[CoN] Maybe dragons are a problem after all?

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I don't want to believe it, but the more I think about it the more I feel convinced that (like some people have been saying) dragons are a problem.

In order to protect against a single dragon, I need at least four footsoldiers in a territory to be reasonably safe. But a single dragon can reach several territories--usually, if the dragon is near the front, it can reach three or four behind-the-lines territories. That means that I need to spend anywhere from 12 to 16 gp just to adequately protect myself from a single 5gp dragon.

This leaves a difference of seven to eleven gp. So while I'm protecting my behind-the-front territories, he's using the same gp's to reinforce the front!

The only way for me to prevent this is for me to threaten with dragons as well.

And now it appears both players have been funnelled into a single strategy. There's no longer a choice as to what strategy to follow, and no longer an option when it comes to counter-strategies.

Moreover, honestly, it's simply counterintuitive to say that a dragon has allowed me to "conquer" a territory--bringing me regular income!--just by flying down into it, then flying back home. This seems to me to be more like what I imagine a raid or a bombing run would be like--a one-time gain of one gp, or forcing the opponent to lose some gp, or something more along those lines.

I don't like houseruling for some reason. But I'm starting to think about houseruling this as follows: You only conquer a space if you have pieces in it at the end of your turn. With perhaps an additional rule: Dragons can gain one gp by being the last unit standing in an attacking army, if they fly away afterwards. The space is not conquered, but a gp is acquired.

Maybe. But I really hate houseruling. I prefer things to be more "official" and to thereby be more likely to have been thought through by professional designers.

What arguments can you guys think of that dragons don't present a problem due to factors I've just described? 


Additional comment:

Imagine a minigame, call it "footsoldiers and dragons." The map consists simply in a strip of six territories. Each player (there are two players) has a castle in one end of the strip. Each player has a dragon and several footsoldiers in its territory two away from its castle. Each player has two footsoldiers in its capitol. There are no other pieces to start with. Each player has ten gold. Each player gets to buy pieces simultaneously before either moves. 

What should the players buy?

I am beginning to suspect that two dragons is the best buy here, and I'm afraid that this generalizes to the larger game.

But am I wrong on either count?          
I go out of my way to kill enemy dragons when I can. My opponents tend not to leave them in the front lines anymore.

It requires a shift in strategy, that's all. Take out the air force before it can make air strikes.

Each piece has its own role. Dragons are the best at taking territories by themselves, but footsoldiers are the best investment for holding on to as many territories as possible. A Dragon who clears through many territories and has footsoldiers to stay behind and control them is a pretty good use of your pieces.

"Ah, the age-old conundrum. Defenders of a game are too blind to see it's broken, and critics are too idiotic to see that it isn't." - Brian McCormick

It will be interesting to see how it plays out as the game gets more play but for the time being I see dragons as highly valuable pieces but not game breaking ones.

It is true that dragons can take over lightly defended territories by themselves. However, this does not make them broken.

The best way to defend a territory from a dragon (and any attacking force) is not with four footsoldiers, it is with a mix of footsoldiers and other pieces
(mixed forces are more effective for almost any task). A single footsoldier and a single more powerful piece (wizard, monster, fighter) is a credible threat to a dragon; two footsoldiers with one of these is at least on equal footing with a dragon.

Having said that I do dislike that a dragon can conquer territory and then just leave it empty and earn VP and gold. I wouldn’t be opposed to a house rule as you proposed that requires occupation at the end of your turn to conquer a territory. Perhaps they didn’t do this as part of the rules this because they didn’t want to introduce complexity with additional rules. However, it is really the VP mechanism that makes this tactic "broken". Being able
to kill a footsoldier without repercussion isn’t of great value,  it is the earning of VP that has value. For this reason, you can also protect against dragons (and attack in general) by conquering enemy territories - the dragon is unlikely to steal it back (earning no VP for doing so) and then allow you easy VP by occupying it again. Similarly, in a Long game where VP are not counted the ability of dragons to hit and run is not as important.

In the games I've played thus far, dragons have been strong, but only one key to a winning strategy. I admit, more games could prove otherwise, but from everything I've seen, they are only one piece among many valuable ones. And, yes, a dragon-heavy force can be very powerful, but it also has weaknesses (in terms of overall defense, typically) which can be exploited. A focus on dragons can be a winning strategy, but I don't think it is the only one, nor an unstoppable one.

You are right that throwing everything into defense against it rarely works out, but I don't think that is the answer - pushing a potent attack force at their thinly defended borders seems to have more potential. A strong force, especially with monsters to run amok, can claim a lot of undefended land in a hurry.

I've only played twice now, a short 4 player alliance game, and a long 4 player free for all. In the long game one player pulled ahead in his gold to the point where he started buying flights of dragons each round. Near the end he had armies of 7-12 dragons attacking our capitals.
Because of the two hits for dragons we couldn't mount decent defenses, and he eventually won, even though we dragged it out a long time.
In the future, I'm going to tell everyone I play with that the game is less interesting with this dragon strategy. We won't be playing with more dragons on the board than we have dragon minis to represent them.
Kelvor: It sounds like someone had an advatage in income and invested it into dragons.

Did anyone in the long game try to win with 12 treasures? In a long game, a treasure's property can help over several combats, give VPs by themselves, and are an alternate form of victory. If the dragon player cut people off from their dungeons, then no luck I guess.

"Ah, the age-old conundrum. Defenders of a game are too blind to see it's broken, and critics are too idiotic to see that it isn't." - Brian McCormick

I've only played twice now, a short 4 player alliance game, and a long 4 player free for all. In the long game one player pulled ahead in his gold to the point where he started buying flights of dragons each round. Near the end he had armies of 7-12 dragons attacking our capitals.
Because of the two hits for dragons we couldn't mount decent defenses, and he eventually won, even though we dragged it out a long time.
In the future, I'm going to tell everyone I play with that the game is less interesting with this dragon strategy. We won't be playing with more dragons on the board than we have dragon minis to represent them.

Kelvor: The rules state you can't purchase more of a unit than there are pieces.  There aren't 7+ dragon pieces for one side, so you can never have one side with that many dragons.  The only pieces that can use the grey/red counters are foot soldiers.
 
This rule is new to me. Didn't the rules just encourage you to use paper pieces if you run out of plastic pieces ? Also as I know, you can use the gray and red counters for all kind of pieces (besides castles of course) not only footsoldiers.

By the way: one dragon costs 5 gold and delivers you 1 attack (about 70% possibility that he will hit) and 2 hitpoints (I neglect any advantage by flying and movement). For the same gold you can buy 5 footsoldiers with nearly the same possibility to get 1 hit but with 5 hitpoints in total. Or you can buy one wizard with first stríke and 40% to make one hit and 2 footsoldiers with about 25% and in total 3 hitpoints. You can also think about other combinations to kill a dragon in 2 rounds buy loosing just 1 or 2 footsoldiers (if you are a little lucky with the dice)
Kelvor: The rules state you can't purchase more of a unit than there are pieces.  There aren't 7+ dragon pieces for one side, so you can never have one side with that many dragons.  The only pieces that can use the grey/red counters are foot soldiers.
 



Page 6:
"The strength of your forces isn't limited by the mix of plastic figures and chips available in the game. If you don't have enough to mark all your stacks, or if you run short of chips, you can use something else to identify your pieces, such as a slip of paper with the name written on it."

Sorry to nitpick, but I thought you might like the clarification.

Yes, you are right!  Thank you for the clarification.  I have been playing it wrong, and sorry to cause confusion here.