fishlivejournal (fishlivejournal) wrote,

Dresdeen Files co-op card game: a tactical review

deamondea and ethanthescribe hosted a games night for Don and I with this game last week, and I've since got to read the rules!
Each player controls a character from the series, and starts with 6 cards, a Talent and a Stunt. You can burn a card to power up your talent and the communal fate pool; use a card (powered from the fate pool), or use your Stunt. Since cards are not normally replaced and the Stunt is a one-shot, everyone will normally have 7 turns. Whoever plays Harry Dresden decides who should go first...
...and the smart move is to get Karrin Murphy to go first. Alone of the characters, she has a card that allows her to draw another card, giving her a possible 8th turn.

The starting size of the Fate pool depends on your difficulty level, but sooner or later you'll need to refill it. The more expensive a card is to play, the more Fate it provides when burned, so presumably at harder levels that will be a major issue. At any level though, the usefulness of your Talent determines whether you should be filling up the Fate pool. Best to worst talents are: Murphy, the Werewolves, Susan Rodriguez , Harry Dresden, and finally Michael Carpenter. Murphy and Susan provide 'clues', while the wolves do damage: all good. Harry's ability to move to move enemy cards around can be very useful - or useless. Michael's ability is to increase the range of his cards: if he can't hit a card, he's better off leaving it to the other PCs and focusing on closer targets.

The target are a set of 12 cards laid out in 2 rows, giving a 'range' of 1-6, which determines whether the players' cards can hit them. Michael's cards are limited to the 1-2 range, Harry has two card that can sweep straight down the board, otherwise the cards range from 1 to 4. The goal is to solve cases by adding clues and to kill enemies with wounds; additionally there are obstacles to overcome and advantages to exploit.

The simplest strategy is to simply grind your way across the board, but this wastes Murphy's Stunt. She can use the Stunt to add Fate equal to the number of wounded enemies plus partly solved cases; note that her Talent and that of the wolves makes hitting cards at the far end of the board easier, as does Michael's Stunt - she can hope to gain from 5-8 Fate out of this, two to four times as good as burning a card. This alone can tip the balance of the game.
Another consideration is that at game end there is a 'showdown', where you can spend any remaining Fate to finish off enemies and cases; spending Fate here can be more productive than using it to power cards! In showdown it will mostly be a 1:1 ratio; if the Fate cost of a card is higher than the Clue/wound value of the card, burning it for fate will be wiser.

Obstacles - can occasionally be useful. One that turns up in multiple 'books' modifies the dice, making them more likely to reduce numbers: painful when rolling for damage or clues, but useful for determining fate costs. Also the removal of Obstacles does not affect whether or not you win the game, so spending a card to remove one may be less useful than burning the card for Fate. Some Obstacles can be neutralised without removing them; frex the Hostages card can be pushed to the end of the board by Harry's Talent.


The game includes optional characters with their own unique Talents/Stunts - you can play Mouse! Squee! And other characters...but Mouse!

ahem. Anyway, yes, Talents and Stunts: but sadly no rules or even suggestions on how to provide them with the decks they need. The characters *do* come with the numbers of each type of card they need, and stars to indicate the Fate costs of those cards; but nothing on the cards themselves. Presumably these can be built from the PCs not in play, thus Mouse would be based on the werewolves' deck. Also presumably other PCs could offer cards, not just out of charity but also to fine tune their decks; to take an in book example, Harry's player might give Butters the card for Bob.

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