A Tcho Tcho Strategy
Some players have trouble getting their head around the Tcho-Tchos. Others have trouble seeing how the Tcho-Tchos can be stopped. This strategy guide should help everyone understand this weirdo faction better.
THE FIRST TURN CHALLENGE
In your first turn, you pretty much need a high priest. This is going to cost you 3 Power. Since you also want a gate (everyone does!), you have a problem. It’s 4 Power to build that gate, and 3 Power for the priest, which leaves you only 1 Power, which means you can’t guard your second Gate with a monster, since your only monster costs 2. In other words, you’ll have to guard that Gate by moving a cultist, or by recruiting your high priest there. And THEN you have to hope that only one enemy targets you for capture.
The difficulty is that when you build your new Gate, it is possible for at least two enemies to already have gates next to it. This assumes Crawling Chaos isn’t in the game, which will add a third threat. If both enemies produce 1 pt monsters to “guard their gate”, but then spend 2 Power to move to YOUR gate, and capture you, you have taken a pretty big hit.
There’s not much you can do about this except try to place that Gate where it is only adjacent to one enemy, or try to verbally convince your enemies not to gang up on you.
One other option is to NOT build that second gate, but instead sacrifice your own Gate at your start for a spellbook, (taking Hierophants) and then rebuild it. You won’t have to recruit a High Priest (since Hierophants gives you one), but you still can’t afford to build a second gate AND take a proto-shoggoth. So you’ll start your second turn with 2 less Power and 1 less Doom.
It’s a thorny situation, and shows you how the Tcho-Tchos are faced with critical decisions right from the start.
THE SECOND TURN BREAK
In the first Doom phase, assuming you “only” lost 1 cultist to capture, and did keep that second gate, you’ll start with Ubbo-Sathla (presumably guarding the outlier gate). There are several choices for your second spellbook, but Soulless is pretty popular, as it discourages (though doesn’t prevent) enemies from going after you.
This doom phase you’ll wind up with 10 Power, 1 High Priest, and 2 Doom. (Sack your existing High Priest in the Doom phase to awaken Ubbo, then take Hierophants to get him back.)
Ubbo’s combat is 0, so while you can use him to capture enemies, he can’t do much damage. This is probably a good turn to destroy and rebuild your start area gate, which also gives you a second high priest. With your 7 remaining Power, you should be able to either build a third gate and guard it with protoshoggoths, or attack with Ubbo-Sathla in an attempt to get him killed (might be hard unless an enemy awakened a nearby GOO), or you can reach for the stars and try both. If you succeed, you’ll have all three high priests! You may want to get Tablets of the Gods for your reward upon killing off Ubbo. See why below.
THIRD TURN CHALLENGE
If you get that third gate, don’t lose any cultists (and recruit back your captured one) AND kill off Ubbo-Sathla, then in the Gather phase you’ll have 15 Power. In the Doom phase, you’ll sack a high priest to re-awaken Ubbo, then with this much Power you’ll want to Ritual. All three high priests will be sacrificed, to give you no fewer than FOUR Elder Signs, which will also mean you get 2 new high priests, since you got both your 1 Elder Sign & 3 Elder Sign spellbooks! If you didn’t get Tablets of the Gods, you’ll only get 1 spellbook , but you’ll have an extra High Priest. If you’re the first one to Ritual (plausible, if not certain) you’ll end up with 10 Power, 8 Doom, and 4 Elder Signs. You have five spellbooks too, plus presumably a few protoshoggoths.
You could try to build a fourth gate and protect it. Your basic problem here is that with four gates, and only 6 protoshoggoths (not all of which are yet in play), and 1 GOO, you can’t guard those gates very well. At least one gate is going to have either just a single proto, or else Ubbo won’t have a proto alongside him. Plus with four elder signs AND four gates, you’ve painted a big target on your forehead.
So maybe it’s time to strike. Use Idolatry to move Ubbo (if his die roll for combat was decent) and a proto or two to a strong enemy’s homeland, and see if you capture their gate. If not, at least you set them back. Then use your excess power to go after another gate. Send a high priest to protect your force (Martyrdom).
This brings up another issue with the Tcho-Tchos. It’s not too hard to have 3 priests. Since another is “on the way” next time you get a spellbook, you need to get rid of one of them to open the way for the new recruit. While you can just sack him for 2 Power, Martyrdom is usually a better choice, because a well-chosen battle can take a gate (or save one!).
You could try to get a 5th gate, but that really is almost impossible for you to defend. Every other faction but one is skilled at defeating a Tcho-Tcho gate only defended with a cultist & a proto. Crawling Chaos can turn your proto invisible with a polyp. Shub-Niggurath can Avatar you away. Opener literally loves to attack you when your shoggoths are decreasing his combat potential, because it means yours is low too, and his guys can promote via Million Favored Ones. Sleeper captures proto (who doesn’t benefit from Soulless). Windwalker Howls you away, Cthulhu Devours (and has enough combat to bull through your Terror), and Yellow Sign Zingayas. Really only the Ancients don’t have a simple response to the Tcho-Tcho gate “problem”, and they can try to finagle other factions into being catspaws with Festival, or in the worst case, attack with a couple of Reanimated, whose attack is good enough to handle it, if not as trivially as with the others.
Another problem you have with the Ancients is two of their spellbooks give every other faction their “cheapest” and then their “most expensive” monsters. This is much less exciting for you, as a Tcho-Tcho, with only one monster! But perhaps it makes sense that the two human-centered factions are natural foes.
Anyhoo, if you hang onto that fourth gate, this Gather phase you’ll have 16 Power (two high priests). In the Doom phase, at least one player should Ritual, which gives you your last spellbook. You need to Ritual (which sends you to 16 Doom, and drops your Power to 9-10). But first you have the tough choice of whether to sacrifice your high priests before or in the Ritual. Doing it before means you’ll start the turn with four-six more Power (depending on whether you get your spellbook before or after your own ritual). Using them DURING the Ritual means you get three extra Elder Signs, but then no more High Priests unless you recruit them yourself. Probably the Elder Signs are worth it though, since this sails you up to 8 Elder Signs.
If you sack the priests, the turn starts with you at 9-10 Power, no High Priests, a 2d6 combat Ubbo, but easily able to get all your proto-shoggoths out. Unfortunately, the other players all have great old ones by now, and most or all of their own spellbooks, which means you are in for trouble. Hold on tight. Unless your opponents blunder, you will not be able to get another Gate, and probably won’t even be able to retain the four you start with.
The difficulty is that you are an easy target to hit. Your Gates are comparatively ill-defended – even two proto-shoggoths can’t really hold out against a determined attack, and all your high priests are gone, so you don’t have Martyrdom anymore. If you choose to recruit a High Priest, his best use is to keep intact until the next Doom phase so you can sack him for more Elder Signs, which means you will have even less Power to fight off your enemies.
You may well be driven back to 2 gates this turn. Ubbo might die. The exact mode of attack will vary with the enemy, but Crawling Chaos will be excited to hit Ubbo to get Elder Signs and/or Power, Cthulhu may just hammer you for the gates, and so forth. You will be scrambling this turn, but this is how the Tcho-Tchos roll.
In your favor, you have 8 elder signs racked up, and at least one more on the way. You also have 16 Doom, and a good chance at getting 4-6 more next Doom phase, plus if you recruit a High Priest with your sparse remaining Power, you can get up to 2 more Elder signs. You have a decent shot at victory.