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Subject: Kingdom Death Monster 1.5 - A brief review to highlight who will like this... rss

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Simon Kwong
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Some loose thoughts on this, have got through to Lantern Year 16 and seen quite a lot of how the game works and thought I'd share, I'm not going to bother with the summation of the rules - there's loads of other who've done that already, I guess you need to know is that KDM is a cooperative village sim / with boss fight combat.

Who will like this?
Contrary to 1st impressions, KDM is a story / management sim game, rather than a straight up tactical combat game - so don't expect the combat portion to be as nuanced as say Imperial Assault/Descent and nor does it have to be, the reason for this, is that it's the build of the character that is important rather than the tactical decisions, you build the character based on a strategy since 90% of the time you largely know what you're getting into, when combat actually happens you have a game plan already (or you really should ha!). In Descent, you build a character to handle multiple situations which are unknown and widely varied so the decision portion is shifted to the fight itself.

The other big focus is on developing the village with plenty of textual stories and events so you should be a player who gets into the "story" rather than someone who scans the cards for pertinent information.

However if development and story is something that you love, this is the game for you, it has a great system of innovating new tech (basically a hidden tree) as well as a good degree of new stuff/reveals that keeps you really interested and excited about new possibilities, in no other games (for me) is this sense of "discovery" more profound, and if you have a group of players who are just as invested, feels very immersive, that you are in this piece of shit world together. When you go from getting creamed by the initial "monster" to absolutely defeating it, there's a great sense of achievement. KDM provides you with a sandbox world of the "stuff" in the form of innovations, equipment, fighting techniques etc, and then hands it to the player to knock it around and combine what works, and this is what's important, rather than simply stronger weapons - when you destroy a monster for the 1st time, or sort out your population problem (it's harsh as crazy but you know this) you will feel like a gaming genius.

Why you won't like this..
KDM is a long and ponderous game, the systems are not particularly refined so it does seem to take a lot longer vs what you actually do, a lot of this is because there is a lot of upkeep, sorting, and fiddly stuff that gets in the way.

As an example the worse and least interesting part of the game for me, was the "Hunt" phase which is like a bit of generated story before the main boss fight; you have to prepare a board/figurines, roll dice, look up tables, roll a load more dice for effect (frequently for every player), move figurines, do more - what is more thematic and simple is to have a persistent deck of event cards drawing X of them and then having extra cards added as we get to different segments of the game, i.e maybe some more harsher ones will come in during Lantern Year X to signify the changing world.

This bleeds into (sorry lame joke) the damage/armour system where a character/monster can be hurt in specific area's which seems cool, but in reality adds a lot of dice rolls & looking up tables for what in my head doesn't add more function/story, it could have had a single armour stat, and then when this depletes (or exceeded for a monster) draw a damage card (like X-Wing) to say outcome? Since location is random anyways (if targeting is a thing I would see the point) this achieves largely the same "feel", but shorten the game time, KDM can be a fairly random game so it's odd that there is so many "systems" to cater for generic randomness.

Finally there is a lot of upkeep with constantly erasing and re-writing your character sheet, it's very much taken from the RPG world but gamers can be annoyed.

Conclusion

So the final conclusion, perhaps a 9/10 game for those who don't mind the slowness and can invest that level of time - however more like 7/10 for the average gamer..




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Crazed Survivor
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schnapes wrote:
This bleeds into (sorry lame joke) the damage/armour system where a character/monster can be hurt in specific area's which seems cool, but in reality adds a lot of dice rolls & looking up tables for what in my head doesn't add more function/story, it could have had a single armour stat, and then when this depletes (or exceeded for a monster) draw a damage card (like X-Wing) to say outcome? Since location is random anyways (if targeting is a thing I would see the point) this achieves largely the same "feel", but shorten the game time, KDM can be a fairly random game so it's odd that there is so many "systems" to cater for generic randomness.


The HL is actually one of the smartest part of the game and one where you can game the game the most during the showdown. Deciding how many hits would be safe or not (due to traps, super-dense locations, parry locations, retch/full moves etc.), circling the cards to know what to do, hitting in the correct order, wouldn't be possible with what you're proposing. For the purpose of hitting the monster, I'd say the system is random, a little cumbersome, but really thematic and, gameplay-wise, pretty much perfect, providing the right amount of excitement each time you draw a card, balance the risk factor, and then go crazed about rolling a crit. Locations are random until you get a cat eye, and there are many times when you want to attempting wounding a location that will make your other wound attempts automatically fail, so you don't have to try performing them.

For survivors, it works alright too even though having to erase your armor values is tedious.
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ArtSchool
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Razoupaf wrote:


For survivors, it works alright too even though having to erase your armor values is tedious.


Use the scribe app. Problem solved

Edit; having different hit locations both fo the monster and the survivors adds such an amount of depth to the game that "streamlining" these mechanisms with a HP or similar system would surely ruin the experience in many ways.



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Crazed Survivor
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Shu1984 wrote:
Razoupaf wrote:


For survivors, it works alright too even though having to erase your armor values is tedious.


Use the scribe app. Problem solved


I've already covered that in another thread
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Fen Batten
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schnapes wrote:
This bleeds into (sorry lame joke) the damage/armour system where a character/monster can be hurt in specific area's which seems cool, but in reality adds a lot of dice rolls & looking up tables for what in my head doesn't add more function/story, it could have had a single armour stat, and then when this depletes (or exceeded for a monster) draw a damage card (like X-Wing) to say outcome? Since location is random anyways (if targeting is a thing I would see the point) this achieves largely the same "feel", but shorten the game time, KDM can be a fairly random game so it's odd that there is so many "systems" to cater for generic randomness.

You got some fair points, but this is absolutely not one of them. The combat/hit system is anything but random, it's responsive - if you treat it as being random it'll react in what feels like a random fashion, but if you treat it with a tactical approach it'll respond accordingly.

That's why it's such a brilliant combat system.

Also, yes, there are targeted attacks, monsters are known to hit heads, body, arms, waist and legs specifically.
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that Matt
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fenpaints wrote:
Also, yes, there are targeted attacks, monsters are known to hit heads, body, arms, waist and legs specifically.

Mumble mumble butcher mumble mumble.
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Cymbaline
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schnapes wrote:
As an example the worse and least interesting part of the game for me, was the "Hunt" phase [...]

This bleeds into (sorry lame joke) the damage/armour system where a character/monster can be hurt in specific area's which seems cool, but in reality adds a lot of dice rolls & looking up tables for what in my head doesn't add more function/story, [...]

Could not possibly disagree more with both points.

The Hunt is probably my single favorite phase of the game. I love having quarry-specific events, and I love the huge table of generic events. Crazy things can happen on the hunt, things that either set you up for incredible success or almost doom your expedition. The variety of possible events and how wildly different they are is tons of fun.

The Hit Location deck is also amazing. The different reactions, crit possibilities, and the ability to carve off resources and get oddball bonuses are great fun and add a lot to the game. And then, of course, there's traps. For survivors, abilities like cross-arm block and equipment like the skull helm become important parts of strategy. Location-specific injuries also make the trauma charts a lot more interesting.

For the record, too, damage locations are actually a little more pseudo-random than random: there are two chests on the die and one of everything else, so you should probably worry more about that location than any other.


Personally, if I were writing a "Why You Won't Like This", it would include:

* An Enormous Glossary & Set of Cards - that you're referring to plenty often, and that has redundant terms (so you're telling me Bash *is* knock down? Why not just call it... knock down?).
* Odd Rule Intersections and Contradictions - devote some time to memorizing those FAQs, otherwise you're going to spend a lot of time halting sessions to peruse them.
* Supply and Demand - if you do get into the game and decide to buy an expansion that isn't The Lonely Tree or Slenderman... good luck. And condolences.
* Dehabilitating Difficulty - if everyone in the group knows what they're up against and is into it, cool, but if you have a person or two who get really attached to their survivor, they're in for a rough time, and may just quit. Even if they get past survivor attachment, there's a distinct possibility that your campaign will fail after 40 hours of play time.
* Minis - if you're into it, it's great fun. If you're not, you have a lot of painful tedium ahead of you.
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Ricktor Black
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What I like about the HL and AI deck for both sides... is that I feel each battle, even with the same level monster, can be different because you never really know what's coming up or what's going to happen randomly. I've found that each battle can turn on you very quickly in either direction.

One way this game reminds me of Dark Souls (the video game) a lot is that the game is kind of designed to punish impatience and hubris. If you ever get too confident and start thinking "I got this" and stop really thinking about what you are doing and planning ahead... you are probably going to have one or more horribly maimed or straight up dead survivors.

The game is gloriously brutal... which makes it that much sweeter when you are finally victorious!
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To be fair, the Hunt was deliberately underdeveloped.in favor of a much richer Showdown. The simple Hint was a clear design decision to reduce time and keep gameplay focused. As a game design choice, it's totally reasonable compared to most dungeon games that spend 80% of the time walking around and battling trash monsters. OTOH, Adam is expanding the Hunt with Encounter Monster events.

The complaint about the hit location mechanic is unfounded, and is really a ”i don't like this” vs a legitimate complaint, as others have noted above. It's actually very tactical.
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Sascha Heib
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I agree with everything said here. For me the negatives outweight the positives. I don't want an app to accompany my board games, i just want that analog feel - getting off of electronics. On the other hand there is so much bookkeeping, it's not fun any more. Yes, it gets better with time, but if it isn't the bookkeeping, thats so fiddly, it's looking up hunt tables, special rules, fighting arts or whatnot.

I'm in love with how the showdowns work, AI / HL Deck is genious, i love how "hard" the game is and i love the miniature building (couldn't get into painting tho, it's too time consuming for an unskilled one like me). Went All in on the 1.5 KS because i had some spare money and wanted to get into a new hobby, but this game is demanding too much time for it's work / fun balance.

With Add-Ons it gets even more crazy, that's why im back to just the core game which happens to get to the table every now and then when i'm up for a solo experience. It's easily the best solo game ever, if you can find the time.
 
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Steve Trewartha
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NemesisWhip wrote:
I agree with everything said here. For me the negatives outweight the positives. I don't want an app to accompany my board games, i just want that analog feel - getting off of electronics. On the other hand there is so much bookkeeping, it's not fun any more. Yes, it gets better with time, but if it isn't the bookkeeping, thats so fiddly, it's looking up hunt tables, special rules, fighting arts or whatnot.

I'm in love with how the showdowns work, AI / HL Deck is genious, i love how "hard" the game is and i love the miniature building (couldn't get into painting tho, it's too time consuming for an unskilled one like me). Went All in on the 1.5 KS because i had some spare money and wanted to get into a new hobby, but this game is demanding too much time for it's work / fun balance.

With Add-Ons it gets even more crazy, that's why im back to just the core game which happens to get to the table every now and then when i'm up for a solo experience. It's easily the best solo game ever, if you can find the time.


You will find that the bookkeeping is much easier with an extra player or two. For us, one person handles the settlement sheet, resources, innovations while the other handles drawing any cards that are needed and looking up tables etc. Also I couldn't imagine trying to keep track of 4 survivors at once in a showdown! :O
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Agree that a 2nd pair of hands is a huge help in managing the Showdown and Settlement
 
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Crazed Survivor
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GrauGeist wrote:
Agree that a 2nd pair of hands is a huge help in managing the Showdown and Settlement


Sadly, neither the GF nor the cat wants to dedicate their free time to do accountant's work for me while I play :'(
Ungrateful b*stards!
 
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Razoupaf wrote:

Sadly, neither the GF nor the cat wants to dedicate their free time to do accountant's work for me while I play :'(
Ungrateful b*stards!


That's what kids are for !
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The cat is probably more agreeable and easier to train, though...
 
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Crazed Survivor
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GrauGeist wrote:
The cat is probably more agreeable and easier to train, though...


And easier to dispose of, should it not comply.
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Brian Church

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Razoupaf wrote:
GrauGeist wrote:
The cat is probably more agreeable and easier to train, though...


And easier to dispose of, should it not comply.


Well, this thread is taking a turn for the disconcerting
 
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Ricktor Black
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Razoupaf wrote:
GrauGeist wrote:
Agree that a 2nd pair of hands is a huge help in managing the Showdown and Settlement


Sadly, neither the GF nor the cat wants to dedicate their free time to do accountant's work for me while I play :'(
Ungrateful b*stards!


Oh yeah, I can definitely see how people might have a different experience playing this game alone. I play with a group of 4 and after the second session, everybody kind of pitches in to check each-other on rules and helps manage stuff. I can see how the game would be overwhelming a bit solo. That would also explain why people might not enjoy the hunt... the suspense and choices on the hunt is a bit more intense with a group.
 
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Gary Sailor
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I actually like the Hunt before the showdown expecially since it tells a story and weird things happen - though I am kind of sad that they didn't go with a hunt even deck to expand on this instead to roll on a table.
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Akrimas wrote:
I actually like the Hunt before the showdown expecially since it tells a story and weird things happen - though I am kind of sad that they didn't go with a hunt even deck to expand on this instead to roll on a table.


Well, some of the white box minis have their own hunt event cards to mix up with the general ones... maybe we'll see more of this in the future.

 
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Shu1984 wrote:
Akrimas wrote:
I actually like the Hunt before the showdown expecially since it tells a story and weird things happen - though I am kind of sad that they didn't go with a hunt even deck to expand on this instead to roll on a table.


Well, some of the white box minis have their own hunt event cards to mix up with the general ones... maybe we'll see more of this in the future.


I think that's something of a given, especially with Nemesis-specific Encounter Monsters being added.
 
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I get a real laugh from review threads that begin with, I've only played up to lantern year X and yet claim they have seen enough to give an opinion of who will like this. I've played 4 PotLantern campaigns and now started a PotStars and I wouldn't be able to give a review yet because I haven't come close to seeing it all (and by now there are plenty of great reviews that cover anything people interested need to know)

The OP talks about it being "sandbox" which is even more of a concern that you need to see so much more of this game before reviewing it. Only playing it for 16 LY is like seeing some sand from a mile away, is it just a litter box or is it a beach? How can you know when you haven't seen enough of it.

At this point in game play, I'd only be able to say is that you get what you want out of this game. I have one friend that sees it merely as dice chucking and doesn't want to hear strategy and another friend that will sit and talk it out and create a story as to why this event happened. One person likes the game and the other doesn't care either way if he's there to play.
 
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I'd like to submit to the dogpile that the combat in KD:M is far, far more tactical than any dungeon crawler. Go fight a Butcher, Kings Man, GSK, DBK, or Level 3 basically anything, and come back to discuss how tactical the combat is(n't).

Yes, you need a strategy, but you will absolutely also need tactics unless you've pre-sorted the AI and HL decks.
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phildoh8 wrote:
I get a real laugh from review threads that begin with, I've only played up to lantern year X


That's awfully unfair to the OP and others. 16 LY is enough to get a basic feel for how the game works, enough to make a light review.
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GrauGeist wrote:
phildoh8 wrote:
I get a real laugh from review threads that begin with, I've only played up to lantern year X


That's awfully unfair to the OP and others. 16 LY is enough to get a basic feel for how the game works, enough to make a light review.


Yeah, honestly if you play up to the point where you think "I'm not enjoying this enough to keep playing it." then I'd say that's enough for a review right there. KDM is a fairly niche game so not everyone is going to like it, and just two or three lantern years is at least as long if not longer than it takes to complete most board games.
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