Silver Freefeet Repulse Waves of Bizarre Demon Attackers
December 31, 2007
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We played Dimension Demons again recently. The last time we played, we took a while to get the hang of the rules and I played a series of painstaking hit and run attacks with the “demons.” A typical situation would be maybe a one-in-six chance of taking a city with similar chances of getting a demon shot to pieces. The humans fire first, though so they get a pretty fair chance to disrupt the attack even if they can’t completely eliminate any attackers. And any demon that lands on another unit (or on a volcanoe when he pops back) is gone– a much more likely event than the others depending on where you pop in. In a steady game of attrition, I ended up losing so many demons that I could no longer attack.
My opponent played much less cautious game. He placed his transports close together and concentrated four demons on a single city. If he targeted his demons on the edge of the map, he had a much better chance of landing in his target square. This resulted in a pretty fair chance of his taking one out, but my sliders reacted fast enough to make such assaults less likely in future rounds. He failed to take the city– and when he popped back his demons landed on each other resulting in an insane amount a casualties. After adjusting his strategy, he tried again. I decided to purchase several “thumper” units instead of the usual mix of defense forces. In three additional games, my thumpers easily chewed up any attacking demons. The demons went from having a low chance of success to almost no chance at all. Thus goes our second session with this reviled game that’s been labeled as being one of the three worst of the old Metagaming line.
The balance of power in the game is extremely fragile. The demons are relatively weak, but have extreme mobility and a chance to produce new units. Humans are powerful, but if they concentrate their forces, they demons will simply attack in the weaker areas. The thumpers are so powerful that they have to be completely eliminated before an assault begins. If the humans can concentrate more than one thumper attack against the demons each turn, then demon casualties will be pretty heavy. Once the thumpers are eliminated, the demons can begin trying for a city. Once the humans lost enough units, they will not be able to cover all of the cities. The humans will have to react quickly to any attempt to establish a breeding program… but if they do, the demons can simply take a city on the opposite side of the board and start another one simultaneously. (Alternately the demons can commit everything to defending the first one.)
Luck plays a large role in this game… and with the exception of thumper units, it’s difficult for either side to concentrate their firepower enough to work around the need for luck. One rule that could simplify the planning of attacks would be to declare that units that teleport on the same turn cannot materialize on top of each other. Losses hurt the demons tremendously as it is… but losing two or three demons to an unlucky phase in may be what’s breaking the game. The demons need to be able to concentrate four demons in an attack without fears of such debilitating losses or else the game just stalls as each side waits for a lucky break. As you resolve each transport of a unit, check to see if it is landing on one of its fellow teleporters. If it is, roll a die to determine which surrounding hex it actually ends up in. If it lands on a unit that did not engage in a transport move, then both units die as they normally do. You might declare that this “bonus” only works with units using the same transport– and if units from different transports phase in to the same place, they’re in trouble. Pop backs might work as if all of the units were coming from the same transport, making them a little safer: then you only have to worry about falling into volcanoes or landing on units that didn’t take part in the attack!
Just based on these few games, the standard Dimension Demons scenario appears to be unbalanced and difficult to “fix.” It appears to be highly suited to solitaire play, however. As long as the rules favor the humans, there’s very little for the human player to do except sit back and repulse demon attacks. It’s only until things disolve into a free-for-all that you really need to players to take the role of either side.