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Gloom of Kilforth: A Fantasy Quest Game» Forums » General

Subject: How random does the game actually feel? rss

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Craig Southworth
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I missed out on the Kickstarter for this and was thinking of jumping on the reprint when it launches so i watched the Ricky Royal run through last night.

Obviously i haven't played this, i'm only going off of what i saw but it all seems a little too random.

Set out the locations randomly. Draw a random event card. Roll some dice to randomize the outcome of the event. Draw random loot. Rinse repeat. It just doesn't seem that you have that much control over the outcome or progression. Am i missing something?

I like the idea of the Saga telling a story as you go, but yet again it's random to what keywords you're going to get from the random event cards. Plus if there's only the 4 sagas in the game then that doesn't really give much variety.

Doubtless there are going to be devout fans for this game and i'm not wishing to upset them, i just would like to know why this game is any better or less random than say Talisman (where the only decision you make is whether to go left or right).

Granted Ricky's play through was from 2015 so the game may have changed quite a bit since then so please forgive my ignorance, but after that play through i'm thinking twice about jumping on the reprint.
 
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Gunther Schmidl
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To alleviate one concern: there's more than just the 4 sagas; they're only recommended for a first play.

It's quite random otherwise, but you have a bunch of choices that can mitigate it somewhat. If you're just unlucky, though, it'll probably not be a good time.
 
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Ian Gill
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Very.

Roll d6s, successes on 5 or 6.
The problem is there doesn't seem to be much mitigation to a string of bad rolls.

The game works and is very well produced but, for us, the nice features (eg sagas) didn't outweigh the randomness and long play time.
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Tor Gjerde
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zaphoduk wrote:
Obviously i haven't played this, i'm only going off of what i saw but it all seems a little too random.

Set out the locations randomly.

This is variation, not randomness. You see the entire map from the outset, and from game to game the challenges of getting to a specific named location and getting a combination of several locations of given types that are of interest varies.

Quote:
Draw a random event card.

There is a separate deck of event cards for each terrain type, and each of these has a different mix of encounter types and levels of danger.

Quote:
Roll some dice to randomize the outcome of the event.

These are skill tests, which by convention in games like this is well-managed randomness, and the players have loads of options to influence the chance of success.

Quote:
Draw random loot.

You are given two known options, and for each of them you may opt to switch to a more random one.

Quote:
Rinse repeat.

No. You either succeeded in the objectives you had set for the encounter and try set a new goal, or you failed and might opt to try for something similar again. You might also have gained new options, and want to try something you until now had shied away from.

Quote:
It just doesn't seem that you have that much control over the outcome or progression. Am i missing something?

That you choose to try things which you at the moment feel confident that you are able to succeed in, and at the same time have the greatest chance of fulfilling your current saga chapter.

Edit: tag mismatch
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Justin Gan
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Posco wrote:
Very.

Roll d6s, successes on 5 or 6.
The problem is there doesn't seem to be much mitigation to a string of bad rolls.

The game works and is very well produced but, for us, the nice features (eg sagas) didn't outweigh the randomness and long play time.


I have to concur. There were very few alternatives to alleviating the 1:3 chance of success other than by rolling more dice. The skill cards gave some respite, but one of the Martial ones I had was a reroll of any 1's you've rolled - once per day. However, a string of bad rolls, and that's 1 or 2 days wasted. E.g. I only need 4 successes to pass a test, rolling 3 dice and I had 4 action points. I sat in the same location for 2 days trying to succeed. Hugely frustrating as it boiled down to luck (or not) of the dice. You could argue that I should have just gone somewhere else to get the rumour cards I needed, but then you're relying on luck to draw the encounter card you need.

I also found the loss of Action Points when you lose Hit Points to be far too punitive. In essence, you lose several days trying to heal up to retrieve the action points you need to move around and do things. If you're really unlucky and you end up on a location with the gloom side showing, you'll need to use a precious action to move away, rather than heal. Or, as I found in my play through, you get a Weather card that causes you damage for not being in a Place at the start of the night phase as well. If you end up with 2HPs on a Gloom area, that is surrounded by Gloom areas and (in the above case no Places around), you're losing your 2 HPs. So either you die and lose your money and respawn in Sprawl City, or you heal 2HPs, lose 2HPs at night, and hope that the next night card is a weather card.

I found the game to be a hard slog and extremely punishing (and not in a fun way). I completed my sagas and finale and got to the Prince of Ruin bad guy on the last day - and his ability is to cause you to sacrifice an Asset at the start of each battle round. The precious few Assets I'd managed to acquire throughout the game (and it can take a lot of effort to go the relevant place on the map which may well be 6 or 8 movement spaces away - and yes, you can try to coordinate your movement with the other tasks you're trying to achieve), and Assets are the only way to increase your stats, are then stripped away from you each combat round. Meaning you roll fewer and fewer dice against the big bad guy each round.

Take the above with a pinch of salt as it's based on my one play through, and my own personal tastes.
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Craig Southworth
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Yeah this doesn't sound like my idea of fun at all. Which is a shame because the art is fantastic, but i just can't get over the unfairness of it all.

To lose due to lack of skill or experience at the game is one thing, but to lose over and over again due to bad dice rolls or bad random card draws is not for me. I'll be giving this one a miss sadly.
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Joke Meister
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jgrg1 wrote:
I found the game to be a hard slog and extremely punishing (and not in a fun way).


Given you managed to get to the boss on the final day (and thus came close to winning), I have to wonder if you are forgetting the times where things went well. I can easily believe that it was hard and punishing at times, but if it was like that for the whole game, how did you manage to get to the boss at all?

Also, bearing in mind it was only your first game, where you would presumably still be learning the strategy and tactics of the game, it seems that a greater familiarity with the game would result in a greater chance of winning. For example, you mention that you have to rely on luck to draw the card you need but you don't mention one of the options to mitigate that luck by buying from the market. I've only played once myself (well, 1.5 times as I had to abandon a game halfway through) but I certainly found my second game was going better as I had a much better plan around what to do after my experience from the first game.

Reading comments like the above also makes me think of the Castle Ravenloft board game. That is another game that everyone complains about being extremely difficult and punishing - particularly due to the Encounter Deck. However, I've found that the difficulty of the game is based on the punishing Encounter Deck as most of my games ended up being very close with victory/defeat coming down to the wire (ie while the game felt punishing, the difficulty was actually just right in terms of win/lose percentages).

I know Tristan was a big fan of the D&D board games so I wonder if this impacted his design. With that said, I didn't get the feeling that GoK was punishing from my 1.5 plays so it would be interesting to hear from other people who have played more.
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Tristan Hall
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The game is actually about resource allocation, and that resource is your time. How many actions do you want to allocate to an encounter to defeat it? Which encounters play to your hero’s strengths? If your hero is weak, remember to hide - it's okay to run away from tougher enemies until you're ready to deal with them.

However, if you charge around fighting everything the game will punish you, and if you haven't geared up for these battles then all you'll have to rely on is dice rolls and your Fate to mitigate them. Kilforth can be a dangerous place.

One Stop Coop Shop is doing a great playthrough on YouTube if you want a deeper look at the game.
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John Watts
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There is a lot of dice rolling with...a lot of dice. But there are many options to mitigate poor rolls (which you will have, believe me!) including a limited number of get out of jail free options of an automatic success roll. Keywords from allies, items, loot etc can also negate the need to roll any dice.

The key to succeeding with the dice rolling is not to overstretch yourself and be sensible about managing your expectations. If you think you can 'just' pass a test if you are 'lucky' then you might very well get stuck. Each hero has a speciality and you or one of the other players may find something you're suited to tackle that they aren't.

At first your options to tackle encounters may be limited, but this usually quickly improves after you get your 1st successful one out of the way. In any case, keep moving around to uncover more options until you find a 'relatively easy' encounter to start at the beginning of the next day. There are lots of reward options to be had for just a single success and just getting 4 gold is enough to buy some bloody useful allies who go straight into play to help you.

The thematic nature of this game is very important to its enjoyment. For us the dice-rolling was surprisingly fun - even the failures! If you want to spice up the rolling, then perhaps get a funky see through dice tower?

The game can be punishing (and therefore challenging) but the dice rolling can sometimes be no different to randomness produced by card decks in games of this genre, particularly since you have so many options to improve your chances of success, or at least to choose the difficulty level before you start (except for enemies, but even the dice rolling here can be helped by hiding).



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Justin Gan
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Just to clarify, I randomly chose an Orc Warrior with the Take Fortress saga (with Warrior - Take Fortress being one of the recommended starter combinations). So combat was pretty much my best option. I also chose the upgrade that let you use combat to roll for negotiation tests towards the end of the game - which is the only reason I managed to get even close.

Jokemeister wrote:
For example, you mention that you have to rely on luck to draw the card you need but you don't mention one of the options to mitigate that luck by buying from the market.


I did go to the market, but again, you're looking at a random draw of three cards from the same deck, and you MUST buy one of them. Gold is also a precious resource (which you need to be able to complete saga chapters) - so if you happen to draw 3 expensive cards, there goes your finale hedge-fund. I did this 3 times just to try to find a card with Artifact on it from the Ally deck (I think?) because at that time my negotiate skill was 1 dice.

I have no doubt that the feel of the game would have been different with a different sage/race/class combo.

But just for the record, punishing is not the same as challenging: Nemo's war is challenging and can be punishing at the same time.

 
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Tristan Hall
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An Orc Warrior is a great combo Justin! If you play that setup again...

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Head to the Plains and start putting your Enemy token down on weaker Strangers - tear the place up!


cool
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Justin Gan
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ninjadorg wrote:
An Orc Warrior is a great combo Justin! If you play that setup again...

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Head to the Plains and start putting your Enemy token down on weaker Strangers - tear the place up!


cool


I did! I needed Enemy cards and Mountain cards initially, and I luckily had a layout where I could stomp from Plain to Plain to Mountain to Mountain.
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Sky Zero
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in my 6+ plays I've never felt the game "too random". I always have choices and there's numerous ways to mitigate. Hands down my 2017 GotY. And as a solo, it plays fast, tells a great story and provides enough challenge to keep you coming back for more.
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Lonny x
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jgrg1 wrote:
Posco wrote:
Very.

Roll d6s, successes on 5 or 6.
The problem is there doesn't seem to be much mitigation to a string of bad rolls.

The game works and is very well produced but, for us, the nice features (eg sagas) didn't outweigh the randomness and long play time.


I have to concur. There were very few alternatives to alleviating the 1:3 chance of success other than by rolling more dice. The skill cards gave some respite, but one of the Martial ones I had was a reroll of any 1's you've rolled - once per day. However, a string of bad rolls, and that's 1 or 2 days wasted. E.g. I only need 4 successes to pass a test, rolling 3 dice and I had 4 action points. I sat in the same location for 2 days trying to succeed. Hugely frustrating as it boiled down to luck (or not) of the dice. You could argue that I should have just gone somewhere else to get the rumour cards I needed, but then you're relying on luck to draw the encounter card you need.


I rarely fail to defeat an encounter in GoK. I don't think it's because I'm a master dice roller either. You really have to evaluate the risk of doing an encounter. If I need 4 successes but I only roll 3 dice then there's a good chance I will pass on that encounter. At a minimum you are spending 2 action points to defeat. Those two rolls require two 5's or 6's or three on one roll and one on another. That's pretty hard. Knowing when to move on is part of the adventure and the strategy to the game. If I fail an encounter there's no way I'm spending another day on it. You can always come back to the encounter when you boost your attributes to make the encounter easy.
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Walt MacEachern
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I know. I had the same feeling after my first play. So I did an analysis of the encounter decks and learned:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
43% of the Mountain deck is Enemies, 29% Quests
40% of the Plains deck is Strangers, 30% Places
38% of the Badlands deck is Quests, 24% enemies
35% of the Forest is Places, 30% Strangers


This made it far more deterministic and more fun for me!
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waltermac wrote:
I know. I had the same feeling after my first play. So I did an analysis of the encounter decks and learned:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
43% of the Mountain deck is Enemies, 29% Quests
40% of the Plains deck is Strangers, 30% Places
38% of the Badlands deck is Quests, 24% enemies
35% of the Forest is Places, 30% Strangers


This made it far more deterministic and more fun for me!


Thanks for sharing this! It's very helpful!
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Tristan Hall
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waltermac wrote:
I know. I had the same feeling after my first play. So I did an analysis of the encounter decks and learned:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
43% of the Mountain deck is Enemies, 29% Quests
40% of the Plains deck is Strangers, 30% Places
38% of the Badlands deck is Quests, 24% enemies
35% of the Forest is Places, 30% Strangers


This made it far more deterministic and more fun for me!


Thanks for wrapping that in a spoiler. Once you're familiar with the decks it's much more tactical, but many people enjoy the adventuring/discovery aspect too.
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Ian Gill
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JPWatts wrote:
There is a lot of dice rolling with...a lot of dice. But there are many options to mitigate poor rolls (which you will have, believe me!) including a limited number of get out of jail free options of an automatic success roll. Keywords from allies, items, loot etc can also negate the need to roll any dice.

There are 4 single success tokens you have, and you can only use one at a time. That is mitigation to some extent, but your character has to improve a lot to regularly pass tests.
However that is not really mitigation of the rolls themselves.
To us it is risk vs reward/time management fantasy game.
Quote:

The key to succeeding with the dice rolling is not to overstretch yourself and be sensible about managing your expectations. If you think you can 'just' pass a test if you are 'lucky' then you might very well get stuck. Each hero has a speciality and you or one of the other players may find something you're suited to tackle that they aren't.
totally agree. The game is about moving around to find something you have the chance to defeat, etc but, apart from the composition of the encounter decks, it is random what you find. In our first game we were moving all across the map in the hunt for things we could use/face. This takes actions that are the defining resource of the game. 2 players were lucky, 2 were not. As a co-op team it was still really random.

Quote:

At first your options to tackle encounters may be limited, but this usually quickly improves after you get your 1st successful one out of the way. In any case, keep moving around to uncover more options until you find a 'relatively easy' encounter to start at the beginning of the next day.

"Usually" says it all.
After 2 hours in game 1 we had one great character, one that was ok, and two who were not really getting anywhere.....and we were cooperating.

The game works and looks great, as I said in an earlier post.
But it is a random quest game and successes on just a 5 or 6 was a complaint made by all 4 players, even though the game has been balanced based on that.
I have Prophecy, Runebound 1 & 3, Shadows of Malice, Dungeoneer, Return of the Heroes, The Witcher, the D&D series, ..and many others.
It is my favourite genre.

GoK is no worse than the others, and has some great ideas so might be much better in many respects, but even with two players it was too long for what it added.
However I sold this on quickly (which is very rare for me) whilst there is demand. Another friend sold his copy after just one game.
Neither of us would say it is a poor game.

It is definitely well worth trying if you like randomly generated fantasy game. But when someone asks "is it random", I have to say it feels that way to us.
 
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Richard Dewsbery
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jgrg1 wrote:
Posco wrote:
Very.

Roll d6s, successes on 5 or 6.
The problem is there doesn't seem to be much mitigation to a string of bad rolls.

The game works and is very well produced but, for us, the nice features (eg sagas) didn't outweigh the randomness and long play time.


I have to concur. There were very few alternatives to alleviating the 1:3 chance of success other than by rolling more dice. The skill cards gave some respite, but one of the Martial ones I had was a reroll of any 1's you've rolled - once per day. However, a string of bad rolls, and that's 1 or 2 days wasted. E.g. I only need 4 successes to pass a test, rolling 3 dice and I had 4 action points. I sat in the same location for 2 days trying to succeed. Hugely frustrating as it boiled down to luck (or not) of the dice. You could argue that I should have just gone somewhere else to get the rumour cards I needed, but then you're relying on luck to draw the encounter card you need.

I also found the loss of Action Points when you lose Hit Points to be far too punitive. In essence, you lose several days trying to heal up to retrieve the action points you need to move around and do things. If you're really unlucky and you end up on a location with the gloom side showing, you'll need to use a precious action to move away, rather than heal. Or, as I found in my play through, you get a Weather card that causes you damage for not being in a Place at the start of the night phase as well. If you end up with 2HPs on a Gloom area, that is surrounded by Gloom areas and (in the above case no Places around), you're losing your 2 HPs. So either you die and lose your money and respawn in Sprawl City, or you heal 2HPs, lose 2HPs at night, and hope that the next night card is a weather card.

I found the game to be a hard slog and extremely punishing (and not in a fun way). I completed my sagas and finale and got to the Prince of Ruin bad guy on the last day - and his ability is to cause you to sacrifice an Asset at the start of each battle round. The precious few Assets I'd managed to acquire throughout the game (and it can take a lot of effort to go the relevant place on the map which may well be 6 or 8 movement spaces away - and yes, you can try to coordinate your movement with the other tasks you're trying to achieve), and Assets are the only way to increase your stats, are then stripped away from you each combat round. Meaning you roll fewer and fewer dice against the big bad guy each round.

Take the above with a pinch of salt as it's based on my one play through, and my own personal tastes.


I played five times, and would agree 100%. I'm not sure that I played particularly well on those five games, and there are some small ways to mitigate the luck, but the fact that Sprawl City fell to the Gloom in the first few turns four games out of five did not alleviate the feeling of being punished at random. Had the game taken 60-90 minutes to play it might not have been so bad for me, but ultimately I felt that I was playing a very similar long and mostly random game to Talisman (albeit one that looked a lot prettier).
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Ryan
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zaphoduk wrote:
Doubtless there are going to be devout fans for this game and i'm not wishing to upset them, i just would like to know why this game is any better or less random than say Talisman (where the only decision you make is whether to go left or right).

I owned Talisman 4th ed and a couple expansions for a few years, played it, found some mild enjoyment in it, but was never satisfied by my experience or excited to play. I've played four games of GoK (using the Bloodbath variant) so my experience my vary somewhat from other players who play with the standard rule.

I have a hard time finding similarities between this game and Talisman. While both games have randomness present, I don't think randomness is a problem in either. It is the lack of or presence of player agency which has the greatest influence over enjoyment, for me at least. Talisman has only the barest bit of player agency in my opinion, while GoK is brimming with it. Yes, outcomes are determined through die rolls, but you know the odds of success, and so you play your game and make decisions based on those odds. Ignore the odds or make poor decisions and you will pay the price. Pursue challenges that you are most likely to succeed at and dedicate your limited time to pursuing Rumors and Assets that best boost your abilities and you are more likely to succeed.

The randomness of map layout and card draws in GoK will keep the game fresh and replayable over time. Each new game is really a new game. The approach you used on previous games may not lead to success on the current game. I don't see random here as being a problem for GoK. No randomness equals no longevity or fresh challenge for a co-op or solitaire design.

This will somewhat echo what others have said above, but I think GoK is about managing the odds and your limited time and resources through an extremely large amount of player agency. Talisman only allows the player a trace amount of player agency. Both games have loads of randomness, but the GoK does not make me feel victim to or hostage of randomness, whereas I very much feel beholden to randomness in Talisman.

I find the game challenging but not punishing. I say that as a guy who has won 0% of the four games he has played. For me, victory in GoK is in playing the game, not whether or not I actually win. I enjoy the story, I enjoy learning about the decks through game play and discovery (not preparatory data mining), and I just enjoy playing. If someone is approaching this game from a more competitive angle or is looking more for a make-the-optimum-choices-with-near-perfect-knowledge-or-control adventure, their appreciation for the game may differ from mine. I understand others will disagree with me on the player agency or ability to affect outcomes, but that those are my feelings of and experience with the game.
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Ian Gill
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Quote:
I have a hard time finding similarities between this game and Talisman.

I wouldn't compare it directly to Talisman because I only played one of the original versions and that offered less.
Quote:
Yes, outcomes are determined through die rolls, but you know the odds of success, and so you play your game and make decisions based on those odds. Ignore the odds or make poor decisions and you will pay the price.

but the successes on just 5 or 6 can be so variable (and there is minimal mitigation). Accumulating successes over multiple actions is fine if spending actions were not such a tight resource that determines your chance of progressing vs the game.
Quote:
Pursue challenges that you are most likely to succeed at and dedicate your limited time to pursuing Rumors and Assets that best boost your abilities and you are more likely to succeed.

which sounds great except what you find is almost totally random. And, given the fact that you can have no chance, early on, against so many cards, the need to hide sucks yet more time away.

I need to stop as it seems like I am heavily against the game, which I am not. It works fine....if you want a random quest game, of which there are many.
I and others clearly found it more random than we had hoped and so have given our opinion in response to the question the OP asked.
It is great that so many others like the way the game plays but I wouldn't recommend it to someone else unless they are really keen on very random quest games (and I own a few as I like them myself ).
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