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Subject: Need a Hero? Bull v. Krolt rss

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Manny O
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"Waaaaarriors! Come out to Playeeeyay!"

When drafting heroes for your Dungeon Alliance, there's a lot to take into consideration, not least of which is synergy with heroes you have already drafted, and whether they fill a needed role in your Alliance. While I can't address those items in this post, I can do a little side-by-side comparison of heroes of the same class. Let's begin with the Warriors, Krolt and Bull.

Bull (Human Warrior)
Attack: Melee 4
Defense: Armor 1
Move: 4
Health: 9
Astrological Sign: Taurus (duh!)

Krolt (Dwarf Warrior)
Attack: Melee 3
Defense: Armor 2
Move: 3
Health: 10
Likes: Long walks on the beachhead, rallying his troops and taunting defenders.

As you can see, their stats are close, but none match exactly. They're both strong and tough, but their weaknesses don't really match. Krolt's speed is a bit of a problem, and Bull's Defense leaves a little something to be desired (or does it? More on that later.) Let's compare their starting cards:

Each has a Battle Tactic that provides +1 Melee Attack for his or her first card. In addition, Krolt's Hack allows you to take a pair of wounds for another +1, and Bull's Slash lets her hit two targets who are adjacent to her with one attack. For their second cards, each has a Maneuver; Bull's Stamina adds a move and lets her remove a Wound Token, and Krolt's Ruthless Commander allows him and all Allies who activate within 2 spaces (regardless of line of sight) the opportunity to discard one card to gain +1 Move and +1 Melee Attack. As you can see, their roles begin to diverge here, with Bull becoming a one-woman army, and Krolt whipping his troops into a frenzy. This divergence continues with their third cards; Bull has the Reaction card Evade, which adds 2 Dodge Defense, and Krolt's Determination is an Action card that lets you draw one card, plus one for each pair of Wound Tokens on him. (Determination works well with his first card, Hack).

Before moving on to the Upgrades that you can draft to improve your Warriors, let me stress the importance of a game mechanic that proves vital to this class: the Burst of Strength. As you probably know, Bursts can be used for four different purposes:
1) +1 Move;
2) +1 Attack (either kind);
3) to remove a Wound Token; or
4) to play 2 of the same card type. This last one is really important to Warriors, because fewer card types are available to them than to most other classes. They have no Attack, Control, Enhance, or Healing Spells (though Allies can play the latter two types on them), and that means that many of their Upgrades will be of card types that they already have. Those Upgrades may be better, or at least, situationally better, than their starting cards, but if you want to play both, you'll have to remember (and prepare) to Burst. If, instead, you only want to play the better one, then the weaker card of the same type is an excellent candidate to be used IN a Burst of Strength, to put it where it won't come back until the next round. If you only discard it, then you may see it again if you draw through your deck, and you don't usually want that for a Hero that has already had his or her turn.

OK, so let's look at Upgrades for Humans like Bull. At level I, Adaptable allows her player to draw 2 cards, or to remove a Wound Token from her, and Voice of Authority raises her player's maximum hand size by one. Each of these is an Action card, which would be a new type for her. But there are also new Maneuver cards, Ambition at Level I, which adds 2 move and allows her player to draw a card for herself plus one for each ally who hasn't activated yet this round, and Rally at Level II, which grants +2 Move and the removal of a Wound Token to her and Allies who activate within 2 spaces of her (regardless of line of sight). These Maneuver cards are powerful; just don't forget that Bull already has one, Stamina.

At Level I, Dwarves like Krolt can grab the Reaction Elusive, which provides +2 Dodge Defense. This would be a new card type for him, but it's the only Dwarf Upgrade that would. Tactical Advantage is a Level I Action that adds 1 attack of either kind, and allows his player to discard up to four cards to draw the same number. Another is Sense Secret Door, which lets him try to open secret doors (regardless of the presence of enemies); for the low low cost of 1 Move point, he gets +2 to the attempt, and, if successful, gains 2 xp. At Level II, the Maneuver Endurance adds 2 Armor Defense and allows the Dwarf to remove 3 Wound Tokens from himself, which might come in handy if Krolt's been doing your toughest tanking, or overusing Hack.

Next up are Upgrades with one Martial Icon, usable by either Bull or Krolt, as well as Paladins, Rangers, Assassins, and (if you have the first DA Expansion) Taio. Shield Block is a Level I Reaction/Shield that adds 2 Armor Defense, and is also usable by Celestial classes. Also at Level I are the Maneuver Reposition, which provides +1 Move and +1 Melee Attack, Fury, an Action that adds 1 Attack of either type and provides the Hero with an extra attack if he or she has already defeated at least one enemy this turn, and Enchanted Broadsword, a Weapon (new card type!) that either provides a 3 Melee Attack or (in the Warriors' cases) adds 2 to their existing Melee totals. If you get no opportunity to grab the Broadsword, then another Weapon might pop up at Level II, the Crimson Moon Axe, which provides a Melee Attack at 4 or adds 3 to a Hero's Melee score, and allows for the removal of a Wound Token if you inflict any damage this turn. Also at Level II is Enchanted Plate Mail, an Armor (new card type!) that adds 1 to your Move and 3 to your Armor Defense. Tanks? You're welcome!

I won't go into the Universal Upgrades or Artifacts here, so there are only three more Upgrades to mention, and these are the Upgrades for Warriors only, having paired Martial Icons on them. If Krolt and Bull are in opposing Alliances, these might be the cards to fight for. At Level I, Critical Strike is a Battle Tactic that adds 2 to
Melee attacks and reduces enemy Armor Defense by 2, so against any enemy with at least 2 Armor Defense, this is a de facto +4 to Melee. Shield Bash is a Level II Maneuver/Shield that adds 2 both to Melee Attacks and Armor Defense, and Devastating Blow is a Level II Battle Tactic that adds 3 to Melee Attacks and can exhaust an enemy that you almost kill by making up the difference in discarded cards. This is especially useful against the Hydra and other Level III Monsters with lots of Health.

With all of these upgrades in common, you might expect these Heroes to play very similarly to one another, but there are so many upgrade possibilities, and so many different combinations of hero alliances they could be in, that you shouldn't necessarily expect them to play similarly to themselves from game to game. Still, we can make some general comparisons about their capabilities in certain roles, especially in the early game.

Opening a room with lots of low level little critters? Bull's a good bet. She has Slash, which can help you get rid of two at once. Add Fury, and that number goes to three. Opening a room containing one tough customer? Krolt's ability to take wounds for extra strength, via Hack, and to buff himself (and neighboring Allies) further with Ruthless Commander makes him a good choice. Up against the AI in solo/co-op play? Bull's lower defense means she'll be targeted by the AI, protecting less healthy Heroes, more often, at least until she plays Evade. Facing the Rescue Titania quest with a Stealth-less Alliance? Krolt's your man (erm, Dwarf), if you can draft Sense Secret Door, which won't work for Bull. Ruthless Commander also makes him a better initial choice for an Alliance with no other support characters. On the other hand, his usefulness can be limited if you don't get his cards in your opening hand each round, because both Ruthless Commander and Determination tend to be more effective when played early in a Round than they are when played late. Bull is much more flexible in this regard, just as useful going late as early.

So, there you have it. That's the Warriors in a (heavy, giant) nutshell. Comments, questions, and session stories are welcome! Which of the Warriors do you prefer, and what's your favorite way to build a better Bull or give Krolt a needed jolt?

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