Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Fire/Support - Gloomhaven Tinkerer Guide

Note: the Tinkerer's summons are based on some of Wyrd's old Arcanist models.

I've learned, over the years, that I very often gravitate towards generalists that neither excel at one thing nor do they ever really lack a tool.

These classes and characters tend to be devalued, specifically because they're not very straightforward: They're not tough enough to be the tank; they're not strong enough to be a glass cannon; in this case, the Tinkerer doesn't even have enough support to be dedicated support.

In short, they're tricky and don't tend to be very spectacular, and are often even moderately flawed in their design, since even the designers need to go in without such an obvious direction and that can mean a class doesn't run well, or doesn't run well within the intended role. But, I find them immensely rewarding to play once I understand them, so I thought I'd share some thoughts on Gloomhaven's least-loved class.*
Also, there will be class-related spoilers, because, well, what did you expect? It's a strategy guide.

One final caveat before getting started: Looking around the internet, I believe I play the Tinkerer far more aggressively than most do. So, this might not match with your experience or play style, but the below is based on my playing the Tinkerer as one of my party's more valuable offensive characters. So, you can think of it like a class guide, or like a guide to how to play the class in a new way.

Remember to take full advantage of not needing to survive scenarios: It's often better to go out in a blaze of glory with the Tinkerer than to wait around 2 extra turns, really stretching those okay actions.

* At the time of writing, for whatever an internet poll with a decent sample size is worth, BoardGameGeek's describes the Tinkerer as the most disliked starting class (by more than the two next choices combined) and half as liked as the next-most-liked class.

Guns. Lots of Guns.
So... I can get away with calling that reference "classic" and not sound dated, right?

The Tinkerer is pretty tough (but, in accordance with the above, not especially so). Added to this, if you need to shunt damage to a card, he's got a lot of them, so can take more damage than he looks like he should, if absolutely necessary.

I feel like breaking down the numbers and looking at the Tinkerer's actions from a distance, before looking at each unique instance, gives a sense of how he functions. Out of the Tinkerer's 31 cards (reminder: 12 in a session), there are three tiers of frequency:

The first tier pretty much defines how he feels on the board, with the addition that virtually all of his strong cards are lost (as described in Pacing below). While you can eventually get more out of him, his major offensive role is, in one way or another, crowd control, which my gaming group really came to appreciate once I became good with him: While many of them are one-shots, he has a ton of different debilitating abilities that often target more than one model, and he's great at setting up or finishing off kills, though very rarely is he able to actually KO a piece on his own.

His other role is recovery (which I often find too finnicky to pull off) and a plethora of healing options, ranging from 1-6 health, at range 1-4. While you could probably run him as more or less dedicated support, his one-shot attacks are just too fun to pass up, in my opinion. And, if you're a dedicated supporter who's outlived who you're supporting then, besides doing a poor job, you're pretty much stuck taking punches until you lose the scenario.
  • 14 cards that can target range 2-5 (of course, any ranged attack can also be done at range 1)
  • 13 cards that are include forms of defensive or recovery assistance (including ones that can or do self-target; not including indirect defense like muddle, which are included in...)
  • 10 cards with some form of debilitating effect (poison, wound, etc.), half of which affect multiple enemies 
  • 8 multi-target attacks (including the Auto-turret, which functions similarly)
The next tier is things which are useful, and you'll probably end up having quite a few of these available to you. He's almost always going to be just behind the front line, if you're playing him right. He's fine taking a few hits, and almost all of his abilities (offensive and defensive) have a range of 2-3 (and his summons are all melee-oriented), and, while he has little in the way of spectacular movement, he has a lot of movement 4 available so can keep up pretty well. Combined with his above range, this also means that, unless you're doing something on the selfish side or trying to get a pile of guys under a template, that your position in the turn rarely matters.
  • 6* persistent actions: 3 timed buffs; 3 summons (also 1 summon assist that isn't persistent)
  • 6† movement 4 actions
  • 6† move-plus-effect actions (no move-plus-attack actions)
The final tier mostly represents holes you can patch or where you can situationally act differently. Whether it's a great action you're saving for the right moment, or being able to dynamically respond, these are valuable tools that don't come up often enough to define your average turn. Sometimes, though, they're just right for the scenario.

Also, there are some traps I rarely use.
  • 4 traps
  • 4* strong single-target attacks
  • 3 bottom half attacks
  • 2* attack equivalents that effectively ignore shields and retaliate
  • 2† multitarget offensive buffs
  • 2* movement 6+
  • 3* melee attacks (plus the always-available basic, and the summons' attacks, wherever those fall)
  • 2* loot actions
  • 1† top half movement action

* All actions lost in the category (26 cards across all categories, including 2 where both halves spend them).
† Actions never lost in the category (6 cards in which neither half spends them).
NB: If I say "card" I mean either halves.

Also, not breaking it down into some sort of crazy spreadsheet to cross-reference with the above, but, his speeds break down as follows:

70s: 7
20s: 5
30s: 5
10s: 4
40s: 4
60s: 3
80s: 2
90s: 1

Interestingly, there's nothing in the 50s, and only one within the extreme (90+/10-) initiative ranges. There are 13 in the upper half; 18 in the lower half. In practice, I expect to go early-ish or late-ish, and can't push either end very hard. If you want to sneakily grab some cash early, you'll need to pay pretty close attention to what the other players have used, if you know they have a couple particularly speedy cards. In less-selfish terms, don't take it as a given that you're able to set something up if you go quickly.

Pacing (and gear)
The Tinkerer has a high number of very strong, very specific or situational, experience-generating actions that you lose after using them, and almost everything else (at least, until Enhanced) is movement or pretty minor damage or patching. More than anything, the pacing required here naturally encourages you long rest—unless you're extremely stretched or in a very comfortable position where you don't care about any more lifting—in order to have complete control over which tools you have left, because if you were saving the perfect action for the perfect time, you probably don't have another tool like it.

NB: An easily missed rule when starting is that you can choose to take damage to re-draw your Short Rest card. I still prefer the Tinkerer long resting, but it means that if you really need to move, you can.

Also, those strong, spent, multi-target attacks mean that you want to be sure they connect, because, if they don't, that's a substantial portion of your entire damage output.

Because you're going to be long resting, this also encourages you to take items that refresh, and items that buff multitarget attacks.

In short, the suggested starting gear of the Eagle Eye Goggles is pretty much essential to the class, at least until you find another source of advantage. I'd also recommend picking up either of the earlier boot types pretty quickly, and then really anything, to taste, with a preference towards things that refresh. Melee obviously isn't a strong suit.

If I don't need to push the character, I plan my rest cycles around using the goggles on a one-shot, which requires a bit of planning ahead, and a fair number of long rests.

If you happen to find gear that adds targets, that option is very strong on some of your one-shots, and stamina potions are always nice.

I've noted a few choices specifically with their entries below, but my personal emphasis, for the class that already has a lot of very specific tools, starts with flexibility: Range and attack volume is what I feel is essential to playing the class.

Getting into pricey options, you can buff various AOEs, but I'm not sure how much this is worth it, since you'll never be an exceptional damage dealer.

For buffs, Strengthen plays most obviously to your AOEs etc. To collect your options with their levels:
  • Flamethrower* (1) and Auto Turret (6) are bottom half opportunities (meaning you'll have an easier time getting 2 rounds of Strengthen out of one action).
  • Restorative Mist (1), Stamina Booster (2), Curative Aerosol (7) are healing cards that aren't spent, though top halves (meaning you'll mostly only benefit from them for your next round: there are three bottom half attacks in your whole deck, two of which are spent). 
  • Harmless Contraption (1) and Reinvigorating Elixir (1) also roughly match the above criteria, but I don't think they have the longevity to be worth upgrading.
  • You have a lot of spent healing cards, but I don't think any of these are worth it, because they're bigger and one-shots, so you're more likely to spend these as needed for the party, rather than as you want to.
You've also got a lot of movement 4: These are pretty good targets to tag with jump.

There's another category of card, where I didn't really have a great idea where to describe it, so, writing about it in terms of Enhancements seems appropriate enough.

You start with several different basic weapons that aren't spent: Enhancement Field (damage); Toxic Shot (poison); Hook Gun (position); Stun Shot (duh); Reviving Shot (multi-target).

Earlier on, these are a decent number of the Tinkerer's total cards, but, as you progress, you'll (I'll) tend towards stronger single shots. But, it's not great to only have one-shots, so you'll want some of these. Just like the Tinkerer's standard arsenal of specialist tools, these are specialist tools. Each has a pretty unique role, and I'll tend to take 1-2 of the above in any given fight.

I personally prefer the other effects of Toxic Shot (another strong attack) and Hook Gun (loot, loot, loot!), but they're all pretty strong and, for instance, Toxic, Stun, and Enhancement are better if you're against tough targets in different roles, while Reviving is good for softening up weak targets.

I don't think you should Enhance more than a couple of these, because they have a nice role and you're probably not taking many regularly.

I also think that it's not worth repeating roles: Repeating a status condition on Enhancement or Reviving is redundant; pushing attack on something is just trying to make it cover the same territory as Enhancement. I think that each should be upgraded to either do its role better, or apply a status effect that you don't get from another attack.

In a theme repeated through this article, I think the best way to play the Tinkerer is to always have a tool for the job, not to make your attacks the same.

* See note at its entry.

I expect a lot of this is personal preference, but, my thought process on why I choose what I do.

In what's clearly a theme by now, most of your damage output comes in one-shots. Because of this, I think that culling your bad cards first, while not very exciting, is best because it means you've a better shot of getting decent damage out. For the same reason, getting rid of scenario penalties pretty early is wise.

Because, in order to buff said attacks, you're also likely to be giving yourself advantage a lot, this unfortunately means that rolling modifiers are bad for your deck, and the flame ones are just plain terrible, since they don't even benefit you at all.*

Once you've trimmed down your deck, or if you feel like rewarding yourself, really, any of the positive cards are pretty strong. I like the healing one because I tend to play my Tinkerer moderately forward, and even though almost inevitably draw it when I'm at full health, those 2 extra health are great padding when you need them. I find the 3 probably the least valuable, because usually I'm going for targets where neutral to +1 will get what I want, and 3 is overkill.

* You can't draw a Ø with advantage unless you have rolling modifiers, and negate most of the other advantages of... something called "advantage"... which I think makes all rolling modifiers (counterintuitively) bad unless the modifier itself is great, regardless of classes I've seen, but I'm wandering into general design territory now, and something which plenty of others have discussed, so will leave it at that.

You're an inventor*, not a magician. You don't need that hocus-pocus flying around in the air! In fact, you basically don't ever use it. The earth you generate gives you a little natural synergy with the Cragheart starting class, but everything else is one-shots so probably situational, and usually will look like "hey, guys, I'm putting X up, if you want it."

* ...ish little guy. Could I get away with using "steampunk" as a noun rather than an adjective?

I've described the general principles of these above, but now looking into the minutiae of their specific roles.

The Tinkerer scales fairly slowly. He has a large hand and his cards are often burnt, so you see relatively small impact over time of adding single cards. Also, he has some kind of dud levels, in my opinion: level 2 is weak; level 3 is the best early level but not much of a choice; level 4 is likely improving a specific level 1 card by replacing it. Level 5 is where things start rolling.

For Level 1/X, I'm going to use a rating system, since you're not comparing between two choices but between fifteen, and you're much more likely to always take your higher-level cards, so there's the question of which get tossed, too.

++ Strong enough that I need a good reason not to take it. (4/15)
+ Strong enough to always consider. (5/15)
[neutral] Umm, what I just said. At best, that is: They're probably a little on the weak side, or situational. (3/15)
- Poor and/or situational; either way, not a staple, and probably replaced ASAP. Fortunately, there are few enough that you're never required to take any. (3/15)

Level 1
++ An Energizing Tonic is hard for me to ignore. I expect I just made some Tinkerer players grumble, but I'm going to go against common sentiment: in a class with a large hand, where you're often trying to use exactly the right tool, at exactly the right time, I think this card is a valuable addition.

The lowest initiative in the Tinkerer's deck serves it well, whether you're healing or dashing out of the way (or to get that sweet, sweet cash). Despite both halves burning it, I rarely play without it. With short-ranged burst attacks, there are also sometimes instances when you just want to go early in order to generic move 2 and attack with the best shot at landing your attack before that juicy clump moves. I like this one in combination with putting up a summon or dashing to the right position for one of my strong attacks. (Healing is fine in a pinch, but not why I take this card, since there are other means of picking up healing.)

Enhancement Field is a bit misleading: It makes it seem like its main strength is the +1 attack buff's ability to include allies, but, realistically, this is not the easiest to coordinate for the effort. The Enhancement Field does two things well. First, it's your strongest single attack that isn't lost (not that 3 is hugely impressive), all the way until level 7. Second, it buffs those multitarget attacks that are where most of your offense comes from. I often take this in any scenario where I'm worried about shields or other penalties that make my one-shot attacks ineffectual. Not a favorite, but always worth considering.

++ Ah, my lovely Flamethrower. The Tinkerer's only melee-ranged attack (excepting the generic one) before level 8, it's also one of few attacks that indirectly damages the target. I enjoy the timing on it, since the middle of the turn is likely when you want to walk up, after some attacks have been made, and retaliate against a clump. Its shield is most often useful either the first turn (depending on party composition) or the turn you summon one of your robot friends, and rarely otherwise.

NB: The shield works while adjacent to the Tinkerer. Strengthen/Bless enhancements will apply to models adjacent when you use the action.

The Harmless Contraption really doesn't scale well, since a small heal that eats your movement and a 6 health target both see diminishing returns as things get stronger. My usual use for it is in combination with opening a door or when I otherwise need a turn of padding, since its 6 health can take a few hits that I don't want to. Soaking has some decent uses, but I don't think I ever took it once I had another summon option. Only a barely-decent corner-case piece, past the beginning of a campaign. The heal is, of course, nice enough if you don't need to move.

+ The Hook Gun is a strong utility card, that doesn't really look like one. While not hugely flexible, loot 2 is great when you need it. Similarly, attack 2 is okay, but pull and decent range is strong. It's a decent setup card, and it's your only more flexible means of triggering traps you lay. The problem with traps, though, is that, other than the Tinkerer's Tools, all of your traps share the same card half, meaning they take two turns to set up and assume cooperative baddies. Since it's short range and you're usually not in front, it's not particularly flexible for setting up allies' attacks. I much prefer to opportunistically rake baddies across traps (esp. if they have high shields so aren't susceptible to most of your attacks), or pull baddies out of doorways.

On traps in general, these are one of the Tinkerer's only two initial means of doing damage that ignores shields (the other being the Flamethrower's Wound), and I think they're designed to work with the Hook Gun as described above. In practice, though, their more common use is to create obstacles that melee enemies need to navigate around. The actual strength of this pseudo-obstacle strategy depends on either allies being able to knock baddies into traps, and/or your party's ability to ignore the traps you make, or you'll have wasted a turn gumming up your own party's movement. Most of the time, I think they should be ignored, since in most scenarios you're trying to get to the enemy, rather than preventing the enemy from getting to you.

However! They're pretty useful in stalling during the rare defensive scenario, since if you cover up everything but one opening, they're pretty decent at creating .

Note: the above is based on 4-player parties. Traps may be more useful when you don't need to worry quite so much about coordination and space.

++ Your Ink Bomb is the strongest attack you start with, and the broadest single source of damage you'll likely have for some time (laying down around 12 total damage). I never leave home without it.

- The Proximity Mine is probably the weakest of the "move 4" cards. It's burnt, to create something difficult to use, and doesn't even have a built-in low initiative to get that mine properly in the way.

++ The Net Shooter is just golden. Range (and the flexibility that comes with it), initiative, area, damage, immobilize, experience: This card pretty much defines the cream of the Tinkerer's offensive crop, for several levels. I often use it when entering a room, since it can isolate (or at least delay) a wave during that crucial, vulnerable turn. Its bottom half is a bit harder to time, but is a decent defensive option, since you want to disengage, anyways.

This was my first choice for Enhancement (adding a hex, of course): Not only can you cover extra targets and with them gain experience and immobilization, it also effectively increases the attack's range by 1 hex, able to target up to 5 away. This flexibility is well worth it in my opinion.

Reinvigorating Elixer is... pretty strong, depending on the timing, but, since the Recover eats your move action, it's hard to set up. I most often use it during rest turns or the turn before them, so my ally wasn't burning their card during a rest, or had cards to shunt for damage. I don't really like it, because it effectively means you lose one card so an ally can stretch theirs cycle, and since the Tinkerer relies heavily on burnt cards for most of his effectiveness, I don't like the trade. Mostly used it for its basic heal until I got something better.

+ Restorative Mist is not very showy, but you'll be singing the praises (well, probably not literally, unless you're really emotive) of its move action in any poison-heavy environment. I often take it, since a lot of small healing is very convenient to have around.

+ Stun Shot is a solid early card. It's got high initiative, which will almost certainly benefit taking an enemy out for a turn or moving where you need to get. Probably one of the Tinkerer's better offensive support cards.

An obvious choice for Wound if you can spare 75 gold; also a solid choice for jump if you can spare another 50.

++ Toxic Bolt is a card I always take, and is your strongest single attack you start with. Besides nice initiative, it's got ranged poison to soften up targets for either allies or your own needs. The bottom half is difficult to use since it isn't until level 7 that you can move with the top half: the only setup you can personally create is using your Hook Gun to drag something into its short range.

It's also your only card that both generates elements and isn't lost: in a starting party, your Cragheart will like you.

The bottom half's range was an early choice to Enhance, since it makes the attack, in which you can't move, into something much easier to pull off, and it's a cheap upgrade. Also, you're probably used to range 3, so it'll be easier to think about.

Level X
+ Reviving Shock doesn't look like much, but I've come to often rely on it. It's the only multi-target attack that doesn't get burnt, and it's remarkable how often a couple basic attacks with flexible targeting is perfect for finishing off some guys. Also, some nice healing is nothing to sneeze at.

- Potent Potables is extremely level-dependent. If the level has a lot of Poison, the card is complete trash; if not, it's still not amazing , since many of the Tinkerer's heals are pretty strong already. Its overtly powerful interaction with Restorative Mist is definitely something you can play towards (since they're on opposite halves, a turn for 3 heal for yourself and anyone you can get move to can save a fair amount of proverbial bacon). That its other half is one of your weakest improved move options doesn't help.

- Volatile Concoction is just not very good, compounded with it being slow. I guess the theory is, once the Tinkerer has run out of good cards, or is running support, the recovery is more valuable, but I guess I play the Tinkerer too selfishly for that. On traps, see the Hook Gun.

Level 2
Neither of these are all that amazing...

Disorienting Flash provides two pretty decent defensive options. If the Stun weren't burnt, it would be great, but it is lost, so it's very limited.

Stamina Booster is... not much of a boost. A non-burnt heal 4 is nice enough, and its recovery effect is more flexible though otherwise similar in total impact (and player longevity) to the previous recovery cards.

Level 3
There's the Crank Bow, and then there's not-the-Crank-Bow. I feel the choice is more than obvious. I consider this the first major power growth in the Tinkerer.

How I love the Crank Bow. (What a surprise, right? I bet you thought I was going to say I liked the other card more.) This is one of the single largest advances in playing the Tinkerer, since it's got your highest range (and doesn't take movement), and is strong. This is a dramatic improvement to playing the Tinkerer as anything other than support, and helps crack shields, which is something the class is normally pretty bad at.

The Tinkerer's Tools trap, as mentioned above, has the only direct interaction set up with the Hook Gun (which mostly reads as "add stun to your gun at the price of your movement," when judging its value). This is also the only way to drop 2 traps in one turn, if you want to create a little defensive wall. Its disarm ability is the only Tinkerer action that generates experience without being lost, despite being somewhat situational... Also, kind of contradictory with the above niche benefits. I really don't get what this card's intended purpose is, but it's a waste of design space, especially when the other level 3 is so strong.

Level 4
A tough choice of recovery or greed, vs. offense, with a side of movement in either case. Also, both more or less directly replace another card (Harmless Contraption and Hook Gun), since all are spent and neither is so strong that you want two instances of the same ability, outside of corner cases.

Like the Harmless Contraption, the Dangerous Contraption doesn't scale especially well, since 6 health only goes so far. However, it has two advantages: Move 4 is far less situational that heal 2 at the price of moving, and this robot can hit back. There are often times when the offense is just a terrible plan: power 2 vs. a shield, or retaliation, are both really rough, and there are plenty of times when that 6 health just evaporates. But, sticking him down against someone with no special defenses, or as a fire & forget damage source against a weakened enemy or an objective, is very strong in the right situation, since you can go off rather than needing to stay and finish something. Hardly universal, but it definitely has its uses.

Micro Bots is a nice enough option. It's not all that strong, but I also don't think the Dangerous Contraption is fantastic, so if you'd rather loot and maybe heal vs. have an uncontrollable summon, it's worth considering.

Level 5
Two area attacks that do something you couldn't before. I consider this the Tinkerer's second major power spike.

The Disintegration Beam is stronger than it looked to me, where I thought it was just for clearing out swarms. Unlike any of the Tinkerer's other one-shot attacks, it doesn't rely on the whims of your damage deck, so doesn't compete for their resources. It also does non-attack damage, making it great at cutting straight through armor. The super laser has taken out its fair share of slightly hurt elite, super-shielded guys by just pointing in their direction and removing them from reality.  It's also a different shape of attack than anything else you have, which makes it nicely flexible. The other half of the card is nice, too, since, it also often takes a guy out of the game (for a turn): I often use this option in an early turn to more safely advance. This might be my favorite of the Tinkerer's cards.

The Noxious Vials are about equivalent to your level 1 areas (all some form of 3 damage + substantial effect or 1 damage), except that it's on the bottom half of a card, meaning you can do two a turn, in particularly lethal combination even setting up a tough group of 3 with poison, then hitting them again. The other half is nice, too, if you like more of an assist role.

Level 6
The persistent effects here substantially define the Tinkerer's role as support or offense.

It was immediately obvious how useful the Auto Turret is, in practice. Summons don't last very long, anyway, so the way I think of this is as essentially a really flexible summon, where you don't get health from it, but you also get to pick how it attacks, instead of whatever it's pointed at. That isn't to say that this should be mutually exclusive with summons: a rest turn in which you put out two attacks without needing to be close to baddies is nothing bad, and those are pretty solid additions to a regular turn, too.

The Gas Canister is interesting. Where it differs from the other options is, it's persistent so, if you've teamed up with someone who has a strong, non-burnt card, they can spam it five times in a row, besides extending their rest cycle by 2 turns, or you can passively help multiple players rather than one a cycle. However, this is extremely dependent on coordination and party composition.

Level 7
Two cards that let you do things you can't do otherwise: You get a top move, and a bottom attack, that you don't spend.

Note: I feel like this is really where the Tinkerer has all of his tools.

Curative Aerosol probably replaces any other top-heal you have (other than Energizing Tonic, which you're taking for its move if you take it), since it also lets you move. Also, it's a top that lets you move! Double-also it isn't even spent! You can easily hit 8 movement (push for 14+) interspersed with healing, combined with another movement card. The other half is decent in emergencies.

Murderous Contraption is pretty darn juicy, but more for its bottom action than its top. Again, I don't think melee summons are very good, and 6 health won't last all that long, though the little guy will have his uses.

Level 8
Again, I don't really feel like the Tinkerer excels at this level. However...

Harsh Stimulants is pretty fun. You  turn the Tinkerer into a decent murderer this way; it's just a lot of fun, especially if you have another high-target attacker. The problem is, I feel like the Tinkerer's general damage output doesn't quite keep up, so, by this point, you have exciting turns with your Stimulants up, and then other turns where you plink at things without shields.

Interestingly, Jet Propulsion doesn't specify allies summoned by you, so it has some nice interactions with teammates' summons, too, depending, of course, on party composition. Move 8 jump is neat. But, the whole thing just isn't that exciting as a whole.

Level 9
I haven't gotten to these, and expect that most of my insights won't help anyone by the time they've run that far through the class.

Going it Alone: the Solo Scenario
Well, this wouldn't be much of a guide if I didn't write on the one dedicated scenario... For those unaware, there's a free PDF version of these (one per class), that was also printed (though this seems to have only been available for the Kickstarter; I don't know if there's any intent to release these further).

First, the non-spoliery part: Do not play this at baddie level 4+!

I tried it twice, and my group realized that the stats shift enough that, completely unrelated to player control, the AI will just ruin the scenario for you. It might be possible, but it's probably going to take some really good luck, and I don't like to play games where difficulty is based on chance rather than unforgiving mechanics.

Do whatever you'd like to play it at level 3, whether that's just playing it easy; "rewinding" like I did and try to approximate a balanced fight at level 3; restarting the class later; whatever you'd like. But, again: Do not play this at level 4+!

Next, minor spoilers: This is a defensive scenario, so you should look at tools you lose less frequently.

Finally, if you're struggling and really need to figure this out, some specific strategy:

Create a choke point with traps: The earlier, the better, and I've found that leaving a choke point on one end works well. Most of the rest of this fight is a matter of running healing/defense/interference at the right points, and managing your cards like you might a normal game, though with a little more emphasis on low-initiative cards.

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