Chris J Davis
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Hi there,

I've already house-ruled the living daylights out of RtL in order to rebalance it more to my liking and I'd like to publish a full compilation of these house rules to BGG. However one change that I've made involves modification to the dice, which I think most people would (understandably) take objection to, so I've tried to come up with an alternative that still retains essentially the same game effect but without the need for taking a paintbrush to the dice; let me know if you think this would work...

The two objectives of this variant (as the subject line says) are:

* To reduce the heroes' power at higher campaign levels (though keep their power relatively constant at lower campaign levels, and

* To make weapons that utilise yellow dice more desirable to be on par with weapons that use green dice.

(Please keep in mind that this house rule is intended to be used in conjunction with other house rules that will give the heroes a boost during copper, keeping the overall power balance the same but just more evenly spread throughout the campaign).

So - the rules:

Accuracy

The OL may spend threat in order to reduce the strength of a hero's power dice after they have been rolled in an attack. The cost for the OL to do this is determined by the highest-rolled range on any one non-power die in the attack. This value is known as the attack's accuracy.

Example 1: a hero rolls red-green-green. The range values on each die are 0-1-1. The hero's accuracy will be 1.

Example 2: a hero rolls white-green-yellow. The range values on the dice are 1-0-2. The hero's accuracy will be 2.

The attack's accuracy is how much threat the OL must spend to reduce the strength of a gold power dice by 1 point. 1 point of strength means:

1 surge, or
1 point from an enhancement.

The cost to reduce the strength of a silver power die is +1 that of a gold die. The cost to reduce the strength of a black die is +2 that of a gold die.

Note that this means that if a hero rolls 0 range on his attack (from non-power dice) then all of his gold dice are automatically nullified (as the cost to reduce strength is zero).

Thoughts?
 
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Chris J Davis
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Actually, I've just realised that the variant doesn't make sense without also explaining exactly in what way the heroes have been given a boost at copper level, so here goes:

Variable Threat

The amount of threat the OL receives each turn is determined by the campaign level and the current dungeon level the heroes are exploring;

At copper level, the OL receives 1 threat/turn on the first level of the dungeon. Each additional level down grants an additional +1 threat/turn.

Each successive campaign level grants an additional +1 threat per turn.

(So on the fourth level of a legendary area during gold campaign level, the OL will be receiving 6 threat/turn).
 
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Ger Lam
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wouldn't that basically tempt heroes to get mostly silver dice and then pump up their skills/secred training etc? as in, change upgrade behaiviour to get 4 silver dice and everything else, then start upgrading to gold? In that way, for range 0 it also costs something, for range 1 it's already double the cost of gold, and for higher values it's just not economic...?

I think it's a good idea, i am just wondering if it's main effect won't be to change hero priorities?

As for the threat idea, i actually like it, i am just afraid i'd get bored early on, especially if they are doing one level, farming the second for chests/treasures and then bail out before i could do significant damage. Imho 1 threat per turn doesn't give you many options to be nasty, early on. Later, sure, but the overlord may never quite recover from extreme early misfortune(if the heroes get ahead, xp and equipment-wise, while your first monster upgrade still awaits...)

Actually i have not played it often enough to try and houserule something myself, but up to now, i see a main problem with piercing.
I think i'll allow the overlord to buy partial ironskin upgrades, that is, 1 threat for (campaign level) unpiercable armor. so in gold level, for 2 threat, up to 6 of a monsters armor points are not affected by pierce(note that the armor rating does not increase, so any excess is wasted).
In addition, (campaign level) wounds may be ignored per attack. (This will replace my overlord "special power". Early on and for low-armor units, thats useless, but for heavy hitters and strong-armored late-game guys, that should add some survivability.

And moving big creatures via telekinesis costs 1 extra fatigue per space they occupy beyond 1.
I am looking to make theoretically strong guys like a giant or dragon really have a shot at surviving through 2 or 3 rounds of battle. And having a 9 armor that is not piercable and ignoring the first 3 damage should just about do that.

If those things seem extreme: To boost heroes through the early stages, i'll allow them to hand-pick their team and starting skills. No random useless draws, no overly squishy characters(because i would over and over kill them, lessening the fun for all involved).
 
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Chris J Davis
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Changing hero priorities isn't really a concern of mine. Hero priorities can change as much as they want, providing life is less miserable for the OL at gold level.

I thought about the point you made while I was developing the variant, and came to the conclusion that the heroes upgrading predominantly to silver first wouldn't be such a bad thing; the OL won't be able to afford to spend threat on *every* attack, so if the heroes don't upgrade to gold then it's like the OL has reduced their power on *every* attack, not just the ones that he chooses to spend threat on.

Unfortunately, I know that this variant isn't ideal - the heroes are simply too powerful at gold level and the OL shouldn't need to spend *anything* to reduce that power - but it was the best I could think of (without painting on the dice).

We actually used the variable threat idea in our last campaign and it works like a (dark) charm. The OL isn't bored during copper at all. Remember, he's not receiving *just* 1 threat/turn - he's receiving the threat from all the useless cards he's discarding as well (of which in RtL there are many), which is quite a significant amount. It mostly just means that the OL has to cut down on the number of spawns he performs earlier in the campaign.

I wouldn't allow the heroes to pick their team and starting skills precisely for the reason that it would mean that the same very small pool of heroes and skills would be chosen every time. One of the main objectives of my variants is to make sure that *all* components in the game, whether heroes, skills, OL cards, items, etc have near-equal usefulness or at the very least receive near-equal *use*. This is the reason why I have tied yellow die weapons into this variant - to make them more desirable and on par with green die weapons.
 
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bleached_lizard wrote:
if the heroes don't upgrade to gold then it's like the OL has reduced their power on *every* attack, not just the ones that he chooses to spend threat on


er, thats the point i am trying to make. If they upgrade the dice via fatigue or just pop a power potion for critical rolls, but instead of buying gold dice, actually have more skills and secret training active, then their power hasn't been reduced, at all. At worst, if they bought gold power dice, they didn't have XP for a skill or two...not that they got those 2 extra skills, they can STILL roll gold dice, and fatigue is quite easily spent on that(maybe with an added secret fatigue training they wouldn't otherwise afford). Thats what i meant with changing priorities, but not reducing power. If necessary, they can still roll their gold dice, but in addition, when they'd be overkill, they still have some extra skills at their disposal.


bleached_lizard wrote:
We actually used the variable threat idea in our last campaign and it works like a (dark) charm. The OL isn't bored during copper at all. Remember, he's not receiving *just* 1 threat/turn - he's receiving the threat from all the useless cards he's discarding as well (of which in RtL there are many), which is quite a significant amount.


True, that, the useless cards add some threat, but i'd be really interested in how this would work out for you against a blitzing hero team. As mentioned, only level 1 done, one run through level 2 to fetch stuff, exit dungeon. Reducing threat-income by effectively 3/turn would, in my opinion, further empower the already-powerful strat of early blitzing in copper, against a sufficiently potent group, i'd doubt you'd get many kills in, if at all, since some damage needs to add up, and by cutting back on threat income, it's that much easier to run back and heal up for a turn, since the pressure is not high and by level 2, you're just running and taking stuff before fleeing anyway.

bleached_lizard wrote:
I wouldn't allow the heroes to pick their team and starting skills precisely for the reason that it would mean that the same very small pool of heroes and skills would be chosen every time.


well, in my game group, people are actually trying to diversify, they wouldn't do that because things would get boring. Honestly, most of the crucial skills, they'll try to fetch in-game anyway. So why not add a choosen starting skill to that mix, since there's only so many skills, you will still get to see new combinations used, and occasionally new skills tried out in a build. As for the characters, my game group also has different "wants" and playstyles, and swapping roles between campaigns almost ensures a new set of characters will be used, as 2 players will see 2 different "tanks" as fitting to their playstyle, and their choice of skills, same for mages and ranged. as long as your group is not ALL about min-maxing everything and optimizing stuff, but rather about playing for FUN(which is important) and doing the best they are able to while trying out some new stuff(always the same gets boring fast), it shouldn't be a problem. I suppose it really depends on the group though, but if i was a player, i wouldn't want to play an exact clone of our old party sniper in a new campaign. Just make sure roles are swapped, if i grew fond of my character, i may try it again, having grown attached to my build. If i was a mage and now play a tank, i'm going for something new...
 
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Chris J Davis
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I kinda see what you mean... The problem is, however, that I've also implemented house rules to keep the heroes' fatigue expenditure under control (basically, any fatigue recovered this turn can only be used next turn). So no blitzing levels and no super power boosts to attack rolls.

I guess any discussion of this variant is a little difficult without the broader context of what it is supposed to fit into!

As for the issue of diversifying, you said:

Quote:
Honestly, most of the crucial skills, they'll try to fetch in-game anyway. So why not add a choosen starting skill to that mix,


The point is that with the variants I use, there are no "crucial" skills. Each skill is just as useful in its own right. It's more to do with how you combine them or use them situationally. I want to make Descent the best competative game I can, rather than a game that is played "just for fun" (I know that makes it sound awfully dry, but I think you know what I mean). There is no "min/maxing" as such because, unlike in the base rules, there are no obvious "max" skills or weapons. I've tried to do my best to level each option for the heroes (and the OL) out so that a much greater range of customisation is possible while still allowing each player to remain competative. For example:

* Telekenesis nerfed by the above-mentioned fatigue variant as well as basing fatigue expenditure on base size.

* Rapid Fire/Gauntlets combo nerfed by above mentioned fatigue variant.

* Grapple nerfed by allowing figures a chance to break free based on their melee dice or base size.

* Yellow die weapons (of all types) boosted by basing chance-to-miss on rolled range rather than all weapons having a 1-in-6 chance to miss by rolling an X.

* Heroes with their starting melee dice split between the three traits boosted by having dice in each trait also convey additional properties (such as the above mentioned chance to break free from grapple).

* Treachery cards randomised, meaning the OL may have to choose the weaker cards earlier in the campaign and will more likely only see the more powerful ones later in the campaign.

* Tamalir rush nerfed by removing the raze Tamalir win condition (and have it confer a bonus to the OL instead).

There can be a *lot* more variety in this game than just changing between a mage and a tank.
 
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Jeff Long
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Greetings, Mr. Davis,
Returning to a moment to your original subject, I'll offer my comments.

It seems to me that the two goals of 'reducing Hero power at Gold level' and 'making yellow dice more useful' are not really necessarily related in any way, and while it's fine to try and fix both at once, I'm not sure this is the easiest way to do it.

As a simple example, in RtL as written, the Longspear is a vastly superior Gold-level weapon when compared to the Frost Axe, in spite of the fact the former rolls a yellow die instead of a green. Perhaps you have done some balancing of the Gold weapons as well - this is something I've been working on myself and so it stands to reason perhaps you are too (since 'comprehensive' is probably an understatement in describing your house-ruling efforts).

As to the actual mechanism, I must say I myself don't like making a change that extends the sequence of events. This is the case for the change you suggest, in that after EVERY single Hero attack, the Overlord now has decisions to make. In my group at least, adding this extra decision point (which would come up often between 4 to 8 times per turn) would significantly extend the length of the game. In many cases the decision would be trivial (either because the Overlord doesn't have the threat, or because spending it would achieve nothing due to overkill, or would achieve nothing due to underkill), but this has to be figured out on every attack. In my view, this is too much 'figuring out' for what is usually an uninteresting decision.

If the goal is to make yellow-die weapons more useful, I would prefer a simpler and more direct way of doing it that doesn't add decision points to the game. Presumably the decision point you WANT to make more interesting is which weapon to use, and this point already exists, it's just the decision often isn't that interesting.

If I were to offer a suggestion myself, it would be something along the lines of "If after rolling an attack, the total Range on the attack is less than the monster's Speed, the monster may roll the stealth die, with the attack missing on an X result." Perhaps a little extreme at copper level, where an axe will usually be undershooting the range even on Beastmen, but that's the idea (and besides, surplus Power Enhancements can always be used as "range" meaning that the 'overkill' on an axe actually becomes relevant).
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The_Immortal wrote:
Greetings, Mr. Davis,


Howdy! Long time, no squeak. meeple

The_Immortal wrote:


Returning to a moment to your original subject, I'll offer my comments.

It seems to me that the two goals of 'reducing Hero power at Gold level' and 'making yellow dice more useful' are not really necessarily related in any way, and while it's fine to try and fix both at once, I'm not sure this is the easiest way to do it.

As a simple example, in RtL as written, the Longspear is a vastly superior Gold-level weapon when compared to the Frost Axe, in spite of the fact the former rolls a yellow die instead of a green. Perhaps you have done some balancing of the Gold weapons as well - this is something I've been working on myself and so it stands to reason perhaps you are too (since 'comprehensive' is probably an understatement in describing your house-ruling efforts).




I have in a way, though I came at it from the other direction: I painted over some of the surge icons on the silver and gold power dice.

The_Immortal wrote:
As to the actual mechanism, I must say I myself don't like making a change that extends the sequence of events. This is the case for the change you suggest, in that after EVERY single Hero attack, the Overlord now has decisions to make. In my group at least, adding this extra decision point (which would come up often between 4 to 8 times per turn) would significantly extend the length of the game. In many cases the decision would be trivial (either because the Overlord doesn't have the threat, or because spending it would achieve nothing due to overkill, or would achieve nothing due to underkill), but this has to be figured out on every attack. In my view, this is too much 'figuring out' for what is usually an uninteresting decision.


This is actually probably the best argument for not using this variant. You're right; I have trouble enough deciding whether to use a Dodge card or not. If I had to make this choice after every single roll, I'd go crazy!

The system I use at home involves a series of additional symbols painted on the non-power dice called "fumbles" (they look like small "miss" icons). They're usually painted only on the die faces that deal the highest damage. These are not only counted and compared to rolled (non-power dice) range to determine if the attack misses or not, but for each fumble rolled the heroes (and only the heroes - not the OL*) must remove one die from their "dice pool" (to borrow a term from WoW:TBG). Usually the die to be removed is obvious, as power dice that rolled blank can be removed, followed by any black enhancement, etc. This is quite a straightforward system that involves only minimal decision making, and it was this that I was trying to emulate with the threat/accuracy system.

* (The OL doesn't remove dice as the big difference between the heroes and the OL is that the heroes roll a ton of power dice and the monsters don't).

The_Immortal wrote:
If the goal is to make yellow-die weapons more useful, I would prefer a simpler and more direct way of doing it that doesn't add decision points to the game. Presumably the decision point you WANT to make more interesting is which weapon to use, and this point already exists, it's just the decision often isn't that interesting.


Exactly.

The_Immortal wrote:
If I were to offer a suggestion myself, it would be something along the lines of "If after rolling an attack, the total Range on the attack is less than the monster's Speed, the monster may roll the stealth die, with the attack missing on an X result." Perhaps a little extreme at copper level, where an axe will usually be undershooting the range even on Beastmen, but that's the idea (and besides, surplus Power Enhancements can always be used as "range" meaning that the 'overkill' on an axe actually becomes relevant).


Hmmm... I like the idea... but with all these ideas you're "not allowed" to include power dice in the equation, as power dice grow in strength as the campaign progresses, meaning that this would actually make the heroes *weaker* during copper and *stronger* during gold. And as you say, if you *don't* include the power dice, then a melee hero will find it impossible to hit a Beastman.
 
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bleached_lizard wrote:
I kinda see what you mean... The problem is, however, that I've also implemented house rules to keep the heroes' fatigue expenditure under control (basically, any fatigue recovered this turn can only be used next turn). So no blitzing levels and no super power boosts to attack rolls.

I guess any discussion of this variant is a little difficult without the broader context of what it is supposed to fit into!

As for the issue of diversifying, you said:

Quote:
Honestly, most of the crucial skills, they'll try to fetch in-game anyway. So why not add a choosen starting skill to that mix,


The point is that with the variants I use, there are no "crucial" skills. Each skill is just as useful in its own right. It's more to do with how you combine them or use them situationally. I want to make Descent the best competative game I can, rather than a game that is played "just for fun" (I know that makes it sound awfully dry, but I think you know what I mean). There is no "min/maxing" as such because, unlike in the base rules, there are no obvious "max" skills or weapons. I've tried to do my best to level each option for the heroes (and the OL) out so that a much greater range of customisation is possible while still allowing each player to remain competative. For example:

* Telekenesis nerfed by the above-mentioned fatigue variant as well as basing fatigue expenditure on base size.

* Rapid Fire/Gauntlets combo nerfed by above mentioned fatigue variant.

* Grapple nerfed by allowing figures a chance to break free based on their melee dice or base size.

* Yellow die weapons (of all types) boosted by basing chance-to-miss on rolled range rather than all weapons having a 1-in-6 chance to miss by rolling an X.

* Heroes with their starting melee dice split between the three traits boosted by having dice in each trait also convey additional properties (such as the above mentioned chance to break free from grapple).

* Treachery cards randomised, meaning the OL may have to choose the weaker cards earlier in the campaign and will more likely only see the more powerful ones later in the campaign.

* Tamalir rush nerfed by removing the raze Tamalir win condition (and have it confer a bonus to the OL instead).

There can be a *lot* more variety in this game than just changing between a mage and a tank.


oh, i completely agree with that last statement, as a matter of fact, i am in the process of creating my own campaign map(with a more extensive campaign, that has the heroes actually complete quests instead of only trying to become stronger for a showdown...here they'll have to actually work for the possibility to have a showdown...while the overlord has it a lot harder to win "on the map", but has several options at his disposal to delay the heroes, e.g. upgrading critical dungeons(+1 level, +1 power card in play from the start)), adding custom upgrades for monsters(similar to the beastlords bloodlust, but available to all overlords, and for all monsters) and the idea of overlord-items(that is, add basic shop upgrades for monsters by buying "item points" similar to treachery upgrade).
The basic idea of this total conversion is that roles will be reversed...the overlord, if given sufficient time, will strenghten his hordes and fortify his position to a level that even gold heroes will have difficultie to prevail against, so the heroes will have to hurry up with their questing and reduce the overlords power as early as possibly.(e.g. 2 dark strongholds that give the overlord 1 XP per week, count as critical dungeons(upgradeable) and can be "razed" by the heroes by completing them).
All in all, lots of ideas will go into that.

I also see that with all the houseruling you do, it's quite likely things work out, but i still believe that it's an "complete package", just taking single aspects out and offering them somewhere else may not produce results as good as in your modification package, for reasons stated above. If you did manage to "equalize" skills around to make them all worthwhile, i'm all the more surprised you will always see the same combinations...maybe some more nerfing needs to be done if your heros would still choose exactly the same skills?

As for "for fun" vs. min-maxing, you are right, i do understand. As mentioned above, i myself have a very ambitious project going that i hope will up the immersion(for both parties, as quests and strategic sub-goals are more "immersive" for me than rumors and impartial town razing.) and add more competitive play. Still, the more important aspect is that they are playing "for fun", otherwise i couldn't even get my group to even try this homebrew, let alone make adaptions to it on-the-fly(which during a first run-through will probably become a necessity to balance things out.

anyway, good luck to you, but i'd still say you need the complete package to have it work successfully, same as i couldn't throw out my map without changing everything else around it to make it work.
 
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Jeff Long
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bleached_lizard wrote:

Hmmm... I like the idea... but with all these ideas you're "not allowed" to include power dice in the equation, as power dice grow in strength as the campaign progresses, meaning that this would actually make the heroes *weaker* during copper and *stronger* during gold. And as you say, if you *don't* include the power dice, then a melee hero will find it impossible to hit a Beastman.


I see your point and agree; but that's why I said I don't know if trying to lump "make yellow dice useful" and "reduce hero power at Gold" together under the same change is the easiest way to go. My basic suggestion was indeed entirely for "making yellow dice useful" and ignoring the other aspect about progressive Hero power levels. Anyway, just thought I'd throw that out there, and maybe you can figure out a way to work out the basic idea the way you want; or maybe it's easier to just keep it simple and reduce the Heroes' power-level at Gold in some other way.

I've been thinking about accomplishing the latter just by making monsters tougher later in the game; say, adding a couple of very cheap Avatar upgrade cards that read something like "Play only at Gold level. All monsters gain +1 Fear." If you're actively painting over symbols on dice, it probably amounts to much the same effect.
 
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Chris J Davis
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Maybe the easiest way to reduce the heroes' power later in the campaign is to say that the heores must remove any one rolled die from their dice pool at silver level, and any two at gold level. It's not a very satisfying solution, but it might be necessary...
 
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Why not keep it simple. We will try maybe this rule next time:

Copper: no new rule
Silver: All Heroes have -1 surge with every attack (does not mean, that the attack fail when you have no surges)
Gold: same as silver, but -2 surges




 
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I wonder if most of these changes or suggestions are as needed anymore after seeing the changes from SoB?
 
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