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Subject: Mage Knight Board Game - Sneak Previews - Week 2 rss

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Paul Grogan
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Week 1 is here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/697673/mage-knight-board...

Day 8: Bolts of Ice


Today we leave the basic action cards alone and move into the advanced action cards. These work exactly the same way, but they are better. Nobody starts with any of these in their deck (unless you want to come up with some house rules to do so, which I've thought of )

At the start of the game, you shuffle the advanced action card deck and deal 3 of them underneath it in a row. This is the Advanced Action cards offer.

Whenever your hero levels up to an even numbered level (2,4,6...) then you will gain one of these action cards of your choice. Take the card, and put it face down on top of your deck. This is done before you replenish your cards at the end of your turn, which means the card you took is available for you next turn.

Move the cards you didnt take down to fill any gaps, and then deal another card off the top of the deck so that there are always 3 showing.

There are other ways to gain these cards, but we will touch on those later in the week. For now, lets have a look at this card. I've chosen a simple one with a small amount of text, but you can see already how it is better from a basic action card.

Played as it is, it gains you a blue crystal. Not mana, but a crystal. nice. But if you power it with Blue mana, you get Ice Ranged Attack 3.

"Hang on a minute" I hear you say, "That is just the same as the basic Swiftness card but using a different colour of mana!".

Well, kinda. However, you will find a number enemies that are resistant to physical attacks. This means that any normal attack cards played on them are at half strength. So, a swiftness card against something with 3 armour and physical resistance would be useless, since the switftness attack would be reduced to 1.5.

Ice Bolt however is Ice Attack. This means it is not affected by Physical resistance, so it does full damage. Plus, its a cool picture.

There is a lot more to talk about with other types of elemental attacks and resistances, but we will cover more later on when we start looking at the enemy tokens.


Day 9: Making Friends and Influencing people


Apologies for the delay today. It wasnt real life that got in the way, it was being up until 3am playing this game

Anyway, we have another relatively simple card to show off today. Intimidate is a multi-use card that can be used in attacks or when influencing. Either way, whatever you are doing, it isnt nice and word spreads through the land that you are someone to avoid.

By now, you should be able to work out what this card does without me going into too much detail, but I will reveal some more information about the reputation track.



In most scenarios, each player starts with a token on the middle of this track. Reputation can go either up or down depending upon your actions and the cards you play. The number on the track shows what modifier you apply to your influence when you are interacting. For exmaple, if you've been a bad boy and you are on the -2 space on the track but you want to recruit a new unit which costs 6 Influence then you are going to need 8 Influence to do that. It just so happens that Intimidate provides 8 Influence, but then you will drop another 2 points on the reputation track afterwards.


Day 10: Singing in the Clouds


There are 28 different advanced action cards. The choice of scenario, variant rules and number of players will decide how many of these cards you see in a game. This particular card seems to come up a lot in our games and is very popular as being able to move around the board is pretty important.

As you can see, the basic effect of the card is ok. 2 move points and a reduction on some terrain. But the powered effect is where is really comes in. Since the cost to move through plains is normally 2, then in most situations, this means you can zoom around parts of the board in that turn for free. The ability to cross lakes can also be very useful, depending upon the layout of the board.

DAY 11: Maximal Effect


This is one scary card - They guy in it looks pretty angry to me. I certainly wouldnt want to bump into him on a Friday night on the way back from the pub.

Anyway, what does it do?

'Throwing away' is the terminology for removing a card from the game. Yes, we all know that a certain other game has a word for this, and it is probable that a lot of people playing this game will start to adopt that word instead. I will however, try to avoid doing that in my descriptions.

So, Maximal effect allows you to really get the most out of a card, but then it is gone. This can be good and bad when used early in the game. Playing Maximal effect along with "March" will get you 6 Move points, but then the March card is no longer in your deck. This might mean you are struggling a bit for move points in future rounds. On the flip side, you have 1 less card in your deck, meaning more chance of you getting the better cards (assuming you have some).

Maximal effect played in the last round of the game is great, since losing a basic card will have no effect on your score. Yes, advanced action cards in your deck at the end of the game are worth bonus points, and yes, you can use advanced actions with Maximal effect.

Look at Intimidate from earlier in the week. Play Maximal effect, spend a red mana and then play Intimidate with it. Attack 14, nice.... -4 Reputation.... whatever....

And yes, Attack 14 will come in handy later on in the game when you come across a High Dragon.


DAY 12: Training


Training is the very first Advanced Action card I took when playing my first full game. I was very excited about it because I would then be able to use it every round to take an even better card. However, I was still new to the game and things didnt work out as I expected.

Like Maximal Effect yesterday, Training allows to to remove a card from your hand out of the game (throw away). However, instead of getting a one off boost, it allows you to take a card from the Advanced Actions offer and if you powered training with green mana, that new card goes in your hand, ready to use right away!

Time to explain about the Advanced Actions offer. I may have done this already (I'm losing track), but I'll cover it here.

All 28 Advanced Action cards are shuffled and placed face down in a pile on the table. However, quite a few of these cards can be a bit too complex for peoples first game, so the tutorial scenario suggests removing a number of them. I have done this when showing the game to non-hardcore gamers (and when I learnt the game myself, but for my regular gaming group I left them all in)

At the start of each game, 3 of these cards are dealt out below the deck. This is the offer. Whenever a card is taken from the offer (like when someone plays the Training card), the remaining cards are shifted down and another one drawn to the top of the offer. The main way that cards are taken from this offer is when players Level Up. At each even-numbered level (2,4,6...), each player gains an Advanced Action from the offer - shifting down and drawing a new one each time.

Each Advanced Action card is worth 1 point towards the end of game scoring and counts toward the achievement "Greatest Knowledge"


One of the best parts about this game is the Walkthrough booklet. This is essential for learning the game and makes it a very enjoyable experience, only explaining the rules you need as you progress through a game. In the walkthrough, the Advanced Actions offer is not created at the start of the game. Otherwise, new players will get distracted by all the shiny new cards and start reading them saying "What are these? How do I get them?" etc.

Instead, the offer is only created at the time you need it (Normally when someone levels up for the first time)


DAY 13: Bolts of Fire


As week 2 draws to a close, we go back to combat. This card is very similar to the Ice Bolt card we saw earlier in the week. It provides Ranged Fire Attack when powered up which works the same way as the Ice Attack in that it is an elemental attack.

Against enemy units with no resistances, or just physical resistance, this attack is a straight 3 points of Fire damage. However, some enemies are resistant to Fire, and if you play this card on one of those, it is 'inefficient' which means the damage it does is halved. That isnt to say it is useless, it is just half strength, so the Fire Bolt against something with Fire Resistance would be reduced from 3 to 1.5, which might still be enough for you.


Ok, so.. I feel guilty as the Fire Bolt card isnt really anything new.. so... here is another card:


We mentioned last week that each Hero has a deck of 16 cards to start with. 15 of those are the same as everyone else, but one card is different. Cold Toughness is one of those cards, there is only one in the game, and it belongs in the basic action card deck of one of the heroes. Even though it is 'better' than a basic action card, it is still a basic action card (not an advanced action)

The reason I am showing this card is to explain how elemental Attacks and Blocks work. Some players I have shown the game have got confused by this bit, whereas I find it easy to understand.

First of all, forget the rules, and think about the theme. If someone is attacking you with a big ball of fire, what is the best defence? A wall of fire? No. A bag of fish and chips? No.

The best defence against a Fire attack is Ice. Someone throws a Fire Bolt at you, and to Block it, you could play the Cold Toughness card because it provides Ice Block 3. Do not think of "Ice Block" as "Blocking Ice", as it doesnt do that. It is a "Block OF Ice" which helps protect you against Fire attacks.

The same is true the other way around. Fire Block is a good defence against Ice Attacks.

That isnt to say the wrong type of block is wasted, it is just inefficient, which means it is halved.


So - lets say we are fighting some monster with Fire Attack 6. If we dont have any Ice Block effects handy, that means we're going to need 12 points of other Block to stop it hurting us. But, if we have Cold Toughness in hand, power it with blue mana, we already have Ice Block 5. Now we just need another 1. We decide to play a "Rage" card (from week 1), which gives us Block 2. Since that is normal block, it is inefficient and halved to 1. Added to the 5 from the Cold Toughness, we have 6 - enough to block the attack from the enemy.

Like other concepts in the game, this might sound a bit confusing at first, play one game and you'll be sorted.


DAY 14: End of the Week!

It is the end of week 2. How time flies. Yesterday I showed a card and felt guilty because it was a bit too similar to an earlier card and thought I'd get hundreds of emails saying "Show us something new already", so I decided to spice things up by only partially explaining elemental attacks and blocks which caused more comments and Q&A than anything else!

So, apologies for not making it clear, thanks for all the questions, and hopefully now everyone understands Fire and Ice a bit more.

Today is also special as after many, many days of pretty solid work, the rulebooks are off to the printers. The good news is that the rulebooks look awesome. The layout / typesetting / graphics is top notch (Some people would say I'm a bit biased since I'm friends with the people doing it, but what the heck). The bad news is that every time we ran it past our proofreaders, they found other things to correct. Every effort has been spent to try and get it correct, but eventually, the deadline arrived and we just had to send what we had. There may still be the odd comma in the wrong place, or a word that should have had a capital letter didnt, etc. But I hope that the rules are actually correct, so anything left is just a minor thing. It's been hard work, but a pleasure and and honour to be involved in something of this scale.

For those interested, the game will come with 2 x 20 page books that are jam-packed full of stuff. One book is a walkthrough. It teaches you 90% of the rules of the game and is perfect (and essential) for learning it. It is literally a walkthrough, allowing you to play and learn as you go.

The second booklet is a combination of the full rules (but without any fluff or examples), and then a whole section on variant rules and scenarios.




So - to celebrate all of this....and to coincide with the fact that I couldnt choose between which 3 cards to show you today....I've gone with all 3!





All of these cards give bonuses to Movement. The basic effect gives Move 2 and the stronger effect gives Move 4. However, the other effects are quite different.

Just have a look at Agility and think of the possibilities and combos with other cards. You have lots of movement cards in hand and some mana to power them. Play them all, get a zillion move points and then completely obliterate the enemy you started the turn next to without actually moving at all. Trust me, I've seen it done.

Ambush is also good. In some situations, better than Agility, since you get Move 2 and +1 attack, whereas Agility gives you just Move 2 but the option to convert Move into Attack.

And Steady Tempo is one of the rare cards which allows you to play it and then play it again later in the round. If you keep powering it with blue mana, you can in fact play it each turn as it goes on top of your deck before you replenish your hand to your hand limit.


Well, thats it folks. No more action cards. We covered basic action cards in the first week, and advanced actions in the second week. We've gone off topic on a few occasions to explain other game concepts.

Next week we start introducing the enemy tokens which represent the things you're going to be fighting against. It's time to put all those rules you've learned so far into practice as you look at the cards in your hand, turn over the hidden enemy token, look at the big numbers and all the symbols on the enemy, look at the cards in your hand again and say "Oh sh......."


End of Week bonus Preview


Map Tile Number 9. This means in the tutorial scenario, this is the 7th Tile in the pile, since you put them out in numeric order and 1&2 start the game already in play.

3 new locations to explain! Keeps, Mage Towers and Dungeons. No points for guessing which is which.

Keeps
These actually come out as early as Tile #3, which will be the first tile revealed once the game actually starts in the tutorial scenario. So, keeps are not that nasty.

The big difference between Keeps and Orcs is this:
Orcs are rampaging. This means they exert and area of control around them and moving near them provokes them into attacking you. When the enemy token is placed on the board, it is face up, so you know what is there and can plan accordingly.

Keeps are Fortified locations. You still draw a token and put it on the map, but it is placed face down. If you move next to the keep and it is Day, the token is revealed. If it is night, it is not revealed.

Remember the Orcs, you attack them by being adjacent to them and Challenging them. Well, not so with the garrison in the keep. You have to actually move onto the space to initiate a combat. This is known as an Assault.

The other difference is that whilst nobody likes the Orcs and you get +1 reputation for killing them, the inhabitants of the keep are actually some of the local population of this land. When you assault it, you get -1 Reputation.

The enemy is fortified - This means you cannot use Ranged attack in the "Ranged & Siege Attacks" phase. So now you know what Siege Attack is for.

And the tokens in keeps are Grey backed, which are generally a bit more dangerous than the Orcs.

So, why attack a keep. Well, whoever defeats the Garrison marks the keep with their token and they are now the owner. Not only is this worth Fame (VP) at the end of the game, but it gives 2 other benefits. You may now interact with the keep (only you, as the owner) and recruit Units which can be recruited in keeps (more on Units next week). The other benefit is that your keeps provide you with supplies if you are in or adjacent to them. This means that your hand limit is increased by 1, so if your normal hand limit is 5 and you have 2 cards still in hand, then normally you would draw 3 at the end of your turn. If you are in your keep, you would draw 4 cards instead to a hand limit of 6.


Mage Towers
These are mostly the same as keeps. To attack them, you have to move onto the space, you lose 1 reputation. The mage tower contains a violet token, which is face down but is revealed if you are next to the tower during the day. This revealing happens mid movement, so you can move next to the tower, see what it is and then carry on moving into the tower space if you want to (and have move points).

The differences are
a) A violet token is more dangerous than a grey one.
b) When you defeat the garrison, you still mark the keep with a token, but this indicates that it was you who did it. From now on, the mage tower is open to all
c) You (and other players) may recruit Units there that can be recruiting in mage towers
d) You may buy spells from the mages (cost 7 Influence and 1 Mana)
e) Whoever defeats the garrison immediately gets 1 Spell (more on Spells later)


Dungeons
What fantasy game would this be without a dungeon or two. Dungeons are dangerous, I would avoid them near the start of the game.

A dungeon is a safe space. What that means is that the space on the map is safe. You may move onto or through this space safely. Going down the dungeon is an action that you may choose to do.

If you do, you fight a brown monster enemy token. These are about the same difficulty as the violet ones but with different abilities and stats. However, the fight is classed as taking place at Night, which means gold mana cannot be used (which is couldnt if it was Night anyway), but also a Dungeon is not big enough for your Units to join you so you are on your own. You cannot use any of your Units in the fight or use them to take damage for you.

But if you win, not only do you get the fame, you get a reward, which is either a Spell or an Artifact (more on both of these later).

You mark the site with a token to show it was you that completed this adventure (points at end of game). However, there are still other monsters down the dungeon. Any player on future turns can go down the dungeon again. They fight a random monster and get fame, but there is no more special reward, and the token of who did it first is not changed.

Yes, this does mean that one player can just sit on a dungeon when they feel they are good enough, keep going down it every turn, killing monsters and getting Fame. One player did this in our last game, but it is far from the best thing to do as later on in the game, there are ways of getting a lot more Fame than defeating a monster each turn.

Thats all folks. Tune in tomorrow where I lose the plot completely and start talking about Star Trek II.
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Peter Folke
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These previews are great.
My only complaint is that they are being published WAY too slowly for my tastes.thumbsup
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Maciej Teległow
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I can not see the card.
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Chris J Davis
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MacTele wrote:
I can not see the card.


Ditto.
 
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Paul Grogan
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Still waiting approval. I normally upload the image first and wait for this to be approved, but was running late this morning.
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Chris J Davis
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PaulGrogan wrote:
Still waiting approval. I normally upload the image first and wait for this to be approved, but was running late this morning.


Easy way is to upload to your private gallery, then link to that.
 
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David Murray
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PaulGrogan wrote:
Plus, its a cool picture.

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Anders Olin
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That level-up "booster" sounds like a very interesting mechanic. arrrh
 
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Kevin Seachrist
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I'm probably getting ahead of myself with the following questions, but my mind thinks in deckbuilder terms when I read about acquiring cards.

How large is a player's actual deck going to be? I see gaining the card to the top of your deck is quite nice for using it right away, though it very likely would find its use generating a blue mana, but it will be a while before the card comes around again to consume that mana unless there are ways to acquire multiples of the same card. Having a couple of these in a deck would work quite nicely.

I guess this card and Paul's subsequent description of card acquisition raised a bit of a caution flag for me. I'm reminded of Ascension, which I find to be the weakest of the deckbuilding games I've played solely because (unless you're playing 2 player) you don't really have much of a chance to design an "engine" so much as immediately grab the best cards that randomly appear and hope you also find some deck thinning early on. It's more about opportunity than strategic choice.

My question about deck size is relevant in that if you generally don't have many cards, the cards you DO have make an appearance frequently and your likelihood of drawing them can influence your plans.

 
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Paul Grogan
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First of all, remember that deckbuilding is a part of this game, it isnt the main thing about it. It is just one of many mechanics in the game which work well.

Plus, you only go through your deck once per round. That is 6 times per game in full length games. You are not constantly reshuffling every time your discard pile runs out.

This game is not about designing an engine for your deck, just slowly improving it over time.

Your deck starts off at 16 basic action cards. In the games I've played (mostly the tutorial scenario, but have played a couple of full games, the players deck at the end of the game was about 20-25 cards, depending upon how much they trained at monasteries, conquered mage towers, explored ancient ruins, etc. etc. This does mean future rounds might have an extra turn in them, but also a players hand size increases as they level up, and you can draw bonus cards for ownership of certain locations, so it works out about the same.

You mentioned about using Ice Bolt to gain a blue crystal but then it might be a while before the Ice Bolt comes round again to consume that mana. Well, the blue crystal you gain could be used for powered any other card / ability that needed blue mana. Or, you could indeed save it until the next round when your Ice Bolt came round again. Management of your mana and crystals is part of the game and knowing when to use them and when to save them.
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Filip Murmak
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Just to make things completely clear: All cards in game (but artifacts, but those will be covered in future previews) are of four different colour. Red, green, blue, white. Of your 16 starting cards, you have 4 of each colour. So, generating a blue crystal can not only help you to power Ice Bolt again, but pretty much any other blue card as well.

You have vast options to evaluate in your turn. Here's one simple example. Ice Bolt comes to your hand. You start to evaluate possibilities for your next turn: Should you use it against that orc standing close to you? Should you rather keep it for next turn, when you inted to attack a Mage Tower? Or would you rather spend it now to gain a blue crystal, because there's no blue mana at the moment in the Source and your Stamina (blue movement card) which you have in your hand might not be enough to get you to that Mage Tower? Should you keep the card and use it to gain crystal next turn? But than, you will draw one less card after your turn. But than, you won't have the Ice Bolt to attack that Tower, right?

I could go on and on, but this is pretty much how the game works. As Paul mentioned, the game isn't just about deckbuilding. In typical deckbuilding game, you build your deck just to build an engine to be able to obtain the winning cards.

Also, the cards covered in these previews so far are just very simple one. There are far far more advanced things which will be covered by Paul in following days/weeks. The combinations and combos some cards can produce when played together are really deadly and can be used in many many ways.
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Ken Takacs
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That's what I find very likeable about the game--it is not strictly a deck-building game, but one that synthesizes many different mechanics, thus offering the player a host of choices each turn.
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Paul Grogan
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Original post updated with day 2 of week 2
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Ken Takacs
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I like the fact the intimidate card comes with negative consequences. Makes choices more meaningful.
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Paul Grogan
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Original post updated with day 10
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Ken Takacs
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Are the basic action cards differentiated from the advanced cards by the small number in the lower right corner?
 
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Paul Grogan
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Thats one way. There are 16 basic action cards, so they are numbered 1-16. Advanced actions are numbered 1-28. But the easier way is looking at the icon in the top right. If it has one, it is a basic card, and the icon indicates which hero. If it is blank, it is an advanced action card.
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Kevin Seachrist
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"Maximal Effect" is pure gold. I love the "power at a high cost" aspect to these cards. Heck, even just using the powered versions of the basic cards could be the product of having to commit to popping a crystal.

Paul, thanks for giving me something to look forward to reading with the morning coffee every day. It's actually going to be a little sad once all the previews have had their full run. Start thinking expansions, pronto!
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Paul Grogan
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Rykaar wrote:
It's actually going to be a little sad once all the previews have had their full run. Start thinking expansions, pronto!


True, but the previews are planned to finish on the morning on October 19th, just before I get in my car and drive to Germany to pick up an actual copy of the game!
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Kevin Seachrist
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Since you mentioned Training is worth an endgame point, is that indicated by the icon in the upper left that looks like a plus sign? I noticed a few other cards had this, but others did not. Some of the icons are a bit more obvious, like the crossed swords or the boot.

Edit: I reread Ice Bolt and saw that all the advanced cards are worth a point. So my question is a bit different: how can you tell which cards are advanced when you're tallying your endgame points. The only thing I can see for that is the absence of the icon in the upper right corner.
 
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Paul Grogan
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The icon in the top left indicates the card is a 'Special' card.

The other cards I have shown have other icons indicating their card type. - i.e Movement, influencing, combat etc.

Training is worth a point at the end of the game because it is an advanced action, and all advanced actions are worth 1 point.
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Kevin Seachrist
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I amended my previous question about a minute after posting it...dude, do you LIVE on BGG? lol! You answered before I edited!
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Paul Grogan
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Rykaar wrote:
I amended my previous question about a minute after posting it...dude, do you LIVE on BGG? lol! You answered before I edited!


I am a very big geek at the moment but it just so happens, I came back from a meeting, saw the thread and replied.
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Filip Murmak
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There's one more rather decent but still significant difference between Basic and Advanced Action cards. The fancy framing around the text is toned to match the colour of card on Basic cards while on Advanced it's not. I had a discussion about that with Vlaada, he insisted the toning is only necessary on basic cards as you get used to the way colours work quickly anyway. And there it was, another way to diverse them.

But in fact, at the end of the game, when you need to sort out cards from your deck for final scoring, using the Hero icon in right corner is by far the simplest way to do that.
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Paul Grogan
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Original post updated with day 13 (and an extra bonus image)
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