Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Armageddon Empires Play Guide: Part Three

For part one of this play guide, go here, and for part two, go here.

Turn three begins. I'm still low an Action Points, having lost the initiative roll, so move both of my recon units, and look what I've found:

I've played at least 30 games of Armageddon Empires, but this is something I've never seen, at least so early: the area around my base is absolutely lousy with independent units.

This could be a big problem, a game-ender, but Independent units are often less aggressive than the factions, so maybe it's an opportunity instead--there must be resources worth having if I can capture those hexes.

To do that, though, I need more units (I'm down to five cards in my hand, and two of those are air units), so I use my last action points to draw another card.

In turn four, I use both recon units (discovering another independent base as well as a squatter's camp that gives me 6 additional human resources), then decide to deploy the card I drew on my last turn. It's an MoBV-V Panther, a tank unit with 5-5 (attack-defense) as well as 8 hit points.

I only have 2 AP left, not enough to create an army for the Panther unit to join, but I do have enough AP to deploy Valentine Kusanagi, a hero who has some excellent special abilities. Take a look:

She's a powerful unit, and rare--a very high stealth rating (7), with both the assassin and saboteur skills. Ideally, I'd like to use genetic research to increase her wound points and ability to withstand attacks, but the Independents have forced my hand, so she will be used sooner.

Using hero cards can be a cat and mouse game at times, particularly with researchers like technologists and geneticists. Assassins from other factions can kill your heroes, you see, but while the card stays in your hand, it's not even on the board. So deploying a hero too early, when their specialties can't be used effectively, just exposes them to unnecessary danger. With someone like Kusanagi, though, her saboteur skill makes it very difficult to "save" the card.

Another consideration: if you're holding several air unit cards in your hand, and maybe holding back one or two heroes for future use, your hand is mostly going to be static, which creates its own problems.

Turn five begins and recon discovers some fuel tanks. I create an army for my Panther tank unit and name it "Indie", hoping that it will mop up some of the independent units running around like ants. I also draw one more card and get lucky by acquiring another Imperial Recon unit (stealth-capable).

At the beginning of turn six, I realize I have 12 Human resources, and since I need additional Action Points for some of the strategies I want to use, I use 5 of those resources and add them to my initiative roll pool, giving me 8 dice versus 3 for the other two factions.

Winning initiative gives me 12 AP instead of 8, which will be very helpful during this turn. First off, my Recon West unit discovers an Independent-controlled hex that has 2 Human, 1 Energy, and 1 Research resources per turn. In other words, a highly desirable hex to control.

I create an army ("Kusanagi") for my hero. Normally, a hero's skills are best used as a leader of other units, but the Assassins work better alone. I haven't moved the Panther unit or Kusanagi yet, but they're ready to go when I need them.

I have 3 AP left, and I'd like to soften up the defenses in that resource square, so I decide to call in an air-strike with my F-227 Nightwing (which I've mentioned previously). One attack costs me 3 AP as well as 2 Energy resources. There are three 4/4 units defending the hex, and I only get 1 point of damage, so that was a waste of AP and resources.

Turn five, and I lose the roll and go second. My Recon East unit, which blundered into a minefield and was injured on the previous turn, stumbles across a Machine Empire unit. Normally, it could defeat this 3-3 unit, but it's already low on hit points, so I call in an air strike in an attempt to bail it out, since I don't want to lose a unit this early in the game, even if it's only doing recon. I cause 2 points of damage, so at least my recon unit will have a fighting chance when it goes into combat later in the turn.

Here's what my section of the world looks like now, and you can see it's gotten quite busy already:

I have 5 Independent facilities very close to my base, and you can see that Recon West is observing (in stealth mode) that desirable hex with the renewable resources.

There's also the Machine Empire unit, which I'll be battling now. I'm not going to insert a screenshot of the Combat screen here, because with a one-on-one battle there's not much to discuss. They wind up retreating and survive, but so does my unit.

When turn six starts, though, the Machine Empire goes first and launches an air strike against Recon East. That tells me that the Machine Empire must have a base nearby (in an as-yet unrevealed hex), because air units have limited attack range.

Recon East is well-crippled at this point, so I try to get it back to the base for repair. I'm one hex short, but hopefully it will survive until I can it to the base on the next turn. I deploy an Imperial Grenadiers unit (5-4) into the Indie army, because I'm going to need several units to take that resource hex.

I'm down to 2 AP at this point, so I go ahead and deploy the Imperial Recon unit that I have in my hand. I'll name the army "Recon North" on the next turn.

Turn seven and I lose the initiative roll (a familiar theme), and I'm going third. I get Recon East back to my base, but I need more AP than I have to repair the unit, so it's going to have to wait until the next turn. I create the Recon North army, transfer the Imperial Recon unit into it, stealth the unit, and the turn's over.

As you can see, you face some choices in the early game about accumulating resources versus using those resources to improve your chances of acquiring the turn initiative (with a boost of 4 AP as a reward).

In this case, if I go first on the next turn, I can guarantee that my Recon unit will get to the base, so on turn eight I use 4 resources, add them to the dice pool, and win the first move. I repair Recon East, and Recon West discovers an abandond military base with a special "unit attachment" card I can use to improve the abilities of an infantry unit (the Grenadiers, in this case). It gives the unit an 8 anti-aircraft attack, which may come in very handy.

Recon North, in its first move, discovers an abandoned gas depot and claims 2 units of energy.

I have 4 AP left, and I desperately need a hero General. I draw a card (which takes 3 AP), and hit the jackpot with Ulysses Starke. Take a look at his unit card:

There's lots of good stuff there: a command rating of 8 (he can command eight units in an army without any unit penalties, which is excellent), 4 Fate points (which can be used to re-roll dice during battle), high Charisma (which results in 1 extra Human resource being gathered per turn), Raider rating of 2 (extends supply range for his army 2 hexes beyond the supply range of the nearest base), and his Military Genius means that all units under his command get a +1 to both attack and defense.

In other words, he's a bad-ass, and I immediately deploy him into the "Indie" army, so he now has two units under his command.

That ends turn eight. I have multiple objectives to accomplish (hopefully) in the next few turns:
--gain control of that renewable resource hex and build facilities to gather the resources
--deploy additional units to defend my base in case of attack, because if the base is lost, it's game over.
--deploy my assassin to weaken the facilities of the Independents, making it easier for armed forces to move in.

I'll have the next installment of the play guide up on Friday or Monday.

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