Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Special abilities: Makes inorganic ghosts that are immune to spells and stun enemies. Destroys an enemy, or ally, within 4 spaces by exploding, causing 4 damage in all surrounding squares. Can sacrifice an unit to gain two souls to use for it's spells.

Welcome back to THE UNDERDOG! The past week of Zatikon play brought out the nature of an underdog so loathed that even the other pieces won't play with him: The Diabolist! Don't be fooled by his power, deep down the Diabolist is nothing but a glorified sycophant, desperate to be liked by Warlocks and Necromancers, but lacking the coolness to hang. Simply put, the Diabolist has no friends. Why? He kills them all.

So who is able to fight alongside this temperamental snob of death? To start, lowly tacticians seem to be his favorite pushover. Maybe they look up to his superior intellect? Maybe the are traitors to another army? Maybe they want to die?

There is one "friend" to the Diabolist, but only in the sense that someone who kills his friends would define "friendship". The lonely Channeler. See, the Channeler is not a team player; he's just a ball hog. Just like the Diabolist growing up, when things didn't go his way he took his toys back and went home. "Warning: does not play well with others"- Mrs. Burntwitch, grade 1. In this behavior, the Diabolist and Channeler are best friends, so it's not a problem for the Diabolist if his friend the Channeler wants to use ALL seven actions EVERY turn.

But really, with a bunch tacticians and two almost unlikely friends, who else wants to join this? Who would be willing to face an Abjurer, Wizard, Warlock or Dragon with this as backup! Answer: no one of course, but there are plenty willing to get away from them as fast as possible. Horsemen, Cavalry, even Elephants; anything to get the heck away from the Diabolists mood swings.

Finally, let's not forget the Quartermaster. With a battle at hand, this guys wants nothing more but to pony-up on that donkey and fight fire-breathing dragons then have to have another bowl of soup thrown in his face with "next time I will explode you" haunting his sleep.

So, let's go over... Turn 1, deploy Quartermaster, Diabolist, and Channeler. Turn 2, deploy Tactician, Sacrifice Tactician and gain 3 actions, move Channeler and deploy Cavalry, then deploy second Cavalry and Tactician. ... Boom! That's how it's done son! Save the one last Rider in reserve, just to capture the castle in case Diabolist has to blow up his friend, and the rest.

Against the computer, maybe up to level 40 or so, blasting pieces with a blitzkrieg of Channeler and Cavalry seems to give you an advantage. If the Diabolist allows the Channeler to live long enough to be within range of the enemy Gateguard, a saved up release of energy (that's what she said) is usually enough to kill him with an added Cavalry attack.

Diabolist has a name for player vs player: Sacrifice. Channeler takes down 3 guys to be killed next turn? Perfect move. Attack with Cavalry, kill a piece, explode Cavalry to kill another. Perfect move. More ghosts. Let the Quartermaster or Tactician take the castle, or blow them up next to the Gateguard for the diabolist to walk in.

Sometimes the Diabolist tags along with a Warlock or Necromancer. Really, it's no act of pity, as the Warlock and Necromancer always seem to out survive the Diabolist. White Wizards avoid him altogether, although the Magus can be helpful with feeding spirits of will o' the wisps. War Elephants have had their place, even two of them deployed second turn can be threatening, but Diabolist is usually a bit too happy to let them die.

You might not want to hang out with him in real life, or even in a chat room, or even play Zatikon against him, but the Diabolist isn't so bad if you're in control. Just don't try to change him. Sure, ghosts are nice, throw 'em out there at any opportunity, and sometimes it's possible to resist killing your own guys. Still, when the smoke clears, and body parts are identified, there's no doubt the Diabolist will still have no friends.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Army: Enchanter + Archer + Priest

This is an army that I came up with when I started Zatikon. While the strategy involved with playing this army is fairly straightforward, it is nonetheless a solid army that can handle a variety of situations, and also works well in 2v2 or coop.

While some may think that the enchanter is the star of this army, the archer is really the keystone here. In order to play aggressively, it is best to protect the archer with your acolyte and shield maiden, and boost the archers damage by 1 with the enchanter right off the bat.
I generally use the archer to take out targets of opportunity and push up the map, and I use the enchanter to keep my opponents melee units at bay and make sure my archer does not get overwhelmed. I keep my priest slightly behind my enchanter to act as another safeguard against swarms of melee units. It is also worth mentioning to keep your acolyte and shield maiden close to each other, so that the acolyte can heal the maiden when she takes damage.

The short run objective of this army is to boost your archers damage, and push across the board as quickly as your enchanter will allow. The quicker you advance with your buffed and powered up archer or "power archer" the lesser the likelihood that your opponent will be able to find an answer for it. If you can push your opponent's army 1 or 2 ranks away from his castle, you are in an extremely good position.

The middle to late game for this army is somewhat of a dice roll. Armies that are heavy in the use of horsemen pose a significant threat, because their mobility allows them to spread out rapidly and nullify the area of effect stun that your enchanter has. On top of that, their high damage and ability to strike at multiple pieces can overwhelm or circumvent that protection that your acolyte and maiden offer. Other casters, especially ones that stun are a big threat, because they can nullify your archer.

In a late game standoff, continue to power your archer up and look for a way to bring your enchanter up to break the stalemate. Move your shield maiden and acolyte with your archer, enchant and priest to allow you to shift protection to the pieces who are being threatened. Just remember, the longer this army is on the board, the more your opponent can position his pieces and get them set up for a crippling attack. Also, another interesting tactic is to buff the priest with the acolyte and shield maiden and aggressively use your enchanter to try to land a stun. Then bring your priest up and convert those units; even if you do not have the commands to effectively utilize them, you have "1 shotted" your opponents units, and they have to waste time dealing with their own pieces as well.

Army's Strengths:
-Fairly rapid to deploy
-Very strong initial push
-Handles a variety of situations well

Army's Weaknesses:
-Since it relies on a powered up archer for damage, it is extremely vulnerable to getting overwhelmed
-Scouts and Rogues can cause huge problems for this army
-Priest offers only a soft counter to threatening melee units
-Lack of commands

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Zatikon Underdog: The Chieftain

The Chieftain

Special ability: Cancel enemy movement, any number of times, any range, when the enemy tries to move in a direction away from this unit. Enemy still pays costs for attempting to move.

Welcome to THE UNDERDOG! Last weeks focus was on the historically lovable, easily beatable piece: The Chieftain. A classic underdog, the Chieftain is used to being underestimated. Similar to William Wallace, Shaka Zulu, or the Ice Queen Boudica, his moral boosting influence doubles the armies power with sheer courage and ferocity, leaving every battle a fight to the death...

At first, it seemed like the Chieftain was an all out powerhouse to be sided by barbarians, berserkers, werewolves, and other bruisers for a steady beating advance. So wrong. Out of harms way is exactly where the Chieftain leads from, far from enemy archers to rally his units and enter the battle after the clash has subsided, decimating stragglers with his power as the enemy tries to flee.

Not trusting magic, and with 'no heavy cavalry', the Chieftain's army is best when made of a variety of low cost units to suit any situation. One of each: Pikeman, Rider, Cavalry, Ballista, Quartermaster, Berserker, Barbarian, Bowman, Strategist, and lowly Axeman.

With the Quartermaster down followed by a Ballista, Berserker, and Axeman, we start the assault. With the Ballista aimed at any magic user from the start, thus taking away their usual 1 action a turn for movement, the Axeman and Berserker can move as quickly or as slowly as they want into the battle field, depending on the enemy's deployment. With the Pikemen ready for cavalry or attacks to the ballista, Cavalry and Rider for added pressure to Magic users, healers, and other low power/ life units, and Bowmen covering the defensive or offensive position, the set up begins.

As the offensive slowly develops until the opponent engages, the "check mate" opportunity is scouted. Maybe an advance with the Berserker is pushed, him wiling to die for a one turn slaughterfest, or between Cavalry, Ballista, and Rider, there is a key piece is attacked with little maneuverability. Whatever the move, there is that Chieftain ace-in-the-hole waiting to cement the play.

Backed up by a barbarian or two, enemies who have over-extended themselves into the Chieftains territory are about to face Mr. OneHit, and some ever growing opportunistic savages just waiting on the enemy units like sheep to the wolves.

Changing it up a bit, subbing in a mason or two does wonders, forcing your opponent down the middle instead of around your walls. Switch in a catapult, and maybe even a ranger or sergeant to free up some actions, and suddenly you've got an opponent running at your walls into waiting pikemen! While this adaptable arsenal of units is solid, and if well played can be a real pain against most anything, the Chieftain is truly his best with one particular unit...

Another Chieftain! That's 600 points of headlights headin' right for the deer! With one banger on each side of the board, there's no where to run but down the middle. What happens when Double Trouble gets too far up the board and there a straggling piece lunging for the castle? The piece sits there stuck, unable to move a single space for victory! "Hold of the Chieftain" is everywhere, even in your house, so there's nothing but shooting ducks in a barrel.

Question is, what are you shooting with? With a first turn Quartermaster, Chieftain, Barbarian, there aren't many more points left of the remaining 400. Second turn Chieftain, and then what? Well, what would the Chieftain do?

Ballista seems like a necessity. Any Witch or Abjurer is a problem for our kings, and there are few counters within 400 points. Ballista out ranges all magic users except warlock, and in this case is still a distraction. For one action a turn, negating a magic user is crucial.

Gotta protect that Ballista too. Knights, lancers, Elephants all advancing before we get the lockdown, so some pikemen are recommended, or, for a bit more, a shaman fits the bill.

What about the slaughter? Really, with the Quartermaster and Ballista, we're working with 200 points left before Pikemen or Shaman. Scratch the Shaman, we need units! The quartermaster is just too good to let go of, as the Chieftains can be susceptible to ranged attacks that don't have to move, so we need some healing out there. Even a ballista that finds it's way to knocking into a Chieftain on the side can't kill it in one shot, and with healing every turn, the Chieftain is just as effective taking Ballista bolts to the chest every turn as moving up the board.

One thing I found was the more pieces I could put on the board, the scarier the Chieftains looked. A single ballista, or even a warlock, just made 3 pieces in total. What is a Chieftain without a hoard? Thus, for 200 points, we need to pack a hoard. Pikeman, Bowman, Barbarian, Rouge? Scouts aren't bad, as we let the opponent melt away in a pool of poison while unable to move, and foot soldiers deploy fast and keep with a non-movement theme, but I like flexibility, so with some pokers, shooters, hackers, and stunners, it's sure to get messy in that barrel.

It's easy to look straight for an abjurer or warlock, envisioning a winning record, and that's OK. Some people need fancy robes and cleverness to feel good about themselves. The Chieftain only knows one thing for certain: If there's to be a fight, it's a fight to the finish.