Overthrowing the Throne of Strench

Discussion in 'Card Hunter General Chat' started by mightymushroom, Jan 26, 2013.

  1. mightymushroom

    mightymushroom Goblin Champion

    I want to apologize for not taking screenshots like a good diarist, but at the time I was not thinking that I had anything to write. Until the last round I expected to fail.

    Let me set it up for you. This scenario (and the one before it) are full of Troglodytes in various sizes. They all use Stab-type attacks which have a range of 2, so they almost never move close enough for the majority of your melee attacks. On top of that they have armor, ordinarily Thick Hide Armor but the Trog Gougers have Crude Plate which is whopping Armor 4. Supposedly it has a weakness that it only protects from the front side but in the tunnel environment I almost never got to hit them in the back. Trog Gougers also draw at 1.5 cards per minion, so a group of three is getting five cards in a round and it's very unlikely to catch them without two Crude Plates in hand. From the rate Gary was discarding them after a round, I'd say he often had four! I learned pretty quickly that I needed penetrating attacks, no equipment of mine could match them with just brute strength. But my best penetrator only does 4 damage, not ideal to face multiple 15 health opponents. Still, I managed to make my way to the battle against the eponymous Strench, a Trog Wizard with nasty electrical magic and a 3-minion group of Gougers.

    This was my second go at the module, after verifying that since the item revisions I have only one Resistant Hide in my entire collection, and that's on a wizard robe. Having seen that my previous attempts to find a defensible position were a complete failure, I charged forward, even if semi-cautiously, to try to pin the Gougers at a narrow spot. This is a risk, because the spot in question is actually some sort of subterranean waterway that is impassable to movement but does NOT block Trog spears or magic. Esperance Lightshield, my priest, manages to unleash a Violent Overswing for a nice 6 damage after armor but is badly injured by the Gougers. Meanwhile Ülm Blindsong has been shooting off his magic as best he can, but the 2 damage of Penetrating Zap makes little difference to a Gouger and there's not enough longer range in his draw to discomfort Strench, who has plenty of range 6 Spark-family cards to blast across the water. He seems to think his magic-slinging opposite is his greatest threat and my dwarf wizard is soon in the red. My warrior luckily comes out relatively unharmed thanks to the AI ganging up on other targets.

    In the second round I try to retreat out of Strench's range, and the Gougers follow me. My priest is angling toward a side passage hoping to heal while my warrior is trying to stay close but not too close so she can use the Step 1 of her Penetrating Lunge. Ülm manages to catch them in Fire Spray: the Fire does no damage (nor will the burning effect) through the Crude Plate but does activate another feature causing the Gougers to jump back. This puts them quite out of position and they spend another move without attacking yet.

    This is probably the first break, that I've foregone my normal tight formation and split my party, because the Gougers also separate themselves and can't gang up on anybody. Not only that, but I have one of my rare chances to actually attack two of them from the back side completely bypassing their armor. One Gouger is down, one is in bad shape; but Blindsong succumbs to stinking Trog magic (he never did get his Resistant Hide). Esperance uses one Heal on herself but draws no others, so she has to peek cautiously and use Inspiration on the warrior. Said warrior, meanwhile, has had a few Lunges and Cuts but they aren't showing for much yet.

    As the battle progresses, the priest still has no healing so she Inspires the warrior twice before getting knocked out -- I don't dare use Inspire trying to find a Heal card because the warrior has all the penetrating attacks that I need. I've neglected to introduce my warrior: Staci Iceborn, orphan elf warrior and model of courage. She's going to earn her accolades today. She finishes off another Gouger but this is anything from a fair fight remaining.

    Strench, meanwhile, not liking his range for spell casting has worked his way around another side passage into the front of the cave. Staci Blocks his Spark and takes the opportunity to use a Lunging Strike on him, which I don't think he expected. Strench retreats and Staci stays near him, out of the range of the remaining Gouger.

    Now Strench is running away and Staci dashes to catch up; unfortunately the remaining Gouger also catches up with her. This, I'm sure, is the end of the fight: a lone warrior, no healing, caught in a one-tile-width tunnel with 3 health between two enemies (Strench, also down to 3 HP, and a Gouger with 8 HP) who both have attacks strong enough to overpower her meager armor. She has one attack remaining, a Penetrating Lunge and my brain is racing. I would like to use all 4 damage against the healthier foe, but I don't dare leave Strench alive. So the Trog Wizard falls and Staci is hit in the back with . . . Strong Stab! Her Reliable Mail reliably absorbs two, and . . . the Spiked Mail also absorbs two! 2 remaining damage from 3 HP . . . she's alive! The minion is out of attacks and the round ends.

    The Gouger plays first next round, and it's lights out for sure, with . . . Able Stab! Not the Strong version! I still have to roll a 50/50 chance on Spiked Mail . . . Yes!!! Staci flees before anything worse can happen, not daring to make an attack of her own and be standing next to the enemy when the next round starts.

    Next she draws Impaler, a Trait that adds 2 damage to every penetrating attack. This means I can kill the Gouger with any two penetrating hits -- meaning I need two attack cards when I'm only holding one -- but I still think it'll kill me first. I have just four points of armor and the Trog's Strong Stab deals 6, more than enough to take away my last health. Staci finds her way around a corner, forcing the trog to come within her range if it wants to attack. So the trog runs up, and Staci gets her first strike. Now the counterattack . . . Able Stab! The armor rolls . . . success!!! I've survived again with 1 HP! The Gouger is down to 3 HP!

    Moreover, my Spiked Mail hasn't dealt any counter-damage through the trog's armor but did activate the jump back so he's out of position again. Gary passes and I pass. Gary plays first, but can only move the Gouger back up to the corner. I get to attack first and with my Penetrating Cut slice off its last HP. Staci Iceborn survives outnumbered and outclassed for three rounds with a single health point, and manages to revive her fallen comrades for the return to the sunlit world.

    At the end, I think with her extra Elf movement, she could have outrun the Gouger until drawing the necessary final attack to finish him. But without Impaler she would not have needed just one more card; without the Gouger using two Able Stabs when it did, and Staci making those armor rolls, she would have been shishkabob. I know the Gougers have stronger attacks and to survive any more than I did would have been unthinkable.

    It feels epic!!

    Death-lover hunts in dimness / deep under mountain
    a hero hardens her arm / holds fast to heart
    bitter blade flashes / battle-iron the foe bites
    stealing his hand-strength / the spearpoint clatters
    ungrasped it lays beneath / the bear-man's body:
    a silent victory / no singing voices
    to cheer the woman / heart-weary warrior.
    Fingers swollen with frost / fumble to hold flint
    her oak-handled axe / she breaks apart
    to spark a blaze / bright in the barren cave
    fire warms bodies / barely keeping breath
    a memory of hearth-feast / to hold the fleeing souls
    where brave Iceborn waits / and whispers prayer
    falling tears / freezing on the floor.
    Jon, Farbs and skip_intro like this.
  2. Sir Knight

    Sir Knight Sir-ulean Dragon

    Fantastic! And I'm not just speaking of the fight, but the poem! (Though you "steel" yourself, not "steal.")

    I see that I forgot Impaler in my past advice. Another thing was "get blocks." As you can see, you can't always compel the jerks to stop stabbing you, and sometimes a block is better than armor. Parry is a lifesaver, and, of course, Guardian Angel is a literal lifesaver.

    You mentioned being unable to hit Gougers from behind. This is always an issue. Once you started splitting up your group, as you noted, you got some (brief) opportunities to take advantage of it. Other ways to fiddle with position and facing include Maze and Force Bolt, both of which have limited usefulness. I'd like there to be more.

    Muscle Through, though, is a good one. Move 2, Free Move, then slide 1 anyone adjacent to you at the end of your move. It's terribly fun when you hit a mixed pack of friends and foes: you can pick up your friends and put them directly behind your foes. I have some on Muscle Boots, level 15 common boots (1 clear talent), meaning any character of mine can play with it against higher-level troglodytes. Thank you, Zort's Bazaar!

    Anyway, I'm really glad you won. I'm impressed also that you did it without drawing the Resistant Hide. I haven't beaten Strench yet without it.
  3. skip_intro

    skip_intro Ogre

    Good work fella and nice write up.
  4. mightymushroom

    mightymushroom Goblin Champion

    Thank you, but I know what I wrote :): the battle-iron is stealing the death-loving troglodyte's hand-strength as it kills him. Though ambiguity about how the half-lines fit together is one of the interesting features of this style even back when English had more robust declension.

    I doubt you're any more impressed than I am that I could do it without Resistant Hide. My previous try was not at all close; this was mostly a pro forma expedition to prove I needed better gear. Now I will always believe in the Heart of the Cards. :p
  5. Zalminen

    Zalminen Hydra

    There's really nothing like the feeling of managing to squeeze out a win after you're already sure you've lost...

    Great story!

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