 3 in just over two hours. Setup and going through the new rules took us roughly 15 minutes, then it was 45 minutes for the first failed game and about 70 minutes for the second successful attempt. It apparently helps a lot that we really know the Command Cards well by now and have a general plan of how to build up a capable Command Line.


Mission 4
Last weekend, we went on to play Mission 4. This time, we decided to put all four mechs into play again (my wife = Tristana and Corki; me = Heimerdinger and Ziggs). In my personal opinion, this was the easiest mission so far, but maybe we’ve just had incredible luck and/or accidentally picked the right Schematic Cards for our mechs. There were two or three situations where a minion slipped past the mech that was supposed to take care of it, but in the end there was always another mech that was able to eliminate them before they could become real threats. In most cases this was Heimerdinger, who went more sideways than straight ahead.

Tristana, on the other hand, didn’t pick up any Turn cards for quite some time (the few we drew early on were needed for other purposes) and charged straight ahead, taking out lots of minions along the way. The further she got, the more damage she took, though ... which in turn somehow accelerated her forward momentum even further. When she reached the far end of the board, Heimerdinger was still in the second row of the second map tile, and Corki and Ziggs weren’t far ahead of him.

However, a fully armed Tristana is a force to be reckoned with even when half of her Command Line is filled with damage cards. She was very efficient in reducing the constant stream of minions. Only a few opponents got past her each round, and the other three mechs were able to deal with those easily. Aided by Ziggs’s Fuel Scoop, her two-way Level 3 Flamespitter set quite a few red robes on fire ...

A few rounds later, Ziggs and Corki had reached the finish line as well. Tristana blew up a Fuel Tank to keep her colleagues from taking damage, but one minion still managed to slip past her, and for the first time in our game, no one was able to deal with the stray minion easily. He still had to cover quite some distance to his goal, but we knew that we'd better hurry. Before the next draft, Heimerdinger still needed to walk four spaces, but only had 2 steps of forward movement available – and his Command Line started with a very unfortunate Level 1 Fuel Tank. There were two options for us: We needed either a Blaze card to put on top of his Fuel Tank, or a Speed card to replace the Fuel Tank. Luckily, Speed came up rightaway, and we were able to finish a very enjoyable game without too much trouble.

Mission 4 Observations
As mentioned above, Flame Spitter was very effective when it came to clearing out large groups of minions, especially with the enhancement it got through Ziggs’ Schematic Card. This was actually the first time that we really made use of fully levelled-up Flame Spitters. Apart from that, Hexmatic Aimbot was invaluable in picking off minions that managed to sneak past our mechs. This card surely saved us a lot of trouble.

Towards the end of the game, the mechs took quite a lot of damage. It was impossible to keep them repaired all the time, so we had to work hard to integrate the damaged slots into our plans. Most of the time, we just made sure to get rid of the random commands as soon as possible and looked for workarounds for the others as good as we could. For a few rounds, Heimerdinger actually got most of his forward movement from Rocket Whoopsie …

It took us a bit more than two hours to play through this mission, which I think is fine considering that we were controlling two mechs each. And I really enjoyed this mission a lot, even though there weren’t any of those famous moments that brought us close to losing the game. Being able to charge through minion wave after minion wave without having to worry much about losing certainly was nice for a change. cool

Since there have been a few comments recently from people getting rid of the inserts because they slow down set-up and teardown for them, I'd like to say something about this aspect as well: We have some practice handling the game by now, and it takes us just over five minutes to get everything we need to the table, which is definitely not too long in our opinion. To accelerate things, we simply turn the two top trays upside down and carefully remove the lid, so we end up with a lid full of minions. That way, we don’t have to pick up each minion individually.

Getting the game back into the box takes us less than ten minutes, with clearly divided responsibilities: My wife starts filling the minion slots of the trays (she loves to do that) while I’m stowing away the rest of the components. We usually finish our respective tasks at about the same time. In comparison with the rest of my collection, I can’t think of any game that has a similar number of components and is as quick and easy to handle as Mechs vs. Minions.
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Mike Morales
United States
New York
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I've tried playing mission 3 with 4 players and its really hard unless you do easy mode. My club tried like 3 times before we decided to do easy mode just to get passed that mission. you literally only have minimum of 11 turns before he goes nuclear and it takes at least 6 or 7 turns for each mech to get enough command cards to be semi controllable.
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Dr Gosburo Coffin
Germany
Frankfurt am Main
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Wow, I wouldn't have expected that Mission 3 becomes so difficult with four mechs! I guess we'll have to try that some time and see for ourselves. As long as we manage to get the Boss Command Cards shuffled properly ... whistle

This weekend a friend of my wife comes for a visit. She doesn't play any boardgames (except for Yahtzee, which is a childhood memory for her), so I don't think that she'd be willing to give MvM a try. However, if we do manage to convince her, we'll have our first 3-mech game. And I'd really like to see how a truly inexperienced player reacts to the game ...
 
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