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This double session report features the randomly selected White Knight. As in my previous games with the Dwarf, Sorceror, Woods Girl, Pilgrim, Captain, Swordsman, Amazon, Magician, and Druid, I'm using my standard optional rules listed at the end. Specific for the White Knight is the KNIGHTS ADJUSTMENT: the Order are FRIENDS, not Allies.

As the White Knight is an excellent monster killer, I put 3 points into Fame and 2 into Notoriety. I planned on buying a Morningstar from the Chapel on day one before exploring the realm until I had enough money for a warhorse (36 gold is the goal.)

For some reason I decided that the noble White Knight would never attack any natives. If attacked by natives he would defend himself of course, but only the Bashkars (unfriendly) and Company (enemy) would even have that chance because of his HONOR special advantage.

------------------------------------------------------

The first game started all right, buying the Morningstar for price x2 (trading the Greatsword and 6 gold for it) and the Lancers showed up on day 1.

I proceeded into the Ruins on day 2, because the Caves on the other side of the Chapel looked dangerous. Ruins had Smoke C and Roar 6. A A Heavy Dragon appeared in my clearing on day 3 while I was searching for the hidden path and I killed it for 5 Fame and Notoriety while a Tremendous dragon appeared in clearing 6.

I found the hidden path on day 4 and the Tremendous Dragon prowled to my clearing just as I was about to enter the High Pass. I killed it for 10 Fame and Notoriety. The High Pass had Stink C and Howl 4 (goblins!), but nothing showed up so I walked back to the Chapel.

On day 8 I entered the Caves which had Ruins C and the Lost City: Vault 3, Lair 3, Cairns 5, Howl 5, and Slither 6. Six Axe goblins showed up but couldn't find me because I was hidden and six Spear goblins appeared in clearing 5. A failed hide roll would probably get me killed so I had to be lucky.

On day 9, I hid and a Tremendous Dragon appeared in clearing 3. On day 10 my hide also succeeded. On day 11 I ran unhidden out of the Caves into the Nut Woods hoping I didn't find Ruins W and the monster roll wasn't a 3. I got lucky and the Nut Woods contained Smoke W and the Small Campfire was found in clearing 5.

I walked into the Cliff that had Stank M and the Statue. The Imp appeared over at the Statue and a Heavy Spider showed up in my clearing that I easily killed for 3 Fame and Notoriety.

On day 13 I found the hidden path in Cliff then headed towards the Borderlands to see what was there. On day 14, the goblins returned to the setup card and Borderlands had Dank C and Flutter 1. I proceeded on into the Ledges on day 15 and found Ruins M and Patter 2. A Bat flew around me and I got lucky on round two, killing it for 3 Fame and Notoriety.

I went back to the Cliff on day 17 on my way to the Mountain and managed to kill the Imp from hiding for 2 Fame and 1 Notoriety. Mountains had Dank M and the Altar. The Demon appeared on day 19 but he was many mountainous clearings away. I decided to look for the Lost Castle in the other direction but time was starting to run out.

I made it into the mountains of the Cliff on day 23 and managed to kill another Heavy Spider for 3 Fame and Notoriety. Left was the Crag and right were the Deep Woods. I tried left first and the Crag had Smoke M and Flutter 2.

I made it into the Deep Woods on day 27 and found Bones M and the Lost Castle: Roar 4, Shrine 4, Patter 5, Hoard 6, and Pool 6. The Octopus was waving to me from clearing 6 but I couldn't get there in time to kill it.

I made it hidden to the Shrine on day 28 but only a bat appeared that I was able to kill on round 1 for 3 Fame and Notoriety.

A BIG LOSS with -10 VPs: 0 Great Treasures, 0 Spells, 32 Fame (0), 31 Notoriety (-6), and 4 gold (-37 for starting costs) (-4).

------------------------------------------------------

Well, that certainly didn't work out too well. For my second game I decided to use the exact same strategy and hope for a different result. (Isn't that a symptom of something?)

On day one I again bought the morningstar for price x2 and the Patrol showed up. I then climbed up into the mountains of High Pass, hidden, to find Bones C and Patter 2. Before leaving I peered into Cliff to see what was there. I managed to see the hidden path but didn't get any clues before walking back into the Curst Valley.

I stealthily walked into Borderland, hiding behind shrubs and gravel while my armor somehow didn't make me sound like the drummer for Rush, and found Dank C and the Lost City: Altar 1, Statue 2, Slither 3, Roar 4, and Slither 6. The treasure sites weren't great but they were both above ground and most of the monsters would only come singly or in pairs. I figured I could sit at the Altar (three clearings from the Chapel), hiding and searching as monsters prowled to me.

On day 5 a Heavy Dragon appeared in clearing 3 while a Tremendous Dragon appeared in clearing 6. The next day I found the Garb of Speed (one of the best treasures for the White Knight), and the dragons prowled to my clearing. I killed the Heavy Dragon on round one and the Tremendous Dragon on round 2 for 25 Fame and Notoriety.

As in many of the games I've played lately, the monsters I killed on day 6 regenerated on day 7. I found the Girtle of Energy (three asterisks per round) and the dragons reappeared in their respective clearings. On day 8 two Heavy Trolls appeared in clearing 4. The monsters were practically lining up for me to kill them!

The monster roll was a 2 on day 9 and I found I wasn't as safe as I had thought. I knew the Demon was coming, that's why I was double hiding every day. What I didn't figure was that the Demon and two Heavy Serpents would all appear in my clearing at the same time. The laughable Tremendous Serpent appeared in clearing 3 as well. I killed the Demon from hiding on round 1 but now my morningstar was unalerted (speed 6) for round 2. The serpent I targeted flipped over and before I killed it my armor was damaged. Managed to kill the other on round 3 but my armor was destroyed! All told, this fight could have gone worse and I gained 28 Fame and Notoriety.

Before leaving for the Curst Valley, I looted twice. The first found the Mouldy Skeleton which cursed me with DISGUST but added three awesome treasures to the site. The second looted me the Jade Shield and I could practically smell the warhorse that I would be able to buy when that was sold.

On day 11 I sold the Girtle of Energy and the Jade Shield to the Patrol for 33 gold (putting me at 37), and I bought the H4/H6 Warhorse for price x2 (leaving me with 1 gold). I traded with the Patrol to see what they had and saw the Map of Lost Castle and the Scroll of Nature. At midnight my curse was removed.

I swear, those patrolmen looked like they were really spoiling for a fight, but NO! I would not give in to these unclean urges! I would only kill monsters! Trolls, dragons, demons! Maybe even goblins, but not those goblins with the greatswords because I'm still afraid of them. I did hear that there was a band of raiders in the woods somewhere. Maybe I could track them down...

On day 12 I rode into the Pine Woods that lay between the Chapel and the Borderland to see what was there. Maybe I could hunt some wolves? Found Stink M and the Large Campfire appeared in clearing 5 but I couldn't reach it without traveling around half of the map.

Returned to the borderland on day 13 and prepared to rack up some victory points cleanse the realm of monsters. The dragons prowled to my clearing where I was hidden but the Heavy Dragon flipped over on round 1 and I missed him. I killed the Tremendous dragon on round 2 and the Heavy Dragon on round 6 for 20 Fame and Notoriety.

On day 14 the Demon and Serpents regenerate. My first hide roll failed but the second succeeded so I was able to kill the Demon from hiding again. The two serpents went down by round four for 28 Fame and Notoriety, unable to penetrate my horses armor.

Now I didn't even have to hide (except on day 21), I just alerted my morningstar each day and searched three times. Day 16 had an Escort Party show up at the Altar who asked me to guide them to the Chapel. I agreed to take them even though it was only three clearings away. I looted Battle Bracelets on day 17 and two Heavy Trolls attacked me that I killed in three rounds for 15 Fame and Notoriety. The Tremendous Troll appeared in clearing 4.

On day 20 I looted the Gold Helmet. The monster roll was a 6 on day 21 so nothing regenerated. On day 22 the Imp appeared in clearing 2 and it moved to my clearing on day 23. I managed to kill it on round 5 for 2 Fame and 1 Notoriety but not before it cursed me with SQUEAK (twice!)

The Tremendous Troll prowled on day 26 and I easily smacked it down for 8 Fame and Notoriety.

Nothing else happened, (I never managed to loot that silver breastplate from the altar and the big serpent just refused to come over and try to eat me) so I went back to the Chapel on day 28 (getting 6 gold for Escort Party) and sold the warhorse and battle bracelets to the Patrol for 30 gold. My squeak curse was removed at midnight.

White Knight wins with 52 VPs. Ended with 126 Fame (+6 for treasure = 132) (40), 125 Notoriety (+10 for treasure) (12), and 37 Gold (-37 for starting costs = 0) (0).

-----------------------------------------------------

Interesting Note: If I had gone to the Deep Woods instead of the Crag on day 25 in my first game, I would have been able to fight the Winged Demon and the Octopus. Probably surviving the Power of the Pit attack, I would have won with a very mediocre 0 VPs and never even started the second game.

-----------------------------------------------------

Optional rules selected were: Caching, Dropping and Losing Belongings, Ambush Rules, Serious Wounds, Grudges/Gratitude, Enhanced Artifacts and Spell Books, both for Wizard, Captain, Woods Girl, Magician, both for Druid, Persistent Chits, Birdsong Rearrangement, No Spell Limit, Decline Opportunity, No Mission/Visitor Flip, No Campaigns, Knights Adjustment, Watchful Natives, Extended Grudges, Benevolent Spells.
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p55carroll
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See--taking the high road can still pay off.
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Whitey is one of those characters who changes from flawed to unstoppable with the right tools--in your case, the garb of speed, a warhorse, and some faster weapon. I did a whole year with Whitey in a massive Realmspeak and wrote it up here.
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The White Knight and Morning Star combination is one of Magic Realm's frustrating flaws (albeit a minor one and easily house ruled). As it stands, it is just a no-brainer for Whitey to spend a few opening phases trading at the Chapel for the Morning Star, thereby significantly increasing his survivability, killing power and success rate. You only have to compare combat between a hidden/pre-alerted White Knight and the Great Troll (usually the terror of the Realm) with the Greatsword or the Morning Star to understand why this is a problem.

It's not the strength of the weapon that's the problem but the fact that it's scripted and too easy, once a player is aware of it. It means that the Greatsword, a weapon thematically married to the White Knight, effectively never sees play in his hands or anyone else's, making it a pointless starting weapon or inclusion in the game at all. As it stands, Whitey should probably just start play with the Morning Star and be done with it. Alternatively it could be removed from the game if he's playing, given to a native group with whom he can't start play and isn't friendly, or given Warhorse pricing so that he has to go out and earn it.

Brent.
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GodRob
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philreh wrote:
Whitey is one of those characters who changes from flawed to unstoppable with the right tools--in your case, the garb of speed, a warhorse, and some faster weapon. I did a whole year with Whitey in a massive Realmspeak and wrote it up here.


Nice write up, but where are all the words? Maybe I should learn to be more concise.

Yeah, the Garb of Speed is great in the hands of the White Knight or Berserker. I don't think it benefits anyone else, does it? The Black Knight too I guess.
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robertg611 wrote:
philreh wrote:
Whitey is one of those characters who changes from flawed to unstoppable with the right tools--in your case, the garb of speed, a warhorse, and some faster weapon. I did a whole year with Whitey in a massive Realmspeak and wrote it up here.


Nice write up, but where are all the words? Maybe I should learn to be more concise.

Yeah, the Garb of Speed is great in the hands of the White Knight or Berserker. I don't think it benefits anyone else, does it? The Black Knight too I guess.


Pretty much just those guys. Maybe the Dwarf, although I think it slows down his duck.

BTW, I thought your write up was pretty exceptional, myself. Don't change a thing...
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BrentS wrote:
The White Knight and Morning Star combination is one of Magic Realm's frustrating flaws (albeit a minor one and easily house ruled). As it stands, it is just a no-brainer for Whitey to spend a few opening phases trading at the Chapel for the Morning Star, thereby significantly increasing his survivability, killing power and success rate. You only have to compare combat between a hidden/pre-alerted White Knight and the Great Troll (usually the terror of the Realm) with the Greatsword or the Morning Star to understand why this is a problem.

It's not the strength of the weapon that's the problem but the fact that it's scripted and too easy, once a player is aware of it. It means that the Greatsword, a weapon thematically married to the White Knight, effectively never sees play in his hands or anyone else's, making it a pointless starting weapon or inclusion in the game at all. As it stands, Whitey should probably just start play with the Morning Star and be done with it. Alternatively it could be removed from the game if he's playing, given to a native group with whom he can't start play and isn't friendly, or given Warhorse pricing so that he has to go out and earn it.

Note that the problems described by Brent above occur only with the standard combat rules. If you use the Optional Combat Rules, the Morning Star is by no means an automatic purchase for the White Knight. It is still better than the Great Sword, but the improvement is so slight that the White Knight will often prefer to just keep his Great Sword and use his money for something else.

For example, with the standard combat rules an alerted Morning Star played with a T Fight chit will automatically kill a Tremendous Troll, regardless of whether it intercepts or undercuts the Troll's move. But with the Optional Combat Rules, there is only a 25% chance of killing the Tremendous Troll with an undercut... so the White Knight is no longer guaranteed of winning the battle.

Thus with the standard combat rules, upgrading to a Morning Star gives the White Knight a guaranteed kill against any Tremendous monster that moves at speed "4" or slower, but with the Optional Combat Rules the Morning Star doesn't get a guaranteed kill against any of the slow T monsters (they all have a chance of surviving an undercut), so deciding to spend money to buy a Morning Star can be a tough decision.

The Optional Combat Rules fix almost all of the odd "problems" encountered with the standard combat rules, so I wish more people would give them a try. However, the Optional Combat Rules also make combat much more difficult and challenging, and some players don't want that.

For more about the Optional Combat Rules:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/183032/using-the-optiona...
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I'm not a fan of the Optional Combat Rules. They go WAY beyond fixing odd problems and basically remake Combat. As a result they pretty drastically alter the current combat relationships in the game and I'm not sure I like the result nor the undoing of the deterministic rock/scissors/paper system.
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I also favour the basic combat rules because I appreciate the element of determinism and its strategic implications for broader game play. I do get what people appreciate in the optional combat rules, the greater uncertainty and perception of realism, but for me the game already has enough randomness and enough tables. For my taste the balance of determinism and chance with the basic rules is just right.

Having said that, I can’t see that the issue with the morning star can be attributed to the combat rules in any way. It’s the consequence of an almost certainly unrecognised confluence of factors in the design of the game set up.

Brent.
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p55carroll
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goshublue wrote:
I can’t see that the issue with the morning star can be attributed to the combat rules in any way. It’s the consequence of an almost certainly unrecognised confluence of factors in the design of the game set up.

Looks like you recognized it.
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Patrick Carroll wrote:
goshublue wrote:
I can’t see that the issue with the morning star can be attributed to the combat rules in any way. It’s the consequence of an almost certainly unrecognised confluence of factors in the design of the game set up.

Looks like you recognized it.
;)


Well, I didn't recognise it, it's open knowledge after over 30 years of many many people playing the game and exploring all its facets. The design and playtesting process was much shorter than 30 years and I would suggest that's where it went unrecognised and slipped through.

Brent.
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GodRob
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goshublue wrote:
Patrick Carroll wrote:
goshublue wrote:
I can’t see that the issue with the morning star can be attributed to the combat rules in any way. It’s the consequence of an almost certainly unrecognised confluence of factors in the design of the game set up.

Looks like you recognized it.


Well, I didn't recognise it, it's open knowledge after over 30 years of many many people playing the game and exploring all its facets. The design and playtesting process was much shorter than 30 years and I would suggest that's where it went unrecognised and slipped through.

Brent.


If I recall correctly, in the First Edition rules, the printed speed on the weapon counters was only used if you were using a certain optional rule. Since we were constantly trying to learn the game (that the First Edition rules didn't really help us with), we rarely used any optional rules.

We quickly determined that the morningstar was of no value whatsoever at that point.

Years later when the Second Edition rules came out and the printed speed on the weapon counters was now actually part of the regular rules, it never occurred to me to reevaluate the morningstar for the White Knight. By then I was only playing solo and I was still doing combat wrong. (Sort of a Watchful Monsters variant where if you attacked them from hiding they would still attack you. Fun, but not the correct way to play.) With my misunderstanding of combat, it was still better to have a long weapon on the first round. Great Sword was still better than Morningstar.

It wasn't until I started reading articles online that I got combat correct in regards to attacking from hiding. I probably read somewhere about the morningstar strategy but I may have figured it out on my own (doubtful). Since then, for the White Knight it was always buy a morningstar for price x1, keep the Great Sword too, get a warhorse as a boon and wreck the realm. I'd be able to sell the sword and my armor to native groups before slaughtering them and looting it all back.

Just recently I started using the Knights Adjustment and that nullifies the previous strategy. Getting a warhorse with a boon is nearly out of the question and buying the morningstar for price x2 is more likely, losing the Great Sword in the process.

I think the Knights Adjustment really powers down the White Knight. Sure, he can get lucky and have a Lost City like in the second game above with lots of easy monsters to kill, but that's what it is, sheer luck.

As for the "scripted" nature of buying the morningstar, well, why not? Most other charactes need better weapons than they start with too. Is it scripted that the Captain buys an axe or a mace on day 1? Hell yes it is. It's not a flaw, it's a feature of the game that you discover while playing.

One more example and I'll stop my rambling post, forgive me if your not familiar with the following game. In Arkham Horror money can be difficult to come by. The obvious solution is to go to the bank and take out a loan. But experienced players know that you can go to location "x" and have a good chance of getting a Retainer, supplying you with the money you need and practically negating the Bank location all together. Is this scripted? Yes. Is it broken? No. It's a feature of the game.

Brent, thanks for commenting, your observations have really allowed me to think and rethink my strategies.

Robert
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robertg611 wrote:


As for the "scripted" nature of buying the morningstar, well, why not? Most other charactes need better weapons than they start with too. Is it scripted that the Captain buys an axe or a mace on day 1? Hell yes it is. It's not a flaw, it's a feature of the game that you discover while playing.



While I fully agree that learning strategic subtleties is one of the joys of gaining experience with any game and particularly so in MR, where the journey of discovery is as much fun as mastery (something a lot of people who are frustrated by the game don't get), I have to disagree with you in this case. Those strategies should not be automatic, should not replace starting set up and should not render game components, such as the Greatsword, meaningless. A character shouldn't sit at their starting location performing automated actions to quickly and effectively substitute their starting abilities.....they're not features, that's clunky and unsatisfying design. They may as well just start with these enhancements at setup and bypass the rote actions used to acquire them. The White Knight /Morning Star, Captain/Axe/Mace and Pilgrim/O3 are all guilty of this. Those goals should be there (the Morning Star should be a very desirable target for the White Knight) but they should be a more challenging decision and more of an investment in play to achieve.

I'm as guilty as anyone of using these shortcuts, but I would prefer that they weren't in game. The Captain is my favourite character and I regularly take the chance to upgrade immediately to improve his survival chances (I'm an axe man...gotta be able to face those giants ). I embarrassingly ranted about the limitations of the shortsword in my video playthrough but I have now changed my tune completely and think that without any time numbers it is the ideal weapon against the right opponents. I would be quite accepting of the axe being more expensive and my having to rely on my wits and the shortsword, choose my fights and earn the right to upgrade, rather than being offered it straight up on a plate. Of course, I can play it that way if I want, but you're confined to a consensus standard when playing with others and that's currently the standard.

On that point, I would say again that I don't think the answer to these issues is to be found in putting forward a specific set of optional rules. We all love our optional rules, and everyone has their favourites, but systems and set up have to be robust at the game's base, not just in players' favoured variant and optional rule combinations.

Brent.

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