The game continues to grow. This is so great. New players - welcome! Godtear is very fun and I'm sure you'll have a great time. I've already written an article with 10 random bits of advice for new players, and this article is simply meant to add to that. As I play more games with new players, I notice things that might help their experience. Please ignore anything in this article that won't help you have fun. Fun is the point.
Without further ado, a few more general pointers...
1. ABC - Always Be Claiming
The plot phase is often overwhelming for players who are at the beginning of their 3v3 Godtear journeys. I recommend starting with the idea that you want to make as many claim actions as possible and building the rest of your plan from there. Just get banners down. Get three down if at all possible. Claim actions are very, very good and you want to take them as often as possible. Claim actions do at least two useful things for you. First, they score you a step. That's nice. Two steps, if it's a Shaper. Second, claiming obligates your opponent to try to crush the banner you've placed. Even if the opponent will be able to crush the banner easily, you still want to force them to spend their actions to do it. The mere presence of your banners on the board punishes your opponent for not going to predictable places, which gives you leverage and control. Every time you claim, you score steps and constrain your opponent. Always. Be. Claiming.
2. Don’t duck the hits
In other wargames, there's a lot of fretting about threat ranges. In these games, it's usually wise not to expose your pieces to enemy attacks. You want avoid being on the receiving end of an "alpha strike." I get it. Godtear is different. Remember that champions never come off the board, but banners do. It's not great to take a punch to the face, I know, but it's worse to let enemy banners score. A champion KO usually takes more than a single turn to achieve, but a banner always takes only one. Class bonuses aside, a banner is worth every bit as much as a KO. Think less about avoiding attrition than you do about holding objectives. Even if it exposes your champion to enemy attacks, put it as close to the center of each objective cluster as possible. This will position your champion to crush banners. Over the course of three turns, if your champion gets KOd once but also crushes three banners, then you're probably getting the better of that exchange. Godtear is much more about positioning than it is about attrition.
3. Embrace imperfect play
Godtear is so wonderfully deep because it has so many decision points over the course of a turn. This is a game of complex positioning, counter play, synergy, and risk management. I have played against many of the best players in the world and, I assure you, I have never seen anyone play perfect Godtear. This is something to celebrate about the game - it's not solvable! However, sometimes we as players have difficulty making a move unless we are sure it's the optimal move. This is especially true for new players when that second plot phase rolls around. There are so many options that it's sometimes overwhelming, especially if we're convinced that we have to find a perfect solution to the puzzle before us. To play Godtear quickly and enjoyably, we must all let go of our need for perfection and embrace a degree of uncertainty. There is no perfect Godtear. Just take some risks and have fun.
4. Don’t overrate boons and blights
Boons and blights are often not as impactful as we think. I'm sorry if this is tough news. I think there is a real appeal to the idea of a wargame that's all about building overlapping synergies through layers of buffs and debuffs, but Godtear just is not that game. Champions can never gain more than one of any boon or blight type, so it's hard to really overload one of your strengths or overwhelm an opponent's weakness. Moreover, boons and blights are expended the first time they are used, so your control over their effects is somewhat subject to counter play by opponents. Even the speed boon, which is perhaps the best boon, can be somewhat inefficient. If it costs an action to acquire the boon, then you are essentially spending half of an activation to gain one more hex of movement. This is not to say that boons and blights aren't important. They are important. It's just that they should be understood more as extra nudges than as centerpieces of a strategy. Boons and blights really impact the game when they can be applied efficiently, whether as hit effects (like Jaak's speed blight from Spider Staff) or simply given out passively (like Lilly's Touch of the Fae or the Gearhawks' Eagle Eye). When you find yourself spending a lot of your precious action economy simply to apply a single boon, you may not be making the ideal move. If your pre-round game plan revolves around particular boons and blights, perhaps reconsider.
5. Look at cards
One thing that I like about asymmetric games with list-building options is the time I can spend enjoying the game even when I am not playing it. It's fun to think about different matchups and combinations of champions. For many wargames, especially those with faction restrictions and/or points systems, it's really useful to spend a lot of time thinking about your own models and how best to form a strong, synergistic list. For Godtear, I think the focus is a bit different. Instead, I suggest that players spend their away from the table game time by looking at a wide range of cards, including those of champions they do not actually own. This is because the key to mastering Godtear is to develop an understanding of how your models interact with the opponent's models. That may sound obvious, but I think a lot of people's first instinct is to think about how their own models interact with each other. Godtear, in my experience, has more to do with matchups than with synergies. This means that reading the opponent's cards is essential. This is also true during the game. Any opponent who isn't a jerk should have no problem with you looking at their cards as often as you need to.
6. Don’t latch on to bad champions
Morrigan and Rattlebone are bad. They're bad. I'm sorry, but it's true. This is especially tough because they have great looking models and because Morrigan comes in a starter set. Godtear is great, but no game is perfect. It sucks, but these two champions are simply not very powerful compared to the others. It is true that overall, champions are generally well balanced, but sometimes new players think this means that the balance of every champion is flawless. I'm not sure that's possible or even desirable. I own both of these champions, and I'm happy that I do, but I would not recommend that you anoint yourself as the person who will finally make this champion work unless you're happy being an underdog all the time. It's not that the community hasn't tried to make these two work. We have. A lot. It turns out that it takes a lot of effort and skill just to make these champions functional, let alone effective. If that's fun for you, go ahead, but for most people, it's better to explore the game through champions which do their thing without you having to build your whole game around just getting them up to par.
7. Consider the end phase during the plot phase
It tends to be more intuitive to think about how than plot phase connects to the clash phase than to think about how the clash phase connects with the plot phase of the next turn. This has to do with the end phase scenario rules. New players often are not thinking about the scenario until after the clash phase ends. This makes the game harder. As a new player, it's good to get in the habit of reminding yourself what the end phase mechanic of the scenario is as the clash phase winds down. Form this habit: after, say, your third activation each clash phase, just glance at the scenario rules. Then, consider the board. Who is likely to win the turn? How are they likely to change the board using those end phase mechanics? This will enable you to start connecting your clash phase strategy to your plot phase strategy. For example if you know that you're likely to win a turn on the Life scenario, maybe you want to have some of your followers occupy the hexes where an opponent might want to grow new hexes.
9. Keep the plot phase simple
The plot phase offers lots of decision points because you get to do all of your activations in a row. This can be overwhelming. Here's a procedure to simplify the process.
1. Can you claim anywhere? If you can... ABC.
2. Can you put a champion in a place where they can move onto enemy banners or (if going first) all of the objective hexes in their immediate vicinity? If so, do it. Don't duck the hits.
3. Can you do anything to make your banners safer? For example, putting some of your models in the way, pushing enemy models away, or applying a speed blight? If so, do that.
4. Can you do anything to make the fights that are about to happen go your way? For example, handing out some plot phase damage or applying combat boons and blights. If so, do that.
9. Switch sides
If you have built up some rapport with your opponent, try this exercise. Play all or part of a game. Then, switch warbands and play the same game from opposite sides. This really helps you understand all of the models involved in a deeper way. When using your opponent's models, you tend to more easily notice what causes problems for those models. Knowing what worries your opponent is very valuable. Conversely when playing against your own models, you will evaluate their strengths and weaknesses in a different way. Swtiching sides is an outstaning way to buildknowledge of the game and to strengthen your strategic criticial thinking faculties in general.
10. Have fun at all times
Godtear is really fun. One thing I especially like about it is that games literally end around the same time that they functionally end. We've probably all had the experience of having to play out a long game even though we know we can't win. In Godtear, the game ends as soon as you can't win. That said, if you're not having a good time, just concede. It's fine. Re-rack and start over. Make sure that your engagement with the game is fun. Suffering is not required. I don't think anyone should feel weird about saying, "hey this game has gone off the rails. Can we start a new game?"