We’re going to be honest here—the Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game is delightfully difficult. Just like Harry Dresden’s default setting in the novels, the game is designed to be a nail-biter all the way until the end, where winning and losing is often decided by a throw of the dice. The game includes three difficulty levels, and we strongly suggest that you start on the Apprentice setting while you’re learning how to play. But what if you’ve done that and are still netting far more losses than wins? Shannon Appelcline of Designers & Dragons and Mechanics & Meeples is here to give you some advice, clarify some rules, and tell you what you need to succeed in this epic 14-part series!
So, without further ado, we present…
The Mechanics & Meeples DFCO Strategy Guide, Section IV: Playing Player Cards
by Shannon Appelcline
Game Historian of Designers & Dragons
Board Game Analyst of Mechanics & Meeples
Now you’re ready to play your Player cards, which is the core of DFCO gameplay.
Don’t Waste Your Range
Every Player card has a cost that’s based on a combination of its strength and Range. For example, Harry’s “It’s Not My Fault” is a Range 1 Overcome that costs 1 Fate and his “Blue Beetle” is a Range 3+2dF Overcome that costs 3 Fate. If you don’t need the extra Range, don’t use the card, because you’ll just be wasting Fate.
Corollary #1: It’s not a waste if you really need the card. Obviously, if you need a Player card of a certain type, and your group’s supplies are limited, then you might want to use that excessive Range anyways. But, it’s inefficient. Once again, wasting a couple of Fate a couple of times is just like losing a turn. So be aware of the extra cost you’re paying, and do so judiciously.
Don’t Waste Your Other Effects
A few Player cards have extra effects when played. For example, Michael’s “Fist of God” removes an Obstacle but also adds Clues and Hits to adjacent Cases and Foes, while Sanya’s “Esperacchius” hits a Foe but also overcomes an adjacent Obstacle or takes an adjacent Advantage. Try not to waste these effects either, because their value is part of the card’s cost too.
Corollary #1: Let Harry unleash your potential. Many of these bonus Player card powers depend on adjacency. This is a great opportunity for Harry to step in with his Talent. By moving around Advantages and Obstacles he can usually create the adjacency that you’re hoping for—whether you need adjacent Advantages and Obstacles or Cases and Foes.
Consider Your Card Costs
The advice about not wasting your Range or your other effects is part of a more general rule: you want to consider the cost of every card you’re playing. If you can generate at least one Hit/Clue for every Fate that you spend, or if you can remove an Advantage or Obstacle at a cost of 1 Fate, then you’re doing great. You shouldn’t hesitate to play a card if it has that amount of impact.
However, if you’re getting a less efficient ratio for Attacks and Investigations or paying more Fate for Take Advantage and Overcome cards, then you need to ask why. The additional cost is certainly due to some additional ability of the card, such as increased Range or a special effect. Assess what it is and see if it’s worth the cost.
Corollary #1: Use overpriced cards to generate Fate. If the extra Range or bonus abilities of a Player card aren’t helpful in your current game, then you should set the card aside to generate Fate. You should also tell the rest of the team that you’re a great candidate for generating Fate, because you have a card to burn. (Not literally; don’t give Harry any ideas!)
Don’t Waste Your Book Interactions
Some Book cards also have beneficial effects. They’re marked with outbound interaction arrows, and they usually put Clues on Cases or Hits on Foes. For example, “Marcone’s Goons” adds Hits to “Is Marcone Involved?” while “Victor is Missing” adds Clues to “Who is the Shadowman?” Try not to waste these effects either. You’re not exactly paying for these Clues and Hits, but if you waste them, you’ll impact your efficiency, which is the prime factor as to whether you succeed or fail in completing a Book.
Corollary #1: Complete interactions in order. The easiest way to ensure that you don’t waste Book card interactions is to complete them in order: do the “A>“ before the “>A.” That way you won’t generate Hits or Clues for a Book card that’s already been removed from the board.
Corollary #2: Prioritize the Cases and Foes with inbound interactions. Once you’ve generated tokens on a Case or Foe through an interaction, you should prioritize completing that Case or Foe, otherwise you wasted those tokens just as badly as if you removed the cards in the wrong order. This is a specific case of the “Don’t Throw Away Your Shot” rule for “Attacking Foes & Cases.”
Missed some of the other articles in the series, or looking for advice on a particular gameplay element? Go here for the full list of articles and Bob’s top ten favorite romance novels. (We’re kidding about that last one. It’s probably for the best.)
Stay tuned to this space for the next section on Removing Book Cards, which will go live on Monday, July 24!