We recently received our copy of “Zeppelin Attack” and have been playing it avidly. After a few games I have come up with some general strategies that I would like to share. Comments are, of course, welcome.
1) Try to focus your attacks on a single type. Being able to hit your opponent with multiple attacks of a single type is very powerful. With only a 5-card hand, the chance of having two defense cards that cover the same type of attack are pretty low, even if your opponent starts buying defense cards of the appropriate type. There are just too many types of card that can potentially go in a 5-card hand to make multiple copies of defense for a given type of attack unlikely.
2) Keep a few attacks of other types in your deck. Just to keep your opponent honest, keep at least one attack of each of the other three types in your deck. Go for 1-pointers that you can fire off from your weaker zeps.
3) Keep your deck lean and mean. The fewer cards you have in your deck, the faster you can cycle the big attacks that get you additional effects. Don’t be afraid to purge cards when you are drawing – you get points for them, and they help keep your deck (and thus your hand) from clogging up.
4) Fate cards are absolutely necessary – but in moderation. Too many Fate cards can clog your deck. A hand full of Fate cards is every Mastermind’s dream, and will leave you oogling the Mercenary decks dreaming of next turn’s purchases. And while you are doing that your opponent will blow your fleet out of the skies because you don’t have any defense cards to protect them. Since Fate cards often (though not exclusively) go in your discard pile, you can cycle through that lean and mean deck only to find that when you reshuffle you now have a deck bloated with Fate cards. I find that a strategy of cycling through my deck once to get Fate cards, followed by a second cycle where I try to keep Fate cards out of the discard pile and clear out what I have, works reasonably well.
5) Play your Zeppelins – always (almost)! Don’t keep zeps in your hand and don’t discard them. Get them out and in play – always. Multiple zeps help you play more cards, which helps keep your hand clear, which in turn helps you keep your deck cycling and brings your good cards into your hand more quickly.
6) Don’t fear the discard! You should get used to thinking of a certain percentage of the cards in your hand as being just temporary opportunities – useful if you can use them the turn they come into your hand, but not worth saving if you can’t use them. In particular, at the end of your turn ask yourself why you are saving any cards that are still in your hand. If you don’t have a good reason to save them, dump and draw. In general I save high value fate cards (4’s and 5’s), and defense cards (particularly those that offer defense against multiple attacks). I might save a high value attack or operative card, but only if I have a zep that can use them next turn AND I have at least a couple of defense cards in my hand so I have a good shot at defending it. Aside from those conditions, dump and draw. If you have kept your deck lean and mean, then any cards you dump should come back into your hand soon anyway.
7) Attack the weak! Particularly if you have multiple cards of the same attack type in your hand, attack one of the weak zeps in your opponent’s fleet first. Go particularly for zeps that have a defense payload of 1 because even if your opponent can defend them, they can easily get overloaded and have to retreat. If you have several attacks of the same type, use the lowest payload attack on the weakest zep.
8) Defend the strong! Sometimes you need to sacrifice weaker zeps to protect the stronger ones. If you have only one zep with the attack payload to use that lovely payload 3 attack you just drew, you need to protect it. If your opponent is using probing attacks (see #7) with their favored attack types, consider letting one of your weaker zeps retreat and saving the defense card for a stronger zep later in the turn. You concede a BP to your foe, but you preserve your options for your next turn.
9) Overloading is better than not playing the card. Cycling your deck is crucial in this game. It is better to play that big card, even if it means overloading your zep, than keeping it in your hand or discarding it. Losing a zep to overload is inconvenient, but again if you are keeping your deck lean and mean and cycling your hand you will get the zep back quickly.
10) X-zeps and X-weaps – know them, love them, buy them! Each mastermind has access to an Experimental Weapon and an Experimental Zeppelin. Get them into your deck as quickly as possible and use them as often as possible. Each x-zep and x-weap is quite powerful, and also suggests a certain strategy. You should familiarize yourself with the x-zep and x-weap of your mastermind at the beginning of a game and begin building your deck to support these particular abilities even before you actually buy them. Knowing the capabilities of your opponents will also help you to anticipate their actions and probable purchases.
11) Battle Points aren’t just about points. When you take a BP, you aren’t just scoring a point towards victory, you are also getting to make an important tactical decision. You have the ability to take a mercenary card out of the game entirely and you should take a moment to look at the cards available before deciding on which to sink under your flagship. If your opponent seems to be collecting cold attacks and there is a big cold attack card on the top of the mercenary attack deck, consider selecting it to deprive your opponent of a potential attack (and yourself the headache of having to defend against it). Likewise, if your there is a defense card against the type of attack you are specializing in on top of the mercenary defense deck, prevent your opponent from getting it.
12) Leave. The Flagship. Alone. Unless you have no other targets, don’t attack the flagship. It gives your opponent an extra draw, which is almost never a good thing,
The thirteenth strategy: break the other strategies. Everything written above should give you a solid foundation for playing “Zeppelin Attack” and should allow you to end any game at least feeling like you had a shot at winning, rather than going down to a humiliating and lopsided defeat. But none of the strategies outlined above are unbreakable. Sometimes a change-up can take your opponent by surprise. Sometimes the luck of the draw may put a bunch of perfect cards that you shouldn’t discard into your hand. Sometimes you won’t have any defense cards, so playing your zeps will just result in some flaming balls of wreckage and your opponent getting more BPs. “Zeppelin Attack” is a game where you have to plan strategically and play tactically and often improvise on your plans from turn to turn (because the ironclad rule is you never, EVER have the cards you want exactly when you want them). Hopefully, however, this article will give you a foundation to build on as you plot to conquer the world!