The Dresden Files Coop Card Game Strategy Guide, Section VIII-G: Playing Expansion #5: Winter Schemes

We’ve got new expansions for the Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game, and that means more of Shannon Appelcline’s excellent strategy guide! If you’re struggling with the new decks or just looking for a little advice to get you started with them, we’ve got what you’re looking for! And if you somehow missed the rest of the articles, we’ve got a handy link to the rest of the series at the bottom of this article. We’ll be posting a revised guide to picking your characters, including the new expansions! So, without further ado…

The Mechanics & Meeples DFCO Strategy Guide, Section VIII-G: Playing Expansion #5: Winter Schemes

by Shannon Appelcline
Game Historian of Designers & Dragons
Board Game Analyst of Mechanics & Meeples

Caveat Reader: the very names of the two characters in expansion #5 are spoilers for character developments in Changes (#12) and Cold Days (#14). They’re arranged in that order.

Winter Knight Harry (Harry v2)

Harry’s focus has changed ever so slightly from predominantly investigative to combative. (It’s just a 1 Fate swing, as those two suits were always pretty balanced for Harry.)

Cards of Note. Replacing Harry’s old area-attack cards are “Infriga!” (Attack) and “The Za Lord’s Guard” (Investigate), which can each place up to 6 tokens for a 4 Fate cost, but are very specific: they place 3/2/1 tokens on the first, second, and third cards of the appropriate type. On average, these are slightly better than Harry’s old area-attack cards because they offer a better than 1:1 Fate:token ratio with two targets in a row, while the old ones needed three to excel. This is particularly true for “Infriga!” because there will almost always be a row with at least two Foes; “The Za Lord’s Guard” is somewhat more likely to be discard fodder, especially for the three Books that only have two Cases. “Mab’s Voice” is also notable. It’s an Overcome that optionally lets Harry take another turn. Use this if Harry has drawn extra cards (or will do so) and would otherwise be out of sync with the rest of the group.

Best Suit [Attack: 12]. Besides “Infriga!” Harry also has “Rexus Mundus!” and “Arctis”, offering more hits without drama.

Talent: Mantle of Winter [Early Game]. Move Case or Foe. Harry’s Talent is still intended to advance Obstacles and Advantages that need to be resolved, but now he’ll do so by moving back Cases and Foes. Remember that those Cases and Foes must be free of tokens. This means that Harry will only be able to effectively move cards early in the game, and the other players have to be careful. (There is some opportunity for Harry’s Talent to be usable late in the game to move Foes and Cases to the group’s advantage, but because of this restriction, it’ll come up much less often.)

Stunt: Infriga … Forzare! [Late Game]. +5+2dF Hits to Kill Foe. Harry’s blasting rod did 4 damage as long as it killed a foe, while the Winter Knight’s Infriga Forzare does an average of 5. That’s better, right? Actually, it’s trickier, because if you try to target 5 damage, you’re going to waste Harry’s Stunt 33% of the time, and if you try to target 4 damage, you’re going to waste it 11% of the time. Only 3 damage is truly safe! You should usually use this Stunt to finish off a foe who has 4 or fewer Hits left, but wait until late in the game because it can alternatively be used as a Hail Mary if you really need 5 or 6 Hits.

Team Notes. Just like before Harry took up the Winter Mantle, you should work carefully with him early in the game to ensure that he can get Advantages and Obstacles into Range; and just like before, you should set him up to finish off a Foe with his Stunt. Just be aware that this Harry might be a little more constrained in what he can do and a little more chaotic in his results.

Winter Lady Molly (Molly v2)

Molly saw a larger shift than Harry, with her Investigate notably decreasing and her Attack notably increasing, leaving her more balanced, but ultimately an Attacker (and still a manipulator).

Cards of Note. Molly now has her own pair of area-attack cards. For 5 Fate she can use “Illusory Betrayal” to add a total of up to 3-7 Hits on 1-3 adjacent Foes, or “Agents of Sidhe”, which does the same for 1-3 adjacent Cases. These cards are beneficial if at least two cards of the appropriate type are adjacent, particularly given their strong range of 3, and they’re superb if three of the correct card types are lined up. As usual, that’s harder to do with Cases than Foes.

Best Suit [Attack: 12, Take Advantage: 8]. Molly only has three Attacks, but they’re worth 3-5 Fate, so they’re strong. She also has a strong set of three Take Advantages, of which “Winter’s Guidance” is cheap, “Lea’s Lessons” has strong Range at 3+2dF, and “Flawless Illusion” gives a rebate.

Talent: Power of the Lady [Intermittently, Any Time]. Ready to Eliminate Dice. The old Molly could precisely predict results on +1dF rolls and could avoid the worst results on +2dF rolls, all by flipping just 1 die to + or –. The new Molly instead flips all the dice in one of her rolls from – to “0”. Although this sounds more exciting, it’s not as good: it only allows her to ward against low rolls, not to guarantee the best results (e.g., both Mollies could turn “–  – ” to an average result, either “– +” or “0 0”, but the old Molly could also turn “– +” into “+ +” or even “–  – ” if she wanted, while the new Molly can only make it into “0 +”). So, Molly’s now more consistent, but has less upside and can’t lower high rolls.  The new Molly has a single +3DF card in her deck, and that’s the only time that her results can ever be better than the old Molly, because 1/27th of the time, when she rolls “– – –“ she turns that into “0 0 0” (+0), not “– + – ” (-1). Still, risk-averse players might like Molly’s new Talent better, because it feels better. As always, Molly’s talent is especially useful because most of her cards involve die rolls: 80% this time around. You should usually set Molly’s Talent up on the first turn and reset it every turn when it’s not ready, unless you have no +dF cards left in your hand, or it’s your last play of the game.

+1dF +2dF +3dF
Old Molly Minimum +1 +0 -1 (N/A)
New Molly Minimum +0 +0 +0

Stunt: A Favor Owed to Winter [Late Game]. Copy Unplayed Stunt. OK, this can be a little tricky and a little annoying, since you have to remember all the Stunts not in the game. If you want, grab all the unplayed Stunt cards and line them up next to Molly’s card. But, generally, you’ll go with a favorite: if you want to deliver Hits, use Kincaid (+3 Hits to Hurt Foe & Swap); and if you want to pile up Clues, that’s Sanya if the Case is uninvestigated (+3 Clues to Uninvestigated Case & Pull) or Butters if lots of Cases have been investigated (Add Clues to Investigated Cases), but their particular uses come up less often. More likely if you don’t want to straight up deliver hits, you’ll instead reuse a card by asking a favor of Ramirez (Return a Discarded Card). Amusingly, Molly can also effectively use the Stunts for the characters that are in the game by borrowing Mouse’s Stunt (Choose to Return a Used Stunt). You’ll usually want to save Molly’s Stunt until the very end of your game, when you’ve identified your biggest remaining obstacle to winning.

Team Notes. With Winter Lady Molly in play, you should carefully consider what characters everyone else is using (or rather: not using), to give her the most options for her Stunt. If you do that, you can ask the Winter Lady for almost anything and expect her to deliver. If there’s a gap in your path to victory, Molly’s your woman.

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.)