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Descent: The Well of Darkness» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Coupla things! rss

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Evan Champie
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First of all, I love the expansion so far. I just played my first game of it last night!

We did the Into the Dark quest from the base game, souped up with the new rules and additions. 2 heros bravely entered the dungeon. Sir Valadere, with Blessing (giving him the Aura ability), two extra points of stamina, and the ability to regain one stamina when declaring an Advance action; and Battlemage Jaes, who came with Fire Pact, +1 armor against magic attacks, and the new familiar, Furr the Spirit Wolf.

Valadere picked up a suit of Chainmail, a simple Sword, and opted to try out the new Throwing Knives to give himself some ranged options. Jaes purchased Leather Armor, and the Mage's Staff to take advantage of Fire Pact's abililty to set his targets on fire when using a staff weapon.

I customized my deck with 4 points in Traps, Threats, and Spawns, mostley removing the Dodge and Aim cards, and replacing them with super ones like Danger, Elite Beastmen, and a host of new traps. Let the game begin!

The first room was an easy mop-up, as you'd expect. The heroes handily destroyed their opposition without losing a single wound! Sir Valadere was running rampant with his fatigue-centered abilities. For one fatigue, he would have gained two power enhancement dice on the next attack. Ironically, he never used it, opting to spend it on extra movement while doing Battle actions for double attacks. Jaes quickly cleared the other half of the room while his spirit-wolf companion harried the survivors into the corner. I discarded a few cards for threat, luckly drawing into the Danger card, immediatley giving me 10 additional threat.

As they wandered the empty room, clearing treasures and activating the glyph, I deployed Trapmaster, making my traps cheaper and more effective, and a host of Kobolds in the area behind them. This was the beginning of the end. Two master Kobolds came with the Tricky ability, making my traps 2 threat cheaper in addition to Trapmaster's 1 threat discount and +2 damage. The heroes were convinced I was going to go trap-crazy at any moment (which I would have loved to), and one of them back-tracked to clear out the pesky Kobold swarms.

With little life and no armor, they fell like leaves before his assault, and any who dared to attack him immediatley lost half their health to his Aura. Furr the spirit wolf aided him, tearing into the Kobolds like a beast among teddy bears! Fortunatley for the heroes, we had read up on the fact that every elite, red monster kill rewards the hero with 50 gold! The heroes were becoming quite rich at this point.

And here's where, in my opinion, the game turned sour for them. I played the Sloth power card, forcing the heroic party to lose one Conquest point every time they returned to the town! This card is amazing from a OL's perspective. Valadere the Kobold-slayer scoffed and used a glyph anyway, purchasing Dwarven Fire-bombs, and returning at the first glyph of the dungeon to mop up a second set of Kobolds I spawned!

Split up across the dungeon, the other hero opened the door to the easternmost chamber alone. And the end was decided. Skeletons and hellhounds descended(haha) upon him, dealing little damage... until a pair of master Razorwings spawned, and began stunning the heroes every turn before retreating to saftey. An ogre reached the poor, isolated Battlemage and tossed him over his shoulder, boxing him in with an elite Beastman and friends who had spawned. Brave Sir Valadere was left alone on the other side of the dungeon, harried by the Razorwing's stun and finally torn to peices by a Beastman party.

Having started with 5 Conquest, and gaining only 3 from one glyph, the heroes were defeated. One trip to town put them to 7, one Battlemage's rolling head put them to 3, and Sir Valadere fell to two maximum-damage rolls by a pair of beastmen. They really, really should have stayed together and ignored a few Kobolds, as in the end, I never even played a trap! Evil triumphs again!

---

And finally, a Coupla Things from the OL's perspective!

We browsed the Skill decks and saw them with new eyes. There are several that are a little glaring. For example, there's a trio of cards that offer +1 armor against Melee, Ranged, or Magic attacks. These are obviously skewed! While Melee attacks are extremely common (and deadly), and Magic attacks appear on the higher-tier monsters, the +1 Ranged armor skill is utterly garbage. The dragon and hellhounds have Breath and Peirce, making this basically +1 armor against Skeletons and Manticores. I'm sorry, but looking at the other skills you could have drawn, I'd feel ripped off. Moreso if I paid 1000 gold for it!

And Furr the Spirit Wolf... here's a can of worms. As a familiar, he's invincible, and can move 4 squares through any figure. He attacks every turn with a white die, which ignores armor. And since it wasn't mentioned in the rules, we assumed a magic die can be a ranged attack. He has a one-sided chance to miss, but otherwise offers one to three damage, ignoring armor, every turn.

The heroes were convinced that if they made it to the last room, they could simply run from the terrifying, named Giant and let the dog kill him!

Which is true! The giant has about 12 wounds, useless armor versus the ghost dog, and only runs 3 squares! The dog would eventually tear him apart without him ever getting near the heroes. Yes, spawn cards could slow them down, but the big, named boss could go down to an invincible puppy between 4 and 6 turns, or at the very least be horribley maimed by it. Furr the Spirit Wolf is now one of my most feared hero skills.

And finally, the card Fire Pact had us wondering. It states that your "Staff" attacks cause Burn. Right. But what constitutes a "Staff?" I'm quite sure the "Wizard's Staff" is a staff, but what about the Walking Stick? It's obviously a staff by picture and function, but does it require the name "Staff" in the title?

While everyone complains that it's impossible for the OL to win, I crushed them easily again. I'm not going to play this game again without 3 heroes, or drawing 1 card vs. 2 heroes.

Sadly, every one of the new cards is cut with a different die. If the decks are squared, I can see plainly where and when the new cards are coming. Not such a problem with the skills, as they tend to be fanned out for selection, but it also affects the Item decks. This is the same problem that happened with the Doom expansion! What the hell people! I mean, I just leave the decks a little sloppy on purpose, fixing the problem, but REALLY! CMON!

Overall though, an awesome expansion, and we havn't even made it through two entire rooms yet! Let alone Ferrox, Golems, Rolling Boulders, Scything Blades, Dart Fields, Mud, Lava, and a whole ton of Overlord replacement cards! I'll definatley be lobbying to get this on the table soon.

Edit: What's a Duskwing?
 
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Felix Rodriguez
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I assumed the dog wasn't ranged. But even so, your point is well understood -> THis could be seriously bad in all those quests where the last room is runelocked.

Ex: Quest 4
Spoiler (click to reveal)

Open rune door, see dragon. send in dog. sit around outside until dragon is dead. Uggg..


You know.. I don't mind that the cards are obviously unbalanced, to an extent, but stuff like this should have been caught ahead of time. Then again, why would you expect anything better - they still don't have an official player scaling rule that works.

Its still a great game tho', I just wish I didn't have to add all these house rules to make sure it doesn't break.
 
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Matthew M
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Your spoilered suggestion doesn't guarantee anything if you simply treat a runelocked door as a normal door once it is opened - preventing the very gamey and thematically questionable tactic.

The need for house rules is far from ideal, but it's not exactly difficult, either. Saying that Furr has no effect against named creatures seems a simple fix.

-MMM
 
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Ben The Man
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Yeah this should have been picked up, especially since posters on the FFG boards started to express their concern about it as soon as the rules were published online.
And I am actually pretty sure that the official ruling on rune doors is that only heroes with the corresponding rune can ever use it, the door stays a runelocked door even when the heroes have opened it.
 
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Felix Rodriguez
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No named monsters seems like the easy fix, but I'm not a fan of it. I'd like the dog to not be useless against the big monsters either. The "leash law" I think is the best idea and I'm glad Kevin's looking into it.

Now if he could only balance 2 and 4 player....
 
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N Burghardt
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Drawing 1 OL card vs. 2 heroes (and 3 OL cards vs. 4 heroes) does a lot for the balance issues. We use a couple other small tweaks, but the number of cards drawn is by far the most significant/easy fix.
 
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N Burghardt
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Yes, IMO it is harder for the heroes. The OL now has many extra-powerful cards and is allowed to place a few in his deck to "customize" it. He then removes an equal number, which will likely be weaker cards.

Additionally, the quests look more difficult, but also more interesting. If you like Descent, I think WoD is a must buy.
 
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Jack Wraith
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That's really only going to be revealed over several sessions, I think. As I noted in another thread, we found Doom to be unplayable because, as long as the Invader player wasn't half-asleep, the Marines had no chance if you were playing more than one Marine. By the same token, the first 4 or so quests in Descent were OK with 2 or 3 heroes. The later quests were nearly impossible without 4.

In the first quest in Well, my players tried twice with 3 and failed around Area 3 both times. Third time was the charm with a) 4 players; b) solid knowledge of both the quest conditions and what kind of monsters (and location) to expect for 2/3 of it; and, c) Runewitch Astarra, who is incredibly useful in this specific quest (if not always.) The Collapsing Mine is quite different from the original quests in that characters dying is NOT the biggest concern. If you play with the 'old' mindset, you'll lose. So, it's hard to tell whether breaking out of that mindset or some combination of the other factors really made it work.

Yes, the Overlord has a ton of new cards and options, but remember that those new cards and options are point-limited per quest. I would have loved to have put a Lone Golem card in the Collapsing Mine, but I didn't have the Spawn points for it. So, it's not as if the OL has all of those new weapons at his fingertips all the time. Furthermore, including those new options also means you have to cut cards from the original deck. Also, the items available at the store have drastically improved; specifically the Runes available. Blinding Light (3 surges to Stun) is pretty powerful. One of my key Spawn additions was Lone Manticore. Well, he made his appearance and got off four shots with Rage, but he didn't roll so well and from that point on he was the primary target for Blinding Light and he did nothing until the Mine collapsed around him. Sunburst (3 surges for Blast 1) is almost as bad ("I open the door. I see the cluster of Beastmen and Kobolds and aim for the center Beastman. Oh, look! 6 monsters off the board in a single shot!") This is without having even found a Copper chest.

So, to answer your question: I don't know for certain. I think the scaling is off. I don't think that single point adjustments to armor and wounds compensates for the reduction in attack power and targets that going from 4 heroes to 2 creates. But, unlike many other Overlords, I often had little difficulty winning the game even after my heroes had discovered Gold chests. But perhaps that just means I'm an evil bastard...
 
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Felix Rodriguez
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My expectation is that drawing 1 card for 2 heroes will be balanced on WoD. But We'll find out thursday (tomorrow) when I finally get to play my copy. The base game is too easy for the heroes just drawing 1 card. Session report upcoming...

And I feel like drawing 3 cards is too much even with 4 heroes. Doing this means that you'll run through the deck in 11 turns - less after you start drawing 4. Admittedly, I haven't tried it, but I'm hoping that the WoD modifications make it so that 4 players is easier but not that horribly easier than 3 players.

An official fix would be REALLY nice. There's absolutely no reason for a game to be completely unplayable (As it is for 2 players) without house rules. FFG has a bad reputation that they keep saying they want to shed, you'd think they'd work harder at it. I know that one of the things they tend to do is release bad games that are then balanced by the expansion (Doom, Warcraft), which is a horrible policy. But, I'm really surprised that they didn't even do that here.

 
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Carl Stern
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It seems to me that varying the Overlord's Threat income is the easiest balance mechanism. I have tried drawing different numbers of cards, and that just seems to produce too wide a swing. Whereas a point of Threat is kind of like a partial card draw. I haven't really tested this out, but I always felt that the base game would be generally balanced by setting Threat income to 1/3/5 instead of 2/3/4. Of course, there's still a lot of quest-to-quest difference in actual Overlord-versus-Heroes balance. (This is before the addition of Treachery from WoD. I wouldn't actually also increase the 4-Hero income if Treachery cards are in the mix.)

Haven't had a chance to test out WoD yet, but if you're seeing an 80/20 split here, why not bump Threat in the appropriate direction? Make it 1/2/3 instead of 2/3/4? Across an average-length game, a hit of one Threat a turn about balances out the Threat the Overlord would get is he just spent all of his Treachery drawing extra cards at game start and immediately discarded all the extras, so that might get you closer to an even balance.
 
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Felix Rodriguez
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I just played one of the original missions (Quest 5) with the WoD rules + 1 card OL draw. My thoughts: This might actually be about right as I suspected. I'll give a session report later.

MrSkeletor: What annoys me is that the community has to come up with this stuff. I can undestand clever game breaking strategies making it past playtesting, but not this. I mean, its pretty damn clear that the game out of the box is totally unplayable with 2 heroes. And its been a year later and there's still no official fix. If anything they made it worse - WoD clearly tilts things further towards the OL (Although I think this balances things out nicely on a 1 card draw game).
 
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