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Subject: Near table-flip because of... rss

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♫ Eric Herman ♫
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Add 3 Curse cards to your attack mod deck.

I love this game. It's amazing on many levels. I don't want to play anything else. But I nearly flipped my own table a few times in the second scenario because of that, and could easily have filled up an empty swear jar.


I read somewhere that Isaac hates dice, but I find this kind of thing more annoying, or at least on par with whiffing a dice roll. You plan everything out and set up a big hit on a baddie at a crucial time and then, nope. Nothing. Because you drew a random card, three more of which were in your deck. And sure, thematically, sometimes you just fail. I'm okay with the one cancel card that's in your deck by default, and which might recur due to shuffling. Heck, adding three more -2s would be fine. At least then you might still connect for a damage or two. But adding three more cancel cards to your deck? Boo.
yuk

I ended up house ruling it on my third attempt that the three I drew in the previous game (between two characters) would not return, so I still had more cancels than normal, but not 4 each per deck.

I haven't seen that come up again in the 5-6 other scenarios I've played since, but I'll probably tweak that somewhat if it does. Or actually, I did add the perk to avoid negative scenario effects, so I assume that would negate that. Still, seems like a bad mechanic in an otherwise exceptional game.
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Daniel Kroupa
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I feel your pain. I bought a specific piece of starting equipment though. So on my important hits I time it right and get advantage. Although I spose there's still a chance of two in a row but it didn't happen. Thank goodness.
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A. B. West
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Well yes, but the *whiff* is pretty funny - most of the time?
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Because the curses get taken out as you draw them, we found it didn't affect us all that badly.

Actually, we love the Curse mechanic because of one thing (enemy minor spoiler):

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Living Spirits. Some of the monster AI cards for those Living Spirits make them curse their targets. Having to deal with things going awry all the time due to being cursed by an otherwise unimpressive enemy was super thematic!
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♫ Eric Herman ♫
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adamw wrote:
Well yes, but the *whiff* is pretty funny - most of the time?


At first, sure. You groan and laugh. But in my game, it happened at three of the most inconvenient possible times, two games in a row. Felt like I wasted my whole time playing, in a sense. Which is why I'm bitching about it. Gave a really bad taste in only the second scenario of the game. Thankfully, the experience has otherwise been wonderful, and the occasional whiff more tolerable. Just not a fan at all of that particular detail, and seems like there might have been a better way to balance things.

From a design standpoint, I'm not sure how you can even quantify that as a balance, when it may or may not hit badly. If you happen to shuffle all four of your cancels deep in the stack, then I assume it's too easy, but if most of them hit, as in my case, then it seems too hard and you lost by dumb luck instead of your own input to the game. Of course, there's randomness in any system like this, but I feel that particular thing is likely to be especially swingy, and potentially in a rage-inducing and table-flipping way.
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♫ Eric Herman ♫
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Foxtale wrote:
Because the curses get taken out as you draw them, we found it didn't affect us all that badly.

Actually, we love the Curse mechanic because of one thing (enemy minor spoiler):

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Living Spirits. Some of the monster AI cards for those Living Spirits make them curse their targets. Having to deal with things going awry all the time due to being cursed by an otherwise unimpressive enemy was super thematic!


That's fine, and I agree in that case, thematic. But adding three more so there is four in your deck of 23 cards, with the potential of several hitting... not fun. Especially on the second scenario in, when you're struggling to make a go of it at all.

I wonder if that could have been scaled, so with 4p you add 3, 3p add 2, 2p add 1? The thing about random elements in a game, like dice rolls, is that the fewer there are, the more impactful each of them can be. In this case, 2p have fewer monsters to contend with, which means that each individual interaction with them can potentially be more important in terms of what you're trying to accomplish, and more devastating when something random cancels your attack on them. (Eh, I suppose when most of the goals are "kill all enemies," then the impact is about the same, but I do think that having multiple cancels hit in a 2p game might still scale against it more than in a 4p.)
 
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Grudunza wrote:
Foxtale wrote:
Because the curses get taken out as you draw them, we found it didn't affect us all that badly.

Actually, we love the Curse mechanic because of one thing (enemy minor spoiler):

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Living Spirits. Some of the monster AI cards for those Living Spirits make them curse their targets. Having to deal with things going awry all the time due to being cursed by an otherwise unimpressive enemy was super thematic!


That's fine, and I agree in that case, thematic. But adding three more so there is four in your deck of 23 cards, with the potential of several hitting... not fun. Especially on the second scenario in, when you're struggling to make a go of it at all.

I wonder if that could have been scaled, so with 4p you add 3, 3p add 2, 2p add 1? The thing about random elements in a game, like dice rolls, is that the fewer there are, the more impactful each of them can be. In this case, 2p have fewer monsters to contend with, which means that each individual interaction with them can potentially be more important in terms of what you're trying to accomplish, and more devastating when something random cancels your attack on them. (Eh, I suppose when most of the goals are "kill all enemies," then the impact is about the same, but I do think that having multiple cancels hit in a 2p game might still scale against it more than in a 4p.)


Doesn't it kind of scale? Less players, less monsters. Less attacks. More players is more monsters and more attacks. With those extra monsters in higher player count game, other players are counting on their allies to wound and kill monsters too, and there is less room to operate and more monsters to hit back or shoot back when someone misses.

I don't know, maybe I'm wrong.

My daughters and I got through that scenario. Had our curse moments, but adapted.
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Aaron Velox
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Grudunza wrote:
I read somewhere that Isaac hates dice, but I find this kind of thing more annoying, or at least on par with whiffing a dice roll. You plan everything out and set up a big hit on a baddie at a crucial time and then, nope. Nothing. Because you drew a random card


Isaac hates randomness. His hypercriticism attitude can go through the roof on elements he dislikes. That's why he built this game from the ground up to eliminate any type of "it's out of my hands" trait as possible. But he's no miracle worker. Deck draws are random, yes, but since you can still build them how you want when obligated, it still removes some type of random feel.

Granted, I don't own the game (yet) and may not fully understand the game completely yet. So who really knows. XD
 
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Alex Russo
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if you react like this on the second scenario, you will have a rough time on the ore advanced scenarios when your deck will have 4 to 6 curses.
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Foxtale wrote:
Because the curses get taken out as you draw them, we found it didn't affect us all that badly.


Is it possible to then go on a quest or adventure (and easy one, I suppose) so you can draw cards to get rid of a curse?
 
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Sam and Max wrote:
Foxtale wrote:
Because the curses get taken out as you draw them, we found it didn't affect us all that badly.


Is it possible to then go on a quest or adventure (and easy one, I suppose) so you can draw cards to get rid of a curse?
Curses (and blesses) go away at the end of each scenario. They don't pile up from scenario to scenario.
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♫ Eric Herman ♫
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StarryAqua wrote:
Grudunza wrote:
I read somewhere that Isaac hates dice, but I find this kind of thing more annoying, or at least on par with whiffing a dice roll. You plan everything out and set up a big hit on a baddie at a crucial time and then, nope. Nothing. Because you drew a random card


Isaac hates randomness. His hypercriticism attitude can go through the roof on elements he dislikes. That's why he built this game from the ground up to eliminate any type of "it's out of my hands" trait as possible. But he's no miracle worker. Deck draws are random, yes, but since you can still build them how you want when obligated, it still removes some type of random feel.


Sure, you can construct that deck to some extent, but that "cancel attack" card is always in there, and might come up more than once (you reshuffle each time it's drawn), and when you're adding in three more cancels... yuk

Those, to me, are the definition of "it's out of my hands." And one of the ways you upgrade that deck is to take 0 and -1 cards out, so in a smaller deck, those will hit more often. If he really hates randomness, I can't imagine a worse aspect of it hitting you in a game that you've invested a lot of time and mental effort in, than to add several more of those curse cards before you even start playing.

Sounds like I'm bashing him with this, but as I've said, in every other respect this game is exceptional.
 
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carkara wrote:
if you react like this on the second scenario, you will have a rough time on the ore advanced scenarios when your deck will have 4 to 6 curses.


Oh $#1+! Well, that's unfortunate, and I'll probably grumble every time. Going forward, I hope he finds a better way to challenge and balance a scenario that isn't "oh sorry, everything you planned doesn't work this time... and this time... and this time." I can think of a dozen better handicaps that aren't a direct kick in the nuts to my plans like that is.

To be clear, though, if I have the "ignore negative scenario effects" perk, that should negate taking those curses, right?

I also need a clarification, which might minimize my distaste for that... when that "cancel attack" card comes up, if I played a card that would have been lost when played, is it still lost? That's how I played it, but perhaps that isn't lost because it didn't happen? In that case, it wouldn't be quite the kick in the nuts.
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Grudunza wrote:
carkara wrote:
if you react like this on the second scenario, you will have a rough time on the ore advanced scenarios when your deck will have 4 to 6 curses.


Oh $#1+! Well, that's unfortunate, and I'll probably grumble every time. Going forward, I hope he finds a better way to challenge and balance a scenario that isn't "oh sorry, everything you planned doesn't work this time... and this time... and this time." I can think of a dozen better handicaps that aren't a direct kick in the nuts to my plans like that is.

To be clear, though, if I have the "ignore negative scenario effects" perk, that should negate taking those curses, right?

I also need a clarification, which might minimize my distaste for that... when that "cancel attack" card comes up, if I played a card that would have been lost when played, is it still lost? That's how I played it, but perhaps that isn't lost because it didn't happen? In that case, it wouldn't be quite the kick in the nuts.


Can't speak to other scenarios, but yes the "Ignore negative scenario effects" perk would have prevented those scenario two curses from being put in your deck.

Lost cards are still lost, even if they are null'ed. My condolences to your nuts. (Edit: Some people talk about changing lost cards to discards when null'ed over in the variants sub-forum, but rules-as-written says the card is still lost.)
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He probably doesn't have any perks on Scenario 2, but I can attest that taking "Ignore Negative Scenario Effects" is a FANTASTIC first perk choice. Those curses tend to show up around undead, and there are a LOT of undead in this game.
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StarryAqua wrote:
Grudunza wrote:
I read somewhere that Isaac hates dice, but I find this kind of thing more annoying, or at least on par with whiffing a dice roll. You plan everything out and set up a big hit on a baddie at a crucial time and then, nope. Nothing. Because you drew a random card


Isaac hates randomness. His hypercriticism attitude can go through the roof on elements he dislikes. That's why he built this game from the ground up to eliminate any type of "it's out of my hands" trait as possible. But he's no miracle worker. Deck draws are random, yes, but since you can still build them how you want when obligated, it still removes some type of random feel.

Granted, I don't own the game (yet) and may not fully understand the game completely yet. So who really knows. XD

What you may not know about this scenario, then, is that 4 out of 23 cards in your deck make your attack action do 0 damage. In addition, this is set up in a scenario that works on an even heavier timer than normal, so any crucial skill combo that was needed to kill a character may randomly fail (say, 1/6 or more times), potentially ruining your one chance to kill an enemy before it teleports, and potentially causing your very valuable card to be lost permanently.

There is no way to avoid this whatsoever. Even if you buy the one item which gives you better odds at avoiding a null card (unlikely for more than one player at this point in the game) you could still get -2 damage or two nulls in a row. Even if you avoid a null, there are 3 more.

If you get unlucky once or twice, this means you've spent 2 hours for basically nothing besides some XP or gold if you're lucky.

The next time you try, you must use the same 4 null cards again for added fun. Even though the nulls are removed the first time they are encountered, the odds of you surviving long enough to exhaust all the curses before you lose are very low in my opinion.

With 4 players it may be a bit easier, but with 2 players there is MASSIVE potential for RNG to ruin strategic play with no way to work around it.


*edit* And yes, "Ignore Scenario Effects" is an obvious workaround, but the only way to get a perk by Scenario 2 is to grind Scenario 1 on casual (undesirable for obvious reasons this early in the game) or get lucky and unlock a side scenario before even playing Scenario 2.
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Sorry man, that sounds like a tough run.

Almost any combat game I can think of has some randomness. If you want any kind of variation in a game AI, or in a game with repeatable player strategies, they'll need to be some added randomness.

While our group didn't have such a rough time with curses, I actually love (to hate) the null cards. They add so much drama and uncertainty, and make landing those big hits really satisfying! Not everything is predictable and that seems fun to me.

Thematically, why would it ever make sense for every attempted attack to hit? Gloomhaven seems really forgiving on attacks: all special abilities take effect and the vast majority of attacks actually hit for damage. It could be argued that the attack mechanic is too forgiving.

Essentially what I'm saying is if some amount of randomness is useful, that degree of randomness is a matter of personal taste and not a design flaw in itself. There will always be some setbacks out of our control and overcoming them when they happen is the challenge.

I like your idea of using -2 modifiers for a curse instead of null cards. That sounds like a good variant and I would love to see it written out in the variants forum. Maybe -3 or -4 curses would be really dramatic while still rewarding planning out awesome power moves. Or, more easily, add in two or three of the -1 cards for every curse.

The other variant you suggest is good too. Maybe playtest it and let us know how it goes!
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GAFBlizzard wrote:
StarryAqua wrote:
Grudunza wrote:
I read somewhere that Isaac hates dice, but I find this kind of thing more annoying, or at least on par with whiffing a dice roll. You plan everything out and set up a big hit on a baddie at a crucial time and then, nope. Nothing. Because you drew a random card


Isaac hates randomness. His hypercriticism attitude can go through the roof on elements he dislikes. That's why he built this game from the ground up to eliminate any type of "it's out of my hands" trait as possible. But he's no miracle worker. Deck draws are random, yes, but since you can still build them how you want when obligated, it still removes some type of random feel.

Granted, I don't own the game (yet) and may not fully understand the game completely yet. So who really knows. XD

What you may not know about this scenario, then, is that 4 out of 23 cards in your deck make your attack action do 0 damage. In addition, this is set up in a scenario that works on an even heavier timer than normal, so any crucial skill combo that was needed to kill a character may randomly fail (say, 1/6 or more times), potentially ruining your one chance to kill an enemy before it teleports, and potentially causing your very valuable card to be lost permanently.

There is no way to avoid this whatsoever. Even if you buy the one item which gives you better odds at avoiding a null card (unlikely for more than one player at this point in the game) you could still get -2 damage or two nulls in a row. Even if you avoid a null, there are 3 more.

If you get unlucky once or twice, this means you've spent 2 hours for basically nothing besides some XP or gold if you're lucky.

The next time you try, you must use the same 4 null cards again for added fun. Even though the nulls are removed the first time they are encountered, the odds of you surviving long enough to exhaust all the curses before you lose are very low in my opinion.

With 4 players it may be a bit easier, but with 2 players there is MASSIVE potential for RNG to ruin strategic play with no way to work around it.


*edit* And yes, "Ignore Scenario Effects" is an obvious workaround, but the only way to get a perk by Scenario 2 is to grind Scenario 1 on casual (undesirable for obvious reasons this early in the game) or get lucky and unlock a side scenario before even playing Scenario 2.


Playing 2p with the Cragheart and Spellweaver I've never had a RNG situation I can't work around.
Since I know those curses are in the deck before the mission starts it's easy to load up on non-lost AOE that have extra affects after the attack. AOE burns through the curses pretty quickly.

The key is being flexible. There is a time for super combos and a time for dirt tornados. The game encourages you to not rely on just one tactic.
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GAFBlizzard wrote:
There is no way to avoid this whatsoever.

Avoid? No. Mitigate? Yes. We spent time in the first room making attacks at advantage/disadvantage and finding ways to burn as many cards as feasible because they don't come back and we figured that whatever came after wouldn't be as forgiving. So we ended up burning a decent number of the curses early in the scenario and it didn't really hurt us much later.
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spoofsc wrote:
Playing 2p with the Cragheart and Spellweaver I've never had a RNG situation I can't work around.
Since I know those curses are in the deck before the mission starts it's easy to load up on non-lost AOE that have extra affects after the attack. AOE burns through the curses pretty quickly.

The key is being flexible. There is a time for super combos and a time for dirt tornados. The game encourages you to not rely on just one tactic.

Since we have the Tinkerer and Scoundrel, we have no non-lost AOE I'm aware of. *edit* Throwing knives on Scoundrel is one.

When you say "burn through the curses pretty quickly", just to be sure, you are aware that the deck will reshuffle if you hit a null or 2x (thus hindering burn attempts) and also that the curses aren't on top (preventing a top-deck burn attempt)?

EventHorizon wrote:
GAFBlizzard wrote:
There is no way to avoid this whatsoever.

Avoid? No. Mitigate? Yes. We spent time in the first room making attacks at advantage/disadvantage and finding ways to burn as many cards as feasible because they don't come back and we figured that whatever came after wouldn't be as forgiving. So we ended up burning a decent number of the curses early in the scenario and it didn't really hurt us much later.

Are you playing where you must lose cards for long rests, not putting the curses on top, and reshuffling every time you hit a shuffle card? And also using a different deck for each player?

If you can sit in the first room for 8+ turns without losing any cards (besides one long rest) or getting unlucky and dying from a 2x boosted enemy hit, I'd say you're lucky to begin with.
 
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And just to clarify, I'm normally fine with RNG if it's something that can be mitigated in a reasonable fashion. Because of the amount of shuffling that can randomly occur, because of how hard this particular scenario punishes a bad draw with certain characters, because of how the game is on a timer, and particularly because of how a single perk can completely remove all of the above issues, I don't like this particular combination of RNG in 2-player mode.

I'm probably in the minority, though I've seen at least two threads with people getting really bad luck on this scenario in particular.


*edit* And one final thought: Even if certain combinations of characters can game the battle mechanics to draw several ability cards without killing 2 weak enemy archers, is that a rewarding mechanical and/or thematic mechanism? "We felt we were cursed by an evil force, so we weakly shot arrows for a while until we felt better."
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[q="GAFBlizzard"]Since we have the Tinkerer and Scoundrel, we have no non-lost AOE I'm aware of.

When you say "burn through the curses pretty quickly", just to be sure, you are aware that the deck will reshuffle if you hit a null or 2x (thus hindering burn attempts) and also that the curses aren't on top (preventing a top-deck burn attempt)? [/q]

I am aware of all of those things.

Are you aware that resuffling caused by a 2x or null is not done until the end of the round?
 
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spoofsc wrote:
I am aware of all of those things.

Are you aware that resuffling caused by a 2x or null is not done until the end of the round?

Yes, but either way the result (in the non-curse case) is the same. If your attempt at deck-burning fails to produce a curse, your attack modifier deck is still reshuffled, adding all the non-curse cards back in so the attempt takes even longer.

Deck burning in this fashion also burns ability cards due to resting (how many turns do you burn?), runs the risk of a lucky enemy outright exhausting you in the first room, and can burn the good modifier cards (2x, +2) out of the deck along with the curses unless you continue burning until a reshuffle.
 
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GAFBlizzard wrote:
spoofsc wrote:
I am aware of all of those things.

Are you aware that resuffling caused by a 2x or null is not done until the end of the round?

Yes, but either way the result is the same. If your attempt at deck-burning fails to produce a curse, your attack modifier deck is still reshuffled, adding all the non-curse cards back in so the attempt takes even longer.

Deck burning in this fashion also burns ability cards due to resting (how many turns do you burn?), runs the risk of a lucky enemy outright exhausting you in the first room, and can burn the good modifier cards (2x, +2) out of the deck along with the curses unless you continue burning until a reshuffle.


Yes, you can get unlucky to the point of defeat, but there are ways to mitigate the luck. It will not work perfectly every time - I prefer it this way. The groans around the table when a curse or null is pulled. The cheers when we crit.

In the end, if it bothers you that much, I would houserule it. There are at least a few threads discussing this. Having fun is the point.
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Kløve wrote:
Yes, you can get unlucky to the point of defeat, but there are ways to mitigate the luck. It will not work perfectly every time - I prefer it this way. The groans around the table when a curse or null is pulled. The cheers when we crit.

In the end, if it bothers you that much, I would houserule it. There are at least a few threads discussing this. Having fun is the point.

For other scenarios I could understand the cheers vs. groans thing, or strategic use of goggles (before you add rolling modifiers into your deck) at key points. Those things I'm fine with.

What makes me unhappy is if the best (only reasonable?) mitigation strategies are "stall in the first room for 6-12 turns (a 4/24 curse deck means you'd need at least this long to be likely to pull 2 curses), very carefully attempting not to kill enemies, using a 2-character combination that is unlikely to die and has non-lost AOE cards" and "check a single box at level 2 which completely eliminates the issue".

The first solution feels against the spirit of the game both mechanically and thematically, though if Isaac really intended first-room stalling here then I'll certainly admit I'm wrong. The second solution just makes any mechanical attempts to get around the issue feel like a waste of time, especially since it helps with other scenarios as well.
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