The most chaotic and unpredictable–and sometimes the most fun variant of Factions: Battlegrounds could be 3 player battles.
Lately, I have had the chance to play some 3 player games of Factions: Battlegrounds with some friends. 2 player games are straightforward and quick. There are not a lot of surprises nor lot of buildup, and the format enables you to focus solely on one opponent. 4 player games provide the space to plan for an extended battle, and playing to a higher point total on a bigger board provides some cushion for a tactical mistake or 2.
3 player games mash together elements of 2 player (lower victory point total (30) required to win) and 4 player games (some extra space) while adding unique twists. The result is usually a wild, back and forth battle where momentum (and the score!) can change with one unit activation.
Interestingly, there are some units and unit features that thrive in this chaotic format that are not as effective or important in both 2 and 4 player battles! This post will take a look at a few tactics and units that thrive in 3 player combat. Each unit I highlight is relatively affordable (6 gold or less).
THE 3 PLAYER BATTLEGROUND:
3 player battlegrounds have only 3 additional tiles (12 additional spaces) than 2 player battlegrounds.. The result is a close-quarters battleground where enemies can come at you from multiple directions very, very quickly. With the resource centers all being relatively centralized (even the “corner” resource centers) the middle of the battleground becomes very hotly contested. Because the battleground is only 6 spaces wide (like 2 player) ranged and spell units can put areas close to Base Camps within range quickly. This dynamic makes for a delicate balance of defending your Base Camp area while pushing to control resource centers, all while trying to keep up with the accelerated pace of scoring 30 points!
Here are some aspects of the game that seem to be more effective in 2 player games than other formats.
In 2 player games, Regenerate is a spell that Baazaria can use to keep units on the board in order to protect powerful captains and retain control of important spaces. Every now and then the regenerated unit will be able to survive through the round to cash in on it’s fresh activation, but most of the time it simply buys time for the Baazaria general to set in motion their board control strategy. In 4 player games, the bigger battleground can naturally give Baazaria enough time to bypass Regeneration and recruit other more powerful spell-based or faster units.
3 player games are a different story. With a lot of action in the center of the board, solid melee units like Skeleton Bladelord and Zombie Goliath make for worthy early game challenges. With resource centers centralized, odds are that they can claim one and re-establish some of the mana used to cast Regenerate. Regenerated units, especially early in the game, can reach the combat action within 2 rounds and can overwhelm early waves of enemies. Players won’t want to rush their top units into the middle of the battleground, but will feel pressured to stock up on some resources, so there will be plenty of chances to attack, Regenerate, and attack again while possibly picking up a gold mine or mana pool. Skeleton Bladelord in particular is a very effective unit in this regard, because the crowded middle of the board provides ample opportunities for Multi-Attack.
Amphibious units- units that are capable of moving through water and land spaces, can be extremely useful in 3 player games. On a 2 player board, your enemy can focus on simply avoiding water spaces or placing tiles so that they are in non-important spots. In a 4 player game, there are almost always a couple of different “routes” that can avoid water entirely- even if there are areas of the board with significant water spaces.
Again, with the centralized resource centers and 3 players vying for position, there are almost always a couple of key spaces that end up being water spaces near the middle of the board.. Rather than the obvious Aquatic units, which have incredibly limited mobility and are basically sitting ducks after being recruited, look for ways to use Amphibious units if you are Ihalaban or Primus. Amphibious units can be even better than Aerial units when it comes to mobility because they do not have to end their activation when they enter water spaces. The center of a 3 player battleground is tight, and water spaces can make it feel much, much more restricted. A unit like Jungle River Kraken with excellent health and attack that doesn’t have to worry about water spaces can do a ton of damage in a situation like that.
Ihalaban can utilize Amphibious in the early game really effectively. Feral Gowrow’s high health and capability of moving through water spaces make it an excellent resource center grabber in 3 player games, while Ojj Archer can navigate the water spaces for great spots for it’s ranged attack, making it a really good, cheap supporting unit.
3 player games are typically played to 30 victory points (although you can play to whatever total you’d like of course!) What typically is a race to 30 points in 2 player games can turn into an all-out sprint in 3 player games because there is a whole other faction recruiting units. More units on the board = more opportunities for victory points.
Some units have the ability to score victory points or extra victory points in ways beyond eliminating an enemy and scoring points equal to the gold value of said enemy. In 2 player games where there is just 1 opponent, extra victory points are kind of like finding an extra french fry or a dollar in your pocket. Cool, but not really all that “game changing”- while in a 4 player game, the point total needed to win is 40, making a couple of extra points here or there almost inconsequential.
3 player games subscribe to the philosophy that “every point counts” much more than the other formats! Dominion can be really helpful for Doom Sand via the Tyrant Chieftain. As a 4 rank Captain, deploying and commanding to claim resource centers is not too difficult, and establishing control of those resource centers will not only provide a pipeline of gold and mana, but perhaps a couple of victory points as well. This can set up a situation in which you have MORE gold and mana, a really high ranked captain that can command a powerful monster or spellcaster, AND you require a couple less victory points to reach the winning total.
Some units can tack on an extra victory point when they eliminate a unit with excess damage (Bonecrush) or if they eliminate a unit with an equal or higher gold value (Onslaught).. but 1 unit, Kragg’s Ogre Berserker, can do both. The result is almost always 1 extra victory point per kill and sometimes 2. It might not sound like much, but if a single kill racks up 7,8,9 or more victory points, that’s nearly a third of the total needed to win. An extra point for a kill could be the difference in the final score.
While the middle tiles of 3 player games can turn into all-out war, the far side rows of 3 player games can actually be quite empty while still only being 6 spaces (3 terrain tiles) across. This makes for excellent opportunities for Zyan’s Tactician ability- which enables Swiftwing Valkyrie and Zyan Infiltrator to score a victory point each time they span the board. The Swiftwing Valkyrie in particular can rack up points in a hurry, as her 4 movement with flying allows her to cover a ton of ground unimpeded, and her 4 rank allows her to activate extremely early in the round.
2 player games and 4 player games usually get all the glory, but if you haven’t had a chance to appreciate the madness that is a 3 player battle in Factions: Battlegrounds- do yourself a favor and try it out! When you do, let us know in the comments some of the highlights!