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Subject: Villain Difficulty Levels rss

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Michael Denman
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Sadly, this is a co-op that doesn't automatically scale. Even more sadly, the rulebook only gives vague suggestions as to how you can adjust the game to scale it. This is a particular problem, because I've already lost players who don't want to play again because the game was either way too hard or way too easy when they played. So, here's what I currently have determined for what seems to work best.

Baron Blade 2 (N) 3 (A) 4/5 (-)
Omnitron 2 (-) 3 (N) 4 (A) 5 (-)
Grand Admiral Voss 2 (-) 3 (N) 4 (A) 5 (-)
Citizen Dawn 2/3 (-) 4 (N) 5 (A)

N = play on Normal
A = play on Advanced
- = don't even waste your time!

Anyone else seem to be getting different results? Feel free to chime in!


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Todd
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Wow. Really helpful. I wish the designers would talk a bit more about this scaling issue.
 
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Ben Ross
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I'd say your results are fairly accurate. Unfortunately, I don't think it's really this simple. Different combinations of heroes tend to adjust the difficulty pretty drastically also. For example, I think if you take the wrong 5 heroes into a fight against Advanced Voss, it definitely won't be easy, or if you take the right 3 heroes into a fight against Dawn, you can be pretty successful.

In the end, I'd say your chart is pretty good, but I'm not sure I agree with the "don't even waste your time" category.
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Paul Franklin
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I agree with Mr. Ross. I had four new players playing against Citizen Dawn and it wasn't really even a challenge. We had Tachyon, Bunker, Legacy, and Wraith against the non-advanaced Citizen Dawn and we wiped the floor with her. Next time, with four players, even new ones, I'll probably use the Advanved version of the cards to see how it goes.
 
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Michael Denman
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pcservbot wrote:
I'd say your results are fairly accurate. Unfortunately, I don't think it's really this simple. Different combinations of heroes tend to adjust the difficulty pretty drastically also. For example, I think if you take the wrong 5 heroes into a fight against Advanced Voss, it definitely won't be easy, or if you take the right 3 heroes into a fight against Dawn, you can be pretty successful.

In the end, I'd say your chart is pretty good, but I'm not sure I agree with the "don't even waste your time" category.


That's true. It does depend on who you you get. I'm just hoping to give folks a place to go from. If you do better than the results I've listed, then you clearly have a "dream team" against that particular villain (or you drew really well). Perhaps instead of "Don't even waste your time" on the harder fights I should say "You'd better have it all going on before you try this one" .
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Paul Franklin
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Another element is the Environment. We fought Citizen Dawn in Megalopolis and it didn't really present any kind of a challenge for us. Had we been in Ruins of Atlantis, I think it may have been a closer fight. Wraith and Tachyon's abilities to remove environment cards would affect the Environment's chance of affecting the heroes.
 
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Christopher Badell
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There's a good bit of strategy to many of the heroes that isn't immediately apparent. There is not a set of three heroes that cannot beat any of the villains on Advanced. Now, it will certainly take a lot of tactical thought, teamwork, and just a bit of luck, but it's possible. But, as the rulebook warned, Voss and Dawn are very strong opponents and will provide the most challenges. On non-Advanced mode, Dawn is tougher than Voss, but the reverse is the case on Advanced mode.
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MGS
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Very helpful. I see this as a very positive aspect of the game. You have a few options of difficulty to choose from depending on how many players you have and how hard you want to make it.

Most co-ops don't scale for the different number of players/characters. To name a few: Pandemic, Shadows over Camelot, Ghost Stories, Arkham Horror, LOTR the card game. Some of these games are easier others a lot harder depending on how many characters you use.. It is positive that SOTM presents options.
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Imp Rovius
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Skjoldulfr wrote:
There's a good bit of strategy to many of the heroes that isn't immediately apparent. There is not a set of three heroes that cannot beat any of the villains on Advanced. Now, it will certainly take a lot of tactical thought, teamwork, and just a bit of luck, but it's possible. But, as the rulebook warned, Voss and Dawn are very strong opponents and will provide the most challenges. On non-Advanced mode, Dawn is tougher than Voss, but the reverse is the case on Advanced mode.


What about simply scaling the villain's hit points? If you assume that the base number of heroes is 3, then you can just divide the villain's base HPs by 3 and multiply that by the number of heroes in each game. So Voss would be 120 HP against 4 players. It's a crude adjustment, but it's the same way the final fight works in Arkham Horror.
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Erik Rodriguez
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Trump wrote:
Sadly, this is a co-op that doesn't automatically scale. Even more sadly, the rulebook only gives vague suggestions as to how you can adjust the game to scale it. This is a particular problem, because I've already lost players who don't want to play again because the game was either way too hard or way too easy when they played. So, here's what I currently have determined for what seems to work best.

Baron Blade 2 (N) 3 (A) 4/5 (-)
Omnitron 2 (-) 3 (N) 4 (A) 5 (-)
Grand Admiral Voss 2 (-) 3 (N) 4 (A) 5 (-)
Citizen Dawn 2/3 (-) 4 (N) 5 (A)

N = play on Normal
A = play on Advanced
- = don't even waste your time!

Anyone else seem to be getting different results? Feel free to chime in!




I agree 100% with your list. The only thing I would argue is that the Environment deck can add a significant amount of difficulty to whichever villain you play against. Voss with 5 people in Megalopolis? No Sweat. Voss with 5 people in Atlantis? Ouch. Voss with 5 people in Mars Base with the heroes consisting of Bunker, Wraith, Absolute Zero? Good luck.
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Matthew Chua
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I wonder if any experience player would be kind enough to enhance what we have here by using a matrix depicting villain and environment and highlighting the optimal player count for those combinations.
 
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Andrew Arenson
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soojin wrote:
I wonder if any experience player would be kind enough to enhance what we have here by using a matrix depicting villain and environment and highlighting the optimal player count for those combinations.


I'll give it a shot, sort of, by which I mean that I won't actually create the table, but I'll give you the info you'd need to make the table for yourself, based on my opinion. Base game only (i.e. not including the soon-to-be-released Rook City expansion).

For environments, I classify them in two categories: Megalopolis (easier) and everything else (Atlantis, Mars, Insula Primalis)

For villains, I classify them in two categories: Omnitron & Blade (easier) and Voss & Dawn (harder).

The base number of heroes you need is two if going against an easy villain in the easy environment. Add one for a harder environment. Add one for a harder villain. Add one if you're new to playing. Add one if you're going to use advanced mode. These guidelines should lead to having enough heroes to win, though not necessarily easily.

Can you really win with any two heroes against Omnitron or Blade in Megalopolis? Not sure. I've done it on one out of two tries, but I'm less sanguine about being able to do it with _any_ two heroes.

Do you really need five heroes to beat Dawn or Voss on Advanced Mode if you know what you're doing? No, but it sure helps.

There are exceptions to this rule, such as the aforementioned use of a bunch of equipment-heavy characters in the Mars environment. Also, some villains have decks where the cards vary greatly as to how dangerous they are (Dawn's Devastating Aurora and Voss' Forced Deployment come to mind), so having a hero that can manipulate the Villain's deck (Visionary, The Wraith) can be particularly advantageous. Likewise Dawn and Blade are particularly susceptible to having their Trash manipulated, so Visionary can make a big difference with Brain Burn. Also, one of the environments (Insula Primalis?) has cards that cause heroes to have to move cards straight from their deck to their Trash, which causes more problems for some heroes (notably Tachyon and Visionary) than others. Surely there are other deck-specific effects that aren't coming to mind at the moment.
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Anthony Rubbo
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I'd also suggest incorporating 3 difficulty levels into the scheme:

Level 1: No Advanced Abilities
Level 2a/b: One Advanced Ability
Level 3: Both Advanced Abilities
 
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Andrew Arenson
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By 'both advanced abilities' do you mean for each side of a Villain's card?
 
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Anthony Rubbo
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I do
 
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ketigid ketigid
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LemonyFresh wrote:
I'd also suggest incorporating 3 difficulty levels into the scheme:

Level 1: No Advanced Abilities
Level 2a/b: One Advanced Ability
Level 3: Both Advanced Abilities


Level 2a (Front side advance only) might be more difficult to deal with than level 2b (flipped side advance only).
 
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Yoki Erdtman
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Trump wrote:
Baron Blade 2 (N) 3 (A) 4/5 (-)
Omnitron 2 (-) 3 (N) 4 (A) 5 (-)
Grand Admiral Voss 2 (-) 3 (N) 4 (A) 5 (-)
Citizen Dawn 2/3 (-) 4 (N) 5 (A)

N = play on Normal
A = play on Advanced
- = don't even waste your time!

Anyone else seem to be getting different results? Feel free to chime in!

I think that you're right on Michael.

Here's how I've formatted your data for BGG.

Number of Active Heroes vs Villain Difficulty Level:

2 3 4 5 Villain
--------------------------

N A - - Baron Blade
- N A - Omnitron
- N A - Grand Admiral Voss
- - N A Citizen Dawn

N = Normal Difficulty
A = Advanced Difficulty
- = Don't waste your time!


Of course the specific team of heroes matters a lot towards the game's difficulty as well. Some heroes complement each other beautifully, while others just don't work nicely together at all. I find this part of the game's charm though, to experience and figure out how to best use each hero, and how they could work together in the most efficient manner.
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Galen Ciscell
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ketigid wrote:
Level 2a (Front side advance only) might be more difficult to deal with than level 2b (flipped side advance only).

I also suspect using only side b would be more fun, simply because it keeps the pressure on late game, when you need it most to keep up the tension. Otherwise it may feel like "clean up" after the villain flips.
 
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Indiana Jones
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Kind of odd. I've found Baron Blade to be one of the tougher (or at least, more obnoxious) villains, at least during his first phase, because the damn defense platforms kept popping up at the worst times, along with the fact that he has a few other ways to reduce, negate or redirect damage. We've -never- been able to beat him with two heroes, that's for sure.
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Xander Friedlander
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Actually Pandemic has inherent scaling based on the number of players. The race condition of the deck running out is extremely amplified with 5 players, for example - each player starts with 2 cards, each player still needs 5 (or 4) cards of the same color to cure a disease. But the diseases still happen each player's turn, and the player's deck still runs out roughly as fast, so in that respect it's harder with more. However having more players means you have more abilities at your disposal, and often they synergize quite well. Plus if you're playing with the expansion, more players also means more event cards.
I mean, it's not PERFECT scaling (I'd say that it's notably harder with more players), but it does exist
 
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Jeffrey Huntington
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If you want to change up the difficulty, borrow the mechanic from Rook City and change the villain's printed damage values to something like H or H-1, where H is the number of heroes.
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Matthew Van Howe
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Quote:

What about simply scaling the villain's hit points? If you assume that the base number of heroes is 3, then you can just divide the villain's base HPs by 3 and multiply that by the number of heroes in each game. So Voss would be 120 HP against 4 players. It's a crude adjustment, but it's the same way the final fight works in Arkham Horror.


Well put, and I don't believe it to be a crude adjustment, but appropriate for the lack of damage output you'll have from say a two player game compared to a four player game.

Mathematically, I've found that a lot of the card's HP should be scaled to the number of heroes. (I just picked this game up and I love the theme and the mechanics, but was slightly disappointed by the balance issues.) For example, I was facing omnitron with 2 players and the electro-pulse explosive came out that does X damage at the start of the villain turn where X is the hp it has left. It starts with 15 hp… so we both ended up taking 10 damage in the first round. Sufficed to say, we got trounced. (that and the fact that bunker was one of the characters and all his equipment kept getting wiped out) After removing both instances of the electro-pulse explosive, we managed to BARELY defeat him with the same set of heroes. There are some cards that scale the HP and difficulty, but I found it rather odd when playing that the villain HPs weren't designed to scale according to number of players.

One more question about a rules clarification: we had the paparazzi and traffic pileup out at the same time, so we couldn't use powers or draw cards, and one player had no cards in his hand when that occurred. It would seem to me that the game is over then because it was impossible to draw a card to cancel the paparazzi card, and you couldn't use powers to destroy the traffic pileup… game over. We ended up ruling that if you didn't have cards available to discard that the need to discard a card to cancel paparazzi was ignored, and we continued with the game.
 
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Kyle S.
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navmachine wrote:
Quote:

What about simply scaling the villain's hit points? If you assume that the base number of heroes is 3, then you can just divide the villain's base HPs by 3 and multiply that by the number of heroes in each game. So Voss would be 120 HP against 4 players. It's a crude adjustment, but it's the same way the final fight works in Arkham Horror.


Well put, and I don't believe it to be a crude adjustment, but appropriate for the lack of damage output you'll have from say a two player game compared to a four player game.

Mathematically, I've found that a lot of the card's HP should be scaled to the number of heroes. (I just picked this game up and I love the theme and the mechanics, but was slightly disappointed by the balance issues.) For example, I was facing omnitron with 2 players and the electro-pulse explosive came out that does X damage at the start of the villain turn where X is the hp it has left. It starts with 15 hp… so we both ended up taking 10 damage in the first round. Sufficed to say, we got trounced. (that and the fact that bunker was one of the characters and all his equipment kept getting wiped out) After removing both instances of the electro-pulse explosive, we managed to BARELY defeat him with the same set of heroes. There are some cards that scale the HP and difficulty, but I found it rather odd when playing that the villain HPs weren't designed to scale according to number of players.

One more question about a rules clarification: we had the paparazzi and traffic pileup out at the same time, so we couldn't use powers or draw cards, and one player had no cards in his hand when that occurred. It would seem to me that the game is over then because it was impossible to draw a card to cancel the paparazzi card, and you couldn't use powers to destroy the traffic pileup… game over. We ended up ruling that if you didn't have cards available to discard that the need to discard a card to cancel paparazzi was ignored, and we continued with the game.


The game is not balanced for 2 heros. When playing with 2 players, one player, or both, needs to run 2 decks.
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Matthew Van Howe
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That makes the most sense. Thanks!
 
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