Recommend
18 
 Thumb up
 Hide
14 Posts

Legends Untold: Weeping Caves Novice Set» Forums » General

Subject: Impressions after a few sessions rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Gary Beason
United States
Carrollton
US
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This isn't really a review, just some of my impressions after a few sessions. Let me say upfront that I went back and forth on backing the KS, but I obviously did back it. Then, I saw one review a few months ago that got me worried. Indeed, I feared the game being very repetitive and wondered why there weren't more types of enemies and such.

All that said, I've been enjoying the game. I play a lot of adventure games, but I've been frustrated that dungeon crawls are so heavily focused on combat. I enjoy the tactical fights of Sword & Sorcery or the dice chuckers like Massive Darkness. But I want more of the non-combat tests, and I want more of an exploration experience.

Good Stuff

As one reviewer said, you make a lot of checks.
- You roll every time you enter a new room/location.
- You roll to overcome an obstacle (which is present for nearly every path entry into a new location).
- You roll to determine surprise.
- You roll for combat.
- You roll to deal with traps and barriers, like a locked door.
- You don't roll when you search (which are marked as Search Zones on the location card).

1) I'm not sure this is a problem for folks who play D&D and other RPGs. I think in fact it's kind of what we want. I agree that it can be a bit, but for me, it makes each location richer as an experience.

When Ersala the student the way into the Grotto, she had some ambient light. Fungal spores were in the path, and she knew there was a good chance that they could be poisoned and get hurt if they stepped on any of the spores. She decided to reason her way through, carefully analyzing the path and considering what she knew about fungus. She ventured forth correctly, doing so well that Kurt the farmer could easily follow her steps without injury. No sooner were they past the spores, though, than they had to deal with goblins . . . drunk goblins at that. Thanks to the ambient light, they weren't surprised. In fact, they had surprise on the sodden goblins. The farmer shot his bow well, especially thanks to his skill to improve the damage with an advantage for Ersala. It not only immediately killed the first goblin, but it distracted the second so that Ersala had a good to attack with her spear. The defeated goblins had a couple of pieces of good equipment -- a candle and a bag of spikes. Ersala and Kurt made their way down a path where they could see a barrel. But between them and the barrel was a swarm of bats . . . .


All that feels good to me. Each location has several things to deal with. And that kind of depth in a particular location is something that I've wanted. So many crawls and adventures games have maps that are just docorative grids. They don't feel like a particular place.

Legends Untold is somewhat like Mansions of Madness, where there are tokens to explore. (This game doesn't allow as much choice about which things to check.) Like Mansions, LU has environments that are more meaningful, more interactive.


2) The combat seems more complicated than it really is. At first I didn't quite see the need for an engagement round that was different the other combat rounds. But it has grown on me.

I'm a fan of Runebound 2nd Edition, which I think is more strategic than appears at first blush. It's a fairly elegant system in a way where I roll once to either attack or defend. And I have to decide which ally to use to defend or attack, which abilities or items to use.

LU has something similar to that. It doesn't have the 3 combat phases, but it has range and melee where most of the time, you're rolling once. You're rolling against a number based on your weapon. You don't have to roll the monster's defense dice. One attack, one roll. And that roll has a range of outcomes.

You can Fail (suffer 1 damage), Miss, Get Pushed Back (-2 on next ally attack), Trade Blows (damage each other), Advance (+2 on next ally attack), Hit, and Critical Hit. Every monster that I saw had 1 or 2 hit points.

3) The effect of all this is that combat can feel meaty even with so few hit points. Two rounds of combat feels like a lot happens. And it's not always as simple as roll the dice and check for Success/Fail. I rolled an 8 for a Push Back, but if I use the Parry and Trip effect on my Guarded Stance card, I can change that to an Advance and give Kurt the Farmer +2 on his next attack. Yes, I have to look up the result on my weapon card for each roll, but I don't mind that. I sometimes have the opportunity to mitigate a bad roll with skills and items.

Not as Good Stuff

1) The game is a little fiddly, but that seems the nature of this genre. It's not nearly component-fiddly like Sword & Sorcery. It's not as rules fiddly like Too Many Bones.

2) On the one hand, I like "average joe" heroes. But on the other, I wish they were more distinct. They are but it's subtle. The Attributes are somewhat distinctive. I'm playing with two heroes in my sessions, so it's easy to see how the Student & Farmhand have offsetting attribute ratings, or the Noble & Smith. True, it's only a 1-3 system, not 0-3. So, the difference between 1 and 2 doesn't seem significant.

But this is a game where even 1 point can make or break a test. I've compared the statistics on various dice mechanics and the 3d6 has a really nice curve where a test goal of 10 or 11 has 27 different combinations of dice results. If the test calls for 11, I'm going to get that about 50% of the time. But a test of 12 drops to ~38%. At 13, I'm looking at about a 25% chance of succeeding. This is why 3d6 is a great system to me.

The differences between heroes comes with leveling for talent and weapon upgrades. In Massive Darkness, Runebound, and other games, the heroes can be very distinct from the get-go, largely because of the 1-2 built-in abilities. In Runebound 2e, heroes can get very powerful, but the monsters scale as you encounter the yellow, blue, and red decks. In LU, the monsters don't scale. You get better weapons, but the weapon upgrades aren't huge. Most of the targets might be the same except that Strike and Critical results are easier to get by 1 point. To me, it's the Skill Talents where the heroes really can feel different.

So, for some players, these subtle upgrades and differences might not feel heroic enough. But I don't think the system (at least what we have in the Novice sets) is built for uber heroic characters.


3) Mansions of Madness remains my favorite "RPG in a box" especially with the app. Its exploration opportunities and interactive maps feel great to me, more of what I enjoy in D&D. I can talk to NPCs. I can explore rooms. I can check out cabinets, manuscripts, and other items. I can solve puzzles. And I can fight. All within very strong narratives (well, except for some adventures). Mansions is my high bar for narrative in games. (Well that and the Sherlock games.)

I'm still playing with the campaign, but the narrative is not as rich as Mansions. The story parts are just at the beginning and end (so far). I'm not going back to the campaign book because of something I encountered in one room. The quest cards have some interesting custom rules. From what I've seen, the endings for the scenarios are binary: Succeed or fail. It would be cool to have more than 2 endings. I still have more to play so that might change.


Parting Thoughts

At this point, I'm enjoying the game. It's not nearly as repetitive as I feared. It's easy to set up and put away. It's more than a skirmish game. And it can lead to some memorable adventures. Some adventure games have a lot going on, but when I'm done, I don't really remember all the things that happened. I get a memorable experience with LU, even with all the rolls.

Card adventure games like Pathfinder would be the most obvious comparison. But I have to admit that I'm not a fan of that system for several reasons. It's hard for me to compare this with LotR because deckbuilding is such a different game. Heroes of Terrinoth/Warhamer Quest CG are more skirmish games. LU is more akin to a dungeon crawler but without the minis.

I really enjoy seeing the map as I put down the cards. Wow, this is a cool looking map that I don't get with tile-based adventure games. The paths and caves aren't all straight lines and angles.

This is a cool system. And I see ways that they do a lot more with it without making it more complex. Ways to add more narrative, more variety. I hope the creators and publisher do well enough to continue developing this game.
27 
 Thumb up
4.31
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Sheldon Gaetz
Canada
Vancouver
British Columbia
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb
Thanks for your impressions. I’m still waiting on this but should be delivery this week.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Josh
United States
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I think it's worth noting the 3d6 system makes a difference of +1 and +2 more significant than in simple 'roll a die' systems. Bell curves create more 'stable' results and also very different increments.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Gary Beason
United States
Carrollton
US
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Right, Shadrach, on the +1 difference in 3d6 systems. That's what I was trying to convey with the examples on percentages.

I actually became a fan of 3d6 with the Dragon Age RPG, the first RPG that I played that used 3d6. It made for a lot less "swingy" game than d20. A +2 sword was huge. Likewise a re-roll also feels significant. As a result, the combat in Dragon Age had more hits than in the typical D&D session. I don't know how many games where the warrior missed. In 3d6, with the right target numbers, a miss can be the turning point. In d20, I thought a hit with a good damage roll was often the turning point. It depends on what you find more engaging.

LU changes the typical 3d6 combat by having tiered results. I find that I get the Strike or Critical maybe once per combat per hero. More often than not, I'm defeating a creature thanks to an Advance and a Trade Blows. A 2-HP creature can make for a tough fight, especially when there 2-3 and no breakpoint. I've had encounters with no breakpoint that came down to the wire.

Also, the bell curve is why the Mastery & Weakness rules are so powerful: Roll 4 and take 3 best/worst.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ethan Furman
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
gbeason wrote:
Also, the bell curve is why the Mastery & Weakness rules are so powerful: Roll 4 and take 3 best/worst.

On the other hand, when you roll 3, 2, 1, 1 it doesn't really matter whether you had mastery or weakness. shake
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Barry Miller
United States
Saint Charles
Missouri
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb

Is there a comparison to The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-earth ?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Josh
United States
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
bgm1961 wrote:


It would be an extremely tenuous one. One is half price, and doesn't use an app for starters. Honestly 'fantasy adventure' is just about the only intersection.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Barry Miller
United States
Saint Charles
Missouri
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb

Shadrach wrote:
Honestly 'fantasy adventure' is just about the only intersection.

Well, that's exactly the part I'm asking about.

And that's because the OP spends quite a bit of his time comparing/judging "legends Untold' to Mansions of Madness 2e. And over in the LotR:JiME forums, that game is also compared almost exclusively to Mansions of Madness, as well.

So applying a little algebra, it's thus reasonable to conclude that 'Legends Untold' can also be compared to LotR:JtME. Yet there's no mention of the latter by the OP, which is why I asked the question.

Humbly, I don't see cost, nor that one uses an app and the other doesn't, as being relevant to comparing the experience that players might draw from each game.

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Gary Beason
United States
Carrollton
US
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
stoneleaf wrote:
gbeason wrote:
Also, the bell curve is why the Mastery & Weakness rules are so powerful: Roll 4 and take 3 best/worst.

On the other hand, when you roll 3, 2, 1, 1 it doesn't really matter whether you had mastery or weakness. shake


Yeah, if you fail, you just fail badly.

That's a very low percentage roll, though. About 1.62% using anydice.com.

In most of the roles where I've had Mastery or Weakness (which isn't that often, I'll admit, with lower level characters), just that leaving out the best or worst die was the difference failure success and failure.

If I look at the best odds of results:

4d6 - highest = 8 (13.27%)
4d6 - lowest = 13 (13.27%)
3d6 = 10 (12.5%)



 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Todd T
United States
Cedar Falls
Iowa
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
What a great first impression!

I just got LU and LoTR:JiME, so I'm excited to play and test both soon. I know they'll be very different experiences, but will be interested seeing how similar they are, too.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jim Johnson
United States
Germantown
Tennessee
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Gary - this was an excellently written review. I am looking forward to playing the first scenario with my wife this weekend.

I have to admit that I actually have come to like the PACG system a lot. It took a little while for me to make the transition from an actual board to location decks; and, there is not really any type of tactical movement in PACG - just moving between locations. However, the card mechanics are truly excellent. With all the ways that cards can be used, as well as the push-your-luck aspect (do I just reveal this sword to get +1d8, or discard it to get +2d8?) makes every dice roll a nail biter.

But, I digress - this thread is for LU. I am glad to hear that the repetition factor is not as great as I originally thought. And LU is rich with tactical decisions, which is what my group loves in a game.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Phil Thompson
United Kingdom
Unspecified
flag msg tools
gbeason wrote:
Right, Shadrach, on the +1 difference in 3d6 systems. That's what I was trying to convey with the examples on percentages.

I actually became a fan of 3d6 with the Dragon Age RPG, the first RPG that I played that used 3d6. It made for a lot less "swingy" game than d20.


Hero System had me using 3d6 in erm.. 1980?

Ever since then I've been arguing its merits to d20 fans (along with non-class based systems).

The half target crit also worked really well i.e. hit on 12 or less crit on 6 or less (but always on a 3 with 18 an auto-fumble).

3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kev Young
United Kingdom
flag msg tools
publisher
Avatar
mbmb
Wow!

I just wanted to say thanks to you for sticking with us on the journey and making these comments.

Thank you!

'This is a cool system. And I see ways that they do a lot more with it without making it more complex. Ways to add more narrative, more variety.'

That is entirely what the ASID expansion is about, delivering this - more things to do, interact with and see. More world building, more narrative, more cultures...

basically more everything.

Thanks again!
Cheers
Kev
IG
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
corum irsei
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Excellent review, thanks!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.