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highlander_ii - Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game - a review
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Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game - a review
I'm going to talk about playing all 3 variations - physical board game, Steam and phone app.

Once upon a time, there was a kickstarter for the DFCCG run by [twitter.com profile] fredhicks and his company Evil Hat Productions. (If you like RPGs and the like, hit them up - they are ALL about the games!) So, I pledged my $69 and waited and waited and waited and got the 1st chapter of Peace Talks as a perk for being a backer (omg book nao pls). Then the game arrives. (There are also expansion card packs available and more probably coming as new books get written.)

The box is gorgeous, the artwork is fantastic. The rules are weird - in a good way - and all of the cards have details you need so you don't have to try to remember everything. Which is good, because, like Harry's life, this game is hard. Deliberately.

But it's not unwinnable! It takes some strategy choices and a little bit of luck.

To go along with the Kickstarter, Hidden Achievement developed digital versions! So you can take your frustratingly fun game along with you wherever you go.

So, first up,

the physical board game version -

It takes up a bit of space. The board is large to hold the two rows of cards and the fate and the clues and hit points. Then you have your row of cards for each character - minimum of 3 characters: Harry, plus 2 others.

I've only played as a solitaire version, which, in and of itself, is cool. It's a card game that has rule set-ups for playing solo, duo, or more - up to 5 players. (You can see the rules PDF here.)

I played several times on the physical board - went through each of the book decks, making sure to use all of the characters at least once. I played through using the characters who are actually in each book, then played with whomever, just because. And I lost - a lot. But, that is sort of how it's designed. It's set up to play fast, but not be easy to win. It matches Harry's general world in the books.

Then the

Steam version - which you can purchase here

It's just like the physical board version, but you don't have to remember all of the rules and stuff, because the program does it for you. Which makes it easier to play.

But not necessarily easier to win. I know I've won at least 2 games on Steam. Maybe a few more - I'm just looking at my achievements page. Out of how many I've played? Let's just say, the ratio is not in my favor.

And, really, that's okay. It's still fun.

I don't play this version often b/c it's on my laptop and chews through memory and requires all of that loading up Steam and the like.

On Steam you can play solo or join other games. I haven't joined up with any other players yet - if you're on Steam and have this game and want to play, hit me up and we'll arrange a thing!

Finally, the

mobile version - which you can purchase here for iOS, here for Mac, here for Andoid, and here for Kindle. (I can only attest for the iOS version - it plays well with only a few bugs, which I've reported to the devs. Can't speak for the other platforms.)

This is the version I play most often, since it's convenient. Though, I lost all of my non-progress when I changed phones. But, I can tell you that I've played 20 games and won 2 on the new phone.

Pretty sure on my old phone, my record was 'a bunch to 0'. I also think they tweaked the code for the game a little, because it truly was nearly impossible to win prior to the latest update.

It has different modes of play. The solitaire version, of course, then it has the option to connect with other people who have the game app so you can play together, but it also has a 'pass and play' option, so if you just have the one device with the game, more than one person can play by passing the device around. I haven't played either of the last two yet, but, eventually, I'll get to it. For now - I'm practicing game strategy in solitaire mode.

If anyone wants to organize a game - either on Steam or on the app - let me know and we can work something out.

So, from playing the game, some things I have learned/put to use (see the strategy write-up here for some in-depth tips and tricks):

* Don't always shoot for removing the obstacles and grabbing the advantage cards right off the bat. Some of the advantages are best used later in the game. Some of the obstacles are super annoying, but it's more advantageous to solve cases and beat foes to move those cards down than to have Harry discard for fate a bunch of times (unless he was dealt a shittastic hand of nothing but obstacle and advantage cards, then using him for fate is sometimes the best idea. And yes, Harry's gotten some garbage-ass deals in my plays.)

* However, don't be afraid to use Harry's talent early in the game to move those cards obstacle and advantage cards down when necessary. Just make sure it balances and the other players/characters discard for fate too.

* Take out the baddies efficiently. Can you take out a low-range target with one or two turns? Do it. It moves all the other cards down and gets you closer to the goal - more cases solved than baddies left on the board.

* Run a quick CBA on the cards in your character's deal. That 5-hit card may end up costing you 7 fate on a bad dice roll and not really get you anywhere. That cost-to-benefit ratio kind of sucks. Try a better card that doesn't force the next player/character to discard for fate.

* Play smart so each character can use their stunt. Some are good 'anytime' plays, but others, like Harry's, are better later in the game, but only if you play strategically so he can take advantage of it.

* If you have a card with a range roll - don't bank on it hitting where you WANT it to land if you only have one option. This is Dresden-land. Chances are, you'll get screwed. If it's your only option, go for it, but it's better not to chance it if you can avoid it. These are better used when you have a few cards you can possible play against - otherwise there's a chance you'll just waste fate points.

* Work on solving cases. This is important. You have to solve more cases than there are baddies left on the board to win. And the chances of doing that in the showdown are far less likely than you think without some amazingly awesome dice rolls (which, lol, no).

* Harry has low-clue count cards that spread across the whole row (for investigate and attack), they work nicely for setting up characters who have talents or stunts that offer putting hits/clues on 'all cards that have hits/clues already'.

* Start off at the 'easy' level when you're learning how to strategize and play - you'll need the extra fate points.

* Check the fate bank before you plan a discard. You can only have a max-13 fate at any given time, so don't waste a discard if you don't have to.

* Pass your turn only as a last resort. It gains you nothing and costs 1 fate point to do. If you can do *something* that's the better option. If you're legit out of cards/talents/etc - pass if there's fate available, otherwise, it's Showdown time no matter what the rest of the board looks like.

* Learn the characters' strengths. Each of the characters has things they're better at than others. (Harry's pretty balanced in the attack/investigate arena, b/c he's Harry.) Some are good attack characters - Carlos, Michael, Thomas. Others are good investigate characters - Murphy, Susan, Butters. Some are just special, like Mouse. =) Certain characters have really good overcome (obstacle removal) cards, while others have great take advantage cards. When you play solo, you can see these pretty well. Playing with other people - well, since you can't tell anyone else what your cards are, you have to play strategically and use other methods of communication to indicate what you plan to do.

* Try to get at least 1 hit or 1 clue on all of the book cards. Depending on the required number of either, it will let dice rolls happen on those cards in the Showdown. (If the resolution of a card is mathematically impossible no matter what, it doesn't matter, but aim for hitting everything anyway.)

* If you play a game with a certain set of characters and aren't getting anywhere, switch up one or two the next time. Harry is always part of the play - and he's a key element. But the others are fair game. Just remember that you have to solve more cases than there are baddies left on the board, so defeating all the bad guys and solving none of the cases, still results in a loss.

* Prepare yourself for failure. It's going to happen. If you prepare yourself up-front, then it's still frustrating, but also kind of funny. It's also shocking af when you win. =)

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Name: highlander_ii
Back January 2020
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