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Kingdom Death: Monster» Forums » General

Subject: This game is broken and needs errata (maybe 1 Principle spoiler) rss

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Phoenix Bird
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TLDR: The game is supposed to be mean and unfair not balanced. A real culture shock for most gamers. Most of us have no experience of boardgames attempting to behave as art.


In the thread “(spoilers for Principle: New Life) Balance issue?” It was discussed that some of the choices you make aren’t as good as others and some events are really harsh. In my review I agree they are harsh but I wouldn’t and didn’t change them. A really, really nice chap mentioned errataing the original card in question.

I am going to attempt to change his mind.

If you pay $200 for a game you do whatever the hell you like with it and change it as much as you want to make it into something that you enjoy. (I played the game without using any miniatures)

The golden rule of D&D was always “if a rule conflicts with the story or your enjoyment of the game change it.” I have supported that ethos for over 30 years now.

But I disagree that Kingdom Death is somehow broken or needs players to fix it. A misunderstanding has taken place and no one is at fault.

The designer says:
“The game is more of an experience, [than] a balanced competitive game”

It is described as a Boutique Game which for me means a limited audience. I wouldn’t recommend it to most gamers as I don’t think they would enjoy it.

The designer says:
“Art is subjective. Kingdom Death is a mature nightmare horror game world. It was not designed with universal appeal in mind.”

I think if you play a lot of current games you get used to a certain comfort zone. There is an expectation that things will be fun and the good guys will win in the end or things will be fair and balanced.

Some people don’t know Kingdom Death has been deliberately made to shake that up and a lot of folks rightly don’t know what to make of it. We don’t have experience of games that were designed to prioritise loss, defeat, pathos and hopelessness. They don’t exist. These themes are found in books or films or plays instead.

The designer says:
“I see no point in art for the sake of business and I will always want to explore and attempt to create things that are different. Not saying I am a bastion of originality or anything like that... but I do try to at least bring less popularly explored perspective on very classic themes.”

The Kickstarter has been an overwhelming success which is a tribute to one man’s hard graft and vision. Unfortunately as he is only a one man army things can get lost in the rush. Like the game’s original vision.

“We want to create a board game experience that underscores the brutal physical and mental torment of surviving in a world where people are the struggling bottom of a monstrous ecology.”

This is accomplished by having bad stuff happen to you pretty much every single session. It’s a shock and some people don’t like that and want a different experience and that is fine. It’s now your game. The designer recognises this and on page 212 of the rulebook is the Hero variant that allows you to experience the wonderful story, the shocks and surprises and growth and development without being punched in the face every single settlement phase.

As gamers we are used to being heroes and, after modest adversity, triumphing; we aren’t used to a concept such as:

“Humans do not have a special place in Kingdom Death. They do not have “souls” that other monsters lack, nor any specific ability or lack thereof. What does make them “special” is our own perspective and that they are the window in which we can hopefully experience and explore a world that is very unlike our own.”

I apologise for not having the quote but somewhere in the 84,135 Kickstarter comments is the post that the game was designed to end in defeat 75% of the time - which is one reason why I signed up for it. In my opinion this should be on the back of the box. You need to know about this going into the game so you don’t expect it to behave like the existing genre of tabletop adventure games. Which I heartily recommend you play as well as Kingdom Death.

My first four survivors died in the first nemesis encounter and I was shocked. I literally couldn’t play for the rest of the day. I had invested hours in coloured plastic and I was angry. And although I could not admit it at the time, I was the most impressed with a game designer I had ever been as he had elicited a visceral emotional response with just a game.

Back to the card in question. If you are given a choice in a game and one of those choices is so detrimental you never chose it ever again you assume the game is broken or malfunctioning in some way because no other game in your experience has behaved like that. It’s a natural response. Perfectly valid. A game isn’t supposed to be educational or have a point of view or express an opinion or make me alter my behaviour surely?

The designer says:
“Maternity and child rearing is arguably the most powerful force in nature.”

And he is expressing his belief to you via a card in a boardgame. This can impress you, mystify you or leave you thinking he is some flat-earth weirdo.

I play a computer game called Diablo 3 which is pretty much like this game functionally. I play in what is called hardcore mode where there is no save game option (other than turning it off and going to bed) and when you die your character and all their gear is gone forever. Forever! I can put 80 or 100 hours into growing and developing a character and through a mistimed mouse-click I will lose it all and have nothing to show for it. Why would I do that? Because I can lose something I value it. It has meaning to me. It can’t be replaced.

This is what Kingdom Death is trying to do. Trying to make you grow attached to something so you feel its loss when it is taken away from you. Repeatedly. You are very entitled to say a board game has no business doing this or that you would prefer to play a board game which does not do this.

The game was designed over many years and play-tested a great deal and when stretch-goals unlocked new items those were playtested with the original game to make sure they worked before the base game was released. The card and the game is supposed to behave as it does. But we probably aren’t ready for it. Think of poor Galileo.

Thanks for reading such a long post. The quotes come from the official Kingdom Death Website, an interview he did for thefrontlinegamer.blogspot.co.uk and his posts here on BGG.

Phoenix
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Stuart Holttum
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Without loss, there is no meaning. With you 100%.
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Eric LAURENT
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Phoenix Bird you are totally right but it took me a long time to admit I could lose an experienced survivor on a single dice roll during Hunt or Settlement events.

Being slaughtered by the Butcher is fair...events are not as it merely depends on a Lucky or unlucky dice roll....but as you would probably answer : "life is a bitch" and sometimes you are at the wrong place at the wrong time so dying because of events .."c'est la vie"



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Michael Boehm
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I used to play Eve Online, and that game is brutal. You can farm mobs for ten hours to make the money to buy a Tempest battleship, and then lose that ship in ten seconds of PvP.

Did I say it was brutal?

Many times I lost expensive ships and expensive clones and it was like a physical gut-punch. I had to take a break from the game for several days.

But that's why I kept coming back. It was powerful. And the rush when you didn't die was amazing.

After that, standard MMOs where there is no real risk of loss, just didn't have any appeal over me.

I think KD is the closest a boardgame has come to capturing that visceral appeal.

And I like comparing it to art instead of to other boardgames.
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David Ainsworth
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I agree with you wholeheartedly Phoenix Bird.

The games I play most electronically are roguelikes and their derivatives, and the reason I play these games is because I can play the same game twice and have two very different experiences. Wildly different. And there's always an emergent narrative that comes out of these sessions. Different events happen - some massively unfair - and sometimes you'll have a pretty much perfect run which allow you to finish the game.

But to me it's not about finishing the game. To me, that comes naturally. It may take a while, it may not. To me, the enjoyment comes from exploring those different options and making do with the hand you're dealt. One game might see massively different strategies emerge because you have access to completely different gear or abilities.

Yes, I might play an occasional game where I say "This time I'm going to go for a win" where I utilise all my knowledge of the mechanics and potential event outcomes to game the system and give myself the best chance, but those games are far from the norm for me. I prefer to explore choices and see where they take me.

I see Kingdom Death as no different to this. It's a boardgame roguelike, the only difference is because it's a physical thing people can reroll events if they don't like the results, they can introduce houserules, they can play however they like. I wouldn't dream of doing any of those things, but that's just how I play these games.
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Brian C
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I enjoy roguelikes for the same reason: you aren't spoonfed any (recycled) RPG narrative -- instead the story unfolds in your head and through your character's actions.

I'm expecting the same experience from KD:M; all the good and bad aspects of roguelikes: the heartbreak of those losses where you had absolutely no chance (but through them you gain that all-important insight into the game, that will help you on your next attempt).. and the exhilaration of actual victory.. finally, finally, after all that struggling, all that learning.. victory at last.

Or so I hope.

Can't wait.

(Great post btw OP. Was expecting a rant and ended up with quite an insightful semi-review.)
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Eric LAURENT
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Zephyr40k wrote:

After that, standard MMOs where there is no real risk of loss, just didn't have any appeal over me.


Same for boardgames such as Shadows of Brimstone : when you reach level 3 (out of 8 levels) it's far too easy. You don't have any challenge and monsters are too weak. I enjoyed it but I have to admit that KD is far better.
 
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Team Ski
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The title of this thread is incredibly misleading. You might want to change it to something like "Is Kingdom Death unbalanced? I don't think so." or something like that. I was thinking this was going to be a slam on the game.

-Ski
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Marco DeLaurentis
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I'm all for challenging games, and can understand and appriate the 75% Fatality rate of this game. It's like certain video game (I'm specifically thinking Dak Souls). It makes you apprieciate the win even more. I want to like this game more, for a lot of the reasons listed above. But for me, he "you die because of one random die roll with no chance of anyhing and you didn't even get to choose to do the die roll" doesn't sit well with me. It's like saying in an RPG "You're walking down the hall way. Rocks Fall. Now you are dead because I said so. Roll up a new character." If it wasn't for that, I would be all over this game like you wouldn't believe. I don't see that as "artistic", like being punched in the face by a bully isn't artisitic.
 
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Corporal Joe Bauers
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Marcodel wrote:
I'm all for challenging games, and can understand and appriate the 75% Fatality rate of this game. It's like certain video game (I'm specifically thinking Dak Souls). It makes you apprieciate the win even more. I want to like this game more, for a lot of the reasons listed above. But for me, he "you die because of one random die roll with no chance of anyhing and you didn't even get to choose to do the die roll" doesn't sit well with me. It's like saying in an RPG "You're walking down the hall way. Rocks Fall. Now you are dead because I said so. Roll up a new character." If it wasn't for that, I would be all over this game like you wouldn't believe. I don't see that as "artistic", like being punched in the face by a bully isn't artisitic.

It does have a lot of this, however it's not like the Rocks Fall scenario.

It's more like the "Jim the fighter is replaced by Jim II the fighter, who picks up his gear and tries to surpass his brothers legacy."

Edit: Basically the reason that nearly everything can kill you so easily is a form of added difficulty, you manage your currency in "survivors" along with your other resources.

Things such as multiple of the recurring storyline events being incredibly severe to offset choosing certain good choices reinforce this.
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David Ainsworth
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It's not so much about the individual characters as it is the settlement. Sure, the little guys can develop their own pseudo personalities and quirks, and you can get attached before they die. But the game isn't about them. As Bauers said, the people are just a currency. The game spans generations.
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Dean Winchester
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Any Kickstarter backer that is disappointed with the game can contact me about selling it.
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Nick Wirtz
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I need to get a lot of thoughts together (been putting together a review for some time now), but now that I've run through a campaign...

I'm going out on a limb and saying that, while random stuff sometimes sucks really bad, if you hit something particularly bad you can recover if you've planned well or compensate well, even towards the end, unless you hit a catastrophic string of bad luck, but that's the case of most games- it just feels different when this style takes so long.
 
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Atomic Robo
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I suppose what this comes down to is that at one point in the game you are given a choice. One of the choices is so difficult and is so likely to result in a failed game state that you shouldn't choose it.

Now can you choose it and win? Yes, but then the game is more about you coming across some lucky choices rather than you doing anything to cause you to win.

So it's not about art it's about whether or not it's a choice. At the moment it's a choice of whether or not you want an ultra-hard mode or a hard mode. And as it's not framed as that sort of choice I don't think it's the appropriate place for it.

So yeah the game falls down there and should have had a more balanced approach. Even if that approach was a +2/-2 as opposed to roll twice take the best/worst.

Personally I'm not going to modify the game or try to change it but if alternate cards are produced as part of a set or are officially endorsed I'd like to try out survival of the fittest.
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Nerds call me
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I'd like to see some stats on this to see if it really is as detrimental as some are saying. I'm a huge fan of rougelikes, so I see stuff like this as challenge scenarios but I'd love to see some numbers first.
 
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Corporal Joe Bauers
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dorktron2000 wrote:
I'd like to see some stats on this to see if it really is as detrimental as some are saying. I'm a huge fan of rougelikes, so I see stuff like this as challenge scenarios but I'd love to see some numbers first.

Well, off the top of my head...
30% chance of Intimacy, so 1 in three endeavors.

Rolling 2d10 and taking lower nets you
# %
1 19.00
2 17.00
3 15.00
4 13.00
5 11.00
6 9.00
7 7.00
8 5.00
9 3.00
10 1.00

So only a 51% chance of not only failing to give birth, but losing population.
 
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Nerds call me
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Symmetrical Docking wrote:
dorktron2000 wrote:
I'd like to see some stats on this to see if it really is as detrimental as some are saying. I'm a huge fan of rougelikes, so I see stuff like this as challenge scenarios but I'd love to see some numbers first.

Well, off the top of my head...
30% chance of Intimacy, so 1 in three endeavors.

Rolling 2d10 and taking lower nets you
# %
1 19.00
2 17.00
3 15.00
4 13.00
5 11.00
6 9.00
7 7.00
8 5.00
9 3.00
10 1.00

So only a 51% chance of not only failing to give birth, but losing population.


Yeah I should have described my post more. I was meaning how many wins versus losses in terms of overall settlement success if Survival of the Fittest is chosen.
 
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Nick Wirtz
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Yeah, so far that's the only part of the game I think is just plain not fun. Them odds are not worth it. We're considering just calling it roll a single die as enough of a penalty. Otherwise though we'd certainly avoid that mess.
 
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Brett Burleigh II
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Marcodel wrote:
I don't see that as "artistic", like being punched in the face by a bully isn't artisitic.


Apparently, you've never been punched in the grill by Tyson…

Or seen him trounce someone else…

There is definitely art in that form…
 
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Brett Burleigh II
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spiralingcadaver wrote:
Yeah, so far that's the only part of the game I think is just plain not fun. Them odds are not worth it. We're considering just calling it roll a single die as enough of a penalty. Otherwise though we'd certainly avoid that mess.


From what I've pieced together, there is an innovation that can swing the favor back into balance… I haven't spoiled the surprise by digging through the cards and trying to figure it out directly - but it seems that there is another way to buffer Intimacy rolls.

So, initially it might be a really slow way to build population, but it could be much strong mid to late game as the innovation balances it, and your bebehs come into existence tougher...
 
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Dash T
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KD: Monster is like a roguelike game.
If you have played and loved the following games, you know KD: Monster is for you.
For those of you whom are still waiting for the game or want to get a feel
of what KD: monster is about. Try the following games. They are amazing

FTL: Faster than Light
Dungeon of the endless
Darkest dungeon
 
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Corporal Joe Bauers
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Don't forget Rogue Legacy, where your descendants carry on with the upgrades you manage to get for them.
 
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Atomic Robo
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Symmetrical Docking wrote:

Rolling 2d10 and taking lower nets you
# %
1 19.00
2 17.00
3 15.00
4 13.00
5 11.00
6 9.00
7 7.00
8 5.00
9 3.00
10 1.00

So only a 51% chance of not only failing to give birth, but losing population.


So a 19% chance of losing 2 survivors, a 32% chance of losing 1 survivor, a 45% chance of gaining 1 survivor (without hovels, 46% with hovels), 4% chance of gaining 2 survivors (without hovels, 3% with hovels.)

 
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Damien M
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The math (ignoring Hovel):

Survival of the Fittest:
(0.19*-2)+(.32*-1)+(.45*1)+(0.04*2) = Expected rate of return: -17%

Survival of the Fittest with Face Painting:
(.36*-1)+(.55*1)+(0.09*2) = Expected rate of return: 37%

Protect the Young:
(0.01*-2)+(.08*-1)+(.55*1)+(0.36*2) = Expected rate of return: 117%

If you have SotF, you're going to lose more people than you gain. Face Painting helps put you back in the black, but not by much.
 
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Corporal Joe Bauers
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I just wanted to chime in and remind once again that statistically only 1 in every 3 endeavors will give you that -17% chance to give birth.
 
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