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Subject: Soloing The Devourer Below - very hard? (contains spoilers) rss

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Tomas Hejna
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Yesterday I get to the final Core scenario with Skids and it was brutal!

I have had deck made of cards from only 1 Core and the Dunwich expansion.
I played on easy and amassed 15 experience from previous scenarios.

Still, I had to run the final scenario for about 8(!) times, not counting the starts I scrapped right away due to bad hand even after mulligan.

The only way I could finish this scenario succesfully was with this:
- Luca on starting hand
- Police Badge on starting hand
- Quiet Glade not found
- Think on Your Feet on hand before advancing Act 1a
- no really bad luck at several critical moments (both encounters and tokens)

I had two missing cultists from the second scenario, so I was starting with 1 doom token in play. Also, house was still standing.

The encounters are so fast here!
And simply if they come in bad order, you have no chance. Also, when you critically fail two or three important tests, you are doomed. If you do not get several important cards on your hand, you are overwhelmed.

I do not see any chance how to finish this damn thing on Hard or Expert difficulty.. it all seems like a luck-fest with a very slight
odds of winning.
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MC Shudde M'ell
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To answer the question in the title - yes.
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Christian Kløve
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Yes, it is very hard, and depending on how the first two scenarios went and what investigator and deck you're running, it can come down to the luck of the draw. A lot of the strategy in AH concerns luck mitigation, but in the end it is difficult, as it should be, it's Lovecraftian after all. Personally I do my best and live with the resolution for the most part - we have restarted a scenario after a particularly bad start.

If you still feel the game is too punishing, modify it further. Allow repulls of chaos tokens or redraws of mythos cards, perhaps 3 times per scenario. Just a suggestion. We did not enjoy Carnivale of Horrors because of the difficulty, and we will modify the chaos bag next time to make it more fun.
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Tomas Hejna
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I think the rogues are best for soloing and still - even with them AND on easy you need to run the final scenario IMO more than it is fun. I do not mind repeating for perhaps 3 or 4 times. But 8 or more times?

And I suppose that with each increasing difficulty, the neccessary number of attempts effectively doubles / quadruples (on average).

Maybe later, when there will be more cards for deckbuilding...

Problem I see with this scenario is that without the easiest encounters in good order, the chances are steeply decreasing. One or two of the harshest and you may start over.. And we are talking about what should be easiest here.

The Chaos Bag manipulation might help to mitigate only about first third of difficulty, good card pool the next one (this is something for the future currently), but the most important what remains is still the current encounters order in mythos deck. I'm not sure if I like its swingness, IMO there are too big "power" differences here (I mean between used encounter cards).

What about the other characters, was anyone able to win solo with different classes?
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MC Shudde M'ell
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XehutL wrote:
I think the rogues are best for soloing and still - even with them AND on easy you need to run the final scenario IMO more than it is fun. I do not mind repeating for perhaps 3 or 4 times. But 8 or more times?


I certainly wouldn't find that fun. I play a Campaign, one run for each Scenario (no scrapping at the beginning for a bad mulligan'd hand), and I'm done. If the world is eaten, I sleep very well that night.
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Łukasz Małecki
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Build your deck for this scenario. Out of 5 of my last attempts, 3 ended up in a full success (either disrupting the ritual or killing Umordoth). EDIT: Played on standard difficulty level.

With 2 core sets and "Dunwich Legacy" player cards, I don't think this scenario is excessively hard. Obviously, there are two main paths you can take: disrupting the ritual or killing the goo. If you go for the first one, you need to conserve time. With one investigator, you need only 3 clues in act 1. Evasion is key, which is why evasive characters fare better at this strategy. Skids is fine (and forget about Leo, he's too expensive), Wendy even better. Think on your Feet, Elusive, Bait & Switch, Survival Instinct are you friends, as is Cat Burglar - the single best ally for this mission! +1 to agility is huge (you will need that for Mythos deck tests and for the ritual site), as is the ability to evade ALL enemies in a location - without taking any tests! Be fast and avoid any fights, if possible. Build you deck for cards that give free actions or allow to ignore the chaos bag.

If you want to kill the goo,
Spoiler (click to reveal)
don't even budge. Stay on the main path and arm yourself! It will allow you to ignore the cultists, which spawn only if you advance the act deck.

Last time I played this scenario with Zoey, I destroyed the goo with two shotgun shots. It's absolutely possible, but you need to build for that. Dynamites, weapons, Vicious Blows, Dodges... Before this scenario, scrap everything that lets you gain clues and take everything that lets you deal damage or avoid it.

And remember, evading enemies is powerful. This scenario has few enemies with "hunter" keyword. Get into the location, investigate (you need only 1 clue from each, when playing 1p) and get out, evading everything that may come your way. You will still need to fight sometimes (Backstab & Sneak Attack are you best friends when playing high agility characters), but with a bit of luck you will be able to sneak past most of the enemies.

And most of all, play the game, again and again, with different investigators and cards. There's a steep learning curve here, but once everything clicks, the game becomes much easier. (Barring the few games with really, REALLY horrible Mythos draws, which will happen, inevitably )
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Xavier Domínguez
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XehutL wrote:
What about the other characters, was anyone able to win solo with different classes?


Why not just play two—handed? The game has been clearly designed for two players in mind, while allowing solo play as a bonus but not the focus. The design team is counting on the multiple resolution system to avoid having to design all scenarios to be "beaten" by all investigators solo, as that would limit the versatility of them alot.

Also, the way the chaos bag is designed lets people customize the difficulty of them so weaker investigators can be played.
 
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Ian Lim
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You can try this strategy instead:
(Spoiler) How to kill AO (Umordhoth) the hard way!!
 
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Hell ORC
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x_chan wrote:
XehutL wrote:
What about the other characters, was anyone able to win solo with different classes?


Why not just play two—handed? The game has been clearly designed for two players in mind, while allowing solo play as a bonus but not the focus.


Because it is much more thematic, fun and it feels more "natural" if you play it "true " solo.
Also, I do not think it has been designed for two players at all, I rather hink they designed it in order to play and scale well between one and four players, with a possible sweet spot residing in one or two players.
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Łukasz Małecki
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It scales very well in my opinion, BUT one-haneded solo games are much more susceptible to unlucky draws. You really need a well-rounded deck with clear strategy to do well solo and that's very hard to achieve with just one core set. In my opinion and experience 2p games with just one core set are very doable, but 1p games are a total luckfest; if you plan to play solo with a single investigator, I would very much advise to buy a second core set (but only if you already enjoy the game). I think that with two core sets and Dunwich Legacy you can already build quite a few efficient solo decks and while with one core set you may also succeed, it may feel a lot more swingy.

Moreover some investigators, like Daisy or Agnes, are very, very troublesome with just one core set. Not getting a card like Shrivelling feels almost like a death sentence, so doubling your chances to get it helps to achieve consistency.
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Tomas Hejna
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rednar wrote:
Build your deck for this scenario. Out of 5 of my last attempts, 3 ended up in a full success (either disrupting the ritual or killing Umordoth). EDIT: Played on standard difficulty level.

With 2 core sets and "Dunwich Legacy" player cards, I don't think this scenario is excessively hard. Obviously, there are two main paths you can take: disrupting the ritual or killing the goo. If you go for the first one, you need to conserve time. With one investigator, you need only 3 clues in act 1. Evasion is key, which is why evasive characters fare better at this strategy. Skids is fine (and forget about Leo, he's too expensive), Wendy even better. Think on your Feet, Elusive, Bait & Switch, Survival Instinct are you friends, as is Cat Burglar - the single best ally for this mission! +1 to agility is huge (you will need that for Mythos deck tests and for the ritual site), as is the ability to evade ALL enemies in a location - without taking any tests! Be fast and avoid any fights, if possible. Build you deck for cards that give free actions or allow to ignore the chaos bag.

OK, so there is rather huge diference between 2 or 1 core. In other words: playable, but more frustrating and limited.

Quote:
And most of all, play the game, again and again, with different investigators and cards. There's a steep learning curve here, but once everything clicks, the game becomes much easier. (Barring the few games with really, REALLY horrible Mythos draws, which will happen, inevitably )

So once again:
- Horrible Encounters sequence means almost no chance of winning.
- Hard/difficult Encounters sequence means fair chance if the player deck comes right (or is very focused via 2 cores) AND the Chaos bag is not horrible.
- Easy Encounters sequence should mean easy play unless doomed by horrible Chaos bag or totally unappropriate strategy from players.

Correct?
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Łukasz Małecki
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Yes, like in any card game - competitive or cooperative - horrible draws means almost no chance of winning. That's true to all LCGs, CCGs and even non-collectible card games. You can loose a game of Dominion because of horrible draws, like never drawing any action card with your beloved Throne Room (that's just one example of many).

In reality, you very rarely get horrible draws. In most AH games, you get some good encounter draws and some bad ones, some good chaos bag draws and some bad ones. Sometimes you get a bad chaos bag draw on a bad card and that can make the situation tricky, but in my experience 8 consecutive defeats in a row has more to do with the strategy and less with the draws.

Still, statistically it's possible to get horrible draws eight times in a row, but rather unlikely.
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Łukasz Małecki
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(And about the chaos bag and bad draws - that's exactly why cards that let you take actions WITHOUT the need to draw tokens are so powerful, i.e. Cat Burglar. It's fun to have 1 more action with Leo, but when you are cornered and lack the proper skill/icons, 1 more actions often = 1 more failed draw and more frustration. The game already has some very valuable cards to deal with the chaos bag [from my memory: Sure Gamble, Will to Survive, Grotesque Statue and probably some others]; now the strategy is in knowing when to use those cards and when to accept the bad result.)
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MC Shudde M'ell
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XehutL wrote:

So once again:
- Horrible Encounters order means almost no chance of winning.
- Hard/difficult Encounters order means fair chance if the player deck comes right (or is very focused via 2 cores) AND the Chaos bag is not horrible.
- Easy Encounters order should mean easy play unless doomed by horrible Chaos bag or totally unappropriate strategy from players.

Correct?


Sure. Player Deck, Encounter Deck, and Chaos Bag all need to fall your way to get a victory against The Devourer Below. This game does have strategic and tactical choices, and playing a Scenario a few times certainly helps, but it's generally about reacting to the situation you're in, and sometimes the best choice doesn't prevent catastrophe from any of the sources of luck.
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Łukasz Małecki
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Esgaldil wrote:
Sure. Player Deck, Encounter Deck, and Chaos Bag all need to fall your way to get a victory against The Devourer Below. This game does have strategic and tactical choices, and playing a Scenario a few times certainly helps, but it's generally about reacting to the situation you're in, and sometimes the best choice doesn't prevent catastrophe from any of the sources of luck.


But to be clear: you don't need ideal draws to win. It's often possible to cope with really bad situations and get a satisfying result - the better your deck is, the bigger the chance. For example, I had a very good solo game with Zoey yesterday, even though I drew 2x Rotting Remains and got an instant failure token (=3 horror) and -5 token on the next one. Normally that would be enough to drive her insane (and she has base willpower of 4!), but Liquid Corage helped her to stay on her feet (even if a bit wobbly).

Still, if I drew those two cards in two consecutive turns without Liquid Courage in play, I would be powerless to do anything. So while you absolutely can loose to horrible, horrible draws, drawing a bad card and token from time to time is not a reason to give up.
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I wonder how this was won on the Hard difficulty.

Probably only drawing the Elder Sign.
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Tomas Hejna
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Re: Soloing The Devourer Below - very hard? (contains spoiler's
rednar wrote:
(And about the chaos bag and bad draws - that's exactly why cards that let you take actions WITHOUT the need to draw tokens are so powerful, i.e. Cat Burglar. It's fun to have 1 more action with Leo, but when you are cornered and lack the proper skill/icons, 1 more actions often = 1 more failed draw and more frustration. The game already has some very valuable cards to deal with the chaos bag [from my memory: Sure Gamble, Will to Survive, Grotesque Statue and probably some others]; now the strategy is in knowing when to use those cards and when to accept the bad result.)

Hmm, let us scrap the first 2 or 3 attempts because of "learning the ropes" on the third scenario (I made few deck changes after). This leaves me with about 5 or 6 other attempts.

Main problems I was facing were particularly these:
1) majority of encounters are Willpower focused, so the only answer to this with Skids is (currently) Police Badge
2) the Doom tokens growth is highly accelerated here, so I was very often running out of time even without fighting - the main answers with Skids are resources and Luca

Otherwise, the only needed step was to having some escape option to 2 eluded cultists from the previous scenario and Think on Your Feet is IMO the best option here.

Also, there is another reason to have Luca if possible - Frozen in Fear encounter. With it in the engagement area, all movement and evasion becomes very slow. Also getting rid of this card is for Skids very hard even on Easy.

So to summ:
- playing without Police Badge from start was a lost game already
- playing without Luca was very tight on the time, often lost due to Agenda 3a advance
- not having any elusive solution after advancing Act 1a was always big problem because AoO and running out of time while fighting/evading

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Łukasz Małecki
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Right now I can think of 2 very detrimental willpower tests for Skids:
- Umordhoth Wrath (this one is a pain, I agree);
- Frozen in Fear.
Maybe also The Yellow Sign, but that's only if you drew the Hastur encounter cards, so that won't happen always. Rotting Remains can also be dangerous, but Liquid Courage and First Aid help a lot here.

Now is Police Badge a must? I would argue. Guts gives you 2 icons, doesn't have cost to play, doesn't cost an action to play and you can have 2 copies even with just 1 core set. There are many other good cards you want for your deck that give willpower icons, like Liquid Courage, Cat Burglar or the already mentioned Police Badge. Don't get me wrong, the badge is a good card, but would I give up without it? No. In fact, the game I won with Skids (by disrupting the ritual) I didn't have it in my deck (and I managed to get only 3 cultists in scenario 2, so I started with 2 doom tokens on the agenda card).

The cards you should consider for your Skids deck are definitely Sure Gamble and Cat Burglar. At least give the last one a try - I honestly believe he is better for "The Devourer Below" than Leo (although Leo is a better choice for scenarios 1 & 2). Cat Burglar is as good as Think on Your Feet to elude the cultists on the track, and you can have both in your deck. That's twice the chance to get at least one. Also, Cat Burglar lets you disengage AND move, so each time you do it, you also "gain" an action (possibly more if you disengage from more than 1 enemy).

There's also a different strategy for high willpower Skids: Physical Training and Hot Streak. The latter one is a very good card for decks that consume resources for tests. My favourite set of cards to buy in the campaign are: 2x Hot Streak, 2x Sure Gamble and 2x Cat Burglar (ususaly I sacrifice Leo to make space for the burglar, but only in the last scenario). Granted, you need 16 experience points for that (and, sadly, two core sets), but it's doable.

Also, if you want to try evade strategy, play Wendy - she's a lot better suited for that role, AND she has high base willpower. Not all of the investigators are equally good for solo play. Wendy has access to many interesting cards: Bait & Switch, Think on your Feet, Survival Instinct, Elusive, Cat Burglar, Stray Cat... Long story short, evading cultists on the track will be the smallest of your problems. With one core set Skids is harder to play solo (and that's also because Dunwich Legacy has better Survivor cards and you can have 2 copies of these; upgraded Peter Sylvestre is another powerful ally to consider).
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MC Shudde M'ell
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Don't be afraid to commit Asset/Event cards for a Skill test, it's often better to lose a great potential card than to enter a big Treachery test without a bonus.

Edit: and especially in Devourer, you need a +3 to every test on Easy/Standard or those Skulls will kill you.
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Tomas Hejna
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rednar wrote:
Right now I can think of 2 very detrimental willpower tests for Skids:
- Umordhoth Wrath (this one is a pain, I agree);
- Frozen in Fear.
Maybe also The Yellow Sign, but that's only if you drew the Hastur encounter cards, so that won't happen always. Rotting Remains can also be dangerous, but Liquid Courage and First Aid help a lot here.

Dreams of R'lyeh are also nasty (if present). But I agree that Rotting Remains are not that problem.

I was also running 2x Guts and 2x Unexpected Courage and still had problems with Willpower tests. The Badge from start did the trick for me.

Physical training is great, but you must have it and the resources at the same time, in the long term the Badge is IMO better.

BTW, both Hot Streak and Sure Gamble were in as well.
I see as big problem that Sure Gamble does not work on non-numeric tokens, which are far disastrous than the numerical (at least on Easy).

Also, only one core is obviously (really) hindering your play and makes any scenario progress less reliable.
 
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Łukasz Małecki
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FYI, Sure Gamgle works on special tokens (well, it won't stop the special effect, but it still changes the - to a +).
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Tomas Hejna
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Are you sure?
I would not imply so from the card's description.
 
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Łukasz Małecki
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Yes I'm sure, it was asked on the FFG forums and supposedly the designer himself confirmed it:
https://community.fantasyflightgames.com/topic/235946-sure-g...
Because of that, the card has a special comment in arkhamdb (look at the bottom, in the FAQ section):
https://arkhamdb.com/find?q=sure+gamble
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Tomas Hejna
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Well, that makes this card truly powerfull.
Good to know!
 
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Łukasz Małecki
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Sure Gamble + Double or Nothing + Backstab is a very reliable way - even if a bit costly - to deal 6 damage with a single action.
EDIT: (8 if you combo it with Vicious Blow. Show Umordhoth who's the boss )
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