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Subject: I want to like it more; can you help me? rss

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HenningK
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So, I'm "that guy" who is probably not very popular around here - a die-hard Dominion fan who wanted something else and now has a few issues with Thunderstone. I do NOT want to bash the game and I do NOT want an argument about which game is better; in fact, I'd like to like TS more than I currently do. So I hope I am wrong on a couple of things (haven't done a lot of games yet) and more experienced players can convince me that I still have much to learn.

Anyway, here are my gripes:


1. Cheap items don't seem to be useful.
Cards like Battle Fury, Arcane Energies or Lantern seem to be useless to me. Their effects are rather situational and not very strong, so I'd either use my turn to buy a good hero or destroy a militia instead of buying one of those. Sure, there may be games where you really need that extra light from a Lantern because there are no good heroes out there with Light, but these seem to be exceptions. If there were more possibilities to buy more than one card in the village, maybe these cards would see more play?

2. Lots of cards don't seem very balanced, especially in regard to their costs.
The Selurian hero seems WAY too powerful to me. Level 1 is bad enough, but doubling magic attacks? And stealing heroes who may even die against specific monsters? Just wow.
Another thing: Why is Elf just as expensive as Regian when the Elf seems to be so much better? Yeah, I do get that all players have the same ability to buy all the cards, but I just wonder why I should bother with the weaker ones when the better ones aren't even more expensive. There are more examples; Lorigg seems way better than Amazon and she is even cheaper!
A similar issue:

3. Sicknesses don't seem to affect gameplay all that much.
Clogging up your hand isn't that bad because you will have other cards that do that, too (starting cards and monsters). The -1 to attack is mostly negligible. So Sicknesses really only seem like a minor nuisance, which is a shame since it seems like they were meant to balance out clerics. It doesn't seem to have worked.

4. I think needing weapons and the proper heroes together is tedious because of the added randomness.
All deckbuilding games already have a good amout of randomness in them because of all the shuffling involved. The weapon system adds even more randomness because you really want to draw a weapon with the proper hero who can wield it. Sure, using a weapon as more gold is good, too, but eventually you want to use it in combat.
This wouldn't bother me as much if the game had "filter" cards (like Cellar or Warehouse in Dominion), but alas, it doesn't. As a result, it seems to me that simply buying the best available hero and mostly ignoring weapons and items is actually a very good strategy since you don't have a way to "manipulate" your shuffle luck.

5. Visiting the village doesn't seem worthwhile after a while.
I haven't played many games yet, but I have finished a significant portion of them with 10 or more XP. The reason? It just doesn't seem to be a good idea to go to the village to level up when I could simply smash another monster. That's too bad, because I have the impression that I don't use the really cool levelling-up-concept as often as I want because it seems ineffective.


I have tried the solo game twice today and actually breezed through it, winning 53-17 one time and 48-12 the second game. So it seems to me my observations on what works and what doesn't aren't too far off, even if I was only playing the "standard" difficulty.
As I said, I don't mean to bash the game, I just feel a bit disappointed that it doesn't seem to "fit" for me as much as I want it to. My games so far left me with the impression that Thunderstone has lots of cool concepts, but doesn't quite deliver in practice, mostly because of balancing issues. Does anybody else feel like I do? Are my observations correct? I hope someone can convince me that I only scratched the surface of the game and that there is a lot more to discover in terms of strategy and tactics. I'm also interested in hearing about the expansions; do they address the issues I have in some way?

Thanks to everyone who responds in advance!
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Trantor42 wrote:
So, I'm "that guy" who is probably not very popular around here - a die-hard Dominion fan who wanted something else and now has a few issues with Thunderstone. I do NOT want to bash the game and I do NOT want an argument about which game is better; in fact, I'd like to like TS more than I currently do. So I hope I am wrong on a couple of things (haven't done a lot of games yet) and more experienced players can convince me that I still have much to learn.

Anyway, here are my gripes:


[q="Trantor42"]1. Cheap items don't seem to be useful.
Cards like Battle Fury, Arcane Energies or Lantern seem to be useless to me. Their effects are rather situational and not very strong, so I'd either use my turn to buy a good hero or destroy a militia instead of buying one of those. Sure, there may be games where you really need that extra light from a Lantern because there are no good heroes out there with Light, but these seem to be exceptions. If there were more possibilities to buy more than one card in the village, maybe these cards would see more play?
In all fairness, Dominion has quite a few cards that are barely of any use (and yes, including cards outside of the Alchemy set). Someone countered to say that in Dom, you don't see that as much, while in TS, there are disproportionally larger #s of cards that are just plum not useful cept for those cases where you buy them b/c "that's all that's available". I'd say that that's b/c they're both deck building cards, doesn't mean they need to have = numbers or ratios of "useless cards".

Trantor42 wrote:
2. Lots of cards don't seem very balanced, especially in regard to their costs.
The Selurian hero seems WAY too powerful to me. Level 1 is bad enough, but doubling magic attacks? And stealing heroes who may even die against specific monsters? Just wow.
Cue Dom... Festival, ... and many others. Believe it or not, if going up vs a monster deck that penalizes heroes with low strength, Selurian won't cut it unless you have food or strength bonuses.


Trantor42 wrote:
Another thing: Why is Elf just as expensive as Regian when the Elf seems to be so much better? Yeah, I do get that all players have the same ability to buy all the cards, but I just wonder why I should bother with the weaker ones when the better ones aren't even more expensive. There are more examples; Lorigg seems way better than Amazon and she is even cheaper!
A similar issue:
Perhaps it's a "catchup mechanism" like how Chapel is a powerful card that only costs 2? [shrug]

Trantor42 wrote:
3. Sicknesses don't seem to affect gameplay all that much.
Clogging up your hand isn't that bad because you will have other cards that do that, too (starting cards and monsters). The -1 to attack is mostly negligible. So Sicknesses really only seem like a minor nuisance, which is a shame since it seems like they were meant to balance out clerics. It doesn't seem to have worked.
If you draw a Disease that would've bene a weapon or good hero, then its done its job. But yeah, Clerics overall are great vs. Diseases (the ones that are applicable towards them, as not all Clerics handle Diseases), but in practice, it's difficult getting Diseases and Clerics in the same hand unless it's a setup where Diseases flow alarmingly heavier than usual.

Trantor42 wrote:
4. I think needing weapons and the proper heroes together is tedious because of the added randomness.
All deckbuilding games already have a good amout of randomness in them because of all the shuffling involved. The weapon system adds even more randomness because you really want to draw a weapon with the proper hero who can wield it. Sure, using a weapon as more gold is good, too, but eventually you want to use it in combat.
This wouldn't bother me as much if the game had "filter" cards (like Cellar or Warehouse in Dominion), but alas, it doesn't. As a result, it seems to me that simply buying the best available hero and mostly ignoring weapons and items is actually a very good strategy since you don't have a way to "manipulate" your shuffle luck.
Problem is, good heroes are very expensive, while weapons provide the best bang for the buck (there are exceptions of course, but I won't get into those.).

In Dom, you end up in the same boat if you have an action poor Supply (much more common place with all expansions). Then you pretty much cut back on action cards and get better Treasure instead. You get painful moments when you play a terminating, card draw, action card and end up gett 1 or more action cards.

Trantor42 wrote:
5. Visiting the village doesn't seem worthwhile after a while.
I haven't played many games yet, but I have finished a significant portion of them with 10 or more XP. The reason? It just doesn't seem to be a good idea to go to the village to level up when I could simply smash another monster. That's too bad, because I have the impression that I don't use the really cool levelling-up-concept as often as I want because it seems ineffective.
If you can win the game... then do so. There's no rule that you need to get as many lv2 and lv3 heroes as humanly possible, just like there's no requirement you need to get as many Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Win even if you still have Coppers.


Trantor42 wrote:
I'm also interested in hearing about the expansions; do they address the issues I have in some way?

Thanks to everyone who responds in advance!
WotE has Traps, which are random-ish (you can perhaps play differently like getting any "Moat" cards if avialable, or leave some lv1 heroes or Militia and hope they end up being cannon fodder). The Toyrn hero lets you equip any # of weapons (Dom equivalent would be to play an action card, then you get to play any # of action cards without having to set up the proper +actions to card draw ratio of cards). Reminds me of Saboteur or Tribute in Dom. Golems cuase each hero to not be able to attack or praticipate unless they have 4 to 8 strength or more.

DL (e2) makes use of surplus XP, and has a specialty Disease deck that has effects like -2 attack, or -2 VP as well. The Treasures are also random unless you use efefcts to scout the monster deck. Otherwise, it's just luck to see who gets what and how useful the OPG powers on them are. Bandits that requires 3 to 5 heroes present to be defeated.

The upcoming Thornwood Seige has some things that favor Militias, so those that rest away Militia may be at a disadvantage (I guess like how Gardens in Dom favor those with bloated decks). There will also be effects that directly attakc the village and destroy cards for example.
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Dion Baxter
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I'm also a Dominion Die Hard.

The early version of the game suffered from a dreadful rulebook which really made me feel as if I had wasted my money. Version 1.4 and a few expansions have made this a very popular game. I would have to say more popular in my house than Dominion! (Currently - it swings from one to the other)

I'll tackle each point:
1 - Cheap items, you'll be suprised how often you wished for an Arcane Energy as you play it. My boys use it to great effect whenever it is available! The lantern will always be a poor choice if there is a better light source item out there. (The Thornwood expansion makes up for the lack of 'light respect')

2 - Cost of heroes. Sometimes in random setups, certain heroes NEVER get bought. I tend to stick to a tactic that will tackle MOST of the monsters.

3 - A disease is one less item or hero in your hand! Very hard to take when trying to kill a 9HP monster with special effects. Where's a Regian when you need one?

4 - Spells reducing the weight of weapons is useful or increasing strength allows a bigger weapon to be carried. Never underestimate the importance of strength. Play with more heroes in your deck and don't rely too much on getting the weapon that fits it. You could narrow your deck strategy to be non magic based attacks and completely ignore wizards or clerics. Kill what you can, send what you can't to the bottom of the deck thus depriving your opponents of VP.

5 - It's all finding that balance - Don't go to the village if you don't need to. Trash a card - thin your deck. Don't forget those lovely goodberries! 1VP each. I had a friend who when he added up his score, got beaten by his girlfriend because she bought all the fruit!!! Level 3 heroes are also worth VP. A village can often net you an extra 6VP.
And make sure you get those 3 Gold coins cards early! You can always buy Level 2 and 3 characters.

I find that when I play with my boys, one will go for a magic or big weapon deck, one will rely heavily on spells. My 'Jack of all trades' often finds itself playing catch up as they regularly level up or have bought up all the good stuff!

The game is great. Different to Dominion. In some ways better. In some ways more fussy or slower. But stick with it.

Hope this helps.
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PinkyMan wrote:
I'm also a Dominion Die Hard.

The early version of the game suffered from a dreadful rulebook which really made me feel as if I had wasted my money. Version 1.4 and a few expansions have made this a very popular game. I would have to say more popular in my house than Dominion! (Currently - it swings from one to the other)


IIRC, someone from AEG commented here on BGG that he was in the process of yet redoing the rulebook (perhasp even the expansions too?), so that should make a good situation even better.

Oh, and the point about weapons and heroes... also true with Dominion. For every 2 cards like Smithy that terminates and draw cards, you'll want 3 action cards that branch, like Village. In TS, larger ratio of heroes to weapons is sound advice.
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Aaron Rabold
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I'm a huge Thunderstone fan. My fiancee and I play it all the time. She also likes Dominion a lot, but I've only played it with her once at our local game store while we actually own all of the Thunderstone sets so far. Personally, I just love Thunderstone more than Dominion mainly on a thematic basis. I haven't really played Dominion enough to compare gameplay. But Thunderstone just grabbed me right away. Anyway, I'll just elaborate a little on the points made by ackmondual:

Trantor42 wrote:
1. Cheap items don't seem to be useful.
Cards like Battle Fury, Arcane Energies or Lantern seem to be useless to me. Their effects are rather situational and not very strong, so I'd either use my turn to buy a good hero or destroy a militia instead of buying one of those. Sure, there may be games where you really need that extra light from a Lantern because there are no good heroes out there with Light, but these seem to be exceptions. If there were more possibilities to buy more than one card in the village, maybe these cards would see more play?
These cards really aren't that bad. Yes, they can be situational, but that doesn't make them a waste and it's why they are so cheap. We actually just played a game this week where we were wishing that Arcane Energies was in the village do to the high number of "Magic Attack Only" monsters in the dungeon. And Battle Fury was one of my girlfriend's favorite cards from the base set. Yes, there are usually better options for light than a lantern, but sometimes those just aren't available.

ackmondual wrote:
Trantor42 wrote:
2. Lots of cards don't seem very balanced, especially in regard to their costs.
The Selurian hero seems WAY too powerful to me. Level 1 is bad enough, but doubling magic attacks? And stealing heroes who may even die against specific monsters? Just wow.
Cue Dom... Festival, ... and many others. Believe it or not, if going up vs a monster deck that penalizes heroes with low strength, Selurian won't cut it unless you have food or strength bonuses.
Yeah, the main balance is that the Selurian has a whopping 2 strength for his 1st and 2nd level forms and only goes up to 3 at 3rd level. That means he can't use most of the better weapons and he's very vulnerable to strength damage. His 3rd level card is also only worth 1 victory point instead of 2 or 3 like most others.

Trantor42 wrote:
Another thing: Why is Elf just as expensive as Regian when the Elf seems to be so much better? Yeah, I do get that all players have the same ability to buy all the cards, but I just wonder why I should bother with the weaker ones when the better ones aren't even more expensive. There are more examples; Lorigg seems way better than Amazon and she is even cheaper!
A similar issue:
Personally, I usually pick the Cleric over the Wizard. He has a point higher in strength and can remove and replace disease cards unlimitedly. Can be very useful in most situations. He can also just flat out draw extra cards in later levels which I like more than the Elf's other special abilities which to me are just a waste of possible victory points. The Elf does, however, produce his own light and have higher magic attack, so again, I think they're balanced cards. But I would say you have a point with the Amazon. She does seem pretty over priced for what she does.

ackmondual wrote:
Trantor42 wrote:
4. I think needing weapons and the proper heroes together is tedious because of the added randomness.
All deckbuilding games already have a good amout of randomness in them because of all the shuffling involved. The weapon system adds even more randomness because you really want to draw a weapon with the proper hero who can wield it. Sure, using a weapon as more gold is good, too, but eventually you want to use it in combat.
This wouldn't bother me as much if the game had "filter" cards (like Cellar or Warehouse in Dominion), but alas, it doesn't. As a result, it seems to me that simply buying the best available hero and mostly ignoring weapons and items is actually a very good strategy since you don't have a way to "manipulate" your shuffle luck.
Problem is, good heroes are very expensive, while weapons provide the best bang for the buck (there are exceptions of course, but I won't get into those.).
Also, sometimes you need weapons either to activate a hero's ability like the Dwarf's big boast in attack with an edged weapon, or as a requirement to kill some monsters like Darkness (Unequipped heroes cannot attack). Working the balance between having the right weapon/hero/other ratio is part of the fun in my opinion.

Trantor42 wrote:
5. Visiting the village doesn't seem worthwhile after a while.
I haven't played many games yet, but I have finished a significant portion of them with 10 or more XP. The reason? It just doesn't seem to be a good idea to go to the village to level up when I could simply smash another monster. That's too bad, because I have the impression that I don't use the really cool levelling-up-concept as often as I want because it seems ineffective.
If you can keep killing things without going to the village later, then that's pretty nice. But in my experience, I usually still need to buy things and level up heroes to offset the increase of monster cards in my deck. If nearly half of your deck has become monster cards that are unusable in battle, you need to most powerful heroes and weapons to pick up the slack.

ackmondual wrote:
Trantor42 wrote:
I'm also interested in hearing about the expansions; do they address the issues I have in some way?

Thanks to everyone who responds in advance!
WotE has Traps, which are random-ish (you can perhaps play differently like getting any "Moat" cards if avialable, or leave some lv1 heroes or Militia and hope they end up being cannon fodder). The Toyrn hero lets you equip any # of weapons (Dom equivalent would be to play an action card, then you get to play any # of action cards without having to set up the proper +actions to card draw ratio of cards). Reminds me of Saboteur or Tribute in Dom. Golems cuase each hero to not be able to attack or praticipate unless they have 4 to 8 strength or more.

DL (e2) makes use of surplus XP, and has a specialty Disease deck that has effects like -2 attack, or -2 VP as well. The Treasures are also random unless you use efefcts to scout the monster deck. Otherwise, it's just luck to see who gets what and how useful the OPG powers on them are. Bandits that requires 3 to 5 heroes present to be defeated.

The upcoming Thornwood Seige has some things that favor Militias, so those that rest away Militia may be at a disadvantage (I guess like how Gardens in Dom favor those with bloated decks). There will also be effects that directly attakc the village and destroy cards for example.
Yes, a lot of things get changed.

-The changes with the Special Disease deck and cards that utilize surplus XP seem like they might address two of your current complaints, at least a little.

-Traps and Treasures are interesting additions. Traps make the thief heroes a little more useful since the counter a lot of them while Treasures are nice because once you find them they are yours until you decide to use them (they stay in front of you instead of being shuffled into your deck and you destroy them to activate their abilities).

-And Thornwood Siege is out. We haven't played with all of its stuff yet since it's the first set that doesn't come with any kind of "first game" or other preset list of cards from the expansion to use. But Raid can be annoying as all hell. Depletes the crap out of your village stacks. There is also a new Stalk ability that we haven't used yet (it's an exclusive Centaur monster ability right now). Not that bad from what I've read about it.

-Also, Dragonspire has experience tokens instead of cards which I really like and they also have Setting cards which can change the game up a bit (a lot of them could have better effects, though).

PinkyMan wrote:
The early version of the game suffered from a dreadful rulebook which really made me feel as if I had wasted my money. Version 1.4 and a few expansions have made this a very popular game. I would have to say more popular in my house than Dominion! (Currently - it swings from one to the other)
This is also a very excellent point. I actually spent a morning alone while my girlfriend was a church or something doing nothing but re-reading the rules beginning to end after we got Wrath of the Elements and then re-reading the main rules again after I noticed mention of the updated base rules in Wrath. Made a printout of the updated rules and everything.

And I guess that's about all I have to say. Hope that helps. ^_^
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Craig Hallstrom
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If you just have the base game I can understand the feeling that it all just isn't quite there yet. Once you get past the horrible packaging (are they still doing the awful first edition insert?) the game itself has a not quite all there feel. I felt like this went away - and I could see some of the elegance of the game at that point. If you can find a way to play a few games with some of the expansion cards mixed in before you buy it (and not even traps, treasures or settings - I don't personally really like the traps or treasures stuff) try to give this one another look

BTW- I am a Thunderstone fan and own and play all the expansions. I also love Dominion. I find I play D with my D loving friends and T with the T loving friends - and enjoy them both. Just don't expect them to scratch the same itch.
 
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