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Subject: Not as difficult as touted? Or am I doing something wrong? rss

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Gold Sirius
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So far, I've only played two games, and both with a different group. All new players (except me for the second game), and nobody finished under zero points in both games. Both winners even finished in the 30-odd points in both games.

I was a little disappointed, to be honest. Not in the game, I love it and I think it's fantastic, but rather in how easier it was than I expected it to be.

The rulebook tells you that if you finish above zero points, they consider it a success. The Festival Season rulebook (haven't played with it yet) even goes as far as saying that if you think the base game is too easy, you're probably playing it wrong.

So are we playing it wrong?

Spells during battle are only cast if you have wizards in your party, and when they are, the final two spells will rarely be cast since you'll get rid of the wizards before that.

Each spell is only cast once, correct? Spell 1 in round 1, Spell 2 in round 2, etc?

How do you gain Evil in battle?? The rulebook says that you can "plan" for the Paladin to come to your dungeon, but during battle, you can only LOSE evil by having your tiles conquered.

In both games, the Paladin didn't show up in the first year but only in the second, and we had to actively chase him by gaining evil on purpose.

You only pay a monster's cost when you recruit it and on Pay day, correct?

A knocked out monster comes back face up at the end of the year, correct?

Oftentimes, even if you don't have monsters anymore, Fatigue will take care of the remaining adventurers by itself. Since you don't attack anymore, the Priests don't heal, and 2 or 3 points of damage is a lot. In the first game, no adventurer was ever left alive (after the 4th round of battle), and in the second game, only a few made it out.

Unless I've been playing missing a crucial rule (I don't think so), I just think the game is not that hard at all.

Thoughts?
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Ian Kelly
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GoldSirius wrote:
So are we playing it wrong?


Maybe.

Quote:
Spells during battle are only cast if you have wizards in your party, and when they are, the final two spells will rarely be cast since you'll get rid of the wizards before that.

Each spell is only cast once, correct? Spell 1 in round 1, Spell 2 in round 2, etc?


Correct. Note that the paladin also has magic points.

Quote:
How do you gain Evil in battle?? The rulebook says that you can "plan" for the Paladin to come to your dungeon, but during battle, you can only LOSE evil by having your tiles conquered.


It's possible to gain evil as a result of certain spells. You can also avoid losing evil with a monster that prevents conquering, which effectively gains you an evil relative to the other players.

Quote:
In both games, the Paladin didn't show up in the first year but only in the second, and we had to actively chase him by gaining evil on purpose.


This is common for new players who are wary of the paladin and avoid gaining evil. More experienced players will be chasing the paladin (if that's their strategy) in the first year as well.

Quote:
You only pay a monster's cost when you recruit it and on Pay day, correct?


Yes.

Quote:
A knocked out monster comes back face up at the end of the year, correct?


Yes.

Quote:
Oftentimes, even if you don't have monsters anymore, Fatigue will take care of the remaining adventurers by itself. Since you don't attack anymore, the Priests don't heal, and 2 or 3 points of damage is a lot. In the first game, no adventurer was ever left alive (after the 4th round of battle), and in the second game, only a few made it out.


Yes.

Quote:
Unless I've been playing missing a crucial rule (I don't think so), I just think the game is not that hard at all.

Thoughts?


I'd double-check that you're scoring correctly. In particular, make sure you're docking three points for each gold of unpaid tax, as that's where people often run into trouble that lands them at a negative score. If everybody in your group is managing to pay their taxes then maybe you just have a group of natural dungeon lords.
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Ian Kelly
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Also, if you want to make the game harder without adding too much more complexity, try using the random events if you're not already. Also consider throwing in the Minions Bearing Gifts mini-expansion to buff up the adventurers.
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There's a shape called "The Golden Rectangle". Have you heard of it?
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GoldSirius wrote:
The rulebook tells you that if you finish above zero points, they consider it a success. The Festival Season rulebook (haven't played with it yet) even goes as far as saying that if you think the base game is too easy, you're probably playing it wrong.

Then frankly I don't know what the writers of that rulebook were thinking.

Quote:
How do you gain Evil in battle?? The rulebook says that you can "plan" for the Paladin to come to your dungeon, but during battle, you can only LOSE evil by having your tiles conquered.

Some spells cause it or you can steal the paladin from someone if they lose evil putting you above them. It's very difficult to intentionally pull off.

Quote:
In both games, the Paladin didn't show up in the first year but only in the second, and we had to actively chase him by gaining evil on purpose.

Avoiding the 1st year paladin is usually good play -- he's pretty strong compared to the resources you have. You're right that you should chase out the second year paladin if you feel you can take him -- even if you get an extra conquered tile or miss one adventurer it's still a point gain and you'll probably get the "most evil" title as well.

Quote:
Unless I've been playing missing a crucial rule (I don't think so), I just think the game is not that hard at all.

The only thing I can think of is not playing with all of the optional rules (paying gold to place hire monster in first slot, not being able to spend evil once you're at the top of the meter, and using the event deck) but even then you shouldn't get a negative score. I've seen people with thoroughly wrecked dungeons who have basically knocked themselves out of the game, which is another way you could define "difficult", but never a negative score.

You could try the Minions Bearing Gifts variant for some extra difficulty:
http://czechgames.com/files/rules/dungeon-lords-anniversary-...
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Ben Kyo
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"Hard" is a strange term to apply to a game in which the only goal is to score more than your opponents.

You can gain evil in battle due to specific spells, for example, but even without that happening, if two players are sufficiently evil and the one who attracted the paladin lets the adventurers conquer 4 tiles while the other defeats them all without losing any tiles, it is quite possible the paladin will end up in the other player's dungeon before the combat is over, i.e. whenever the player with the paladin drops in evil below the other player.

Generally, if you are letting the adventurers conquer 4 tiles, you aren't defending sufficiently well. You can score differently, by avoiding tile loss, or focusing on other ways of scoring, but losing 4 tiles and letting adventurers escape is generally a bad result.

0-3 fatigue to the first adventurer is not a lot of damage, especially in the second year.
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Richard
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You're playing against other players and not the game so I'm not sure I get what you mean by it being hard. It's hard if your opponents are much better than you.

I think some find the rules to be intimidating and also the game can be unforgiving to poor decisions as is common with Vlaada's designs.
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Alison Mandible
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GoldSirius wrote:
The rulebook tells you that if you finish above zero points, they consider it a success.


I'd forgotten Dungeon Lords had that rule, but I've seen many people have the same reaction to its presence in Galaxy Trucker. "This wasn't that hard! I totally ended up with more than zero money, so I'm a winner? We're all winners? This game is too easy."

If you've played Agricola, you may have noticed all the little mechanical ways Dungeon Lords is like Agricola-- the rotation of the seasons, the little grid board to fill up, the use of food as payment, and the penalty markers that cost 3 points each at end of game. And the euphemistic "family growth space"/"magic room" where two workers go to make another worker using some undescribed method.

But in Dungeon Lords, adventurers come and break your stuff! For no reason! Those jerks. And instead of a cost imposed by mother nature-- what could be more wholesome than feeding your family, even if it's difficult sometimes-- your recurring maintenance costs are payments to bureaucrats. Jerks!

So anyway. It's possible to make some specific mistakes in your first game, especially against an experienced player, that leave you in serious danger of ending up with only 2 or 3 points. Calling those players winners is a way to acknowledge that this game may be harsher or more negative (at least in theme) than games you've played before, while also letting people pick their own challenge level. You don't have to chase the paladin. You don't have to hire a demon. You can play slow and steady and have fun and probably not score the highest, but you still "win" if that's your thing.

Or you can pour on the difficulty and go for glory. But you don't have to!

30 points is pretty high, tho. Did one player sweep all the award categories? If you played the full game (i.e. special events, paying to recruit monsters early, etc.) and remembered the -2 points per conquered tile, it should be hard for anyone to score 30 without the others scoring really low. Not impossible, though.

So add in Minions Bearing Gifts and Festival Season and the extra paladins and whatever else you need to until the game is punishing enough for you. If you're disappointed when a game is too easy, you are definitely the right audience for Vlaada's games.
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Nathaniel Chambers
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It's the same rule that's in galaxy trucker: if you have any money at the end of the round you have succeeded. In this case, congrats, you are a dungeon lord. It didn't say anything about graduating at the top of your class. It's a competitive game, and whoever scores the most points is the winner.

Another rule I often see is missed for first time players: the fatigue only gives that amount of wounds to the adventurer in front.
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David desJardins
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golden_cow2 wrote:
GoldSirius wrote:
The rulebook tells you that if you finish above zero points, they consider it a success. The Festival Season rulebook (haven't played with it yet) even goes as far as saying that if you think the base game is too easy, you're probably playing it wrong.

Then frankly I don't know what the writers of that rulebook were thinking.


It's a "joke". Galaxy Trucker has the same rule. More specifically, it's a way to try to avoid people hating the game after one try if they do badly. It doesn't mean that you aren't actually trying to score higher than that.
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Alejandro Magno
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I never saw a player with less than 0 points, not beginners nor else.

However the game is hard, because is hard to learn to play well. As noted, this is a game against others players. If you are opponents are good, scoring high is hard.
The game may be considered hard in that a single mistake can put you out of chance for the first position.
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Spazz
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Peristarkawan wrote:
I'd double-check that you're scoring correctly. In particular, make sure you're docking three points for each gold of unpaid tax, as that's where people often run into trouble that lands them at a negative score. If everybody in your group is managing to pay their taxes then maybe you just have a group of natural dungeon lords.


Thirty points does sound high. Remember also, that you lose two points for every tile (tunnel or room) that has been destroyed by the heroes at the end of the game. Usually that is where scores drop dramatically.
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Andy Kerrison
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I wouldn't expect anyone to finish under zero points. 30+ for the winner is a high score, but it's hard to tell if the scoring is correct without also seeing the breakdown of everyone else's scores. If someone hits 30 pts, it's likely at least one or two other players are still in single digits or early teens.

Some games of Dungeon Lords will also naturally be higher or lower scoring than others. If Pay Day is early players will tend to score better, and the selection of heroes drawn will have a significant impact too.
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Johan Sporre
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Are you paying taxes for all your tiles or only your tunnels (you should pay for everything)?
Are you paying taxes for your conquered tiles too?

I'd say that Dungeon Lords isn't difficult really, but it can be very unforgiving. A single order that didn't execute or go as you expected can in the end have a huge impact on your point total.
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Spazz
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One thing that I think makes this game more "difficult" than other games is that every game is going to be different based on what rooms and monsters become available when, mixed in with which heroes are coming out and which ones you get saddled with.

For example, if you have an early strategy of going heavy on the traps, then if you start getting laden with thieves and a paladin, then you are going to have to adjust. There will never be one strategy which you can reliably employ every game, there are just too many variables to consider. You need to be flexible.

But even then, the best plans can be undone by a combat spell. In one game, during the second year, I had my whole plan of attack laid out. My heavy hitter was the Golem with a baby golem attached (I was using the Pets expansion). The first spell turned my golem into a sheep and I got wrecked!
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Are you limiting the number of traps/monsters in hallways and tunnels? Paying for traps in rooms? Awarding Title bonuses only at game end? Applying fatigue damage from the front of the line backwards (and not to every adventurer)?
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