Recommend
78 
 Thumb up
 Hide
16 Posts

Dragonfire» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Dragonfire Level One Strategy - Delving and Wandering the Wastes rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
B C Z
United States
Reston
Virginia
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Introduction
So you have your shiny new Dragonfire game and you’ve possibly played through the quickstart rules. Hopefully you had some success (at least if you had four or more people at the table). Now you and your friends or family want to play the game ‘for real’. Before you begin your first game where the choices you make have lasting impact, you should probably take some time to prepare yourself. What character class(es) will everyone play? What role do you think you will enjoy the most? What race should you pick?

Have a seat, prepare yourself a nice warm beverage and snuggle up with your computer or tablet - you’re in for another long read. As a bonus, this time, there’s a quiz at the end.

Race and Role
Deciding which race and role combination you choose to play is easily another full article. To simplify things, I am going to assume a group of four players choosing to play human base classes from the core set. Humans in fantasy role playing are typically the measuring stick against which all other choices are compared. It also simplifies things a great deal, and will give a baseline for the reader to learn and understand before consciously deviating to another race or an alternate class, or both. Yes, there are all those other wonderful races with their built-in Features in the core box. If you bought Heroes of the Sword Coast you have even more possible choices. For now, start with some humans and get used to the game itself. There will be plenty of reasons to run new characters through the campaign if you enjoy playing the game, at least until support for characters above level 5 comes out.

Each player should select the role they want to play (Martial, Devotion, Deception or Arcane) and select the character screen that will represent them. Since you have played the quickstart adventure (or are at least claiming you did), you’ll also get to select a Background Feature to try out. It’s time to get to some adventuring.

Delve or Wander?
Your first choice is simple. Do you go on the Dungeon Crawl, which is the basic structure of the game and the easiest scenario to understand, or do you venture out into the Wastes on what may end up being a fool’s errand? Your choice will change how you play and how you perceive the game.

My personal recommendation is to attempt a Dungeon Crawl first. Why? Magic Items can only be pulled from an adventure the first time you succeed at that adventure. Based on the rules on p27/28 (go read them if you haven’t), you lose the opportunity to attempt Dungeon Crawl at level one the moment your Average Party XP exceeds 10xp. You’d then need to boost the Dungeon Crawl to level two, losing the level one chance. Dungeon Crawl is the most straightforward scenario in the entire box and if you cannot emerge victorious from a level 1 Dungeon, the challenges presented in the Campaign Act I scenario may be too much.

Gaining Magic Items, XP and familiarity with the system are the reasons to delve before wandering. If you cannot beat the Dungeon Crawl, do not even attempt to wander the Wastes as it will only frustrate you.

Featuring Features
Before you even start, look at your Background Feature (BG) and the 5xp Features and determine if you will be holding onto your BG, or if you’re going to immediately overwrite it when able.
Some of the BG Features are worth keeping and protecting.
If you choose to give up your BG Feature you will be eligible to purchase a 5xp Feature after your first successful delve (or possibly after a few unsuccessful ones). The 5xp Features fall into a few broad categories.
* Color Swap 5xp Features allow you to turn (2) into a specific color of damage once per turn. These can be useful when specific damage is called for, but their use does come at the expense of raw damage.
* Expensive Purchase 5xp Features trigger when you purchase one of the four expensive cards in the Market that cost $8 or $10. The effects can be to move an Encounter, return a Basic Card from discard, Cycle a card from your deck (by drawing then discarding) or gaining a gold (which triggers on Lightning Bolt and Healing Word as well as the other 4). These are situational and require that you plan to bank currency until you can afford one of the top end cards, assuming they show up - and unless you’re Arcane, you’re not even eligible for the Fireball.
* Setup Modification 5xp Features change the game before starting, by either adding a Market Card slot or by adding an extra Basic Card to your Deck. Please don’t add an extra Basic card to your deck unless you have a really good reason. If you do that, look at being a non-human race first, where you at least get a free Feature to make up for the extra card.
* Strategic Play 5xp Features give a Once Per Game option to cycle all cards in the Market. This can have very strong value if you are looking for a specific card to be available for purchase.

If you choose to retain your BG, then at 10xp you can buy a second slot and a 5xp Feature. Those that choose to lose their BG will be able to opt for the 10xp Features, which include some generically useful things such as gaining an extra starting stat (card, coin or constitution), or the ability to heal one character once at a cost of $3. There are many other 10xp Features, if you see one that looks useful to your play style or experience with the game, try it out.

There are some vitally important Features at the Background and 5xp level that can help you get through the “Token” episode of the Campaign when you get there. Damage is king, and you’re going to need to deal a lot of it in the game. When looking at Backgrounds and 5xp Features…
… anything that lets you gain damage (aka a card draw) is worth looking at.
… anything that costs you a card (damage) is probably not as worthwhile unless you need to trade to a specific color.
… a card in hand is usually worth more than a gold and probably worth more than a HP..
… anything that lets you ignore requirements has tremendous potential
… anything that lets you fish for market cards will help mitigate bad market draws.

Look at the Backgrounds and 5xp Features and see if you can figure out how to make a party of 4 characters see 20 or more market cards by the end of the first round. Pause and ask why I’d even suggest such an idea. Did a lightbulb just come on? I hope so.

Look again and determine if you can figure out how to ensure that every character can reliably generate two different colors of damage? Pause again and think about why I’d ask that. Remember, there will be a quiz.

At the early levels, it’s important to think of the party as a whole, not as a group of individuals. At Background and 5xp the only things differentiating the characters are class restrictions on Market cards, equipment packs and free race-based features. Class restricted Features are not available until the 10xp point.

Hopefully your group has made some good decisions about which Features to collectively Adventure with. You’ve discussed which character will take which Feature to make the entire Party stronger. Perhaps you’ll change your mind by the end of this article about the best Features to utilize, but you’re at least thinking about why you’re taking a specific Feature and how it helps the party as a whole. Maybe you are even thinking about where each character will sit to make those Features more useful. If you are, good, because that’s the next topic.

Who’s on First?
Wait. Can we just play? We haven’t even dealt out the Adventure yet! That’s because we’re not ready to go yet. Marching Order (play order) is the next question to tackle, and you’ll have to decide as a group how to approach this question.

The rulebook recommends putting a high HP character as the party leader, into the first slot. This is a great idea, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be your Fighter. Whaaaat? Some of the Devotion and Deception classes have almost as many Hit Points as their Fighter companions. Later, when you’re exploring other races and sub-classes, it’s possible for the Martial class to have lower HP than non-Martial characters. Which character class goes first, then, is not as simple as “Fighters First”, though that’s a pretty good rule of thumb, especially with our four Humans in the four basic roles.

One the first turn of the first round of the first scene, unless you’re playing 2p/3p (and players got to swap a Bless card in for a basic), no-one will have any Assist cards. That is important enough to repeat. The first player gets help from no-one on the very first turn, which means they will need the extra HP to be able to soak the damage they will inevitably take.

A corollary to the ‘no help’ realization is that unless the first character can defeat their own obstacle on turn one (and even if they could), the damage taken may be acceptable if HP is an abundant resource for that character. Damage they deal is much better applied to the obstacle(s) that the Party can collectively eliminate before those Obstacles can deal their damage to the lower HP characters. My playgroups call this ‘looking left’. If your highest HP character is early in the turn order, that means that characters with less HP as a resource are farther down the round. If an obstacle can be eliminated before doing damage, or after doing only one round of damage, that is more desirable than an obstacle repeatedly bashing the characters with low health.

The next thing to think about when determining play order is which characters are most likely to be able to assist to the left by buying a market card that has an Assist on it that helps defeat obstacles to your left. What cards can assist?
BLACK: Javelin, Tower Shield
GREEN: Bless, Spiritual Weapon, Healing Word (Heal only)
BLUE: Magic Missile, Cloud of Daggers
RED: Perception, Twist the Knife
Each of those possible Assists has a very different feel and purpose and knowing what they can do will help your group determine your party order.
Devotion characters can assist left with Bless to fill in any single color. Spiritual Weapon is really effectively if you are fighting a large single target. Arcane characters can assist left against multiple targets with Magic Missile or against single targets that have lots of colorless damage levels with Cloud of Daggers. Deception characters can assist with Perception or deal an entire level of damage with Twist the Knife. Martial characters should almost always use Javelin as an assist and Tower Shield can help defend the defenseless for a turn.

Playing left, especially on the first round, can be very helpful to defeating obstacles. When planning that Marching Order, be sure that the characters can afford the cards desired. A human Deception Class in second position can afford Twist the Knife, but a race with lower starting gold will only have Perception be in range. Spiritual Weapon costs $4 and is an excellent early round purchase for the Devotion class. Magic Missile can help take out some unwanted extra encounters if purchased by the Arcane class.

If you really must have a recommended Marching Order, here’s some options:
Fighter - Rogue - Cleric - Wizard
Strong HP to start and the classes with single target assists in positions 2 and 3. The Rogue probably has enough to buy the card they want turn one, so early turn takers can focus on destroying whatever is in front of the Wizard or Cleric.
Fighter - Wizard - Cleric - Rogue
This order makes it more likely that the first two positions will hold the Market cards that help destroy Tokens.
Fighter - Wizard - Rogue - Cleric
Healing at the end where it’s most likely to be needed.

There are 24 Different ways to establish a Marching Order, or 6 if you always put the Fighter into position 1 (which is not always the best move!). Whatever you pick, have a reason and try to stick to that reason. If it’s not working, be ready to change it. Put some thought into it and don’t just go by where people decided to sit.

First Steps
So now… you’re probably ready to start. Climb down those Dungeon Steps, Deal out an encounter to each player, handle any Surprise Effects and then flip that Dragonfire Card.

The Dragonfire cards are flipped to affect each individual round. Sometimes these cards are benign, other times they make you want to cry. Dragonfire cards in the discard form the Dragonfire Level (DFL). A higher DFL means more rank II obstacles will come out in Scenes 2 and 3. Rank II cards are harder to defeat, pay out less gold, usually both. The fewer rank II cards you see, the better off your party will be. This means your first goal is to clear Scene 1 as quickly as possible, keeping the DFL as low as possible in order to make your 2nd and 3rd scenes more manageable.

After the initial obstacles are dealt, read the Dragonfire effect and then pause. It’s time to plan. All players need to figure out and agree on the priority target(s) and determine how to quickly dispatch some of the obstacles in the first round. The odds are low that the party will be able to defeat everything in one round, so the group will have to figure out which characters are going to take damage and where they will focus fire. Defeated obstacles give cash to buy new cards in addition to preventing dealt damage. The Dragonfire effect at this point is known, and can be planned for. The Dragonfire effect for next turn is unknown.

Once your team has a plan, execute it. New information will become available as players draw 2 new cards from their deck and purchase something from the market. It should be possible to dispatch most if not all obstacles before Round 2 ends, which will result in a DFL of 1 going into Scene 2. If that’s not possible, then work to defeat all obstacles by the end of Round 3, resulting in a DFL of 2 into Scene 2. If you’re walking into Scene 2 with a DFL of 3 or higher, you’re probably not going to succeed, and should switch your goal to getting the extra XP offered by entering Scene 3 before being totally defeated.

Some traps that new players will fall into are offered here.

1/ HP is the most important thing.
Yes, HP is important, but cards that heal don’t always help defeat obstacles faster. HP represents longevity but longevity means higher DFLs and harder Scenes 2 and 3. A defeated obstacle doesn’t deal damage. Given the choice between HP and Damage, I will almost always choose damage.

2/ Any buy is a good buy
I used to think this, but I’m starting to really resent the lower cost market cards that only do one damage. They are basic cards with special abilities that offer no additional damage potential. Without extra damage, the rate of card draw (2 incoming cards per turn) is going to slow down any character to a trickle of damage dealing potential. Single damage cards must be carefully considered for purchase and the Player must understand what that purchase is doing to help them now and what that card will do to their deck across upcoming reshuffles. A typical game will last 6-9 total rounds. That’s 12-18 total draws, which translates to a limited number reshuffles. Purchased cards in the early part of the game have the potential to come back multiple times. Cards purchased towards the end of the game are unlikely to be played more than one time. Card Draw Accelerants, such as Misty Step can help jump past the basic junk cards and recur the purchased Market ones and will affect the total number of reshuffles you get. Be certain that every card you purchase helps you now and, if early in the game, later.

Spoils of Victory
Once you get past the first level of Dungeon Crawl, you’ll get 5xp and a Common Magic Item that probably gives a one-shot ability. Not bringing your Magic Item on an Adventure is often a wise move. When you do pack it, know why you’re bringing it and use it to help you get past a rough spot. If you haven’t used a packed Magic Item and things are looking bleak with a high DFL and low survival chance, consider not using it and keeping it for the next adventure.

Going into the first Campaign Adventure (The Wastes of a Fallen Empire), you will be facing a different mix of obstacles (Wilderness I / Adventurers II instead of Dungeon I / II) and a Scenario generated set of additional tokens on top of the standard Dungeon Crawl format.

The Quiz
I told you there’d be a quiz at the end, and you’ve gotten this far so congratulations. Not all of these questions have been answered in the article. They are instead intended to get you thinking about the choices you will be making as you play. If you prefer to not riffle through the obstacle decks before experiencing them I respect that. Use any losses you encounter to get a sense of what types of things you can expect for your next game.

1/ What specific color of damage is most needed against obstacles from the Primary deck for the Dungeon Crawl (Dungeon I)? Which Market cards are the best purchases based on that need?

2/ What specific color of damage is most needed against obstacles from the Primary Deck for “The Wastes of a Fallen Empire” (Wastes) (Wilderness I)? Which Market cards are the best purchases based on that need?

3/ What two market cards are the most valuable when attempting to defeat tokens, especially in the first campaign adventure “The Wastes of a Fallen Empire”?

4/ What Background, 5xp or 10xp features are most valuable or can help with the answers to the questions above?

5/ What Dragonfire cards are most desired? How can that be influenced?

If you’ve stuck with me this far, you’re starting to think critically about how you’ll play Dragonfire as you’re just starting out. No set of instructions can give you the sure-fire way to win every game, or even 90% of them. Instead, the concepts in this article are intended to give you a toolbox of ways to approach the game and increase your chances of being victorious.

If you choose to try to answer the Quiz, please do so in spoilers so others can work out the answers if they want.

Spoiler tags are {o}{/o} (using square brackets instead of curlies).



If you liked this article and thumbed the thumb you can see right now, please consider also going to the top of the article and thumbing the entire thread.
Thread thumbs help increase the visibility of articles (and are often forgotten at the end of a long read). Thank you.

  • [+] Dice rolls
Christian Morasse
Canada
Quebec
Quebec
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Amazing read! Thank you
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
jernej peter
Slovenia
flag msg tools
You Can't Take the Sky from Me
Avatar
mbmbmbmb
Thank you sooooo much, this is really helpful for us newbies.

One question fo you Sir.

I will play this game solo. Should I try it with two characters or maybe 4? I know it is harder to manage everything with 4 characters, but I think the gameplay will be more thematic/better/interesting...

regards
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
B C Z
United States
Reston
Virginia
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
agresivc wrote:
Thank you sooooo much, this is really helpful for us newbies.

One question fo you Sir.

I will play this game solo. Should I try it with two characters or maybe 4? I know it is harder to manage everything with 4 characters, but I think the gameplay will be more thematic/better/interesting...

regards

I would ask this question on a thread discussing solo play, there are many to choose from.

I play 2p, one character each.

The game is supposed to be balanced for four.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
B C Z
United States
Reston
Virginia
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'm surprised no-one is taking a crack at the quiz.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Muhammad Akmal
Singapore
flag msg tools
mbmb
This is very well wrtitten and a must-read for all new players to this game. I wouldn't say all players need to read it just one would do xD
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brendan McGuire
United States
Glendale
Arizona
flag msg tools
badge
Ack!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
byronczimmer wrote:
I'm surprised no-one is taking a crack at the quiz.


Don't take my lack of answering as ambivalence to your quiz. Take it as pure ignorance in not knowing the answers.
laugh
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jon Olsén
Sweden
Stockholm
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Sculder_8P wrote:
byronczimmer wrote:
I'm surprised no-one is taking a crack at the quiz.


Don't take my lack of answering as ambivalence to your quiz. Take it as pure ignorance in not knowing the answers.
laugh


The same for me. I really haven't paid the different decks of encounters that much attention. I know some of the answers =)
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kevin Walsh
Ireland
Lucan
Co Dublin
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmb
For question 3, the answers are, I believe Flaming Oil and Magic Missile, in that order. You really want those cards in your hand going into the second and third scenes, and should be pitching other cards in the Market if you don't see them.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Steve Beeman
United States
Houston
Texas
flag msg tools
Houston, TX
badge
Little Light
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Amaranth wrote:
For question 3, the answers are, I believe Flaming Oil and Magic Missile, in that order. You really want those cards in your hand going into the second and third scenes, and should be pitching other cards in the Market if you don't see them.


I'd agree. That first campaign adventure is way too difficult just based on being unlucky and not drawing these.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jon Olsén
Sweden
Stockholm
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Question 5

Spoiler (click to reveal)
I don't have the cards in front of me, but there is one where all encounters need to make saves, if they fail we can move them to face any heroes. Another one that is not super bad is that at the start of a heroes turn, she/he gets one money and throws a card. There is one devotion card that lets you look at the next Dragonfire card and bury it if she/he wants to.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Steve Beeman
United States
Houston
Texas
flag msg tools
Houston, TX
badge
Little Light
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Augury
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jon Olsén
Sweden
Stockholm
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
SteoanK wrote:
Amaranth wrote:
For question 3, the answers are, I believe Flaming Oil and Magic Missile, in that order. You really want those cards in your hand going into the second and third scenes, and should be pitching other cards in the Market if you don't see them.


I'd agree. That first campaign adventure is way too difficult just based on being unlucky and not drawing these.


Playing with four characters, I have finished this mission with rather few of them. But I agree, the success of that mission relies a bit too much on finding these cards.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Barry
United States
Marion
Iowa
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I slightly disagree with you on starting Race. Diversity often helps. In Shadowrun Crossfire, the Crossfire deck could punish you for going all in on a race - that is more forgiving here. However, having a character who starts with lots of money to buy a pivotal first round purchase, and another character with a large starting hand can help deal with some of the curve balls that the random decks can throw at you. Everything else though is pretty sound advice, and this I think is just a difference of opinions.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
B C Z
United States
Reston
Virginia
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Nachofan wrote:
I slightly disagree with you on starting Race. Diversity often helps. In Shadowrun Crossfire, the Crossfire deck could punish you for going all in on a race - that is more forgiving here. However, having a character who starts with lots of money to buy a pivotal first round purchase, and another character with a large starting hand can help deal with some of the curve balls that the random decks can throw at you. Everything else though is pretty sound advice, and this I think is just a difference of opinions.


Starting race was written as human to show a baseline because this is not intended as a primer on character choice.

Put another way... That's another article.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Fred Buchholz
United States
Middleton
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I've been experimenting with 3, 4, 5 and 6 characters (playing solo) just to get all the bits straight in my head so I can help others as they learn the game. The bigest thing I found for round one was "buy an assist". If at all possible buy an assist so the whne the next player plays cards you have the ability to help them. In a six player try last night I was able to get 3 encounters defeated in the first round. That made it easier to handle the rest mad it to scene 2 with DFL of 2 scene 3 with DFL of 4.
Getting 1 or 2 encounters on the first round helps generate money to buy more assists.
Also the value of the "2" cost abilities make a color type available to a character that might not have any of that color. That or if it has an assist are when I buy them.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.