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Of Dreams & Shadows» Forums » Rules

Subject: Various first-play questions and our at-the-table solutions rss

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Theobaldt Bursche
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Having played the first session with my copy last weekend, I wonder if I was allowed to add a few questions myself in the hope that someone of you guys, maybe even Kiamar, was willing to share his / her opinion on the solutions we found.

Just in case you are curious, after choosing the villain randomly, we ended up with Morrigan and eked out a hard fought victory against on the very last turn of Act II. There are some spoilers regarding her abilities in Act II contained in this post, so if you have not faced her as a villain yet and intend (as we did) not to know about her powers until your first true confrontation with her, you are kindly advised to stop reading before point 6) at the latest, as I don't find much convenience for all other readers in hiding my rules questions in a spoiler box.


1) Scenario spawned foes
In our play, the various scenario cards often confronted the heroes with additional enemies to fight, telling us to add a specific foe onto the map which would then immediately enter combat with the unfortunate adventurer. As combat can be quite deadly, quickly the question arose if the hero could retreat from such a “scenario combat” following normal rules and what would happen with the enemy in that case.

Our ruling at the table: As the rules mention that (only) certain scenarios and foes can prevent retreat, we assumed in all other cases, retreat by normal rules was an option as long as it was not explicitly forbidden by either scenario or foe. And if a hero retreats in such case, the enemy remains on the map to be fought and hopefully defeated later in the game.


2) Scenario rewards vs. spoils
When in such manner as just mentioned, a scenario spawns a foe onto the map immediately attacking a hero, which in the same scenario phase is then defeated, does the victorious hero receive both the reward mentioned on the scenario card as well as the amount of gold listed on the foe card? And what in case, if our ruling was correct and the enemy stays on the map after a retreat by the hero, it gets defeated at a later point in time?

Our ruling at the table: When the foe is defeated in the initial combat triggered by the scenario card, the hero receives both scenario reward and loot, while at later stages of the game, the victory over the enemy retreated from earlier earns the hero only the gold from the kill itself.


3) Out-of-combat kills and loot
When a foe already on the map is killed outside of combat, for instance in the action phase by use of a spell such as "Call the Storm", does the hero receive the respective amount of gold noted on the specific foe's card?

Our ruling at the table: Yes.


4) Persistent damage?
In cases when a foe is only wounded and not entirely vanquished, either because a hero retreats from combat or because a spell's damage does not suffice to kill the enemy, does the damage stay with it or does it heal up? And if damage was non-persistent, when would it be removed from the enemy?

Our ruling at the table: Not at least because of the difficulties keeping track of possible wounds (e.g. keeping a stack of wound tokens near the standee), we decided that all damage of all foes is healed at the end of the turn. That allows to soften up an enemy in the action phase, for instance with a spell, in preparation for closing in for the kill in the combat phase. But if the enemy isn’t felled in and over the course of one turn, the heroes will have to face it again, fully healed, on the next turn.


5) Differentiation “quest” / “scenario”
Especially with regard to the special passive ability of Selene, we wondered about the scope of the term „quest“ and what situations would be encompassed by it, especially, if a hero facing a world scenario could be considered „being on a quest“, thus triggering Selene’s ability.

Our ruling at the table: Because of the seemingly unmistakable difference between the terms „quest scenario“ and „world scenario“ as well as the information laid out on p.9 of the rulebook, the term „quest“ refers only to those challenges presented by the scenarios specifically belonging to one of the villains and (possibly) entered via a quest marker.


==== Spoilers ahead === Turn back now === You’ve been warned ===


6) The term “combat” / Morrigan’s ability in Act II
When fighting Morrigan and facing her daunting special ability to reduce the willpower of each hero opposing her by 2 at the end of each round, we were glad that this effect could be cancelled by spending a quest token. But we wondered who would be able to spend it, as well as about the duration of a “combat”.

Our ruling at the table: We decided that “combat” would encompass the whole combat phase of one turn until one side is either dead or has withdrawn, meaning a quest token spent will protect all heroes from Morrigan’s ability for one whole turn. We also ruled that the quest token must be spent by a hero directly in combat with Morrigan - being in the same location, even fighting another enemy at the same location won’t suffice. Vice versa, only heroes directly in combat with Morrigan would be affected by her power (this part relates to the following issue).


7) Facing more than one foe / independent combat
As hinted above, another question we had during our showdown with Morrigan resulted from facing her “personal bodyguard” of two Fomorian Invaders: When entering combat phase at a location with more than one enemy present, can more than one foe be attacked on the same turn by the same hero? And if not, if every hero can fight only a single foe per turn, do remaining foes simply ignore the heroes after they emerge victorious from the fight, having all of them occupy the same location at the end of the turn?

Our ruling at the table: Our interpretation of the wording pertaining attacking on p.5 of the rulebook was that indeed every hero must choose one (legal) enemy and one enemy only he wishes to fight this turn, even if there are more than one present. If he kills the foe and does not retreat, both the remaining enemies as well as the hero remain in the same location, both of them free to move at the next turn. If more than one hero is present in a location with more than one enemy, they can split up to fight different foes or team up on a specific one, but heroes fighting different enemies, even in the same location, would not be considered to have “joined forces” with regard to the rules on p.5 of the rulebook. By our interpretation, no hero would be able to stand back from a fight, even if other heroes are with him, as long as a single foe is present at the same location, but if there are multiple ones, he may freely choose which one to engage (especially ignoring abilities like the one of the Fomorian Invaders, as they would only come into effect if combat with the specific enemy was entered in the first place).


8) Specific enemy targeting rules
Speaking of that, some foes, such as the aforementioned Fomorian Invader, modify the rule that heroes ganging up on the same foe may choose which has to defend against the enemies counterattack. The Invader, for instance, attacks the hero with the lowest agility. Having (so far and for us) established, that this does not change the choice of which hero is engaged, but only the targeting once more than one hero enter combat with it, we do had one question nonetheless. This may be pretty obvious to answers, but if more than one hero share the lowest rank in agility, is it up to the players again to decide which hero gets attacked each round? Or does some sort of tiebreaker come into play (e.g. lowest natural rank)?

Our ruling at the table: If both heroes have effectively the same rank, it is completely up to the players’ choice which hero must defend against the attack.



Thanks for taking the time to fight through my wall of text. I’ll be glad to learn about your opinions on / solutions for the questions and issues we faced on our first play.

Sincerely, T.Bursche
 
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Gordon Alford
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Hi Theobaldt, I think your group did a great job with rulings! I will work to address any ambiguity on rules with a FAQ and updated Rule Book. Here are the answers for each question:

1) Correct, you can Retreat from combat in a Scenario unless specifically prevented e.g. wording in the Scenario or with a Foe's ability.

2) Correct again. Also, for when multiple Champions are on the same space and assisting in combat during a Scenario...if the Champion that started the Scenario Retreats, another Champion can deal the killing blow and gain any rewards from the Success part of the Scenario.

3) Correct.

4) While I like your ruling, damage against a Foe is meant to be persistent even over multiple Turns.

5) Correct again. Quests are a type of Scenario. Selene can roll two dice for any Test (including combat) within a Quest. World Scenarios are not Quests, but a different type of Scenario.

6) Morrigan's ability applies at the end of every combat round against all Champions in the combat. You must spend a Quest token at the end of every round to cancel her ability for that round. If you only have 1 Quest token, you will only stop her ability for one combat round.

7) As mentioned in the "Joining Forces" section of the Rule Book, each Champion gets to make an attack in a round and can target the same or different Foes. The Champions must then make a defense roll for each Foe (even ones killed in the attack). Normally you can choose who defends. This means one Champion could potentially defend against all the Foes, which is a great advantage for Champions teaming up. Once all the defense rolls are made and damage calculated, Foes killed in the attack are removed and another round begins with whoever remains.

8) Great question and I should update the rules for this situation. If two Champions have the same Agility, the target should be random (have a roll off with a die). The intent behind this Foe ability is to remove the choice of Champions deciding who defends.
 
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Theobaldt Bursche
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First of all, a boatload of thanks to Gordon for responding so kindly to my (as well as others' ) questions. It's nothing but great to have a designer as involved and approachable as him, so I'd like to heave my sincerest compliments upon him! Now I wonder if I would be allowed, without the slightest feeling of entitlement and with full understanding that it is his game and not anyone else's, to respond to some of his answers and ideas? Of course he is not obliged to discuss his ideas and decisions with random guys from the community, but helping to playtest the game designs of a friend of mine regularly, I figured that all input can be useful input if offered in a (hopefully) polite and constructive way. So, here's what came to my mind ...

Combat with multiple combatants
Just to make sure that I have now grasped the idea behind combat correctly, I feel the need to summarize once more what I (after Gordon's explanations) think how a fight between multiple combatants works: First of all, my idea of multiple independent fights is completely shot down, as all characters (heroes and foes) enter one and the same fight once the combat phase starts (what also feels more thematic, at least to me), thereby enabling all present heroes to be considered having "joined forces". Once combat has begun amd repeating every combat round, all participating heroes choose freely and independently, which of the present enemies they wish to attack (as long as the choice is legal). After that and if no other effects or abilities are in play, the players choose freely among each other, which of the present heroes shall defend against a certain foe, with the option of one hero defending against multiple or even all enemy attacks. If after that round, combat still continues, all of those choices can and have to be made anew in the following round. Combat continues in that fashion until either one side is completely annihilated or all heroes have withdrawn from combat.

Persistent damage on enemies
I really like the idea of wounded enemies not healing up between turns as it eases some of the burden. But, being the designer, how would you (Gordon) recommend keeping track of the damage as soon as multiple foes of the same kind are on the board, with every type of foe being represented by only one and the same foe card? Even the manual on page 11 states that wound tokens are supposed to be placed on the foe card solely during combat, which also nudged me an inch closer towards the idea, that damage was non-persistent. But as it is, how to best keep track of it? Like I wrote in my earlier post, we thought about keeping the number of wound tokens in a stack on the board besides the respective foe's standee, but we imagined this would not only clutter the board, we would also run out of wound tokens pretty fast. We could use dice instead of the tokens, of course, but I would expect there to be an out-of-the-box solution for this.

Morrigan's Act II special ability
Thanks again for clearing that up for me, but in combination with the combat rules (as I understand them now), needing one quest token every combat round to avoid Morrigan lowering all heroes' willpower seems pretty brutal. This is more of a pure opinion than anything factual and is based on only one session so far, but we felt extremely lucky already coming away with no more than two quest tokens from Act I (so far clueless about their purpose , other that they would probably be pretty important). We near to never used willpower as a resource for re-rolling, but already had multiple characters at or below 3 WP at the end of Act I. As combat, as I now understand, is joined collectively by all heroes and enemies present at one location, the heroes have to endure possibly multiple rounds suffering "psychic damage" from Morrigan's special ability only fighting through her personal bodyguard of Fomorian Invaders, as they are not allowed to target Morrigan herself as long as a single one of those remains. And as WP can't be regained willingly in the game and not even by chance after Act I, there is nothing one can do to prepare (buff up) for this final battle, other than hoping to collect more quest tokens in Act I. But I see that this might be a (very thematic) design decision and, as a villain, she surely needs to be terrifying. How goes that quote?
Lady Galadriel wrote:
... you would have a queen, not dark, but beautiful and terrible as the dawn ...


Fomorian Invader's special ability
Gordon is the designer, it's his game and who am I to tell him what he intended to achieve? But I have to admit that I personally dislike the idea of having the victim of this specific foe's attack (don't know yet if there are similar ones) determined by a die roll in case of two heroes having the same rank in agility. Because, in my humble, insignificant opinion, there is a difference between taking away the freedom of choice and pure randomness. As long as all heroes have different stats, by means of this ability they loose the choice of which hero defends against the Invader's attack, yes, but they still can estimate how combat will develop. They can't -choose- who will be attacked, but they -know- who will have the mark on his chest, who will take the pounding. A hero with low health can, with relative safety, walk into a fight against an Invader as long as he brings a slower "meat shield" along. As many heroes have the identical starting agility of 3 anyway (two with 4, one with 2, if I am not mistaken), a tiebreaker by die roll will lead to random targeting more often than not, taking away a tactical option from the players as well as rendering the original ability moot most of the time. The special ability of the Invader should, in my opinion, either be completely of the type "random attack" or completely some sort of "predetermined, but predictable". Both are fine by designer's choice, but (from the outside looking in) the Invader seemingly wasn't intended to feature an effect of the first kind, but of the second as his original ability text implies. So, as a tiebreaker, I would rather go by "natural rank" first and, as there will still be many cases of a tie because of most characters having a natural rank of 3 in agility, I would have the players choose a "designated defender" from among those heroes tied for lowest agility prior to combat and without the option to change this decision by any other means than the chosen hero retreating. That leaves the players with a small(er) choice that circumvents the ability and the intention behind it (taking the freedom of choice away) somewhat, but in my view, it on the other hand saves more of its effect mechanics-wise than a random choice by die roll - which, to repeat myself, would be a dangerous, but fine ability in its own right, that should be featured originally by a foe, not being a nominal tiebreaker option which nonetheless comes into play at least half of the time.



For the moment, I want to close with an apology in case I have been too bold. I can get quite involved when discussing game mechanics / game design and tend to get into my "playtesting mode" far too easy. I would, again, like to thank Gordon very much for his help and comments so far and do not expect, much less demand another reply from him. I just wanted to drop my two cents here ...

Sincerely, T.Bursche
 
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Gordon Alford
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I think you'll find with the clarified combat rules that Morrigan can definitely be defeated, even with her ability applying in every round. From playtesting and demos, brand new players tend to defeat her more than half the time. Experienced players win 75-80% of the time.

Persistent damage hasn't been a huge issue so far as players rarely leave wounded Foes on the board for very long.

I'll take a look at people's preferences on the targeting issue. Thanks for your feedback.
 
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Theobaldt Bursche
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Once more, many thanks and kudos to Gordon for keeping in touch and taking all feedback, positive as well as negative, in stride!

We finished my second session of the game last weekend, once more taking up arms against Morrigan and although the final battle was even harder fought this time, the situation more dire and the players more desperate, we did indeed came away with another victory.

If I haven't used up all of Gordon's good will by now, I would really be grateful to have some aditional questions answered which arose over the course of our second session and that all pertain the timing of effects in combat.

1) Combat Feats
As mentioned on p.9 of the rulebook, combat feats must be activated by a player prior to the dice roll, obviously to force the player to make a choice prior to knowing the result of his roll. Although not explicitly mentioned, we assumed this meant "before the -attack- roll", so a player could, for instance, not avoid the negative effect of Sidestep by declaring to use it only prior to the defence roll. Obviously, this has meanwhile been verified by the FAQ Kiamar has kindly put out. That being said, we did wonder how this would relate to a skill such a Flank, which carries no negative effect counterbalancing the positive one and doe not affect the the character using it, but all other ones. So, would it be possible for a player who already made his attack roll, to activate Flank prior to the attack roll of another player? The general question behind this, of course, being: If "before the die roll" on p.9 of the rulebook always means "before the attack roll", does it also (exclusively) mean "before the attack roll of the player using the combat feat"? The wording of the FAQ again hints at the answer being "yes", but another clarification would be helpful.

2) Sacrificing
So far, we have only discovered one item with a sacrificing ability, that being the plate armor. Nonetheless we faced the question of when exactly a player has to declare sacrificing the armor for its improved defence value. One would assume, that this might be handled similar to a combat feat, so the player has to declare sacrificing the armor prior to his defence roll, forcing him to make that decision unknowing if it would be really necessary or not. But the alternative, being that he can wait for the result of the defence roll before deciding to sacrfice the armor (or not), might be just as plausible. We would really like to know what would be the "correct way" regarding that issue.

Many thanks again, this time in advance!

Sincerely, T. Bursche
 
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