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BattleCON: War of Indines» Forums » General

Subject: Limited strategies? rss

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Eric O. LEBIGOT
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The nice BGH video review of BattleCON mentions two negative points about strategy (in an early version of the game):

- So much emphasis is put on Priority that trying to simply get a high Priority is often quite a viable strategy.

- In parallel, some combos appear to work so well that a good strategy is often to recycle the same combos over and over.

I understand that (their early version of) BattleCON sometimes encourages obvious (and uninteresting) strategies. Are these two problems something that you experienced with the published version of the game? A more general question would be: how much thinking does this game require? (compared to some other, well-known games, possibly from my collection). I prefer games that offer enough food for thought.


Any information would be much appreciated.
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Nate K
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Simply trying to out-Prioritize your opponent every turn does not work, because of the various Ranges on the attacks. Your opponent may have a higher Priority than you, but if you (for example) stepped back to use Burst, then you likely moved out of their range of attack.

The game requires quite a bit of thinking. You have to consider your potential Priority in comparison to your opponent's; you have to consider both your current position and your opponent's, as well as the potential movement that either you or your opponent might make. Finally, you have to decide whether Stun Guard will allow you to take a small hit from your opponent while you come back with a larger attack. And all that's just the two-player version of the game! There are also several multiplayer variants (2 v 1, 2 v 2, Tag Team, etc.), Arenas that change how the game plays, 18 characters that all play in very different ways, and blank cards that allow you to design your own unique character.

I would highly recommend reading through some of these reviews on the game, they will give you plenty of good information:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/786520/wanna-fight-a-rev...

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/746683/battleconn-review...

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/736350/battlecon-a-lot-o...

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/663790/battlecon-the-fig...
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Moosey
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PRIORITY
Yes, it's important. It's perfectly important. This is themed after video game fighting game. If you've played those, you know that quick weak hits usually trump the slow powerful ones. But that doesn't mean it's best to only make quick hits. The slow ones when timed right make a big difference in the match. BattleCon does an AMAZING job emulating this. If you don't like that concept, don't get a fighting game based off a video game. All ~18 characters that come with the game play completely differently. And there are some that have abilities that can get around the priority problem.

O.P. COMBOS
Knowing what your opponent has is more powerful that playing a strong combo every three turns. If you see your opponent doing this, counter it. If you choose to ignore that they will keep doing this, then it's somewhat of your own fault. The way you are talking, you like an intelligent thinking game. BattleCon fits the bill more so than any other fighting game. There is really a lot going on in this game. You might want to re-watch and focus on the positives. Or check out other video/written reviews and see what others think. I feel it's really nice that the only random element is trying to read what your opponent will do. This game really does offer a lot. And there is a free PnP version that gives you a small sampling of what the game has to offer if you are concerned. But judging by your post, I think you will enjoy this game, and are just a little over worried about a couple point that truly do play out to be enjoyable.

Best of luck in your decision!
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One Armed Bandit
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If it was all about priority, then Demitras would win every match, period. He doesn't... no even close.

He will regularly lose to Cadenza, who has the lowest priority in the whole game.

As for recycling combos... first off, how is that different from any other game? If you have a winning strategy, the way to play the game is to repeat that strategy over and over. Nobody thinks "buy lots of Gold" is a critical flaw in Dominion after all.

That being said, almost every character has a way to "break" almost any combo you come up with. Often it's as simple as using Strike for stun guard, and hitting back for more than you took. If you're predictably using a certain combo, I can predictably use the combo that directly shuts it down.

Besides, you use your killer combo... and that means you have 2 turns to do stuff and not die before you can use it again. In which I can screw you over. And then maneuver out of range when your combo cycles back.

This is a deep game with deep strategy. Predictability leads to death.

Just check out m session report, Evil Will Always Triumph Because Good Is Dumb!
I was able to predict his move every time, and completely shut him down as a result.
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Eric O. LEBIGOT
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Very useful replies, everybody! Thank you so much. I'm sold (even though shipping to either France or China is quite expensive).

palmerkun wrote:
As for recycling combos... first off, how is that different from any other game? If you have a winning strategy, the way to play the game is to repeat that strategy over and over. Nobody thinks "buy lots of Gold" is a critical flaw in Dominion after all.
To reply to your side remark: in some games, the board situation evolves in a way that makes certain early-game combos less useful or even impossible to reuse. Innovation is an extreme example, but I would argue that Race for the Galaxy leaves plenty of room for evolving strategies and combos. As for Dominion, the way you grab all this gold varies from game to game, depending on what cards are available, so you don't reuse the same combos all the time in the same way as you might in BattleCON.

To go back to BattleCON: it looks like the "combo recycling" problem is really solved by the fact that your opponent probably has an answer to your combo. That's reassuring.
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Brad Talton
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The game is designed so that Dash answers pretty much anything (one or two characters can defeat this, but there's always something you can do). Since you can always dash and force your opponent to wait two more turns before using their cool move (the same point that dash will be ready again to counter it), the game is much more about reading and valuation than building unstoppable combos.

I think one reviewer said it pretty well. Something like "Priority is incredibly important... until suddenly it's not important at all."

I'm glad you're thinking of picking it up. We do distribute all across the world, so try ordering through your local game store
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JW
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lebigot wrote:
The nice BGH video review of BattleCON mentions two negative points about strategy (in an early version of the game):

- So much emphasis is put on Priority that trying to simply get a high Priority is often quite a viable strategy.

- In parallel, some combos appear to work so well that a good strategy is often to recycle the same combos over and over.

I understand that (their early version of) BattleCON sometimes encourages obvious (and uninteresting) strategies. Are these two problems something that you experienced with the published version of the game? A more general question would be: how much thinking does this game require? (compared to some other, well-known games, possibly from my collection). I prefer games that offer enough food for thought.


Any information would be much appreciated.

I don't know if this would help, but I think you were the one who asked me initially how this game compares to RftG and Magic.

After repeated plays, I noticed (personally) that there isn't a big variety of strategies or plays that you make each turn. I find that there are 2 different levels of play for me so far:
1) Both players are (semi) new to the game and thus just play whatever seems to be the best choice in their hand based on board situation. The better choice wins. Not very interesting for me at all.

2) Both players have intimate knowledge of their own and their opponent's cards (either both players have perfect memory or the game is played with open hands so both players can see everything before making their decisions (PBF games are like this)). This is much more interesting with a whole lot of double thinking every turn. You consider your best options vs your opponent's best options (taking into consideration all of Priority, Stun Guard, Soak, etc.).

However, playing with open hands takes up a whole lot more time to be feasible in a casual setting. Also, to quote some other forumer on BGG here, this seems to become a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock every single turn. If this is true, then this does not seem very interesting for me as well.

I can foresee a 3rd level of play, where you play with forward thinking to maneuver yourself into a position where you have more Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock options than the opponent. Or you get into positions where your one option beats more than one of your opponent's. Bear in mind though, like Brad says, he almost always has at least one option that can beat whichever option you have, thus, RPSLP again. While this (seems) much more interesting for me, I don't actually know how achievable it is for me.

One final issue I have with the game is that most of the character's Overdrive Finishes (which seem oh-so-cool) seem to be more useful as threats rather than for actual use. This is due to the same reason as above, the opponent always has at least one option to beat it. I find the other 2 options (Pulse and Cancel) much more useful as they are 'confirmed hits'; wasting a Special on the Overdrive Finish which might miss isn't usually a good play, and is thus reserved for those situations where you 'hope' to catch a player off guard.

While this is good in a gaming design sense (to encourage more players to consider more options), the Johnny in me rebels at the fact that my most cool ability isn't useful most times. I compare this to Yomi, where (most, if not all) of the characters' Aces form an integral part of their gameplay and strategy, and you're encouraged to use them as often as you can.

tl;dr
-I am worried that the game suffers as players (me and my regular opponent) cannot get to the stage where they have intimate knowledge of the cards before the game can become good and 'fun'
-Even at the above stage of intimate knowledge, I wonder if the game is still an extensive version of RPSLP
-I would like Overdrive Finishes to be useful more often

What do you all think?
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One Armed Bandit
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crushedguava wrote:
I can foresee a 3rd level of play, where you play with forward thinking to maneuver yourself into a position where you have more Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock options than the opponent. Or you get into positions where your one option beats more than one of your opponent's.


A perfect example of this was my session with Zaamassal.

I knew that Khadath is a range happy character who doesn't like to close in, so my opening strategy was to make the most of our distance, and use Paradigm of Distortion to completely mess with him. It gave me the range to dominate the long game, and I leveraged that.

It would have been easy to get out. A Drive or Teleport would have done it... but it's unexpected, because it doesn't fit Khadath's conventional strategy.

Every character has a strategy... and they also have alternate ways to play that don't necessarily work as well, but become relevant against certain enemies. Brad commented on the matchup of Rukyuk vs Heketch, and how you have to play Rukyuk "backwards" to win.

I had a match where I had a perfect win (took no hits) against Hikaru... and I was using Magdelina.

There's always something different you can do... and setting yourself up for the next beat is just as important, if not more, than doing "the best move" right now.
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Moosey
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crushedguava wrote:

1) Both players are (semi) new to the game and thus just play whatever seems to be the best choice in their hand based on board situation. The better choice wins.


This was not my experience. My friend played mostly this way, but I did not. I argue that BattleCon can be what you make of it even at a novice level. The following quote and explanation describe why I think this.

my quote on a different thread about Vanaah vs Luc, where Luc was accused of being stronger in this particular match-up wrote:
Funny you should say that, my first game ever was this matchup. I was Vanaah, vs my non-board-gamer (but video gamer) friend playing Luc. He was creaming me at first. But he wasn't just playing any old card and stomping me, he really was playing the perfect card at the perfect time. But honestly, it felt a bit like dumb luck. Some smart intentional moves, but a strong sprinkling of dumb luck too. Mid game I came back though, and started predicting what he would do. I shredded him down to 1-5 health, but it wasn't enough to combat the heavy damage he did to me early game. He did indeed claim victory that day.


This was my first game. I had read a lot about BattleCon, but practice is always different than theory. I didn't know my opponent intimately. At the beginning of the match we both read our main character cards (which describes certain rules such as ante and their overdrive finish) to each other to get a bit of flavor for the character as a whole. The match started with my opponent winning by playing the better moves. Just as crushedguava accused BattleCon of doing at a novice level. But by mid game, I had seen enough of Luc's moves used on me that I started playing to his moves, rather than the most powerful combo in my hand. He had the better moves, and he did win. But considering all things (first game ever, possibly unfair matchup, his best moves playstyle vs my evolving play style) I do feel that even if you don't know your opponent, you can learn them in a fight. It really did come down to the wire. If I'd have hit him one more time, I would have likely won. I had to pull out all the stops, but it was general play skill, not BattleCon specific play skill that made me close that that giant lead he had on me. It was a very satisfying matchup for both of us.

One thing I like about BattleCon is that it fills a role in my collection no other game really does. There is no luck of the draw, no luck of the dice. All the luck is based on how good you can predict your opponent. Very few games are like this. Even Yomi, which is largely about prediction, still has luck of the card draw. Even if I didn't like BattleCon as much as I do, I might still like to have it in my collection based on this uniqueness factor.
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MooseyFate wrote:
One thing I like about BattleCon is that it fills a role in my collection no other game really does. There is no luck of the draw, no luck of the dice. All the luck is based on how good you can predict your opponent. Very few games are like this. Even Yomi, which is largely about prediction, still has luck of the card draw. Even if I didn't like BattleCon as much as I do, I might still like to have it in my collection based on this uniqueness factor.

Good replies. 'Accused' is a strong word though

I'd just like to clarify my position (about the novice level play) by giving an example. To quote Brad from the other thread (how to beat Heketch and Rukyuk), the characters in BattleCon are divided into Question characters and Answer characters. Novice players who are playing a Question character will have the slight edge against the Answer character because the Answer character will actually need to know the strengths and weaknesses of the Question character before he can make an appropriate reply. In your example, you (probably) were the Answer character, and somewhere in the mid-game, you figured out the general strengths and weaknesses of your opponent and started reacting to it. All well and good.

Which brings me to the next bit, and I like that you bring up the issue about luck.

Because BattleCon has no luck, would the game not be played at a higher level, if you not only knew the general strengths and weaknesses of both the characters, but the exact possible values of every single possible option he has in his hand? To do this, you either have to have a perfect memory (but this isn't, and shouldn't be a memory game), or you play with open hands and look at possible options before picking your moves.

When I did my PBF game against palmerkun, at every single turn I was looking at every single possible option both him and I had before picking my moves. I wanted to know my best move and I wanted to know his best counter and I wanted to know my counter to his best counter, and so on. I felt the game was much better this way. However, what if my opponent did not have access to my cards and was just playing his cards based on the general feel of my character? All my calculations will be thrown out of the window.

This is how I feel when I'm playing in real life. If we stop at every single turn to consider the possibilities, the game drags on. Otherwise, I'm just putting down cards.
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Moosey
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crushedguava wrote:
Good replies. 'Accused' is a strong word though

It is. I just chose the word for brevity sake (I need all the help I can get, I'm generally quite wordy). You get the idea of what I meant.
Rest assured I meant no offence by it. Your post was a good point of view.

crushedguava wrote:
When I did my PBF game against palmerkun, at every single turn I was looking at every single possible option both him and I had before picking my moves. I wanted to know my best move and I wanted to know his best counter and I wanted to know my counter to his best counter, and so on. I felt the game was much better this way. However, what if my opponent did not have access to my cards and was just playing his cards based on the general feel of my character? All my calculations will be thrown out of the window.

This is how I feel when I'm playing in real life. If we stop at every single turn to consider the possibilities, the game drags on. Otherwise, I'm just putting down cards.


Wouldn't be hard to make a cheat sheet of all cards a player has, and a marker to show which are in the discard. But you would have very long turns. I played vs. Brad once, and we both made quick turns (him quicker than me). It was much more enjoyable. When I play other friends I'm waiting quite a while for them. But then, chess can be just as brutal. I don't enjoy chess unless it's speed chess in fact. However, for PBF, I think it's wonderful to take your time to examine all opponents options. Just would avoid it in real life. Yes, playing serious enough to force you to memorize every card stat and power would somewhat ruin the game. Which brings me back to my old point of the game being what you make it. If you want to memorize, make reference sheets, take long turns, take short turns, play in a "question" or "answer" roll..... it's all up to you.



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One Armed Bandit
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I've spent too many hours staring at the PDF, so I have a decent internalization of most character's styles, so I can do the calculation on the fly.

In the end, extra high level play will involve this level of memorization, but this is inevitable in any serious game. It's much less of an issue here than it is in say, Magic, where you're expected to memorize 500+ cards just to cover the immediate tournament scene.
I haven't played for almost 10 years, and I still have a few thousand cards memorized. Not in a "I can recite them at will" way, but a "Name a card and I can tell you the details, and be accurate".
I used to even have all the artists memorized, at least for Unlimited and a few expansions.

I have all the normal bases memorized, which is helped by the patterns they all have. I have a lot of styles memorized as well, and more every play.

I expect I'll have half of them memorized by summer, and all of them by the end of the year, simply by virtue of playing.

It's inevitable for high end play, but this is true of every single game ever made. Time limits can be imposed on tournaments if AP becomes common, but I doubt it will be a real issue.
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I used to have the skill functionality, general idea on stats, but not exact stat values (for things like damage/duration/activation/cost) of all the 1200+ skills in GuildWars memorized. It happened as a side effect of wanting to try everything out, and a desire to know how to counter my opponents, and way too much play time. I never sat there and studied them, but will admit, for high level competitive play, knowing them by study or use was important. I played very little high level competitive play, and only because friends did. High level play takes a lot of the fun, scrappy "think-on-your-feet-but-don't-over-analyze-to-the-point-it-feels-like-work" enjoyment away from most any game for me. I ended up going my own way for the most part, rather than play their scientifically calculated builds (over and over and over again) that everyone was playing in favor of variety and experimentation. But you can play any way you like.
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I suppose, ultimately, maybe what I'm trying to convey is that I might prefer games with some element of luck managment? For those kinds of games, I don't feel the need to memorise everything, because you can never control exactly what comes up.

Good replies guys.
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I'm behind you on that JW. I am a fan of big ole dicefests and the classic "Dudes On A Map" type of game.

I do like BC because even with memorization, there's still too much going on to have complete control over. Even though there is technically no luck, no 2 matches ever play out the same and I love that.
It doesn't have to be truly random. Just look random enough
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Moosey
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But I think BattleCON does have a degree of luck to it. The luck is in the prediction. If your opponent is predictable, or you are very good at reading your opponent, the luck factor goes way down. But it's never an absolute that they are playing style "C" and base "D".

A game like Yomi has the luck element of prediction (if you buy my reason for how prediction is one type of "educated luck"), and luck of card draw.

Or while Dominion has luck of the draw, Quarriors has luck of the draw plus luck of the die roll.

You could almost make this analogy (only comparing them by luck, not fun/skill/whatever else):
BattleCON : Yomi :: Dominion : Quarriors

The two games I'm currently most obsessed over is Summoner Wars and BattleCon. And both games offer different things. Both luck and otherwise. I'm not a real big fan of dice fest games, but I think a degree of controlled luck is a big plus for a game to have.
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palmerkun wrote:
I'm behind you on that JW. I am a fan of big ole dicefests and the classic "Dudes On A Map" type of game.

I do like BC because even with memorization, there's still too much going on to have complete control over. Even though there is technically no luck, no 2 matches ever play out the same and I love that.
It doesn't have to be truly random. Just look random enough :)

I was actually thinking of Race for the Galaxy when I was talking about managing luck ;)

Maybe I like hand management card games, as opposed to luck based games per se.
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crushedguava wrote:
Maybe I like hand management card games, as opposed to luck based games per se.


Just a different kind of luck. Lots of luck in RftG.
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MooseyFate wrote:
crushedguava wrote:
Maybe I like hand management card games, as opposed to luck based games per se.


Just a different kind of luck. Lots of luck in RftG.

Agreed.

I would like to say I don't like dice-based luck, but then I very much enjoyed the Dice Soccer app :)
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Me too (liking card luck more). Especially in games like Dominion, where you cycle the deck so many times. It may be luck when you get your cards, but you will get them all quickly. I dislike card luck in games where you only see a couple cards (effectively almost as lucky as dice), or where they encourage card counting (ok, Dominion kind of encourages card counting, but not as bad as some other games). It tends to be games involving standard poker decks that do these two things. But I can see the "card dice deck" from Settlers effectively encouraging card counting. While I would like how it ensures numbers are evenly distributed.

I like dice more in games where success is a clear majority (like 66.67%+ success rate). This works well in Summoner Wars. It does not work well in Ares Project: Base game. Though I do love the game as a whole, the base games combat rounds become a bunch of rounds of "roll, fail; roll, fail; roll, fail; roll, fail; etc.". I have yet to play the advance game, which gives you many opportunities to improve your odds.

So, for me it just depends. Card luck or dice luck can be good or bad. Some degree of luck is nice for enhancing excitement (the thrill of not knowing if something will work, and it paying off) and stopping the game from being an exactly calculateable math problem (which can add to slow turns).

Prediction luck is usually fun for me. But I wouldn't want all my games to be that way. Agricola is a game many consider to be no luck. But I'd say there's a minor luck element with the improvements/occupations you draw. And a large luck element with available spots to claim (though it's prediction luck, and if you watch your opponents, you can bend the prediction odds in your favor as you see what they need... at which time it becomes push your luck as you want to claim the spot they are going to claim, but the later you can hold off doing so, the more profitable it may be).
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