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Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition)» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Current opinion on game balance rss

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Dustin Whitmire
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I've played only 6-7 games; all act 1. All 2 hero setups. At this point, my opinion is that this game is wildly overpowered in favor of the OL. Heroes have to make exceptional character selection, search/not search decisions, almost errorless use of their actions, roll failures seem way more detrimental to heros, and more. As OL, I can put little thought into monster placement/selection and practically win without playing a card, and if I do, it feels like I'm ruining the enjoyment of the game, like I've crushed their hopes and dreams with a flip of a card. Just my opinion. I don't doubt I tend toward a bit of hyperbole, but not much.

I'd love to hear other people's position.

Poll
Which side does the game favor?
Strongly favors the Overlord
Slightly favors the Overlord
Generally balanced
Slightly favors the Heros
Strongly favors the Heros
      364 answers
Poll created by dustwhit

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Lothar Neu
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I think the heroes just have to adapt to the game.

In my opinion (Overlord) the best you can do in your first turn is run.
You are not supposed to clear the way to your objective, you are supposed to hurry there and kill monsters that block your way.

When players got that the game will probably feel more balanced.
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Chris Ferejohn
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I think you need one for each player count. While there is some scaling, it may not be enough - my general impression is that the more players there are the harder it is for the OL.
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Muziq
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Yes, I have had the same experience. We we're having so much fun during the introduction and the first three act I quests.

But then I (OL) won the interlude and from then on it all went downhill. I just couldn't lose anymore. And because it wasn't any fun that way I purposely tried losing: I didn't play cards, stopped blocking with my monsters, "forgot" to use reinforcements, even "cheated" by putting more damage tokens on monsters then they actually had. All the while pretending I had bad cards or a hard time with things. Guess what: either quests were very boring and I still won or I played some cards and I won quickly. The heroes just were too weak and slow to do anything really and I kept getting stronger and stronger.

Hey, I like winning just as much as the next guy but not like this. I so adore the whole system and game mechanics but something is seriously wrong with the quests if I'm actively hoping my dice will show misses all the time!

I'm not sure where I stand now with regards to my feelings on this game. I look forward to playing the game system but sadly not to playing the quests provided in the quest guide so far.
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jef stuyck
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tbh I think it is quiet balanced. My only problem is that if the hero's make a small mistake. They really SUFFER HARD for it.
For example by just opening a door at the start of an encounter, we lost that entire encounter.

Whilest if the overlord makes a small mistake, it doesn't affect him that much.

And sometimes the rolls just doesn't favor someone AT ALL and then it just gets annoying to continue. But I guess that is with every dice rolling game out there.
 
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Kevin O'Bryan
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My play group's opinion is that the balance varies wildly from encounter to encounter. One encounter will be almost impossible for the heroes to lose, the next will be almost impossible for them to win. That's annoying and doubly so when whoever won the encounter picks the next one -- because they pick the one they're going to win AGAIN.

For the rare (sadly) encounters where the balance seems more even, it feels like whatever side has won the most encounters so far is going to keep winning. For example in my current campaign the players have been losing badly to the Overlord, and now we just hit Act II. The Overlord has extra experience and we have purchased a grand total of 2 items because we never get gold because we never win. The second half is going to be a bloodbath and we may just restart because what's the point of trying to fight monsters when the game assumes you have equipment that you don't have?

So that's how we see it. The death spiral for the losing side is out of control, and encounter balance varies so wildly that often the winner is whoever picked the encounter.
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Matt Shinners
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My vote for 'slightly favors OL' is only because of the nature of the beast. I think the scenarios are actually quite well-balanced (on average - some are definitely lopsided), but having one person with an unequivocally unified strategy is almost always superior to having a team of people trying to cooperate. The players have to really coordinate, not just have a general idea of what they want to accomplish, in order to make the game truly balanced.

And, in order to do that, they need to play a few games together to get the feel for the group. By that time, however, the OL has built up a bit of a lead as far as cards go. I think a second play-through with the same group would result in a more balanced game.

I also think a limit to the number of cards the OL can carry over into the next encounter is warranted, or at least a mandatory use-or-discard-one rule/turn.
 
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Muziq
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Safid wrote:

For the rare (sadly) encounters where the balance seems more even, it feels like whatever side has won the most encounters so far is going to keep winning. For example in my current campaign the players have been losing badly to the Overlord, and now we just hit Act II. The Overlord has extra experience and we have purchased a grand total of 2 items because we never get gold because we never win. The second half is going to be a bloodbath and we may just restart because what's the point of trying to fight monsters when the game assumes you have equipment that you don't have?


You ALWAYS get gold - win or lose - if you search. The search cards are simply converted to gold at the end of the 2nd encounter. Also, you can sell you equipment for half price, starting equipment for 25 gold.

I can tell you right now that if the OL won the interlude and you only have two items you'll be heading the same direction as my group. The OL will be unbeatable and that is no fun for anyone.
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Chris McDonald
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MattShinners wrote:
My vote for 'slightly favors OL' is only because of the nature of the beast. I think the scenarios are actually quite well-balanced (on average - some are definitely lopsided), but having one person with an unequivocally unified strategy is almost always superior to having a team of people trying to cooperate. The players have to really coordinate, not just have a general idea of what they want to accomplish, in order to make the game truly balanced.

And, in order to do that, they need to play a few games together to get the feel for the group. By that time, however, the OL has built up a bit of a lead as far as cards go. I think a second play-through with the same group would result in a more balanced game.

I also think a limit to the number of cards the OL can carry over into the next encounter is warranted, or at least a mandatory use-or-discard-one rule/turn.


Hmm, that may be so, but on the other hand 4 players putting their heads together are less likely to miss a good play than a single person. In my last game, one player was often about to do something before another player stopped them and pointed out a better alternative.
 
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Matt Shinners
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cfmcdonald wrote:
Hmm, that may be so, but on the other hand 4 players putting their heads together are less likely to miss a good play than a single person. In my last game, one player was often about to do something before another player stopped them and pointed out a better alternative.


I'd agree with that.

However, I still think that a single person single-mindedly pulling off a non-ideal (but still decent) strategy will beat a team who is half doing the best strategy, half doing the second best strategy, with the occasional misstep by someone who just really wants to use the cool new spell he picked up and one bad round resulting in a second voice convincing the group to shift gears.

The potential for that happening with the OL (deciding to switch gears) is still possible, but I think a lot less likely than with a team of multiple people. Especially since, in a group of 3-4, there's usually one person who wasn't on board with the strategy 100% to begin with.
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Kevin O'Bryan
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Wasabi_Eater wrote:


You ALWAYS get gold - win or lose - if you search. The search cards are simply converted to gold at the end of the 2nd encounter. Also, you can sell you equipment for half price, starting equipment for 25 gold.

I can tell you right now that if the OL won the interlude and you only have two items you'll be heading the same direction as my group. The OL will be unbeatable and that is no fun for anyone.


Right, that's the only way we've gotten any gold this campaign -- searching. Unfortunately, searching takes otherwise useful actions (which means on the winnable maps you're making yourself lose) and doesn't give as much XP as winning. Even if you search every item on the map, winning would often double the amount of gold you get. Finally, when we go into an encounter and see that the heroes aren't going to be able to win, we start to stall to try to search, but the Overlord plays to win which means he does everything he can to stop us. Some maps we've ended up with 0 gold. I think our best was 75 gold.

But yeah, the Overlord has won every encounter except one this campaign. We may as well restart because the Act II monsters are just too tough for guys with effectively starting equipment and a few skills.
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Adam Rouse
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I am still on Act I of my first campaign, but if the current results of this poll are accurate, I'd be satisfied. I prefer for it to be a bit difficult on the heroes. Dungeon crawls have taught me to expect the hero will lose, which makes it more satisfying when they win.
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Pete aka The Masked Minstrel
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I've only played First Blood and Fat Goblin parts 1 & 2 with 2 heroes, Thief and Spirit-Speaker.

All games pretty much came down to a dice roll on who would win, I do play to win as the overlord but I'm not overly merciless.
I guess it's a habit that I can't shake from being a DM / GM for 20 years...

First Blood: only one more goblin had to escape for the win and he was sitting in the water ready to bolt for the exit, the heroes spent double actions attacking to kill Mauler.

Fat Goblin part 1: Goblins only escaped with 1 Crop.
I started with Barghests intentionally leaving a gap where the heroes could run through, only to be hounded from behind by the Barghests.
It was pretty much 2 crops going to each side, though one of them being fought over constantly and changing hands a couple of times.

Fat Goblin part 2: I wanted to see what the shadow dragon could do.
The heroes smashed the spiders den quickly, then were stuck with a roadblock of a shadow dragon blocking their path - they both had either range or reach so were able to avoid the shadow ability.
Splig found the prisoner on his first attempt which was sheer luck, and headed towards the exit surrounded by his goblin entourage.
At a timely point when the Thief did Tomble's Heroic Feat and disappeared off the map, the Shadow Dragon moved aside letting Splig and his guards scoot past.
Splig didn't make it far enough to get away from still being adjacent when Tomble reappeared, and I was expecting more from his 'Not Me!' ability, though it did save him once.
He was one move away from escaping when the heroes killed him with a ranged attack.
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Roland Wood
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In my opinion, Descent 1E swung wildly back and forth between favoring OL and players with each new expansion pushing the pendulum the other way until it finally felt closest to being balanced by the last expansion. (Single scenario game not campaign game)

It will probably take a few expansions to fine tune things for this edition as well.
 
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Adam Baumeister
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I have only played 4 hero games with 3 other very experienced gamers and it has been our experience that the overlord has had a VERY difficult time keeping pace with us at even the missions that appear to be considered "sure wins" for the OL by the community (Castle Darion, for instance).

The best our OL has managed so far has been an "almost won" for the first half of the mission involving Cardinal Koth.

We are actually considering allowing out OL to make "stamina moves" burning monster health to help make up the difference.
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Muziq
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Rubberchrist wrote:
I have only played 4 hero games with 3 other very experienced gamers and it has been our experience that the overlord has had a VERY difficult time keeping pace with us at even the missions that appear to be considered "sure wins" for the OL by the community (Castle Darion, for instance).


As long as the heroes win it's ok. But as soon as the OL wins one and he gets to choose quests in act II things will be different. That's the problem: if the OL loses he still gets stronger monsters in act II. If the heroes lose and they don't have any gold to spend, they get one XP while the OL gets some relic or 3 XP and he gets stronger fast with his act II monsters.

 
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Mike Paivinen
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cferejohn wrote:
I think you need one for each player count. While there is some scaling, it may not be enough - my general impression is that the more players there are the harder it is for the OL.
This!
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squallgoku wrote:

the Shadow Dragon moved aside letting Splig and his guards scoot past.


hmm, why did the Shadow Dragon had to move aside? You can move through friendly units afaik.

If you missed that rule, that may be the reason why it seems harder for you to win as OL.
 
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William Smith
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If FFG felt that they balanced the game, they would love these poll results. Not only is "balanced" the most chosen option, the spread of other votes is pretty evenly on either side of that option...indicating the truth probably still is somewhere in the middle.
 
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Ken Marley
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Good hero players > bad OL
Good OL >>> Bad Hero Players
Bad OL > Bad Heroes
Good hero players = good OL

I think the game favors the OL, since if you don't play well you can do ok as the OL, but if the heroes don't play well it is a slaughter.

The OL gets a big boost in the first quest of act 2. Almost all of his monsters do 3 dice damage, and the heroes have at most 1 hero doing 3 dice if they won the interlude. Even if the heroes have won every quest this is usually a very tough quest, and lose it then the OL picks...

The heroes have really no place where they can come back from a bad start. The OL does.


 
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Brian M
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PKDuke wrote:
If FFG felt that they balanced the game, they would love these poll results. Not only is "balanced" the most chosen option, the spread of other votes is pretty evenly on either side of that option...indicating the truth probably still is somewhere in the middle.

Based on all the discussion, this appears to be because:
1) The game doesn't scale well.
2) Certain scenarios strongly favor one side or the other.
3) Certain scenarios strongly favor certain hero or OL skill sets.

That may give results where both sides win about the same amount over everyone's games, but it's not 'balanced'.

And if sides are often slaughtering each other, but taking turns as to which side dominates each quest, that may be 'balanced', but it's not much fun!
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The Galaxy is Just Packed!
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GreatOldOne wrote:
squallgoku wrote:

the Shadow Dragon moved aside letting Splig and his guards scoot past.


hmm, why did the Shadow Dragon had to move aside? You can move through friendly units afaik.

If you missed that rule, that may be the reason why it seems harder for you to win as OL.


Splig only moves 3, so it may be that the dragon needed to move to maximize his movement.
 
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Pete aka The Masked Minstrel
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To be honest I don't remember my reasoning, but I did it anyway and it didn't affect the outcome regardless.
Came down to a dice roll whether Splig escaped or died.
 
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My group started the campaign without me for a play-test. They won the first quest but they had 0 chances of winning the second quest.

We started the campaign again the next day. This time we were 4 heroes and the overlord. I think we won the first quest. From that point onwards we lost every quest and we decided to quit before we got to fight level 2 monsters because this game isn't fun at all.

Note that we are all good players and played quite a bit of Descent 1 too.

Here are my thoughts that I will most likely summarize in a review at some point. The rating this game has is ridiculous and is only getting positive reviews. Someone should point out the awful stuff too. Most of this is my opinion after playing the start of the campaign.

If the players don't play perfectly they are strongly crippled by the game. There were scenarios that we couldn't win, not because of bad dice rolls, bad choices or anything. It was simply impossible. This was a two part quest. The first one was impossible to win. The second part was impossible to win if the first one was lost.

But don't worry, you get rewarded even if you lose... with 1 XP, while the Overlord gets stronger. This is only logical because you also learn from failures but if you have no gold for a better equipment you get stomped into the ground.

We didn't even want to play one quest at level 2. All the monsters get one more attack die and an upgraded defense die while the heroes will generally have poor equipment. What else do you expect when you get pounded on every quest?

There are heroes that people recommend against choosing them. If I can't choose the hero I like, then why is he even there.

The compression and decompression rule for the big monsters is in the detriment of the heroes. A dragon for example can move 2 more squares.

There are a lot of choke points that the overlord will most likely use. If you charge forward you die. If you stay behind you lose. Whatever you do, you don't win.

My rating for this game is below 5. If you like to lose on a regular basis then this game will be fun for you. We are not going to play this game any time soon. It isn't fun at all!
 
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Muziq
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StormKnight wrote:

Based on all the discussion, this appears to be because:
1) The game doesn't scale well.
2) Certain scenarios strongly favor one side or the other.
3) Certain scenarios strongly favor certain hero or OL skill sets.

That may give results where both sides win about the same amount over everyone's games, but it's not 'balanced'.

And if sides are often slaughtering each other, but taking turns as to which side dominates each quest, that may be 'balanced', but it's not much fun!

QFT
 
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