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Subject: Finding the game too hard? Customize it! rss

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Kevin
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I had a long post developed on this, and then my computer crashed and I lost it lol. It basically said, hey I've been playing this game in all group sizes since Christmas but am now starting to lose players who have become disinterested due to the game's difficulty. If you have a gaming group with a "BRING IT ON!" attitude regardless of the punishing defeats this game can dish out, then fantastic, you are already good to go! But if you have your finger on the pulse of your gaming group and are realizing that they are becoming disinterested due to its difficulty, please try these tips! Let's keep as many people playing this great game as possible!

Ways to reduce the difficulty of Dragonfire while still maintaining the integrity of the game:

1. Remove the toughest Dragonfire cards. Examples would be those that spawn additional encounters or reduce your ability to buy cards. Get rid of those cards that are causing your group the most trouble.

2. Remove the toughest Location encounters. Choke Point and Slaad Planar Portal can be game killers for example. Get rid of the locations that are causing you the most grief while still leaving some in to keep this gameplay element intact.

3. Reduce the starting Dragonfire level. Starting with a DF level of -1, -2, or even -3 can help you all survive and have manageable late scenes.

4. Add a Bless or Javelin to starting equipment packs. Be careful with this one because you will be amazed at how much it helps from the very start to have these assist cards.

Now I wouldn't do all of these at once necessarily, but give some of these a try. As your gaming group continues playing and becomes more invested in the game, and as their playing skill increases, you can then
begin increasing the difficulty back up to where the original game designers intended. What the designers did NOT intend is for their gaming base to be reduced due to a game that plays too difficult for the casual gamer. I hope this helps some of you!
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B C Z
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Preface: I don't think the game needs its corners softened. I understand not everyone feels that way. I also believe that it is better to change Players' understanding of a game than to modify the game.



For the first two, instead of outright removing the cards, I would give the team some number of 'mulligans', perhaps 1 per scene. If something the team believes it cannot handle comes up, it gets buried and the next card replaces it.

This allows the game to be set up normally and gives the table the opportunity to try the encounters that they perceive to be more difficult when they come up (if that's the choice).

#3 and #4 have unexpected ripple effects that you probably are not considering.


Regardless of the choice, a play group should aim to take off any training wheels and experience the full game as intended as soon as possible.
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Kevin
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I like the DF card mulligans idea! I may have to try that...

Bottom line, folks, do what you gotta do to keep your gaming group going...I play with kids and adults. My wife is already like "that game's too hard", so I've lost her. One of my kids is like "it's too repetitive and we always lose, no thanks" so I've lost them too.

For me, I'd rather soften corners than lose the game at my family gaming table altogether. Many of you may be like me who do not have immediate replacement players if the few gamers you have lose interest after a series of losses. You must keep it fun, and unfortunately you can't always "train" players to take a beating over and over.

I'm with you BCZ, I understand these games and could take a beating with you 12 times in a row and love it. My playing partners, however, aren't in our same boat.

You can take the training wheels off a bicycle, but if a person continues to wreck over and over and over, eventually they will just stop riding the bike and choose another mode of transportation. You gotta do what you gotta do to keep the game at the table or else you wont be playing it at all...it will just end up on the "that game wasn't for us" shelf and this game deserves more than that in my opinion. Some believe "play it as designed or don't play it at all" and I get that, but again, I'd rather soften it than have it collect dust.
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B C Z
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Since you're kind of skirting these questions, let me ask:

Is there any joy in the selection of Features when you get enough XP to do so?

Is there any anticipation of "When I get to 10xp, I'm taking that extra starting coin so I can buy a different card the first turn if it's there"?

Is there any preparation like "If someone in the group takes this Feature, and someone else takes that Feature, maybe we can try this interesting combination"?

Is there any remembered 'great moments' of overcoming adversity or completely succumbing to it?

Is 'winning' the only way to have fun, or is there fun to be had in the play, even if you don't eventually 'win'?

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Kevin
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For me personally, yes, I absolutely love selecting features, strategizing about combos, remembering great moments, and I love the challenge even when we lose...I'm a D&D guy and I get it.

To others at my table? Not so much. Lose 4 times in a row and they are like "meh let's do something else, this game's no fun". The "but you still got XP!" argument doesn't resonate with everyone. Try as much as you want, you can't always teach others to love "the grind" or see the incremental joys of losing. It's soften or bust for some of us unfortunately...and that's ok.
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B C Z
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"Grind" and "Attempt" resonate differently with me.

Grind is having to play without benefit (other than XP gain) in order to enable the next Adventure or whatever.

Attempt is an earnest play session where the team was attempting to defeat a current adventure (which gives non-xp reward if successful) with available resources.

I'm not asking people to 'love the grind' - I get kind of grumpy when a game forces that.

I'm asking people to love the 'play' versus hinging all their fun on the 'victory'.
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Kevin
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byronczimmer wrote:

I'm asking people to love the 'play' versus hinging all their fun on the 'victory'.


A great lesson that I agree with and will continue to try to teach to my Dragonfire group!
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Chris Thompson
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So far, the only houserule change that my group has made is that tokens are worth 1 coin.
 
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cthompsonguy wrote:
So far, the only houserule change that my group has made is that tokens are worth 1 coin.


Wow.

I've seen a 12 token wipe.
I'm not sure $1/token is a fair compensation.

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Darren Korte
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byronczimmer wrote:
cthompsonguy wrote:
So far, the only houserule change that my group has made is that tokens are worth 1 coin.


Wow.

I've seen a 12 token wipe.
I'm not sure $1/token is a fair compensation.



Yeah, 1 gold for each token is going to be overkill, especially with Wastes of an Ancient Empire. I’d consider 1 gold for every 2hp token, and even then it might be too much.

Has anyone tried making their own market cards yet? I have some ideas and I’ll create a post so I can get some feedback.
 
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Warlord Okeer wrote:
Has anyone tried making their own market cards yet? I have some ideas and I’ll create a post so I can get some feedback.



No - because I want Catalyst to come up with them and print them.

Anything posted on a fan site like BGG could be a poison pill and Catalyst might be unable to then create the same thing later.

Catalyst has publicized a fairly aggressive release schedule, and unless/until that dwindles to a trickle, I see no reason to risk official content.
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Darren Korte
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I see your point BCZ on homebrew content. I don’t see it as a poison pill as much as you do, considering D&D’s current take on semi- official homebrew in the Dungeon Master’s Guild.

I may come up with the cards on my own and share with friends for feedback. I really wouldn’t want Catalyst to reconsider releasing anything because someone posted similar ideas online before official release.

I know there was a little bit of Crossfire homebrew- but mostly in adventure design.
 
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Casey Pentz
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When playing with 2 players, at first we used to eliminate some of the more difficult locations. The great thing about this game is that it will throw more at you than you think you can possibly handle, but you will at times still succeed. I have had some of my most satisfying table top victories playing this game with my S.O.
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Apichart Eungprasert
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I change grinding rules by allow to play lower adventure levels without modified.
 
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Pigfield wrote:
I change grinding rules by allow to play lower adventure levels without modified.


Are you finding it necessary to 'grind'?
Are you over-leveled for where you are in the campaign?

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Apichart Eungprasert
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I played just dungeon crawl around 8 times, most are defeated. If you over-level, the game suggested you to increased the starting dragonfire lv which make the game from hard to harder. I thought this game is too random, if you start with easy encounters in the first scene, you can beat it fast and make the game easy. In vise versa if you start the game with hard encounters that make the snowball effect and you must draw new encounters from secondary encounter deck which make the game even harder and then you defeated.
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Jeff Khoury
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The only modification I've made is to remove locations entirely. The rules are so incredibly fiddily and non-intuitive for them, not to mention the increased difficulty they present, that, on the balance, they don't add enough to the experience to be worthwhile.

It streamlines the game and reduces difficulty a little bit, both plusses in my book. Obviously, for adventures that specifically call out a location, add it as specified.
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Jim Adams
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Jeff,

When my daughter and I play, we do the same thing. Anything location references, gone. Really works well. Like you, we both felt it doesn't add anything substantial to the game, not even challenge. More often than not, just frustration and roadblocks.
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