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Subject: Heroes struggling to survive Copper rss

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Mike Cooper
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My heroes just quit the Copper campaign for the 3rd time, and this time it looks like R:tL may hit the shelf. We're playing with all the expansions.

The cause of their frustration is that I (as the OL) went the Sorcerer King + Snipers + Silver Eldritch route and even with near-optimal copper level equipment they feel they have no chance in dungeons already and it will only get worse from now on till Silver.

The latest dungeon was King of the Mountain. After spawning even more skeletons (twice), I had every skeleton figure on the board which resulted in a near-party wipe despite dodge orders everywhere and stealth potions.

I guess what my players are wondering is how the heroes are supposed to cope with Silver Eldritch monsters. I do not think I'm all that as an Overlord - I can see some mistakes that the heroes are making but honestly they don't seem that awful. They haven't been "forcing" dungeons to level 3, etc. They did not get a fantastic hero draw but again, it's not the worst they could get.

Sorcerer King: 40/50 CP (Snipers, Silver Eldritch, 1 Event Treachery)

Heroes: 24 CP (Magic Boat)

Shiver: Bane, Quick Casting, Elven Robe, Ghost Armour, Bag of Holding
Okaluk & Rakash: Leadership, Ripper, (Sword), Heavy Leather, Shield
Brother Glyr: Knight, Dragontooth Hammer, Platemail
Karnon: Shadow Soul, Furr the Spirit Wolf, Leviathan, (Axe), Chain Mail, Ring of Protection

Edit: I figured I would add a quick description of the latest dungeon. King of the Mountain (21): the map has different elevation sections sloping towards the middle and standing on the centre for 4 turns opens the door. I choose 2x Ogre (copper) + Sorcerer (silver) + 2x Skeleton (silver), figuring that the Ogres are a useful threat due to the pits and will draw fire away from my more valuable Eldritch.

I place all the monsters behind the central square & the master skeleton leader except 1 Ogre.

Turn 1: heroes move up, readying dodge & guard actions. Notably, Shiver has a guard action.

I gain 5 threat to 15, discard Danger for 10 more and play Evil Genius, figuring that even if they survive this dungeon the accumulated threat and cards will deny them level 2.

Skeletons file onto the centre square and off it again, taking long-range shots at Shiver and damaging him severely (down to 4, no fatigue either due to Ghost Armour). We have a debate about whether the multiple difference in elevation level stacks range and damge on this level. In the end, we decide it's really unclear but you just get +1/+1 or -1/-1 on range/damage no matter what if the elevation is different.

Turn 2: Brother Glyr Battles, activates Knight and obliterates the Ogre. Okaluk & Rakash move up and dodge. Shiver runs back to the glyph and dodges (but forgets to drink a stamina potion to refill the ghost armour). Karnon moves out of line of sight, moving up Shadow Soul to prep for teleporting in next turn and dodges.

I spawn in 1x master skeleton & 2x skeleton. Zillions of skeletons take shots at Shiver to finish the job, but can't quite do it till I Charge the last one up to point-blank (i.e. 1 for elevation, 2 for Sniper, 2 for Silver skeleton) range and punch through for the kill. Shiver only has a Wizards Robe at this point so the skeletons ignore his armour completely.

Turn 3: Brother Glyr runs up, falls in a pit and staggers out to kill a skeleton that overextended to shoot at Shiver. Karnon switches with Shadow Soul, uses 2 stamina to move onto the platform, readies a Dodge and clobbers the leader, playing a Killing Blow for a total of 19 damage. Furr the Spirit Wolf deals the lethal blow, but the double undying roll brings the skeleton back up anyway. Okaluk & Rakash move up in front of Karnon to block the other Ogre and dodges. Shiver goes shopping in Tamalir and acquires an Elven Robe.

The ogre moves up, swings AND HITS THROUGH STEALTH AND DODGE to knock Okaluk right next to the sorcerer (who's standing on the glyph) and into a pit for an additional point. Swarms of skeletons run onto the central platform and shoot Karnon for a ton of damage, even through his dodge, bringing him to ~5 health. Okaluk has bad luck with his stealth for some reason - last dungeon 6 skeleton shots in a row hit through stealth to kill him.

Turn 4: Shiver returns from town, moves up & dodges. Karnon downs a stealth potion, dodges and puts a dent in something or other. Brother Glyr moves over and kills the other ogre.
I discard some cards for threat, pay 19 and spawn 3 more skeletons. Okaluk & Rakash ready a dodge and shoot the sorcerer point blank with Ripper, mildly annoying it. Skeletons rain arrows on Karnon and eventually kill him. Shiver is pincushioned for a bunch of damage too.

And this would be the point that the heroes folded... looking at a grand total of 400 gold and no CP for the dungeon vs. the OL with 10+ CP, even assuming they can flee without more casualties.

I got pretty lucky with 2 skeleton spawn cards & hitting through stealth and dodge orders. But the heroes feel they have no chance - the hit-n-run skeleton snipers are destroying their heavy melee, Shiver is a walking archery target and they don't feel like things will get better till they can get their greedy claws on Silver treasures.

Are my heroes quitting too quickly? Is the Nanok/Talia/etc party draw the only chance for the heroes? Should they have gone with early secret training, and that's why they're having so much trouble?
 
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Agustin Kapuno
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Are they working together? Are they going for the objective as soon as they can or are they hanging around too long? Are you using the monster spawning rules in RTL? There is a big discrepancy in CPs. The heroes should be ahead or almost even with the Overlord in Copper level to have a chance.

I would advise talking to your players and correcting the errors you have observed. On the other hand, you can take it easy on them for the next encounters and let them catch up. Remember, YOU WANT THEM TO GET TO THE FINAL BATTLE unless you are bent on finishing the game early. The final battle is the only time you get to play with your Overlord figure and have some fun so you want the game to end there. Whether you win or lose is less important than everybody having fun and a memorable final boss battle.
 
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Mike Cooper
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Yeah, they're working together. And we're using the 15-threat-after-the-first-spawn RTL rules. In this dungeon in particular, after I played 1st-turn Evil Genius and 5 threat per turn from the Sorcerer King's special, I was gaining threat really fast.

In the previous 2 campaigns, the heroes were falling into the standard trap of not fleeing impossible dungeons, going too slow, getting overly greedy and so on, but this campaign they haven't been doing that.

We've been discussing the play after dungeons, but perhaps I could do a better job of pointing out mistakes the heroes make. This time, I think at least one and perhaps two of the deaths were preventable and I did mention it. The heroes could also have used line of sight a little better to put 2 obstacles (a player and rubble, most likely) in front of Shiver so he didn't get sniped to death so easily.

Strategically, this party of heroes are lacking in ranged damage capability and so the hit-and-run skeletons are making it really hard for them. It seems like they are spending their whole time dodging and dying anyway - they can't use run orders and move up really fast without just instantly dying.

Having to take it easy on the heroes seems kind of weak, honestly - I'd rather both sides were giving it their all. From everything I've read, it seems like the heroes are virtually guaranteed to win if they can reach Gold without losing Tamalir. I don't think a foregone conclusion is necessarily that much fun for either side. I suspect RTL with strong play will most often be resolved via a Tamalir raze at the beginning of Silver, or a OL concession/final battle in Gold.
 
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Bill Allen
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I'm overlording my first campaign as the Spider Queen.

I absolutely owned the adventurers through copper and well into silver.

Then it happened.

They're (silver) equipment finally balanced itself out across all the adventurers. They started running away from any dungeon with a significant number of (gold) beasts, and relished the dungeons with my (silver) eldritch and (copper) humanoids. They then managed to get their silver secret training.

We've just hit gold and at least my beasts are now diamond. Now to get the humanoids and eldritch up ... while also preparing for the final battle.
 
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Corbon Loughnan
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Clamatius wrote:

I do not think I'm all that as an Overlord


But you are freakishly lucky! (at least in this dungeon)

Quote:
...I gain 5 threat to 15, discard Danger for 10 more and play Evil Genius,... I spawn in 1x master skeleton & 2x skeleton... The ogre moves up, swings AND HITS THROUGH STEALTH AND DODGE... spawn 3 more skeletons.


So lets see. An excellent Eldritch dungeon, especially for the sorcerer king with snipers...
The PERFECT start for the OL. You cannot possibly ask for more than Danger + Evil Genius in your first 4 cards...
Followed by your best spawn card. There are probably 6 important cards in the deck for you. Evil Genius, Danger, Skeletons x2, Sorcerers and Dark Charm. In that order (Danger is most important when attached to Evil Genius). You have 1 and 2 in your first 4 cards. You have 1-3 in your first 7 cards. You have 1-4 in your first 13 cards. This is in a 48 card deck.
AND you can hit through stealth+dodge? (my OL claims it is impossible, he's done it once out of about 20 attacks, and reckons that was an accident).

Aide: This man deserves a promotion. He is brave, intelligent, resourceful, heroic and skilled.
Napoleon: Is he lucky?


Quote:
They did not get a fantastic hero draw but again, it's not the worst they could get.

Shiver: Bane, Quick Casting, Elven Robe, Ghost Armour, Bag of Holding
Okaluk & Rakash: Leadership, Ripper, (Sword), Heavy Leather, Shield
Brother Glyr: Knight, Dragontooth Hammer, Platemail
Karnon: Shadow Soul, Furr the Spirit Wolf, Leviathan, (Axe), Chain Mail, Ring of Protection


It is not the worst, but it is a pretty crap choice. In fact, it might just be the worst combination I've seen the more I look at it.
Shiver is not particularly good in RtL as his Aura is much less useful. Every other Mage, including Mok and Sahla, is more useful than Shiver (largely because even the weaker ones only cost 2CT).
Brother Glyr is a weak hero IMO because he is just too vulnerable to traps and being picked off by skeletons and other piercers. He is possibly worthwhile against some Avatars, but his weakness is the CT he will give up, and when that's a party theme, you have a big, big problem. He is also slow, and most of the time speed is life in RtL.
Karnon is also a walking CT bonus for the OL (16/1 for 4CT). I'm playing with him at the moment, but only because he was the only melee character/tank I drew so there was no real choice. Once again you have a weakness that is compounded by the other heroes.
Next, you have only 1 mage and no archers. So the party is massively hamstrung equipment wise, and even more massively hamstrung in it's capability to clear out annoying monsters.
Next, I hope Furr wasn't a trained for skill... Furr is far too weak in RtL, not worthwhile in almost any circumstance (unlike standard Descent). Shadow Soul is acceptably good though (although I personally would prefer Boggs, and wouldn't take either vs the Skeleton Lord compared to many other possible skills).
Frankly, this lot were doomed, despite the presence of one of the games best heroes in Okaluk. This party is weaker than the sum of its weaknesses!

Important things in RtL vs Sorcerer King are AoE weapons (which means mages) or Cleave with a Reach weapon, and at least 2 specialist characters with an attack capabilty of at least 5 (preferably 3, though the third could be a melee guy using a AoE magic weapon). There are more creatures with good damage from long ranges and Soar is an issue to be aware of outdoors. You will also find that there is often a lot of annoying 'chaff' that is easy to kill, yet not entirely harmless. Thus the AoE weapons and Cleave/Reach ...

Quote:
But the heroes feel they have no chance - the hit-n-run skeleton snipers are destroying their heavy melee, Shiver is a walking archery target and they don't feel like things will get better till they can get their greedy claws on Silver treasures.

Are my heroes quitting too quickly? Is the Nanok/Talia/etc party draw the only chance for the heroes? Should they have gone with early secret training, and that's why they're having so much trouble?


Sure they are quitting too early. However this lot will be a pile of pain for the forseeable future and I wouldn't have started with anything like this. You could make a better party out of Mok, Validor, Bogran and Eliam for example, given a decent skill draw.
Get them a more rounded party, and pay attention to CT values and ease-of-kill (eg, don't take Laurel, even though she has the best damage potential in the game, because she will bleed CT like a slashed femoral artery).
Then acknowledge that once the OL gets to 25 CT, the next 300CT will be hard yakka, though with decent risk/reward analysis they should be able to stay within 2/3+ of the OL's CT total.

More than anything, it looks to me, from what you wrote and the choices by the heroes that have been implied, that your heroes are playing vanilla style without really adapting to the changed parameters of RtL. The game is different, subtly, but significantly.
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Corbon Loughnan
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JonasK wrote:
The heroes should be ahead or almost even with the Overlord in Copper level to have a chance.

YOU WANT THEM TO GET TO THE FINAL BATTLE unless you are bent on finishing the game early. The final battle is the only time you get to play with your Overlord figure and have some fun so you want the game to end there. Whether you win or lose is less important than everybody having fun and a memorable final boss battle.


The first part is so blatantly wrong I think it must be an error.
In order to have any chance whatsoever in the final battle, the OL needs to be up at least 3/2, preferable 2/1 in copper level.

But I don't see any reason to want to get to the final battle. Nearly all reports have the final battle as a huge let down, completely one sided, nearly always in favour of the heroes.

I don't see why a tight, hard fought campaign that ends in mid silver or early gold is any less fun than one that ends in an Avatar fight.
In mid gold I am now getting creamed in dungeons. My plan is basically a last gasp Tamalir Raze using the Dragon avatar that auto-razes with max treachery. I don't think it will work, but I think that Lt fight will give me more chance than my Avatar. After all, the Soaring dragon can avoid Melee attacks at least.
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Mike Cooper
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corbon wrote:
But you are freakishly lucky! (at least in this dungeon)
No, it's not just this dungeon. For me, undying pretty much does what it says. Better lucky than good, that's my theory.

corbon wrote:
It is not the worst, but it is a pretty crap choice. In fact, it might just be the worst combination I've seen the more I look at it.

Yeah, I thought their hero draw was pretty weak at the time. I can't remember exactly what it was - I'll ask them tomorrow & post it if they remember.

corbon wrote:
Get them a more rounded party, and pay attention to CT values and ease-of-kill (eg, don't take Laurel, even though she has the best damage potential in the game, because she will bleed CT like a slashed femoral artery).

They tried Laurel already. I forget whether it was campaign #1 or #2, but in a different thread I described Laurel as less of a CT leak and more of a decorative CT fountain.

corbon wrote:
More than anything, it looks to me, from what you wrote and the choices by the heroes that have been implied, that your heroes are playing vanilla style without really adapting to the changed parameters of RtL. The game is different, subtly, but significantly.

Ironically, they haven't really played much vanilla at all. Lack of experience is definitely a problem for them - but I haven't played much more than them, for that matter. One of my heroes has played more than me, for sure.

I would have played this particular dungeon pretty differently from the way the heroes did it - notably, making more use of hiding Shiver round walls to force skeletons out if they want to take a shot instead of just relying on dodge orders. I think that would probably have meant that Karnon made like a pincushion earlier instead, though.

Assuming the heroes aren't done with Descent altogether, I think we may play a round or two of vanilla as a palate cleanser and then see how they feel about RTL.
 
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Bryce K. Nielsen
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The key for the heroes is FLEE! A LOT! The strategy is called The Blitz. It works amazingly well. Go through one level of a dungeon, then flee. The deeper you go into a dungeon, the harder it is. The OL has more threat, more cards, Power cards in play, the heroes are damaged a bit, fewer potions, less fatigue, etc. So during Copper, you almost never go through a second level. Just do the first level and then flee.

In between dungeons TAKE YOUR TIME! Spend a few weeks in a row stocking up on potions, fully heal, and go through the store a few times. You can get *really* far by doing that, getting a lot of gold and only giving up a few CPs to the OL.

By blitzing, you can go through 5 to 10 dungeons before the OL even gets enough CP to upgrade his creatures. That should give your Heroes plenty of edge.

-shnar
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Corbon Loughnan
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Quote:
corbon wrote:
More than anything, it looks to me, from what you wrote and the choices by the heroes that have been implied, that your heroes are playing vanilla style without really adapting to the changed parameters of RtL. The game is different, subtly, but significantly.

Ironically, they haven't really played much vanilla at all. Lack of experience is definitely a problem for them - but I haven't played much more than them, for that matter. One of my heroes has played more than me, for sure.

I would have played this particular dungeon pretty differently from the way the heroes did it - notably, making more use of hiding Shiver round walls to force skeletons out if they want to take a shot instead of just relying on dodge orders. I think that would probably have meant that Karnon made like a pincushion earlier instead, though.

Assuming the heroes aren't done with Descent altogether, I think we may play a round or two of vanilla as a palate cleanser and then see how they feel about RTL.


Well, vanilla Descent has its own learning curve, but they deliberately designed the first few dungeons as easy for the heroes and to teach a few things. RtL is brutal.
However IME, with good players on both sides of the table it is a delicately balanced work of genius. However, one misstep by either side and the pain lasts for literally weeks of playing time (assuming not more than 24 hrs/wk!)

I suggest you play a fast start Gold Campaign as detailed on page 9. Make sure they choose both bronze and silver secret master upgrades for their heroes. As OL, you should spend your 200CT as well that is surely an oversight in the rules that you can't and they can), but don't buy anything you couldn't buy in bronze or silver level, and don't save any CT. You'll probably end up with something like 1 category Gold monsters (50CT), 1-2 category Silver monsters (30-60CT), 2-3 extra Lts (10-25CT), 3-6 Treachery of varying colours (say, 75ishCT), various odd bits like Focused (3-20CT) and maybe some of the Avatar upgrades (0-30CT).
That will let them see the potential in their heroes, play with the nice shiny gold items (plus a limited selection of the best Silver and bronze ones) and also hopefully learn about the speed game (once they use a fatigue potion on a 7+fatigue pot hero a couple of times the whole game will change dramatically).
They will also kick your butt pretty seriously I would think, but it shouldn't last too long. You also have a chance to play with some cool treachery and probably Diamond monsters at some stage.
I'd imagine more than anything else could, this will keep them keen on RtL as a game, unless it kills your interest!

A typical gold-start party will look something like this... (spends 10 minutes making one from scratch in a purpose built spreadsheet)

Varikas the Dead 20 6 2 3, 3Bl Melee, Start of turn gain 1F, Leadership, Cleaving, Taunt, Plate (AE), Ring of Protection (shop), Ag Reach melee, 1x Fatigue Potion
Runemaster Thorn 16 6 0 5, 1Ag3Bl Magic, 1/turn may use 5MP to teleport to any square in sight, Spiritwalker, Wild Talent, Quick Casting, AE Mage Robes, Ag Staff/Rune, Ghost Armour (shop), Aldars Mirror (Ag), 1x Fatigue Potion, 1x Power Potion
Okaluk and Rakash 16 7 0 9, 2Bl melee 1Bl Range, Stealth, Ox Tattoo, Acrobat, Swift, Tiger Tattoo, Heavy Leather (AE), Hammer (shop), Shield (shop), Ripper (AE), 2x Fatigue Potion
Vyrah the Falconer 16 6 1 4, 1Ag3Bl Range 1Bl Magic, Skye - if adjacent enemy gets -1Ar, no dodge, no aim, Lucky, Eagle Eye, Rapid Fire, Chainmail (shop), Bow of the Hawk (Ag), Mirror Shield (Ag), Gauntlet of Power (AE), 2x Fatigue Potion

Note that this is a weaker hero party than you would expect starting gold, in terms of equipment (a lot weaker) but about the right strength in terms of skills and traits (could be better, could be worse).
It still has the extreme obscenity that is Okaluk though... 31 MP if using a fatigue pot when running, immune to obstacles, unblockable, un grapple-able and then at the end Varikas drops a dodge order on him to go with the stealth and you need to get 16 wounds through... gulp

PS This sort of cherry picking skills is why it is so important for the OL to be putting pressure on the heroes by actually trying to win on the mapboard and making them sacrifice some of their options in order to not lose.
 
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Nathaniel GOUSSET
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You have one of the hardest OL Avatar with the nicest monster combo. The frustration of the heroes is understandable. Eldritch Silver are already very hard... especially all thoses immortal reds, and Sniper only make it easier for you.

There is some dungeons that's not even thinkable of doing against thoses, Arena by example. Also killing a red silver is a tremendous task with average copper gear, having him pass his immortal roll just make the thing very bad for the moral.

If you want to keep playing RtL I would suggest to halves all the cost in CP and gold and the campaign lenght... This way they player wont have to suffer the copper plague for too long and the OL advantage wont be too big when you reach silver...
 
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Mike Cooper
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corbon wrote:
I suggest you play a fast start Gold Campaign as detailed on page 9.

This is what we're going to do.

One question. In the RTL rules it says this:
RTL rules wrote:
Finally, the hero players, as a group, choose three
cities and/or secret masters, and may then purchase any training
they could receive at those locations.


Does that mean you have to use 2 of your picks to get the secret master locations for health & stamina upgrades? Or are those upgrades assumed?
 
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Corbon Loughnan
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Clamatius wrote:
corbon wrote:
I suggest you play a fast start Gold Campaign as detailed on page 9.

This is what we're going to do.

One question. In the RTL rules it says this:
RTL rules wrote:
Finally, the hero players, as a group, choose three
cities and/or secret masters, and may then purchase any training
they could receive at those locations.


Does that mean you have to use 2 of your picks to get the secret master locations for health & stamina upgrades? Or are those upgrades assumed?


1 pick would do it, unless you want one hero to have Spiritwalker while another has Rapid Fire or something similar.

Note that picking a location allows any hero to get any training they could get at that location. It's not one set of training. So for example, picking Olmric's Hut would allow your Shooter to get Rapid Fire and both Fatigue/Wound upgrades. Picking Frostgate would allow your runner to get both Swift and Tiger Tattoo, While your mage picks up Wild Talent and your Shooter Eagle Eye, for example.

It is actually a lot overpowered, the combos you can arrange for example, and the OL has always razed one or more cities before Gold starts. So when we trialled the Silver start scenario (and I rather like it) we let the heroes choose one location, then the OL raze any 1 city, then the heroes choose their other location. That is a more even start (for a Gold start it would be Heroes/OL/Heroes/OL/Heroes IMO) and more closely simulates a normal game. However since you are doing it as an experiment to keep your guys interested in RtL by seeing the potential, it is probably less important to try and keep a balance.
 
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Joey H
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Blast is a good way to kill those pesky skeletons. Even the town blast rune (sunburst I believe) can usually kill several silver skeletons after an average battle turn. The copper level treasures that use breath and blast can do even more.
 
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Mike Cooper
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True, providing the skeletons are nice enough to bunch up for some good blasting. My skeletons are rather shy and retiring. They prefer to hide in alcoves (closets not generally being available) and only come out briefly to fire.

I'll post the new hero party later on. They had a fairly weak skill draw - but I let them mulligan the first hero draw because it was astonishingly bad.

At the heroes' suggestion, we're trying the dungeon loadout variant that bleached_lizard posted:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/388248

One of our heroes had playtested it at home and said they really liked it.

I expect to get steamrolled unless the heroes make a lot of mistakes. We shall see.
 
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Mike Cooper
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Here's the setup for the Gold campaign.

Landrec: Spiritwalker, Necromancy, silver dice, +8 health, Drain Life, Elven Robe, Ghost Armor, Beastman Fetish, Pack of Holding, 2x stamina potion

Jaes: Leadership, Boggs the Rat, silver dice, +8 health, Ice Storm, Enchanted Breastplate, stealth potion

Trenloe: Knight, Unmovable, Taunt, +4 health, +2 stamina, Grinding Axe, Golden Armor, Ring of Protection, Gauntlets of Power, stealth potion, stamina potion

Silhouette: Lucky, +4 health, +2 stamina, Bow of Bone, Robe of Kellos, Elven Boots, 3x stamina potion

--
Titan: Obsidian Shackles, 2x Monster treachery, 1x Event treachery, 1x Trap treachery, Gold Humanoids, Silver Beasts, Silver Eldritch, Merick Farrow, Passing of a Legend, Thadd the Destroyer

The heroes have reserved a couple of thousand gold for shopping, IIRC.
 
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Corbon Loughnan
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Clamatius wrote:
Here's the setup for the Gold campaign.

Landrec: Spiritwalker, Necromancy, silver dice, +8 health, Drain Life, Elven Robe, Ghost Armor, Beastman Fetish, Pack of Holding, 2x stamina potion

Jaes: Leadership, Boggs the Rat, silver dice, +8 health, Ice Storm, Enchanted Breastplate, stealth potion

Trenloe: Knight, Unmovable, Taunt, +4 health, +2 stamina, Grinding Axe, Golden Armor, Ring of Protection, Gauntlets of Power, stealth potion, stamina potion

Silhouette: Lucky, +4 health, +2 stamina, Bow of Bone, Robe of Kellos, Elven Boots, 3x stamina potion

--
Titan: Obsidian Shackles, 2x Monster treachery, 1x Event treachery, 1x Trap treachery, Gold Humanoids, Silver Beasts, Silver Eldritch, Merick Farrow, Passing of a Legend, Thadd the Destroyer

The heroes have reserved a couple of thousand gold for shopping, IIRC.


That's an astonishingly weak set of upgrades IMO.

And saving a couple of thousand gold for shopping when you could have your pick of Silver and Bronze treasures instead is... wierd. You'll get gold treasures (and cash) from adventuring fast enough anyway, much better to be powered up and go faster from the start.

Your heroes biggest problem appears to be themselves. They just don't seem to be able to see past their play style to a wider (and better) range of options. Sorry, but there it is. Perhaps you should take the party I created from the same start below and run it against them (using the tactical advice) as I have described below in a one-off 'practice' dungeon. OL plays heroes, heroes collectively (or one, while the others watch or advise you both) play OL. Might be an interesting shock to their system!

They have powered up their weakest character the most (Trenloe) and ignored their strongest (Silhouette, who is about equal with Landrec) character.
I don't think they will learn as much as they could because they have created a party that takes advantage of few of the late-game hero strengths. They are still playing early bronze/vanilla with this party, style wise.

Lets see. Dawnsmoor 1x (Taunt), Forge 1x (Unmoveable), Frostgate 1x (Lucky), Nerekhall 1x (Necromancy), Riverwatch 1x (Boggs), Vynelvale 1x (Leadership), Shika's Tree 2x (Knight, Spiritwalker).

Since Lucky is Silhouette's only skill obviously that is a starting skill.
Necromancy must be a starting skill or you have too many different options (and its a weak skill anyway by comparison to others you could have chosen).
I'm guessing Leadership is Jaes starting skill because there are other good skills at that location not chosen, yet Boggs is the only one at his location worth choosing*.
Unmoveable/Taunt must be Trenloe's starting skill. I'll assume Taunt since you would have to be impossibly stupid not to give someone Acrobat if you trained at Dawnsmoor.

So here is an example of an infinitely better hero build from the same start...
Landrec + Necromancy; +4health +2fatigue (1250)
Jaes + Leadership; +4health +2fatigue (1250)
Trenloe + Unmoveable; +4health +2fatigue (1250)
Silhouette + Lucky; +4health +2fatigue (1250)

Picks for training: Frostgate, Shikas tree, Olmrics Hut.
Frostgate: Swift, Tiger Tattoo for Jaes (2500)
Shika's Tree: Spiritwalker for Landrec (1000), Knight for Trenloe (1000), bronze/silver upgrades for all
Olmric's Hut: Quick Casting for Landrec (1500), Rapid Fire for Silhouette (1000).
12000 spent so far.
Jaes is a tough runner.
Landrec is a mass killer, 3 attacks using spiritwalker
Trenloe is a tough bastard and can attack a lot as well.**
Silhouette is a mass killer, up to 8 attacks per turn if using a fatigue potion and a battle.
Silhouette and Jaes Landrec will get the most attacks (Trenloe's are limited to close range), so get priority on dice upgrades. Jaes' job is to run, and to support, so has least need of dice upgrades.
2x Silver, 1x Black for Landrec (2000)
2x Silver, 1x Black for Silhouette (2000)
1x Silver for Trenloe (750)
16750 spent
Scythe of Reaping, Archers Charm, Shield and Heavy Leather for Silhouette (500+250+25+250=1025)
Plate, Grinding Axe for Trenloe (250+500=750)
Bronze Wizards Robes, Silver Staff (fire?), Mana Weave, Aldars Mirror for Landrec (250+500+250+500=1500)
Chainmail, Ghost Armour, Hammer, Bronze Breath Rune, Ring of Protection, Shield for Jaes (100+150+100?+250+25+250=875)
20900spent
2x fatigue pot for silhouette
1x fatigue pot, 1x stealth pot for Jaes
2x fatigue pot for Landrec
21200 spent

Landrec: 16 7 0(3vs non melee) 3; Necromancy, Spiritwalker, Quick Casting, 2Ag2Bl trait dice; Wizards robes, Silver staff, Mana Weave, Aldars Mirror
function: Ready (move/guard) with 2 (quick casting) attacks through spiritwalker or three attacks (battling) against the big stuff. Attacks at WGY(?) with +4 surges and +2 Sorcery with surges = range or damage (nearly always damage). Average damage per attack approx 16-17 (x3)

Jaes: 16 7 2(5) 7; Leadership, Tiger Tattoo, Swift, 2Bl magic or 1 Bl melee trait dice; Chainmail, Ghost armour, Hammer, Bronze rune, shield
function: runs and loots the dungeons. Can Advance and use the hammer (knockback) to clear monsters from glyphs or chests. can withstand a lot of damage. Once he has cleared the important loot and is not in a great deal of danger then will support the others with Leadership (mostly Rests).

Trenloe: 20 5 2(5/6) 3; Unmoveable, Knight 1 Silver, 1 Black trait dice; Plate, Grinding Axe
function: advances as a tough 'body' for Landrec. Specialises in taking out the really tough stuff, with his 3 attacks + guard, once he gets close. Average damage approximately 10-12 Pierce 8-4

Silhouette: 16 7 1(3) 5; Lucky, Rapid Fire 2 Silver 2 Black Trait dice; Scythe of Reaping, Heavy Leather, Shield, Archers Charm
function: mass attacks, either on little stuff or concentrated. Average attack 14 pierce 4 (up to 8x, more often 4 times on an advance).

Jaes can run/advance forward on the first turn for looting and/or eliminating spawn locations (or better, activating forward glyphs).
If Jaes is able to activate a forward Glyph, then Silhouette probably goes to town first turn. Second turn she come out from the forward Glyph and slaughters everything!
Trenloe probably runs the first turn in each dungeon, trying to get far enough forward to limit some spawns and cover Landrec, who probably stays in the rear, preventing rear spawning and quite likely guarding ready to use Trenloe's spot.
Minor variations on this theme will cover most dungeon levels. A lot of levels can be cleaned out in 3 turns by this party, and there is not much it can't take on.

*And I guess since you knew they had Boggs you are still going exceptionally easy on them by choosing a Humanoid spawner and Spawn Treachery.
** Knight + Unmoveable is a cool combo. But it costs a lot of fatigue for characters who don't generally have as much, and is also limited on a melee character who has a lot of restrictions on his attack (basically, has to be standing beside the bad guys, yet doesn't have much movement). 3 attacks (could be 4, but a good OL will cancel the Gd attack somehow at least half the time) and a move sound great, but Rapid fire gives more attacks, which are more likely to be useable, far more often, and Quick Casting gives a mage 3 attacks if battling, or Readying (attack + Gd), and even better, 2 can be in OLs turn. You also find that the disparity in damage between melee and magic/range attacks lessens as you advance, and in particular, melee's adjacency limit becomes very significant (not to mention breath or blast attacks becoming extremely useful when they can do 12-15 damage each).
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Mike Cooper
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I see at least one thing we got wrong from the rules - we forgot the normal starting gold, so the heroes should have an extra 1200 gold to spend.
corbon wrote:
*And I guess since you knew they had Boggs you are still going exceptionally easy on them by choosing a Humanoid spawner and Spawn Treachery.

Correct. The Titan and Beastman Lord seem like the weakest Avatars to me. I deliberately chose the Titan because (a) I'd never normally pick it for a full-length campaign and (b) I figured it'd be easier for the heroes.

This is the first time I'd really gone over the Gold and Silver monster stats in much detail. I was surprised that Gold-level humanoids don't even get increased speed when their major issue will be getting close enough for a single hit.

As for the lack of Rapid Fire on Silhouette, well, let's just say it's not an accident that Olmric's Hut "accidentally" caught fire after they didn't choose it.

I think Necromancy and perhaps Boggs were starting skills, but I don't remember the others.

I'll make sure that the heroes see your post.
 
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Jeff Long
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Actually to me, it only took one glance at the Hero build to tell these are very, very novice players (not that this is a crime, as I am always quick to point out in these situations - merely a fact).

I'm even a little surprised at Corbon's builds, although they are of course much much better.

The simple litmus test is this: your heroes FAVORED health-over-fatigue from secret Master upgrades.

In reality, +2 Fatigue is FAR, FAR better than +4 health. Given the opportunity for 2 Secret Master upgrades, 99.9% of the time they should be +2 Fatigue x2. ONLY an 8-HP character should even consider the +4 health (and really probably only the dwarves), and even so, never more than once.

The telling thing isn't simply that the party is weak because of favoring health over fatigue; it's that the players aren't good enough to KNOW that +2 fatigue is orders of magnitude better than +4 health (*especially* on a slow-@ss character like Trenloe!!!). If they haven't grasped this truth, they must also be making a million tactical mistakes during their play as well.

In reality, it's not their fault to an extent - it's Kevin Wilson's fault. One would *expect* the game to provide players with somewhat balanced choices; in this case, however, the choice is pretty much completely degenerate. You could remove the +4 Health markers from the game and the optimal strategy basically wouldn't change. That's the true sign of a design mistake.
 
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Corbon Loughnan
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The_Immortal wrote:

In reality, +2 Fatigue is FAR, FAR better than +4 health. Given the opportunity for 2 Secret Master upgrades, 99.9% of the time they should be +2 Fatigue x2. ONLY an 8-HP character should even consider the +4 health (and really probably only the dwarves), and even so, never more than once.


I used to believe this but experience has taught me a number of things.

1. Once fatigue gets past 6-8, the extras are less valuable.
2. as long as most characters have at least 5 fatigue, only a couple need to aim at 7-8 and then you can still do dungeon levels in 3 turns comfortably.
3. If you don't upgrade wounds the Spider Queen will slaughter you (remember for a Silver/Gold Start OL picks Avatar after heroes are done).
4. one wound boost, assuming fatigue is already at suitable levels, makes an enormous difference in the OL getting kills. Much bigger than you'd expect. And that, makes and enormous difference in particular in how fast the OL can upgrade early (note I recommended that the OL not purchase anything he could not purchase in Silver level and not save any CT - thus giving the heroes the opportunity to still experience the blitz strategy), and what upgrades the OL can afford later.

This is the voice of experience speaking. Admittedly that is mostly experience 'with Telekinesis', which boosted the entire party, so the parameters are not quite the same and now probably favour the more fatigue theory slighty more than they did. However I would not dismiss wound upgrades so lightly any more.
 
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Corbon Loughnan
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corbon wrote:

Silhouette and Jaes Landrec will get the most attacks (Trenloe's are limited to close range), so get priority on dice upgrades. Jaes' job is to run, and to support, so has least need of dice upgrades.


Just a notable correction in case you have already printed it off to show your players.
 
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Jeff Long
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Corbon,
I don't doubt that Wound upgrades can reduce kills; but so too do Fatigue upgrades. Certainly at the very least the character with Ghost Armor should get nothing but Fatigue upgrades.

I'll admit there may be factors concerning a "quick start" campaign that I haven't taken into account.

I found the last time I was the Spider Queen, the Fatigue upgrades were an enormous help for the Heroes at all times. Getting up to 6~8 fatigue meant the Heroes could clear the floor extremely quickly by each drinking a potion on the first move. Getting up to ~10 meant they could do so without even drinking a potion except in extreme emergencies. This made the Heroes extremely resilient even against subpar luck, making it nearly impossible for me to get kills.

I think my more general view, though, would be that you can't go too far wrong by just mechanically giving the entire party +6 fatigue. You can perhaps improve sometimes with a well-placed wound upgrade, but upgrading everyone with +12 wounds instead is a horrible mistake.
 
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Garth Bowden
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snacknuts wrote:
Blast is a good way to kill those pesky skeletons. Even the town blast rune (sunburst I believe) can usually kill several silver skeletons after an average battle turn. The copper level treasures that use breath and blast can do even more.


The town blast absolutely cannot kill silver skeles for two reasons:
1. You need a lot of luck. First, you need surges - you must have 3 for the blast, and so you don't get much damage on the attack. Secondly, you'd have to roll perfectly to get enough damage to half kill the skeles at silver, so your chance is going to be about ~10% of succeeding at this twice in a row.

2. The Overlord uses sniper skeles because they can stay a long distance away. This means that you will need to fatigue up to them to do the battle action, if that is possible at all. Since the OL will have his skeles spread out, you will kill the skeles on one side of the map only to become a ripe target for the ones on the other side. Does having a small chance of killing 2-3 white monsters justify the suicide of your character?
 
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