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The DFCO Strategy Guide Section V-B: Attacking Foes & Cases

Jul 26 2017

We’re going to be honest here—the Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game is delightfully difficult. Just like Harry Dresden’s default setting in the novels, the game is designed to be a nail-biter all the way until the end, where winning and losing is often decided by a throw of the dice. The game includes three difficulty levels, and we strongly suggest that you start on the Apprentice setting while you’re learning how to play. But what if you’ve done that and are still netting far more losses than wins? Shannon Appelcline of Designers & Dragons and Mechanics & Meeples is here to give you some advice, clarify some rules, and tell you what you need to succeed in this epic 14-part series!

So, without further ado, we present…

The Mechanics & Meeples DFCO Strategy Guide, Section V-B: Attacking Foes & Cases

by Shannon Appelcline
Game Historian of Designers & Dragons
Board Game Analyst of Mechanics & Meeples

Winning DFCO is ultimately about defeating sufficient Foes and solving sufficient Cases to win.

Plan for Your Showdown

Before you add Hits or Clues to anything, you should read over your Showdown card. In most Books it’s easier to solve Cases in the Showdown than it is to kill Foes. Take Storm Front as an example: you can pay the maximum Fate to get an average roll of +3 on a Case but you only get an average roll of +2 on a Foe. Clearly, it’s slightly better to leave Cases unsolved until the Showdown than Foes. Some Books have even more difference between the two sorts of cards, such as Fool Moon, which maxes out at 2+6dF for Foes, but only 4+5dF for Cases. Occasionally, the numbers are reversed, favoring Foes, such as Summer Knight, which has a maximum of 4+6dF for Foes and 3+6dF for Cases.

Corollary #1: Know your Book’s Fate costs. Each of those rolls also has a Fate cost, and so you should know those too. However, these costs matter less than you’d think; your Showdown will often hinge on the roll against a single card, and you can usually afford the cost of one maximal roll. However, be especially aware of those Showdowns that have really high Fate costs, such as 5 or 6 for the maximal rolls.

Corollary #2: Be very mindful of the Showdown conditions in Proven Guilty and White Knight. Proven Guilty does not let you Showdown against Foes! White Knight does not let you Showdown against Cases! In those Books, cards of those types must be completed before the Showdown, or it was all for naught. So, make sure you approach these Books carefully. And make sure you remember, because it’s really easy to forget. (In fact, this author has forgotten, in a game with the DFCO designer; who also forgot.)

Defeat the Weak

Winning DFCO has nothing to do with the complexity of the Cases you solve or the ferocity of the Foes. It’s a numbers game: solve more Cases than Foes that you leave on the board. So go for the low-hanging fruit. Solve the Cases and defeat the Foes with the lowest numbers, if all other things are equal.

Of course all other things won’t be equal, but this is nonetheless a good principle to keep in mind.

Corollary #1: Avoid the strongest Foes and the hardest Cases if you can. In fact you might want to move high-value cards to the back of the row, out of the way, using something like Michael’s “Amoracchius” Stunt—provided that you “Don’t Throw Away Your Shot.” However, keep in mind that sometimes the highest value Case or Foe is also the one that is targeted by beneficial effects from other Book cards; it may not really be the most difficult to remove.

Don’t Throw Away Your Shot

If you’re going to damage a Foe or work on a Case, you want to make sure that your team can finish that card off; don’t put tokens on a card if you don’t think that’s going to happen. Mind you, it’s OK if your plan is to remove that card during the Showdown, but if you think you will never do so, you’d be much better off just generating Fate.

Corollary #1: Don’t be seduced by powers that encourage you to spread out. Billy and Georgia’s “Alpha Pack Attack” Stunt Hits every damaged Foe, but it’s not worth maximizing it if you’re just adding more Hits to Foes that are never going to be defeated. Ditto for Butters’s “Eureka!” Stunt, which places additional Clues. Murphy’s “Raw Determination” Stunt generates a Fate point for every card with tokens on it, but it’s not worth it if you spent more than 1 Fate point to place those tokens on a card that won’t be solved.

Corollary #2: Move your wasted tokens. Some characters can help you make use of spread out tokens. Luccio can move a pile of tokens from one card to another with her Stunt, while Ramirez’s Talent turns 1 Clue into 2 Hits and Butters’s Talent similarly turns 1 Hit into 2 Clues. You can use these powers to clean up wasted tokens from Book cards you don’t plan to remove. You can optimize even further by first spreading out to maximize effects, and then move or consume the wasted tokens; for example, it becomes more worthwhile to put a Hit on a distant Foe to improve Murphy’s Stunt if you can then reclaim some or all of those tokens for other purposes.


Missed some of the other articles in the series, or looking for advice on a particular gameplay element? Go here for the full list of articles and Bob’s top ten favorite romance novels. (We’re kidding about that last one. It’s probably for the best.)

Stay tuned to this space for the next section on Planning for the Win, which will go live on Monday, July 31!

The DFCO Strategy Guide Section V-A: Removing Advantages & Obstacles

Jul 24 2017

We’re going to be honest here—the Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game is delightfully difficult. Just like Harry Dresden’s default setting in the novels, the game is designed to be a nail-biter all the way until the end, where winning and losing is often decided by a throw of the dice. The game includes three difficulty levels, and we strongly suggest that you start on the Apprentice setting while you’re learning how to play. But what if you’ve done that and are still netting far more losses than wins? Shannon Appelcline of Designers & Dragons and Mechanics & Meeples is here to give you some advice, clarify some rules, and tell you what you need to succeed in this epic 14-part series!

So, without further ado, we present…

The Mechanics & Meeples DFCO Strategy Guide, Section V-A: Removing Advantages & Obstacles

by Shannon Appelcline
Game Historian of Designers & Dragons
Board Game Analyst of Mechanics & Meeples

 

V-A. Removing Advantages & Obstacles

Advantages and Obstacles are best discussed together, because for both you aren’t required to remove them in order to win, but it’s usually still worth doing so.

Work on Advantages & Obstacles First

When you “Plan Your Initial Targets,” you’ll usually be going after Advantages and Obstacles. That’s in part because they’re very easy to resolve: you just play a single card, and the Advantage is taken or the Obstacle is overcome. This can help you to quickly reduce the Range to Cases and Foes. However, it’s also useful to remove Obstacles early on because they’ll be causing you problems and costing you efficiency, and it’s helpful to remove Advantages early because they can give you more options and allow you to improve your strategy.

The catch is getting Advantages and Obstacles into Range so that you can deal with them. (But remember the most easily overlooked setup rule in DFCO: if an Advantage or Obstacle is at Range 6, it gets swapped one closer.)

Corollary #1: Use Harry to move up Advantages and Obstacles. This is why Harry must be in every game of DFCO (c.f., the second most easily overlooked rule in DFCO). He helps your team to clear Advantages and Obstacles by moving them ‘to and ‘fro with his Talent. Make use of that early in the game, so that you can clear these problem cards.

Corollary #2: Consider alternatives to Harry’s Talent. You can also move Book cards closer by removing cards in front of them. Some Stunts or Book card effects can incidentally move cards behind their targets one closer when they move the target card to a higher Range.

Corollary #3: Hide Advantages or Obstacles if you’re not going to remove them. Conversely, use Harry to move Advantages and Obstacles out of the way if you don’t plan to remove them, but think carefully about that decision.

Deal with Obstacles

You almost always want to overcome every Obstacle, and you almost always want to do it as quickly as possible. For example, consider the two Obstacle cards in Storm Front: “Three-Eye Drug War” changes one blank die to a “-” on each roll, and “Morgan is Watching” increases the cost of Attacks by +1 Fate. Each is likely to cost you a couple of turns of efficiency over the course of the game, so it’s probably worth removing them. Keep in mind that Obstacles still on the board continue to be in effect during the Showdown!

Corollary #1: For long-Range Obstacles, think carefully about whether to remove them. If an Obstacle is at long Range, its effective removal price goes up, as you must spend turns and resources bringing it closer, and then must either pay higher Range costs to Overcome, or else waste some other advantage (like Michael’s Talent). In these cases maybe the cost-benefit ratio isn’t high enough. The “Lunar Cycle” Obstacle card in Fool Moon offers an example of when you might not remove an Obstacle: it prevents your team from damaging the two “Loup Garou” Foes and you can technically win without killing them by solving all the Cases and killing all the other Foes. So if the “Lunar Cycle” and the two “Loup Garou” were all toward the back of the board setup, that might be a situation where you decide to try something else.

Consider Your Advantages

Similarly, you usually want to take all the Advantages, because they’ll often earn you more turns than you spend on them. Consider “Beer at Mac’s” in Storm Front, which gives you three card draws (which is equivalent to three turns) for spending one turn of activity and perhaps as little as 1 Fate.

Corollary #1: For less useful Advantages, think about it. More frequently than with Obstacles, you might decide to ignore Advantages if they’re inconvenient. “Speed Potion” is an example. At just +1 card draw, it may actually be a loss to take the card, especially since the other results (taking another turn and moving “Kalshazzak” to maximum range) could be negatives. So you have to decide if it’s worth removing the Advantage just to clear the spot on the board. If the results seem beneficial to your current situation, do it, but if not, don’t!

Spread Out Player Card Draws

Advantages frequently grant Players card draws. Card draws occasionally result from a few other sources, such as Ramirez’s Stunt and Mouse’s Talent, but Advantages are the main source of cards.

When you gain Player card draws, do your best to spread them out, so that players get them equally. This ensures that everyone can actually use their cards, without forcing other players to spend Fate passing their turn.

Corollary #1: Start Player card draws with the starting player. For maximum efficiency, give the first card draw to the first player, the second card draw to the second player, etc. These should be the first players to run out of cards, so giving them card draws preferentially minimizes the amount of passing that will be required.

Corollary #2: Even out Player card draws after the fact. If you didn’t spread out your card draws initially, try and do so later…but be aware that there aren’t a lot of options for doing so. Mouse’s Talent is the best, because he can choose different people to discard and draw a card. This helps a lot if player hand sizes have gotten uneven for any reason.

Corollary #3: Ignore all these rules if someone has a bad hand. If someone has a bad hand, then that probably means they’ve got great Player cards in their draw pile. Especially if you’re playing with fewer players (meaning there are fewer cards left in the draw piles), give those players preferential draws because of the increased odds of drawing a good card.

Dump Excess Overcome & Take Advantage Cards

In an average game of DFCO, you’ll have more Overcome and Take Advantage cards than you need in order to remove Obstacles and Advantages (and, conversely you’ll have fewer Attacks and Investigates than you need to remove Foes and Cases). Do your best to keep track of how many Overcomes and Take Advantages your team has (within the rules for “game discussion,” which forbids the naming of specific numbers), and use the excess as Fate fodder. It’s helpful to do this early on, before you start spending cards you might actually need. When you’ve removed all the Obstacles and Advantages from the board that you plan to, then definitely burn through the rest of your Overcome and Take Advantage cards to generate Fate, in preference to anything else.


Missed some of the other articles in the series, or looking for advice on a particular gameplay element? Go here for the full list of articles and Bob’s top ten favorite romance novels. (We’re kidding about that last one. It’s probably for the best.)

Stay tuned to this space for the next section on Attacking Foes & Cases, which will go live on Wednesday, July 26!

The DFCO Strategy Guide Section IV: Playing Player Cards

Jul 19 2017

We’re going to be honest here—the Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game is delightfully difficult. Just like Harry Dresden’s default setting in the novels, the game is designed to be a nail-biter all the way until the end, where winning and losing is often decided by a throw of the dice. The game includes three difficulty levels, and we strongly suggest that you start on the Apprentice setting while you’re learning how to play. But what if you’ve done that and are still netting far more losses than wins? Shannon Appelcline of Designers & Dragons and Mechanics & Meeples is here to give you some advice, clarify some rules, and tell you what you need to succeed in this epic 14-part series!

So, without further ado, we present…

 

The Mechanics & Meeples DFCO Strategy Guide, Section IV: Playing Player Cards

by Shannon Appelcline
Game Historian of Designers & Dragons
Board Game Analyst of Mechanics & Meeples

Now you’re ready to play your Player cards, which is the core of DFCO gameplay.

Don’t Waste Your Range

Every Player card has a cost that’s based on a combination of its strength and Range. For example, Harry’s “It’s Not My Fault” is a Range 1 Overcome that costs 1 Fate and his “Blue Beetle” is a Range 3+2dF Overcome that costs 3 Fate. If you don’t need the extra Range, don’t use the card, because you’ll just be wasting Fate.

 

Corollary #1: It’s not a waste if you really need the card. Obviously, if you need a Player card of a certain type, and your group’s supplies are limited, then you might want to use that excessive Range anyways. But, it’s inefficient. Once again, wasting a couple of Fate a couple of times is just like losing a turn. So be aware of the extra cost you’re paying, and do so judiciously.

Don’t Waste Your Other Effects

A few Player cards have extra effects when played. For example, Michael’s “Fist of God” removes an Obstacle but also adds Clues and Hits to adjacent Cases and Foes, while Sanya’s “Esperacchius” hits a Foe but also overcomes an adjacent Obstacle or takes an adjacent Advantage. Try not to waste these effects either, because their value is part of the card’s cost too.

Corollary #1: Let Harry unleash your potential. Many of these bonus Player card powers depend on adjacency. This is a great opportunity for Harry to step in with his Talent. By moving around Advantages and Obstacles he can usually create the adjacency that you’re hoping for—whether you need adjacent Advantages and Obstacles or Cases and Foes.

Consider Your Card Costs

 

The advice about not wasting your Range or your other effects is part of a more general rule: you want to consider the cost of every card you’re playing. If you can generate at least one Hit/Clue for every Fate that you spend, or if you can remove an Advantage or Obstacle at a cost of 1 Fate, then you’re doing great. You shouldn’t hesitate to play a card if it has that amount of impact.

However, if you’re getting a less efficient ratio for Attacks and Investigations or paying more Fate for Take Advantage and Overcome cards, then you need to ask why. The additional cost is certainly due to some additional ability of the card, such as increased Range or a special effect. Assess what it is and see if it’s worth the cost.

Corollary #1: Use overpriced cards to generate Fate. If the extra Range or bonus abilities of a Player card aren’t helpful in your current game, then you should set the card aside to generate Fate. You should also tell the rest of the team that you’re a great candidate for generating Fate, because you have a card to burn. (Not literally; don’t give Harry any ideas!)

Don’t Waste Your Book Interactions

 

Some Book cards also have beneficial effects. They’re marked with outbound interaction arrows, and they usually put Clues on Cases or Hits on Foes. For example, “Marcone’s Goons” adds Hits to “Is Marcone Involved?” while “Victor is Missing” adds Clues to “Who is the Shadowman?” Try not to waste these effects either. You’re not exactly paying for these Clues and Hits, but if you waste them, you’ll impact your efficiency, which is the prime factor as to whether you succeed or fail in completing a Book.

Corollary #1: Complete interactions in order. The easiest way to ensure that you don’t waste Book card interactions is to complete them in order: do the “A>“ before the “>A.” That way you won’t generate Hits or Clues for a Book card that’s already been removed from the board.

Corollary #2: Prioritize the Cases and Foes with inbound interactions. Once you’ve generated tokens on a Case or Foe through an interaction, you should prioritize completing that Case or Foe, otherwise you wasted those tokens just as badly as if you removed the cards in the wrong order. This is a specific case of the “Don’t Throw Away Your Shot” rule for “Attacking Foes & Cases.”


Missed some of the other articles in the series, or looking for advice on a particular gameplay element? Go here for the full list of articles and Bob’s top ten favorite romance novels. (We’re kidding about that last one. It’s probably for the best.)

Stay tuned to this space for the next section on Removing Book Cards, which will go live on Monday, July 24!

The DFCO Strategy Guide Section III: Managing Your Actions

Jul 17 2017

We’re going to be honest here—the Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game is delightfully difficult. Just like Harry Dresden’s default setting in the novels, the game is designed to be a nail-biter all the way until the end, where winning and losing is often decided by a throw of the dice. The game includes three difficulty levels, and we strongly suggest that you start on the Apprentice setting while you’re learning how to play. But what if you’ve done that and are still netting far more losses than wins? Shannon Appelcline of Designers & Dragons and Mechanics & Meeples is here to give you some advice, clarify some rules, and tell you what you need to succeed in this epic 14-part series!

So, without further ado, we present…


The Mechanics & Meeples DFCO Strategy Guide, Section III: Managing Your Actions

by Shannon Appelcline
Game Historian of Designers & Dragons
Board Game Analyst of Mechanics & Meeples

Now you’re ready to play! Though The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game is primarily about playing cards, you also have to think about managing three other things: Fate, Talents, and Stunts.

III-A. Managing Fate

Fate is one of the core resources of DFCO and managing it is at the heart of the game.

Keep the Fate Pool Healthy

In general, your team should keep points in the Fate pool at all times. Try to maintain a minimum of five points. This ensures that a player can usually play his best card on his turn. If you must drop below that, try to keep two or three points in the pool, so that the next player can play something. Definitely don’t drop down to zero.

However, don’t think that a player must play his high-value Player card, just because he has the Fate to do so. The goal here is to maintain choice. By keeping the Fate pool half full most of the time, you ensure that each player can make a choice that maximizes the efficiency of the game, so that you never need to discard a card that could have been better used.

Corollary #1: Empty the pool if it’s part of a plan. There’s nothing wrong with dropping the Fate pool all the way down to zero if it’s part of a plan. If you know when the pool is going to empty out, and if the next player says that he’s OK with discarding a card to keep things moving, then you’re fine. But you have to plan it out, not empty the pool and then hope things will work out.

Generate Fate When You Want to Use a Talent

Usually, a player will generate Fate because the team needs Fate. Then you’ll get to use a Talent as a nice bonus. However, sometimes the opposite will occur: you will want to use a Talent, and so you’ll generate Fate as a nice bonus.

Make sure that both of these possibilities are part of your tactical decisions. In other words, act like you have four active choices on your turn, not three: you can generate Fate (and use your Talent), you can use a Talent (and generate some Fate), you can use a Stunt, or you can play a Player card.

Vary Who Makes Fate

Make sure that everyone at the table makes Fate part of the time. In large part, this is about good sportsmanship and having fun. Even if in some circumstances it might be slightly less efficient to have someone else generate Fate, go with the lesser level of efficiency. However, in general this is also the best strategy: everyone has unique abilities, and if your team cuts some of those out, you’re making the game harder.

Never Take the Chance of Using Too Much Fate

Never, ever, ever, under any circumstances play a card with a variable Fate cost that could require more Fate than is in the pool. If you roll high, this will bring the game to a premature end and it will do it in a very inefficient way, because you’ll lose the Fate and the card effect. There is pretty much no circumstance were it wouldn’t be better to discard the card for Fate, and then hope to win in the Showdown.

III-B. Managing Talents

Talents are activated whenever you make Fate, so the two game elements are tightly intertwined.

Always Use Your Talent

Any Fate-making turn has two elements: making the Fate and using your Talent. If you can’t use your Talent, then you’ve lost part of the efficiency of your turn, and this is quite easy to do. If there are no Advantages or Obstacles left on the board, then Harry can’t use “Wizard, P.I.”; if there are no Cases with Clues, then Ramirez can’t use “It Hurts To Be This Good!”; and if there are no Foes with Hits, then Waldo can’t use “Forensic Pathologist.” Similarly, the Talents that add tokens to specific Cases and Foes might be blocked by certain Obstacles.

If you have other options, don’t generate Fate on turns when your Talent would be useless. Though Talents aren’t as powerful as Player card plays, if you add together two or three missed Talent uses, then you’ve again lost the equivalent of a turn.

Corollary #1: Don’t use Talents wastefully. It’s very easy to make inefficient use of the Talents that add Hits to Foes or Clues to Cases because they don’t offer much control over which cards are affected. If you use these Talents to affect Cases (or Foes) that will never be removed, then you’ve wasted them just as much as if you weren’t able to use the Talent at all. Other Talents could similarly be wasted. The best solution to this problem is to make the usage of these Talents efficient by incorporating them into your overall strategic plan. Otherwise, let someone else make the Fate.

Know How Talents Interact with Game Timing

Different Talents work better at different times during the game. For example, Harry is more likely to use his Talent early in the game, while the team is clearing initial Obstacles. Michael and Molly need to make Fate intermittently, as they toggle their Talents and use them. So be thoughtful about how the timing of Talent usage interacts with making Fate; arrange it so characters will be making Fate when their Talents suggest that they should.

III-C. Managing Stunts

Though Stunts are much more powerful than Talents, many of the same rules apply: you want to make sure everyone uses them, and uses them well!

Don’t Waste Your Stunt

Remember that you can only use Stunts when they actually have an effect. You don’t want to get into situations where your Stunts can’t have an effect, because this causes you not only to lose out on a powerful ability, but also to lose a turn of play. This likely puts your character out of sync with the rest of the team and will cost a Fate when your have to pass later in the game.

A number of characters have Stunts that can become unusable if you’re not careful. Your team needs to work together to make sure that doesn’t happen:

  • Harry: Set up opportunities for Foes to have 3-4 Hits left, so that Harry can “Blasting Rod” them.
  • Michael: Use “Amoracchius”early, before all the Foes have Hits.
  • Molly: Use “Talented Holomancer” before the best Stunts get used.
  • Sanya: Use “Helping Hand” before all the Cases have Clues.
  • Thomas: Be aware that legal plays for his randomly drawn card will probably tighten up later in the game.

Use Your Stunt Efficiently

A lot of Stunts are binary: they either work or they don’t. However there are some Stunts that get better based on the board setup, especially Billy & Georgia (who Attack every Foe with Hits), Butters (who Investigates every Case with Clues), and Murphy (who earns Fate based on cards with tokens). Try not to use these Stunts when they produce little effect, but instead when they produce great effects.

Similarly, let Ramirez use “Got Your Back” for someone when they have a great card in their discard and let Mouse do a “Temple Dog Warning Bark” for someone with a Stunt that would be really great to reuse.

Corollary #1: Don’t try to be too efficient. Because Stunts are one use and you know you won’t get them back (except with Mouse’s help), it’s psychologically easy to delay using your Stunt in the effort to over-maximize…and as a result miss your window for optimal play. So don’t overdo it. Try to maximize the effect of your Stunt, but if you think things look pretty good, go ahead and pull the trigger.

Corollary #2: Use your Stunt when your other options are bad. Sometimes you want to use your Stunt because your only other option is to waste a Fate by passing, make inefficient use of a good card, or empty the Fate pool at a bad time. Part of the value of Stunts is that they take up your turn and cost no Fate to play.


Missed some of the other articles in the series, or looking for advice on a particular gameplay element? Go here for the full list of articles and Bob’s top ten favorite romance novels. (We’re kidding about that last one. It’s probably for the best.)

Stay tuned to this space for the next section on Playing Player Cards, which will go live on Wednesday, July 19!

The DFCO Strategy Guide Section II: Planning Your Actions

Jul 12 2017

We’re going to be honest here—the Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game is delightfully difficult. Just like Harry Dresden’s default setting in the novels, the game is designed to be a nail-biter all the way until the end, where winning and losing is often decided by a throw of the dice. The game includes three difficulty levels, and we strongly suggest that you start on the Apprentice setting while you’re learning how to play. But what if you’ve done that and are still netting far more losses than wins? Shannon Appelcline of Designers & Dragons and Mechanics & Meeples is here to give you some advice, clarify some rules, and tell you what you need to succeed in this epic 14-part series!

So, without further ado, we present…


The Mechanics & Meeples DFCO Strategy Guide, Section II: Planning Your Actions

by Shannon Appelcline
Game Historian of Designers & Dragons
Board Game Analyst of Mechanics & Meeples

One of the interesting aspects of DFCO is that you get to see all of your team’s challenges laid out at the very start of the game. This is pretty rare among cooperative games and gives you an opportunity to plan as a team in advance.

Examine the Playing Field

The first thing your team should do in any game of DFCO is examine all the Book cards. Read all of the Obstacles, so that you know what you’re facing. Look at all the letters on the Book cards, which reveal their interactions. Finally, consider how the Book cards’ placement in the two rows will affect your ability to manipulate them. This solid understanding of what all of the Book cards do and how they’re positioned is the crucial basis for winning at any game of DFCO.

Corollary #1: Be aware of any implicit effects of Book card limitations. Usually this means that you should know the Obstacles that are most likely to cause you problems. However, you should also be aware of Book cards that might have special relationships to certain characters and limitations created by the position of invulnerable Book cards.

Corollary #2: Be aware of any implicit value in Book card benefits. Obviously, you should know what Advantages you might be able to take, but you should also look carefully at outbound interaction arrows and see how resolving those cards might make the rest of the Book cards easier to deal with. Often, card benefits create an optimal order in which to remove the Book cards.

Assess Your Resources

Having assessed the Book cards, the team should now examine its Player cards. Remember the “Normal Game Discussion Rules”: the team can “discuss the types of cards in their hands and describe their effects in a general way, as long as they do not state any specific numbers or card names.” This is a great time to figure out who will be able to Take Advantages and Overcome Obstacles and also who will be the most helpful in fighting Foes and solving Cases.

Corollary #1: Figure out who got bad draws. As discussed in “The Three Resources,” you need to know if you got a bad draw of Player cards. This is the best time to figure that out. The average Player card in DFCO has a value of 3 Fate, so if your average is lower than that, you’re off to a bad start. Fortunately, this lets your team identify you as a strong target for card draws from Advantages or from character abilities. At the same time, you should also see if you’re low in cards of any type, as this is another critical issue when forming strategies.

Corollary #2: Talk about Stunts and Talents too. This is a good time to remind everyone on the team about your Stunt and your Talent, so that all players can move forward with a good idea of the total set of resources that your team has.

Plan Your Initial Targets

Once you know what cards everyone has, your team can plan how they’re going to attack the starting game board. You should determine which Book cards you’re going to initially remove, who will do so, and who will tread water until you clean up the initial board. This plan will typically center on getting rid of Obstacles that might be harming your efficiency. A good initial plan will get you to the point where you’re ready to move into a simpler assault on Cases and Foes.

Corollary #1: Plan your first player. Harry Dresden gets to decide who goes first; so, when your team is making its initial plan, you should also decide who you want to start the game. It should be a critical element in the card plays, Fate generation, and Talent usage that you map out.

Corrilary #2: Plan for your weaker players. Additionally, in most games there are a few plays that are best made with low cost cards, so try to give those to the players who started with weaker hands.

Plan a Few Plays Ahead

The game gets a little easier when you’ve cleared the first Obstacles, and you can play a little more casually. Still, continue planning a few turns ahead. You may not know exactly what cards people will play, but you should know who feels like they’ve got great cards in hand, who’s going to need lots of Fate, and who’s going to generate Fate for them.

Corollary #1: Transition to planning for the end. Eventually you’ll get near the end of the game. That’s when your team needs to start intensively planning again, so as not to waste your final moves—but this topic will be covered in a later segment, “Planning for the Win.”

Coordinate Your Talents & Stunts

Finally, make sure that you’re doing a good job of coordinating your Stunts and Talents. Many of these will interact with Stunts, Talents, and card plays by other players. Be aware of how the coordination of each player’s Stunts and Talents might benefit the team and how you might accidentally limit the use of another player’s special moves.


Missed some of the other articles in the series, or looking for advice on a particular gameplay element? Go here for the full list of articles and Bob’s top ten favorite romance novels. (We’re kidding about that last one. It’s probably for the best.)

Stay tuned to this space for the next section on Managing Your Actions, which will go live on Monday, July 17!

DFCO Strategy Guide Section I: The Three Resources

Jul 10 2017

We’re going to be honest here—the Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game is delightfully difficult. Just like Harry Dresden’s default setting in the novels, the game is designed to be a nail-biter all the way until the end, where winning and losing is often decided by a throw of the dice. The game includes three difficulty levels, and we strongly suggest that you start on the Apprentice setting while you’re learning how to play. But what if you’ve done that and are still netting far more losses than wins? Shannon Appelcline of Designers & Dragons and Mechanics & Meeples is here to give you some advice, clarify some rules, and tell you what you need to succeed in this epic 14-part series!

So, without further ado, we present…


The Mechanics & Meeples DFCO Strategy Guide, Section I: The Three Resources

by Shannon Appelcline
Game Historian of Designers & Dragons
Board Game Analyst of Mechanics & Meeples

The core to successfully winning The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game is to understand the three resources that form the heart of the game.

Turns Are the First Most Valuable Resource

In any game of DFCO, your team of players has a limited number of turns: usually a bit more than 24 total. That’s one turn for the players to spend each of their four to seven cards, then one turn to use their Stunts. You might get a few more turns from Advantage-based card draws or from special powers, but that’s it.

In those limited turns your team must remove enough Book cards from the game board to achieve a winning score. If you were trying to defeat all twelve Book cards, then you’d need to remove a Book card every other turn. Given that you’ll be making Fate with half of the Player cards, you would actually need to beat one Book card every action-turn.

If you think that sounds impossible, you’re right, but fortunately your team doesn’t actually need to beat every Book card to win. You just need to take down enough Foes and to solve enough Cases. However you can’t lollygag either. Harry would never lollygag. You’ll barely have enough turns to do what’s necessary—if you’re lucky. So, you have to appreciate the value of every single turn and make the most of each one.

Corollary #1: Never waste a turn. Obviously, you should never waste a turn. If you successfully played a Player card or used a Stunt, that’s great. If you generated Fate, that’s great, especially if you used your Talent too. However, if you took an action, and it didn’t do anything, that’s no good. If you took an action and it didn’t advance you toward victory, that’s no good too. Heck, it’s even bad if you made Fate that your team can’t use!

Corollary #2: Use your turns efficiently. Less obviously, you should never take turns that are inefficient—unless that’s the only option. Don’t play cards that are less efficient because they are being hampered by Obstacles. Don’t waste the benefits of advantageous Book card interactions. Don’t overfill the Fate pool when you discard. Every couple of wasted Fate, Clues, or Hits is the equivalent of a lost turn.

Player Cards Are the Second Most Valuable Resource

You have a limited hand of Player cards. They’re the main timer for the game, but they’re also your resource pool—both determining what actions you can take in the game and how you can power those actions. Without your cards, you are nothing.

The card draw certainly introduces randomness into the game. If you get all of your low-power cards, you’re more likely to lose, and if you get all of your high-power cards, you’re more likely to win. However, even if you’re dealt a truly bad hand, you can sometimes make a go of it. You just need to know your cards—to understand which cards are good and more importantly, how to use them optimally.

Corollary #1: Be aware of your Player deck. It’s worth skimming through your Player deck before you play, so that you know what’s in it. The character dividers help with this overview and are worth keeping out. If you know your deck (or at least can reference it from your divider), you’ll know whether you got a good hand or a bad hand. More importantly, you’ll know what you didn’t draw and what you’re likely to get if a draw effect occurs.

Corollary #2: Never take the chance of wasting your Player cards. Some Player cards have variable Range. You do not want to use them if there’s any chance (no matter how small) that you could roll such a low Range that the card would be entirely wasted. If a bad roll might result in a card being used in a less efficient way, that’s probably OK; that’s the type of uncertainty you have to face in a co-op. However if a card might be unplayable, that’s no good. So don’t play Harry’s “Private Investigator” card (Range: 3+1dF) when all the Cases are at Range 3 or more. There’s one exception to this rule: if you’re in a desperate situation, and you would probably lose otherwise, give it a try, but recognize that this is a desperation play!

Corollary #3: Use your Player cards efficiently. As with everything, you want to use your Player cards efficiently. That means don’t play a card that has a higher Range than you need, that generates more Hits than you need, or that places more Clues than you need—unless it’s absolutely necessary. Those unneeded higher values all cost more Fate, and you’re effectively burning a turn for every couple of Fate you waste.

Fate is the Third Most Valuable Resource

The third key resource in DFCO is Fate, because it’s what allows you to play cards and to take turns. Most of the strategic principles governing Fate management have been discussed in the sections on turns and cards, but Fate is so central to the DFCO game that it will also be covered in a later segment “Managing Your Fate.”

Corollary #1: Never waste your Fate. Don’t spend Fate on turns that you don’t need to take.

Corollary #2: Use your Fate efficiently. Don’t spend Fate on Player cards that are more powerful than necessary.


Missed some of the other articles in the series, or looking for advice on a particular gameplay element? Go here for the full list of articles and Bob’s top ten favorite romance novels. (We’re kidding about that last one. It’s probably for the best.)

Stay tuned to this space for the next section on Planning Your Actions, which will go live on Wednesday, July 12!

The Mechanics & Meeples DFCO Strategy Guide Contents

Jul 10 2017
Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game

by Shannon Appelcline

Game Historian of Designers & Dragons

Board Game Analyst of Mechanics & Meeples

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be posting segments of Shannon Appelcline’s excellent strategy guide for the Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game. Articles will go up in this space on Mondays and Wednesdays, but never fear! If you miss an article, or if you’d like to go back to some bit of exceptional brilliance, we’ll be posting links to all of the articles here as they go live.

Section I: The Three Resources

Section II: Planning Your Actions

Section III: Managing Your Actions

Section IV: Playing Player Cards

Section V-A: Removing Advantages & Obstacles

Section V-B: Attacking Foes & Cases

Section VI: Planning for the Win

Section VII: Ending the Game

Section VIII-A: Playing the Core Characters

Section VIII-B: Playing Expansion #1: Fan Favorites

Section VIII-C: Playing Expansion #2: Helping Hands

Section VIII-D: Playing Expansion #3: Wardens Attack

Section VIII-E: Playing Promo Characters

Section IX: Picking Your Characters

Dresden Files Accelerated Print Errors

Jun 30 2017

Do you have a print copy of Dresden Files Accelerated for your home, store, wizard’s lair, or other assorted location? Do you plan on getting a copy? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, we want to tell you a thing! An important thing, even.

It’s been brought to our attention that about one in five copies has a print defect somewhere around the page 140-160 mark. If you have a print copy and haven’t yet cracked it open because you are too busy saving the world from chlorofiends (and thank you, if that’s the case), please check it out. If you find ripped pages–the most commonly reported error, although we’ve had a few others pop up–here’s what to do:

Email us at feedback@evilhat.com. Include one picture of the defect and your mailing address. We will send you a replacement copy.

Simple.

If you’re planning on ordering a copy and haven’t gotten it yet, this problem likely won’t apply to you, although we still encourage you to check once you have the book in hand. But the fine folks at Alliance Distribution have been going through each copy one-by-one to make sure that any defective copies that aren’t already out in the wild won’t make it there. It’s painstaking work, and Kari and her crew have done a terrific job getting through them quickly.

Print defects do happen, although not usually to this extent. Of course we are working with our printer to fix the problem, but regardless of all of that, we want to make sure to say it loud and publicly–if you ever get a product from us with a print error, drop us a note. We will fix it, because that’s what you do when you take pride in your products and your customers. And we definitely do both.

Karthun

Jun 30 2017

karthun_cover_mockup_ksKarthun was once a land of peace and prosperity. Then the release of the Worldfire and the breaking of the planes ushered in the Age of Conflict. Now, rulers wage war against the legions of the Three Demon Kings, ravenous undead horrors…and each other. Karthun needs heroes to stand against the darkness, but to be a hero in Karthun is to be a legend, for even the gods can perish here. All that awaits the fallen is the cold embrace of the Mother of the Dead.

Karthun is an extensive epic fantasy setting for use with your favorite system such as Fate, D&D, or Savage Worlds. You must own a system book of your choice to play. Inside, you’ll find plenty of character ideas, locations, and NPCs to send your characters off on adventures galore. This book includes:

  • Plenty of international strife and potential controversy to fuel a political intrigue plot, an extensive spy network designed to support campaign espionage, and warring nations to build epic battle campaigns
  • Smaller locations and story seeds to support one-shots or shorter campaigns
  • A sample bestiary, including new creatures like the Worldfire Hound and the Spinesnatcher, for your adventurers to defeat
  • A variety of potential player character races and classes, including a new race, the Illyn
  • Karthun technologies to bring a new twist to the standard fantasy campaign
  • An adventure template to help you build your campaigns, as well as a starter adventure: the Black Cabinet

Karthun needs heroes. Will you heed the call?

BOOK INFORMATION
Type of Game: Roleplaying Game Setting
Languages Available: English
MSRP: $40
Product Number: EHP0033
ISBN: 978-1-61317-134-9
Length: 272 Pages
Format: Hardcover full color and Digital formats.
Game Designers: Brian Patterson and Tracy Barnett
Release date: July 2017

Preorder Updates

Jun 22 2017

If you’ve preordered one of our new Dresden games, or if you’re an international Blades purchaser, you may be wondering what the bleep is going on with your order. The TL;DR is simple—they are unacceptably late, and we are working overtime to fix it. Here’s a peek behind the scenes at what happened and why.

Over the past few months, we’ve had to make a few adjustments to our intended release schedule. That’s something we’re used to—projects get delayed for a whole variety of reasons from bottlenecks during development to delays at the printers. We put a lot of effort into project management to minimize these, and we felt good about our ability to adjust with the changes. But still, changes they were.

The end result was that we dumped a whole lot of work on our fulfillment folks at one time. Over the past few months, they’ve shipped games for us steadily, from Blades to DFCO to DFA. Some were Kickstarter rewards, others were preorders, and still others were regular old orders from our webstore. We knew this was a lot of volume, so we attempted to stay on top of it. For example, we sent over the list of preorders for our June 14th releases (all Dresden, all the time) on June 5th, a bit earlier than we usually would.

We would have stayed atop this better except that we didn’t know it was a problem at first. In fulfillment operations, tracking usually comes late, since the shipper usually puts the focus on getting the packages out the door to get those games out as quickly as possible and then follows up with shipping info. So we thought nothing of the fact that we didn’t have tracking data until it became even later than usual. It turned out that our fulfillment contact who gets us that information was sick, which is human and normal and a bummer that has happened to all of us.

When the tracking info finally came, we rushed it out, because we wanted you to have it as badly as you wanted it! But it turns out that a good deal of the information was incorrect, and some people still haven’t gotten their games. We are working directly with the fulfiller to fix this, because quite honestly, you deserve better. We pride ourselves on doing better. So our goal right now is to fix this and get everyone their games as soon as possible. We’re in touch with the fulfiller multiple times a day to make sure that process happens. And then we’ll be moving into the make-sure-this-never-happens-again mode.

We’re already talking to the fulfiller about things we need to see moving forward, such as a backup for essential staff in case they get the flu or whathaveyou. They are eager to work with us on this. And we’re talking internally about how to better structure our schedule to insure that printing and delivery get the same kind of leeway that we already give production. Our planning contributed to this problem, and we won’t make the same mistake again. We intend to learn from this and come out the other side with better planning, better communication, and a better understanding of how to deal with such an increased volume of releases.

We also feel that you deserve to know what’s going on. We hope you expect more from us, and we want you to know how seriously we take this problem. We are working overtime and will continue to do so until this is resolved, and then we will take the steps necessary to make sure this doesn’t happen again. In the meantime, we will keep you updated on our progress via our social media. We’re sorry this happened. We intend to make it right.