Playing St. George in MAGIC REALM
by Michael Anchors
In eight years of watching and playing MAGIC REALM, the players I have seen winning most often always follow one of two strategies: the “Robin Hood” strategy, and the “Saint George” strategy.
The “Robin Hood” method may be used for any character, but is usually utilized by those playing light, poorly armed characters. Hoods plan to ambush other characters or natives and trade their loot in dwellings. Players using this strategy put one Victory Point in Gold, one in Treasure and the rest in Notoriety. If the “Development” optional rule is in effect a less developed level may even be chosen to reduce the victory point requirements.
Heavy, well-armed adventurers or those with powerful attack spells have a second option – the “St. George” strategy, which is more certain to produce victory. Georgists eschew the valleys, teaming with treacherous humankind, and seek out the monsters of the Realm in their lairs. Monsters, albeit big and powerful, are inherently stupid. Their repertoire of attack and defense is limited, and their direction of attack predictably follows their maneuver. The risk of attacking a particular monster is calculatable. The risk of attacking the Captain with knapsack full of hidden treasure weapons is unknowable.
Georgists, killing monsters, garner both Fame and Notoriety, contributing to two victory requirements simultaneously. Hoods get only Notoriety and a bit of Gold pocket change for their work. Too, killing Tremendous Monsters opens a safe route to a Treasure site, and the victorious Georgists gets first crack! Most treasures offer more Notoriety than Fame, so my recommendation for aspiring Georgists is : Great Treasure, one or two points; Fame, two points; Notoriety, one or two points. The sum must be five points because Georgists should select the highest level of Development. The monsters are fully developed!
Having set his Victory Conditions, the Georgists next peruses Table 1 to see which monsters his character can safely kill. His eye often fixes on high-profile monsters, like big dragons, but the small fry should not be overlooked. Great profit can be made by slaughtering a clutch of the little critters. The value of each victim is multiplied by the number of monsters previously killed by the character in a battle. Killing a gaggle of monsters earns 21 points; killing “Godzilla” nets but 15.
|Monster||No. in Group||Value
|T. Fl. Dragon*||1||15||MC|
|* Armored Head/Club Counter|
The right half of Table 1 is read as follows: if the player can kill the monster better than 66% of the time a blue dot appears in the box. If the character wins less than 33% of the time, a red cross appears. If the character has a certain escape, a circle is entered. Hence, in a situation with a red cross surrounded by a circle, the character probably can’t beat the monster, but he can escape. A entry with no dot is a “fair fight”. The character has a 33-66% chance to win. In MAGIC REALM losers don’t survive, so smart Georgists should avoid a fair fight unless behind in points near the end of the game.
The table assumes the character is at the highest stage of development, armed per initial specs, with all action chits available. Magic characters have “Stones Fly”, “Fiery Blast” or “Lightning Bolt” and enough color to go two rounds. Each non-magical character has his weapon in a state of Alert. The Berserker is berserk. Each magical character has an alert Magic counter for his best attack spell.
In some cases, the outcome of battle depends on terrain. In the Spider match, the Wizard can win in a mountain clearing because he can cast “Lightning Bolt” there. He gets roasted on the plains because “Fiery Blast” is a weaker spell. Situations like these are indicated by red half-cross on the chart.
The table suggests that the Witch King can never escape a predator. Actually, his situation is not quite so desperate. Witch King can escape most of the time, using the “Broomstick” or “Unleash Power”. If his magic counter time beats of matches the monster’s move time, the King can use his stick of his feet to maneuver in the Melee Phase. The monster has to match directions to hit. In the ensuing Encounter Phase, the King flies or flees out of the clearing. Circles were not included in the Witch King’s column because they denote only certain escape.
The Magician looks weaker than he really is, too. Although he has magic counters of every type, he has no pairs of any type. Lacking a source of color, Magician cannot cast attack spells. His only lethal weapon (don’t laugh) is his dagger. The Transform spell is not lethal. Magician-Georgists should seek artifacts or enchanted tiles with the needed color or confine their monster bashing to Sabbaths offering “Purple” or “Grey”.
All of the characters, except Pilgrim and Magician, can kill the Imp. It is not much of a victory, and it is often a Pyrrhic one. The imp is fast (move time 2). An alerted bow nails him, but a striking weapon may need two or three rounds to match directions. By that time, the character will have been Cursed several times. The cake is not worth the candle.
Having ascertained which monsters his character would like to hunt and which ones he definitely wants to avoid, the would-be Georgist consults Table 1 to see where his prey may be found. In the “Habitat” column, the letters “M”, “C”, “V” and “W” stand for Mountain, Cave, Valley and Woods tiles respectively. In cases where a monster may be found in either Mountain or Caves tiles both letters appear. If the monster is more apt to be found on Mountain ties, the entry is “Mc”; if the reverse is true, the “mC” is entered.
At this point the Georgist can select the dwelling at which his character should start, from the list of dwellings allowed for him. He should choose the dwelling offering the shortest route to the tiles with the monsters he wants to hung, crossing as few as possible of the tiles with monsters he wants to avoid. He should choose a dwelling with few threatening Hoods and he might also give consideration to a dwelling with a character who might agree to an alliance (see my last article on this subject in the Vol. 23, No. 6 issue of The GENERAL). Finally, if there is a dwelling with friendly natives, possessing useful items, the character might start at the dwelling simply to make a good trade.
Characters can improve their monster-hunting prospects by obtaining: treasure boots, gloves, potions, etc.; extra armor; better weapons; a horse; more color; hired natives; and character allies. If house rules limit the game to four to six weeks of game time, Georgists cannot afford to dally in the valley looking for bargains. Ten Gold pieces won’t by much anyway. However, if the game is to last two game months or more, the true Georgist can try to fill out his shopping list before getting into serious monster play.
On the road at last, the Georgist has to watch which Warning, Sound or Site chits are turned up. The information is important because each Warning or Sound chit can summon only certain types of monsters. After a few turns, the location of most of these chits is known. Table 2 shows which monsters may appear at each Warning or Sound chit. (The Treasure Set-up card shows which monsters show up at Site chits.) Table 3 shows which Sounds or Sites can be found in each clearing number.
The information in Tables 2 and 3 can be used to stay out of trouble or seek opportunities in unexplored tiles. For instance, inspection of the tables reveals that a character arriving in Clearing 5 of the Borderland can expect to face only Goblins, if “Cairns” was seen in another tile. Bats will appear for the first time only in Clearing 1, and then only if “Flutter 1” has not appeared elsewhere. Table 2 and 3 are less useful in well-traveled tiles, where many monsters have appeared and roam on their appointed die-rolls.
When the Georgists does come face-to-face with a monster, I can offer no better advice on tactics than that offered by Richard Hamblin in his article “Magical Mystery Tour” (Vol. 16, No. 4). Only the tactic of piling up monsters in a single maneuver box is obsolete. The 2nd Edition rules force the player to distribute the monsters and their appendages evenly in the boxes. The Georgist should still aim to deliver the first, unavoidable blow, he should pair his attack and maneuver, hoping to match directions with the monster.
The new rules present additional challengers to the Georgist. Attacks in the crucial first round of a battle are resolved in order of length, longest to shortest. Most monsters attack with the shortest length (tooth/claw), but not all. The Georgist cannot assume he will strike the first blow. Goblins are armed with axes, spears and swords. Dragons have heads with the length of a broadsword, and Giants have clubs with great sword length. Demons and Imps cast spells with a length of “17”, which beats “Stones Fly” and “Fiery Blast”, but not the “Lightning Bolt”. If the Georgist won’t get the first shot, he should split the character’s attack and maneuver, hoping the monster’s blow will miss.
Finally, inspection of Table 1 reveals that the White Knight, Berserker and Dwarf are best suited to the “St. George” strategy. The Black Knight, too, if he can get a heavy weapon in short order. Players intent on playing “St. George” should choose one of these characters. Characters to the right of the Druid in Table 1 can switch to a “St. George” strategy, but only if they acquire a mean treasure weapon or native henchman in the course of play. Characters between the Druid and Dwarf have more flexibility.