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Subject: Making impossible quests possible rss

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Sam Lindsay-Levine
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Hi folks,

My playgroup completed all the quests in the base game and moved on to this expansion. I believe the heroes won every quest on the 1st through 4th try, usually the 2nd. (The hardest was the Black Blade quest, which was won by the heroes because a wizard with a Blast rune had a Ready order still up when another player opened the final door.) I am always taking the role of the Overlord. We are always playing with 4 heroes.

The group has tried the first adventure, the collapsing mine, three times, all unsuccessfully. (Being able to use the falling block trap and then put a hero into the adjacent square of the bottomless pit is pretty brutal, and spawning a bunch of trash monsters in the narrow tunnel has put the game away twice.) One of my players got frustrated at the perceived difficulty and wanted to stop playing for a while.

The rest of my players don't think that quest one is impossible, but looking at Jeff Long's quest difficulty guide, I see that the general consensus is that many of the quests in Well of Darkness are considered to be impossible or borderline impossible, by Jeff, Frank La Terra, and the field.

Does anyone have suggestions for how to approach these quests? I seriously fear my players finishing quest one at long last, moving onto another quest, finding it impossible, and abandoning the game.

My only vague thought so far is declaring that the starting conquest totals are for "hard mode", and that in "normal mode" the heroes start with twice as much conquest. Then the team could decide how they wanted to play, and even replay a successful quest in "hard mode". Good idea? Bad idea?

Got any better ideas?
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Bill Allen
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I have similar recollections about Quest 1 from WoD where the players have to continually sprint - even to the exclusion of ignoring monsters at times.

I might suggest the following:
- drop the haunt (things are hard enough anyway)
- add in an extra small segment or two to givent hem some extra time
- increase starting conquest (the main threat will still be the collapsing mine with no available active glyphs though)

I used the first and second options and they seemed to help a fair bit.

Cheers,
Bill
 
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Jamie Vantries
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Use the Feat cards from Tomb of Ice.............or make up your own scenarios.
 
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Sam Lindsay-Levine
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Hmmm, I'd like to use the quests in the expansion, since they're the main thing you're paying for with an expansion set. That sort of rules out "just make up your own quests" and the two tweaks that are specific to the first quest, since it sounds like many of the Well of Darkness quests are much harder than the first one.

I don't have Tomb of Ice and I'd prefer not to have to buy it to make Well of Darkness work.

Thanks for the suggestions, though! I'd love to hear from more people about what they have done or recommend.
 
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David Aubert
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We got this problem.

We conserved the haunt, but make the dropping slower :
At the beginning of the oberlord turn, he rolls a dice : If it's a surge, there is no collapse this turn.

After 3 fail with normal quest
(the third with all player having a 5 stamina/5 movement characters)

They failed it barely on the modified version before gotting it on the last attempt.


Oh, and as a overlord, don't get the 'Nonworking glyph' to put it in the final room, nor use the Lead Boots dark relic ... Not very fair play.
 
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Sam Lindsay-Levine
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We played the collapsing mine again this weekend. The heroes decided that they would start up 50% conquest from the starting total, being ambitious enough not to want to take the 100% bonus.

The first game, I used the Spell of Binding to web everyone in the opening hallway on the first turn. One player only made it 3 squares and died when that board piece was removed. That delay helped, and then I used a rolling boulder immediately after the ogre who stands past the bottomless pit to totally put the game away. This was the first time the heroes actually lost because of the map disappearing.

I realized at this point that almost all my wins were due to Treachery cards. In this map in particular, the Overlord can pick one of a few treachery cards that totally destroy the heroes: Spell of Binding and Rolling Stone in this case.

So, I invented another house rule: if the Overlord wins, he must set aside the Treachery cards that he used that time and can't select them on further tries on the map until the heroes win it.

The second game, I used Alarm to open up the twisty hallway when the heroes opened the first chest, and stuffed it full of crappy, crappy monsters. They had a hard time wading uphill through all the trash, but with judicious use of Cleaving and a Walking Stick, and with their 4 extra conquest available from the 50% bonus, they managed to make it into the second to last room. There, I had the treachery Ogre-mimic to deny them the silver treasures, and they lost on conquest shortly after defeating the giant.

The general consensus is that with 100% extra conquest, and the Overlord unable to reuse Treachery cards until the heroes win, the quest is approaching something more like balance. Hopefully these house rules will work reasonably for other quests in this expansion as well.

One of my players expressed amazement that the expansion set would have been shipped so seemingly unbalanced, after such reasonable balance in the core set. We all agreed both sides had been playing well.
 
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Christine Biancheria
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Best I can offer:

Use Feat Cards
Healing Potions give you 4 health
Put Evil Genius on the bottom of the OL deck
Any character, when turning in an unwanted skill during setup, can choose to draw a new skill or flip the unwanted skill over and treat it as a Tough Card.
 
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Christine Biancheria
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I forgot:

Heroes can go negative, and must end in the positives.
Any time a hero dies, he or she takes a -1 marker, and is worth one less until such time as another hero dies, and that that hero takes over the -1 marker.
 
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Jeff Long
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First off, I'll state for the record that while I do consider many of the WoD quests to be impossible, Quest 1 is not one of them. It's not trivial, but the last time I played as Heroes, I was practically in front of the entrance to Area 3 by the start of Hero Turn 3. Granted, I had an awesome team, but I expect Turn 4 is doable with nearly any 4-Hero team. You need that headstart on the collapse to stand a good chance. The number one mindset thing the Heroes need to get into their heads is "Don't kill kobolds." Every kobold the Heroes kill is a VICTORY for the Overlord...

That said, the number one thing I like playing with to add both balance and variety is Randomized Treachery. Each game, the Overlord deals out some small subset of the Treachery cards (with just WoD, I used N+1 per color, where N is the amount of treachery in each color) and can only select from that subset. This is basically just the probabilistic version of the original poster's idea of not using the same Treachery set twice.

Now, for the quests that are REALLY impossible (# 2, 4 and 6), I don't really know what to do. My intuition is that doubling starting conquest won't help, because the reason the Overlord wins is because he can basically generate an 'impossible' roadblock that will just kill the Heroes again and again on those maps. I don't have any better suggestions though.
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Sam Lindsay-Levine
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With our optional +100% conquest, no repeats on treachery rules, the heroes did eventually beat Quest 1 - the first time that one of the heroes ended up with Acrobat, which is probably not a coincidence. They didn't even need the +100% conquest as they never dipped below the level at which they would have lost without it.

I'm still not sure how well this rebalancing plan will generalize to the other quests.
 
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Esbjörn Rundberg
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In our group, to get past the heavier quests, we have had the rule that each time the heroes tries on a quest beyond the second (then they have the huge advantage of knowing what's ahead of them), they get an extra 2 conquest points.

As Jeff pointed out though this has not worked well on quest 2 (I think they've tried five times, if not more) where I'm the overlord. They have opened up to the boss once, but not ever reached the silver chests. I'm thinking about allowing the heroes to do stuff with the extra conquest, such as make an extra skill change or choose hero for 1CP, as just a bunch of extra conquest doesn't really help them when they hit a wall that keep on killing them.
 
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David Macfarlane

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I don't know what you guys are talking about...

In my experience the Heroes have the upper hand almost all of the time. We laughed so hard at our OL when he put 8 conquest tokens out for us on the first quest.

Never back track. OL cannot spawn monsters in places you have not yet discovered nor can he spawn within line of sight. Boggs the rat is actually very useful for this purpose of stopping the OL from spawning. Also remember that monsters DO NOT block line of sight for spawning purposes and then don't end your turn in a corner.(Is that wrong? I mean our OL sometimes screws the pooch on stuff, but I think those are solid strategies.)

We use Nanok (sp) Lord Hawthorn, the Battlemage and the guy who is immune to poison and regenerates one wound per turn for instance in the second quest. That kills so hard. We mix up our ranged player depending on circumstances but Nanok, Hawth and B-Mage are pretty standard now.

The secret for quest one is fat pots. Have a couple then have your best range/reach character. When you get to the larger rooms declare battle actions and use fatigue to move and drink the pot when you are all out of fatigue so that you can move a few more spaces or just stay ahead of the ghost.

Work as a team, move as a team and never open the door at the end of the heroes turns. (Start the turn by opening the door, rest action if you have to)

Tell me where I am wrong. I have heard it is supposed to be hard but it seems pretty easy to me. We have even tried having different people be OL but that doesn't help. Those three Heroes are just OP.
 
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Jeremy Jameson
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SamLL wrote:
Being able to use the falling block trap and then put a hero into the adjacent square of the bottomless pit is pretty brutal

The falling block trap cannot be played when the hero is adjacent to another obstacle. So the Overlord would not be able to drop a block and force you into the bottomless pit. If he is doing that, I suggest you tell him to stop immediately.

Some suggestions (which are probably already fairly obvious to you, but they're the best I can come up with):
1- Keep running. Don't use order tokens unless absolutely necessary; that order could have been used to either run forward, or kill something in your way.
2- If you get a stun rune, you can stun the ogres and they won't be able to knock you back into the bottomless pit/the room about to collapse.
3- While you need to keep moving, don't open a door except at the beginning of a turn when no hero has moved yet (as RuneMaster said); you then have the initiative and can rush in, kill a few things, and move someone up to prevent spawning ahead of you. Spawns behind are trivial; if you can prevent the ones up ahead, you will be doing well. Even if your hero who rushes ahead dies, the Overlord won't have spawned that turn, meaning next turn you will have to hack through much fewer monsters to keep running.
4- Fatigue potions are your friend (as RuneMaster also said ). Use them to do battle actions instead of advances, and you will clear out the monsters incredibly fast. Combined with point 3 above, you can have three heroes fatigue into the room, kill off 5-6 monsters, and the fourth one can advance in to prevent spawning up ahead.


If the Treachery is giving you trouble, I would suggest the Random Treachery rules. They are just a lot more fun in general, because if you don't use them, there are some cards that will never get picked because they are just plain inferior.

The Overlord-Hero win ration on this question is 1-1 for us, but the Overlord win was when we only had 3 heroes, and I don't think it would have been a problem with 4. I haven't played many of the other quests, so can't speak for them, but this one I don't think is anywhere near impossible. Tricky, yes; but not impossible.
 
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Sam Lindsay-Levine
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RuneMaster wrote:
In my experience the Heroes have the upper hand almost all of the time.

...

We use Nanok (sp) Lord Hawthorn, the Battlemage and the guy who is immune to poison and regenerates one wound per turn for instance in the second quest. That kills so hard. We mix up our ranged player depending on circumstances but Nanok, Hawth and B-Mage are pretty standard now.


It sounds like your group selects its own heroes. We were playing by the rules as written where each player receives a hero at random. No doubt that would make the game easier, but it's not a house rule that I would like since, as you say, you end up having the same heroes selected all the time.

RuneMaster wrote:
Never back track. ... Also remember that monsters DO NOT block line of sight for spawning purposes and then don't end your turn in a corner. ... The secret for quest one is fat pots. ... Work as a team, move as a team and never open the door at the end of the heroes turns.


RJJ7 wrote:
Some suggestions (which are probably already fairly obvious to you, but they're the best I can come up with):
1- Keep running. ...
2- If you get a stun rune, you can stun the ogres ...
3- While you need to keep moving, don't open a door except at the beginning of a turn when no hero has moved yet ...
4- Fatigue potions are your friend ...


I consider this all (except for stunning ogres) to be standard good strategy on every quest that, in my opinion, my players always executed well.

I do find it interesting that we're all talking about hero strategies but nobody is talking about what the Overlord is doing. Maybe what the Overlord is doing is accounting for some of the variance in difficulty we are seeing? (Sorry if that's really arrogant of me, who always plays Overlord, to be saying.)

RJJ7 wrote:
The falling block trap cannot be played when the hero is adjacent to another obstacle. So the Overlord would not be able to drop a block and force you into the bottomless pit. If he is doing that, I suggest you tell him to stop immediately.


At the time, I carefully examined the FAQ, which has the following section.

The FAQ wrote:
Q: Which map items count as obstacles for the Crushing Block trap card?
A: Crushing Block may never be played in a space adjacent to any token (or built-in map element) that blocks movement. The reason for this is to prevent the Overlord from sealing a hallway completely and preventing the heroes from ever progressing. This is a list of all relevant obstacles, current through the Road of Legend: Boulder, Crushing Wall, Rubble, Water. (Villagers are figures, not map elements.)


That seemed relatively unambiguous: pits, even bottomless ones, do not block movement (you can jump over them or move into them) and are not included in the explicit list.

I agree it's a pretty harsh play, though.

RJJ7 wrote:
If the Treachery is giving you trouble, I would suggest the Random Treachery rules. They are just a lot more fun in general, because if you don't use them, there are some cards that will never get picked because they are just plain inferior.


That's good advice, I will look into those rules. Can you please tell me where I might find them?

RJJ7 wrote:
I haven't played many of the other quests, so can't speak for them, but this one I don't think is anywhere near impossible. Tricky, yes; but not impossible.


I agree that it's not impossible. The heroes eventually came up with a commanding win once they got Acrobat and some of the most debilitating Treachery cards were unavailable, as I say above.

Again, I am more worried about the other quests that others have claimed to be much harder than quest 1: apparently 2, 4, and 6, which I have not yet played.
 
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Jeremy Jameson
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SamLL wrote:
RJJ7 wrote:
The falling block trap cannot be played when the hero is adjacent to another obstacle. So the Overlord would not be able to drop a block and force you into the bottomless pit. If he is doing that, I suggest you tell him to stop immediately.


At the time, I carefully examined the FAQ, which has the following section.

The FAQ wrote:
Q: Which map items count as obstacles for the Crushing Block trap card?
A: Crushing Block may never be played in a space adjacent to any token (or built-in map element) that blocks movement. The reason for this is to prevent the Overlord from sealing a hallway completely and preventing the heroes from ever progressing. This is a list of all relevant obstacles, current through the Road of Legend: Boulder, Crushing Wall, Rubble, Water. (Villagers are figures, not map elements.)


That seemed relatively unambiguous: pits, even bottomless ones, do not block movement (you can jump over them or move into them) and are not included in the explicit list.

GAAAH! FAQ updates!

I could have sworn that that wasn't in there the last time I played this quest (which would have been about almost a couple of years ago). Though looking at the FAQ on my computer (from a more recent era), it is there. blush

Oh well. I guess I should just keep my mouth shut on a subject I haven't examined for years.


I think that once you get past a certain point, it stops being strategy and starts being tactics. From the sounds of things, your group has mastered the strategy (general guidelines and play style), and it is now in the realm of tactics (action in specific cases). Every situation has small things that will ripple out and affect the whole game. Either your heroes are leaving small things undone in some situations (which is having long term effects, even if the immediate effect isn't noticeable), or your Overlord is using his cards skillfully and is NOT leaving small things undone.

Because you are right, the Overlord skill affects things; but it really isn't anything general that I can put my finger on. It's a matter of specific cases.



As far as random treachery, there are a couple of variations of the random treachery rules:

#1- Partial Random: The Overlord draws a number of treachery cards of each type corresponding to his treachery level in that category. So if he is 2-Monster, 4-Trap, and 3-Event, he would draw 2 Red, 4 Purple, and 3 Green treachery cards. He would then have to make his selection from those. In the rare case where there isn't a legal combination, he may draw another card till there is.

If that is considered too random, you may tinker with the number of cards drawn; for instance, drawing one more than his treachery value, or drawing double the treachery value.

#2- Full Random: Just draw cards from the deck till you have a legal combination that equals your treachery value.

There really isn't anything more to it than that; you can tweak it to fit your play group. When I am Overlord, I tend to use the Full Random rules since I'm the most skilled player in my group by a comfortable margin.


I would also suggest when picking heroes that you use a slightly modified version: Every person is dealt 3 (or 2 if you prefer), and gets to pick from those. It allows a bit of party customization, but prevents the same ones getting picked all the time. It will result in some heroes never getting picked (I have yet to see Red Scorpion hit the table), but some heroes are just junk and nothing is going to change that.
 
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Retired Hurt

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Given that many quests end up with 'you gain # conquest for destroying the main villain' and this doesn't help them -since they've won if they destroyed it anyway-, I'm in favor of the 'just be positive at the end' trick.

Other idea : as long as heroes don't win, decrease the allowed number of treachery cards by two at each attempt.It could even be a good comparison tool between groups. 'We won at treachery level -4. And you ?'
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Andrew Clarke
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RuneMaster wrote:
I don't know what you guys are talking about...

In my experience the Heroes have the upper hand almost all of the time. We laughed so hard at our OL when he put 8 conquest tokens out for us on the first quest.


All of the advice in your post is eminently sensible, other than that you appear to be selecting your own heroes, but as you aren't even selecting a particularly powerful group (Nanok, Hawthorne and Jaes are all moderately good, but not among the top few, and Ispher is just awful), that doesn't seem likely to be a reason for your wins.

I can only suggest trying Well of Darkness Quest 4 or 6. These two really are impossible (or almost- you'd need fantastic luck to win)- if you still have no difficulty winning, either you are misinterpreting an important rule, or you are all playing *very* badly as Overlord.
 
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Daniel Francis
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SamLL wrote:
RuneMaster wrote:
In my experience the Heroes have the upper hand almost all of the time.

...

We use Nanok (sp) Lord Hawthorn, the Battlemage and the guy who is immune to poison and regenerates one wound per turn for instance in the second quest. That kills so hard. We mix up our ranged player depending on circumstances but Nanok, Hawth and B-Mage are pretty standard now.


It sounds like your group selects its own heroes. We were playing by the rules as written where each player receives a hero at random. No doubt that would make the game easier, but it's not a house rule that I would like since, as you say, you end up having the same heroes selected all the time.


Ill never understand why people continue to say that the rule is you only get random heroes. In vanilla Descent the rules state you can have random or choose your own hero, in Well of Darkness the rule hasnt changed.
Not until Road to Legend (as i have learned from posts on BGG, i could be wrong on that one though) does it change to pick 1 of 3 heroes.
 
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Sam Lindsay-Levine
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LightningDan85 wrote:
Ill never understand why people continue to say that the rule is you only get random heroes. In vanilla Descent the rules state you can have random or choose your own hero, in Well of Darkness the rule hasnt changed.


Here are the rules to original Descent. In the setup it says "Alternately, if the Overlord agrees" the players may choose heroes. It's an optional alternate rule, and one that I don't agree with because then they will choose the same heroes all the time.

Back on topic, it turns out that indeed using the Feats from Tomb of Ice does make a pretty serious difference, as well as boosting player morale because now they have a few tricks up their sleeve that the Overlord isn't expecting. The Feats were essentially sufficient to see them through Quest 2 despite me using the "barricade in the weakest hero" strategy while they were still separated. Hopefully they will prove as effective on the other difficult quests.
 
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Andrew Garttmeyer
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Christine Biancheria wrote:
Best I can offer:

Use Feat Cards
Healing Potions give you 4 health
Put Evil Genius on the bottom of the OL deck
Any character, when turning in an unwanted skill during setup, can choose to draw a new skill or flip the unwanted skill over and treat it as a Tough Card.


What exactly is a Tough Card?
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Sam Lindsay-Levine
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There's a skill called 'Toughness' that gives the player, I believe off the top of my head, +4 max health.

The Tomb of Ice feats are still doing well at making things feel balanced through Quest 4 of Well of Darkness. Thanks for that recommendation and I would second it. (I actually prefer the game when it is slightly balanced against the Overlord - if it's slightly balanced in my favor, 4 people can get cranky or upset instead of just one.)
 
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