Jon Snow
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GAME SEVEN: SIX CHARACTERS IN SEARCH OF A SORCERER, SOLITAIRE
By Chas

This was a dry run solitaire (but still lots of fun) for a live game in a week that will hopefully have 5-6 live players, and I've only had up to 3 active characters/players so far. It would also be a chance to check out any FAQ still needed to play with these many. Since two Main Quests are shown at a time, it seemed to make sense to split the Heroes into two groups, each “led” by the Hero whose quest it was for initial activation. One person on each team would drop off to pick up shop/crate items. Since all Minions were Hard, the teams would need to stay close together to win fights with them.

Act I: With only three dice each the characters were relatively weak, and would have to rely regularly on Fate Dice. I always take the extra die when leveling up, which meant that I wanted to get everybody up to Level 3 (first extra die possibility)--the second die at Level 5 probably wouldn't happen, or at least not until Act II.

Using Margo's ability to move the Threat counter back one space ended up giving me another game turn. The the Threat token was now poised on the very last space before the end of Act I, and four of the Heroes were up to Level 2 and two to Level 3 (having gained their 4th action die). With four Main Campaigns finished (my highest Act I total so far), and many minions nearby in the streets, my priorities for this probably last Act I turn—the Audacity Track counter was still 2 away from the next Chi Bonus Space and five from ending the Act)--became:

1. Rest for Heroes almost out of Health
2. Do a Side Quest nearby.
3. Defeat Minions to Level up the 3 characters almost at the next level with very high Chi.
4. Use the relevant unused Special Abilities which will then reset for Act II.

On that last turn two of the characters leveled up, leaving us with 4 Characters at Level 3 and two at Level 2. “We” explored two nearby Sides Quests and did the one which gave us an Audacity space advance, but there was no way to get the second we'd need for a Chi bonus. I picked up the last two shop/crate item types I'd never used; a Lucky Coin and two Throwing the Bones. Immediately using TTB did no good however, since the last Big Trouble card was a good one, but would no go into effect, since the lowest BT advance s the Threat marker one space—so getting them at the end of Act I is pointless. We took two character deaths although we killed lots of minions for Chi. We had played 8 game rounds We also used two more Special Abilities to good purpose. Four characters had Hell Cards. The party held 9 Shop/Crate items, having used up 3 others.

Act II: I've never seen anything like this before! 19 Bosses and Minions are being placed! And the Heroes need to get 5 Keys. It seems like while I assumed the Audacity Track side of setup cards was easier due to Hero achievement in Act I, it appears that it is actually harder (for game balance?). INDEED!

The Wild Man does not appear. All of the other Boss Boards are set to 4 Level Strength (“Director's Cut” for non Lo Pan Bosses).

On the other hand, since a card said to place the Threat Token one space to the right, and normally for 6 players it would be placed on space #9, I'm placing it to the right of that in a hypothetical space #10—so we'll have that many turns to accomplish a victory; actually 11 using Margo's Special Ability to move the Treat token back a space.

Egg, Eddie, and Margo start down on Level I. Two types of counters there—Booby Traps and Sewer Monsters—look like the easiest way to get two Keys, since they require low numbers for defense checks—but generate no Chi. Jack, There are also Minions here. Wang, and Gracie start up on Level 3. Killing Minions and/or Thunder is the only way to go here Oddly, something to think about is that Wang gets double damage against Spirit Path Warriors, but there are none with him on Level 3—only on Level 1 (and Level Two); so it may be worthwhile in having him go downstairs! The 3 Guardians are also prime targets, because they get double movement and spawns—two on Level 1 and one on Level 2. The relevant Special Abilities of the Heroes will certainly be needed...but I think my Heroes are just strong enough to possible accomplish the win. I've started out by marking the five out of nine Showdown Quest cards whose Key Targets I plan to hit.

Rolling the Black Fate Dice, five of them showed Two Hits, my favorite result! Let's hope its an omen, since I've got no live ally to cheer me on this time, during the most complex Act II I've seen so far...

*

It would take forever to detail this act, so I'll just summarize many of the lesser details, although we'll look at the most significant or interesting actions. Suffice it to say you'll be lucky to play such a full Act II. The Second Act now competed in game time with the first act, with many intricate tactics being used.

Act II Turn 1: Despite getting some bad rolls that even a Fate =2 couldn't help, bu the end of the turn the Heroes had two keys and parts of three more . Jack went down to help out on Level I, Wang died but leveled up to 4, the ighest of any Hero so far, but then got jumped by Thunder and 3 Hatchet Men! The Hatched Men all missed him, but he felt Thunder's hit for sure.

Act II Turn 2: Wang went down to Level I to defeat a Spirit Warrior! But Gracie, plagued by the Hell of Insanity and unable to use Mind Die, had three of her four dice canceled by it, and could only limp down to Level I. I'd actually like to get her killed to trade up to a probably better Hell Card! Egg, who had started out concentrating on Booby Traps and Sewer Monsters, took out another Spirit Warrior with a ranged attack. Margo turned the Threat counter back one space, and went for a Guardian, losing health to go through two Lords of Death, but just missed him. Eddie drank and Egg's Remedy from the same space, steadied his Magnum pistol, then took out the Beholder, I mean Guardian, with it—which is more than Jack was able to do in the movie, but then Eddie was actually aiming, as you can see by his miniature! The Heroes now had the Five Keys they needed to enter Level 2 (the “Arena”). And thanks to Margo, still had nine turns left to win. This game requires a steady nerve despite setbacks, and above all, TEAMWORK!

The Heroes had taken a lot of Evasion Damage. When racing against time on a specific mission, I often find that 'discretion is the better part of valor,' so that seems to be my own play style in Big Trouble so far in general, although I certainly risk decent attacks often.

Act II Turn 3: Assault On Lo Pan! But given his powerful Level 2 attack, should some of the Heroes go up to Level 3 instead? Its a tough choice, as is deciding who is to go first. I'm forcing myself to keep to a turn order based on how I happened to set up the Hero Cards next to each other. But one thing I've learned is that with lots of Big Trouble players, you should consider how you want them seated around the table before the game starts, since things proceed in a clockwise order, no matter who starts off!

Wang Chi, starting out, went up to Level 2 and using his special to take an extra turn, hit Lo Pan twice, half killing him! Game Gracie, with only two dice, also went up to Level II and took out the only Guardian there. Then she died, replacing her terrible Hell Card with one not quite as bad: Hell of the Unreasonable: When you do combat, always trigger Strikeback.

Jack joined Gracie on Level 2 at the left (green) elevator. and made an attack—if he hit, his “Its All In The Reflexes” Special Ability would make it two, and finish Ghost Lo Pan! But he missed, even using a black Fate die. Margo joined Wang at the right (Red) elevator, but also missed her attack. Egg joined Jack and Gracie and put the third hit on Old Dave! Peasant Magic, Indeed! Finally Eddie appeared next to Wang and Margo, and put the final hit on Lo Pan, exiling him to a fleshy existence on Level 3- 14. But he died on a bad result on the Fate die he'd used (many had been used but few bad effects taken so far). Then he followed up on the Green Elevator to where he had Lo Pan in his sights, although now out of dice.

Egg died from a Hell card, and now four of the six Heroes still had a Hell Card. Many powerful Minions moved and attacked on Level 2 Lightening got to use his Meltdown (-1 Health) on several Heroes. Jack took some hits, and Wang actually died. Upstairs on Level 3, 3 Hatchet Men and Thunder advanced on Eddie, while Lo Pan fired at him,.doing 4 of his 5 damage. Most of the Heroes are not strong on defense without upgrades, which in most cases they did not have yet in this game. At the end of the turn, the Threat marker was all the way down to Space #3! You can't really laugh off 'death' in this game, because it keeps moving the Threat Marker each time!

Act II Turn 4: Still the only Hero on Level 3, Eddie took a fun turn. First He blasted three Hatchet Men away with Chinese Fireworks! Missing his ranged shot at Lo Pan and taking Strikeback Damage, he moved away from Thunder in his space an closed on Lo Pan, using his final die to take an Egg's Remedy from his 'Stash' and drinking it to regain his Health. Hopefully he could draw Lo Pans fire in this way from the other Heroes as they came upstairs this turn!. Eddie is sooo coool!!!

Wang took three Evasion damage down on Level 2, and then another while racing past Thunder, as he'd lost his ranged attack to a Hell Card. But the Heroes were weakening, and as the Mighty Wang closed in with Eddie into Lo Pan's space, he not only missed his only attack, but cost the others Chi due to Bad Fate.

Gracie, after handing off her Egg's Remedy to Jack, moved up to Level 3 and got a hit on Lo Pan! Hooray! Then, forced to take a Strikeback by her Hell Card even though she'd been successful in attacking, she used her last two dice to Rest, being safely away from any enemy figures.

Jack, taking two points of Evasion Damage, joined Gracie on L3-6 , where he drank the Eggs Remedy. Then Burton took his shot. But not wanting to risk dying on the 6th Fate Die—his It's All In The Reflexes Special Ability protects him from Strikeback damage or enemy attack but apparently not a Fate Die Check—he missed his roll. Flesh Lo Pan's Strikeback of 6 is no joke, although it didn't kill him (which would have triggered the Special Ability).

Margo, not wanting to inflict her Hell of Halitosis (-1 Health) on Eddie and Wang, and with only two Health remaining, took a Rest once (4 Health), and then went down to Level 1—with Lightening, a Spirit Path Warrior, and Six Shooter on her space,(she certainly couldn't stay there, or anywhere else on Level 2. (And Thunder was at the Elevator Door on Level 3). But the next turn she would have been attacked there on level 1 by four Lords of Death! So using her Large Buzz to retreat way into the inactive corner at L1-2, she hoped that after a turn of nothing, her extra defense and Lucky Coin would help her survive long enough for her comrades to win the game, without herself losing it for them. She had managed to find the only safe place on the entire Act II board! But in a couple of turns Rain (on L1-14) would catch her. Hopefully the game would be over by then! Being the only character still at Upgrade Level 2 besides Jack, it took a lot of tactics to even find a safe haven!

Egg Shen moved up with Jack and Gracie, taking only one very good shot, but missed, taking dreaded Strikeback Damage!

Now all the Heroes were low on both Health and Chi, except for Gracie's and Eddie's Health. The the Minions and Bosses moved and three Bosses attacked...

Margo had forgotten that Rain has a ranged attack, so although he was one space away from her on L1-1, he attacked. Using both her Press Pass defense and her Lucky Coin, she reduced his five to two hits, only going down from 4 to 2 Health, instead of dying, which would have happened if not for the flip of the Lucky Coin!

Thunder attacked Wang on Lo Pan's space (Eddie was there also). With Wang having only 2 Health Egg put his Special Ability “Do You Believe In Magic” on him, and both Thunder's and Lo Pan;'s attacks were wasted! Good Old Egg!

The Threat Token advanced to Space #2 Two more Hero deaths would end the game even before two more turns could run out!

Act II Turn 5

Strategy Thought: For a moment, I thought I might have found a rules loophole that I could drive the Pork Chop Express through, and guarantee me a win. If my other heroes evacuated Lo Pan's space and Jack went in, then even if Lo Pan had one of his two remaining hits left, Jack could enter the sorcerer's space, trigger his attack on himself as the only Hero there, and get an automatic win with his Special Ability Its All In The Reflexes. But then I realized it wouldn't work, because Thunder was in the same space as Lo Pan, and would attack first and absorb Jack's auto hit. (I let the Evil characters make their best move on their part of the turn). Oh well, rest easy Everything Epic, and Back to the Drawing Board for me! Although that strategy would have worked in other circumstances, as it does in the movie, and has for me in at least one previous game.

Margo retreats back up to Level 3 away from Rain, where she can enter the elevator and not cause any loss to her friends. There are no enemy left there except for Lo Pan and Thunder, engaged across the hall. Egg takes a weak ranged shot against Lo Pan and misses. Egg dies, and the Threat marker moves down to Space #1!

Realizing that the sorcerer's Strikeback could win the game for Evil, Eddie shoots off Chinese Fireworks, and hits! His second and last CF fires off and misses, but I rule that since you get no Chi for CF hits, they cause no Strikeback.

Eddie evaluates his chances. At 6 Health, if he misses and takes Strikeback, the good guys lose the game. But with three Epic and two regular dice, the odds of getting a four and the last hit on the evil sorcerer at point blank range (from the same board space) is good. So he rolls, gets a 7—and the game is won! Now that was Epic! Thus the game ended, before Wang, Gracie, or Jack, let alone Thunder or Lo Pan, got to finish the round.

Analysis As in a number of previous games, it came down to a single last die roll. There seems no need to raise the difficulty level here, but perhaps in games with only one or two characters that might be necessary in the future, based on earlier games reported in this series. Also, in later games the Heroes may get smarter, where the Villains, being NPCs, most likely will not.

The game with 5-6 live players may take longer to play out, but should present no problem--I have asked a few more rules questions/clarification on boardgamegeek that came up during the play of this game, and the answers will make it easier.

The aim of reporting this series of games has been mostly to explore the parameters of the different and interesting aspects of the scaling of Big Trouble. As an extreme example Margo, who could only keep out of the way in the last two turns of this game, won her solitaire game as a much higher level character with three companions in her own single character Game #4.

It is also the case that so far the basic proportion is two wins to one loss--one of which, my first game, I didn't really know how to play. On the other hand, as I quickly review the game reports—which are all much shorter than this one—I see that only one game, the Margo solo was a walkover easy victory, although the single character Wang Game #5, if not adjusted for greater difficulty, might have been. As in many other games, playing solitaire give you greater “command coordination,” but leaves out the ideas that can come from different players.

I'll be playing Big Trouble In Little China some more before even moving on to the Expansion Quest!
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Christopher Batarlis
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West Orange
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Very interesting! Epic
 
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