GTM #220 - Discretion: the Better Part of Valor
Advice for the Deception Dragonfire Player
by Catalyst Game Labs


Let’s stipulate right off that if you're building and playing your Rogue character right—no one else at the table will fully appreciate you. Yes, Rogues can be greedy. And treacherous. Secretive. Manipulative. (Okay!) But no one really considers how often they turn to you to save their bacon with the perfect strike from the shadows!

Racial Variation

Different races lend their own flavors to the Rogue. Half-Orcs bring a toughness that vault them into “figher country.” Gnomes emphasize a Rogue’s natural preference for staying-the-hell-out-of-the-way of any big damage. Elves allow for a faster start, while Half-Elves do have an it’s-all-about-me vibe. But no matter the race, Rogues have common strengths and weaknesses that must be taken into consideration.

General Play

In Dragonfire, Rogues tend to have very low starting cards. This makes them slow to wade into the action. Which makes sense. A true Rogue likes to sit back a moment. Consider his options. See how the others are doing before deciding where he’ll be the most valuable. It’s not apathy toward the other characters (honestly, it’s not!). It’s just sound tactical planning. Also, the Rogue has a strong recursion ability: he can bring valuable Deception cards back from his discard. Often, the Rogue does not like reshuffling his deck until forced by time or events.

A sound tactic is to build up your hand size to greater than four cards, so you are not forced to draw. Be careful. This is easy to overuse! Overall, the best advice is just don’t be in a hurry. Take this time to check out the early Market offerings, and make sure you know which encounters pack the most gold value.

Which leads into the Rogue’s greatest strength. Gold. (Was there ever any doubt?) A Rogue can purchase a big card faster than almost any other character, except maybe those snotty Wizards. Nothing a Rogue likes seeing better than a Twist the Knife sitting in the early Market, unless it is to also see an Expertise waiting for him as well. Or a pair of Perception cards that can be leveraged into paying for themselves. Some players call this an embarrassment of riches, but don’t listen. Rogues are never embarrassed by their riches.

Don’t be afraid to spend big as early as possible, even if it’s off-color. But once the Adventure gets into full swing (Scene 2), try to hold a reserve of 2-3 gold. And if you were slick enough to start with the “Street Urchin” background Feature, that’s really a reserve of 3-4 gold! You never want to be more than one turn away from Twist the Knife, and if Big Finish shows up, you’ll be thankful for any reserve you’ve managed to build.

The hardest part in playing a Rogue is knowing when to do nothing, or even say nothing.  Rogues tend to have quick color-fixing (Sneak Attack) and always an assist or two in their hand. That shovel-headed Fighter may sneer at your pile of gold, but be quick to ask for your Perception assist or a Twist the Knife. Be cagey. Be careful. “Maybe” is a great answer when asked, “Can you help?” It’s not about doing something right now…it’s about doing the perfect move at the right time. And if the others take some damage while waiting for you to act, that’s okay as well

After all, the Cleric needs something to do.