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Shadows of Brimstone: City of the Ancients» Forums » General

Subject: How has the balance been on characters after the initial sets? rss

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Brian M
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One of my big complaints about Shadows of Brimstone (other than still not having stuff after several years and the game being a mess to play) is that the character balance was really bad in the base game.

This included both:

Balance between characters. Some characters (Gunslinger, Rancher...seriously did anyone ever even PLAY the Rancher?*) can annihilate monsters with ease while others (Scout, Bandito) struggle to do much.

And

Skill balance. Some skills are virtually worthless (and don't lead to anything great later on the chain to balance it), some are crazily powerful. Some entire tracks aren't worth bothering with.

Have the later hero packs improved this any? Are all of the heroes at a more consistent power level? Are all the skills worth using?

* I'm aware that both the Rancher and Gunslinger have had errata, but they are still a tier above many other characters.
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R.P. Kraul
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I have some new classes (prospector, orphan), but I haven't tried them yet. It's true that some classes are pretty powerful. I think you could almost toss the saloon girl into that mix as well. Her skill tree can be pretty powerful at high levels. Co-ops, in my opinion, should lean more toward insane difficulty. SOB can be insanely difficult at low levels already, but once you reach about level six, it's over. Two things are desperately missing from making the game harder at higher levels:

1) More powerful monsters. My idea is to have, in addition to regular and brutal, brutal+ and brutal++ (in the spirit of Dark Souls). This obviously requires some work. For instance, the types of monsters have to be balanced out based on party level and size (at low levels, for example, you would have no chance of encountering the enhanced monsters).
2) A much better initiative system. It sucks that high-intiative characters can wipe the map clean. Tougher monsters obviously help in this regard, but for characters who fire an insane number of shots--I think there should be some penalty, meaning having a lower initiative. I'm almost wondering if character initiative should be -1 for every dice they use beyond the weapon's base.

This requires a lot of tinkering, something a lot of gamers aren't willing to do. Then again, I don't think the perfect dungeon crawler exists. In fact, it seems that SOB inherits its deficiencies from Warhammer Quest, which is purportedly even easier than SOB at high levels.

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Brian M
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Quote:
I think you could almost toss the saloon girl into that mix as well.

The saloon girl we had was quite good, but she was melee-focused so she could only kill stuff next to her and couldn't wipe the whole board like the shooters could. I don't know how a shooty one would compare.

Quote:
Co-ops, in my opinion, should lean more toward insane difficulty.

I disagree pretty strongly on that, though I do feel like a lot of times later in the game the monsters fall too easily. But that's not what I'm asking about here.


Quote:
In fact, it seems that SOB inherits its deficiencies from Warhammer Quest, which is purportedly even easier than SOB at high levels.

Yeah, SoB was based very heavily on WHQ. In some places it improved, in other places it kept things it should have discarded.
High level WHQ was just crazily random. You could meet a huge horde of little monsters that would take 10 minutes to set up but couldn't even hurt the heroes. You could meet a monster that 3/4 of the party couldn't even hurt, but that the Wizard could wipe out with one spell. We'd usually quite our games of WHQ after the first time we hit a greater demon, as that was the point where it became really obvious how messed up the game was.
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John
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How are the new monsters effecting the game difficulty. It seems like the monsters from the 2 core sets would be pretty easy but some of the new monster expansions look like they can ramp the difficulty up, for instance the Slugs. Haven't had a chance to play with any of them yet.
 
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Eric Harman
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Wetworks wrote:
How are the new monsters effecting the game difficulty. It seems like the monsters from the 2 core sets would be pretty easy but some of the new monster expansions look like they can ramp the difficulty up, for instance the Slugs. Haven't had a chance to play with any of them yet.


I haven't encountered all of them yet, but the ones I have run into are definitely more dangerous and more interesting than the core monsters.
My latest additions are belial, swamp raptors, and the sand kraken. And they all look brutally hard. Even pre-brutal level.


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J M
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Trederrans have been kicking our arses, but we've been without our preacher for those sessions. Still four KOs taking out a 40HP lieutenant and all his friends (level 4 posse).
 
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Brian M
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So...what I'm gathering is that no one has played the new characters, and the new monsters suck.

 
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Adria D
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StormKnight wrote:
So...what I'm gathering is that no one has played the new characters, and the new monsters suck.


We've just started some new characters - currently have a level 2 Cowboy, level 3 Frontier Doc, and level 3 Orphan. They're pretty interesting, but we've been getting our butts kicked by new enemies. The Flesh Stalker and Flesh Drones in particular were really rough on our level 1 posse.

The new monsters are definitely harder than the base game monsters, which I like. Combat is no longer just a matter of bottling up the doorway and shooting fish in a barrel.

We haven't tried some of the newer enemies with old (high level) heroes yet. I want to though - I want to test Mongo against some of these guys.
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Brian M
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Quote:
We've just started some new characters - currently have a level 2 Cowboy, level 3 Frontier Doc, and level 3 Orphan.


Cool. So how have they fared against the base set foes? Like, I feel like by level 3 or so a "baseline" character would kill about 1/4 of the foes from an encounter card, while a "nasty" character would kill maybe 1/2 of the foes or more.

Have you looked at the skill trees much? Are there skills in there that you feel like you'd just never take? (I suppose I should ask if you feel that way about any of the original skills as well...)

Quote:
The new monsters are definitely harder than the base game monsters, which I like.

I'd like the monsters to be a bit tougher, but the comments about "brutally hard" sounds like too much. Like, I want a fight to last a few rounds and maybe make the party have to consider using healing items, but I don't want ambushers that kill half the party before they get a turn, or monsters with defense 10 and Immune to Crits that nobody can even hurt.
 
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Njorl
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A lot of the enemies should be saved for post level 1. Even the Serpentmen can be tough at early levels if they are a tough tribe. It's even quite possible to get Belial for your first epic. I think it is totally reasonable to theme the enemy decks for difficulty.
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Adria D
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StormKnight wrote:
Quote:
We've just started some new characters - currently have a level 2 Cowboy, level 3 Frontier Doc, and level 3 Orphan.


Cool. So how have they fared against the base set foes? Like, I feel like by level 3 or so a "baseline" character would kill about 1/4 of the foes from an encounter card, while a "nasty" character would kill maybe 1/2 of the foes or more.

I think most of our encounters have been newer enemies or a mixture of enemies, so it's hard to say. The fight with the Hungry Dead went about how I'd expect it to go for a posse at that level.


StormKnight wrote:
Have you looked at the skill trees much? Are there skills in there that you feel like you'd just never take? (I suppose I should ask if you feel that way about any of the original skills as well...)

I did read through all of them, but it was a little while ago. When it comes to skills you'd never take, well, you'd have to ask someone else. I'm that person who will try to make those oddball choices work on a hero.

The Tinkerer line for the Frontier Doc is one I see being more useful when some of the new expansions come out. That upgrade path gives benefits for 'tech' items, and there's a lot of that coming in the Derelict Ship and Blasted Wastes.


StormKnight wrote:
Quote:
The new monsters are definitely harder than the base game monsters, which I like.

I'd like the monsters to be a bit tougher, but the comments about "brutally hard" sounds like too much. Like, I want a fight to last a few rounds and maybe make the party have to consider using healing items, but I don't want ambushers that kill half the party before they get a turn, or monsters with defense 10 and Immune to Crits that nobody can even hurt.

Just adding ranged monsters makes a big difference. Bottlenecking your heroes doesn't stop bandits from shooting you - just as models don't block line of sight for heroes, they also don't block line of sight for enemies.

Some of the new enemies hit hard too. They might not hit often, but they hit hard when they do. But Tentacles can hit pretty hard too. We encountered a bunch of enemies that had extra stuff happen on to-hit rolls of 6 - double damage/ignore defense/corruption hit/etc.

I think the only monster we really had trouble hitting was Beli'al/Shade of Beli'al, but you'd kind of expect that when going up against a big bad guy with low-level heros with basic gear (not even Darkstone bullets).
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Adria D
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njep wrote:
A lot of the enemies should be saved for post level 1. Even the Serpentmen can be tough at early levels if they are a tough tribe. It's even quite possible to get Belial for your first epic. I think it is totally reasonable to theme the enemy decks for difficulty.

Yeah I think we might start re-drawing some threat cards for low-level posses (easier than removing them pre-game).
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Thomas White
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My partner and I have been playing sessions as the Orphan and the Drifter. The Drifter is a bit of a paper monster, at least in my experience. 4+ Defense roll and I haven't been able to raise my base 10 Health much since the start, though he's level 3 now. However, the ability to lose injuries/mutations/parasites at the start of each adventure is amazing, as are the skills on his upgrade chart. Right now he's immune to all fear effects from enemies on the table. Another downside is that it takes him double the experience to level up, but I'm currently throwing 7 shots per attack, so it's racking up.

My partner has been enjoying the Orphan, and has been leveling up fairly quickly. She's made 2 of the 4 rolls for her quest to find out who killed her family. The Drifter gives her a free Grit at the start of any combat, so that pairs nicely with some of her Grit powers. She's really enjoying playing the character a lot, though her strongest attack is reading from the Book of the Mad King at bigger monsters, though now she's Native and has a nice bow that crits on 5+.

I think though, in general, the strength of any of the characters comes from how you play them, and how they work well together as a group. A friend and I played a session with the Priest and the Prospector, and were both KO'd really quickly. Two support characters as a party is no good, especially at level one. In my groups we tend to discuss merits and flaws of any skills taken during leveling up, to see how they'd work compared to what the party already has.

I think everyone's mileage is going to vary with this game.
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Brian M
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Another downside is that it takes him double the experience to level up, but I'm currently throwing 7 shots per attack, so it's racking up.


WTF?!??!?!

I can't see any way in which that's not terrible game design. Either the character advanced much slower than everyone else, in which case you'll never get one to play one to high level, or the character gets twice as much XP as everyone else, in which case the character is totally unbalanced and it won't be much fun for anyone else.

Is there any logical gameplay reason for doing that???
 
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Njorl
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StormKnight wrote:
Quote:
Another downside is that it takes him double the experience to level up, but I'm currently throwing 7 shots per attack, so it's racking up.


WTF?!??!?!

I can't see any way in which that's not terrible game design. Either the character advanced much slower than everyone else, in which case you'll never get one to play one to high level, or the character gets twice as much XP as everyone else, in which case the character is totally unbalanced and it won't be much fun for anyone else.

Is there any logical gameplay reason for doing that???


The drifter's skills are considerably better than every other class. In addition to his 2 starting items he also has an extra starting ability. He's pretty much a Drow Elf.
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Brian M
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Sigh. Thanks. So basically the balance is still crap.

I mean, I can't see how we'd ever use a character like that.
 
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Thomas White
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The double experience is how they balance the killing machine he is. Sure, the Orphan always levels before me, but I have also wiped out an entire room of monsters before her turn, meaning she got no experience from the battle at all.

I guess balance is in the eye of the beholder.
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Ondrej Kocnar
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njep wrote:
A lot of the enemies should be saved for post level 1. Even the Serpentmen can be tough at early levels if they are a tough tribe. It's even quite possible to get Belial for your first epic. I think it is totally reasonable to theme the enemy decks for difficulty.


My point is why you have to do something like this while the game already has hero level based balancing system (the system just is not working properly).
 
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Njorl
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okocnar wrote:
njep wrote:
A lot of the enemies should be saved for post level 1. Even the Serpentmen can be tough at early levels if they are a tough tribe. It's even quite possible to get Belial for your first epic. I think it is totally reasonable to theme the enemy decks for difficulty.


My point is why you have to do something like this while the game already has hero level based balancing system (the system just is not working properly).


I like the idea of having a wide variety of encounters, admittedly having Belial in the mix for level 1 and level 2 posses is overkill. It's kind of like in D&D where at first level Orcs are pretty much the heavies and maybe a Troll as a boss. By the time you are 5th level the Orcs are the grunts, and the Trolls are the heavies. Of course with a DM you have a direct intervention on the balance from encounter to encounter.

The in-game balancing system does not work effectively across the enemy difficulty levels inherent to the enemies themselves.
 
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Ondrej Kocnar
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njep wrote:
okocnar wrote:
njep wrote:
A lot of the enemies should be saved for post level 1. Even the Serpentmen can be tough at early levels if they are a tough tribe. It's even quite possible to get Belial for your first epic. I think it is totally reasonable to theme the enemy decks for difficulty.


My point is why you have to do something like this while the game already has hero level based balancing system (the system just is not working properly).


I like the idea of having a wide variety of encounters, admittedly having Belial in the mix for level 1 and level 2 posses is overkill. It's kind of like in D&D where at first level Orcs are pretty much the heavies and maybe a Troll as a boss. By the time you are 5th level the Orcs are the grunts, and the Trolls are the heavies. Of course with a DM you have a direct intervention on the balance from encounter to encounter.

The in-game balancing system does not work effectively across the enemy difficulty levels inherent to the enemies themselves.


But than you are comparing SoB with very different system.
SoB officially scales every enemy based on level, so IMO it should do that in reality.

It may be reasonable to encounter Big Bad only at high levels.
But if so, SoB is bad design because it officially can be encountered
on the level 1. Is it so bad to expect a game to deliver what it promises?
(I personal would make Belial for example with Brutal side only and declare that normal side is just an weak image of Belial.)

If "the in-game balancing system does not work effectively across the enemy difficulty levels inherent to the enemies themselves", it is pretty obvious it is not working properly.
The game already has level independent balancing system: threat cards that balance monsters to number of players and monsters with each other by numbers they are encountered in (you encounter lots of spiders or just a few night terrors) - it just is not working properly too.
Nevertheless there is hardly any reason for the game to contain monsters that are simply breaking the mentioned balancing systems.
I am afraid that FFP decided to ignore its own system instead of trying to fix it.
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Adam Mitchell
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okocnar wrote:

The game already has level independent balancing system: threat cards that balance monsters to number of players and monsters with each other by numbers they are encountered in (you encounter lots of spiders or just a few night terrors) - it just is not working properly too.
Nevertheless there is hardly any reason for the game to contain monsters that are simply breaking the mentioned balancing systems.
I am afraid that FFP decided to ignore its own system instead of trying to fix it.


Well, yes, there actually is a very good reason for the game to contain monsters that are breaking the mentioned balancing systems: because some players like surprises and exceptions! They enjoy pulling a Dark Stone Hydra from a Low Threat card, or a young adult Raptor in a normal Jargono monster encounter, or Beli'al as an Epic Threat for 1st level characters, finding this to be far more realistic and challenging than just always encountering monsters perfectly suited to their particular level. I applaud FFP for breaking the balancing rules this way!

I just wish they'd made the monsters more challenging overall, though I have heard that Trederra is a deathtrap, which is encouraging.
 
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Ondrej Kocnar
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Solan wrote:
okocnar wrote:

The game already has level independent balancing system: threat cards that balance monsters to number of players and monsters with each other by numbers they are encountered in (you encounter lots of spiders or just a few night terrors) - it just is not working properly too.
Nevertheless there is hardly any reason for the game to contain monsters that are simply breaking the mentioned balancing systems.
I am afraid that FFP decided to ignore its own system instead of trying to fix it.


Well, yes, there actually is a very good reason for the game to contain monsters that are breaking the mentioned balancing systems: because some players like surprises and exceptions! They enjoy pulling a Dark Stone Hydra from a Low Threat card, or a young adult Raptor in a normal Jargono monster encounter, or Beli'al as an Epic Threat for 1st level characters, finding this to be far more realistic and challenging than just always encountering monsters perfectly suited to their particular level. I applaud FFP for breaking the balancing rules this way!

I just wish they'd made the monsters more challenging overall, though I have heard that Trederra is a deathtrap, which is encouraging:D.


I agree this could work for some, but I prefer random bumps coming from combinations of elements that have synergies or straight-forward difficulty bumps coming with special reward for heroes for overcoming them.

Some randomness is nice, but lot of it can be frustrating - Warhammer Quest chose to be very "realistic" in your sence, very many other games try to be very "unrealistic" to not frustrate players too much.

And as you note, there are many general unbalances in the game too.
 
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Eric Harman
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okocnar wrote:
Solan wrote:
okocnar wrote:

The game already has level independent balancing system: threat cards that balance monsters to number of players and monsters with each other by numbers they are encountered in (you encounter lots of spiders or just a few night terrors) - it just is not working properly too.
Nevertheless there is hardly any reason for the game to contain monsters that are simply breaking the mentioned balancing systems.
I am afraid that FFP decided to ignore its own system instead of trying to fix it.


Well, yes, there actually is a very good reason for the game to contain monsters that are breaking the mentioned balancing systems: because some players like surprises and exceptions! They enjoy pulling a Dark Stone Hydra from a Low Threat card, or a young adult Raptor in a normal Jargono monster encounter, or Beli'al as an Epic Threat for 1st level characters, finding this to be far more realistic and challenging than just always encountering monsters perfectly suited to their particular level. I applaud FFP for breaking the balancing rules this way!

I just wish they'd made the monsters more challenging overall, though I have heard that Trederra is a deathtrap, which is encouraging.


I agree this could work for some, but I prefer random bumps coming from combinations of elements that have synergies or straight-forward difficulty bumps coming with special reward for heroes for overcoming them.

Some randomness is nice, but lot of it can be frustrating - Warhammer Quest chose to be very "realistic" in your sence, very many other games try to be very "unrealistic" to not frustrate players too much.

And as you note, there are many general unbalances in the game too.


I mean... The game is built around randomness. With encounters and fights all coming from two sources of rngs. The exploration tokens and the decks.

The only way (that I know of) to have non-random encounters is with a gm at the helm.
If you have another suggestion on how to accomplish such gameplay without randomness or a gm, I'd love to hear it.
 
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Njorl
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okocnar wrote:
Solan wrote:
okocnar wrote:

The game already has level independent balancing system: threat cards that balance monsters to number of players and monsters with each other by numbers they are encountered in (you encounter lots of spiders or just a few night terrors) - it just is not working properly too.
Nevertheless there is hardly any reason for the game to contain monsters that are simply breaking the mentioned balancing systems.
I am afraid that FFP decided to ignore its own system instead of trying to fix it.


Well, yes, there actually is a very good reason for the game to contain monsters that are breaking the mentioned balancing systems: because some players like surprises and exceptions! They enjoy pulling a Dark Stone Hydra from a Low Threat card, or a young adult Raptor in a normal Jargono monster encounter, or Beli'al as an Epic Threat for 1st level characters, finding this to be far more realistic and challenging than just always encountering monsters perfectly suited to their particular level. I applaud FFP for breaking the balancing rules this way!

I just wish they'd made the monsters more challenging overall, though I have heard that Trederra is a deathtrap, which is encouraging.


I agree this could work for some, but I prefer random bumps coming from combinations of elements that have synergies or straight-forward difficulty bumps coming with special reward for heroes for overcoming them.

Some randomness is nice, but lot of it can be frustrating - Warhammer Quest chose to be very "realistic" in your sence, very many other games try to be very "unrealistic" to not frustrate players too much.

And as you note, there are many general unbalances in the game too.


Ahhh... I see you agree with Solan, but you disagree with me on almost the very same point.

This is just some damn popularity contest. You and Solan are now officially on my enemies list.
 
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Nick Hughes
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I think the fact that my posse at lvl 1 can run into just about anything is far more flavorsome than saying, well as I can only definitely beat "x" we shouldn't see any "y" until we are more experienced.

Frankly you wander down into a mine with gates open to who knows where then you better expect to meet anything from a handful of void spiders to a lost Raptor, lvl 1 or otherwise. The trick is knowing when you have met your match and pull the pin. Otherwise aren't you just looking for a win every-time you play?

To the OP I have played Orphan and Drifter of the new heroes and I found the Orphan fit nicely into any posse combination, I didn't have so much fun with the Drifter as I usually play solo and pool experience and that seemed to play against how the Drifter is best effective.

The new monsters have added ranged and magic in many cases which leads you to look at alternative encounter approaches I wouldn't say they tear you anew one everytime you meet them but they certainly can give you a close call and as suggested make you think about using your healing.
 
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