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Quest 8: The Fire Mage--Spellcasting Strategies for Zargon

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Quest 8: The Fire Mage--Spellcasting Strategies for Zargon

Postby Jalapenotrellis » Monday June 10th, 2019 3:38pm

I will be playing this quest with my faithful group soon (3 weeks--we just finished Quest 7 yesterday). I don't want to screw up the chance I have to cast spells for once and am looking forward to the POWER I will wield in this upcoming Quest as the evil wizard. Muahahaha....

I am thinking this: stand 2-4 spaces back from the door (depending on the room if the first or second room). Have my minions always in front of Balur, the fire mage. Attack sequence: minion attacks, moves out of the way, Balur attacks their meat shield with a spell, (likely barb or dwarf, I am guessing it will be the barb since he has 6 defense dice with shield, helmet, and Borin's Armor, but their dwarf has a crossbow also), other minion swaps in to block line of sight on Balur. I don't want to have diagonal line of sight to their flankers because one may be the wizard who could disable me with Tempest, which is the main spell I'm afraid of (lose a turn). I doubt Sleep will land, and Genie vs 5 defense dice...not scary. Fire spells don't work. I need to avoid the crossbow.

Summon Orcs will be used for more meat shields to continue this process.

I am considering summoning them in the final room rather than the room with the skeletons, as I think they can one shot them before I get a chance and might get too many shots on me before I get a chance to cast spells since skeletons are too squishy/weak. They chopped through the last quest no issues, no hits landed by skeletons...they seem weaker than goblins.

This should work fine to cast Tempest, Fear, Ball of Flame, Summon Orcs, Escape.

Now, how do you plan to cast Firestorm? I don't want to hurt my minions. I imagine it will be hard for the heroes to all get in the room to affect all heroes.

Should you hide behind the bookcase after minions are dead? Will there even be a turn left then? In all likelihood the event will take place around a door because baiting them inside usually leads to fewer attacks by the Evil Wizard Zargon. Last quest, I tried to do that with my gargoyle, and it got killed before it got one attack in.

So what strategies do you have for casting Firestorm? Is it just a Hail Mary last resort when doom is imminent? Unlike Grak from quest 6, Balur is weak in melee.

Also, how do you guys determine line of sight on the fly? Even with the center to center rule, I have trouble making that decision quickly when leading. Do you use a card on it's side, or do you have a grid program/app to recommend? I feel like this was minor before, but in this and future heavy spell casting (or crossbowing) quests, it needs to have a science to it. If on the side of a door, I usually say they can only see the one space past the door and one to the right. But if standing in the door on the outside, they can see a lot more inside the room... possibly even behind the bookshelf?

Oh and, why is the next quest (quest 9) looking so easy after this one?? It looks like an early quest.

Thanks!
Last edited by Jalapenotrellis on Monday June 10th, 2019 3:50pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Quest 8: The Fire Mage--Spellcasting Strategies for Zarg

Postby Jalapenotrellis » Monday June 10th, 2019 8:46pm

Another idea for line up so they can't attack Balur: have one minion end their turn in front of the door, one behind the minion in case the first one dies, and then Balur. Sequence: attack with minion at door if still alive, move away, move line of sight blocker extra minion, cast with Balur, move in door blocking attacking minion, move in extra meat shield. Keep Balur behind two meat shields because they can kill or attack two minions per turn at a door block.

Alternatively, I could employ the same stacking technique with spell casting toward a flanking hero by aligning myself in a stacking meat shield diagnonally.

As minions deplete, I may only be able to afford one meat shield.

I still lack ideas on using Firestorm. I see it as a last resort when all other minions are dead and I retreat behind the bookshelf breaking line of sight so the heroes have to enter the room. That spell doesn't require line of sight, so I can cast it from behind the bookshelf if needed.
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Re: Quest 8: The Fire Mage--Spellcasting Strategies for Zarg

Postby Jalapenotrellis » Monday June 10th, 2019 9:02pm

Also, I'm thinking the order of spells should be: Tempest (they can't move or attack, so limits their ability to take out my minions), Fear--reduce attack dice so they can't take out my guys and may even last multiple turns but not guaranteed to land like Tempest, Ball of Flame for a basic attack after these crowd control or debuff spells are used, Summon Orcs anytime you need more meat shields. Firestorm if minions are depleted and they are in the room (even better if all are in the room), and obviously Escape anytime the skeletons get down to 2 in the first encounter, so basically immediately or after one round of combat since Skeletons suck and will die too fast and have poor attack. I am thinking it isn't good to use any spells except Escape in the first room. Save the extra minions for when have more room to maneuver. The first room is too small for significant positioning.
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Re: Quest 8: The Fire Mage--Spellcasting Strategies for Zarg

Postby arch8ngel » Tuesday June 11th, 2019 10:26am

What is your objective?

Do you play "competitively" with your players, where Zargon is genuinely trying for total-party-kill scenarios?

Or are you just trying to keep your heroes close-to-the-margin on healing items so they can't get too cocky?


Personally, I take some selective narrative license, since I am trying to keep my players wary, but not trying to genuinely kill them (beyond maybe a couple of "wounded"/"casualties" in the final battle of a quest).

That is, I tend to be generous in how I let them figure out "critical saves" (i.e. I let a sleeping barbarian survive an otherwise fatal wound because he had two healing potions on his belt that were "smashed" by the otherwise killing blow, barely keeping him alive while he continued to sleep).

Also I'm not above stacking the treasure deck to favor hazards to shave a few body points when combat has been going too easy on the party.

(another good on is to give a "rust" spell to a random tough badguy and strip a piece of gear from a hero)



So for the "big spellcaster" in a level, you can take plenty of creative license with how you keep him alive long enough to make him interesting.
(i.e. so that he doesn't go down in one shot from Genie Strangling)


That is, assuming you are playing it like a DM that is "facilitating" the heroes, rather than "competitively" where Zargon is seeking genuine TPKs.
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Re: Quest 8: The Fire Mage--Spellcasting Strategies for Zarg

Postby Spookyhappyfun » Tuesday June 11th, 2019 4:49pm

arch8ngel wrote:Personally, I take some selective narrative license, since I am trying to keep my players wary, but not trying to genuinely kill them (beyond maybe a couple of "wounded"/"casualties" in the final battle of a quest).

That is, I tend to be generous in how I let them figure out "critical saves" (i.e. I let a sleeping barbarian survive an otherwise fatal wound because he had two healing potions on his belt that were "smashed" by the otherwise killing blow, barely keeping him alive while he continued to sleep).


I really like that idea with the smashed potions! I try to bend and hand-wave things if I can to help keep them alive because I'm not in it to kill people off as much as to tell a good story and have fun. Maybe right at the end during a final battle or in the last room or two, but if a character dies early on in the Quest, or even halfway, the player might disconnect and no one wants that.
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Re: Quest 8: The Fire Mage--Spellcasting Strategies for Zarg

Postby arch8ngel » Tuesday June 11th, 2019 4:56pm

Spookyhappyfun wrote:
arch8ngel wrote:Personally, I take some selective narrative license, since I am trying to keep my players wary, but not trying to genuinely kill them (beyond maybe a couple of "wounded"/"casualties" in the final battle of a quest).

That is, I tend to be generous in how I let them figure out "critical saves" (i.e. I let a sleeping barbarian survive an otherwise fatal wound because he had two healing potions on his belt that were "smashed" by the otherwise killing blow, barely keeping him alive while he continued to sleep).


I really like that idea with the smashed potions! I try to bend and hand-wave things if I can to help keep them alive because I'm not in it to kill people off as much as to tell a good story and have fun. Maybe right at the end during a final battle or in the last room or two, but if a character dies early on in the Quest, or even halfway, the player might disconnect and no one wants that.



Yeah, losing someone early on would be way worse than later in the dungeon when it comes to enjoyable-for-everyone group play sessions.

I'd probably even go so far as to offer some get-out-of-jail methods for having a healing caster fire off a saving healing spell that normal turn permissions wouldn't allow (i.e. a conscious hero can quaff their own potion as a "normal" saving scenario, but spells and healing others is an explicit action).

Possibly something like a 1d6 mindpoint hit (to make them more susceptible to sleep, or even knock them out), or maybe randomly draw and discard one of their other spells as a penalty.


Anything to keep the narrative moving forward without being TOO much of a "gimme".
(and for that matter, you can always find some way for karma to come around later and rust off a helmet unexpectedly to make them pay the toll)
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Re: Quest 8: The Fire Mage--Spellcasting Strategies for Zarg

Postby Jalapenotrellis » Tuesday June 11th, 2019 10:51pm

I'm just trying to get the mage spells off before death. He has 3 body points! Very rarely do you get to use chaos spells, so I want to play it well.

Except for Quest 1: The Trial, the heroes have smoothly sailed to this point. The game has almost been a snooze. So yes, like Game of Thrones, someone good needs to die soon, but hopefully win the quest. Challenge, not ruin them. Both of them are gamers and smart working adults in STEM fields. They can handle it. Sometimes challenge is fun. I may be the dumbest gamer among them in the group, if that helps.
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Re: Quest 8: The Fire Mage--Spellcasting Strategies for Zarg

Postby Pancho » Wednesday June 12th, 2019 12:48am

Jalapenotrellis wrote:Also, I'm thinking the order of spells should be: Tempest (they can't move or attack, so limits their ability to take out my minions), Fear--reduce attack dice so they can't take out my guys and may even last multiple turns but not guaranteed to land like Tempest, Ball of Flame for a basic attack after these crowd control or debuff spells are used, Summon Orcs anytime you need more meat shields. Firestorm if minions are depleted and they are in the room (even better if all are in the room), and obviously Escape anytime the skeletons get down to 2 in the first encounter, so basically immediately or after one round of combat since Skeletons suck and will die too fast and have poor attack. I am thinking it isn't good to use any spells except Escape in the first room. Save the extra minions for when have more room to maneuver. The first room is too small for significant positioning.

Sounds like a good plan.
Like you said, Balur is weak in melee so you’ll probably need to use Escape early in the first room to avoid a quick demise. If your skeletons hold up better than expected you could use Ball of Flame, then Escape; if you can get the Heroes to use up their healing spells and potions before they get to the final room, then there’s a chance you could kill some of them there with your monsters and Firestorm.

Let us know how the quest goes.


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Re: Quest 8: The Fire Mage--Spellcasting Strategies for Zarg

Postby Jalapenotrellis » Wednesday June 12th, 2019 3:34am

Another thought. If I were to set up diagonally, it would not be a good decision because they have two crossbows and one long sword. They could take out two monsters per round if monsters are stacked diagonally compared to vertically in front of the door. If start vertically in front of the door, they are pretty much only guaranteed 1 attack unless they put a crossbow person directly in front of the door, which should be stupid because then they can't attack with the crossbow unless a diagnonal goes first and attacks and kills. If that happens, it will be important to stack diagnonally on the side without the crossbow. Their turn order will be important. I can't see them putting anyone except for the plate wearing barbarian directly in front of the door though. They would want to lead with whoever has the most defense, and they will probably choose not to move him to swap others like the wizard in. They historically have way too many spells left over at the end of the game.
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Re: Quest 8: The Fire Mage--Spellcasting Strategies for Zarg

Postby Anderas » Wednesday June 12th, 2019 11:40am

Summon Orcs is an incredible strong spell, so that one's set.
Control is also nice.

Think about this: The Heroes get the Wand of Magic in this quest. Why not assuming that Balur has the wand of magic?
Then he can cast two spells per round.

If your heroes are very equipped already, you might also exchange the wandering Monster with Balur. He can cast one spell and then one Escape spell. The Escape spell could grow back each time they draw a wandering monster. :D

There is another possibility to adapt the quests to your group:


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