Last weekend, we had a group of 6 stellar human beings get together to play some Factions! It was great to meet new players and go head to head with experienced players too.
I played 5 games (all 1 v 1) and ended the day with 3 wins and 2 losses. I had to win more than I lost, I mean after all, I did design the game! However, I am not always the best player… If I wanted to make a game I knew I could be one of the best at, it would be something like you get a point for each Cold Brew Coffee you can drink in a day, or something like that. But I digress…..Let’s jump into the recaps!
GAME 1 (Opponent- Spencer (Doom Sand))
My buddy Spencer has played Factions a bunch and is really good at it! He and his friends got to try a few of our advance copies of the game, and have played some tournaments against each other. I’ve played Spencer a few times, and actually have never beaten him head to head!!
Spencer told me right away that he was going to play Doom Sand. He is really strong with that faction and deploys a very unique but fun strategy! He actually removes the more expensive units of Genie Khan and Sabertooth Wyrum, and rolls with the lower cost units, playing them aggressively and recruiting new units during the round to push the pace. I call it “Spencer’s Chaos Cabal”. The result is wave after wave of bandits and spellcasters all over the board, and lots of Kidnap opportunities!
I knew as soon as Spencer said he was going with Doom Sand, that he’d likely use this approach, so I chose Moonshadow! Moonshadow runs into big problems against BIG units that have high health and attack, but they have a ton of evasion skills, a variety of ranged attacks, and good rank and speed. They can win a lot of “1 on 1” matchups, and since Spencer took his beefcakes out, I thought Moonshadow would be a good choice. I should note, I had something working in my favor… Spencer had a limited amount of time to play, as he had to leave about 35 mins later to play flag football. So he might have rushed a couple of his moves.
The game started out quickly, as Spencer used Tyrant Chieftain and Anubite Astromancer to score some early points. I was able to spread his units out a bit though with the Jabari Shadow Knight and the Elite Spearfighter, with the Spearfighter getting a good, clean shot on the Tyrant Chieftain. Once I eliminated the Tyrant Chieftain, I gained control of the rank and did not relinquish it!
With the rank, I was able to snatch a couple of resource centers and set myself up nicely, however I made a BIG mistake that Spencer capitalized on! The Moonshadow units I had out each had 1 health, and the Shadow Knight was wounded to having just one health left…. and I left them ALL on Desert spaces to end the round…. Spencer picked up on this and ripped me apart with a Sandstorm from the Sirocco Conjuror! This scored 12 points and put him in the lead.
Since Spencer recruited a couple of units toward the end of the round, he was going to seize my resource centers turn the tides quickly, so I used a big chunk of my gold to play the Assassin Squad. Spencer was up 26-19, and would win if the squad could not bail me out from my desert space mistake….
I had the top rank and moved the assassins into position, using Slayer to knock out a unit for 4 points. Spencer followed it up with a shot from the Doom Sand Archer… Which the assassins evaded!! He did not have enough mana to use a Meteor Storm with the Anubite Astromancer, so I had a clear run at the top of the round to move and deliver the final blow, a ranged attack for 7 points to the Anubite Astromancer that was hanging back on Spencer’s home tile! Spencer had to leave for the day, so we didn’t get the chance to play again… I am sure he will be back for revenge soon!!!
GAME 1- MOONSHADOW 30- DOOM SAND 26 (PETE IS 1-0)
On to game 2 and I am feeling pretty good! Little did I know I was about to be swatted like a mosquito for the next 2 games by my buddy Eric!
GAME 2- (Opponent Eric- Kragg)
Eric and I got the chance to play a couple of games awhile back, and Eric let me know he has been playing quite a bit since he got his official game…. And he has gotten really good! (He didn’t say that last part….) While I was fighting tooth and nail with Spencer, he was coasting to massive victory against my wife Kiki!
I decided to go with Zyan and Eric went with Kragg. I felt good about this matchup because I planned to use Zyan’s flying units and high rank to string together some attacks on Kragg’s bigger, slower-acting units. I placed a Zyan 4 plains tile right in front of Eric’s basecamp in order to slow him a bit and give me a chance to disrupt his melee units with some cheap, fast damage.
Eric took this in stride, however, and aligned the tiles and resource centers so he had the gold mines both on mountain tiles. He also started out with a whopping 4 units for all 10 gold!!
Eric’s “Go- to” Vanguard… He used it 3 games in a row!
I’ve seen this type of Vanguard before, as Jason (co-creator of Factions: Battlegrounds) always uses a similar 4 unit Kragg Vanguard… But I was not ready for what happened next!
Eric snagged control of both gold mines and kept his Goblins planted on them, using the Razortusk Charger and the Wild Kongamato (which he recruited mid-round after getting his gold mines) to rush in with absolute reckless abandon and carve into my Zyan front line! After he had thrown me off a bit, the board stabilized and I quickly realized I was in a world of hurt.. I simply didn’t have the juice to flip the resource centers… As I tried to regroup… so did Eric.. He pulled his units back into a corner and began to position himself for a full-on strike as soon as I could recruit a couple of units. To make matters worse, he had 9 gold coming in EVERY ROUND! It became apparent he was going for the fast, dominant win when he played Greater Roc.
At this point, he was winning 10-4, and had ALL the momentum. I plopped Farm Peasant on the board and watched his ferocious force advance. With all the gold coming in, Eric did a great job not taking his foot off the gas… It became like a twisted game of Tower Defense, as he recruited 2 Trolls and Ogres each round. He expertly moved them in front of the weaker goblins (I never did eliminate that Goblin Scout!!!) This led to him having, at one point, 8 units on the board with his front line consisting of Kragg’s most powerful units. I was frantically scrambling to save up for the Royal Titan, but it became obvious I would not get the needed 12 gold..
My only shot was to take out the Roc and try to establish SOME control of the air, since I wasn’t winning on the ground. I spent all the gold I had managed to somehow piece together and recruited the Sunfire Angel. I was able to use it’s speed to launch 3 Fire Orb spells in 3 rounds on the Greater Roc. However, I had to flee to the corner and cower in fear as it got too dangerous. It was delaying the inevitable, of course. Once I had saved 6 gold, I got the Valkyrie Defender and zoomed right next to the Roc to finish it off. I flew the angel from the corner and right into the fray to in true Leeeroy Jenkins fashion, taking out the Veteran Orc along the way! Those 2 moves were the extent of my glory, however…. Ogre Mauler crushed the Angel and then Troll Crusher mauled the Valkyrie. Game over.
GAME 2- KRAGG 33- ZYAN 18 (PETE IS 1-1)
I was licking my wounds but decided to run it back! This time, I switched to Zermano.
GAME 3- (Opponent Eric- Kragg)
I had a plan this time! Eric went with the resource center advantage and I knew he’d go for those gold mines with his opening units… And he sure did. This time, however, I was going to try to slow his advancement and scatter his units with the Blizzard Elemental and it’s Blizzard spell. I also had some aquatic surprises up my sleeve….So, of course, I blundered both of those plans.
I rushed the Blizzard Elemental over to the corner Gold Mine, waiting (im)patiently for Eric to bring a couple units over to claim it. He simply sent his Goblin Scout towards the corner mine, and focused on the center gold mine. He was then able to recruit the Ogre Mauler, and send it towards the Elemental and the corner Gold Mine.. This meant I could use the Blizzard spell, but only score either 1 point on the Goblin, OR just wound the Ogre, and likely get popped with nothing to show for it. I took the bait, of course, and attacked the Goblin Scout for 1 point and promptly got mopped up by the Ogre.
Ok so that did not go so well… How about the Aquatic plan? That went a little better. I waited until there were 3 units around a water space and was able to summon up the Octokonzi Raider. It’s multi-attack enabled me to chop up both his goblins and also an orc. Not bad! However 2 seconds later, I realized my grave mistakes. I had used both of these area attacks wayyyy to early, and in my haste to try to slow down Kragg, I did not claim any resource centers or recruit any gold generation…
Sooooo, following the Octokonzi, which Eric killed the next turn with the Troll Ravager, Kragg routed me out of the game store and into the parking lot. I did manage to knock out another unit with the Gnome Pyromancer and Fire Orb, but that was like treating a beheading with a band-aid.
Lots of credit goes to Eric however as he used his “goblin fallback” strategy. Having the goblins and other fast units claim the resource centers then immediately move back behind a steady supply of powerful melee units. The Trolls, Ogres and the Roc makes it EXTREMELY difficult to beat Kragg without finding a way to cut off the gold supply… Kragg’s high health units might not appear too flashy on the surface, but most factions will have a very hard time consistently eliminating multiple 4, 5, and 6+ health units in the middle of the battleground. Eric’s excellent strategy is to force opponents to have to deal with at least 3 4+ health units in the middle of the battleground without any resources coming in. It’s how he clobbered me twice and also won his other 2 games!!
GAME 3- KRAGG 26- ZERMANO 13 (PETE IS 1-2) (Could not play a unit for 2 full rounds)
After 2 lopsided battles, Eric was still kind enough to play me again. He probably felt bad for me!!
GAME 4- (Opponent Eric- Kragg)
Ok. THIS time, I had a plan, and I would use Baazaria to carry it out. I actually let Eric take the resource center advantage (just like he did both previous games) and he placed the gold mines in the same place and used the same 4 opening units (just like he did in both previous games). I went with the Shambling Wight and the Deathstorm Lich in my vanguard. My objective for the early game was very, very simple. Get the lich to the safest corner space I could. I was successful! Step 1… Check. This time, with a clear rank advantage I used Deathwave to wipe away 3 of Eric’s 4 units right away. Eric still had the gold mines, so I knew that we were going to be in for a real war.
But, I had finally slowed his strategy and had taken a solid lead! I used the next couple of rounds to solidify defensive positions, making sure the Lich could not be attacked and barriers like water spaces and home tiles that limited routes for Kragg’s heavy hitters.
This approach worked well as Eric circled up for the siege, in an attempt to starve me out of mana. He recruited both Feral Griffin and Wild Kongamato to fly over the water spaces and get to the lich faster, and had Ogre Mauler and Greater Roc again serving as indomitable forces in the center of the battleground. When I use this Baazaria board control strategy, I draw the attack toward the lich, but mid game, unexpectedly use Bloodreaver Wraith, a hyper-charged offensive unit with great mobility. I was able to do this perfectly and flew the Wraith right into the teeth of the Kragg center tile, claiming some points and drawing Eric away from the lich.. This got me to the point where I could use Deathwave again, adding to my point total.
Still, I had a significant gold disadvantage and simply could not make any mistakes, or I’d be on a 3 game losing streak to Eric and Kragg in a heartbeat… His units were bearing down and he collapsed my defenses, slicing through the wraiths and zombies I kept summoning to interfere with his progress. I realized I just needed to survive long enough to accumulate 4 gold to win the game…. and I got it the same round that the Feral Griffin finally finished off the Lich, putting Eric and I tied at 26 points and me with 0 units on the board…. BUT I had finally done it. I would finally win!!
The main drawback with Kragg is low-rank units. They often will have more of their powerful units activate at the end of a round, whereas Baazaria has higher ranked units. I used the Bloodreaver Wraith earlier to specifically pick off captains, just to ensure I’d hold the rank later in the game. With my 4 gold I recruited the Asanbosam Packmaster who hopped onto the board and used War Horn to summon the Asanbosam Warlord.
That ended the round and I began the next round with a clear rank advantage, knowing Kragg could do nothing to activate before a 4 rank captain. The Asanbosam Warlord launched a ranged attack, scoring the winning 4 points and ending Eric’s reign of terror over me!
4 gold allowed me to get the Asanbosam Packmaster and War Horn the Asanbosam Warlord
GAME 4- BAAZARIA 30- KRAGG 26 (PETE IS 2-2) (That would be the only game Eric lost all day!!)
GAME 5 (OPPONENT RILEY-PRIMUS)
Riley and Mackenzie both came to the playgroup having never played before. They jumped right in a picked it up quick! Riley and I played a quick half game to go over some things…. but barely needed to do so. Riley (and Mackenzie) both were fast learners and in no time they were whipping up some jaw-dropping moves! Riley and I played a game for real after Mackenzie told me not to “go easy on him.. ” I said “No problem” but inside my heart was pounding because Riley was playing great!
I chose Doom Sand to try to take advantage of Primus’ expensive units, figuring I could try to run up the resources and limit Primus’ big monsters. I started the game with the Sunray Ukhozi and Tyrant Chieftain. Riley countered with the Tortuloid Bladebreaker and Bogdeep Witch.
I was able to secure the gold mines and score a couple of points off of the Tyrant’s Dominion ability, but my first recruit that I intended to lead my offensive attack, the Anubite Battlemaster got ambushed by Riley’s Darktrench Yacumama. This gave Riley some positive momentum and his Tortuloid withstood some attacks to gain control of the middle tile… He wisely used the cheap-but-useful Bogdeep Witch to zap my injured Tyrant Cheiftain and take away my flow of Dominion points and knock out my captain.
Despite a momentum swing, I had ample amounts of gold and mana, and played the Sabertooth Wyrum. Now, make no mistake, there are very, very few units that the Tortuloid Bladebreaker can’t survive multiple attacks from and wear down. Unfortunately, the Sabertooth Wyrum is one of those very few units. I also put out the Genie Khan and was able to soften the Tortuloid up with a Wave of Blades, but kept enough mana for a Teleport. The Wyrum dispatched of both the Tortuloid and the Yacumama in consecutive rounds and swung the score back in my favor.
Now, at this point, it is worth noting that the next unit Riley played was the Mystic Witch. This is unfair to Riley, because I know exactly what that unit means. Primus players all can’t help themselves (myself included!) On Discord, we see it alllllll the time…. Mystic Witch means Runestone for the Monarch Coatl. Y’all know who you are on Discord!!! Now Riley has joined your ranks. (It is an EXCELLENT strategy that usually works wonders, but probably unfairly to Riley, I was preparing for it all game.)
The Coatl did get summoned and blitzed the middle tile, making quick work of 2 of my units to put Riley back in the lead! However, I had been keeping 5 mana and 7 gold stockpiled for a couple of rounds just for this situation…. After the Coatl activated, my Genie Khan was next. I invested my saved up 7 gold into the Firesky Wyvern, which was fast enough to reach the middle tile (where the Coatl was engaging my units) in one activation, and strong enough to do what was needed. I teleported the Genie Khan adjacent to it, and melee attacked for 3 damage. The newly recruited Firesky Wyvern then soared adjacent as well, dishing out the final 3 damage needed to take down the Coatl. After that, the Sabertooth Wyrum lumbered deep into the jungle tiles and chomped the Mystic Witch, completing a colossal 15 point round (half of what was needed to win) and putting me exactly at 30 for the victory.
Despite the win, Riley put up an amazing fight and is going to be a major force to be reckoned with!!
GAME 5- DOOM SAND 30 – PRIMUS 22 (PETE IS 3-2)
And with that win, I left with a winning record. Spencer, Eric and Riley are all great players, and I could easily be 0-5 next time. I didn’t get the chance to play Mackenzie or Kiki this time, but they were great as well! More importantly, everyone had a blast!!
Can’t wait to do it again and see our group grow! Let me know some ideas for strategies you have uncovered that I can use next time in the comments!