Dr Gosburo Coffin
Frankfurt am Main
[Warning: Spoilers ahead for Missions 5 and 6. Shocking, I know ...]
My wife and I continued playing our campaign of Mechs vs. Minions over a long weekend. We started with Mission 5, which went pretty smoothly ... in our second attempt. For some foolish reason, we thought that pushing the bomb instead of towing it was a nice way to quick success. Predictably, our overconfidence was punished immediately and despite generous use of Fuel Tanks, the bomb exploded during Round 4 (after about 10 minutes of playing time). So we pretended that this never happened and immediately set the game up again to start our 'real' attempt at ...
We used the same setup as for our reckless first attempt, for which we had decided to use one mech per player. We had determined randomly who played whom. My wife had drawn Ziggs and I ended up with Tristana - I would have liked to include Corki for his flexibility in movement, but in the end it worked out just fine.
Back when we played Mission 1, I had been the one who did most of the bomb towing, but this time my wife took over that task. And she did it very competently, with a nice Command Line that was based on Speed and Blaze. Tristana went ahead and cleared the way for her companion, mostly with Flamespitter attacks that went off in both directions thanks to Ziggs' Fuel Scoops (we learned to love that Schematic Card in Mission 4). Our most efficient Flamespitter attack eliminated 10 Minions at once ... Quite satisfying, I must say.
Things got a bit rough when we reached the third map board, because an unexpected damage card made Ziggs lose contact with the bomb he had been towing so reliably. But you cannot keep Ziggs away from things that go boom for long, and we quickly managed to get the two of them aligned again while keeping away any nosy Minions and continued our trek towards the last repair pad.
Shortly before we reached our goal, Ziggs got damaged again and drew Rocket Whoopsie, which is my favourite damage card in the whole game (at least so far). It can actually be quite useful with its movement of 3, but the forced 180 degree turn also tends to be a reliable source of hilarious despair ... In our case, it caused Ziggs to push the bomb away from the repair pad which had been only two steps away at that time. Luckily, there weren't many Minions around (Tristana's Flamespitter had done its work), and in the next round my wife was able to make up all the ground she had lost before, so we finally triumphed. The bomb had never dropped below 2 health points during this attempt.
Mission 5 Observations
Speed was essential for Ziggs' part in this mission for fairly obvious reasons. I already mentioned that Tristana employed Flamespitter very effectively, but Scythe also helped a lot to make sure that there weren't too many Minions left to make dents into the shining, ticking power source.
Mission 5 was not as easy as Mission 4, but still went very smoothly (not counting out stupidly reckless first attempt). It took us about 2 hours to finish, but as has been noted several times now, we're rather slow players. And towing instead of pushing does take some extra time. Anyway, I can see how some people think that the game becomes too easy after playing Mission 4 and then this one. However, as it turned out, Mission 6 ramps up the difficulty again ...
Two days later we played Mission 6, this time with all four mechs. I got Tristana and Ziggs, while my wife played Heimerdinger and Corki. This time around, there were some really close moments, which made the whole game tense and greatly enjoyable! In fact, I guess the most fitting description for this session would be 'epic battle' ...
The first two crystal switches close to the mech starting points were destroyed quickly through well-aimed Ripsaw shots, but after that we didn't make much progress since the Boss had come closer and started to inflict lots of damage to us. Unfortunately, we had decided to give him Recharge as his second yellow Command Card, which allowed him to regenerate damage and switch all shields back on every round. It took a combined effort of three of our mechs to remove that card from his command line again, and after that we were able to keep the Boss under control to a certain extent.
After we had finally hit the remaining two crystal switches, it didn't take long for Heimerdinger to slip past the Rune Gate, and Tristana had reached the first row of the lava map tiles. However, Corki and Ziggs were still very close to the starting line. The boss mech used "Get over here!" on Corki, which brought him up to the Lava Pool on the right side of the map, so he decided to cross the narrow stream of hot liquid at that point. Meanwhile Tristana used her immensely flexible Omnistomp setup (we had both Ziggs' and Heimerdinger's Schematic Cards that improved Omnistomp) to walk through the Rune Gate.
This left just Ziggs, whose Command Line rarely contained less than three "rotate left" and "rotate right" Damage Cards at any given moment (not to mention a Haywire Controls card every now and then), so his only stack of movement cards (Level 2 Blaze) usually sent him sideways. We hadn't reached Overdrive yet to unlock his repair ability, and he wasn't able to get out of reach of the boss mech's numerous attacks, so there was little we could do to improve his speed. However, the situation finally changed when one of the Damage Cards he got turned out to be Rocket Whoopsie!
Ziggs had enough turn cards (most of them Damage Cards, of course) to mitigate the forced 180 degree turn of Rocket Whoopsie, so he was able to benefit from the 3 points of movement without problems. He had no intention to repair Rocket Whoopsie, but unfortunately it was overwritten by another Damage Card after two rounds. Well, he enjoyed it while it lasted ...
Anyway the Whoopsie had finally brought Ziggs onto the Lava map tiles, so it didn't take him long to get close to the finish line, where everyone else was already waiting for him. Just before he got there however, the Boss used "Get Over Here!" on Tristana, pulling her to the centre of the board, which also activated the Rune Gate. Now we had to bring her back to the target area quickly, because we hadn't been able to stop the Boss from powering up during the last few turns, and he already had eight Command Cards.
We started out with Heimerdinger deactivating the Rune Gate by stepping onto the yellow Rune right next to the Boss who had Electrostomped over to the finish line. Corki then had to tow Heimerdinger out of the way, so that the remaining two mechs had enough room for their next manoeuvres. Tristana's Omnistomp setup allowed her to get past the Rune Gate, but she would stop a couple of spaces short of the finish line. However, this left her adjacent to Ziggs, who towed her as close to the finish line as possible.
Unfortunately, he lacked the means to step to the side and tow her for yet another step. So this still left Tristana one space away from the target area, and we had to go through another round. The Boss got his ninth Command Card, getting ready to fire the GG-101 Doom Cannon, but Tristana was the second player now and just needed to make one step straight ahead. The Boss hadn't been able to stop us, after all ...
Mission 6 Observations
Just to give you an idea why I referred to this mission as an 'epic battle': In this game, we went through the whole Boss Command Card deck, had to reshuffle the Player Command Card deck twice, and we burned through the Damage Card deck a whopping two and a half times! No wonder the whole session took us three and a half hours ... There was rarely a round in which the Boss didn't inflict two points of damage to at least three of our mechs, and in a four-mech game, there's no way to keep up with repairs considering this amount of damage output. So we had to deal with all those "stuck controls" and make the best out of the situation at hand ...
A couple of times we were certain we'd lose this game, especially while the Boss still had the Recharge card in his Command Line. But it was great to see that we were able to get rid of that card by really focussing our attacks on his weak points and thus turn the tide of this battle. We have enjoyed all our games so far, but this Mission definitely stands out as the most tense, most exhausting and ultimately most rewarding of them.
The most useful card of the game was Rocket Whoopsie! Well, that's probably not true when you look at the whole 210 minutes of the session, but it did give us a huge boost in a crucial situation. Apart from that, Omnistomp is almost too good when both Corki's and Heimerdinger's Schematic Cards for it are in play. All of a sudden, it becomes nearly irrelevant in which direction the mech is facing, at least when it comes to movement.
Heimerdinger also benefitted a lot from the upgrade to Skewer, which allowed him to ignore most of the Boss attacks even when they caused two points of damage. Unfortunately, the command lines of the other mechs were already full of damage when more Skewers came up in our drafts, so they always scrapped them for repairs ...
And while Mission 6 was our most intense session of Mechs vs. Minions at that point, I have to mention that we already followed up with Mission 7 today. Suffice to say that the trend continues and the game's level difficulty keeps on increasing ... More on that in a couple of days.