Observation #1: Only grievous wounds matter.
When enemies attack, they can miss, inflict a normal wound, or inflict a grievous wound. Both types of wounds occupy a die slot and consequently deprive you of one die in the following round. However, grievous wounds cannot be healed until the expedition ends. This observation is absolutely crucial. Yes, if all your dice slots are already filled with normal wounds and you take an additional wound, you will be rendered unconscious. However, it’s unlikely that you’ll be knocked out unless your whole team gets overwhelmed in a firefight, because you can perform a healing action for a cost of only one die. Normally, you can retreat and heal, or wait until you’ve repulsed nearby enemies to devote an entire round to healing.
In contrast, if you take a grievous wound, the injury is permanent. One lost die makes a tremendous difference over the course of an expedition. Moreover, the effect snowballs since you’ll be less mobile and less able to kill enemies before they attack. The take-home lesson is: DO NOT TAKE GRIEVOUS WOUNDS. Only grievous wounds will stop your party from advancing through the fortress.
But how can grievous wounds be avoided? No matter how cautious you are, eventually an enemy is going to roll a critical attack and you’re going to fail to block it. So much for my advice, right? Wrong. There’s one exception to the grievous wound rule and that makes all the difference.
Tip #1A: Include UR-025 in your party as your main tank.
The only exception to the grievous wound rule is UR-025. Not only does he have the strongest defense roll of the heroes, he can heal grievous wounds. He is the tank to end all tanks. The first key to surviving the fortress is to plunk poor UR right on front line and let the enemies whale on him. No matter how many grievous wounds he takes, he can convert them into regular wounds and heal them. If you let him take all your team’s damage, then the only mechanism for halting your advance through the fortress is completely nullified.
Difficulties: Two factors might make players hesitant to adopt this strategy. First, UR-025 is also an offensive terror. His power claw has the highest attack roll in the game and his assault canon is deadly from a distance. Using him solely as a punching bag seems like a huge waste.
Second, UR-025 has only three dice slots, not four. It hardly seems fair to take a player who’s already in a dice deficit and cower behind him while he takes multiple wounds.
Let me make three responses. First, UR’s defense roll is so strong, that the enemy will rarely hit him. Chaos Space Marines have one of the strongest, scariest attacks of any enemy unit, yet they have only a 18% chance of landing a regular wound and a 4% chance of landing a grievous wound on UR. That means that a squad of two Chaos Space Marines who both perform double attacks on UR have about a 49% chance of inflicting one normal wound on him and only a 14% chance of inflicting one grievous wound. Second, good teams will eliminate most enemy units long before they land any attacks on UR, so he’ll still have plenty of offense to contribute with his dice. Finally, BSF is a team game. Playing your role is vital and you can get just as much satisfaction from staring stony-faced into a hail of bullets as you can from blasting away with your assault canon.
So let me reiterate: put UR-025 in front and let him absorb every single one of the enemies’ attacks. It will pay tremendous dividends when you walk away from battle after battle with no permanent damage and can descend deeper and deeper into the fortress.
Tip #1B: Skip risky challenges.
On an expedition, you’ll encounter both combat cards and challenge cards. Challenge cards usually present you with some obstacle that must be overcome through a series of random rolls. Occasionally, these challenges pose a risk-reward tradeoff: you can skip the challenge. Or you can gain a clue or some Archeotech at the risk of taking a wound or even a grievous wound.
If there is any possibility of taking a grievous wound, skip the challenge. Period. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to discover clues and gain Archeotech during combat… provided that you don’t have to retreat from taking one too many grievous wounds.
It seems reasonable to opt out of certain challenges, but can you really ensure that UR-025 takes all the damage? What if the enemy flanks your team or splits your team in half? That will be the subject of our next tip.