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Subject: Considering a house rule for open groups rss

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Chris J Davis
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After seeing a recent file that was uploaded to BGG showing all the monsters that are available for each encounter (if you own the Conversion Kit), I decided I wanted to limit the OL's choices in which monsters he could choose. The number of monsters you can choose within each encounter is just ridiculous, and completely does away with any concept of the monsters within an encounter being appropriately themed to each other. I can also see a problem where some monsters would never be chosen, as another option is always superior.

So I was thinking something like this:

Each trait in an encounter has a "rating" associated with it, with traits that are more strongly represented in the encounter having a higher rating (so for example, an encounter that contained a lot of water and a bit of wilderness would have a higher water rating than wilderness rating).

At the start of the encounter, the OL can only choose ONE trait, and all monsters for the encounter must have that trait. The OL shuffles all such monster cards and deals out a number of them equal to the rating for that trait. He can then choose his open groups from among the monsters that he dealt out.

Thoughts?
 
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Bryce K. Nielsen
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There has to be something to limit the choices. I love the choices, but in practice it's always boiling down to whichever monster has the biggest health, and/or biggest attack (Giant being a preferred favorite of my overlord). The only time it's different is when the goals of the encounter need a 'runner' of some kind. Then you see the rare 5 Speed figs in play.

Either the monsters need a cost, or maybe a rank (like kobolds are Rank 1 but dragons are Rank 3) and then each quest has a max rank that can be included. The other option I've considered is getting all monster cards for the allowed traits and have the OL randomly pick one.

-shnar
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Although I'm not much of a house ruler, I've been thinking of something along this line more to help force "variety" than anything. For mine, it would have been more like "if you use it in one quest, you are limited in using it again", but your idea seems to have a better basis to it. I may have to try that when I get my kit.

One question about it, though; how does it impact the quests in Act II that, if won by the OL, allows the OL to pick Shadow Dragons or Elementals regardless of traits. Would you just have them:

- Always be a valid pick
- Always be in the "deck" for any trait
- Be ignored

I like the concept though, I may try it
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Brian M
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Quote:
At the start of the encounter, the OL can only choose ONE trait, and all monsters for the encounter must have that trait. The OL shuffles all such monster cards and deals out a number of them equal to the rating for that trait. He can then choose his open groups from among the monsters that he dealt out.


Having to sort all the monster cards for type before each encounter might be a pain (assuming you are using the expansion).

We've been having the OL draw some number of cards from the pile and then pick from those, following the trait rules. We're up in the air on exactly how many cards it should be and whether to redraw in valid monsters or not, but so far we haven't worried too much about it because we're just not playing the game all that competitively.

I'm not really sure what the traits even accomplish; I originally thought it would be to make sure certain abilities didn't appear in quest where they would be problematic, but if that was the idea they failed epically at it.
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Jeff Butler
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While I agree, in theory, I am holding off any such alterations in our group, simply due to the lack of experience with the many possible variants...
I honestly don't think that I would imagined Kobolds to be as good as they are. The sheer number of them that you get, combined with the swarm actually made them more effective at killing heroes than the Ettins were...
I can only imagine that there are a significant number of other such gems waiting to be discovered...
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Chris J Davis
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sigmazero13 wrote:
Although I'm not much of a house ruler, I've been thinking of something along this line more to help force "variety" than anything. For mine, it would have been more like "if you use it in one quest, you are limited in using it again", but your idea seems to have a better basis to it. I may have to try that when I get my kit.

One question about it, though; how does it impact the quests in Act II that, if won by the OL, allows the OL to pick Shadow Dragons or Elementals regardless of traits. Would you just have them:

- Always be a valid pick
- Always be in the "deck" for any trait
- Be ignored

I like the concept though, I may try it


I'd say always be a valid pick.
 
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StormKnight wrote:
Quote:
At the start of the encounter, the OL can only choose ONE trait, and all monsters for the encounter must have that trait. The OL shuffles all such monster cards and deals out a number of them equal to the rating for that trait. He can then choose his open groups from among the monsters that he dealt out.


Having to sort all the monster cards for type before each encounter might be a pain (assuming you are using the expansion).

We've been having the OL draw some number of cards from the pile and then pick from those, following the trait rules. We're up in the air on exactly how many cards it should be and whether to redraw in valid monsters or not, but so far we haven't worried too much about it because we're just not playing the game all that competitively.

I'm not really sure what the traits even accomplish; I originally thought it would be to make sure certain abilities didn't appear in quest where they would be problematic, but if that was the idea they failed epically at it.


The idea is that they are supposed to theme the monsters to the encounters (so it is just a mechanic of theme, not balance or gameplay). But I think they failed at that as well, as there are just too many choices for most encounters!
 
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Brian M
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Quote:
The idea is that they are supposed to theme the monsters to the encounters (so it is just a mechanic of theme, not balance or gameplay). But I think they failed at that as well, as there are just too many choices for most encounters!

I'm dismissing the idea of "themed" on the grounds that there just isn't any thematic consistency whatsoever.

Heck, in a lot of the scenarios, the monsters are there "because the OL sent some of the army of monsters to do something". What thematically goes in that category?
 
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StormKnight wrote:
Quote:
The idea is that they are supposed to theme the monsters to the encounters (so it is just a mechanic of theme, not balance or gameplay). But I think they failed at that as well, as there are just too many choices for most encounters!

I'm dismissing the idea of "themed" on the grounds that there just isn't any thematic consistency whatsoever.

Heck, in a lot of the scenarios, the monsters are there "because the OL sent some of the army of monsters to do something". What thematically goes in that category?


Like I said, I think this was the reason, they just failed at it.
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Bryce K. Nielsen
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sigmazero13 wrote:
"if you use it in one quest, you are limited in using it again"

This seems the simplest suggestion I've seen so far. Basically, once you use one monster as an Open Group, you cannot use it again in a campaign as that Open Group until all other options have been used. This would force variety...

-shnar
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Tristan Angeles

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I think this is a bad idea. Many times the choices are made for either mission or to take advantage of a weakness amongst the heroes. if you're forcing The OL to pick diff monsters, the OL should be able to force the heroes to pick diff missions and diff heroes, and diff classes
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James Champagne
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shnar wrote:
sigmazero13 wrote:
"if you use it in one quest, you are limited in using it again"

This seems the simplest suggestion I've seen so far. Basically, once you use one monster as an Open Group, you cannot use it again in a campaign as that Open Group until all other options have been used. This would force variety...

-shnar


That's just what I would suggest. It also forces a bit of tension on the Overlord, as he or she must decide whether to use a monster group now, or save them for later.
 
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Kelly Overholser
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I don't think I agree with not being able to use a monster group at all until everything else has been used, but I like the idea of, once a group is used, you can't use that group at all in the next quest. This doesn't apply to fixed groups at all, and doesn't apply to the other encounter of a single quest. Maybe it should apply to the next two quests, however.

My own personal idea is to separate all monsters that are legal to use in the encounter, shuffle them up, and draw three, plus two per open group (so five for one open group, seven for two, etc). This gives the Overlord enough choices to make good decisions (since you don't want to get stuck with something like zombies as an open group for a quest that needs fast movement, or kobolds when you need to get a single monster to survive a long time), but doesn't give him free reign.
 
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bleached_lizard wrote:
StormKnight wrote:
Quote:
The idea is that they are supposed to theme the monsters to the encounters (so it is just a mechanic of theme, not balance or gameplay). But I think they failed at that as well, as there are just too many choices for most encounters!

I'm dismissing the idea of "themed" on the grounds that there just isn't any thematic consistency whatsoever.

Heck, in a lot of the scenarios, the monsters are there "because the OL sent some of the army of monsters to do something". What thematically goes in that category?


Like I said, I think this was the reason, they just failed at it.

I think they aren't just for quest theme, but for a combo of quest theme, variety encouragement, and options. I also think some of the reason for the icons isn't so much for "what you can bring", but in some cases more of "what can you NOT bring".

I think thematically the monsters available represent some combo of "what the OL sends directly" and "what indigenous monsters the OL influences to come out and fight".

Regardless, while I don't think it's always a perfect match, I think in general it works (and don't feel they failed at it): you are more likely to find Cave Spiders inside a cavern than outside; more likely to find Merriods near the water than in a castle; more likely to find Zombies in tombs and grave sites than in a random cave.

Again, I think there was some allowance for options/variety which sometimes bends thematics a bit, but I think this was by design - prodding towards certain aspects, without forcing them (other than the "fixed" groups which are usually tied much more thematically to the quest).
 
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Chad Walton
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We've just been drawing one at a time randomly until we get one that can be used. The Overlord (me) just makes due. It keeps it interesting and varied. I don't really care if it favors the heroes as it is more interesting (I get forced to try different tactics every game) and truthfully the game is more fun when it favors the heroes (and less likely to kill the campaign).
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Brian M
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Quote:
We've just been drawing one at a time randomly until we get one that can be used.

The OL often did this in our first playthrough (after deciding she'd probably be picking the same monsters few monsters most times if given the choice), and it worked fine for the most part, except for one scenario where the OL really does NOT want large monsters, which we didn't realize until after the scenario started.
 
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Chris J Davis
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After thinking about it some more, I think I'm going to go with this:

Each monster trait icon in an encounter has an Overlord card penalty associated with it. When the Overlord chooses monsters for his Open Groups, he first chooses one trait only. If the trait has an Overlord card penalty, the Overlord must first discard Overlord cards corresponding to the penalty. He may not choose that trait if he does not have enough Overlord cards to pay the penalty. He then separates out all monster cards with that trait icon, shuffles them, and deals out a number of them equal to the number of Open Groups listed in the encounter, plus 2. The Overlord may then choose to fill any number of his Open Groups with monsters from this selection. After he has chosen, if there are any Open Groups still remaining to be filled, the Overlord may repeat this process by choosing a different trait. The Overlord must pay the card penalty for each trait he chooses and may not choose the same trait twice.
 
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Honestly, I liked the original idea better. The idea of a card penalty seems arbitrary and disconnected from the purpose of the monsters. Plus it may not work as well in a 2-player game where the OL only starts with 2 cards.

Trying to assign relative "power" to each icon seems like more trouble than it's worth. I think I'd go with just a simple "Draw X valid cards, pick from among them", where X is just some constant perhaps related to the number of open groups, the act, the number of heroes, or something, rather than trying to assess the "power" a certain icon provides.
 
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Bobb Beauchamp
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It sounds overly complex.

At the same time, I really have to wonder about the Conversion Kit, and how much consideration was given to balance between monster cards. I think Giants and Beastmen share an icon...are these cards really considered equal? I do feel generally that the number of monsters used to balance out the number of heroes overall works, but I need more playtime to really get a solid impression of how well things are scaling across monster groups.
 
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sigmazero13 wrote:
Honestly, I liked the original idea better. The idea of a card penalty seems arbitrary and disconnected from the purpose of the monsters. Plus it may not work as well in a 2-player game where the OL only starts with 2 cards.

Trying to assign relative "power" to each icon seems like more trouble than it's worth. I think I'd go with just a simple "Draw X valid cards, pick from among them", where X is just some constant perhaps related to the number of open groups, the act, the number of heroes, or something, rather than trying to assess the "power" a certain icon provides.


It's nothing to do with power. It's to encourage the OL to use monsters that are more thematically appropriate to the level. It's a theme-only mechanic, not a balancing mechanic.
 
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kingbobb wrote:
It sounds overly complex.

At the same time, I really have to wonder about the Conversion Kit, and how much consideration was given to balance between monster cards. I think Giants and Beastmen share an icon...are these cards really considered equal? I do feel generally that the number of monsters used to balance out the number of heroes overall works, but I need more playtime to really get a solid impression of how well things are scaling across monster groups.


Why do you think the icons have got anything to do with their power level?
 
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bleached_lizard wrote:
sigmazero13 wrote:
Honestly, I liked the original idea better. The idea of a card penalty seems arbitrary and disconnected from the purpose of the monsters. Plus it may not work as well in a 2-player game where the OL only starts with 2 cards.

Trying to assign relative "power" to each icon seems like more trouble than it's worth. I think I'd go with just a simple "Draw X valid cards, pick from among them", where X is just some constant perhaps related to the number of open groups, the act, the number of heroes, or something, rather than trying to assess the "power" a certain icon provides.


It's nothing to do with power. It's to encourage the OL to use monsters that are more thematically appropriate to the level. It's a theme-only mechanic, not a balancing mechanic.

So does that mean the icon penalty is going to be different for every quest? That sounds even more complicated than I had originally thought. And if it was for theme only, I'm not sure affecting gameplay mechanics by penalizing the OL for a thematic choice is the right approach. It would also suck if an OL opted for a certain choice, paid the penalty, and ended up with a few monsters that ended up being lame for the particular quest to choose from - now he's being double-penalized.

I think if heavy theme is the overall goal, the best approach would be to go quest-by-quest and hand-pick a list of available open groups that match the theme.
 
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sigmazero13 wrote:
Honestly, I liked the original idea better. The idea of a card penalty seems arbitrary and disconnected from the purpose of the monsters. Plus it may not work as well in a 2-player game where the OL only starts with 2 cards.

Trying to assign relative "power" to each icon seems like more trouble than it's worth. I think I'd go with just a simple "Draw X valid cards, pick from among them", where X is just some constant perhaps related to the number of open groups, the act, the number of heroes, or something, rather than trying to assess the "power" a certain icon provides.


Oh, and there were a couple of mechanical problems with the original idea, which is why I changed it to OL cards. The penalty can easily be made no more than -2, so it should work even in 2-hero games (or you can even have a positive "penalty").
 
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sigmazero13 wrote:
bleached_lizard wrote:
sigmazero13 wrote:
Honestly, I liked the original idea better. The idea of a card penalty seems arbitrary and disconnected from the purpose of the monsters. Plus it may not work as well in a 2-player game where the OL only starts with 2 cards.

Trying to assign relative "power" to each icon seems like more trouble than it's worth. I think I'd go with just a simple "Draw X valid cards, pick from among them", where X is just some constant perhaps related to the number of open groups, the act, the number of heroes, or something, rather than trying to assess the "power" a certain icon provides.


It's nothing to do with power. It's to encourage the OL to use monsters that are more thematically appropriate to the level. It's a theme-only mechanic, not a balancing mechanic.

So does that mean the icon penalty is going to be different for every quest? That sounds even more complicated than I had originally thought. And if it was for theme only, I'm not sure affecting gameplay mechanics by penalizing the OL for a thematic choice is the right approach. It would also suck if an OL opted for a certain choice, paid the penalty, and ended up with a few monsters that ended up being lame for the particular quest to choose from - now he's being double-penalized.

I think if heavy theme is the overall goal, the best approach would be to go quest-by-quest and hand-pick a list of available open groups that match the theme.


Then you might as well just have fixed groups.
 
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bleached_lizard wrote:
sigmazero13 wrote:
bleached_lizard wrote:
sigmazero13 wrote:
Honestly, I liked the original idea better. The idea of a card penalty seems arbitrary and disconnected from the purpose of the monsters. Plus it may not work as well in a 2-player game where the OL only starts with 2 cards.

Trying to assign relative "power" to each icon seems like more trouble than it's worth. I think I'd go with just a simple "Draw X valid cards, pick from among them", where X is just some constant perhaps related to the number of open groups, the act, the number of heroes, or something, rather than trying to assess the "power" a certain icon provides.


It's nothing to do with power. It's to encourage the OL to use monsters that are more thematically appropriate to the level. It's a theme-only mechanic, not a balancing mechanic.

So does that mean the icon penalty is going to be different for every quest? That sounds even more complicated than I had originally thought. And if it was for theme only, I'm not sure affecting gameplay mechanics by penalizing the OL for a thematic choice is the right approach. It would also suck if an OL opted for a certain choice, paid the penalty, and ended up with a few monsters that ended up being lame for the particular quest to choose from - now he's being double-penalized.

I think if heavy theme is the overall goal, the best approach would be to go quest-by-quest and hand-pick a list of available open groups that match the theme.


Then you might as well just have fixed groups.

Well, I was being extreme, but if you really want to force theme too tightly, you are right, you may as well.

I think the reason I liked the original better is I'm more interested in just trying to encourage variety than in trying to force theme. The new version just seems more complicated than necessary to meet this goal.
 
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