Monday, September 03, 2007

Armageddon Empires Play Guide: Part Four

Previous installments:
part one
part two
part three

On to turn nine. As you'll remember from part three, I'm trying to accomplish three things: gain control of the resource hex southwest of my home base, deploy additional units to protect my base, and deploy my assassin/saboteur unit.

I lose the initiative roll (surprise) and go third. Recon units find an old battlefield with 6 Materials resources, which I claim. I deploy Kusanagi (assassin/saboteur) and begin moving her toward the resource hex--I want to weaken any existing facilities before I attack. I have just enough AP left to draw a card--and draw another technologist hero. If I can just draw the proper facilities cards, I can significantly improve my position, because I now have the heroes to research genetics, technology, and tactics.

Turn ten. I lose the roll and go second. I find a supply cache with 6 Materials and 6 Energy resources. I'm now piling up some resources--current number are 5 Human, 15 Material, 15 Energy, and 11 Tech. I'll be able to start using some of those resources to gain extra dice for the initiative roll.

I sent Kusanagi one hex closer to the resource hex, and with my remaining 3 AP I draw a card (the MRA-21 Reaper, an artillery unit with 8 attack but only 2 defense. Definitely a back row unit in combat--it wouldn't last one turn in front).

For turn eleven, I add four dice to my three dice for the initiative roll--and still lose. So those resources were just wasted. I send Kusanagi into the resource hex, only to find out that there are no facilities and no heroes around--just three low-level units defending the hex. Another wasted move.

I deploy the Reaper into the Indie unit, giving me three combat units in that army. I'm not far away from heading for the resource hex, but I need to have a few defensive units left to guard the base. 3 AP left and I draw a card.

Jackpot. I draw the MRC-11 Ozymandias unit (I really love the unit names in this game). It's attack-defense is only 4-2, but that's not why it's so valuable. It functions as a resource collector unit in the hex where it's located, and it can collect up to 3 Materials, 3 Energy, and 3 Tech units per turn (if they're available in the hex).

I waste two more resources in turn twelve trying to gain initiative. Going second, I deploy another Grenadiers unit into the Indie army, giving me four combat units there. Recon turns up nothing, and now I face a decision. I can use air attacks on the resource hex (using my F-227 Nightwing unit), but it costs 3 AP and 2 Energy resources for each attack. A steep price this early in the game, but with no facilities in the hex, it can't be intercepted, so it should be entirely safe. I attack and destroy one of the three units located there, so it turns out to be a bargain.

Turn thirteen. I lose initiative and go second. This time, I only move two recon units (finding nothing), then prepare another air attack into the resource hex. This time, I only do one point of damage, but I'm still grinding down those units.

Saving the AP point of that unused recon unit means that I have 3 AP left, so I can draw one more card, and it's a good one: Vincent Muggle, a hero with the Chief of Staff skill as well as Logistics Genius.

What can he do? Well, take a look:

Most importantly, he increases your maximum hand size by two, so you can have nine cards in your hand instead of seven. He also increases the supply range for all units by two (if he's located at your HQ, which he will be).

The Machine Empire finds my Recon East unit during its turn, attacks, and destroys it.

Turn fourteen, and incredibly, I win the initiative roll. That means I have 12 AP instead of 8, and since I want to deploy Muggle as well as quite a few other actions, they'll come in handy.

The first thing I do is deploy Vincent Muggle to headquarters--now I get the supply range and larger hand size bonuses. Next, I draw a card, because I need one more military unit in my Indie army before I attempt to take the resource hex. Instead I draw another hero, so I draw one more card.

That gets me my favorite unit when playing as the Humans. It's the MeBU-II Vengeance, a mech unit with 10 Attack and 8 Defense. It also has the Critical Damage modifier, so any successful attack inflicts 2X damage.

It's just what I needed, but I can't deploy it until the next turn, because deployment requirements are heavy (8 AP, then 1-7-4-4 in resources). I go ahead and use both of my recon units, then end the turn.

Turn fifteen, and I lose the initiative roll. It takes all 8 of my AP to deploy the MeBU-II Vengeance.

Turn sixteen, and I deploy the Ozymandias unit into the Indie army. I also use both recon units. Kusanagi strikes gold by finding an occupied hex just north of my base with 3 Materials, 2 Energy, and 2 Tech resources per turn. It's also occupied by Independents, and it goes to second on my "to do" list.

Turn seventeen, and I'm going second. I draw a card and it's another Panther unit, which will come in very handy, since I'd like to leave a unit defending the base (bases have their own defenses, but leaving them otherwise undefended is a bad idea).

Turn eighteen, and I need 7 AP to move the Indie army but I lose the initiative roll and only get 6 AP, so they sit. Kusanagi finds a Machine Empire base, which is very useful intel. My other recon unit finds a squatter's camp with 6 Human resources.

An important note: when a recon unit finds some kind of abandoned base, it automatically de-stealths to collect the resources. Remember to re-stealth the unit.

Turn nineteen, and using some of the 6 resources discovered last turn to increase the initiative die pool, I finally win initiative. I move the Indie army, and I'm actually closer to the northern resource hex than the southwestern, so I may attempt to take it over first.

Turn twenty, and I win initiative again (after sacrificing a few resources to get extra dice for the initiative roll.). I move the Indie army north, to a resource hex currently claimed by the Independents, and get ready for battle.

Prior to combat, you'll see an information screen that shows you which armies are in the hex, and you can choose which one you want to attack. If you have multiple armies in a hex, you can prioritize their combat order as well.

Next, you'll arrange the units in your army. Take a look:

This screen confused me at first, so let's quickly review how it works. The top two rows are for enemy units. The second two rows are for your units, and the bottom row is for tactics cards (which we'll discuss later). The rule on unit placement is that (excluding heroes) you must have at least one more unit in the front row than the back row. My two most vulnerable units, by far, have to stay in the back row, so everyone else (including the mech unit, which I'd rather have in back for protection) is going to have to be in front.

When you're done, click on "ready" and combat begins. You'll see a pop-up screen that explains who won initiative for the combat round (based on unit ratings, and I won initiative this time). Here's what the in-combat screen looks like:

To see the capabilities of one of your units, just left click on its card. You can also click on the enemy unit cards for information as well.

We're ready to attack. You can attack with one unit at a time, and since these zombie units are very weak (3 Attack, 1 Defense), I'm going to use the mech unit first and hopefully destroy one enemy unit. I right-click on the MeBU-II Vegeance (the mech) card and get a "combat attack" pop-up option, which I select. The cursor changes to a target and all I need to do is click on one of the enemy units.

One note. A few units, like the MeBU-II have multi-targeting capability. That means you can split your attack (10 dice, in this case) to include two enemy units, but since the zombies are getting a one-die defense bonus for terrain, I'm just going to use all of them.

The attack is successful and I destroy the unit. My mech unit card now has a red check to indicate that it's used its attack for this round of combat.

The zombie unit attacks next and fails. Then I take my Panther unit and attack another Zombie unit. The actual dice roll screen in combat looks like this:

It's a simple setup--you see the attacking and defending units, their remainging hit points, plus the number of dice they roll. Actually, you should probably think of the "dice" more as coins, because each die only has two outcomes--pass or fail.

You'll also see the "Fate" category by some units. If a hero commands the army, then its units have a pool of Fate points (determined by the hero's fate rating) to use during battle. In this case, I have 5 Fate points, which means I can re-roll up to 5 dice during combat (during the entire battle, not each turn). The box to the right of that says "Play Tactic Card Here." I don't have any Tactic cards yet, but they're very important and can often sway the result of a battle. We'll discuss them later, when I have a War College and can research them.

This battle doesn't last long. My Panther and Artillery units wind up taking out the last of the Zombies, and the resource hex is mine.

Now that I have the resource hex, though, I still need to build facilities to collect those renewable resources. Sure I have the Ozymandias in the hex, and it automatically collects resources, but I want that unit moving with its army, so that collection ability is just a convenience until I get the proper facilities built.

I have 2 AP left, so I move two recon units, including Kusanagi, who I'd like to get back to my base to protect my other heroes located there.

Turn twenty, and I lose the initiative roll and go third. I have an Imperial Fire Base card (which allows me to build a base in any hex I control), which would collect 1 of all available resources in a hex, so I deploy it into the resource hex I now control. To collect any more resources in that square, though, I'll need to build collection facilities--one for each resource type that is available in that hex (beyond the one unit my base is collecting). I get Kusanagi back to my main base, use one other recon unit, and I'm out of AP.

After twenty turns, here's what the world looks like (and remember, I can't capture a screenshot of the full world, so this is just the area around my base):

I've definitely got some things going my way now--I control a major resource hex, with another one nearby that should soon be under my control. This will increase my resource base so much that it will easier to use resources to gain dice for the turn initiative as well as deploying some of the more powerful units (which have steep deployment resource requirements). Plus, getting the turn initiative more often means 6 more AP each time, and I'll be able to draw new cards more frequently.

I still need to explain research, so there will be at least one more installment of the play guide.

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