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Subject: Kraagra Warfang - Lord of the Pit rss

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Michael Hunter
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Final version is here


Blah blah blah Villain Promos blah blah pros and cons.

Kraagra Warfang is one I've been putting off for a while, as I knew she would be quite a mechanical challenge. She brings a lot of unique things to the party, but in her present state is very very complex, very very difficult, and in my opinion not a great deal of fun. My acid test for a good villain is exactly how much I wince when a naive friend suggests them after flipping through the box. When Mitchell said "Kraagra looks cool, let's do her!", I nearly dislocated my jaw.

Pros
-Theme is great, an evil gladiator queen who pits you against her jerky gladiator minions while a baying crowd watches.

-Title cards are super cool, nice little mini-puzzles to get on your dudes, and cool buffs when they're on them.

-The individual Gladiators all have quite cool designs.

-Crowds favour makes an interesting win condition that is quite different from the standard Kill A Boss.

Cons
-Hard hard hard hard hard. Kraagra is probably the most overtuned boss in the game, vomiting out horrendous amounts of HP. She routinely plays 2 targets a turn, each of which has 10-18 health, thus you have to deal around 24 damage a turn to stop getting overwhelmed, which is quite unreasonable. Get Back In There is even worse, with flipping her own badass self and 2 gladiators, she can easily put 80 HP of targets on the board IN ONE TURN. No one has the damage output to keep up with that.

-Titles are individually cool, but the overall mechanic is a bit too complex. There start being only a few, but within a few turns you have 7-8 cluttering up the board, and it is easy to forget a trigger for one of them.

-The Crowd's Favour as win condition is cool, but the ways which you get it are fiddly. Getting a title makes sense, killing a target makes sense, but the dealing 4+ or 2+x2+ trigger is clunky and so easily missed when you have to do it every damn turn, plus a bit redundant. I get rewarded for damaging things, and for things dying, two things that generally happen at the same time.

-Overall complexity. As a combination of the first three. One, Kraagra plays tons of fairly complex targets. Two, there are lots of little triggers on damage that happen several times in a turn. Three, there are a bunch of titles lying around that triggers at various oblique times (oh, and you play more titles in response to certain other triggers). I think I can say with confidence I have never played a game against Kraagra that didn't involve me missing triggers half a dozen times. And that's just the triggers I later NOTICED I missed.

-The Villains winning from Crowds favour doesn't play that great. They ramp up targets fast, but their damage output isn't THAT high, so it takes a while to wear you down, several turns of hugely complex boards and lots and lots and lots of triggers.

-Exceptionally bad scaling. Most villains get a lot harder with H=3 and a lot easier with H=5, but Kraagra is a cut above. Smaller teams tend to already have trouble with target-heavy villains, but so few of Kraagra's effects scale with H meaningfully. Again, Get Back In there is a major offender - you thought a surprise 80 HP is bad with 5 people, in 3 man each player needs to deal 26 damage in a turn to keep up.

So...




Crowds Favour Triggers: This has been substantially simplified. The hero's get favour for killin' stuff and getting titles (kicking ass and taking names, if you prefer). Both of these are pretty obvious events and harder to forget than dealing X damage.

The villain triggers are also simple. They get favour for titles and favour for Being There. Their old trigger of getting favour when they kill something didn't happen often (heros don't often die, and when they do the game is usually over anway. Oh, and totally screws Cosmic and Unity). Again, much simpler. Villains don't get titles often so when they do it's obvious, and ticking up favour at the end of every turn like clockwork is also easier to keep track of. On average, this nets the villains 2 favour per turn.


Title Deck: Greatly simplified. Two cards out to start with. At the start of the environment turn the heroes may toss one, and they are topped back up to 2. Gives the heroes a bit of an interesting decision about what titles they may or may not be able to get. Any titles on destroyed targets go back into the deck, so you always know there are up to two titles out, easier for players to focus on what is available and thus unlikely to miss triggers. Titles are fun, so this may wind up being 3 cards out in the final version.


Victory condition: The heroes now have the goal of getting a certain amount of favour and THEN beating Kraagra. The amount they need is 6/8/10 (bearing in mind favour is substantially harder to get now), when they get it Kraagra joins the fight and must be put down.

If the players manage to clear all the gladiators before this, Kraagra will also step down to fight. If you beat her before you are at 6/8/10 favour, you get a consolation pile of favour and she resets, but you must beat her again to actually win. This gives her a balancing mechanic - if things are going well and you clear out the gladiators, rather than have nothing to do she enters the fray - she is tough and a hard hitter, but a very profitable source of favour. High risk, high reward!

Conversely, the villains now win just by killing you the old fashioned way, but THEIR favour now leads you to taking ever increasing psychic damage from the hostile crowd. Note the idea is that if you are on, say, 9 villain favour it deals you one hit of 3 damage, not 3 x 1. Not sure if the currently wording makes that clear.

Anyway, this gives the villains A:Something to do with their favour, making the favour-granting gladiators still dangerous, B:Ups the offense of the otherwise fairly low damage gladiators and C:Gives the match a timer of sorts. YOu can't dilly dally, as they are pretty reliably stacking up 2ish favour a turn.


Minor changes: Get Back In There now returns H-2 gladiators instead of 2 (helping with scaling a lot) and does NOT flip Kraagra (thank god).

Fickle Fans was a bit too swingy (moving H tokens was fine when your goal was 20, but when it's 8 to win the game it's a bit crushing), now down to H-2 tokens moves (still enough to make a big deal!) and plays the top card of the villain deck (now that she only plays one card a turn, she can't afford it to be a dud!).

As always, comments and criticisms are welcomed while I continue playtesting and polishing the gal.
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Jonathan Meltzer
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Small nit before you get too far with this...isn't it Kaargra, not Kraagra?

EDIT: Also, in the wording of the Bloodsworn Favour Pool, maybe move the WHEN to the first option, i.e.

PUT A TOKEN IN THE BLOODSWORN FAVOUR POOL:

-- WHEN A VILLAIN TARGET GAINS A TITLE CARD.
-- FOR EACH VILLAIN TARGET IN PLAY AT THE END OF THE VILLAIN TURN.
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P.D. Magnus
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We play the arena mostly as written, but with two houserules: There are never more than H unclaimed titles in play at a time; if more come out, discard the oldest. And The Mindbreaker gets to stay in the box; it's just impossible to track the number of sources which have damaged a target, essentially for every target in the game for the whole round.

These small changes simplify play considerably.
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Take Walker
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My initial thought (after "Dude, it's Kaargra") was along the lines of HOW DARE YOU KAARGRA IS PERFECT

But y'know, the interaction between favor and Kaargra coming into play makes this really interesting. I mean, usually, especially for three heroes, her coming out means they're screwed, since they can't win. It gets even worse when she gets titles, and it seems like she'll always make at least one appearance per game. But you might be on to something here...
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Alex Klein
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Kaargra flips instantly in a 3-player game.

Also, thank you for making this one work with 3 players.
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Michael Hunter
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Gah, can't believe I got the name wrong! I'm a shade dyslexic at times, will fix!

Mizerak:
Your wording is easier to understand, will use. Thanks!


PDMagnus:
Mindbreaker is a pain, we normally discard it as "too complicated", although every now and then it does dis incentivize you from piling onto a boss for your round. Considering changing it to "When a target is dealt damage 3 or more times in one round, attach..."


Alskandar:
Hrm, hadn't noticed that interaction - I guess I'd been playing my own version wrong! Initially her flipping was a Start of Turn thing, but it did lead to some un-fun interactions where you finish off the last gladiator halfway through your turn, then just sit around twiddling your thumbs waiting for the boss to come fight you.

I could either go with start of the turn and accept the odd annoying lack of targets, make it just say "KaaRgra cannot flip during her first turn", or perhaps make it trigger when a gladiator is destroyed AND there are no targets in play.

Thanks for the feedback, all!
 
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Jonathan Richardson
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Looks good. I 100% approve. (Other than the misspelled name and the insta flipping in 3 player of course )
 
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Michael Hunter
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To give you an idea of how she's playing...

Villain: Kaargra Warfang - Lord of the pit (and not her mysterious twin sister Kraagra)
Environment: Enclave of the Endlings
Heroes: Parse, Prime Warden Tempest, Tango One, Lock'n'load Expatriette.

Turn 1: Death Caller and Chaos Lord are the beginning titles,and the Bloodsworn start with Ashclaw R'velos (who makes Tango unable to deal damage), followed by an Impassable Andolin for a tough starting combination. The heroes begin to set up with a Critical Multiplier, Electrical Storm, Sniper Rifle and Assault Rifle along with minimal damage to R'velos. The environment plays Gruum and the heroes opt to get rid of Chaos Lord (we have plans for Death Caller and Tango), which is replaced by Seeker.
Villain Favour = 2, Hero Favour = 0

Turn 2: The Tyragon Rex joins his bros, who collectively unleash a fair amount of damage on the hapless heroes, and make Tango unable to deal damage again. Parse uses Syntatic analysis to get Gene-Bound shackles and Fortitude into play for Tempest. Tempest then plays Hail Storm, giving him serious AoE firepower he takes advantage of. In hitting the Andolin he also gets the Seeker title. Tango follows up by using her Sniper Rifle to discard 2 criticals and one-shot the Andolin (getting Death Caller in the process). Expatriette plays shock rounds via arsenal access and does some more damage to the two remaining gladiators. Finally, the enclave plays Szreem and "The Indiscriminate" and "The Champion" become available.
Villain Favour = 5, Hero Favour = 3

Turn 3: Provocator Tarnis joins the baddies and the three gladiators in play combined with damage from the crowd is beginning to hurt. Oh, and Tango can't deal damage again. Again. The team focuses their firepower with an impossible shot, chain lightning, Tempests AoE and an incendiary assault rifle bringing down Tarnis and R'evlos (and incidentally Gruum). With R'evlos dead, Tango breathes a sigh of relief, knowing she might actually deal damage at some point. Urdid enters from the Enclave, and we discard "The Indiscriminate" in favour of "The Unbreakable).
Villain Favour = 8, Hero Favour = 5

Turn 4: GET BACK IN THERE! The Andolin and R'evlos march back to join the heavily injured Tryragon, and Tango curses loudly. The damage from gladiators and the crowd is mounting, we are all below half HP. The heroes go high damage again, Between the lines on Tempest followed by hail storms, assault rifles oh my! The Tryragon is put out of action and the Andolin is once again taken out by Tango's sniper rifle, but the heroes can't quite finish off R'evlos leaving them on 7 favour. Unbreakable is replaced by Stonejaw, which is immediately taken by the debuting Baahsto, who hits Tango and makes her double unable to deal damage. Sigh.
Villain Favour = 12, Hero Favour = 7

Turn 5: Bloodsworn judgment comes down, granting R'evlos "The Reckless", but with only one gladiator in play all he manages is to deal Tango a little damage. Oh and make her unable to deal damage. On the other hand, the 4 psychic damage is wearing us down and we are all below 8 HP except the Fortitude-having Tempest.

Parse Data mines Baahsto, Tempest unleashes hell taking out R'evlos, bringing us to 8 favour and bringing in Kaargra. Tango cannot deal damage this turn, and is on 3HP thus will definitely die next turn, so she uses One shot, one kill to knock out Urdid, for lack of anything better to do while Expatriette chips away at Kaargra with her assault rifle. Finally, the environment plays Korrupton, whittling our health down still further!
Villain Favour = 14, Hero Favour = 8

Turn 6: Idesa joins her master, combining with the crowd for 5 damage per player, killing Tango and brining Parse and Expat down to 4 HP each. Only Tempest (who has had his fortitude up most of the game) stays relatively healthy, and takes two hits from Kaagra, taking him down to 7. Last chance! Parse uses impossible shot and her base attack, Tempest has Electrical Storm, Lightning Slash and Hail Storm (with Gene-Bound shackles and Seeker) doing hellacious damage, Tango rots and Expat finishes off Kaargra at the last second with a fresh Tactical Shotgun.



Tempest was crazy good (Seeker on AoE is nuts), Tango did surprisingly well considering she was never actually able to deal damage, but Expat and Parse did nothing special (Parse never had a card that let her discard for Critical Multiplier!), yet we won very narrowly, making me think the boss might be a smidge overtuned.



 
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Dennison Milenkaya
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I played against Kaarga once when she first launched. After a really easy win of an extremely complicated game, I put the deck into a glass jar, weighed it down with some marbles, and threw it off a pier into the great Pacific.

I don't remember all the details, but I was the fourth player in a four-player game and I do remember that Absolute Zero, in first position, had all the titles and mostly defeated all the baddies so that by the time my turn rolled around, I never had anything to do. So I drew or built up to what never paid off, since that repeated without alteration ... all damned game. But it was not a fast game. Four players, all checking out the new cards: titles, gladiators, and their own new heroes, were eating up the scenery and basking in flavor text, until we were all soon trying to math our way through a metric shit-ton of bookkeeping in order to track everything. It sucked.

And for all that, a boring, unsatisfying win. Ho hum. Not doing that again.

But this.... This Lord--erm, Lady?--of the Pit version may well be a refreshing break from the agonizing pain of playing the game against a villain who never earned her place at the table again. I'm concerned that you found her difficult to beat, because that's not my experience (although, I have such a minute sampling pool of one game, but frankly, that was one too many at the time), that I hope you didn't make her too much easier to defeat, as that was rather trivial. Playing against her was difficult; beating her was easy.

So, I may well keep this version in mind and if'n I ever come across her deck again, perhaps I'll give this a try. Thanks for fixing it!
 
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Michael Hunter
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I've always found her pretty brutal - and the stats I can find agree. Personally, I feel the main problem is that she has unreasonable damage requirements, if you can't put out at least 25 damage a turn reliably you're going to fall behind and get swamped with Gladiators, kind of like the Chairman in that regard, but at least his underbosses have single digit health AND he usually only plays one a turn.

I do admit, most games I've lost against her weren't "lost" so much as "I'm pretty sure I'm going to lose, and I sure as hell can't be bothered dealing with another six turns of this fiddly junk to find out, so Apostate again, lads?" - but she is definitely capable of killing you.

My guess is in your game you got a fortunate combination of titles/heroes that let you do unreal damage? Tempest with Seeker and Living Weapon I have found to be pretty nuts, his base power effectively doing 5 damage to everyone, but outside of a few broken combos she is very very tough to kill and very very dull to do so.

Having said all that, based on my playtesting (and bear in mind I test with faiiiirly random teams, rather than finely honed entities with Legacy, Sentinels, Team Leader Tachyon and so on) we lose more often than not (not quite as killy as my Iron Legacy, about on par with my Chairman, which puts her towards the high end of the spectrum) meaning she is still pretty damn tough, just not as brutal as we found her before.

I hope your glass jar with Kaargra improbably comes drifting back to the coast and you can try this gal out - but if I were a betting man my money would be against it. If it does drift all the way to NZ I promise I'll send it back to you, though!
 
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Michael Hunter
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Even modified Kaargra is still pretty complex, so I'm trying to minimize the fiddly book keeping as much as possible.

To this end, I want to put the "deal damage based on villain favour" and "gain more favour for villain targets" both at the end of the turn, as when you do the two together because they're linked you tend to remember both, whereas it's relatively easy to forget one of the two in isolation. However, for balance reasons it is vital that the dealing damage happens BEFORE adding the new tokens.

I just wanted to check if my interpretation of the rules is right. As Kaargra herself enters play, then her setup brings in the Crowd's Favour card, all her End of Turn triggers will go off BEFORE the Crowd's Favour, meaning that, as I want, the psychic damage will be dealt and THEN the new tokens will be added. Right?

PS: Considering changing the crowd damage to environment deals projectile instead of hero deals self psychic - the riotous fans throwing crap makes just as much flavour sense as the heroes getting sad.
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Adelphophage wrote:
PS: Considering changing the crowd damage to environment deals projectile instead of hero deals self psychic - the riotous fans throwing crap makes just as much flavour sense as the heroes getting sad.

Doesn't damage have to have a target source? Hence why Vengeance villains often have "hero deals self X" incap text. Say that the Arena itself, over its many incarnations throughout the multiverse, has become a living thing, a crushing psychic presence in which to go without the crowd's favour means death.
 
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Michael Hunter
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It has to have a source, but I believe it doesn't have to be a target? For example Primordial Plant Life in Insula Primalis hurts you despite just being a card. Note quite sure on this, though.

Perhaps it could say The Bloodsworn Colosseum deals you X projectile damage so it has a source, but is not a target?

I do like your justification for the psychic damage, though!
 
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Oh, duh, you're quite right
 
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Take Walker
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Yeah, I think using "The Bloodsworn Colosseum" like you would use "the environment" in that case would be kosher. Plus, the projectile damage is a great idea! (How about (H)-2 damage to the [highest HP targets, number determined by amount of favor]?)
 
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Jonathan Meltzer
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I don't know...I like the idea of creating the crowd as a target. If they are throwing crap at the heroes, maybe the heroes blast them a bit too?

(Just kidding. I like the projectile damage from the environment idea, though)
 
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Lars Enden
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Since Kaargra is female, shouldn't it be "Lady of the Pit" rather than "Lord of the Pit?"
 
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Kevin Wright
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brayle wrote:
Since Kaargra is female, shouldn't it be "Lady of the Pit" rather than "Lord of the Pit?"


Or, I suppose, the gender-neutral "Sovereign" or "Ruler" or somesuch...
 
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Michael Hunter
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After some gender and spelling corrections, Kaargra Warfang is ready to go!





From the draft version, a few changes

-Rule added to setup to stop Kaargra flipping on the first turn in a 3 player game (note she can still potentially flip if no gladiators are played, but at least she won't have friends).

-Damage dealt by the crowd changed to projectile from psychic, dealt by the colosseum rather than the heroes, and now written out on the Crowd's Favour card. None of this actually has a huge gameplay impact!

-Added a special card back for the Colosseum and Crowd's favour cards - as they are explicitly not villain cards, seemed odd for them to have a villain card back.

-Now restocks to 3 title cards, not 2.

Am experimenting with how I present these, so in a folder, have individual card images as opposed to pdf for before. Thoughts on this approach (or the villain herself, obviously!) are welcome!
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Jonathan Meltzer
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Mizerak wrote:


In the wording of the Bloodsworn Favour Pool, maybe move the WHEN to the first option, i.e.

PUT A TOKEN IN THE BLOODSWORN FAVOUR POOL:

-- WHEN A VILLAIN TARGET GAINS A TITLE CARD.
-- FOR EACH VILLAIN TARGET IN PLAY AT THE END OF THE VILLAIN TURN.


You did not actually make this change in the wording, as far as I can tell. Only mentioning it because you said you were going to...your choice, of course.
 
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Michael Hunter
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Good eyes - I did indeed mean to change to this better wording, has been fixed. Thanks again!
 
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Jonathan Meltzer
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Adelphophage wrote:
Good eyes - I did indeed mean to change to this better wording, has been fixed. Thanks again!


Apologies, but...where? The latest post that has the images, and the first post, do not have the fix...in fact, they are different from each other too
 
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Michael Hunter
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Hrm, must've only put the new version in the Villain Promo's thread and drive, not above. Is fixed now...

The first post and end post are different as I like to keep the original post unmodified so the development process can still be understood (a lot of the discussion wouldn't make sense if you couldn't see how it was), but I have a link at the top of the first post to go to the final version. Alternately, all the ones in the Villain Promo thread are final versions (or as final as they'll ever be...)
 
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Jonathan Meltzer
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Adelphophage wrote:
Hrm, must've only put the new version in the Villain Promo's thread and drive, not above. Is fixed now...

The first post and end post are different as I like to keep the original post unmodified so the development process can still be understood (a lot of the discussion wouldn't make sense if you couldn't see how it was), but I have a link at the top of the first post to go to the final version. Alternately, all the ones in the Villain Promo thread are final versions (or as final as they'll ever be...)


I feel bad saying this, but... The wording is changed, but is not what I had in my post, and grammatically the second part does not work. Again, please understand that I get that it is your creation, but IF you were planning to use the wording that I used, you still do not have that in place in the latest post in this thread.
 
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Michael Hunter
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Mizerak wrote:
I feel bad saying this, but... The wording is changed, but is not what I had in my post, and grammatically the second part does not work. Again, please understand that I get that it is your creation, but IF you were planning to use the wording that I used, you still do not have that in place in the latest post in this thread.


Don't feel bad - I put this stuff on her for the helpful criticism, and yours is more helpful than most!

I tweaked it a bit to the "End of Turn: blah blah" version to make it more consistent with other triggers, but now that I look at it again, I suppose your version is more gramatically sound compared to my rather awkward one. Might have to wait till tomorrow to fix it again though, getting a bit late my side of the world. I think I'll use that to explain messing it up first time around
 
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