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Subject: Is it against the rules to turtle? rss

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Cyrus Tucker
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I've always wondered this. When we play Catacombs with our 14 year old Overlord, he always hides his melee creatures behind pillars, if possible, then sticks his archers right behind them. He then lightly brushes his finger against the melee pieces, maybe moving them a fraction of a millimeter, and calls it his melee shot for those creatures for the turn. Meanwhile, his archers just sit back and vainly try to shoot at the Heroes. He will only try to actually attack anyone with the creatures if they get close enough to his side that he might actually be able to damage them.

The question here is whether or not this is legal. I can't really find anything in the rules disallowing it, but it leads to some boring games as well. The people playing the thief and barbarian basically get to sit there and pick their noses because if they advance too far, the Overlord will pick them apart on his turn. Unless the Overlord has monsters that need to be damaged by melee (such as Fire Demons), the Hero turns usually just progress with everyone seeking cover while the archer potshots everyone until he runs out of arrows. Then people just pussyfoot forward until there is an opportunity to beat the crap out of the nearest token.

I guess what I'm getting at is whether this was the intent of the design. If so, it seems like an incredibly dumb game to me. Everyone hides like a moron because if their piece is exposed they're liable to take tons of damage. So you just hide until you're out of missiles. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

By the same token, though, how could one fix this? I hate to mandate a rule saying you have to flick your pieces a certain distance each turn, but I'm afraid if I don't people will just turtle the entire game and turn what should be a 60 minute flickfest into a boring 3 hour war of attrition.
 
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The Other Tom
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If your games of Catacombs go for three hours I'd hate to play virtually any other game with you.

I see no fault with this strategy, the heroes are tougher than the villains anyway. You can't help but take hits from time to time. There are ways to counteract some dungeons when your opponent does defense maneuvers like this.

Use the barbarians special attack, it wreaks havoc on monsters closely grouped together.

Use the wizard's teleport hero card and move a hero in to do some serious damage.

Bust up their position with the Thief's two melee shots.

One hero might take several hits in a dungeon, but you can save some gold and heal them later. Also it would be pretty unlikely the Overlord will end up with a multitude of archers in every room. Usually it is no more than 2 or 3 anyway.

Typically as the hero player I always "make the first move" when it comes to advancing on the enemy.
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Quint Wheeler
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I almost always play the overlord and I do this same thing. I hold back and use only archers until the heroes are within range. It's never been a problem - our games don't take too long and the heroes win as often as not.
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Chris Funk
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It's strategy.

Move your barbarian into the clear and get someone like your wizard behind him. On your turn, use the wizard to send the barbarian behind enemy lines and then he's open to smack down the monsters. Or use one of the heroes to bounce the wizard up there and a magic missle could eliminate possibly 4 of them, 2 with each ranged shot. Yeah, you may take a hit or two, depending on the room, but that's the easiest way to take care of that style.

If he's doing the pieces close together like that, you can most likely take out both with one shot. Keep doing that and his strategy will change and play will change when he loses a room in only one or two turns.

I've found very little redeeming about a turtle strategy as OS. In fact, with my stronger monsters, it really limits their damage per turn as if they're stuck behind a pillar, it's really difficult to make a shot at someone unless they to pass behind me. Would much rather have them out in the open but not in anyone's direct line of fire.


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Bryan Maxwell
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There is a passage in the back of the rulebook (for the base game or expansion, can't recall) that talks about the Overseer and playing by the rules vs the spirit of the game, and suggests that if your Overseer can't play nice, he should be replaced.

One of our guys likes to "push" - he'll have 2 monsters next to each other and take the rear monster's shot first, pushing the other monster forward. Then he'll take the second monster's shot.
 
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Cyrus Tucker
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LostRoom wrote:
If your games of Catacombs go for three hours I'd hate to play virtually any other game with you.

I see no fault with this strategy, the heroes are tougher than the villains anyway. You can't help but take hits from time to time. There are ways to counteract some dungeons when your opponent does defense maneuvers like this.

Use the barbarians special attack, it wreaks havoc on monsters closely grouped together.

Use the wizard's teleport hero card and move a hero in to do some serious damage.

Bust up their position with the Thief's two melee shots.

One hero might take several hits in a dungeon, but you can save some gold and heal them later. Also it would be pretty unlikely the Overlord will end up with a multitude of archers in every room. Usually it is no more than 2 or 3 anyway.

Typically as the hero player I always "make the first move" when it comes to advancing on the enemy.


Oh, trust me, I hate it, too. I really do prefer shorter games.

The vibe I get here is that I should tell the Heroes to play better. Trust me, I've tried. The problem I run into, though, is that if I'm not playing all the Heroes by myself, everyone else seems to fall into the groupthink that hiding is good. So if I did, for example, potshot my barbarian out there to try and attack the monsters head on, everyone else will still hide, leaving me to get my ass kicked and lose huge amounts of health. No matter what I try to do to convince the others otherwise, they still get the feeling like sitting back until you literally can't any longer is better than charging in.

I'm at the point myself where I might bow out of games like this in the future, at least until I find a group more willing to realize the error of their ways. (The Heroes have also never won a game in 4 plays, and their only response so far has been to turtle longer. Um, no?)

So, in summary, I agree with you. Now how do I make the other obstinate people in my group believe this?
 
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Chester
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Sounds like poor play from the heroes in the face of a solid strategy from a young Overlord. The game shouldn't take that long, but pressuring the Overlord into poor play is not the way to shorten it. Rather to find ways to counter this strategy (some are already mentioned in this thread).
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Cyrus Tucker
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cornjob wrote:
Sounds like poor play from the heroes in the face of a solid strategy from a young Overlord. The game shouldn't take that long, but pressuring the Overlord into poor play is not the way to shorten it. Rather to find ways to counter this strategy (some are already mentioned in this thread).


Exactly. I guess my problem is more psychological than anything. How do I tell people they're wrong in a way that will get them to change? Maybe I should just tell our Overseer that he'll have to play only against me and we won't invite the rest of his family or something.
 
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Chester
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SparkingConduit wrote:
cornjob wrote:
Sounds like poor play from the heroes in the face of a solid strategy from a young Overlord. The game shouldn't take that long, but pressuring the Overlord into poor play is not the way to shorten it. Rather to find ways to counter this strategy (some are already mentioned in this thread).


Exactly. I guess my problem is more psychological than anything. How do I tell people they're wrong in a way that will get them to change? Maybe I should just tell our Overseer that he'll have to play only against me and we won't invite the rest of his family or something. :p


If the problem is game balance, there are lots of ways to address that. Its not necessary to have equal skill levels playing on both sides.

Give the heroes more equipment/money. Subtract some rooms or the difficulty of the rooms before the final battle. There are ways to shorten the game, or to make it even on both sides, even if not all family members are as savvy as your son.
 
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Ben Bateson
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It's an unwritten house rule with us that, in the interests of enjoying the game, the Overlord always plays aggressively and it is recommended the heroes play tactically.

To play any other way sucks all the fun out of it.
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Chris Funk
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With us, the OS is more of the DM. In a D&D setting, it's the DM that sets the tone and is responsible for making the game fun for the players while still giving them a challenge. I see this game as no different.

It's also why I play the OS a lot. I'll change things up on the fly: pull out rooms, change the order, add an extra healer, etc. I also don't try and kill a character by sending every character after a single hero. Now, in the final room, it's ruthless time as it should be. They should expect the hardest fight of the game in the boss chamber.

So, just like any good D&D session, Catacombs really shines if you have a decent dungeon master to lead and guide the adventure.
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Cyrus Tucker
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cornjob wrote:
SparkingConduit wrote:
cornjob wrote:
Sounds like poor play from the heroes in the face of a solid strategy from a young Overlord. The game shouldn't take that long, but pressuring the Overlord into poor play is not the way to shorten it. Rather to find ways to counter this strategy (some are already mentioned in this thread).


Exactly. I guess my problem is more psychological than anything. How do I tell people they're wrong in a way that will get them to change? Maybe I should just tell our Overseer that he'll have to play only against me and we won't invite the rest of his family or something.


If the problem is game balance, there are lots of ways to address that. Its not necessary to have equal skill levels playing on both sides.

Give the heroes more equipment/money. Subtract some rooms or the difficulty of the rooms before the final battle. There are ways to shorten the game, or to make it even on both sides, even if not all family members are as savvy as your son.


Friend's son, but point taken. If you look at my photo, I'm a bit young to have a 14 year old son. Unless I had him when I was 8. XD

I'll try to revise the setup or at least make it more attractive for people to fight faster. Maybe a healing bonus equal to how long you spend in the room?
 
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Ludovic Roy
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Remember that the Overseer player is just in his home, his minions just chillin' around the "house" and these vile heroes come in his palace and raise hell! They're the actual villains you know!

So if some band of reckless money-thirsty "heroes" invade your house, you'd likely pick a good hiding spot and whack them in the head with a bat when they get close to you rather than just go out in the open... Just sayin'

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But yes, seriously, using the "push" strategy works just as much for the heroes if the Overseer doesn't expect it as it may leave you a few easy 2 or 3 way hits.
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