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Subject: The Art of Gosu rss

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The art of Gosu
written by fingersandteeth
edited by Roman Farraday


Gosu is a strategy battle card game where you and your opponents aim to become the supreme goblin army by building your army and breaking your opponents. It’s played with 2-4 players and the interactions between the players are quite intense, fluid and vary from turn to turn. The strategy of the game is not intuitive and a lot of the learning curve in Gosu is figuring out the game mechanics which in turn drive the strategy you need to implement at any particular time. The general order of strategy for any player in Gosu tends to be in the order of; first build your hand, Second build your army and lastly destroy your opponent’s army. However, it’s never that simple and you will find yourself doing a lot of this out of order. The goal of your turns alters pretty fluidly during Gosu, so the tactics that you had mapped out over the next several turns can spin on its head due to a single turn of your opponent.

The aim of this guide is to

1. Try and give you and understanding of the depth of strategies and tactics that are on offer in the game, and

2. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the variety of plays that are available at different times of the game. Keep in mind that each Gosu game is going to be totally different from the last and any hard and fast strategic or tactical rules you can try make for this game can be broken at one time or another.

I talk about cards that you use in the early sections of this guide without describing them in detail. You can look towards the end of this guide (clan summary) to see what each card does specifically and what clan it’s in. One reason to repeat the reading of this is so that as you become more familiar with the cards the initial part of the article will make more sense. I repeat a decent amount of strategies in different places so that you won’t have to always search too hard for a particular bit of information and also to drum in some of the more important aspects of play.

Playing the Game - Basics

The goal of Gosu is to build a goblin army that nets you 3 victory points. In order to achieve this you must place goblins into your army, an action that, while initially free, costs cards as the game progresses. Thus you need strategies and cards that acquire cards so that you can build the army that achieves the winning condition the quickest. The most often stated method of scoring is - At the end of each round the player with the largest army gets one point. The focus on building armies to meet this end encourages novices to build large armies as quickly as they can. It’s a seductive choice as it makes you feel like you’re doing something and moving towards your goal. However, the strategy of build for the sake of creating an army as fast as you can is a flawed one in this game. It’s more important to play cards that work for you. Early game, start playing goblins that increase your hand or potential of drawing cards (economy) and mid to late rounds in the game you will be playing trapping, destroying and discarding cards from your opponent and their army.

Gosu is a game of card economy, army building and enemy suppression. Falling behind in VPs early is not as important as preventing your opponent developing a winning army combo or massive hand and quite often it is the strongest strategy to fall behind and harass him waiting for your time to expand into a winning army. Often, scuppering your opponents’ plans will not be as important as maintaining your card economy but occasionally you may need to alter your economy in order to prevent winning tactics. However, in almost all situations except when it gives you an imminent victory, playing your hand to zero cards without a method of restoring card economy is a sure way to lose. You only need to take a look at the mechanics of card economy to understand why having cards +4 cards in your hand keeps you alive (+3 when behind) while less than that number will find you ending your round, and often your game, in quick fashion.

Gosu has a delicate balance in its play. You must move forward with similar army size to your opponent trying to thwart his early plans while building your economy and tactics of harassment.
There are two other major game influencing factors that impact how you should approach the game:

1. The Catch-up (+1) bonus – many cards in the game (33, a 3rd of the cards) have bonuses that are given when the player using it is behind. It’s either (+1) cards drawn, trapped, destroyed or discarded or simply draw 2 cards where you would draw none if you were in the lead. These (+1) bonuses really aid the player receiving them. The manner of card economy in Gosu is delicate and you will often find yourself playing cards and ending up with the same number of cards in your hand that you had before playing a goblin. The +1 bonus allows you to come out a card ahead in these situations and when you play several of these in turns you can build your army while building your hand. As a result of this the trailing player will find it easier to keep his hand strong and play goblins that help him while hindering his/her opponent. This will allow him to keep playing until the lead player is out of cards/actions/options, forced to pass when his opponent still has a stack of cards left to use and 10 un-interrupted turns to use them in. The presence and power of this “catch-up” bonus makes pulling too far ahead in army size too quickly without first developing strategies to maintain your hand size or to control your opponent’s hand/army is a sure fire way to lose. A strong finish in the first round is to play and come up just short on the power of the opponent’s army. With a run of cards from a strong position with this bonus can lead to the second factor;

2. Alternate victory conditions – there are several tactics that can be implemented to short circuit the “normal” path to victory where you don’t need to win 3 great battles. Often, these victory conditions rely on utilizing a large amount of cards to place, activate or mutate the right combination of cards to get bonus VPs or instantly win. When you are a novice at Gosu, these victory conditions are seldom met. It’s difficult to control your card economy effectively enough to win via these and it’s usually a 5 round slog to win. As you improve, the hand size becomes easier to increase and you begin to win with these more and more until they almost seem to be the main way to win. Then as your competition gets more skilled the manner of victories become a more balanced mixture of classical wins v alternate wins because your opponent harasses you and counters your hand size or victory tactics.

Tempo

Tempo is a term I describe as your “pace” relative to the other guy. In the beginning when you are alternating turns, if your army is smaller than his you have tempo. You can react to the guys play and keep your army slow and small, harassing what he does looking to lose the round but with a reasonable amount of parity in army size. It doesn’t really matter about points in the early rounds; the catch-up bonus and alternative win strategies can provide quick victories. Anything that your opponent does to slow his armies build down so that your next play would put you in the lead challenges your tempo. Most tactics that slow your tempo generally cost a resource or two. There are generally 3 ways to slow your tempo, and they are all plays where you do something other than play a new goblin into a free space in your army and leave it there, they are:
1. Spend a token,
2. Mutate a goblin into an already existing goblin, or
3. Trap or destroy a goblin in your own army.

One tactic is to spend one token one turn for a card, and one token the next turn (or some future turn). In the early game that will cost you at least a card, as you will get 2 cards from 2 tokens instead of 3 cards from 2 tokens, unless you can put some goblin down that has a beneficial activation tokens and use that instead. Mutating into an existing goblin slows tempo as you play a turn without expanding size. Trapping or destroying your own goblin can dramatically reduce your tempo because you can reduce army size rather than just maintaining
size.

Cards like Conjurer, AK-47 (you can use him to destroy himself, its expensive though as you need to spend a card as well as a token) and Engineer can all alter tempo by utilizing a token to add a turn or two while restricting the growth of your army. Trapping your own cards early game can give you that 1st round loss that catapults your later rounds into huge armies as the goblin you trapped is still there for use. Destroying cards in your own army is most often done with the Conjurer but Sniper, Trsk ,the Assassin or any destructive goblin can be used to gain tempo. The Necromancer can trap a goblin in your army for tempo


Overall Strategies

In the early game you ideally want to be slightly trailing your opponent. Going with the advantage token 1st is not often a good thing. Reacting to the 1st moves of your opponent by trapping or killing can spoil their party but going second also allows you to keep your army smaller, so that you might slightly lose the 1st Great Battle and then get a bonus on the 2nd round to run with the catch-up bonus from a favorable position. You generally do not want to pass when you have the largest army in the early game as your opponent is likely to pass right after you and stomp you with catch-up in the next round. You want to play and keep tempo with the player in front.

Although the catch-up bonus is a great boost to economy you don’t need to be behind to get a good army going. Look for goblins that make your tokens profitable and take advantage of combo draws and you can keep yourself in the fight whether ahead or behind. If you win the 1st round avoid the temptation to expand and excessively drain your hand size. Keep your army close in size to your opponent and look to slow his expansion through the round next round. However, if you see a chance to drive forward with a strong start through a good Ancient goblin or Alpha goblin rush using, for example, Labdad and Jaedong then push for it and see if you can get 2 VPs and then shut down his hand that his bonus won’t matter so much.

If you are forced to take the lead because of an early pass then push forward with whatever goblins you can that give you cards, even if they give your opponent cards, and try and end the round (or begin the next round) with a mutation into Manner, by playing Sol, or by playing Mind. Keeping his hand size down when he has catch-up goes a long way to slowing down the catch-up rush.

Expand in columns rather than in rows (unless the cards you have are leading you to gain a chain of level I and II Alphas, Ancient or Fire goblins). The reasons are because level III goblins are harder to kill and so your army is more protected and they leave you playable spots in level I and II to play goblins without mutation costs. However, the downside is that your army gets strong quickly and you will find it harder to keep Tempo. Furthermore, some of the Level III goblins can benefit your opponent more than you so it’s not always good to boost up without good reason. Blind is a great example of this. He lets all players play activation tokens on other peoples armies making the game a frantic dance of who can play the best token 1st. It all depends on how your opponent is playing and what you have at your disposal.

If you win the 1st round and you don’t have a strong endgame in sight it might be best to lose the 2nd. Fight and harass, but don’t ruin your hand by mutating into expensive goblins that are not free plays. Protect your future plans and control your opponent. It’s more important to have a functional army than a large one. It’s ok if your opponent rushes past you from 1-0 to 1-2 by winning 2 subsequent rounds fueled by his catch-up bonus because you’ll get the catch-up bonus for at least one round where you may be able to equalize or steal an alternative victory position. You must play with him as much as possible though because otherwise you give him 10 turns to find the alternative win.


Early, Mid, and End Game Principles

Early game, generally the first 2 rounds, can be summarized as developing an army that puts more worth into your tokens or certain actions that will net you cards (Conjurer, Engineer, Loya, Kao, Dawn, Prahs, Prescient, Jaedong, Awn, Pix’l, Shaman, Meow etc etc) . You need to protect these cards by mutating them into an early position in the level which you may have to pay a bit for. Early game try not to change your army into too many different clans as it will hurt your economy. Pick a decent card drawing clan and go to work occasionally putting in select goblins from one of the supporting/harassment clans for later in the game. It’s rare to be able to do everything with one clan and you will often find that you’ll have at least 3 clans represented in your army. It doesn’t really matter how many clans you end up using. What matters is your economy and your intentions with each goblin.

I would summarize the midgame as developing your endgame strategy by putting in mechanisms to either win instantly or prevent your opponent growing larger than you. Whether that’s by leaving or clearing spaces in your army to play destruction or trapping goblins like Dallister, Trsk or Avenger or playing Kameo, Victhory, Walror or Temuchin. The midgame will often have a pretty vicious fight for the advantage token either in the attempt to get more out of goblins like Ultimate, Fiddler or Dom or to ensure that you go first in the last round.

The endgame is mainly about executing your strategies and neutralizing your opponents tactics and plans before they can be set off which is why the advantage token is so important in the endgame. A lot of Gosu is about the timing of doing things. Setting off an Avenger/Necromancer combo before its necessary can mean the difference between win and loss as does leaving it too late. If you have both been fighting effectively then the endgame will be who gets the largest army which may end up being luck of the draw. Cycling cards allows you better opportunities to get the Level IIIs you need to complete your army and reducing the luck involved in finishing your army.
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The Art of Gosu - economy
Card Economy Deep Dive

The 1st card you play in the game is free, except it still reduces your hand size by one. Essentially, you pay a card for a goblin. A truly free card is one that gives you a card as you play a goblin. Among these cards types are the names Ammo, Psi, Mmo Twice, Fiddler, Teleporter, Sentinel, Time, Exhrast and Shaman. Free plays are almost always good plays as you build armies and don’t lose any momentum. Playing a goblin while gaining a card starts to cycle the deck increasing your chance of getting better cards. There are cards that net you a gain of 1 card as you play them (i.e. Visionary, Thief, Garsh, Fact and Ideo) which are even stronger plays in the game as you increase hand size while establishing an army. There are only a small number of cards that can net you 2 cards when played (Justice, Trsk). There are some cards that can gain you more than this but they rely on chance (Recruitment Officer and Summoner).

So long as you are maintaining the same clan in your army the cards you play cost nothing other than the card you use and the space in your army the goblin takes up, both of these “costs” you need to keep in mind as you build your army. Eventually you will find yourself in a situation where you need to change to, or introduce, a different clan in your level 1 army level. This costs you a total of 3 cards, the one you wish to play and 2 for the act of introducing a new clan. This act almost always results in a net loss of cards. There are only a few methods of breaking even and perhaps only the Recruitment officer can consistently give you this in the 1st round (and there is still a reasonable amount of chance involved). Therefore, changes in clan in the 1st level is something that must be done for good reason (e.g. being able to place more cards that boost your hand; destroy an important enemy goblin before its protected; add in other effects used for later). Playing a new goblin just because you can is generally bad if there is no follow up play. If your goblin doesn’t further you in usefulness or card amount/quality then you should be considering either getting more cards or passing.

Aside from goblins that give you cards when you play them there are a few goblins that give you cards when a certain game mechanic happens and having these cards in your army improve your chances of keeping a strong hand.

Dawn gives any player a card when they destroy something. Dawn synergizes well with Assassin, Sniper, and Dallister (which now become free plays so long as you have an equivalent clan goblin in your Level 1 row). Sniper can actually kill one of your own cards (itself included) as well as an opponents goblin so you can get a net gain of 1 card if you play it and target 2 cards with Dawn in play. Dom, Ultimate and Conjurer all become better with Dawn in play so be wary of these cards being in your opponents army if you intend to play Dawn.

Prahs
gives you a card when a card in your own army is destroyed. It’s useful as a defensive goblin but also very good tool to improve your economy deliberately. Destroying your own goblins in Gosu is often not a bad thing. Many cards have fulfilled their purpose immediately after playing them (I.e. Visionary, Psi, Recruiting Officer, Time, Exhrast, Justice) and will only serve a purpose if you have no other goblins of the same clan in that level (or if you want to keep them out of the discard pile). By destroying these “useless” goblins (you can use the Conjurer to do this) you free up a space so you don’t have to spend cards mutating them. Prahs allows you to gain a card (2 if behind) when you do this. You expand your options while growing your hand.

Kao gives you a card when someone traps a card whether it’s you or your opponent. You will get a card even if they choose to trap Kao that turn (however, he’ll stop giving you cards after the turn he’s trapped). Trapping is a very effective control function and is used virtually every game. Controlling your opponent while drawing cards is a winning combo which is what makes Kao so good.

Jaedong gives you 2 cards when you win the Great Battle, great for aggressive players. Likewise, Prescient gives you 2 cards when you lose the battle. Two cards for opposite strategies but both very effective if you make them work for you.

Mutations on Economy

Goblin mutation is a huge part of the game. You just can’t get through a game without doing it multiple times for a variety of reasons. The main reason mutating goblins is so important is purely because there aren’t enough spaces for all the goblins you want to use. Virtually all the “hard yards” done by goblins, this includes cards draw, traps, destroy and discarding, are in the 1st and 2nd levels and if you are always playing into an empty space in your army you will run out of options within 10 turns (I exclude tokens here). Once your spaces have run out then you need to turn to mutate which can put a huge strain on your card economy.

The standard number of cards you need for mutations are 3 cards for level 1 (the card you want to play plus 2 cards to pay the mutation cost) and 4 cards for the 2nd level; 3rd level do not mutate. There are 3 cards that have a mutation cost of 1 Awn, Sol and
(you lose 2 cards from your hand playing the goblin) the majority of level I cards have a mutation cost of 2 (3 cards from your hand) and a few from Level II, Sprew, Dynamite and Mmo Twice; 3 (4 cards from your hand) is most of the level II cards as well as explosive. Exrhast and Time are mutation cost of 4 (5 cards) and Kameo is 7 (8 cards from your hand). Ammo and MMO Twice are unique in the fact that they give you a card as you mutate into them so they reduce the deficit for mutation and can be used effectively to keep your play combos’ strong. The combo that puts the least strain on your economy is either the Ammo mutate to Visionary or Mmo Mutate to Justice. Both are free turns, even when ahead.

What you need to keep in mind when playing level I goblins is that it usually costs the same amount of cards to mutate in a goblin as it does to play a new clan into your army. There are few worse ways to lose 3 cards than to play a new goblin into the 1st level and then have is sniped or assassinated. There are a couple of reasons to mutate in a new clan at least one goblin away from being a free card (only free cards can be destroyed) and protecting a card investment is perhaps the most compelling. Its worth noting that no level I cards that have activation token abilities can mutate. It’s important early game when you want to stay fluid to keep options open leaving goblins like Prescient to the left of your army with low mutation costs.

ZOmbiE Mutaations

Zombie mutations are Dark Goblin specific and it’s a very strong ability. You can and almost always should take the goblin you wish to replace the mutating goblin with from the discard pile. This costs you 3 cards anytime. You can use a card from your hand to mutate into the zombie mutate but I generally see that as a poor use of the ability and it really would be a last resort (discards pile flipped and/or no other mutation capabilities). Thus this trait is powerful when playing level 2 because it works out to be the same loss of cards as a normal level 1 mutation. Any level II zombie mutation into Justice is a free play.

Catch-up (+1) Bonus and Economy

When an opponent has more victory points than you and catch-up is activated for you many plays that were free (i.e. no net loss of cards) now almost always give you a card and many plays that cost one card become free plays. Because of this factor it’s common to build from a 3 card hand into a 10 card monster fairly rapidly. Visionary to Justice to Angel nets you 6 cards when behind (net gain of 3 when ahead; net gain of 4 when tied and you give your opponent 2 cards). Ammo to Garsh to Lipsy nets you 5 cards (net gain of 2 when ahead; 3 when tied giving your opponent 2 cards). The effect is dramatic and it’s not good play to allow your opponent 2 consecutive rounds with that bonus without some strategy of ending it before his card advantage steam rolls you.

Activation Tokens and Economy

Activation tokens do a huge amount in the game and are very powerful throughout. Early game, however, the predominant use of these is to stimulate your economy. The base cost of your tokens is set at 3 cards for 2 tokens because that’s what you can get on the 1st turn. In fact, a very common 1st turn play for both players is to spend the tokens on 3 cards. Anything that improves on that ratio is worth it. It is worth using 1 token for 2 cards on some ability and using the second token for 1 card because it slows your tempo allowing you to fall behind your opponent and trail his pass. However, your token has serious draw power when you have the right cards in your army. Conjurer is a great token consumer for cards. It gives you 2 cards and a free space to play a new goblin which is very good if you’ve played a few goblins and are short on space and cards. Playing Conjurer, followed by Visionary, use the token to destroy Visionary nets you 2 cards (4 when behind). The Conjurer has perhaps the biggest potential payoff for one token but it takes a unique combination of cards to get it. Conjourer destroys Farve with Prahs and Dawn in play for 6 cards (8 cards when behind) off 1 token. Alpha goblins have the Shaman that can give you up to 3 cards from one token and Pix’l that can get up to 5 cards (you need to be lucky to get this as there are only 7 level II Alphas). Adelam can give you 2 cards (3 when behind). Loya is more of a universal use ability getting what card you need from the discard when you need it but if the right cards are in the discard you can easily get 2-3 cards for the token by picking up a Visionary, Trsk or Justice Etc.

The Engineer allows you to repeat a play at the cost of a token and a card. So you play Justice followed by activating Engineer to take Justice back, discard 1 card and repeat the play and it gives you a net 2 cards for a token. Dynamite allows you to return one of the excellent Fire goblins Garsh, Fact and Ideo from the discard pile. Using his ability and playing the respective goblin on subsequent turns is a good way get 2 cards and a goblin (can be 2 goblins and 6 cards when behind) but Garsh, Fact and Ideo are usually tied up in peoples armies, particularly early game, so it can be situational.

Higuma is an interesting card that boosts the spending of 2 tokens for 3 cards to 5 cards so long as the user has the advantage token. 5 cards is a strong boost in cards and this card is often a reason to fight for the advantage token.

Moonlight and Priest and Economy

If you can manage to develop a strong use for your tokens these two Mek goblins really start to shine. In fact, because it’s so common to get your tokens working strongly for your economy I’d say that Moonlight its one of the best cards of the game. Playing and mutating Moonlight returns a token to your hand so you can get both used activation tokens back for 4 cards. With Higuma in play and the advantage token you will net 5+X cards from Moonlight. (Use 2 tokens for 5 cards, play Moonlight take 1 token back, mutate Moonlight to goblin X for total 4 card cost and take 2nd token, use 2 tokens for 5 cards. You played Moonlight, goblin X and a mutation costing a total 5 cards and you came away with 5 cards plus whatever bonus goblin X gave you)

Moonlight, Conjourer and Loya can give you a staggering array of combos that can really boost your economy e.g. Play Justice (2 net cards), destroy Justice with Conjurer (total 4 cards net), activate Loya to get Justice (5 cards net), play Moonlight (4) take Conjurer token, play Justice (6 cards net), destroy with Conjurer (8 cards net) and you can still mutate Moonlight to continue the combo. Moonlight also combos with the Engineer for some more great combos that can also gain a lot of cards.

The Priest is much less effective that Moonlight because it’s a onetime deal and it costs you 3 cards to get the token back. However, if you are getting 3-4 cards for your token and you can mutate in a card that gives cards back (Visionary, Psi, Recruiting Officer, Thief etc) the Priest mutation can be essentially free or even bring you out ahead. It’s all about setting up options and working your strategies when tactically beneficial.

Tokens, Catch-up and Economy

Tokens are influenced by the catch-up bonus but perhaps not as heavily as just playing goblins to get cards. Adelam, Conjurer and Dynamite all improve when behind and Prahs also gives you an extra card when your behind and one of your goblins are destroyed which can add to the Conjurers bonus. Dynamite, however, can get you 2 cards (by picking and playing Garsh, Fact or Ideo) that can give you a total of 6 cards which has the biggest payoff (compared to 2 cards normally) but the right cards have to be in the discard. Perhaps Conjurer + Prahs get the most consistent improvement out of a token when comparing catch-up to being ahead.

Cycling Cards

These are cards that look at a large portion of cards compared to the choice. They can be classed as sort of economical but often they don’t net you any card gain they just offer you a choice. These really are a mixed bag. The great thing about these cards is that you stand a better chance of finding what you want but you fill the discard with volatile goblins which can benefit your opponent as much as you. Card cycling occurs normally in the game as you play and mutate goblins so using token to do it seems costly.

Psi is great, at the least it’s just a free goblin picked from 5 in exchange for Psi taking a spot in your army. You get to choose 2 cards if in catch-up.
Scout gives you a card and makes you discard a card when someone mutates. Fills the discard and offers you choice but little else. He doesn’t mutate and that isn’t good.

Cards Cycles with Activation Tokens

Seeker gives you one card from 3
Alikan cycles as many cards from your and as you choose. I’ve never found the need to use it really. You cycle naturally and tokens are too valuable for no net gain of cards.
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The Art of Gosu - Harassment
Harrassment Deep Dive – Traps, Destruction and Discarding

When talking about having a “functional” army there are basically 4 things you can do; acquire cards, force the discard of cards, trap cards or destroy cards. The discussion on card economy above should have given you insight into the acquisition of cards but the other 3 are just as important, particularly in the late game. You can’t go through the game without messing your opponent’s strategies as you’re likely to get hosed yourself. The game is constantly a balance between your hand and army size, your opponents hand and army size, and the tactics you have at your disposal. Each one of these devious tactics (forced discards, trapping and destroying) has their pros and cons but each definitely has a strong role in the game.

Forced Discarding

Perhaps the most frequently used harassment tactic is the force discard of opponent’s cards. Every clan can do it and it’s possible to find a goblin in each level that is capable of dropping cards from your opponent’s hand. What’s important to keep in mind when playing discarding actions is that they are more powerful the fewer cards your opponent has in his hand. Forcing a discard from a guy with 8 cards is annoying but nothing that’s going to stop his army. Forcing a discard of 2 cards when he has 4 or less cards is often round or game winning.
In the 1st level the Teleporter and Sentinel are the 2 cards that do it. Also these goblins give you a card back so it’s essentially a free play. These are nice annoying plays do at any time in the game and early game can grant you a lead, should you want one, but when you’re in the lead and your opponent is playing catch-up, a series of these cards being played can really hamper his advance and balance the advantage he’s getting.

The 2nd level has the biggest number of discarding cards. Exhrast, Time, Sol and Kataclysm all force discards when you play them. Silend is a unique card in that he forces a discard of 2 cards when he is mutated or destroyed. It’s difficult to put these into any kind of order of strength but Time and Exhrast are the easiest to use because they are either a free play or they net you a card when your behind. Time and Exhrast are brutal when played from a catch-up position creating a 3 card swing (you net 1 card (and a goblin in your army) and they lose two). Playing them back to back can destroy an opponent’s hopes of furthering their army. The downside is their high mutation cost. This makes them good fodder for Conjurer but they also pair well with an Engineer for repeat plays of gaining cards and devastating discards.

Sol and Kataclysm are harder to use because they affect you also. They can finish opponents off but they can also cripple your economy so its best used to end a round or when you have a method of raising your hand back up after you play them. Sol is particularly good for this because of its low mutation cost. Sol followed by Kokomushu is a common combo cutting your opponents hand in half and putting you back up to 5 cards. You will need at least 5 cards to do this though but if you do it with 5 cards it’s a free play.

Silend is a great free card in your army as your opponent will be wary of losing 2 cards to get rid of him. However, I mostly find he is great fodder for the Conjurer so you can destroy him on your own terms and gain cards. Mutating him is more costly on your economy but still an effective end game step if you see the opportunity.

Manner is a unique but powerful control and discard goblin. It only activates when it mutates and when it does that ALL players discard their hands and draw 5 more. It’s exceptional when an opponent has been gathering and hoarding cards but pretty useless if you opponent has less cards that you. Overall, this card will never net you more than 1 card. If you mutate into it when you have 4 cards, one replaces it and the other 3 are used to pay for it. You’ll end up with 5 cards which is a net gain of one but what you do to your opponent is really what you use this for. This is particularly powerful if you have some insight into your opponents hand whether because he’s been picking cards from the discard pile or because of the initial draft.

The 3rd level discarding goblins are Mind and The Edge. Mind brings equality where each player adjusts their hand to 4 cards either by drawing or discarding. This is obviously most powerful when you are running down to your last card and your opponent has been hoarding, but it can just been used to hit your opponents hand hard, even at the cost of a couple of cards for you. This all depends on just how many cards he has. Great for when your ahead to control some catch-up players hands but probably most effective when your behind and your opponent has more cards because you are able to work better from a low hand size than the lead player.

The Edge is straight forward, no player may end their turn with more than 7 cards, and if they do they discard down to 7. It’s most effective at curbing a catch-up player’s hand expansion where players can easily develop 12-15 card hands. Having The Edge in play makes developing an overwhelming advantage much harder to come by as he’ll soon start wasting cards.

Discarding and Activation Tokens

This basically comprises 2 cards; Kokomushu and Dogopark. Kokomushu can win you tight games by taking away your opponents last options. Paired with Moonlight it can really do a number on someone. The fact that if you mutate him in you get 5 cards (after discarding all you other cards) makes him a fantastic end game card. However, if you have a strong economy and activation tokens to spare this card can be used at any time you feel fit. Dogopark is pretty poor as it goes. It gives each player a card for each VP, If anyone has no VPs then they must discard a card. Very situational and you’re more likely to use it for cards than the discard but you’re quite likely to have better options for tokens by the time he’s worth spending a token on. However, if you’ve rushed ahead, you have 2 VPs to your opponent’s 0 it can be an annoying play if you are using other discard plays to harass.

Trapping

Trapping is a purely Dark goblin trait and there are 5 cards types (8 cards in total) in the game that can trap and all but 1 type are impacted by the catch-up bonus. Trapping is an incredible control tactic leaving a spot in your opponent’s army that is taken up by a clanless, powerless, un-mutatable and pretty useless card. In fact, until the card is untrapped the only thing you can do to it is destroy it. If the 1st card in you army is trapped you must pay 2 cards to place your next as it still counts for having a goblin in your army. If winning a round is what you want to do trapping is probably your best tactic because it reduces your opponent’s options dramatically even if they have a large hand.

The target you choose for trapping depends on your situation. If you just want to get the biggest army, trapping level 3s is the best idea. If you want to reduce you opponent’s economy or main strategy you are probably looking to trap an activatable level 2 goblin. If you want to prevent the army expansion then you are looking to trap level 1 goblin that is the only one of its type in the 1st row. Without a level 1 goblin from a particular clan you can only introduce level 2 goblins of that clan by mutating which pressurizes the players economy and level 3 goblins can’t be played at all until another level 1 goblin of that clan is put into play (or the trapped card is untrapped).
Generally, I try and trap goblins that are not free, as free goblins are vulnerable to being destroyed but it all depends on what is most troubling you.
The more I play the more I consider trapping to be an endgame tactic. The reason being that at the start of the next round the goblin un-traps and you are back to having to deal with the bugger. If you’ve used your trapper to win you a mid-game point you might find yourself reeling from your opponents’ catch-up rush. Trapping is best used when you absolutely need to win the round as it can render an army with the strongest of hands useless. It’s quite common to trap 3-4 cards a round if you set it up well. Hit 4 level 1 or level 2 goblins with a trap and your opponents options are minute.
Also if you manage to trap all his mutatable level I goblins you have restricted your opponent to playing only level III cards of the clans he has in Level I and have probably made his level II plays more difficult and expensive.

As I mentioned earlier, Kao is the overlord of trapping. Having him in your makes trapping an economic play as well as a control play and this loosens up when you can trap. With Kao in play you are pretty much going be doing it every round and looking to win quickly. Kao with trapping and the catch-up bonus is very hard to deal with.
The Avenger is possibly the best trapper in the game bearing in mind that traps are best in the closing stages of the game. Mutating this card allows you to trap 2 cards, pick the Necromancer as the goblin to replace it with and that’s 3 cards you can trap all for using 3 cards (you should almost always look for a discarded Necromancer or other card to replace the Avenger because of his zombie mutate). With Kao in play the Avenger to Necromancer is a free play. Its only downside is that you can only trap level 1 or 2 goblins and that it works only when you mutate. However, the threat of this card is massive.
The Necromancer traps a card when it comes into play. If you’re behind it traps 2 cards. Whilst, like the Avenger, it only traps level 1 or 2 goblins it is still great at taking a deeply protected goblin out of play for a round.
Duwal also traps a card when placed in your army and his strength is that he can trap any level card otherwise he’s a Necromancer in the 2nd row. It gets the option of trapping a second card when in catch-up. Its trapping may save you a round but if it wasn’t for the zombie mutation this card might not be effective. With its Z-mutation it can chain with Trsk, Justice or Moonlight for some big combos.

Trapping and Activation Tokens

I’ve not found using tokens to trap to be very cost effective. Unless you’re behind you get one card trapped for one token. It’s hard to make it count. I have no doubt that a well placed trap would be worth it but you have to have intimate knowledge of your opponent’s intentions to make that call and so I don’t consider either of these to be great cards.

The Medic allows you to trap 1(+1) level 1 card. It’s very situational. It’s sometimes worth it with Kao in play particularly with catch-up activated. Otherwise you better have a good idea of the lynchpin level I goblin of your opponent’s army.
Kalim is better as you can trap any 1 (+1) card but really it suffers from the same issues of the medic. The Avenger/Necromancer can take 3 cards out whereas you’re looking at 1 for Kalim. It just seems like a poor use of a token, unless it ends up winning you the game of course.

Destruction

Opponent goblin destruction is a Dark and Fire goblin trait. Destroying opponent’s cards achieves 2 ends. 1. You remove a potential terror goblin (Loya, Kao, Manner, Kameo, Avenger etc) 2. It puts the goblin into the discard pile where you might be able to get a hold of it. The main downside of destroying an opponent’s goblin is you create a free space for him to play a card without a mutation cost. Having open spots is another way that you can make your army functional so a poorly thought out destruction can often help your opponent. It’s effective if an opponent is playing a new goblin clan in a free position in the 1st row (this is assuming he has already played one other goblin) as you have basically deprived the player of 3 cards but unless you’re careful destroying an enemy’s goblin puts you ahead in army power. This might end up with you being the recipient of a catch-up rush if you destroy without good cause. However, relentless destruction of an opponents’s level 1 goblins can leave him in a hopeless position. It all depends on how much destruction you have had the fortune of getting.

Dawn is to destruction as Kao is to trapping except that Dawn’s effect applies to each player and once he’s in play games can get very bloody. Playing cards that destroy one card becomes a free play so you are more likely to do it.

Snipers are interesting as you can shoot 2 level 1 cards, which includes the Sniper you just played if you want. Early game, killing him as well as the level 1 you fear is sometimes the best play as you keep tempo behind your opponent while removing a threat.
Assassins allow you to kill one level 1 or 2 card. Simple, effective and with the zombie mutation allows you to keep options open should you need to change clans rapidly.
Explosives destroy when they are mutated. The 3 card mutation cost is more than most other level 1 cards but you can destroy any level card. Great for reducing an opponent’s big endgame build and can be combo’d with Visionary or other card drawing goblins to make the high mutation cost softer.

Dallister is the only card that can kill 1(+1) card(s). You can kill any free card with it. He’s nasty under normal circumstances, brutal under catch-up and game winning when combo’d with the Engineer.
Trsk is arguably the best card in the game. Destroy any card and get the number of cards equivalent to the level destroyed. She is harassment and economy in one card; at the very worst she is a free play. Add in zombie mutation and you can get some frightening rolling combos i.e. Trsk played destroys level III (2 cards net), zombie mutate into Duwal (-1), Zombie mutate into Trsk destroy level III (-1 cards), zombie mutate into Duwal (-4 cards 2 cards trapped, 2 level 3s destroyed). With Kao or Dawn in play this only costs 2 cards; with both in play this is a free play; when behind with both Dawn and Kao in play you gain 2 cards, trap 4 cards and destroy 2 level III goblins).

Destruction and Activation Tokens

Tokens can give you so many cards and many cards can trap, destroy or discard when played that it’s difficult to justify using tokens just to destroy (or trap) one card. However, there are instances where it may be worth it (you have a strong economy, methods of recycling the tokens or a free card is a game winner). Dawn obviously makes these decisions easier but not foregone conclusions.

AK-47 is a pretty crap card. You can destroy any card but you need to spend a token AND as many cards as the level the goblin you want to destroy is. It’s so much resource that it’s rarely ever effective unless you have no other option and a must kill goblin. You still need to be careful you don’t destroy your economy using it. The fact that it has no mutation cost makes it a real stick in the mud and good for little other than paying mutation costs of other cards.

The Ultimate is far better. One token, one free card destroyed, no questions asked. If you have the advantage token you get a card back which adds to the value. If Dawn is in play you get 2 cards for one token and an enemy card destroyed. That’s pretty good value but requires you getting a few things in order 1st (Dawn in play and the Advantage token).
Dom is a destroyer only when you have the advantage token which makes for about half the game. She is the only goblin that can invert (swap the positions of 2 goblins of the same level in the same army) and perhaps that may be worth it on its own if you can protect a newly acquired goblin that will ramp your economy more than one token can. Most often though she is a goblin that exposes a well protected goblin from the other army and render it to the discard pile. She’s situational but she is the only goblin that does what she does and that is worth its cost alone, sometimes.
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The Art of Gosu - Alternate Victories
Alternative Victory Conditions

There are 5 of these. Some that enhances your ability to gain VPs and some that win the game instantly and some that can enable you to do both. If you are playing aggressive it’s worth looking to these to seal the game or conversely looking to make sure that your opponent doesn’t utilize them to steal victory from you when you’re ahead. Be mindful of them as they creep up fast and can take you unawares. I find it’s always worth entertaining these options to give your opponent something they have to deal with. If you think you have a good chance of meeting either of these though it’s best to do it subtly. Don’t show it when your opponent has a chance to do something about it unless you are feinting.

Kameo (level II) is pretty straightforward. Mutate him (cost 7) and you gain 1 VP and your opponents gain 3 cards. If you are 2 ahead it’s an instant win. You need 8 cards in your hand to mutate him and he gives you the advantage token when you play him. Winning 2 rounds is quite easy so trying to keep enough cards to make him effective in the 3rd round is well worth the effort. He is a good card to keep in the 1st level II spot waiting to fire his missiles. Actually, he is the main reason I’ve used Dom to invert and snipe. The fact that you need 8 cards in your hand to mutate him makes The Edge a great counter to him.

Labdad is a level III alpha goblin that gives 2 VPs to any player that wins a round when he has no VPs. Like all Level IIIs the effect occurs across ALL armies. He is a goblin that you want to use and remove. Get your 2 VPs and then use the Conjuror or Trsk on him and hope you can set up a big trap for the 4th round. This is only if your opponent hasn’t already scored. Late game he is just a safe 5 Power to your army which has its own advantages.

Here is a combination that wins from the 1st hand if your opponent passes too early. You get 7 cards. Opponent plays 2 tokens gains 3 for a total of 10 cards, you play 2 tokens for total 10 cards, and he passes. Play Recruitment officer (9 cards in your hand) and gain 3 (12 cards), play Jaedong (11), Labdad (10) Sentinel (8) Kameo (7), pass, win the Great Battle, Jaedong gives you 2 cards and the advantage token (you have 9 cards in your hand), gain 2 VPs : New Round: Mutate any Level II into Kameo for insta-3 point-win.

This demonstrates how quickly it’s possible to win at anytime with the right combination of cards, all your tokens and a 6-7 card hand. Always aim to play effectively in order to avoid allowing your opponent too much room to play. Harass, discard and keep him playing smaller combos.

Fire and Dark goblins make a nice combination to activate Walrors victory condition (if any player has Garsh, Fact and Ideo in their army at any time insta-win). Dynamite is effective at bringing Walror, Garsh, Fact and Ideo from the discard pile at the cost of a token. You can destroy any of the level II fire goblins required for this stipulation when they are played in opposing armies with Assassin, Trsk or Dallister. A level II Zombie mutate will bring one of the trio into your army meaning that Dynamite is not always required. You can use Loya to pick from the discard also. If you have 2 of the 4 cards needed for the Walror win in your hand it might be good to wait a while to see if the 3rd pops up before starting to play them.

Victhory requires you to play 8 cards of any clan and hold them (and him) until after the Great Battle for insta win. That’s 40 % of any clan but 53% of your army. If both players have 8 then it’s a fight for the advantage token. Best to have three level 1 goblins, three level II goblins and two level III of Meks.

Temuchin is another card that pays victory after the Great Battle. Fill your army and trapped or not if Temuchin is in play you win (so long as the other player isn’t also full, if so you need the advantage token). It tends to be a catch-up prize unless you chance upon a great draw.

Multiplayer games

Playing multiplayer games is more unpredictable that straight 1 on 1. It’s just hard to predict what will occur and who will target you. You should use the same tactics above and still maintain tempo early game but you are really watching for anyone who is starting to dominate using large army combos. Your best position is in the middle, 1 VP behind the leader but with a larger army than the guy trailing you. Everyone who is not in the lead gets catch-up so being in the lead early is even less desirable than in a 2 player game. Being last is not very good either as the armies ahead of you might decide to keep you out of the game to avoid your catch-up rush. It can degenerate into a lot of political maneuvering and bickering so I feel Gosu is best as a 2 player game.

Kamakor expansion

I’ve played this a fair amount on boardgamearena.com and it really changes things up. Card economy is much looser as you can draw large hands from ahead or behind. There are some really powerful combos that make the original game seem weak but the additions make the catch-up bonus of the 1st set more manageable so there is a reasonable balance. However, at this time Moonster hasn’t released it stateside so I’ll sit and wait for the game before I really analyze it. It’s kind of hard doing a review when you have to look through past games for the right spelling of the cards and what the text actually says.
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The Art of Gosu - summary of clans
Summary of Clans

General points to note.

There are 10 level 1s (5 goblins x 2) in each clan, 7 level IIs and 3 level IIIs.

No Level 1 goblins with activation powers mutate so the summaries will not mention it.

General cost of mutation for level I is 2. General cost of Level II mutations are 3. Level 3 goblins do not mutate. Unless mutation costs differ from this its not said.

Each clan has a particular style of play and often you'll need to use goblins from each clan at one point or other.

Each clan has a level III goblin that gives cards to the player(s) with the least victory points.

Alpha Goblins

These guys remind me of Orks from Warhammer, they are all about the WAAAAAAARRRRGGGGHHHH. In other words they are all about getting a big army fast and winning fast. They are an excellent clan to take the lead and win early. With so many other cards giving the (+1) catch-up bonus the Alphas are refreshing that they reward the players who like to be aggressive and get the early VPs. They are also very good at claiming the advantage token. So essentially they get you the lead early through rapid army expansion and card draw. While they have some good card drawing and a couple of methods to win early but they are almost completely without methods of harassment.

Recruitment officer is one of the best level I cards where you can state a card level, draw 5 cards and keep all the cards of that level. It’s almost always best to pick level I and you’ll get 2-3 cards. Summoner is similar except that you state a clan so you can expect to get one card back unless you get lucky. These are great cards to start with to build your hand. Summoner is often best used to boost the Alpha clan which might increase the chance of the next two cards paying off.

The Shaman gives you one Alpha goblin out of the discard and has an activation power that gives you a card for each Alpha goblin in the same column as it. Pix’l is a level II goblin that has an activation power that gives you as many cards as Alpha goblins in the 2nd row of your army (this card mutates also - cost 3). If you can maximally develop these powers you can get 8 cards for 2 tokens.

Warrior and Jaedong both give you as many cards as victory points as well as the advantage token. Jaedong earns his Level II status by giving you 2 cards if you win the great battle.

Sprew gives you the advantage token at the end of the great battle, win or lose. He also has a low mutation for level II (costs 2). The only clan that is better than the Alphas for advantage token claiming is the Meka Clan.

Last and least of the level Is is the Guardian. You draw until you have 3 cards in your hand if you spend a token. It can help you out if your opponent has been playing lots of discard powers against you but if you are relying on this to keep you in the game it’s really a long shot. You should aim to prevent letting your hand get that small where this card will help you.



Although the Alphas don’t harass much, they have some protection methods for your army.
Prahs draws you 1(+1) card when a card in your army is destroyed (doesn't mutate) and Farve gives you 2 cards when he mutates or is destroyed. Obviously, these two synergize very well together and Favre makes a great bookend as a free card.

Sol and Dogopark are the 2 harassment cards.
Sol halves the hand size of all players rounded up (including you and after playing Sol, so if you have 9 cards he will cost you 5 cards to play). It’s worth using him when both players have even numbers of cards in their hands as you will end up discarding less than your opponent i.e. (you both have 8 cards, if you play Sol you discard 3 for 4 cards left, your opponent will have to discard 4; if you both have 7 cards you will play Sol and drop 3 for 3 cards left whereas your opponent drops 3 only and ends up with 4 cards left). Sol has a mutation cost of 1 so you can still play into it easily even after dropping half your hand. You need at least 4 cards to play him and mutate in him (only lose 1 card and have enough to mutate in)
Dogopark has an activation power that gives each player a card for every victory point they have and a player must discard a card if they have no VPs. Good if you’ve just taken the lead via Labdad and you’re in the 2nd round otherwise he’s pretty poor, he does mutate for 3 though so he's not too permanent.

Labdad (overall effect if a player has no VPs and wins a great battle he gains 2 VPS instead of 1) and Temuchin (after teh great battle if a player has all 15 spots in his army taken up by goblins he wins immedeately) are the 2 alternative victory goblins, both are Level III.

Kork is the only card other than Prahs in the Alpha goblins that benefits the trailing player. Every clan has one of these cards that give every player not in the lead 2 cards.

Ancient Goban Goblin Clan

The “blue” clan game is based around card acquisition and manipulation. They have the most draw power of any clan and the most powerful cycling abilities. This is pretty much the go-to clan when you need to improve your economy and hand size. They derive huge benefits from catch-up and 2 of the 3 Level III goblins have effects that are pretty unique to their clan that can be used to gain or discard cards. The ancients are effective at almost any stage in the game but are a great starting clan as you can increase your army size whilst increasing your hand size easily. As with the Alpha clan there is very little in the way of harassment cards so they are great for army expansion and economy but you will need to combine them with another clan to attack your opponents.

Visionary (gain 2(+1) cards when it’s put into play) is a staple level I card when you can play it for no further cost as it nets you a card increase. Its reliability of card draw makes it a great combo with any level 1 card that gives you a bonus when it’s mutated. Psi (draw 5 cards and choose 1(+1), discard the rest) is probably second best to Visionary when ahead but its cycling ability becomes much more valuable when you are in catch-up mode.

Prescient (when you play it take another turn after this one, if you lose the great battle draw 2 cards) is a very good card to have early game particularly if you have good chances to lose the round. It has the cheapest mutation cost of any level I card. That coupled with the extra turn it grants makes is a great mechanism to protect a valuable card you need to play. You can play the Prescient and then another card in the same line after it (like Visionary or Psi). Then you can mutate your card of choice (Conjurer for example) into the Prescient for 1 card and have your chosen goblin safe from sniping.
Seeker (use a token to draw 3 cards and keep 1 (+1)) tends to only be useful in catch-up mode.
Conjurer (use a token to destroy a card in your army to gain 2(+1) cards) is arguably the best Level I goblin activation token consumer and is a great early game card but it is useful throughout the game. It grants you cards, tempo, a free army space and combos with a massive array of cards.

The level II ancients offer up similar versions of the level I goblins but with a bit more power.
Justice (draw 3(+1) cards) is always good because of the consistent net gain in cards (so long as it’s not mutated into play). It provides a boost of cards for your hand that can make it a good lead card and a great catch-up card.
Awn (each player draw 2 cards, take a free turn after this one) is the level II variant of the Prescient as it has a cheap mutation cost of 1 and gives you a free turn so it’s good at being a mutation target for an important goblin that you need to protect from being free. The free turn also lets you put down a Level III goblin as the protector or even to surprise your opponent with a Mind.
Patience is a goblin that has both a “when played” effect and a token ability. The “when played” effect brings all player hands back to 3 cards. The token ability gives everyone 3 cards. This card is poor because 3 cards in hand is a precarious place to be and so playing this card to get its first effect means you are already struggling and, for the token, as good as drawing 3 cards is it benefits your opponent as much as you. It does mutate though (3). This card can help you in a pinch but there are usually better plays you can make.

Adelam (spend a token to get 2(+1) cards) is just good value for your token especially If you have a second activated ability that gives you 2+ cards. Copycat (spend a token and copy one activated ability from your opponent’s cards; no mutation) is a card with high amount of variability. It can be useless if your opponent doesn’t have any but if he has Conjurer, Engineer, Shaman, Loya, Kokomushu, etc. it can give you the weaponry to equalize your opponents strategies.
Alikan (spend a token, discard as many cards from your hand to draw that many from the deck) is a card cycling card that doesn't mutate If you have a boat load of cards and not much of an idea to do with them he may actually be quite good. If you are wanting to fill the discard for zombie mutations it can be effective. If you are looking for Kameo, Warlor, Lambad or a load of goblins to hit Victhory he may be worth a use but it costs a token for no net gain in cards so it’s really of limited use, particularly seeing as it doesn’t mutate.

The ancients are great card drawers and they are a very good start and catch-up clan. They have so many (+1) bonuses it could be argued that their clan is designed to play from behind. However, the Level III goblins are equally as good when ahead.

Mind forces each player down (or up) to 4 cards. If you’ve pressed ahead and spent a lot of your cards while your opponent has been sitting on a stack you can neutralize his advantage and leave him with a small selection of his best cards. This can also be used when you are trailing in VPs but often if you are playing catch-up you will have more cards than him.
Kamakor (the first player to pass in the round draws 3 cards) is an interesting card. Often, playing it early game will encourage a pass from the trailing player especially if his army is smaller than yours as the player stands to get 3 cards and then next round catch-up bonuses. This may or may not be what you want. If you have Kamakor and Mind it’s not a bad strategy to play Kamakor 1st to encourage the pass as your opponent wants the cards then you can play 10 turns unheeded and finish with Mind to take away one of his advantages. You will have built up an army (and hopefully some harassment strategies) leaving him no choice but to press forward while you can pass early and get your 3 cards to keep your hand strong while your opponent tries to establish a foothold in the match. With Mind in play you have less to fear about losing a lot of cards all at once (but there are still quite a few ways for you to lose cards so there is a bit of luck and judgment required for when this is a good plan).

Angel is the token card that has “players with the least victory points draw 2 cards”.

Meka Goblin Clan

The Meks are really unique in their game in that they do a little harassment and a little draw but they are really best for token control and support goblins that help other clans. It’s hard to get them working on their own as you don’t have any big draw cards. They do have plenty of free plays so you can build with them but other than working towards Vichtory they really need a second clan to really shine.

Fiddler (pick a Mek goblin from the discard pile, if you have the advantage token pick a card also) is quite possibly their best level I card and might even be the best level I card going. With the advantage token it gives you a net of 1 cards so long as there is a Mek in the discard pile you'll get 2 cards from it. It’s because of the discard pile issue that early plays with the Fiddler (1st turn or 1st goblin placed) are usually a poor use of it. Many Mek goblins are great to have and recycle so keeping a fiddler to reuse Moonlight, Time or a Priest.

Priest (when played take the advantage token, if it mutates take back activation token played this round) is a neat little goblin. Really good to play if you need the advantage token but its real value is in the power of its mutation. It will cost you 3 cards (a goblin to replace it and a mutation cost of 2) but if you have some good use of your token (Loya, Pix’l, Kokomushu etc) then it’s excellent at keeping your round combos going.

Sentinel (when this enters play a player discards a card and you draw a card. When it mutates take the advantage token). The 1st Mek harassment card; a free play that costs your opponent a card. Good card for almost all occasions. The mutation bonus is good if you really must have the advantage.

Scout (when a card is mutated you may draw a card and discard a card) is ok. It cycles the deck and fills the discard. That might be good if you want to arm the discard for a zombie mutate or something and it cycles cards so you might get what you need. It also depletes the deck faster so it combos well with Meow (see later) but it doesn’t mutate and doesn’t do anything else so it tends to just take up space in the first row more often than not.

The Engineer (pay an activation token to return a free goblin to its owners hand, the owner then discards a card) is the only level I Mek with an activation ability. Seeing as it forces a discard this can be a harassment card but you pay 1 token to remove that card. It might be good if your opponent paid 3 to play a free goblin in the 1st row and it will cripple his to have to repeat the step but otherwise you are just giving the guy an opportunity to replay it with whatever effects it had or to choose a new goblin at the expense of 1 card. I find it’s much more useful to play them on your goblins that have “when played” abilities that really shine (Trsk, Justice, Fiddler etc). You get to repeat a goblin at the cost of a token and a card and it’s often worth it particularly in catch-up

Moonlight (when played or when it mutates take back an activation token played this round) is perhaps my favorite level II goblin because of the combos you can get from it. You can really make your activation goblins work hard repeating their abilities 2 or more times.

Meow (when the discard file is shuffled back into the draw pile draw up to 7(+1) cards, then take the advantage token). This is a great goblin mid to late game after a lot of activity and the deck is just about to flip. Its effect can turn games. People give this card a lot of respect, so much so that you can play it early and people will destroy it because of its latent ability. However, everyone can figure out round about when it will trigger and other than when the deck flips it’s a useless goblin. People will hang onto trap cards just to neutralize it before it functions. It’s good if you can get it to work though.

MMO Twice (when it comes in to play or when it mutates pick a card, take the activation token and take another turn after this one) is an oddly named goblin that is like Awn and Prescient where it has low mutation cost (2) and it gives you an extra turn so you can use it to protect a card investment. It’s probably the best of them as it gives you the advantage token and a card each time it’s mutated or played so it actually has a comparable net mutation cost to the other two so long as you have a card to burn initially.

Kameo (when played take the advantage token. When Kameo mutates gain a VP and each opponent draws 3 cards). Takes 7 cards to mutate. An amazing finishing goblin but poor for most other functions other than gaining the advantage token. You can play it early in your army and have Kameo’s missiles pointed at your opponent.

Manner is quite a tactical card. When you mutate into it you and everyone else discards their hand and then draws 5 more cards. Mutate a card drawing goblin in it and you come out ahead of your opponent. So mutating into this with Justice, Fact, Garsh, Ideo etc leaves you with card advantage over your opponent. His presence in your army makes it dangerous for your opponent to hoard cards and so functions even without doing anything.
Time (your opponent discards 1(+1) cards and you draw 1(+1) cards) is ok when ahead as it’s a free play that harasses your opponent but its high mutation cost (4) makes it a bit of an awkward goblin to but in a valuable level II slot. However, when in catch-up this card can be devastating particularly when combo’d with Engineer for repeat plays. Its high activation cost makes it a good target for the Conjurer also.
Silend (when Silend is mutated or destroyed your opponent discards 2 cards then you take the advantage token) is a great book end (free card) because your opponent will be reluctant to kill it. A good pair with the Conjurer also.

Blind (level III; Each player may play their activation tokens on other peoples goblins) tends to throw the whole game for a loop. If you have set up your tokens to be effective in your army you would never play this as your opponent will use the ones that you don’t. It’s effective if your opponent has developed strong activation powers and you haven’t. It then becomes a battle for who will play which token first or a battle for the advantage token.
Victhory (At the end of the great battle if a player has 8 cards of any clan in their army they win immediately). The advantage token will break the tie. It’s possible to play Priest, sentinel, fiddler, Fiddler, Time, MMO twice, Dante and Victhory for the win from a start hand. It’s one of the reasons to play with your opponent for a while so that he doesn’t get a lucky 1st round win.

Dante is the standard “when played the character with least VPs draw two cards”.

Fire Goblins

These guys are a very good faction to make use of. They have a great draw game and they are the best clan at destroying goblins. They also do some discarding. Good clans to start with or finish with, the fire goblins are some highly sought after goblins in all levels.

Teleporter is an identical card to the Mek goblin Sentinel, complete with its harassment and its mutation for the advantage token.
Ammo (when played or when mutated draw 1(+1) card) is a free play or better and is one of the only goblins in level 1 to give cards when it mutates making it a great combo card. Explosive (when you mutate this card pick one free card and destroy it) is expensive to mutate (3) but can destroy anything so it really punches above its weight. Sniper (pick 2 level I cards and destroy them) is great at sniping early game and it can kill itself to maintain tempo over your opponent.
Lastly, AK-47 (pay a token and discard X cards and destroy a free goblin of level X) is expensive for what it does, you are almost always better off mutating Explosive or using another goblin to achieve what it does. However, when you really must kill every MuthaF@*&@ in the room, accept no substitutes. (Just kidding, it may be useful if your economy is strong).

Garsh, Fact and Ideo are the staples of the fire goblin level IIs. You may either draw 2(+1) cards or destroy a level I or II free card. These are predominantly used for their draw power especially when playing catch-up but the flexibility to cause carnage when necessary is what makes these guys so great. Add in the fact that they are 3 cards of a 4 card instant victory condition means that everyone should keep an eye on where they are and covet them strongly.
Exhrast (your opponent discards 1(+1) card and you draw 1(+1) card) is identical to the Mek goblin Time. Even the mutation costs are the same (4). You use it the same way as a result.

Dallister (when played you may destroy 1(+1) free cards). Awesome kill power, even better with Dawn in play.
Dynamite (spend a token and pick 1(+1) of Warlor, Garsh, Fact, and Ideo from the discard pile). This card is situational. If there is one of the level II goblins in the discard he’s worth it and seeing as fire goblins are good at killing you can set him up with Dallister or Explosive. His mutation cost (2) can sometimes make up for the fact he does little else.

The final level II fire goblin is Dom (spend and activation token to invert 2 cards of the same clan in any army. If you have the advantage token you may destroy a free card) which is the only goblin that can swap the positions of 2 cards. She is good if you have the advantage token and need to eradicate a problematic goblin buried in an opponent’s army otherwise costly and situational. She mutates (3).

Dawn is a powerhouse of a Level III goblin (whenever a player destroys a goblin they draw a card) rewarding anyone who starts destroying things. Lots of combos from him but if you don’t have much destruction possibility you might want to get rid of him or just not play him.
Walror is played for his victory condition. He’s quite often just a harmless 5 power to your army but be aware as to the location of Garsh, Fact and Ideo when he’s in play.

Lipsy is the standard “draw 2 cards when behind” fire goblin.

Dark Goblins

Well these dudes have 2 major traits. They are probably the best harassment goblins with good destruction, discarding and trapping skills and as a result a great end game clan. They are also capable of zombie mutations allowing you to pick a replacement goblin from the discard pile. It costs 3 cards from your hand but because the replacement can come from from the discard pile, it essentially costs your hand the same as any normal level I mutation. The cost is the same (3) whether its level I or Level II zombie mutation and as a result the level II are powerful combo cards.

Avenger (when Avenger mutates you may trap 2 level I or level II cards) is one of the best trap cards in the game and is a very useful end game goblin. Useful to put in your army early waiting for the right time to zombie mutate a Necromancer or Visionary into it.
Necromancer (when this card enters play trap 1(+1) level I or level II goblins) is an excellent combo with the Avenger but it’s also a great mid card play to trap cards like Meow, Prescient or Jaedong before they go off.
Thief (turn over 3 cards from the draw pile your opponent picks one and you get the other two) is the only straight card drawing goblin going in the Dark goblins and it benefits your opponent as much, if not more, as you. You both get the same net gain in cards but you get an extra zombie in your army and he gets the best card of the bunch. It’s good if all three cards are good or if all 3 cards are bad or if you and your opponent are working with different clans so you want different things. I’m always happy when my opponent plays it and not always happy when I play it. That should give you an idea of what kind of card it is.
The Assassin kills any level I or II goblin when it enters play which is pretty handy at almost any time in the game and it’s a free play if Dawn is in play. Whereas the Medic (spend a token to trap 1(+1) level 1 card) is poor almost always. The only time is isn’t is when you are in catch-up, have Kao in play and need to trap a couple of level I goblins to prevent your opponent expanding his army further.
Trsk (when this card comes into play destroy a free card and draw the number of cards equal to the level of the destroyed card) is destruction and card acquisition in one. Add in zombie mutation and this will be the most coveted card in many a Gosu game.
Duwal (Trap 1(+1) goblin when it comes into play) is another great control card to have and combo’s well with Trsk.
Kataclysm is a difficult card to play. When it comes into play every player loses 2 cards and you take an extra turn. It’s not often that you willingly give up 2 cards unless it hurts your opponent more than you. You basically pay 2 extra cards to play it. If you mutate it in it will cost you upwards of 4 cards from your hand. If you’re vastly superior to your opponent in cards or army size it might be a good play but finding the best time to play it is a tricky endeavor.

Kao (when a card is trapped draw a card) is pretty much the overlord of the Dark goblins as it turns their most unique trait into an economic play. People go out of their way to destroy it so be wary of that. He does not mutate.
Ultimate (pay a token to destroy a free goblin. If you have the advantage token draw a card) is a great destruction goblin that is at its best when you have the advantage token with Dawn in play (the token then nets you 2 cards and a dead goblin). This card does not mutate
Kalim (pay a token and trap 1(+1) goblin) is a powerful trapper but its situational when a trap is worth more than a few cards. He becomes easier to use when Kao is in your army and very playable when playing catch-up with Kao in your army. He does not mutate though.
Kokomushu (if this card enters as the result of a mutation discard your whole hand and draw 5 cards. Activation token : choose an opponent to discard 2 cards). Great card to finish games to cycle the deck can give you a net gain of 3 cards if you mutate it into Awn, Sol or MMO Twice when you have 2 or 3 cards left. He does not mutate though.

Higuma (when the player with the advantage token spends two tokens to gain 3 cards he gains 5 cards instead) ups the cost of a token from 1.5 cards to 2.5 cards. Well worth it.
The Edge (if a player ends a turn with more than 7 cards they must discard down to 7) is quite helpful if you’ve pressed into the lead and you want to prevent your opponent generating a 7+ card hand while you harass him. It might not stop his advance but it makes him think about his options and possibly the best advantage is that it stops anyone getting enough cards to mutate into Kameo for a cheeky quick VP.

Trix is the staple card that gives 2 cards to the opponents with the least VPs.
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E M
Norway
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Whoa, you put a lot of work into this. Great job!
 
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Jason K
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Fun read!

I love stuff like this. Thanks.

Plus, it's great to see someone approach the game's idiosyncracies as a part of the game environment that can be equally expoloited, and not as a flaw that ruins the game.
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