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Sentinels of the Multiverse» Forums » Variants

Subject: Deadline - Angel of Extinction Villain Promo rss

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Michael Hunter
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Final version is here


Another in my mission, and in common with other luminaries like Baron Blade, Progeny and Plague Rat this is more of a tweak - the base villain has no glaring mechanical issues, but this is a version I personally prefer and play with my groups.

As usual, positives, then negatives, then solutions!

Cool thing to keep 1 - Theme: Within two turns of Deadline, you immediately understand he's not just beating your face in like most other villains, he is clearly tearing a hole in the world, and you have to deal with the unpleasant consequences! The destroying environment cards is particularly inspired as a win condition for him.

Cool thing to keep 2 - Catastrophe Mechanic: The way he slowly brings out Catastrophe's and cashes them in for a huge damage-dealing and environment-stripping boom is great. I particularly like how the catastrophes all trigger at start of turn, meaning you see them coming, but can't do much other than brace for it, very disaster movie!



Problem 1 - Easy: On the same tier as Ambuscade, Chokepoint, Gloomweaver and taking candy from a baby with brittle bone disease, Deadline is a pushover. To oversimplify, Deadline's two turn cycle is play two Catastrophes on one turn, next turn play a third and flip, dealing 3 fire damage, plus (about) 2 from the start of turn effect of the Catastrophes. Thus in 2 turns, he deals about 5 damage to the players and destroys 3 cards from the deck. In 10 turns, he will deal 25ish damage to the players, getting into lethal territory, and destroy 15 cards from the deck, winning the game.

So, the players are on a 10 turn timer, give or take Unnatural disasters and Devices messing with the math. For a 4 person team and given Deadline's 80 HP, this means they have to put out a stellar 2 damage per hero per turn to win. To put it another way, a team of say Ra, Haka, Fanatic and KNYFE all just using their innate power turn after turn after turn and playing no cards has a pretty good chance of beating him. We can do better - no need to make him super duper hard, but a more meaningful challenge would be nice!

Problem 2 - Uninteractive: I do appreciate the flavor of Deadline destroying the world underneath you, but the game feels uninteractive. He is sitting there, causing Orogonies and messing with Magnetic fields and whatnot, while you just shoot him - you never get the feeling he's trying to directly fight. A punching bag attached to a timer, if you will, I always got the impression that he's just ignoring you while he does his thing.

Problem 3 - Ongoing Dependent: The vast majority of Deadline's deck is Ongoings, and thus is vulnerable to ongoing destruction. Now the odd Consecrated Ground or RPG launcher or what have you is fine, but if you get to someone with sustained, repeatable ongoing destruction (Visionary and Parse being top of the list) he is totally neutered. For example, Visionary using Mental Divergence turn after turn makes him almost trivial. I should point out the original versions Advanced mode does pretty much solve this problem, so look to that.

With this in mind, prepare to have your Ley Lines Severed by Deadline, Angel of Extinction (name subject to change)



Only major change is to his Devices. Basically he starts with one and will always have one in play. Having a consistent Device in play adds to his threat significantly due to their powerful effects (see below!) and helps the idea that he is fighting against you using his alien technology as well as just destroying the earth. While he starts with one, he may play others, and once you have two in play you can destroy the second without consequence. Also note that picking which Device is most harmful given your team makeup is quite tactically interesting - and if the current Device is particularly irritating you can destroy it and accept that it will be replaced, just hopefully by something less annoying.

Speaking of, to make this decision meaningful the Devices all need to be of broadly the same power level (and situationally more or less powerful to make the strategy of choosing which to keep around interesting!).

Pandemonium key was about right in power level - definitely dangerous but not a "must-kill". Power also varies a fair bit depending on the environment - Final Wasteland or Enclave of the Endlings (appropriately) both make it very rough!

Auto Armour Caster was too strong, definitely a "must-kill" in its original state, so it is tweaked to prevent not the first, not the third, but second damage. This is annoying, but you can play around it to some extent and definitely feel clever for doing so.

Atomic End Glaive
, despite being a great name for a band, was very weak and has been buffed to deal the 3 damage to H-2 targets. A lot of damage, but in some game states (most notably when the environment deck is going to make you lose) a good option.

Ataxia Sphere in the original state also did pretty trivial damage (to be fair, combined with his all target damage, having your lowest HP hero hit over and over could be worrying) and had an almost useless extra effect (most heroes don't care if their deck is shuffled back in, and if they are Tachyon then losing a card is not that big a deal). New version deals damage and heals him a little, ramping up in power as the heroes play more stuff - this one is often not a big deal early on, but a few turns in becomes a priority target.

Other minor changes are...

When an ongoing is destroyed he deals everyone 2 damage. The Advanced Deadline deals 3 which I felt was a bit too much, 2 damage is probably less than the catastrophe would have done, making the ongoing removal accomplish something and be worth doing (Mental Divergence is still pretty good against him!) without being overpowered.

Severed Ley-line I hated. Firstly, the HP gain is trivial, secondly the making everyone shuffle their trash back into the deck is A: Pointless against the majority of heroes, B: Slightly inconvenient against a handful of heroes (those with trash return like Bunker, Zero, Tempest and so on), C: Completely apocalyptic to a handful of heroes (Tachyon, mostly) and D: REALLY TIME CONSUMING AND ANNOYING FOR AN EFFECT THAT DOES SO LITTLE! Personally, I just skipped the shuffle for quality of life reasons. Anyway, all-caps rant aside, now Severed Ley-line does a bit more healing (it's still his weakest Catastrophe by a fair way but you've got to have something to use Suggestion on) and rather than the dumb shuffling makes you discard and redraw your hand, still has the flavour of messing with the source of your power but plays a not more fun, who doesn't like new options?

Finally, his base HP now scales with the number of players.

Quite like him at the moment, still has his key gameplay mechanic of Catastrophes rolling out, but tougher, more tactical and feels more like he's fighting you more directly.
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Matt Onyx
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His flip side currently removes cards from the villain deck, not the environment.
 
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Michael Hunter
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Thanks for the catch-will fix!
 
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"Means to an End" has two X values - one on the damage from catastrophes, one on Ataxia Sphere. This makes the Advanced text, which adjusts X, confusing. Maybe you have to add, "When resolving xyz effect(s), X = (this new value)"
 
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Take Walker
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Let's see, thoughts reading down his card...

- I've always wanted to have a version of Deadline that just starts with all his Devices in play. Starting with a random one is a good idea by itself, because the Glaive is hardly the worst thing in the world for him to have.

- Toned-down advanced rule is a good idea.

- Changing the armor caster is an good idea, but the way you've done it is odd. I mean, basically having it out means "attack the device until it's dead", giving Deadline basically a round of safety. This kind of inverts that, but really it's the same thing, made easier: if you're a one-hit-per-turn hero, you can hit him now, and if you can hit more than once, well darn, you miss out on one whole opportunity to deal damage. This might need some more thought.

- I like the new Ataxia Sphere; it always seemed like it should be more dangerous than it really is.

- Beefing the End Glaive is, again, a good idea.

- The new Severed Ley-Line is great.

- On his flip side, you may want to use Y for the end of turn effect. Otherwise, his advanced rule might be powering the sphere...

Overall, I like it.
 
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Alex Klein
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Basic Deadline is one of my favorite Villains. He has an interesting playstyle and his theme clearly show through gameplay. This is a nice upgrade that keeps the same fight while making it a bit more interesting and harder.

I played a game with Parse, Naturalist, and Tachyon. I had Armor-Caster out the whole game, and actually managed to play around it pretty easily. New Ley-line is pretty cool. It can mess you up if you don't consider it. Amusingly, it will trigger Critical Multiplier, which got me a 13-damage Pinpoint Shot. I killed Deadline with above 15 HP across the board, but only 4 Environment cards left.

I like the changes to cards that I saw. One thing I want to note is that Deadline is one of only a few Villains where scaling HP works great, because it is a damage race. For some Villains, this wouldn't work as well.

Keep up the good work! Please?
 
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Michael Hunter
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Takewalker & Grey, thanks for spotting the confusing interaction between Catastrophes and Ataxia sphere, will fix.

The Auto-Armor caster is an interesting one. Some heroes will be able to more or less ignore it, but odds are in your team someone will find it inconvenient - it's not supposed to be an impenetrable wall, just something that makes Deadline harder to kill in an interesting way - if it stops around 4 HP a turn, it's about where it needs to be.

I'm quite happy with how Severed Ley-Line worked out. Compared to Spreading Schizophrenia (where I stole the idea from), I like how it gives you a turn knowing that you're going to lose your hand, so everyone has fun burning all their best cards while they're still got them, leads to interesting plays!

Balance wise Deadline is currently a shade tougher than I want him to be (while much stronger than the original, he is only supposed to be middle of the pack difficulty). The HP should probably be more like 70 for a 4 player game, but I feel worried about having his HP be something like 20 x H - 10 or 17 x H, too much algebra for a clean text box. Undecided though, aesthetics or gameplay?

Alskandar19 wrote:
Keep up the good work! Please?


Will do! Next on my list is completing Wrath of the Cosmos with Warfang (Infinitor needs no changes)
 
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Michael Hunter
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Almost ready for prime-time, last decision is about the art. For the front side of Deadline I am tossing up between two images (both from the video game).



The blue crystal version I like more on the large card, the red crystal on the small card. Any thoughts?
 
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Jonathan Meltzer
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Battled this promo with three heroes yesterday, and enjoyed it. I think there is a misprint on the back side, though. Why would you remove cards from the Villain deck and then state that if there are no cards in the Environment deck, the heroes lose?

Shouldn't we be removing cards from the Environment deck instead?
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Michael Hunter
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Oh, sorry about that! That was a typo someone helpfully pointed - I did fix it in the proper version in the main Villain Promos threat (and I've added a link above).

How did you find Deadline's devices? I'm still a little unsure on Ataxia Sphere, the card works well but unlike the End Glaive and Armor Caster which are minor tweaks, it's a massive card change, I'm not sure if the gameplay justifies such a difference.
 
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Jonathan Meltzer
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Adelphophage wrote:
Oh, sorry about that! That was a typo someone helpfully pointed - I did fix it in the proper version in the main Villain Promos threat (and I've added a link above).

How did you find Deadline's devices? I'm still a little unsure on Ataxia Sphere, the card works well but unlike the End Glaive and Armor Caster which are minor tweaks, it's a massive card change, I'm not sure if the gameplay justifies such a difference.


No worries - we figured out what was going on, and he only flipped once, so it was no big deal. We took him down on that turn.

Ataxia Sphere was okay...adding a Z was a bit jarring (why not X, like it is everywhere else?), but it was not hard to follow. I DID have to remember that there was alt text for that card, but once I remembered that it was fine.
 
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Michael Hunter
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I had a problem where both the destroying environment cards based on catastrophes and the Ataxia sphere were both X based effects, so they couldn't BOTH be X for confusions sake. In the proper version on the main page, X is the Ataxia sphere, Y is used for the catastrophes.

Ataxia sphere is kind on the edge for me - the gameplay is better, but the implementation with such a sweeping card change is clunky, which is bad. I might go back and some point and try a much simpler tweak of the regular Ataxia sphere, maybe just bumping it to H (or H-1?) infernal damage to the lowest target as well as the shuffle/discard. With all the AoE Deadline does repeating lowest target damage IS dangerous, you could quite easily lose a character. It'd be the sort of thing you could stand to have around for a few turns but need to get rid of eventually, which is exactly the sort of tactical choices the "always have one Device" mechanic was supposed to induce.
 
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Michael Hunter
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After some more tests, have decided to go with elegance over gameplay for Ataxia Sphere - the deal damage/heal based on ongoings/equipments is a good card (might try it in a custom villain at some point, although Vector is a bit similar...) but the Ataxia Sphere dealing H-1 damage is threatening enough for good gameplay. Overall damage output is lower than Atomic End Glaive, but the targeting is very troubling.

I'm not normally a fan of lots of lowest HP damage, especially repeating ones like this, but in this case you always have the option to destroy it and get another device if it's becoming problematic, so it becomes much more managable. Sometimes you have a tough lowest HP hero (or smoke bombs!) and Ataxia sphere isn't that bad, sometimes it's lethal, sometimes you can handle it for a few turns before destroy it and getting another device - the kind of prioritization decisions the always-have-a-device-out mechanic was supposed to encourage.
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