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Subject: [Beta] Val on the Brink (a game report) rss

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Chad Miller
United States
Stigler
Oklahoma
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This is a playtest game between me, ChumpChange and DredNicolson. I'm playing Valerie, Chump is playing Setsuki, and Dred is playing Rook, so basically we're all playing characters that used to be way overpowered and have had some wind taken out of their sails. We roll for turn order and end up going Chump, Dred, me.

Pool: Risky Move, It's a Trap, Gem Essence, Recklessness, Thinking Ahead, Self-Improvement, Gems to Gemonade, Iron Defense, Combos Are Hard, Master Puzzler

(NOTE: I pondered a fork strategy here, though it's troublesome that the only card drawer is Gemonade, and Gem Essence Val really wants the purple arrows available for Crash or Chromatic Orb. And the Recklessness/Self-Improvement combo is made far worse by there being no reds in the pool or in anyone's deck. Instead I deliberately went for a power buy strategy, planning to win with either Combos are Hard->Double Crash or Master Puzzler)

Note on pile notation: The least ugly thing I could come up with is to write piles as just a list of all the gems in them. This means that "11" is not eleven, it's two one-gems. If I don't specify who they belong to it's Chump/Dred/Me in that order.

Turn 1: (piles 0/0/0) Chump spends 4 for combine. Dred plays big rocks and buys Recklessness and Risky Move. My hand: All 4 of my action chips and a 1-gem. I play Creative Thoughts for $/->, crash (which is countercrashed) and buy a 2-gem. My hand at the end of turn is of course 11111.

Turn 2: (piles 0/1/0) Chump plays Speed of the Fox into Multitask. He now has 3 buy which he spends on Risky Move and It's a Trap. Dred crashes and buys another Combine (his fifth chip was Strength of Earth). I ante and buy Gems to Gemonade. (Without Gemonade in pool, this is a pretty interesting buy decision; do you buy Iron Defense to develop board position, or do you buy a 3-gem so you can start making bigger buys after your deck cycles? Instead, the answer is, buy Gemonade and do both!) New hand: 211/Chromatic Orb/Crash Gem.

Turn 3: (piles 1/1/11) Chump combines his ante, leaving him with a hand of 111 Double Take. He buys 2-gem. Dred plays no action, dropping 2111 for Iron Defense (Dred did NOT cycle the Stone Wall sitting in his hand, lending some credence to Chump's "single-draws are bad" theory). I ante and crash 1. This play is actually debatable because using Chromatic Orb instead leaves me at 3-pile, letting me draw 6 cards at end of turn if I combine instead. While there are arguments for Orb, I think crashing is the clear play here. The problem here is that there are 7 chips in my deck and only 4 of them are money. Drawing an action has the dual result of robbing me of an option next turn and keeping me at 4 buy instead of 5. Combine is hardly something I'm sad to buy (and the 4-money buy would be Combine) , but crashing gives me a guaranteed 5, which, as I discussed above, gives me several powerful options. I even already have my 2-gem in hand so it's not like I can cantrip into more than one buy. Of course, if Chump decides to countercrash me, I'll get my money and my height bonus. He doesn't countercrash, and I buy 3-gem (don't want too many enders in my deck and the reaction suffers serious diminishing returns after you buy the first) and draw a new hand of 11/Creative Thoughts/Burst of Speed/Gems to Gemonade.

Turn 4: (piles 21/11/11) Chump traps Combine and drops 2111 for a 3-gem. Dred plays Combine+Strength of Earth to give himself two 2-gems, then Big Rocks 1 into a 2. He then buys It's a Trap (discarding Recklessness). I play Creative Thoughts for money/action and play Gemonade, getting lucky and drawing 1-gems. I buy another 5-gem. My 6-card hand is crazy: 33211 Gemonade! It's too bad Dred is sitting on 2-gems here; it's pretty likely he can hit me with an uncounterable 4-gem, making Gemonade's reaction worthless.

Turn 5: (piles 211/22/111) Chump Double Take's Risky Move, then drops 2 for a total of 6 buy. He buys Recklessness and 2-gem. Dred plays Iron Defense and uses 21 to buy another 2-gem. I ante and play Gemonade, cantripping into Chromatic Orb and a 1-gem for...11 buy. Drat, I have "just" 11. Given the trap on Combine and my relatively low pile, it seems like my choices should be between 4-gem or DoubleCrash, but I instead elect to buy Combos Are Hard and another 3-gem! I think this may be a case of letting small pile sizes lure me into a false sense of security; after all, Dred's next combine will lead to uncounterable crash (he still has a Crash gem sitting around from Iron Defense) and will put me at 9 as of my next turn. At any rate, I draw 111/Creative Thoughts/Burst of Speed.

Turn 6: (piles 211111/221/1111) Chump antes to 8 and plays Combine/Crash, crashing 2. He could crash 3, but 2 puts him at exactly 6 so he can draw 7 cards at the end of the turn instead of 6. Dred has no reaction. Dred plays Reclessness, forking into Big Rocks, then It's a Trap trapping Master Puzzler (he knows exactly what I'm up to), and then plays Combine and uses his ID Crash gem to send a 4 at my face. This puts me at 8. He then buys Self-Improvement, probably to get rid of those Recklessness wounds. At this point I started examining my discard; the decision of course is between crashing, or using Burst of Speed at pile 9 to draw an 8-card hand. The fatal flaw in that second plan is that I didn't buy Crash or Double Crash at any point, so the 8-card hand would not save me from a fatal ante to 10. So, instead, I play Creative Thoughts, naming buy/action into Crash. I then immediately realized draw/action is probably better. My discard at this point is Gemonade, Combos Are Hard, Chromatic Orb, 3332111. I can't afford to end my turn with Chromatic Orb, and, unless I'm lucky, Combos are Hard, and crash 111 gives me enough for Combine so it's not a disaster if I draw one of those. I would be upset to draw Gemonade, but I think cycling back into my sole crash and whatever I buy to get out of the Danger Zone will outweigh that, and I will only draw Gemonade 10% of the time anyway. The downside is that, honestly, what am I trying to buy with >4 but Burst of Speed and buy another Combine. Despite eating another trap wound, I have to get my pile back down to something halfway manageable. I then draw my 8-chip Burst of Speed hand, and it's insane: Gemonade/Crash/333211. I really don't want the Gemonade there, but it doesn't matter because now I get to crash 2 and then buy Master Puzzler! I ante and crash 2 (given that Gemonade is in my hand and therefore NOT available to react with, and Chump is sitting on a 2-gem, crashing 1 and risking either not drawing crash in time or getting fatally countercrashed is a bad idea). Chump does indeed have the countercrash and has to think a few seconds on whether he wants to destroy both, or just countercrash 1 so he can try to kill Dred faster. He goes with the former option. I buy MP, eating a 3rd wound and draw a new 7-chip hand: 11 Combos Are Hard/Chromatic Orb/Combine/Crash/Wound.

Turn 8: (piles 1111 (4)/2111111 (8)/11111111 (8)) Chump antes and plays Gem Essence into Combine. It turned out he was just thinning his deck because he had no other actions, spending 322 to buy a 4-gem. Dred antes and plays Combine into Self-Improvement, trashing a wound. I'm glad for the opportunity to reduce my pile further instead of countercrashing. I ante and play the Combine->Crash for 2 again. Chump counter Double Crashes, sending two 1-gems leaving himself with 2-1. I spend my 3 buy on 2-gem. My new hand is 311/Wound/Combine/Gems to Gemonade/Master Puzzler!

Turn 9: (piles 21 (3)/3111111 (9)/1111111 (7)) Chump antes and plays Speed of the Fox->Multitask and spends 211 on Self-Improvement. Dred antes to ten and Crashes his 3 which gets Gemonaded. Dred has 2111 and buys Combine. I ante to 8 and play Combine->Master Puzzler! With MP I then play Iron Defense, Gems to Gemonade's main ability (drawing 11), Self-Improvement to trash Wound, Gem Essence, Combine to get a second 1-gem, Double Crash both 2-gems, Crssh a 1 gem. This gives me more than enough to buy another Double Crash Gem. I'm nearly invincible at this point. I draw into 332/Iron Defense/Creative Thoughts/Wound.

Turn 10: (piles 21111111 (9)/1111111 (7)/111 (3)) Chump can't remove any gems, so he loses to ante. Dred antes to 8 and plays Combos Are Hard for DoubleCrash and Combine, then buys a 4-gem. He almost got Gemonade with CAH instead, but probably realized it would be trivial for me to start building 4-gems and that Combine has a main ability that doesn't end his turn, and he already has Stone Wall. I play Creative Thoughts naming draw action (possibly a mistake since Iron Defense is not a bad way to end the turn). I draw Crash and elect to play it. Dred does not have the reaction, so he goes to 9. I buy combine and draw 31/Wound/Combine/Double Crash/Master Puzzler. I'm still figuring out my next monster turn when Dred announces he can't remove gems, so the game is over.
 
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Some Donkus
Canada
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I still have to wonder about Recklessness's viability.

In retrospect I should have counterdoublecrashed the 2 when I had the chance, and bought Iron Defense when I had the chance on turn 5.
 
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Apollo Andy
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Fort Worth
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What version of the rules is this? Under 4.5 (4-5d.pdf) don't you only check for loss at the end of cleanup, not after ante?
 
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Some Donkus
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ApolloAndy wrote:
What version of the rules is this? Under 4.5 (4-5d.pdf) don't you only check for loss at the end of cleanup, not after ante?


That's exactly right, but if you ante to 10 at the beginning of turn and have no way to crash or draw your crash, you can still take a turn but you know you'll lose at the end of it.

That's what makes getting lots of actions and draws a good strategy. A 'fork strategy' like the one Chad considered would have involved chaining Gem Essence/Recklessness (multiple actions) and Gems to Gemonade.
 
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Chad Miller
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Stigler
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Yeah, so far as I know loss condition has always been checked at end of turn, after you try to save yourself. It's just moderately common to have a hand such that you know you can't possibly win.

Incidentally, this is one reason why Gems to Gemonade is so good in fork decks; by the time your opponents are sending unstoppable 4-gems, you can start setting up turns where you, say, Recklessness->Gems to Gemonade->play other stuff->Crash. It becomes a lot easier to win the end game when you can have turns like this.

On this particular game, this is 4.5 which means Chromatic Orb is a combine chip but with a draw instead of an arrow. Now that it is a weaker version with an arrow, my decision to eschew Gem Essence becomes a lot less clear. I probably would have still gone with a similar strategy with what I did though because of the problem of Gem Essence->Gemonade->can't play combine. Change the Combos are Hard to a Roundhouse or One-Two-Punch and it's a different story.
 
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