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Subject: Winning Shadows over Camelot? Is it possible?..... rss

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Emily W
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My husband and I bought this last week and have now played it 6 times and have yet to win. We thought maybe it was because we were playing with the kids, who don't always make the best choices, but we played with our gaming group and still lost. The last game we tried to give ourselves an advantage and didn't have a traitor and each person got the special abilities of 2 knights and we still lost! I really do like the game I just kind of would like to win!

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Jim Cote
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You could be playing wrong. If not, I would suggest moving as little as possible since it wastes a lot of time. Don't go on a quest until you know you can complete it, and don't leave the quest (except in emergencies) until it is completed (at which time you get a free trip back to Camelot).
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Paul Dale
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It is winnable. It is fairly difficult to win though.

Avoid aimless wandering (i.e. go to a quest expecting to finish it), don't be afraid to take damage instead of drawing black cards and keep the siege engines under control.

Oh and the traitor makes life a lot more fun...


- Pauli
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Lou Seelbach
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Winning without a traitor should be a cakewalk. Concentrate on the grail first or the lady of the lake, make sure one person takes care of the black knight, then just go where needed. Our group mostly ignores the raiders.
 
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How many players are in your group(s)?

Yeah, the best bit of advice has already been said: wait in Camelot the first few turns, stockpile on cards, and only venture out when you know you can finish a quest, you have too many cards, or you have to act before a quest is lost. There's no point moving to the Saxons on the first move when half of the black cards are Picts. If I recall correctly, most quests are set up so that you get as many white cards back on victory as it took to complete the quest.
(EDIT: Actually no, see Wraith's correction below.)

Other than that, there are a bunch of small tips, like always playing black combat cards face-down unless there are people on that quest who must know what they're up against. Don't use your Merlins up individually unless you absolutely must stop a quest from failing; you want to be able to counter that Mists of Avalon or Black Forest when it comes up.

Lou-Dawg wrote:
Winning without a traitor should be a cakewalk. Concentrate on the grail first or the lady of the lake, make sure one person takes care of the black knight, then just go where needed. Our group mostly ignores the raiders.
Huh. For what it's worth, my group seldom attempts the Black Knight, the same with the Dragon. It's partly a balancing of the cost of failure and effort versus the reward, but it also means players can play black cards face down freely on these quests.

EDIT: We find the game is easier if King Arthur is on the table, to the point where some players I know predict the game to be lost if he isn't in the random selection of knights. Get him to feed players on quests like the Grail so they don't have to go back to Camelot.
 
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Emily W
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jpeters wrote:
How many players are in your group(s)?


The first three games we had 4, myself, dh, and our two older kids who are 13 and 11. We had 7 with our gaming group 3 other than the two of us had played before and another guy bought it and had read the rules before playing, and today we had 3 myself, dh, and our 13 year old.
 
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Emile de Maat
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Hengelo
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I've moved this thread to the Shadows over Camelot forums, where hopefully more Shadows over Camelot players will see it.
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Travis Hall
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emandbri wrote:
The first three games we had 4, myself, dh, and our two older kids who are 13 and 11. We had 7 with our gaming group 3 other than the two of us had played before and another guy bought it and had read the rules before playing, and today we had 3 myself, dh, and our 13 year old.

Four players is reasonably difficult game, enough so that I'm not surprised you lost with inexperienced players. Seven players is easy if the players cooperate well; if they don't, if everyone just tries to do their own thing and ignores everyone else, you're screwed. Three players with a traitor is ridiculously hard if you haven't noticed the variant rule for three players, and pretty damn hard even if you have.

The game is quite winnable, though. Take a look around at the articles here on BGG (under the game entry, not the general boards). There are plenty of tips for new players.

But take some of it with a grain of salt. I've seen a lot of bad strategy offered. "Draw lots of white cards at the start of the game," for example, is terrible advice. Draw white cards only until you have enough to achieve some useful task, then go and do that task. Given that the Excalibur quest can be completed with any white cards, that means often nobody really needs to draw at all. You can only play out cards at a certain rate, so any more cards in your hands than that does you no good at all. If your hand really sucks, sure, draw some cards, but the faster you get out there doing something useful with them, the better.

The most important piece of advice I can give you at your level of experience is: Stop thinking about what I can do, and start thinking about what we can do. Aim to complete group quests as a group, so that they can be completed quickly, and the rewards put to good use earlier. If you are playing with four players, do your level best to send three of them to one quest at the start. (And the fourth goes to Lancelot, naturally, because Lancelot's Armor is so valuable. And if one of you is the traitor, you should know straight away that he's the traitor if he refuses to join two others on a group quest. Don't accuse him straight away, though, because too early an accusation just helps him.) If you are playing with seven players, send five to the same quest, or four as an absolute minimum.

Even if that means that your starting quest is Excalibur. Working together is more important than the best thing that each individual can do with his cards.

Use the starting card swap to arrange cards so that many knights can contribute to the same quest. Divide the reward for completing that group quest such that most of you can move on to yet another group quest together.

Seeking individual glory will kill you deader than anything in this game, and that's something that new players often find very hard to understand.
 
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Bryan Maxwell
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When you're losing, is it usually by catapults or black swords? How much of an effect has the traitor had in your games?
 
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Travis Hall
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jpeters wrote:
If I recall correctly, most quests are set up so that you get as many white cards back on victory as it took to complete the quest.

No, most quests give back one less card than it takes to complete the quest. This is true for the Black Knight, both wars and Lancelot. The Dragon requires nine cards to complete (unless you want to put out less and let it complete with five black) and gives seven back, the Grail requires a minimum of seven to complete and gives seven back but is highly unlikely to be completed using only seven white cards, and Excalibur is the only quest that gives back more white cards than the minimum number required to win it but also usually requires more than the minimum.

However, while completing quests imposes a slow attrition on hands, the returns are often still enough to carry a good group through with quite little drawing in Camelot.
 
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John Hart
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[q="jpeters"]
Huh. For what it's worth, my group seldom attempts the Black Knight, the same with the Dragon. It's partly a balancing of the cost of failure and effort versus the reward, but it also means players can play black cards face down freely on these quests.
q]

Same with us. The Black Knight is sorta like getting free cards (by playing it face-down) but on the other Hand getting Lancelot is almost as important as winning the Grail quest. With the ability to choose the lesser of 2 evils helping out for the rest of the game and thereby using it (the armour) to stop whatever is about to fail or to slow the progress of the Dispair cards, it's a no brainer that this quest should be won at almost any cost and as quickly as possible. The real threat comes in when you do when the armour but it's the traitor that wins it.
 
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Emily W
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Mr_Nuts wrote:
When you're losing, is it usually by catapults or black swords? How much of an effect has the traitor had in your games?


We usually lose by catapults but played yesterday and lost because the 10 year old and myself were down to one life point, we weren't worried about it because we were about to win a quest and get more when a card was drawn that said "all knights lose one life point."

Usually by the time the traitor is revealed we are already well on our way to losing and that just seals the deal.

We are going to someone's house monday and I'm sure we can get 7 people to play, we'll see how that goes!
 
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Travis Hall
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emandbri wrote:
We usually lose by catapults
[...]
Usually by the time the traitor is revealed we are already well on our way to losing and that just seals the deal.

Well, if you are losing by siege engine overrun, and most of the damage is done before the traitor becomes obvious, there's only one possible explanation. You are placing too many siege engines.

Seriously, siege engines should be placed only in rare circumstances. Most Progressions of Evil, you should be drawing a black card. There are two conditions that must be satisfied before you consider doing anything other than drawing a black card:

1) Something seriously bad might happen if you draw the wrong black card
2) You will be able to change the situation before somebody is forced to draw that black card anyway

It is easy to think things up that satisfy the first condition. "What if it's the first Morgan card? Everyone would lose a life!" Satisfying the second condition is much harder. "Suppose it is the first Morgan card. What can we do to stop it happening? Absolutely nothing, might as well draw it and get it over with."

Suppose you have a knight on the Lancelot quest, playing 5s over 2s (so the total, if all his cards are laid, will be 19, most likely an easy win). The problem is, he needs two more turns to lay out the rest of his cards, and there are four Lancelot cards already laid out against him. Being the Lancelot quest, this will be fairly early in the game. What should you do?

Answer: Everyone spends life for a couple of turns, because you can spare it (though it may be cutting things a little close for some) and because he can change the situation in the meantime by laying out the last two cards he needs to complete his sets. Once he has finished the quest, you can all go back to drawing black cards, because now that Lancelot card on top of the deck is a Dragon, and lets face it, you weren't likely to attempt the Dragon anyway.

So why spend life and not place siege engines? Because life is easier to get back, while still working on quests, than siege engines. Don't think you can place a siege engine and then later fight it to remove it. The cost of fighting siege engines is high enough that you really want to avoid doing it as much as possible, and that includes by spending life rather than placing siege engines in most cases when you really don't want to draw a black card.

So, in summary: If you keep losing to siege engines, stop placing siege engines.
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Emily W
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Played again and still lost.

This time we had 7 players, all adults, everyone had played at least once.

Our traitor was the guy who can play special cards. He wasn't officially reviled for a while but we knew very early that he was. We had no King Arthur which was bad.

We were doing pretty well until, against my advice, the Excalibur quest was finished just as we also lost the dragon. We then had to put siege engines out every time either of those cards came up and at that point the traitor had been reviled so he was adding one on his turn as well. We were then so busy fighting siege engines we couldn't complete another quest.
 
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Travis Hall
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emandbri wrote:
Our traitor was the guy who can play special cards. He wasn't officially reviled for a while but we knew very early that he was.

I think you mean "revealed". Though, "reviled" fits rather well also.

Did you have a good reason to accuse the Traitor when you did so? Often you are best off holding off until very near the end of the game.

emandbri wrote:
We had no King Arthur which was bad.

There are only seven knights in the base game. What expansion were you using (that Arthur could be out of play)?

emandbri wrote:
We were doing pretty well until, against my advice, the Excalibur quest was finished just as we also lost the dragon.

The Dragon should be finishing quite late in the game, and between those two quests four swords would have been added to the Round Table. That's a lot of swords placed in a short amount of time. How many did you already have at that point? On what basis do you think you were doing well?

Really, when the Dragon quest ends, the game should be very nearly complete.

emandbri wrote:
We were then so busy fighting siege engines we couldn't complete another quest.

Yep. Even if the siege engines are coming out very fast, you still don't want to get locked into fighting them continuously. Somebody still has to be out there pushing a quest forward to get that last sword or two. Usually, if you need all your resources to hold back the siege engines another turn or so, you've really already lost.
 
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Sheldon Morris
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Wraith wrote:
emandbri wrote:
We had no King Arthur which was bad.

There are only seven knights in the base game. What expansion were you using (that Arthur could be out of play)?

Indeed. Furthermore, if using Merlin's Company to have an eighth possible knight, the rules say that King Arthur is always in the game. (Even though we haven't always done that in the past we hold to this now).
 
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Hugin wrote:
Indeed. Furthermore, if using Merlin's Company to have an eighth possible knight, the rules say that King Arthur is always in the game.

There is Sir Bedevere, once available as a standalone and still available (last I heard, anyway) in A Company of Knights. However, the reason I asked is because I was wondering whether they are (mis-?)using Merlin's Company, and I very much doubt the group in question is ready to be playing with Merlin's Company.
 
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Austin Norris

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I recently got Merlin's Company but before we did we almost always lost. Heck the trader would actually fully help us and we would lose sometimes. Then after coming here I learned that a decent probably not the best strat was to go for the grail first because it was so hard, save the sword for last because it was inharently the easiest, and dont bother with the black knight or lancealot.

That improved our games a bit however I still don't think we could ever win if a trader was trying to make use lose.

I have been wondering for those of you winning with traders, do you usually call them out mid game before they can make an acusation? I ask because that is the only way I could really imagine pulling it off.
 
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Travis Hall
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DOAisBetter wrote:
Then after coming here I learned that a decent probably not the best strat was to go for the grail first because it was so hard, save the sword for last because it was inharently the easiest, and dont bother with the black knight or lancealot.

Going for the Grail first is quite good a lot of the time. You just have to be careful to make sure you can do it. It is very bad to expend all your resources on the Grail quest and then not finish it, because it means you don't have the resources left to switch strategies.

Having finished the Grail early, leaving Excalibur until later is often a good idea. If you finish the Grail and Excalibur quests early, you will often find the wars will be out of control by the time you have finished them both, and then you are in trouble with siege engines.

But ignoring the Black Knight and Lancelot quests is not a good idea. Lancelot's armor is an extremely valuable resource, and if a knight can get it, he certainly should. The Black Knight is a low priority at first, but later in the game presents the lowest cost (in number of white cards) to win a white sword. Thus, when you are scrambling to get those last could of swords to end the game, fighting the Black Knight should be considered.

DOAisBetter wrote:
I have been wondering for those of you winning with traders, do you usually call them out mid game before they can make an acusation? I ask because that is the only way I could really imagine pulling it off.

That's "traitor", and no. If the Traitor attempts to remain hidden, I aim to collect at least 9 white swords, and preferably 10. If we get that, we don't need to accuse the Traitor at all. If somebody does make a false accusation, it reveals that player to be the Traitor, and we just accuse him just before the end of the game.

If the Traitor does not attempt to conceal himself, and places siege engines instead, again we just accuse him just before the end of the game. In this case, we have to get swords on the table fast before getting overrun by siege engines, but accusing the Traitor again just lets him slow us down with taunting.

If you must accuse the Traitor, there's no sense in doing it mid-game. Do it as late as possible (unless you encounter a specific reason to do otherwise).
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