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Apocrypha Adventure Card Game» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Looking for some strategic advice rss

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Jason Smith
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This is definitely a rather long post.

I realize that - based on some comments I've seen - many people find the Candlepoint missions easy, but so far I've found them very difficult. I've played three missions - Shirts & Skins (using the Incarnate structure), Taking the Plunge, and No Way Out, and the only one I succeeded on was No Way Out - but I also just discovered that I missed the rule that only lets you keep the three best dice, which was disheartening to say the least. In many cases, the only I succeeded on multiple checks was because I was keeping all of the dice that I rolled.

So I figured I'd look for some advice. I really enjoy the theme of the game (probably not an exaggeration to say it's one of my favorite themes around), and I actually enjoy the basic gameplay. I just feel like I need some (earned correctly) successes under my belt before I quit out of sheer frustration.

Some further details: I lost the first two missions by the clock running out, although during Taking the Plunge I had delayed a few turns until I had been ready to confront the Wendigo - and then promptly failed my rolls against him, despite having plenty of bonus dice (and even keeping them).

I've been using two characters for each mission, with Dr. Zeez for all three missions (his healing benefits seem entirely too good to not use him), Frank Block for the first two, and Gabriella Vargas for the last.

I've pretty much completely avoided the Assist mechanic, because the majority of the Mutations seem to ramp up the difficulty substantially. However, when I see a power from a Gift that's part of a different Check step (such as Assemble or Evaluate), I definitely have no qualms about using it, since as near as I can tell, that does not result in a Mutation. Should I not worry so much about Mutations and feel free to Assist? Now that I know I can't keep more than three dice, assisting seems even more valuable, but man, most of those Mutations...

I'm writing this weeks (at least) after playing my first two games, although only a day after my most recent one, so I can't really repeat everything I did step-by-step to see what I may have done wrong rules-wise, but I had felt pretty confident that I got most of them right. Of course, I also missed the "only keep the three best dice," so it's always possible I missed something. I definitely Investigated multiple times as long as I had the Omens to do so, so I didn't feel like I hamstrung myself there (despite the losses due to the clock running out).

So, what are some other commonly missed helpful rules? Any strategy tips? Should I not stick with Dr. Zeez so much? I've been using the decks listed on the backs of the character dividers; are those less than optimal? It seems like what causes the most difficulty are failed rolls (especially knowing now that I can only keep three dice); what are some options to help mitigate that?

Thanks in advance!
 
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C Sandifer
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Fenrikoth wrote:
So, what are some other commonly missed helpful rules?


When playing Apocrypha for the first time, it's easy to mess up a *lot* of rules. So it's difficult to say what you may be doing incorrectly. But here are two commonly missed rules:

- When you encounter an omen in a nexus, you take the omen *and* you automatically encounter the next card. You don't have to use the omen you just acquired to explore again, in other words.

- You frequently get bonus dice when playing a card on yourself, or when other players play a card on you. (See this thread for more details.) Sometimes people forget about the bonus dice - or just aren't aware of them. This is unfortunate given how important they are.

As far as strategy goes, ignoring the Assist mechanic isn't necessarily the best idea. Rerolls are critical when you're only keeping 3 dice. But mutations can backfire, of course.

For what it's worth, Dr. Zeez and Frank Block aren't a good combination for the first Candlepoint scenario (Taking the Plunge) because their body values are high and the master penalizes you for that. And early on, Dr. Zeez seems to have a tough time playing cards on other characters (period), which doesn't help.

Honestly, Taking the Plunge isn't the best scenario for 2 players anyway. It's probably easier for 3-4 players because of the fixed number of locations.

When we originally went through the full base set, we always used 3-4 characters. That went well for us: More cards are available to play on checks, characters are less likely to fade (fewer turns per character), etc. But some folks have had success with two characters. No doubt this is dependent on the characters used and the cards acquired.
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C Sandifer
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Oh, and it helps to know the probabilities involved. Here's a helpful post in that regard:

https://boardgamegeek.com/article/26845580#26845580

For example, if you're facing a 15-difficulty villain, these are your odds when keeping only the top 3 dice:

3 dice: 9.26%
4 dice: 23.15%
5 dice: 37.71%
6 dice: 50.93%
7 dice: 62.09%
8 dice: 71.13%

You only hit >70% with all 8 dice! That's why rerolls, flips, etc., are so important.
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Jeff Goldsmith
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If you play a card to give another saint extra dice or help somehow, that doesn't cause a mutation. Mutations only happen if you "Assist" another saint, that is, if you give him rerolls equal to your virtue value. If you have that wrong, your saints are all on their own; that might cause the difficulties you are having.
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Tony C
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I've played all but one of the Candlepoint missions, and won them all (though some were very close) with a 2 character solo game. (Granted, one of those characters is Ophelia).
My only metagaming was to pick 2 characters that had somewhat complementary deck structures.
I rarely use the Assist mechanism but I absolutely rely heavily on Skills. Most of each character's deck matches at least one of their skills.
I can't really think of any rules I commonly mess up - but if I knew them, maybe I wouldn't mess them up.
Make sure to utilize other characters to help the Active character. I used the Flip, Upgrade, Downgrade thing in a game last night and not only did it help me make the check, it was fun to use.

C Sandifer - so your statement clarifies something for me - the max number of dice any character can roll in a check is 8 - 4 colored virtue, and 4 bonus, correct? Any 'virtue' dice gained over 4 are lost? That paragraph in the (original) rulebook is confusing.
 
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C Sandifer
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dtcarson wrote:
The max number of dice any character can roll in a check is 8 - 4 colored virtue, and 4 bonus, correct? Any 'virtue' dice gained over 4 are lost?


Yep. This is what it says in the new rulebook.

You can never roll more dice of a color than are provided in the box (four of each virtue color and four white bonus dice), even if your saint has more dice than that. . (p. 25)

Not sure if the original has that statement or not.
 
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Tony C
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Thanks. I think the original *wants* to say that, but doesn't quite.
I'm reading through the Living Undead version of the rulebook now.
 
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Actually, not quite.

The maximum you can have of each color is 4, but you can have multiple colors.

Example: as Dr. Zeez, you play Death Gaze. Since you would be rolling 7 Mind dice, you instead roll 4 Mind and 3 Bonus.
An ally plays Bruiser, granting you a Body die. Your total is now 4 Mind, 1 Body, and 3 Bonus.

If you can apply Zeez's Study skill, that would be 5 Bonus dice, so you lose one.
Final total would be 4 Mind, 1 Body, and 4 Bonus.

The absolute maximum you can roll is 20- 4 for each virtue and 4 bonus.
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Jason Smith
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That's a nice breakdown of the odds! Really shows how much I'm missing by not using Assists. I guess I just steel myself to accept the Mutation, what ever it turns into, and hope for the best!

Do players tend to pick and choose Saints tailored to each Candlepoint mission? I originally wanted to try to run through the scenarios with a set team, but as I played missions and failed 'em, it kind of dawned on me that maybe - for Candlepoint, at least - I shouldn't worry so much about character continuity and just pick a team that would seem to do well with that specific mission.

From what I've read, though, there is more of a continuity for the other chapters; did most of you keep the same characters throught the Skinwalkers chapter?

I'm also playing solo / two-handed. Should I expand to three characters?

Thanks everyone for their input!
 
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C Sandifer
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We kept the same characters through the entire base set (18 scenarios), but I'm not sure that was a great plan. One character was flat-out broken - and had been for quite some time - and the other two were overpowered by the end. Things may have been quite different without the one broken character, though, and I'm looking forward to non-broken adventures in the near future.

I'm still trying to figure out the best campaign approach for this game, but I think we'll have fun regardless. I just don't want scenarios/chapters to be brutally challenging or trivially easy. I'm looking for middle ground.

It seems weird to start over completely with each chapter, because the death cards would be pretty pointless. Would a saint ever die if you retired characters every 9 games? I dunno. Maybe you would. Also, starting over too frequently means that you don't have temporary and enduring fragments to draw upon. And without fragments the later scenarios in each chapter might be impossible to beat.

In your case, it might be reasonable to start with 2 characters, then build up to 3 if you think it's necessary. You might even build up a really good character (a savior?) that you bring in whenever you have a really tough time beating certain scenarios. Having an ace in the hole is never a bad thing.

For now, we're sticking to our current plan of mixing experienced and new characters, and retiring our old-timers whenever they get OP or we get sick of them.
 
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Jason Smith
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Hmm... when you say the character had been broken, do you mean mechanically? Like the rules didn't work? Or was it broken by the events that happened in your games? Which character was it?
 
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C Sandifer
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Oh, the character worked. Too well.

Here's the issue, but you should avoid it if you don't like spoilers or super-characters:

Broken stuff.
 
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I think it would be worth trying out a few 3 Saint games. You make use of more of the unique mechanics that Apocrypha offers.

As far a Ophelia goes, she allows saints to reuse the same fleeting fragments between games, with some of the mission ones being pretty powerful. There's also enough virtue replacement gifts like twitchcraft or monsterpedia that she almost never has to make a body or rage check.
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Jason Bagley
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Fenrikoth wrote:
That's a nice breakdown of the odds! Really shows how much I'm missing by not using Assists. I guess I just steel myself to accept the Mutation, what ever it turns into, and hope for the best!

Do players tend to pick and choose Saints tailored to each Candlepoint mission? I originally wanted to try to run through the scenarios with a set team, but as I played missions and failed 'em, it kind of dawned on me that maybe - for Candlepoint, at least - I shouldn't worry so much about character continuity and just pick a team that would seem to do well with that specific mission.

From what I've read, though, there is more of a continuity for the other chapters; did most of you keep the same characters throught the Skinwalkers chapter?

I'm also playing solo / two-handed. Should I expand to three characters?

Thanks everyone for their input!


Sorry I'm late to this party. I can't fathom what rules you're missing, other than the skill options (which are quite easy to get, once you know how). At the start, the Candlepoint missions are kind of hard, but only because you're saints are full of basic gifts and few of them are any good. After about two or three missions with new, better gifts, you will start to do well most of the time. More saints will probably make it easier, but it's not necessary.

As far as what saints to play, each one of my friends has a particular Saint that is their own, and they play with that one and none other. Using the same saints each game seems, to me, to allow you find what kind of cards you want to keep and those you never use, so you should probably get rid of them. I play Dr. Zeez, who does NOT have a high body virtue, and that is invaluable. But he is weak as a fighter. He needs about two other fighters to take that problem for him.

As for strategy, I have some tips: First, mutations are, for me, sort of a last resort. I only assist or accept assistance when I'm facing the big threats: 16-18. For weaker threats, it poses more problems than help. It's especially useful when you're rolling only a few dice or you need to worry about flips from enemy effects or keeping the lowest die. Yeah, the mutations can be terrible, but you can often survive them. When you encounter copies, you can avoid them (if you have a power) and don't have to fight them. It won't do anything bad for you (other than the cost of avoiding, whatever the power has as a cost).

To give you a comparison, my group probably loses 1-2 fights each mission. Losing fights is obviously pretty bad if you're discarding cards as a result. But we've gotten a good feel for when to put in our good stuff and not. Similarly, don't use all your good cards to gain a gift unless you're REALLY sure you will keep it. Losing gifts is alright--they just go back to the box (Maybe you're missing that rule?)

My second suggestion is not to use your assemble effects unless you're going up against some harder threats. If I'm facing a 10 with 4 dice, I probably wouldn't use any assemble effects to add dice. It just doesn't seem useful to me.

Third, a possible problem you're encountering, is boosting. You can boost only once, but you can usually choose cards for your deck that have skills you have (like a card with Study for Dr. Zeez), which can really ramp up the number of dice you're rolling (up to three more dice).

wkover wrote:
We kept the same characters through the entire base set (18 scenarios), but I'm not sure that was a great plan. One character was flat-out broken - and had been for quite some time - and the other two were overpowered by the end. Things may have been quite different without the one broken character, though, and I'm looking forward to non-broken adventures in the near future.


Are you talking about Ophilia? Yeah, she's really only good as long as you keep fleeting fragments, but she gets lets useful as time goes on. I never played with her, and I haven't felt like any other character is OP now that I'm almost finished with the Skinwalker missions. Now sure how you're making your characters OP so frequently.

 
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Jason Smith
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Thank you for the advice! Definitely some good tips there. Would you recommend changing the starting decks for characters to find some way to always have an Avoid option? Are there starting cards that give that option?

Would you bother taking Dr. Zeez as a starting character if you're only playing with two characters? His healing ability seems second to none, but maybe other combinations of characters make that much of a focus on healing redundant.

I'm finally about to switch back to a shift where I can get in some more games of Apocrypha; can't wait to try some of the advice here!
 
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C Sandifer
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The avoid/evasion option is pretty strong in Apocrypha.

We've almost completed the Fae chapter, and our current 3-player party is the wild child, The One (can avoid anything, anytime), and the reporter (can avoid by recycling a card).

The double-evasion duo has certainly come in handy. Some scenarios were much easier as a result.

There's a lot of card-based healing available, so our lack of character-based healing didn't hurt our party. But whatever works.
 
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