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Star Realms» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Balancing Act rss

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Ian Taylor
United States
Massachusetts
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Hi Everybody,

I see a few discussions about certain campaign missions in the Star Realms app that are giving people ulcers.

We want he game (especially Hard Mode) to be a challenge, but we want it to be fun. Frustrating, teeth-gnashing, stress-inducing fun, but fun nonetheless.

What I'd like to know is this:

What missions do you think need to be rebalanced?
Do these missions need to rebalanced on all difficulties?
What would make the mission more balanced for you (ie, what changes do you suggest we make)?

Our goal for the app is to have "Normal Mode" be challenging enough to maybe have 2 or 3 tries, with the Boss fight being a notch above that. Hard Mode should maybe take 4 or 5 attempts, and maybe need a bit of luck.

I can't guarantee that we will change everything, or indeed anything, but I'd like to gather some data to try and make things more fun. (And it would help me when it comes time to design new missions.)

Ian Taylor
Director of Organized Play
White Wizard Games

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Scott Heise
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I haven't played through all of the campaigns, but my biggest frustration with the toughest campaign missions is that it seems that you need to get lucky and get an ideal trade row to beat them, and if you don't get it then you've got no chance. I don't like feeling like I'm doomed from the start if I didn't get a favorable trade row. Has WWG considered having a hidden but non-random, biased, or pre-set trade row for some of the toughest missions?
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HomerJr wrote:
Has WWG considered having a hidden but non-random, biased, or pre-set trade row for some of the toughest missions?


Why make it hidden? They pre-stack the deck in some missions (such as the blob assault in Chapter 1). I believe that Handelabra Games stacks decks for Sentinels of the Multiverse weekly challenges.
 
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David Low
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I appreciate you taking the time and interest to look at this! When I get the chance, I'll go through the campaigns mission-by-mission to review each one, but for the moment I thought I'd make some overarching observations.

From the outset, I want to note that I found the campaigns, especially early on, to be a great learning experience. Not so much in tactics (although there was a little of that, by putting tactical ideas into practice) because the AI's tactics have some deep flaws; but particularly in terms of strategy. That is: *how* should I try to win this scenario? What should my approach be - authority gain? Bases? Blob rush? Denying the AI the opportunity to take one of those approaches? Many of my favourite scenarios came out of that: impossible until you worked out how to win, then repeatable (at a success rate of anywhere between 1-to-3 out of 4) after that (i.e. the "tactics" stage!).

I enjoyed the non-standard-rules scenarios (e.g. Pirates, Nemesis Beast), as they made the game "fresh", and forced me to think differently. Scenarios where the AI started with an advantage are also fine, as that teaches you to deal with the games where your opponent gets a good couple of buys off the initial trade row, and you have to engineer a comeback.

As Scott noted, the scenarios which are particularly frustrating are those where everything needs to go your way, from the initial trade row onwards. Hard-Colossus (#49) is an example of that. Star Realms success should not be a matter of "grinding": I try to avoid games that require that sort of repetitive action to achieve success. Needing "a bit of luck" is one thing: in learning/training terms, they teach you how to give yourself the best chance to pull out an unexpected win - how to set yourself up to take advantage of luck, for example. But having to keep rolling dice until you get 6-6-6...that isn't fun, IMHO.

More later - but thanks again for engaging!!

Regards,

David.

 
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Tim Jesurun
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I stopped playing the campaigns after I could not beat mission 11 on Hard (https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1209849/how-beat-mission-11...). Maybe you've changed it in the last 2 years, but I wouldn't know.
 
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Scott Heise
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ThinkingThatsAll wrote:
HomerJr wrote:
Has WWG considered having a hidden but non-random, biased, or pre-set trade row for some of the toughest missions?


Why make it hidden? They pre-stack the deck in some missions (such as the blob assault in Chapter 1). I believe that Handelabra Games stacks decks for Sentinels of the Multiverse weekly challenges.


Good point, there's no reason the trade deck has to be hidden.
 
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Adam Rouse
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I have tried the chapter 7 boss on hard probably thirty to fifty times (wild guess, but it was a lot). Twice I have destroyed two conduits. Three or four times, just one conduit.

The boss of chapter 8 I beat on my first or second try without challenge.

If you don't change chapter 7's boss to be possible for mortals to beat, it should at least be swapped with chapter 8's boss so the difficulty ramps up.
 
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Ian Taylor
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We're discussing this project right now, but I wanted to clarify something.

Evidently several weeks ago, the Hard 49 Boss fight was nerfed to have only 3 conduits. Are people seeing 5? I vaguely recall someone saying that.

If you've updated to the latest version and you're still seeing 5 conduits, please email support@whitewizardgames.com

Otherwise, we will be updating this mission fairly soon.

Ian Taylor
Director of Mission 49
White Wizard Games
 
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Harrison
United States
Lansdowne
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Defeating the Chapter 7 boss was the toughest challenge of the AI game. After 30+ tries, I won after capturing enough to purchase the elusive Command Ship (+5 attack, +4 authority, destroys a target base and draws two cards!!!)
I also got the stealth ship card (copies any ship). Drawing both in the same round (two Command Ships) allowed me to keep pace with the AI (eliminating all of its drawn supplemental bases) and draw enough cards to (barely) buy Brain World (scrap two cards, draw two cards).
From there I invested in yellow cards forcing the AI to discard. Ultimately, the forced discarding is what protected brain world long enough for me to build my kill hand.
Even with all of this I barely turned the tide before being eliminated by the AI.
Very tough level.
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David Webb
Canada
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Campaign 3: Mission 4 (hard mode) - AI starts with a reasonable deck with 2xTrade Bots, 2x Imperial Fighters, 2x Blob Fighters, 2x Federation Shuttles, and a smattering of Scouts and Vipers. Authority is 60 for player and 50 for AI.

I've played this probably more than a hundred times. At one point I played for 6 hours with no success. Frequently the AI will wipe me out before the second shuffle.

I finally gave up after continually restarting the game so I could get an Ark on turn 1 and not ever seeing it as the shuffler bottom decked it and the AI wiped me out before I got to the end of my second deck.

It's tough to play against that kind of deficit. Either more starting health to allow the player to absorb the damage while their deck builds or the AI would need to start with a slightly slower deck.

Honestly I stopped playing the campaigns because of this. Every once in a while I'll go back and give it a shot but it quickly feels like I'm just wasting my time because I no longer believe any amount of skill is going to get me through the level. Just good luck on my part and bad luck on the AIs.

 
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