Sunday, April 29, 2007

Death and other funny stories

SO I just had some random thoughts about the last few sessions...

Character death is always better when it is not really your character that is dying. The last fight was a bad one and I expected some folks might did a good job though. The two softest targets were the ones which bit the dust, and they also happened to be the two mutants in the group, so it was sort of inevitable in some ways.

One thing I did want to mention though was the fact that I notice a certain tendency for gamers to want to go after the biggest bad guy(s) right away. In a superhero game this is normally easy to accomplish since the characters can often move quickly to the opponent they choose. However, it is not always a good idea to go after the leader first when he has a horde of agents. Why?

Well, first off it's not very genre. In the comic books they always fight through the mooks. But that's not really the best reason.

Some honcho types like to sit out of the fight, perhaps judging the opposition, perhaps they don't want to get their hands dirty, perhaps they just want to direct instead of fight. Taking the fight to them immediately draws them into the combat...and if it happens they are a good fighter you just made your job harder.

But the best reason is that, at least in Champions, agent-types are often heavy on offense but low on defense. That is, they can often dish out a lot of damage, but usually can't take it. They are easy to hit and go down for good with one or two hits. Boss-types are rarely like that. So for instance:

Lets say you are fighting 10 agents with blasters and a superstrong brick dude. The 10 agents can deal out 9d6 damage per hit, the brick can do say 12d6 or so. Tactically it makes more sense to take out the 10 guys first, because even though they do less damage, they can be easily disposed of. It might take you a Turn or even two to beat down the brick, and in the mean time you are getting blasted by 10 guys, who even if speed 3 will probably lay about 12 hits per Turn.
On the other hand, if you can take out 2 or 3 agents each phase, in no time you have reduced your damage potential to just the one guy punching you.

Champions is one of the most tactically rich games I have ever encountered...but it's hard to really see all your options unless you are familiar with the rules. A lot of players think they are mostly limited to using their main attack every phase and thats about it. I recommend to anyone picking up the Combat Handbook, it will really amaze you what is possible and I think make everyone a better fighter. Believe me, if I played my villains as smart as i could knowing the rules, you'd get beat all the time.

That has some relevance to El Picaro's death, because the strategy of just poking the brick every turn got him killed. What could he have done different? Well, being a fencer his best strategy would have been to hold his action and block the spear thrusts. He was faster, but that doesn't mean he HAS to go first. Plus, fighting defensively with a higher SPD meant that he could take advantage every time Warrior missed or did not have a phase at the same time. El Picaro could ill afford to take even a single hit from Warrior, but Warrior could take many from Picaro. Therefore the best strategy is to use your superior speed to defend and riposte when the opportunity presented itself.

I am willing to lend anyone who wants my Combat Handbook, but I also encourage you to get your own. If you want to borrow mine, just ask me.

The mini-adventure I will run on the 14th will put you one the other side of the will be agent types. Agents fall down you will have to use teamwork and brains if you fight any supers.


Locnar said...

I think one of the difficulties in this last battle was me. To explain: I'm pretty good with Champs tactics, and usually I'd help the less proficient players more, but I had a character with a variable power pool, so a lot of my extra time was spent whipping up powers, time I could normally use helping Andy to not get splatted! :)Just food for thought. I think I do a better job when I'm playing Vanguard.

Delphino said...

I blame Tim also.
No wait, that isn't being supportive... I blame Tim and Jeff.
There, that is supportive.

Seriously, although you might correct Time, I think that I also should have tried to get Andy/El Picado to pull back also, particularly when I was taking the shots on the mooks as I was.

I should have encouraged that type of behaviour first from the team-mate that Myrmidon had the greatest connection with.

I also made a silly mistake at the end by not aborting to dodge when the time came, although it might not have made a large difference to that final shot which took Myrmidon down. I will try not to make such mistakes with Samuel Mason