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Subject: Fastest Loss? rss

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Jeremy Lennert
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In base game only (second edition), if you are sufficiently unlucky, you can play perfectly and still lose on the fourth nemesis turn. (Which is potentially so early that you can't even cast a single spell before it happens.)

Anyone see a faster loss?


After my first game, I was thinking this game seemed very low-luck, since you don't shuffle your own deck and most nemesis cards' effects don't vary much depending on the order you draw them.

After a couple more games, I have revised this opinion--this game has quite a bit of luck, but it almost all comes from (1) the turn order deck, and (2) the number and timing of minions that come out.


4-nemesis-turn loss:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Carapace Queen
Turn 1: Bane Sire (persistent: unleash)
Turn 2: Hatch (1 husk per card in the turn order discard; i.e. up to 6)
Turn 3: anything with "unleash"
Turn 4: Endless Throng (swarm)

This results in up to 16 husks (2 starting + 6 from Bane Sire + 6 from hatch + 2 from unleash). Swarming with 13+ husks is an instant loss.

In a 4-player game, if you shuffle the nemesis cards to the top of the turn order in round 2, then this can happen earlier than any player's second turn, which means no one has cast a spell yet. In a 2-player game, you can probably destroy the 2 starting husks, but that won't stop the loss if you're unlucky on other points.

Expert mode makes this even worse (unleash makes 3 husks instead of 2); beginner mode doesn't make it any better (health is irrelevant).
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Anon Y. Mous
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How often are your games actually ending in phase 1? Anything that requires 4 specific cards to come out in a specific order is irrelevant to actual play. An early loss is generally mid-late phase 2. The question isn't "are ridiculous black swan events theoretically possible", because by that logic a "you lose" card materializing on the table due to quantum tunneling technically has a nonzero probability.
 
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Jeremy Lennert
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I lost my very first Carapace Queen game in phase 1, with a sequence similar to (but not identical to) the one given above.

My point is NOT that this makes the game bad, but more of an interesting bit of trivia and a reflection on the role of luck in this game.


But if you want to discuss how relevant it is to "actual play"...

A lot of cooperative games have a low-probability way of losing very fast. For instance, in Pandemic it is possible to unavoidably lose on the first turn.

Whether this is important or not depends on how low the probability is. If it's a one-in-a-million chance, then you can probably ignore it. If it's a one-in-a-thousand chance, then it probably matters (at least from a designer's perspective): if you sell a few thousand copies of your game, several of your players are going to see it happen their very first time!

Since my own first game with the Carapace Queen was, in fact, an extremely rapid and overwhelming loss, I thought it was worth some checking into.

The actual probability here is a bit tough to calculate. I mean, we could be super restrictive and calculate the probability (in a 4-player game, just for example) of getting the exact sequence of nemesis cards I described as the top 4 (1/11 * 1/10 * 2/9 * 1/8 = 1/3960) times the probability of shuffling both nemesis cards to the top of the turn order deck (2/6 * 1/5 = 1/15) times the probability that Hatch created at least 3 husks (14/15) for an overall probability of 1 in 63,642.9, which is a heck of a lot higher than one in a million but still not awful.

But this is obviously just one of a family of similar scenarios. If the second turn order shuffle is different, that probably won't save you (though it conceivably might, depending on what other cards come out and the number of players in the game and which mages you're playing and the market composition--the main reason calculating these probabilities is a pain is that there are a large number of variables and you need some, but not all, of them to be unfavorable).

Similarly, if the Swarm is delayed by a card or two, that still likely won't save you. If the Hatch is replaced by Eye of Nothing, that will probably only save you in a 1- or 2-player game (and in that case, delaying the Swarm by a turn might actually doom you again!)

If you add up the whole family, the probability is probably at least an order of magnitude higher; maybe several orders of magnitude. Without doing the full math, it seems plausible to me that it could be higher than my 1-in-1000 straw man.

So personally, I will probably not be playing Carapace Queen anymore except in groups where everyone's got at least 3 games under their belt, lest they come away with the impression that the game just kills you on a whim.
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Turn 1 Bane Sire is among one of the worst things to deal with in the game, regardless of nemesis. That being said, the chances of getting that particular sequence of cards and not having any chance of removing/mitigating husks by that time is still pretty low - by the time you're hitting turn 2, people are starting to cast their initial sparks, and starting to remove husks as a result. It would then become a matter of keeping husks just low enough that Endless Throng doesn't kill you, and you could then focus on recovering from there.

Bad luck is certainly possible - however, I don't think it's likely enough with Carapace Queen that I'm too concerned about hitting that particular case in my games.

(Also, I do think that Carapace Queen is the most likely character to lead to an instant loss - most other instant loss conditions are mitigate-able without actively using damage, at least early on.)
 
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Jeremy Lennert
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Ruduen wrote:
Turn 1 Bane Sire is among one of the worst things to deal with in the game, regardless of nemesis.

I was getting that impression. In fact, any minion on turn 1 seems awfully painful (especially in a 4-player game), though Bane Sire is perhaps the worst.

Ruduen wrote:
That being said, the chances of getting that particular sequence of cards and not having any chance of removing/mitigating husks by that time is still pretty low - by the time you're hitting turn 2, people are starting to cast their initial sparks, and starting to remove husks as a result. It would then become a matter of keeping husks just low enough that Endless Throng doesn't kill you, and you could then focus on recovering from there.

I'm certainly not claiming that winning is impossible, but an early Bane Sire against the Carapace Queen is really bad. The Bane Sire just passively puts out 4 husks per round (if "round" means one cycle of the turn order deck), which approximately soaks your entire team's starting damage output (long-term average), which leaves you nothing to hit the Bane Sire itself (let alone the other nemesis cards coming out). So things will only get worse until you upgrade your offense.

And of course, if you focus down the Bane Sire instead, you're allowing the husks to build up to dangerous levels.

In this scenario, you desperately need to cast advanced spells, which could conceivably start turn 4 (assuming you buy them turn 1) but realistically seems more like turn 6 (if you don't want to wreck your economy right off the bat). In a 4p game, your fourth turns happen during round 4 (nemesis cards 7-8), which is late enough for a lot of nasty stuff to build up. If you buy your first good spell on turn 3 (using the gem you bought turn 1), there could be a phase 2 nemesis card out before you can cast it.

(Never mind the increased difficulty rules, where Bane Sire spits out six husks per round.)
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Antistone wrote:
In this scenario, you desperately need to cast advanced spells, which could conceivably start turn 4 (assuming you buy them turn 1) but realistically seems more like turn 6 (if you don't want to wreck your economy right off the bat). In a 4p game, your fourth turns happen during round 4 (nemesis cards 7-8), which is late enough for a lot of nasty stuff to build up. If you buy your first good spell on turn 3 (using the gem you bought turn 1), there could be a phase 2 nemesis card out before you can cast it.


Actually, you'd be surprised. While you'll want an advanced card at SOME point, I've found most games, you'll want a couple of people to be buying a couple of 4-cost spells right off the bat. It does cap their endgame buying potential early on, but if nobody buys anything, you'll lose to two minions if they appear - and they do appear much more frequently than an edge case like this. Even one shot of a 3-damage spell is enough to make the Bane Sire weak enough that another can finish it off, or chunk out enough husks to allow for everybody else to finish their turn.

Antistone wrote:
(Never mind the increased difficulty rules, where Bane Sire spits out six husks per round.)


Yeah, advanced difficulty is another beast entirely...
 
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Jeremy Lennert
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Ruduen wrote:
I've found most games, you'll want a couple of people to be buying a couple of 4-cost spells right off the bat...Even one shot of a 3-damage spell...

I'm not sure if you're using expansions or something, but in my set, there is only one $4 spell that deals 3 damage (Lava Tendril). Everything else under $5 deals 2 damage. (OK, Phoenix Flame deals 4 if you lose a charge.) Over half of random markets contain neither of those.

I am skeptical that moving 2 of your damage forward by 2 turns (you probably could've bought a 4-damage spell if you'd waited) is worth the long-term efficiency loss of buying an Ignite instead of a Searing Ruby.

Though... I guess Spectral Echo and Amplify Vision both seem like pretty good early purchases because they provide economic benefits in addition to their damage.
 
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Husks are a damage sponge anyway and you'll end up dealing with them up to mid/late game with very few damage to put on minions or the CQ. That's just how she plays. She can be very frustrating, especially as a first taste of the game.
With 4 players you should be able to take out more husks in the second round, provided you survive until then.

You shouldn't give up on her just because you had one bad draw. She's fun and not that hard once you manage to get her under control.
If anything, give her a try with a smaller group and focus on splashing early damage with one or two mages.
Even on Increased Difficulty she's manageable.
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Jeremy Lennert
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Razoupaf wrote:
You shouldn't give up on her just because you had one bad draw.

I've already beaten her twice! Who said anything about giving up?
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