Difficulty and Balance
I've come across several comments in various fora about the game's difficulty. So I felt it would be a good idea to clarify a few things and give you a bit of an insight to the development process we've taken with Vengeance.
The reviewers, and print and play-ers are playing the tutorial version of the game. It's what starting players will get into as a tutorial game using the quick setup rules.
One thing that confused non-gamery testers was the variety of minions in the game and remembering what each of them does (admittedly they were playing with coloured cubes not minis so it was harder to remember what each minion does). This becomes even more complicated with gang minions since, like Bosses, they have specific powers. I thus put together a quick-start guide to get people hopping into the game and provide an easy setup (no wronging, more grunts than in the normal game).
The main difference in difficulty here is that there is at least 1 grunt on each den (more in level 4s) and 1 grunt that comes with a boss that should be gunmen, blockers or bodyguards (or gang minions if playing with these).
Aside from this, the hardcore mode has more montage cards to start off with but 2 of these are discarded from the game from the 3 played. Makes for a fair few difficult choices and less overall resources to heal, upgrade and recon.
But most importantly, the current state of the game is advanced and thoroughly tested but it is not the final, finished game. It needs more balancing. It's hard enough designing a solid system with balanced content, it's a NIGHTMARE designing that for x number of scenarios depending on what unlocks or not during a campaign. So I made sure the game works well with no stretch goals and with two other scenarios: basic game + gang minions and basic game + gang minions + hardcore mode. I've also learnt that Kickstarter is not just a way to get your game out to players but a learning experience with a LOT of feedback so I knew I'd need to tweak the balance given backer feedback and stretch goals.
Once the campaign is done, the resulting version of Vengeance has to go through internal testing and then be rolled out to the various test leads scattered around US and EU for expert tests (the groups that played it). Once it's in a good place, it goes out to brand new groups for a new round of blind testing.
Finally, it's worth noting that the Print and Play is meant to give you a taste of the game, not the whole, finished experience. The game needs tweaking. It would be strange if the game were ready at the START of a Kickstarter campaign which had elements that would be unlocked and influence the final product.