Coach's Corner: Tae Kwon Do

Developed in Korea in the mid-twentieth century by martial artists such as General Choi Hong Hi, Tae Kwon Do was made an Olympic event in the 1992. The art emphasizes concentration, speed, breathing, and balance. Tae Kwon Do is most known for kicks that keep an opponent at bay while delivering devastating impact.

TKD features powerful kicks at long range, skills with versatile movement, and the ability to move the opponent around the mats. To defeat your opponent while playing with this character, you will need to understand your strengths and weaknesses. TKD is most powerful at Range 2, but has no offensive Skills at Range 0. Moving yourself and your opponent will be crucial to achieving the K.O.

Know Your Opponent’s Range

Any player with a few bouts under their belt knows that TKD cannot attack at Range zero, so you can be sure they will be moving into close range. Use this to your advantage. Keep your distance at the beginning of the match. Give yourself time to manage your Skill cards and your XP. Even if the other player has Dance, make them spend most of their Stamina to get in close, so they won’t have a lot of stamina to do damage.

If you’re able to keep your distance these Skills will serve you well.

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Push Back

Moving your opponent away from you is an excellent way to keep your distance. The Mule Kick and the Side Kick provide strength while putting space between you and your opponent. They may be able to prevent the damage but they’re not going to be able to stop you from pushing them back.

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Takedown

Tae Kwon Do’s true strength comes from its ability to Takedown the opponent. The most obvious method is the Spinning Heel Hook, stun your opponent and let them have it. But that’s not the only way you can get your opponent on the mat. Stun your opponent and then push them back. That combination will still move them, but when a stunned player is forced to move due to an offensive skill, they are also taken down!

You will need to decide which combination of Side Kick, Mule Kick, Hammerfist, and/or Axe Kick will be the most versatile and reek the most havoc.

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In Summary

Keep your distance and make your opponent come to you. Be prepared with Skills that can do damage at Range 1 and ones that can create more space between you and your opponent. Make use of the multitude of ways to takedown your opponent to cause damage to limit the stamina they have available on their turn. Lastly, when you have the chance, kick and kick hard!


Coach's Corner: Muay Thai

Popularized in the 1900’s, Muay Thai traces its roots back to sixteenth century Thailand. “The art of eight limbs” is best known for its extensive conditioning, punishing elbow and knees, and brutal shin kicks. Balancing speed and strength, Muay Thai is effective at any distance.

Muay Thai features one of the biggest combinations in the game, is most adept at Range zero, and can deal damage at any range. Defeating an opponent playing with this character necessitates progressing through the belt levels quickly, using combinations, and adapting your game plan efficiently and effectively.

Progress Up Belt Levels Quickly

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Muay Thai is deadly at close range, so chances are your opponent will be trying to keep his distance. The Switch Kick and/or Roundhouse provide a high level of strength at long range. Both of these black belt skills cost three experience points and require three stamina to play. By progressing through the belt levels quickly, you’ll force your opponent to respect you at long range which should provide for some openings at close range. Be careful, though. Both of those black belts have high experience points and stamina levels. Gaining both may not be the best use of your resources. Plan accordingly.

Use Combinations

Similar to Boxing, Muay Thai has the ability to deal some serious damage with combination play.

Thai Clinch and Cutting Elbow: Arguably the best combo in the game, when played consecutively these two cards deal two unstoppable damage points and only require two stamina.

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Heel Stomp and Push Kick: Lead with the Heel Stomp to potentially do one damage andstun the other player. Once stunned, the opponent can’t block the Push Kick, so it’ll deal one damage, push the opponent away, and puts them on the mat (pushing a stunned player is a takedown).

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Be Prepared to Change Your Game Plan

To change tactics efficiently, a small deck is essential. When switching from a short range to a long range attack, you don’t want to get stuck with so many offensive cards that you can’t block your opponent’s strikes. Also, you’ll want a relatively small deck so that you’re able to play the combinations. If you have an eight card deck, chances are you won’t ever get the Thai Clinch and Cutting Elbow in the same hand.

Muay Thai has some great combinations, but as strong as they are, if your opponent knows what to expect every turn, he will be able to counter your attack and do just as much if not more damage to you. So, don’t be afraid to retreat. Movement is not Muay Thai’s strength, but putting some distance between yourself and your opponent may give you an opportunity to switch gears.

In Summary

The key to Muay Thai’s victory is unpredictable combination play. When the opponent expects and inside attack, kick from distance. When he’s ready for your long range kicks, rush in. Deck and hand management will be crucial to quickly changing strategies and catching your opponent flat footed.

Coach's Corner: Karate

Coach's Corner - the blog that focuses on the strategies and tactics of Budō. This installment provides an in-depth look at the Karate character.

Karate refers to various styles of martial arts developed on the islands of Japan. Popularized in mainland Japan by Gichin Funakoshi, the creator of the Shotokan style, Karate is a well-known art of self-defense. Using punches, kicks, elbows, knees, and the open hand, this versatile art is extremely adaptable.

When played well, Karate provides myriad paths to victory. In order to find the right path at the right time, Karate will need to draw upon his experience, utilize his adaptability, and rely on his strengths.

Maintain a high level of XP

As Budō’s jack-of-all-trades, Karate can do a little bit of everything, but needs experience points to make that happen. Did your opponent rush-in on you and get to range zero? No problem, Karate has the Body Knee, Vertical Elbow Strike, and Foot Sweep. Those will make your opponent think twice about rushing in on you. Is your opponent playing coy and keeping her distance? Karate has skill cards at every belt level that can deal with that, too. Pay attention to which skills your opponent is gaining from her dojo and try to anticipate her moves. Karate is equipped to handle any situation as long as you have the XP to build your deck accordingly, so be patient and attack when the time is right.


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Make use of limited movement

Making use of the limited amount of movement within the dojo is essential to victory. When you put distance between yourself and your opponent in order to gain XP and manage your skills, the Lunge Punch and the Jumping Side Kick provide an aggressive path forward. The Lunge Punch is a great card. As a low-cost blue belt, it is effective early in the bout and easy to return to the dojo when you don’t need it. The Jumping Side Kick is also a good value at 2XP for a Brown Belt PLUS a movement.


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Dominate Range 1

Karate is at his best at Range 1. Ridge Hand forces your opponent to use the advanced block from their dojo or take 1 Damage. The Palm Strike has 1 Strength PLUS a Stun which gives you an opportunity to leave the opponent defenseless and still have 2 Stamina to perform additional skills. Double Fist Punch provides two attacks each at 1 Strength PLUS is only allows the opponent to use one defensive skill which means unless your opponent can get out of range, you're guaranteed to do at least one damage. In order to maximize Karate’s adaptability at Range 1, make the Black Belt skills available quickly because both the Foot Sweep and the Roundhouse land at Range 1. The Reverse Roundhouse has low XP (for a black belt) and Stamina costs, variable range of 1-2, and strength of 2; it's hard to go wrong with Stats like that! If at any point in the game you find yourself at Range 1 with all four of Stamina, spend your XP to do some serious damage. The options abound.


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In Summary

The Karate character plays true to the description. As long as you have the experience, it is extremely adaptable and versatile. He can deal damage from Ranges 0 - 2. He can stun and takedown. He even has a bit of movement. The keys to winning matches as the Karate character are to play patiently and read your opponent.

Coach's Corner: Boxing

I'm excited to bring you a new series in the 5DG blog where I'll focus on various aspects of playing Budō. In this first installment, I'm going to focus on the Boxing character. Think of me as the coach in your ear when you retreat to your corner between rounds.

Originating in ancient Greece as an Olympic game in 688 BCE, boxing was popularized in Great Britain and made famous in the United States with Latin America and Asia also having a proud history in the style. Boxing is an art of fast hands, heavy punches, and quick feet. It’s known for combinations, rhythm, and timing.

The first thing to understand about playing as the Boxing character is his range is small. Boxers only punch; they do not have the long range that kicks provide. He must be at range 1 or 0 for all offensive strikes. The trick is that any quality opponent is also going to know that too. So, how do you win a bout as the Boxer when your opponent basically knows what you’re going to do?

Control rhythm and timing:

Boxing has within his dojo the skill, Dance, which provides 2 movements for only 1 stamina. Utilizing this unique skill effectively allows a player powerful combinations that will leave your opponent gasping for air and short on stamina. Let’s look at a couple of strategies you could implement that center on the Dance skill.

Rush-In: This aggressive, yet risky, opening strategy can give you an early health point advantage and prevent your opponent from gaining a lot of experience points. Understand that by rushing in you also leave yourself vulnerable, but it can be worth taking a couple of hits when Boxing has the ability to land some serious blows without a lot of experience cost. The white belt Cross deals two strength from the get go, and the Hook is a great value providing two damage at a range zero or one for only one experience point. Your opponent will be rushing to gain his advanced block sapping any experience he gained early on. Dance away after your surprise attack to quickly get out of range of any counter attacks.

Keep Away: Essentially the opposite of rushing in, use the dance to stay just out of reach of your opponent. You’ll need the help of the Bob & Weave for this one. You can make sure you have lots of experience points banked and will stay out of danger. The downside is that your opponent will also have the ability to gain lots of experience. The advantage of this strategy, though, is you get to control the rhythm and timing. By moving farther away by playing the Bob & Weave on your opponent’s turn, you’ll be left with the Dance to either move in for a strike or dance around and manage your hand of skill cards waiting and planning for the most opportune moment to strike.

Whether you rush in, keep away, or do some combination of both, the Dance allows you to control the rhythm and timing of the match. You’ll need to use that to your advantage if you want to walk away victorious.

Limit opponent’s Stamina:

Whether you’re rushing in on your opponent or dancing around him, you’ll need to limit how much stamina he has to work with on his turn. This tactic is effective for all the characters, but may be most important for Boxing. Since you are going to be in close range of your opponent, you’ll need to limit the damage he can do on his turn. That means effectively using your holds, stuns, and, if possible, the takedown. The difference between three and four stamina can be a big deal when your opponent is trying to pull-off his own deadly combo.

Use Combinations:

Maximize damage by using strong combos.

Jab + Cross: Simple yet effective. Jab to sniff out the block then Cross to deal heavy damage. Great for the early rush-in game plan because they're both white belt cards, so you don't need to spend any experience points to pull-off this combo.

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Hug + Body Blow: Guaranteed to deal 1 damage and leave you opponent held. The nice thing about this combo is that you still have two stamina to work with on your turn.

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Low Blow + Uppercut: Tricky to pull off because it requires all 4 Stamina. This massive combo can potentially deal 3 damage and takedown your opponent. Absolutely brutal!

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In Summary:

Boxing's offense is predictable because of it's limited range. Make use of quick movements with the Dance and Bob & Weave skills to keep your opponent guessing as to when and where your strikes will come. Try to disrupt you opponent's rhythm by using stuns and holds limiting his stamina and ultimately his experience. When the time is right, go in swinging!

See You in the Ring!

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Game of the Week: Star Wars: Rebellion

Bum Bum Bum Ba BA dum Ba BA dum…

Set in the general timeline of Episodes IV – VI, Star Wars: Rebellion pits the power house Galactic Empire against the feisty Rebel Alliance for control of the galaxy. This two (or four) player epic is a quintessential Fantasy Flight production designed by Corey Konieczka. In this four-hour saga one player commands the Empire’s forces while the other controls the Rebels’.

True to the cinematic story, the Empire is trying to track down the hidden rebel base and either destroy it with a Death Star (yes they have more than one!) or take control with ground forces. Ruling with military might, the Imperial player commands the overwhelming naval forces including the Death Star, Star Destroyers, TIE fighters along with ground forces of ATATs and Stormtroopers. Traversing the galaxy, the Empire subjugates, controls and destroys planetary systems in search for the hidden Rebel Alliance base.

The Rebels’ fleet includes foot soldiers, airspeeders, ion cannons, Corellian corvettes, X-Wings, and Y-Wings. The Rebels will never be able to defeat the Empire with military might. They simply cannot match the production levels, so they are trying to complete missions of stealth, intrigue, sabotage, and strategic military strikes to increase their reputation enough to insight a galaxy wide revolt.


Reminiscent of Risk: Star Wars Original Trilogy Edition, Rebellion is, on the surface, an area control dice rolling game. But, Konieczka has blended theme and mechanics beautifully to make this game so much more interesting and fun than a traditional area control game. Each side of the civil war utilizes leaders in essentially a worker placement role. The classic characters, Leia, Luke, Han, Chewie, Palpatine, Vader, and more, act as leaders to their respective sides. To start each round, players assign their leaders to complete missions based on their leader’s strengths. Players must balance their objectives and their ability to oppose their opponent’s actions with the utilization of these leaders. It is these secret leader missions that truly drive the game and make it great.

I had an absolutely wonderful time playing this game. I was engaged all the way to the last minute of the four hours it took to play. Much of the gameplay is simultaneous, or close to it, so you’re not waiting around a long time for the other person to play. Even when it isn’t your turn, you’re probably going to be involved in combat, so you’ll be rolling dice anyway. Although, I’m excited to play this game again, soon, I will not get this game for my personal collection. As good as it is, I just won’t play it very much. I don’t have that many opportunities to play a 2-player game that takes all night. Plus, it has a pretty hefty price tag.

If you’re a fan of Star Wars, this is a must play. If you’re a fan of epic area control games, this is a must play. Heck, if you’re a fan of worker placement, you should probably play this game. Fantasy Flight Games has done it again!

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