Big Head Zach
I finally got this game to the table after reading through the revised rules (which definitely clarify a few things, and the adjustable difficulty / modified intro scenario looked good).
At first, the game looked super cruel (see below), but once we corrected ourselves on the rules, everything was straightforward. It was the right amount of "aggro-puzzle" challenge, where we felt we had a decent chance to win as long as we weren't lazy in our pulls and made sure to ration out our hand cards without running out early, nor leaving them unplayed when our own turn ended.
We had a full complement of players so we got to sample everyone's character specialties (most of which are duplicated in the hero deck but tend to be more combo-able, plus you are guaranteed to have them once per go-around, rather than cycling through your deck):
Fiona: with Cleave, you want to take on high HP monsters in pairs to maximize your DPT. Dual-wielding with a light offhand weapon makes her a great duelist, too.
Zot: Splish splash, he's great for when you can Taunt monsters successfully into large groups, damage ALL of them at once, then taunt them away before they attack someone. Splash also helps past annoying front-row/back-row constraints. At level 3, he is great for de-cursing decks in the boss round, or just trimming excess mooks from your rotation.
Gerki: He bats cleanup. When you have a high-damage dealer who's bleeding badly, Gerki ensures he goes quietly into that good night. Do not suffer a nasty monster to get one last sucker punch in just because your damage rolls came up short.
Dierdre: The queen of draw. Who doesn't like draw? Even if you draw into curses, you're skipping past the bad and also providing opportunities for deck-trimming items/heroes to be useful.
We completed the scenario with no one under 5 HP. I feel confident that we could play with Recovery Difficulty 1 in future games, even as the scenario challenge increases. I feel the best way to "progress" through the game is to do all the scenarios with Recovery 2, then on Recovery 1, and then Recovery 0 when you think you have the deck frequencies memorized. (Then start mixing and matching monster decks and locations!)
Only complaint/criticism: the threat values are really hard to read in the lower left corner, and we accidentally mistook them for the damage values during the first turn. Until we figured that out, the game looked super-difficult!
I think the only rule we ended up getting wrong was that defeated monsters are not reshuffled back into the deck when a new encounter starts. You're supposed to only shuffle new cards into the undrawn monster deck - this would increase the likelihood of the fiercer monsters from the second deck making an appearance.
I would very much look forward to expansions that add additional character decks, swap-in-swap-outs to the item/hero decks, additional monster subdecks, and of course, more scenarios and locations.
In recent history I have played this and the Dresden Files card game and both provide just the right amount of initial randomness and midgame risk management to always provide a unique challenge but without being too chaotic in their outcomes.