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Subject: Attack modifier's randomness mitigation rss

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Guillaume Courtemanche
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I post this as per a conversation at:
Game Variant: Reduced Randomness - Yes or No?

There are similar thread at:
Null - Lost becomes discarded
&
x2 and Null as +0 Variant

So, here it goes,

(Disclaimer 1)
First thing first, it sometimes seems the way people comment variants it's like everybody is a self proclaimed better designer. Please, by any mean, I don't want sound condescending or anything in proposing this variant. It isn't a fix to the original rules but rather a variant to better suit my own personal taste, and perhaps, might interest you if you feel the same about the game or not if you don't.

(Disclaimer 2)
I haven't tested this variant yet. So I post this to have your take on it rather than boast about a genius thing a came up while contemplating life under s tree.

Ok, now that this is out of the way, personally I found that after 4 solo (for familiarization and testing purposes) and 2 four players plays, although the game doesn't have dice, luck is quite a major factor in the game. The thing is, the gameplay and the scenarios are so tight in matter of strategies and tactics (I love that) that it doesn't leave much place to miss a move/turn (or 2 or 3) especially if you crank the difficulty a bit. It all comes down the attack modifier deck, especially the Null (& Curse), 2x (& Blessing) cards.

Listen, I'm a D&D player, critical fail is awesome and thematic, I love it. I want this in my Gloomhaven game for sure. Heck, in D&D you have to hit (you might have a 50/50 chance maybe (10+ on a 20sided die) and then you roll for damages (which could be close to zero) but never (well technically it could) it'll literally cost you the whole combat/scenario to miss couple of times. Yeah, I know it can happen, don't go posting the time you fought an owlbear where in reality you should've go for kobold instead. Anyway.

What I'm saying is, in Gloomhaven (again, in my experience and personal taste) having a single Null modify resulting in losing one or more card without actually hitting anything can cost you the scenario. I don't like that the whole thing can come down to a badly timed luck of a draw.

(Problem):
Null and Curse, can wreck major havoc especially if badly timed or if drawn multiple times, too much for my taste. But just ignoring the Null cards as if they we're +0, as the official variant proposes, is out of the question (for me at least, again). I mean, I still wanna epic-ly fail and role play it if it doesn't cost us the scenario.

(Solution (maybe)):
So again, I'd like a way to mitigate this misfortune but only if I think it's necessary. Of course I could just say, well you know what, I'm not having this one, it's a 0+ this time but that just “unbalance” the whole thing. No, no, we still need to lose something / “pay for it”. So here's what I'll try and want to share with you.

So turning this Null thematically means you miss your shot (well the actual attack part at least). How about you could “feel” you're gonna miss and could push yourself a bit just to hit the damn thing. How about you could, if you flipped a Null, lose a card (from the hand or discard) to flip another one (maybe until it's a hit) or dismiss the null and treat it as a 0+.

(Why I think it has potential):
1- It seems thematic.
2- It's pretty simple to implement and explain.
3- You still pay a price. A great one even, I think.
4- “Critical fails” and “Critical hits” are still part of the game.
5- It gives you one more decision that has a pretty big impact on the scenario.
6- It seems to retain the same level of difficulty for the scenario. It's just not based much on luck anymore but that still have to be verified.

(What now):
Well, I'll test it with my campaign group for the next couple of games for sure. We've been pretty lucky (or not unlucky) so far, nothing compared to some of my solo playthrough (2 Characters) but I'm sure they'll want to try it once our luck turns against us.

I want to know if doing so totally unbalances the difficulty level of the scenarios. Maybe, it only transfers the “difficulty factor” from “you'll die soon” to “you'll be exhausted eventually” but I live pretty well with this fact, especially if you can't pin point the reasons you lost on the particular moment where you did this great move and draw a null.. you know. If I end up, five turns later, and lose the scenario and feel like, “yeah I lost it but If I would've done this instead and you we're there...”, well I can't totally blame or feel like I could totally blame this attack modifier effect.

I don't know, what's your take on it?
I'm leaving the country for a week or so but on my return, I'll be able to test it myself and get back here with my own experience.
 
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Matthew Coppel
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There are already many ways to not stress about curse or void hits, not sure why you need to try and fix it.

The whole mechanic of advantage/disadvantage is part of the way to fix/solve this issue. Also there is equipment to help also.

I don't know why you also feel the need to be able to fail greatly and still pass the scenario every time. The few times my groups have failed the scenarios it is more based upon bad teamwork or timing of the cards played.

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Troy Laurin
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datajack wrote:
Listen, I'm a D&D player, critical fail is awesome and thematic, I love it.
...
(Problem):
Null and Curse, can wreck major havoc especially if badly timed or if drawn multiple times, too much for my taste.

I don't know, what's your take on it?

You love critical fail, but not too critical?

My suggestion: Test these things out or at least theorycraft them before sharing.

FWIW, it doesn't seem like a bad idea. I'd personally rather play the official variant, but at least on the surface you seem to have preserved the balance between critical hit and critical miss, and it's thematically compatible with being able to lose a card to negate a single source of damage - here you're negating a single source of bad luck.
 
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Guillaume Courtemanche
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mcoppel wrote:
There are already many ways to not stress about curse or void hits, not sure why you need to try and fix it.

The whole mechanic of advantage/disadvantage is part of the way to fix/solve this issue. Also there is equipment to help also.

I don't know why you also feel the need to be able to fail greatly and still pass the scenario every time. The few times my groups have failed the scenarios it is more based upon bad teamwork or timing of the cards played.



Oh, we failed terribly at the scenario 1. Ahahah, the cragheart a friend was playing died on his first turn when he moved in (alone) and got three big hit from the bandits. We actually started with -2hp because of the road event. We restarted that one right away tho'. But don't get me wrong i'm totally fine with failing and restarting a scenario. In fact, I find the difficulty level just fine.

Where I'm not fine with is when you fail a scenario only based on a single Null terribly timed or couple of them close in timel because its totally out of your control and based on luck. In a game where luck is pretty much the only thing but we can all testify it's not the case here.

That being said I grant you, its not often and there (most of the time) ways to mitigate that already, with better tactics and with some items indeed. But the two last solo (2p) scenario (generated) I've tested we're both nerfed silly by the bad luck of the draw. I guess it is more prevailent in a 2 character game where there is less character to cover your misfortune.

But I can tell you, it happens because of that sole mecanism that you fail, no matter how good of a player you are. It's not cool or fun, it feels like a roll and move game. Again, what's too bad is that the game is awesome 97%* of the time.

* I haven't calculated it, I just figured its most of the time.
 
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Guillaume Courtemanche
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MrTroy wrote:
datajack wrote:
Listen, I'm a D&D player, critical fail is awesome and thematic, I love it.
...
(Problem):
Null and Curse, can wreck major havoc especially if badly timed or if drawn multiple times, too much for my taste.

I don't know, what's your take on it?

You love critical fail, but not too critical?

My suggestion: Test these things out or at least theorycraft them before sharing.

FWIW, it doesn't seem like a bad idea. I'd personally rather play the official variant, but at least on the surface you seem to have preserved the balance between critical hit and critical miss, and it's thematically compatible with being able to lose a card to negate a single source of damage - here you're negating a single source of bad luck.


I guess its a way to put it. I do like critical fail, I really do*, but not if a single or two of them cost you the game.

Yeah, I knew I was pushing my luck by sharing a thought rather then an actual tested variant, hence the disclaimer. But, it'll get tested aplenty don't worry and honest results will get delivered.


* My current char for our d&d 5th campaign is a Sorcerer. Sole reason being is on a critical fail (for a spell) a crazy effect (wild surge) occurs based on a table. Crazy stuff really but I still love it. Luckily, it had close to 0 risk of messing up the whole campaign (or any d&d nights for that matter).
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Troy Laurin
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Sounds like you like wacky fail more than critical fail.

My memory of D&D is: fail means you miss. Critical fail means you miss, and then things go really bad. Critical fails are hard to recover from, and a single instance can risk an entire encounter.

Like I said, your suggestion seems fairly solid mechanically. I'm just not sure how many situations are going to arise where flubbing a card and having to play a different card to fix the situation on your next turn is inferior to choosing to lose a different card to ensure that the attack doesn't fail. More than none... but as mentioned above, if you have an attack that can't afford to fail, then find a way to get advantage for that attack.

Quote:
But I can tell you, it happens because of that sole mecanism that you fail, no matter how good of a player you are.

If you were a better player you may have stacked blesses into your deck to thin out the null modifier, or used advantage so you don't care about the null modifier for your grand attack, or used an attack with condition effects so the monster can't fight back even though it wasn't killed. Not using any of the existing mechanisms to work around that sole mechanism isn't really compatible with "no matter how good of a player you are".

That probably sounds harsh, but fact remains that there are already so many ways to work around the null modifier, it's hard to argue that the game needs yet another one.
 
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Guillaume Courtemanche
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Point noted.

I more and more options to mitigate the Null cards becomes available later in game (eg. Having the money to donate (buying blessing), perks to thin out deck, items to gain advantage etc). But still, you can lessen the posibility all you want its still there, plus planning for advantages isn't available all the time especially on a 2 player game and early in the game.
 
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