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Subject: Shadow Mode - Fun element of the game or useless feature? rss

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David Dalke
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Alright Massive Darkness fans, I have a gameplay question for you. I have backed this project because of the spectacular minis and game components that we all so love about CMON. However, this watered down dungeon crawler seems a bit soulless to me as the main USP, the Shadow Mode, looks like a terrible afterthought to me, which was meant to add gameplay depth to the game and to set it apart from other crawlers, but achieved unnecessary complexity instead.

In my opinion, Shadow Mode doesn't add any fun element to the game. Yes, it affects target selection of monsters and removes a defense die when attacking while in shadow mode. The targeting is a joke as monsters will stumble upon heroes in shadow mode regardless of their real target due to the shape and sizes of the corridors. The removed def die is not worth 1 action, in my eyes, as I could use this extra action as an additional attack instead. Does that not make more sense?

And yes, Shadow Mode affects several abilities and also gets for free later on (sometimes), but once it's for free, why choose not to use it then? This feature simply feels so flawed to me.

Does anyone of you share the same opinion, or more importantly, if you don't share this opinion, then please tell me why you think Shadow Mode is a viable game feature of MD, as I'm town between getting my pledge or simply dumping this project altogether as gameplay is much more important to me than getting a truckload full of awesome minis (which they truly are).
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Bone White
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It allows, using the gameplay example video on the KS page, for someone to hide in the shadows whilst other heroes are not... so the RANGED/MAGIC mobs have to pursue the other heroes around the corner, and thus getting into melee range of the hidden hero. Splat.

So, in the example video where they spawn the ranged mobs, they could hide someone in the NE zone of the first tile, while the other heroes hold back... thus "pulling" them around the corner... then Ambush!
 
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Jeff K
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Not really a dig at you, but I'm a bit bemused at the number of "sell me on this game" threads that have surrounded this game. Either you are willing to take a chance on this or you aren't.

The immutable facts in this case are: 1.) Nobody has any clue as to whether this feature, or any game feature for that matter, works. All we have is a rulebook (not nearly in final shape) and a gameplay video which quite frankly only gives you a very rough idea of how the game plays. 2.) The game isn't even finalized yet. It's not fully cooked. Any number of things could change between now and next spring.

Honestly, people are looking for reassurances where there are none. Either you think this idea has some merit, the company can deliver and it will all work out or you don't. Nobody can tell you for sure otherwise at this point.

Personally, I think that anybody who has this serious of a doubt should not up their $1, at least at this point (too late to dump the pledge, I think). The only way you are going to get what you want is to wait for the game to ship and look at the reviews and opinions. If at that point it turns out to be something you are interested in, you honestly haven't lost much by not backing. A few Roamers, and a couple of exclusive heroes, it doesn't really impact gameplay all that much. There is plenty in the core box, and expansions. Weigh that against the risk of spending big bucks on a game you may end up disliking, and it seems pretty obvious that this is the best route.

People would end up pretty mad if a bunch of BGG users talked them into a game that ended up being disappointing to them. I'm not going to go down that path, so I suggest you punt. Nobody is going to be able to give you any assurances on this, we just don't really know enough. And what little we do know is subject to change. Possibly quite a bit. Sometimes even a subtle tweak makes a big difference, as well.
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Tunguska Incident
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Hey I started a similar thread and share your feelings.

I think Shadow mode is potentially a really interesting mechanic but in its present state it feels a little under-baked. I do think it will be meaningful: an experienced group, with careful positioning, will be able to avoid detection in order to coordinate 'ambushes' and attempt to one-shot clear mobs while avoiding attacks. I just can't see any reason why you would want to leave shadow mode.

I would definitely like to see more from the light/dark mechanic though. It would be more interesting if there was also a benefit to being in light. My suggestion was that there should be a rest action to recover health which can only be taken in light and out of shadow mode. This would work thematically and would create an interesting risk/reward decision. It would also make sense to me that some classes (especially melee classes) might benefit from fighting in the light and out of shadow mode. Again, this makes sense thematically (can see what they are hitting!) and would help mitigate the disadvantage of playing a melee class (i.e. not being able to maintain stealth if any of the mob survives your attack).

The heroes are meant to be 'lightbringers'. You'd have thought that paladins would want to get their holy-light mojo on and rage-fuelled barbarians would not want to spend their time sneaking about in the shadows.

The rules that have been released are a work in progress so let's hope they do some more development. Like you, I really want an excuse to buy these miniatures but I want to know that the game will be worth the price of entry...

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Tunguska Incident
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Fair point Jeff. For me, I think it's just nice to have a sounding board for what we would like to see from the game. Never know, GG might even check these forums and respond with some more info about gameplay.

As you so rightly suggest, I am sitting on my $1 in the hope that a more detailed rulebook will sell me on it.

Also, it's kind of fun playing armchair game designer (as if we know better..)
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Steven R
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I think Shadow Mode does what it's intended to do...creates another tactical option for movement and combat. I suspect when it's released, it will be the best iteration of the 'Zombicide' system. It will not be the equivalent of Descent, nor is it intended to be, but I do think it will be fun and more challenging than some expect. I also think it will be very easy to tweak and incorporate new miniatures and rules.
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Jorgen Peddersen
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I suspect the rulebook will have a second draft shown to us before the pledge manager is wrapping up, so that ill give a much better idea of how things work.

In the meantime, I do think there are already some good options there. Some of the maps we see are quite labyrinthine, and that makes it very interesting to set up ambushes and so on. The monster paths are quite predictable, so you can plan your turns around their movement, carefully choosing which Hero will be the one the monsters will hunt and where everyone else will be to capitalise on that.

On the argument about them being 'lightbringers', yet they hide in the shadows, there is a very simple explanation. What happens when you bring light into massive darkness? You create shadow! There cannot be shadows without light, and the lightbringers thus bring the light to the darkness in order to best exploit the shadow they create.
 
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Max Maloney
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"If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason." -Jack Handey
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Clipper wrote:
I suspect the rulebook will have a second draft shown to us before the pledge manager is wrapping up, so that ill give a much better idea of how things work.

I've never seen CMON post an updated rulebook prior to retail release. It would be nice, but I'm skeptical.

As to the OP, I think the criticism is incredibly premature. I'm not exactly sure what people expect from shadow mode, but I see it as having a lot of potential. It's a simple system, as you would want it to be. Something overly complicated would be very annoying since it comes into play so often. Anything likely to be used most turns by at least one hero is something you want easy and streamlined.

And it should have a significant impact. This is a big part of how players can control monster movement and attack selection. Given that any one hero going to 0 life a second time causes a game loss, controlling target selection by the monsters could be extremely important.

And again, complexity is not helpful here. Even with this simple system, real decisions will organically spring up such as the tension between wanting to advance and not wanting a character at low life to get into trouble.

Then add the extra layer that some classes and monsters interact with light and shadow and I can guarantee there will be plenty of times when your choices aren't so easy and the simple system has a big impact on the game.
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Jack Swan
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Tunguska wrote:
It would be more interesting if there was also a benefit to being in light.

I think being in the light equals tanking / aggro. If worked out well, that's an interesting boardgame feature.
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Chuck Hurd
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Bruthor wrote:
...The removed def die is not worth 1 action, in my eyes, as I could use this extra action as an additional attack instead. Does that not make more sense?

Under the KS revised rules you get your attack action back when you use an action to enter shadow mode. There seems to be no cost to use shadow mode so at worst it's a mechanic you don't need to use or can use for free. At best it'll become a necessary and integral tactic in game play. Difficult to say before playing it.
 
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Jorgen Peddersen
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It's not totally free even with that change. It slows you down if you don't plan to attack. Also, it still affects aggro, so you can't automate it.
 
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Paul Glickman
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That change removed almost all the decision making tension from shadow mode, I have no idea what it's for haha.
 
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Chuck Hurd
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Clipper wrote:
It's not totally free even with that change. It slows you down if you don't plan to attack. Also, it still affects aggro, so you can't automate it.

True, but the OP was lamenting the potential loss of an attack action so it seems to be free relative to that.
 
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Ryan Caputo
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Useful?

Rangers, assasins, theives...yes

Mages, sorcerers....maybe

Barbarians, pit fighters, clerics...no

I hope the game rules reflect this
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Under the rules in the draft rulebook, it seemed fairly easy for a ranged/magic character to remain in shadow mode from one turn to the next. The only cost to them under those rules is that they would lose an action to go into shadow mode. The benefit of the enemy rolling one less defense die, though, seemed to far outweigh that cost to me. Sure, you make one less attack, but the attacks you make are more efficient and more likely to land damage (on the flip side, consider how likely it would be that the extra combat action you got from not going into shadow mode would be wasted anyway due to a strong defense roll).

This makes shadow-mode seem like a no-brainer choice for ranged/magic characters. But then with update #22, they announced a change whereby going into shadow mode would award a free combat action. This would only seem to exacerbate the issues of this degenerate strategy.

This is why I strongly suspect that the designers had to offset the other advantages of shadow mode somehow. It's clear from update #22 that the designers have been tweaking the mechanics of shadow mode since the draft rulebook was released. I have a hard time believing that they weren't aware of some of these issues already and then introduced rules changes that only made them worse.

While we don't have enough details to know what the other changes (if any) might be, I suspect they'll make it harder to remain in shadow mode from one turn to the next. One simple way to do this is to drop the rule in the draft rulebook that allows you to "carry over" shadow mode from your previous activation even when enemies have the potential to have LOS to you.
 
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Eric Bridge
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What I don't get is why the monsters, who actually live down there, don't know more about getting into "shadow mode" themselves?
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Tunguska Incident
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ebridge wrote:
What I don't get is why the monsters, who actually live down there, don't know more about getting into "shadow mode" themselves?


I'm pretty sure I've seen something about dark squares conferring bonuses to some monsters. I guess the monsters spawning from event cards could be said to represent mobs sneaking up on the heroes...
 
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Ryan Caputo
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They need a shadow kraken, basically tentacles of some kind in deep pit
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dafrca
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ebridge wrote:
What I don't get is why the monsters, who actually live down there, don't know more about getting into "shadow mode" themselves?

This is an interesting question.
 
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Brian Busha
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I think, thematically, is that we are invading their dungeons. I don't know that they'd be skulking out in their own home.

 
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dafrca
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Gutrix wrote:
I think, thematically, is that we are invading their dungeons. I don't know that they'd be skulking out in their own home.


True, but then I have several skills I use at work and never use in my home. Just because the dungeon is their home does not mean they shouldn't know how to use the shadows I would imagine.

I could also just accept their not being able to use the shadow effect is a game mechanic and does not need a "fluff" justification.
 
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Brian Busha
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Right, but thematically, why would they be dodging and hiding at home? Their other skills seem to trigger based on acknowledging their foes or reflexes.

The RM's break this sometimes by having universal effects.

I don't know, I didn't get the thematic disconnect there.

Why throwing away three crappy bows gets you a good sword, however...
 
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Jorgen Peddersen
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Gutrix wrote:
Why throwing away three crappy bows gets you a good sword, however...


Transmutation? A wizard did it.
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Jeroen Timmermans
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ebridge wrote:
What I don't get is why the monsters, who actually live down there, don't know more about getting into "shadow mode" themselves?


The Reptisaurus Rex does exactly that.
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K S
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ebridge wrote:
What I don't get is why the monsters, who actually live down there, don't know more about getting into "shadow mode" themselves?


Well, you see, we're Lightbringers, we're kind of a big deal. Shadow-skulking is just one of the many special abilities that sets us apart from the common dungeon-dwelling rabble.
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