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Subject: Online tournament on Tabletopia + the designer's tactical diaries rss

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Patryk Kowalski
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Hat-Trick Online on Tabletopia is round the corner and to celebrate its launch me and Marek have decided to play an online tournament between us two. It's probably going to take ages, since we both have those mythical offline lives to attend to. Still, whenever something interesting comes to my mind regarding Hat-Trick tactics, I will share my thoughts with those precious few who drop by from time time.

TOURNAMENT FORMAT
I have prepared 16 Team Cards based on Ben Bateson's fantastic analysis of PL teams and my own PL lore. Before each match we draw 2 teams, play the match and the winner goes through to the next round. In case of a draw the match goes to extra-time and then – if still unresolved – penalties. We use all rules from the base game and the 'Players' expansion.

FIRST MATCH
So, for our first venue we we have drawn Magpies and Sirs. Here they are:





As for the question who manages which team, we have a list of our priorities and whoever has the given team higher on the list, he gets to play it. During Keegan's era Marek was a big Newcastle fan so no wonder he put Magpies pretty high on his list. I, on the other hand, always fancied Everton (despite their too-big-for-my-liking recent reliance on one player) so it was clear I'll be managing the Sirs.

FIRST HALF
The first 45 minutes was all we managed to play due to lack of time. It was a pretty drab affair with both teams cancelling each other out. There were even 2 Scoring Opportunities that did not yield a shot on goal, which is pretty uncommon in Hat-Trick. Magpies earned a yellow card for a blatant foul on my Goal Poacher and this was probably the highlight of the match, which – by the way – resulted in a goal for the Sirs. Their gold Playmaker escaped Marek's attention and used his gold skill to send a precise through ball to a Goal Poacher who buried it in the far corner.
In case you were wondering what the gold Playmaker does – he may play a short pass 2 lines forward instead of 1. Considering short passes make the half of the deck, this is indeed a powerful skill.

And that was it for now – 1:0 for the Sirs. Perhaps we'll meet again soon to play the 2nd half.

DESIGNER'S REMARKS
It will be long before the 'Players' expansion ceases to surprise me. The number of combos that matches produce regularly reveal something surprising, which I had not envisioned before. It usually concerns different player skills interacting with each other. And yesterday was no different.
The combo to watch: COMMANDING CENTRE-BACK + DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDER
Before I discuss those two, let me shortly rephrase what they do:

COMMANDING CENTRE-BACK
After moving into a line, he may move a teammate into the same line (2nd move). Of course the line must be in the terammate's reach.

After the move, he may flip his gold teammate to the silver side.



The problem with Commanding CB is, of course, his silver skill. When silver, in order to turn to gold, he must 'degrade' one of his neighbouring gold teammates, who may not be so easy to come by. Still, the gold skill is so powerful - giving you a 2nd move in a turn – that it's well worth the effort. And this is where the Defending Midfielder enters the fray.

DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDER
Gold Defensive Midfielder simply intercepts a long ball that lands adjacent to him

He intercepts a short pass that did not move forward (due to the lack of a receiving player) The Defensive Mid doesn't even need to be in the line where the short pass was made (it's enough if he's in the adjacent line).

Please note that both the image and the skill below are from the prototype version of the expansion.



The Def Mid gold skill – though powerful – can be nullified by a clever-thinking opponent that chooses not to play long passes anywhere near the Def Mid. I saw matches where the skill was not used once.

The silver skill, on the other hand, is always good to have, as short passes that do not move forward will happen. What is more, there are 16 short passes in the deck and only 8 long ones making the former come up twice as often. And on top of that the silver Def Mid covers the area of 3 lines (the one he's in and the two adjacent ones), whereas the gold one protects only the adjacent fields.

So in this particular case the silver skill (as opposed to the gold one) is not so bad to have.

To set the record straight, however, I still consider the gold skill better. Why? Because long passes can really hit you hard. The ability to play the ball 3 lines forward can be deadly, especially with our opponent on the break. Even novice players can use them effectively against more experienced ones. And this is where you will learn to appreciate your gold Def Mid because you must keep in mind that unused does not equal useless. The opponent must still take into consideration the fact that there are fields in the opponent's half where playing a long ball will cost him possession – and possibly refrain from making this pass – which, on many an ocassion, will make the Def Mid an unsung hero of our team.


THE COMBO
So now, if we set up our team to have the gold Commanding CB and the silver Defensive Mid, we may be less hesitant to use the former's gold skill as the latter will most probably turn gold in no time and will be available for 'degradation' should the Commanding CB wanted to return to gold himself. And considering the fact that the Defensive Mid's silver skill is not that bad after all, this partnership may work out pretty well.
One more thing – it will be much better if they played in the same column, as it will be much easier to place them next to each other.

And that's about it. If you have your favourite combos, I'd love to read about them. Describe them in this thread or start a new one – whichever suits you better.
Thanks for reading!
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Stefanos Pallas
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What about announcing in this thread, 1-2 days before, the date and the time of your next encounter, so that we'll be able to watch it live?
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Patryk Kowalski
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stepal wrote:
What about announcing in this thread, 1-2 days before, the date and the time of your next encounter, so that we'll be able to watch it live?


Great idea... if you're feeling masochistic

But seriously, it sounds great. The notion of live audience is just unbelievable. And considering my tendency to crumble under even the slightest pressure, this could make for a really 'entertaining' showing.

Once we manage to arrange something, I'll definitely let everybody know in this thread. Thanks for the idea!
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Patryk Kowalski
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Not exactly 1-2 days in advance – more like 1-2 minutes – but if anybody's in the mood, me and Marek are just playing the second half on Tabletopia (check games in progress) and then, possibly, another match.
 
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Patryk Kowalski
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Today (24.07), me and Marek will be playing the next match of the Cup between 20.30 - 22.30 (we'll try to arrive on time).

If you feel like watching or have some questions, feel free to visit (find us in FIND AND PLAY -> GAMES IN PROGRESS tab, than you enter the game and click WATCH). We will be using complete rules with the Players expansion and Style Cards.

Keep in mind that Tabletopia works best with Internet Explorer (Windows 8 or higher), then Firefox (Windows 7 or higher) and it does not work on Chrome. And if you don't want to use a browser, you can download Tabletopia via Steam provided you have Windows 8 or higher (although I have not tried it yet).
Cheers
Patryk
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Stefanos Pallas
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Hat Trick wrote:
Keep in mind that Tabletopia works best with Internet Explorer (Windows 8 or higher), then Firefox (Windows 7 or higher) and it does not work on Chrome. And if you don't want to use a browser, you can download Tabletopia via Steam provided you have Windows 8 or higher (although I have not tried it yet).

I run Tabletopia via Steam on Win7 and I don't have any problems.
Meanwhile, my brother has run Tabletopia on Chrome with a few bugs during just the first 2-3'.
 
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Patryk Kowalski
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Thanks for the info. I'd better run Microsoft update as it may be an issue with the Service Pack missing.
Btw, how do you find the Steam version? Have you tried playing via browser as well and know how they compare?
My old notebook with Firefox crashes whenever I try to enter an online game unless I clear the browser history and personal files and turn off the Chrome that often runs in the background.
 
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Stefanos Pallas
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Hat Trick wrote:
Btw, how do you find the Steam version? Have you tried playing via browser as well and know how they compare?

The Steam version is ok but a bit laggy. I mean the cursor is a little slow navigating on the screen, at least not as smooth as it is navigating on the desktop.
When I play a card, I have to place it carefully at the desired spot.

However, I have never tried the browser version to compare them.
 
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