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Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition)» Forums » General

Subject: RtL vs redjak's AI rss

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frank enstein
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any one tried both variants? would be interested to hear your thoughts comparing the two options.
 
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Trevor Taylor
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I've only played both of them once a piece so far (and the AI was Automated Overlord, not automated monsters), but as a singular experience, RTL is easier to get going and of course involves a lot less 'fiddling with bits' to run the game. However, both experiences are an enjoyable challenge and allow you to play the game co-op/solo in a manner akin to having a human opponent (albeit not quite as sly).

You must remember however that RTL is limited by the number of campaigns actually created for it (although others are working on ways around this with other apps) and there are only 2 campaigns so far. Whereas Redjak's AI allows you to play ANY campaign already in circulation (of which there are tons).

I'll probably not used my Redjak Overlord AI deck ever again as I'm only going to be playing this with my wife co-op on RTL and there''ll likely be more campaigns by the time we need them.
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Geki
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We've played through all of RTL, and we recently started playing RAMV.

First of all, let me say that I am in awe of how much time and effort clearly went into RAMV.

This said, we're finding the interaction between the quite variable quest objectives and the quite straightforward behavior allowed by the AI cards. In short, despite Redjak's efforts to provide the monsters with "sensible" attitudes toward the objectives, the dynamic tension between keeping the heroes at bay and fulfilling the quest's goal is lost without an intelligent Overlord.

I don't know how that could be solved - maybe with longer, more wordy and complex encounter cards?

As it is, I prefer RTL, despite the absence of real "objectives" (which were an improvement of 2nd edition over 1st) and the reliance on a "I kill you before you kill me" dynamic.

I wish someone would take the time to provide an (even more) detailed description of monsters' behavior for RAMV.
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frank enstein
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thank you both trevor and GL for your quick responses! i was wondering if it'd be worth printing up all those cards and learning the system vs the app i downloaded which seems ridiculously simple and cleaner in comparison. the quest for a substitute overlord continues!
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Dillon Flaherty
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It's a really great question, Frank - and one that I'm also trying to answer comprehensively as well. I haven't had much time with the RtL app, but hopefully will have more experience with it soon.

On the other hand, I have spent a fair amount of time with RedJak's excellent RAMV and documented my experiences on BoardGameBuds if you'd like to take a look - http://boardgamebuds.com/descent-solo-redjaks-ramv/. It's a multi-part article, but specifically the first part goes into detail and might help you decide how much of an effort it really is to get the RAMV up and running.

For what it's worth, I think Trevor and Geki both make some great points about the RAMV, and have noted some similar experiences. Having access to the ENTIRE LIBRARY of Descent content that already exists is really pretty incredible. As Geki mentioned, though, finding the right balance of tension takes a bit of work and doesn't quite happen "out of the box" with the RAMV.

With that said, Paul (RedJak) has written in multiple variant rules that can add difficulty and I'm experimenting with those currently. Specifically, adding in some penalties for hero KO is one idea I'm toying with, and more permanence of Dark Influence cards is another suggested in RedJak's rules.

In short, I think RtL (from what I've seen and read) is much easier and quicker to stand up and get going. RedJak's work seems to be a much more broad and diverse toolbox and set of basic rules to get an AI up and running. From there it takes a bit of tuning to get it running right, (for you and/or your group) but is chock full of potential.
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Tony B
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I am brand new to this (picked it up for the single player experience with the app) and I have never heard of the other version. Where can I find that?

The app is great for the most part, but sometimes I feel the game is purposefully trying to make me lose (that dragon search quest is one example). I would like to see some options where you can find treasure in the search pile and add it to your gear. I also got a boxed expansion and have yet to see something other than one monster group get used, like the tiles.

And there is no undo, as I often forget that I have a condition and try to make up for it, or forget I got something that increases my health and KO myself when I shouldn't.
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Dillon Flaherty
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sergeantawesome wrote:
I am brand new to this (picked it up for the single player experience with the app) and I have never heard of the other version. Where can I find that?

The app is great for the most part, but sometimes I feel the game is purposefully trying to make me lose (that dragon search quest is one example). I would like to see some options where you can find treasure in the search pile and add it to your gear. I also got a boxed expansion and have yet to see something other than one monster group get used, like the tiles.

And there is no undo, as I often forget that I have a condition and try to make up for it, or forget I got something that increases my health and KO myself when I shouldn't.


RedJak's RAMV thread located here: https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1416738/redjaks-automated-m...

Edit: Note that this isn't an officially supported Variant. A BGG user put in an insane amount of work coming up with (more than one, actually) an AI to replace the work of the Overlord player. This Variant in particular allows players to use all of the existing content from Descent 2E in a solo or cooperative setting.
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Tony B
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Thanks! I will probably try it out later. The app sometimes acts as if it doesn't want to challenge players, but force them to lose and I am getting frustrated with it.
 
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Fox Reinard
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sergeantawesome wrote:
I would like to see some options where you can find treasure in the search pile and add it to your gear.


Easy! Add the Treasure Chest card to the search deck. If the card that you find from Treasure Chest appears in the shop list on your next visit to Tamalir, disregard its presence on the list. Also yours is "personalized" so they won't buy it from you.

The fun part about house-ruling Road to Legend. The App is okay with it.
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frank enstein
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for anyone who has not yet read dillon's blog, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT! i enjoyed the funny comments about his greedy and emo players and even the battle report was laced with appropriate humor.
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Charles Hasegawa
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I've been playing both RtL and RAMV.

I printed out RAMV because I wanted to be able to play all the campaign material I had that wasn't going to end up in the app. I have also tried RAOV so here are my brief notes on all.

ALL the systems use all the monsters based on whatever you have already.


RTL - I enjoy that the game parses out bits of stuff when you play - I don't know what the map will look like or where things are, which brings a cool exploration vibe to the game. Currently there isn't content beyond the one campaign (I'm not counting the tutorial) so it is currently more limited. It changes the system of Descent to one ala Imperial Assault - heroes and enemies take turns activating. Monster AI is variable from ROUND TO ROUND. You don't use a lot of the game material - travel is handled in app. You need the market cards if you buy something, but the items in a market are dooled out by the app. What is available can vary based on how you have done in encounters.

RAMV - changed the activations to be like RtL (Imperial Assault). AI is static, but there are variations for some depending on the scenario objectives. Each encounter has specific AI for monsters. Player(s) still handle travel and markets. Rumors are optional. Agents (lieutenants) can come into play randomly during encounters. This is the simpler of the RedJaks systems.

RAOV - uses the original game systems and provides cards and rules for automating the overlord, including the Overlord class cards. Rather than specific monster AI cards you need to activate them intelligently and following a general set of guidelines. This system requires a little more bookkeeping between sessions, but a lot less printing than RAMV.

All the systems work to a certain extent and each has some drawbacks. I appreciate RAMV for being more straight forward and letting me play the game's campaigns, but I probably like RtL a hair more. If they were pumping out content (paid or free), I'd probably not have bothered with RAMV or RAOV (not that I've finished the RtL campaign yet).

RedJak has also created a system (Delvin Deep) for random dungeon crawls and is working on an automated hero system so you can play overlord vs AI.
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Paul Reney
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Say my name three or more times and I will appear.

I recently got Descent back on the table to try out the RtL app. We are really enjoying it. I like that gradual revealing of the map, and not knowing what is around the corner. It turns Descent into a true dungeon-crawl experience.

In RtL, the "Overlord" does not have a goal, other than to beat the heroes senseless. This greatly simplifies the AI for the monsters, as their only concern is to attack the heroes.

In the standard campaigns, both sides always have a goal. And creating a system that automates one of those sides, while creating an AI smart enough to encompass varying goals, is not easy.

I'm aware of the shortcomings with RAOV/RAMV. And I'm OK with that. I would rather have a blanket system that mostly works than a highly-detailed scripted system that was a headache to play (and create). I believe the only way I could have made those variants better is if I had rewritten every encounter in every campaign to accommodate the AI. At that point I may as well create my own original game.

The RtL app has the advantage in that it is not trying to recreate existing campaigns. It has fresh content designed specifically for what the app is. And I think that is great. FFG did the right thing. If they had tried to recreate existing campaigns in RtL, it would not have been as good a product.

RtL did what I was trying to do with DelvenDeep. And I want more of it. I have not abandoned my variants, because it is one of the few ways some people are able to play the standard campaigns. But I will be playing Descent using RtL from now on (except for when I need to playtest something for a variant).

Now I want the same thing for Imperial Assault.
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Marshall Lambie
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my wife and I have played the shadow rune, labyrinth of ruin, and shadows of nerekhall campaigns with the RAMV. We've also played the RTL campaigns.

thoughts on RTL:

once we played RTL, we realized how easy the game was when using the RAMV system. Every activation, monsters are getting a bonus to kicking your butts. The tension is very high, which makes for an overall better experience, but since the overlord is really just trying to kill your characters, its a little les enjoyable than if you were having to think about preventing the overlord from fulfilling their objectives. The fame system was an interesting idea, giving better items in town to groups with more fame, but in the end this can result in you wasting a week of travel time to go back to town and not find anything new in the shop.

thoughts on RAMV:

My recommendations is to, out of the box, remove every "friendly" card to heros from the event deck. Add in pretty much every optional rule to make the game harder. Lingering dark influence cards, trapped search tokens, random monster activation, all go a long way to getting the tension back. Play the AI with a grain of salt, if theres a situation where the AI is being counterintuitive, just do what seems right (This can take some of the tension away, but there have been times when the AI really clashed with what an overlord would do. I think that not all of the campaigns are written equally, and if you try RAMV with LoR or SoN, you'll be quite pleased.

overall:

Its a significant time investment to print out the cards, but the rules are pretty straightforward, and ultimately, if you really enjoy descent and limit yourself to the app, there is only the one campaign. you're going to buy those expansions most likely, and there are some great campaigns waiting in those boxes, so why not try out RAMV and get more bang for your buck?
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Charles Hasegawa
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RedJak7 wrote:
I'm aware of the shortcomings with RAOV/RAMV. And I'm OK with that. I would rather have a blanket system that mostly works than a highly-detailed scripted system that was a headache to play (and create). I believe the only way I could have made those variants better is if I had rewritten every encounter in every campaign to accommodate the AI. At that point I may as well create my own original game.


A huge number of people love the RAOV/RAMV systems, myself included. I like that if things get too easy, I can adjust the settings myself. And while I'll try and stick to the script (so to speak), I hate AI in video games that does dumb things and don't enjoy winning a scenario because of it, so play the monsters as best I can. It is a really good system for getting to play through all the campaign materials.

I know a lot of folks want random dungeons, but I think FFG would be hard pressed to sell campaign material for RtL later if they do this. I'll probably print off DD to scratch that itch (though I have about 2 years of materials to get through, so not sure I need random).
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frank enstein
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thanks for your comments redjak and the contribution you've made to solo/cooperative gaming in creating an effective AI alternative to the player overlord!
 
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Ultra Magnus
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I am yet to try RtL, but I am super excited about it. I am always on the look out for more Descent content.

I have not tried RAMV, because I am so satisfied with RAOV. I love Descent, and RAOV allows a group or single player, to play the game, using its original rules, and all of the expansion content, without an Overlord. And it only requires a small deck of cards. Brilliant.

The main thing that sold me on RAOV over other systems, was the fact that it allows play with EVERYTHING. All Descent materials can be included or not, based on what the players desire. This is also why I made my Legendary Play Variant Rules compatible with RAOV, for those who want a more traditional delving experience, and even truly random dungeons, without an Overlord.
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