I've just read a thread about setup and am now pondering the extent to which an unlucky setup can make the game hard. We gamed some pretty awful scenarios during playtesting, but I bet the hive mind on the geek can come up with something worse.
What scenario, set of disasters, set of spells, how the rooms are setup and where the starting glyphs fall would generate the toughest possible game?
If someone can come up with a singularly awful setup, I'll make the time to give it a shot and write a session report.
Go for 'normal' difficulty, since the point is to look for a setup that makes a game hard, not to show that 'hard' is hard.
I guess *knowing* what spell or disaster will come up is an unfair advantage, so if you want to experess you hardest possible setup by saying things like "Level 0 disasters, 2 of X, Y and Z" that's super too.
an unlucky setup can make the game hard
Not sure what thread you are referring to, but FWIW my issue is not that some set ups are "too hard". I feel the game has some natural balancing - the more spells you turn, the more threats you will have, but therefore the more you can deal with them.
The issue for me is that games feel uneven in difficulty/length.
I played Golem Construction. The game was long and difficult and I was overwhelmed by threats.
I thought, maybe I could have done better. So I replayed it with the same set up (same tiles/glyph placement and same cards) only reshuffling the cards (so I knew the spells but not their placement). The next game I won easily and quickly. So I did repeated for a third game. This game felt in-between. I lost but felt I had a chance.
When I thought about it, all that was really changing was how fast I got the Nova, Teleport and Guardian spells. In the first game, Nova was the 6th Level 1 spell I got. Teleport then took a while to find. So I was a long way behind. I had lots of spells by then, but there were a lot of threats out and time was running down fast. But in the next game I lucked out and got Nova first, and Teleport soon after. It was pretty easy.
All card games ultimately get driven by luck of the draw. But for some reason I notice it in this game. It feels like the game is playing me, not me playing the game. You have to lie back and enjoy the journey knowing that you don't really control the destination that much.
So one way to experiment might be to set up Golem Construction with the 4 compulsory spell cards face up. Play it that you get "lucky" and get Nova and Teleport in your first few attempts.
Then play the same set up but where you get Nova and Teleport last at each level.
Did you have an equal chance of winning in both games? Were they equally fun? Were they balanced?
I'm referring to the thread in which I wrote "I do think it's possible to lose to something essentially random (imagine always happening to find the spell you need at each level after trying all others). I don't think this happens more than one game in a hundred (because it's based on cumulative probabilities involving large numbers of events)."
A quick calculation shows I've vastly overestimated the odds of that at 1 in 100, it's actually closer to 0.0004%. Though functionally finding all spells last and one second-last would be pretty much as bad, so it being unwinnable probably is closer to the 1% estimate. Essentially it's a possibility, but because a lot of spells get flipped the graph of "number of spells cast to find all necessary spells" is a bell curve and the vast majority of games require a reasonable number of casts. There are also scenarios that entirely sidestep the issue. Stuff like Evasive Grimoire, Inspector Calls and Graduation that don't require particular progression.
I'm happy to discuss this further back there, but if possible I'd like to try and keep this thread on the subject of difficult setups rather than digressing.
If you are doing a random setup and the cursed room ends up right next to the mana crystal. You should use all your free moves and maybe even some mana to get some distance on it rather then moving things to optimize play. With how often the cursed room activates, you will have a portal there, and it will activate on a regular basis. Without some distance on the cursed room you will spend all your time struggling with those threats and not be able to work on scenario goals.