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Subject: Tovak 296 Solo Conquest, with general solo strategy tips rss

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Jeff Hannes
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So I recenty got my best score -- 296 with Tovak (and Arythea as the dummy player), city levels 8/11

Rather than go infto a full report (I don't have the detailed play-by-play like last time) I'll highlight the first few turns, and some strategy tips I've learned along the way to help me get to this point.

* Turn 1 I moved to a nearby Monastary and was able to recruit the Herablists, and with Mana Steal I was also able to Crystallize a red mana.
* Turn 2 I learned Pure Magic from the monks.
* On turn 3, having taken their healers and their knowledge, I BURNED THE PLACE DOWN! I was attacked by Fire Mages, and was able to defend with Tovak's Cold Toughness and kill them with a high-powered Pure Magic (plus one card sideways) for 8 inefficient attack. My reward was the Horn of Wrath, and that really set me up for the rest of the game, as I was able to dole out some serious damage with the horn by using its 6 Siege Attack to plow through enemies.
* After the Monastary I went into a Dungeon and took out some Werewolves with a Conceintrated Swiftness, and then moved on to a ruins where I obliterated Ironclads with the Horn and Diggers with Cold Swordsmanship and a sideways card.

Three of my first four skills were Cold Swordsmanship (+2 ice or physical attack), Who Needs Magic? (Play sideways for 2, or 3 if you don't use source) and I Don't Give a Damn! (Play sideways for 2, or special card for 3), which I was able to use often. The Cold Swordsmanship especially made a huge difference throughout the game, and the two sideways skills ensured I never had a bad hand. Things went so well for me this game I probably could have taken out both cities by the end of the Night 2, but I took my time and didn't finish up until the Dummy had three cards left on Night #3. I guess I could have stalled one more turn, but by then I'd conquered just about everything there was to take out.

Here's my final tally:

176 fame (including +1 fame for using Banner of Fear, +5 fame for Sword of Justice)
8 points for x8 ADVANCED ACTIONS (Pure Magic, Ambush, Into the Heat, Ice Shield, Crystal Mastery, Refreshing Walk, Pathfinding, Crushing Bolt)
10 points for x5 SPELLS (Space Bending, Demolish, Underground Travel, Call to Arms, Tremor)
14 points for x7 ARTIFACTS (Amulet of Sun, Endless Bag of Gold, Banner of Fear, Sword of Justice, Amulet of Darkness, Banner of Glory, Banner of Protection)
16 points for UNITS (Fire Golems, Ice Mages, Ice Golems, Catapults, Altem Guardians)
1 point for x2 CRYSTALS
14 points for conquering (x2 Mage Towers, x3 Monastaries, x2 Keeps)
14 points for adventuring (x2 Dungeons, x2 Tombs, x2 Ruins, x1 Spawning Grounds)
20 points for conquering two cities
15 points for conquering both cities
5 points for finishing before end of round declared
3 points for x3 DUMMY cards remaining
SKILLS: Cold Swordsmanship, Who Gives a Damn, Who Needs Magic, Motivation, Motivation

And here's the strategy side of things, suggestions for how to get top scores at solo play.

* Contrary to what most people might think, Great Start is rarely the best tactic to take on Day 1. Since you already have to move to accomplish anything, there's a reasonable chance the extra two cards won't help all that much. Without any crystals to start, you're unlikely to be able use more than one of those cards to its maximum effect. It's much better to grab Great Start at the beginning of a later round, when those extra two cards could give you the necessary firepower to take down a dragon or assault a city. On round 1 (in most cases), all Great Start really ends up doing is giving you more options, at the expense of guaranteeing you will take your turn AFTER the Dummy.

* Along those lines, I've really come to like Mana Steal as an opening. Being able to power two advanced effects (or three with Mana Draw) is huge in the early game, when you've yet to get any skills or advanced actions. Plus, there's a 3 in 5 chance that you go before the Dummy, and I cannot understate the value of that enough. That one extra turn can make all the difference when you're trying to optimize your play. I've found that going before the dummy almost always outweighs the benefits of your tactic. (Though that's not ALWAYS the case.)

* Burning down Monastaries is huge, especially if you get a chance to grab a unit and/or advanced action first. An early artifact can really set you up for the rest of the game, not to mention the help you get towards levelling up by defeating a purple enemy. In this game I burned down three monastaries, though the last two were part of endgame rampage after I'd already finished recruiting units for the game.

* While sometimes you have to take early wounds to get over the hump, in most solo games I almost never take wounds that I can't then immediately heal. Always be aware of where Tranquility is. If you haven't played it yet this round, taking two wounds is practically nothing. (Although take note of the dice in the source too, and your potential access to green mana.) Several times this game I took 4-6 physical damage on Guardian Golems, which gave them one wound (first three damage absorbed by resistance). And then I was able to heal them later with Tranquility or another Heal 2. This had the benefit of not clogging up my hand with wounds if I didn't have the heal on-hand. Point being, wounding units can be a very viable strategy to move forward without filling your hand with useless cards.

* Awhile back I saw a discussion on why would you ever want to go into a tomb. Well tombs are massive in solo play for maximizing your score. You get 8-9 fame for the dragon kill, +2 points for the adventure site, +2 points for the spell, and +2 points for the artifact. So you get 14-15 points (huge for one non-city-assault turn) AND an artifact and spell which go right into your hand next turn. It's absolutely worth it to go after tombs once you have the tools to handle dragons on your own.

* Positioning is key, especially before the round gold units appear. I had a turn where my final action of the round was to assault a city. I knew I didn't have the tools to completely succeed, but it was okay because I was sitting on an unburned Monastary. So on my assault I took out 2 of the city's 4 enemies and got bounced back to the Monastary. Fortunately, in the next round there was a gold unit in the offier that was recruitable in Monastary. I picked them up with my first action of the round, then assaulted the city on turn 2 (only having to deal with two enemies) and on turn 3 I recruited the other gold unit in the city. You can and should plan out several turns ahead in this game. Anyone who tells you there's no or very little strategy in Mage Knight doesn't know the game well enough to understand how it really works. Yes, alot of success comes from tactics and making the best of your opportunities, but planning your route around the map in advance is huge.

* It's critical to have high-powered movement abilities for the endgame -- cards that let you jump around or reduce movement costs, like Pathfinding, Space Bending, Underground Travel, etc. You don't need a ton, but definitely plan on having at least two in your deck, so when you're doing mop-up in the final two rounds you can quickly jump from point-scoring site to point-scoring site.
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Guido Gloor
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Great session report and tips, thanks
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juerg haeberli
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Great session report and good tips.
Seems you were exceptionally lucky this time with skills and artefact draws.
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Jeff Hannes
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Heh, well I did go through 16 artifacts so not surprising I saw so many good ones. But I was fortunate early on. I have another session report coming within the next day or two where I broke 300 with just about the lousiest selection of artifacts possible.
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