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

Subject: Cardinal's Plight part 2 rss

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gameplayer guy
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We just played this quest and the OL had 3 zombies plus the master zombie in the library. All of the zombies activated and attacked the Cardinal twice. They produced 9 damage (out of 16 total) in the first turn, then the heroes healed him 2 in their turn. In the second turn, the zombies easily defeated the Cardinal before the heroes had any chance of opening the door.

Did we play this right? Seems impossible for the heroes to win.

Thanks in advance for any rules clarifications in case we missed something.
 
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Leo Chan
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All of the zombies activated and attacked the Cardinal twice:

You play wrong, zombine (many monsters also) can only perform one attack action in each turn

Only monsters have "Ravage" can perform two attack actions in each turn
 
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Matt Albritton
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hungryhomer wrote:
All of the zombies activated and attacked the Cardinal twice.


Monsters can only attack once per round without the use of "Frenzy". It's still a very difficult scenario if the Overlord gets more than two zombies out in the first encounter.
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gameplayer guy
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Thanks. Hard to remember all the rules after you put it on a shelf for a week.

We replayed the game with the correct rule of one attack per monster and we still defeated the cardinal well before the heroes opened the library door.

Still seems critical for the heroes to not let the zombies escape in the first encounter, although that was also hard to stop.
 
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George Kizilis
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Definitely only one normal attack per round per monster. What I would like to know is can the cardinal be affected by things such as Aura, even though only zombies can attack him? Can he be affected by Blast if he is not the direct target?
 
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Dan
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We really played this one wrong too, having had a month since our last session and it only being our second time playing, so the OL was way overpowered with monsters attacking twice.

Anyway, one question I have based on the OP is whether the OL can have a master zombie in the library for Act II.

The way we read it, if 4 zombies escape in Act I, then you place 4 minion zombies in the library, regardless of normal group restrictions. So that's what we did, and no master zombie at all.

Was that right?
 
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Matt Albritton
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oddbod wrote:
Anyway, one question I have based on the OP is whether the OL can have a master zombie in the library for Act II.


Sure, you put the master zombie exactly where the quest guide says to put him.
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Dan
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OK, so the lesson here is that we need to read the quest guide more closely. Looks like this one is going to be a do-over.
 
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Ian Kelly
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oddbod wrote:
OK, so the lesson here is that we need to read the quest guide more closely. Looks like this one is going to be a do-over.


FWIW, since this encounter seems to heavily favor the OL, one simple change that I would consider making is to remove the Master Zombie altogether.
 
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Kelly Overholser
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Encounter 2 only heavily favors the OL if the heroes completely flub Encounter 1. It's critical that they don't let any more than 2 zombies off the map - the encounter is actually incredibly easy for the heroes if they manage to prevent three of the zombies from escaping. Personally I think the scenario is pretty balanced as-is.
 
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Sethala wrote:
Personally I think the scenario is pretty balanced as-is.

My friend Sethala now realises he was misplaying this scenario. With nothing to prevent the immobilising Master Zombie constantly reinforcing right next to Koth this scenario is bone-crushingly difficult for the Heroes, and frustrating to boot.
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Rich Moore
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Sethala wrote:
Encounter 2 only heavily favors the OL if the heroes completely flub Encounter 1. It's critical that they don't let any more than 2 zombies off the map - the encounter is actually incredibly easy for the heroes if they manage to prevent three of the zombies from escaping. Personally I think the scenario is pretty balanced as-is.


Maybe, but having just played with 3 escaped zombies (against my son, who is 10, and his friend), it was just brutal. I literally STOPPED attacking the stupid cardinal about midway through. I actually just let him go, in the end, while I had fun wailing on the heroes (Avric got stuck in the zombie mash after the cardinal was freed and some flesh molders took on Grisban the slow...er, thirsty).

If I hadn't had given them a reprieve, the scenario would have been over before the door to the library was every unlocked (and this with Avric more or less camped on the alter). Cardinal definitely would never have escaped if I hadn't of let him.
 
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Kelly Overholser
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Terah wrote:
Sethala wrote:
Personally I think the scenario is pretty balanced as-is.

My friend Sethala now realises he was misplaying this scenario. With nothing to prevent the immobilising Master Zombie constantly reinforcing right next to Koth this scenario is bone-crushingly difficult for the Heroes, and frustrating to boot.


Not really; it was easy for my heroes because I couldn't do enough damage with only one minion zombie (and the master) to put any real time pressure on them. They were able to take it slow and clear out both side rooms before opening the door, and they easily had enough firepower to take down the zombies as they spawned. The damage the master could have done while keeping Koth immobilized was negligible, especially since the heroes decided it was a good idea to pull back into the room and protect him further inside there. The scenario may have changed slightly, but not enough to make a major difference.

Although, if the OL gets three minions off in the first encounter, yeah, it's gonna be really hard to win as the heroes.
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Richard Dewsbery
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Terah wrote:
My friend Sethala now realises he was misplaying this scenario. With nothing to prevent the immobilising Master Zombie constantly reinforcing right next to Koth this scenario is bone-crushingly difficult for the Heroes, and frustrating to boot.


How difficult depends on encounter 1. Last night we *slaughtered* the OL on part 1 - he didn't get a single zombie off the board, and stopped trying for them at one point because he knew that the routine was "spawn zombie on grave stone, hero insta-kills zombie". So he went into encounter 2 with just the master zombie (plus the other monster groups).

In encounter 2, the heroes cleaned out the dungeon, killing each of the non-reinforcing monster groups and the LT fairly easily. The odd heal via the alter was more than enough to keep the Cardinal happy. The problems for the heroes only started once the library door was open.

Yes, Farrow was a piece of cake to despatch, but in the library a routine quickly developed; master zombie immobilizes than hits the Cardinal; the heroes kill the master zombie but can't move the immobile priest (because with a 2-skill he can't break the condition very often and the party has no healer); the OL spawns a new master zombie next to the Cardinal and repeats the immobilize/hit routine. Over, and over, and over. We called the game after a while, because it was obvious that the heroes would *eventually* get lucky twice with the immobilize rolls and get him away from a zombie-spawn point. But frustratingly the heroes didn't actually get to see him make it out of the front door because we can't play past midnight!

Unless we missed something, like he's immune to conditions.

 
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Jeff Butler
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Out of curiosity, how were you managing to kill the zombies that quickly, without just killing the Lt.?
Our group has played through that twice, and both times we couldn't even get close to the zombie spawn before the OL won...
 
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Richard Dewsbery
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There was just the one master zombie to begin with. We carved our way through the three open groups (they don't get reinforcements, do they?), and opened the Library. The OL brought on the LT and started spawning more zombies, but we got a bit lucky - the main party tank (me) was in a position to leap into the library ahead of the rest of the group, had good defences and a feat that meant the first KO he suffered doesn't count, and could take out two small monsters a turn. Although the OL was able to get a couple of extra zombies in and the LT, they all went down pretty fast to our full party - leaving just the master zombie to stall the game with a series of grabs on the cardinal.

It probably helped a lot that this was our third quest in Act 1 - so all the heroes had spent 3XP and had bought some useful equipment too. Had it been the first quest, or maybe the second, I doubt we would have had it so easy.
 
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Jeff Butler
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Sorry, I guess I should have clarified...
I meant the first part of the encounter. How were your group able to win easily and completely?

We've been struggling in our group with "balance". I'm playing as the OL, and, aside from the intro, I've won every quest so far, up through the intermission.

We did two separate playthroughs of The Cardinal's Plight, with the only difference being the fact that I switched off with one of the heroes to gain a different perspective. (We kept the open group the same, as well as the "travel" conditions, just to keep things even.)
The heroes got absolutely slaughtered both times.

We used Dragons for the open group in part 1, and used them to block the path forward.
In the original playthrough, they wasted several turns killing the (respawning) dragons to move forward. When I was being heroic, I used the feat (Syndrael, IIRC) to move an adjacent monster, and all the heroes ran past.
Searching the tokens for the key took up an additional turn, and by that point, in both attempts, the dragons had managed to block the exit from that area, requiring another turn or three (bad rolls are the bane of heroes in my game, apparently) to even attempt the Lt.

Good rolls on the part of the Lt, in addition to judicious use of Dash cards enabled zombies to be summoned and exited within 5 turns, IIRC...

It seems to me that there is a LOT more dependence on die rolls and luck in this game, especially compared to D1.
The fact that figures have variable armour adds both good and bad aspects. In first edition, you would automatically know how much damage it took to kill anything, and could plan accordingly. Now, you have a range that defense will fall within, and that throws kinks in the best laid plans...
 
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Richard Dewsbery
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I got a bit confused too - it was in part 1 that the tank found himself ahead of the rest of the party at exactly the right time to do maximum damage.

Part one - open groups were hellhounds, with fleshmoulders in the portal key room. We carved a swift hole through the hellhounds, the thief bounded ahead to the portal key room, and started searching using the "greedy" skill (so he didn't have to move). It all happened so fast that the OL had only managed to summon one zombie. In the turn that the portal opened, IIRC that zombie fell to a huge ranged shot from our archer (heroic feat - take a shot that won't miss irrespective of range), and the main party tank was already at the portal ready to leap in. From that point on, each time the OL summoned a zombie, the tank took it down before it could move. Which in turn left time for the thief to run around and grab all the treasure, something else we've been quite effective at. Lots of gold makes for lots of equipment, and we've reached a point where our OL regards pretty much any monster he can spawn as nothing more than a slight speedbump for us.

I might have a couple of the details wrong, but the lessons I'm learning from D2 is "concentrate on what you need to do to win, and unless it's helping you to win, don't do it" - so protecting ourselves from enemy monsters is a secondary consideration to doing what needs to be done, and in part one that's opening the portal and killing zombies.
 
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Jeff Butler
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It sounds like, to me, the Thief makes a lot of difference in this game.

Our group is composed of the Knight, the Runemaster, the Spiritspeaker and the Wildlander.

From everything I've been reading, our party just doesn't have the necessary synergy to get it done. That, or some of the classes aren't balanced versus others...

I would be interested in your exact party composition, so that I could do a strength comparison with my players...
 
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Ian Kelly
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carnagecjb wrote:
Good rolls on the part of the Lt, in addition to judicious use of Dash cards enabled zombies to be summoned and exited within 5 turns, IIRC...


Good rolls, indeed. Since he can only raise one zombie per turn, and they can't move on the turn they were raised, 5 turns would be the best possible time to get them all out with 4 heroes.

When my group did this quest, I had pretty bad rolls and still managed to escape three zombies -- although to be fair, we failed to anticipate just how important those zombies would be in the second encounter and so the heroes didn't rush as much as they should have.

RDewsbery wrote:
I might have a couple of the details wrong, but the lessons I'm learning from D2 is "concentrate on what you need to do to win, and unless it's helping you to win, don't do it" - so protecting ourselves from enemy monsters is a secondary consideration to doing what needs to be done, and in part one that's opening the portal and killing zombies.


Totally agree. I find the heroes to be quite robust in this game, and it takes a lot of concentrated fire just to take one down, when often there are more important things to do. Between the Runemaster who reduces enemy attack damage by 1 on all enemies within 3 spaces, and the Spiritspeaker with Stoneskin, and the Thief who borrows other players' defense dice, not to mention all their armor, I find that many of my attacks are ineffective even when they hit.
 
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Richard Dewsbery
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carnagecjb wrote:
I would be interested in your exact party composition, so that I could do a strength comparison with my players...


Our party is as follows:

Laurel of Bloodwood (conversion kit) - Wildlander. We got the elm greatbow on our first shopping trip, so she stands at the back machine-gunning stuff to death. Poor health makes her one of the most vulnerable team members, but that's not something the OL has really exploited.

Jaes the Exile (c) - Runemaster. Not seen him use his heroic feat yet. Has a decent rune, can add blast to it, and something like 5 stamina through items/skills.

Varikas the Dead (c) - Knight. Sword and shield combo, using one of the quest shields (re-roll; use the new defence dice only if better) and a skill that allows him to exhaust the skill and not the shield. Hard to take down and just gets straight back up again thanks to his feat, so the OL has mostly left him alone. Assault is a great skill - V can sometimes pull off three attacks a turn.

Ronan of the wild (c) - Thief. Appraisal skill and the greedy ability means we've been getting LOTS of loot. Played by a chap who is absolutely determined to roleplay to type - Ronan won't get involved in combat if there is anything left on the map to steal, and isn't great at participating in the group plan.

The obvious lack we have is healing - aside from Varikas' ability, damage taken is usually pretty much a burden for the whole of the quest. But the party is tooled up enough now that there's not usually a lot left standing to target anyone except Varikas on the OL's turns. The start of Act 2 might be tricky though.
 
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Phil Thompson
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As the OL in the above campaign ( Varikas et al.) I believe the two things which really turned the screw in Encounter I were missing the Lts first summoning check and Varikas' feat, which meant that when I managed to put him down in the graveyard I had no breathing space to summon any more zombies. If that had been any other hero I might have got a second zombie into play.

I have read several comments that the conversion kit gives a big boost to the OL but not much to the heroes. I have found the opposite. Varikas and Lauren are both really strong. Her special is crazy once she skills and tools up a bit - she now regularly deals six or seven damage at range, often twice a turn. Meanwhile I am still searching for a monster which can pose more than a single turn problem for the heroes.

Of course, the main reason I'm struggling as OL is that I try like mad to put a hero or several down and when I do, forget to draw a card. Cards make knockdowns make cards make knockdowns, and thereby are the heroes sufficiently delayed.

Still really enjoying it though.
 
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Richard Dewsbery
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Laurel has a good ability, but I don't think too much of her feat (one definite hit at range); we were just lucky to hit a good bow right after First Blood. Varikas is awesome - great ability (recover stamina), great feat (die once per encounter and get up again at full strength, no fatigue) - I can't see any downside to him. But I've not seen the other two characters make good use of their feats yet - if it happened, I didn't notice it.

On the flipside, there are monsters that have given us the collywobbles - we just try not to show it, so you won't use those monsters again and again!

What I'm sensing from D2 is that both sides have to concentrate on their goals and neither side can afford to make more than a single mistake if the other side is playing well.

In Cardinal's Plight part 2, I'm not sure that any other party of heroes could have completed it quite as easily as we did - the thief to grab the key at range, Varikas arriving in the graveyard early and not feeling the effect of a KO when the OL (inevitably) puts him down.

I really like the way the game feels - with emphasis on decisions and not micro-management of rules or board elements, and each encounter is bite-sized so that you can play several in a session.
 
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Jeff Butler
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Thanks for the info!

We're slowly working our way through, and played the first bit of an Act II adventure last night, "The Frozen Spire".

My monster groups were Wendigos and Deep Elves, plus the included shadow dragons.
The Heroes consist of (IIRC) Tobin as a Wildlander, Andira as a Disciple, Syndrael as a Knight, and Astarra as a Runemaster.

It ended rather prematurely, with the heroes ALL getting knocked out at the same time, with several rounds to go before the "official" win. The players felt it better to just call it then, let me grab a couple of cards for the missing rounds, and go on.

Once the decision to call it had been made, the players asked for "tips, tricks, hints and suggestions". They have been losing. Every. Single. Quest. (Except the intro quest, naturally.) (I do offer strategies and suggestions during the course of play, but they have been cautioned to take my help with a grain of salt... If I go to the trouble of helping them plan out a turn in exacting, square by square detail, there is a chance I will have one or more trap cards in my hand, so they should probably have at least one alternate plan ready...)

My suggestions were, in my opinion, fairly basic and obvious... Feel free to point out anything I didn't catch...

The first, and largest impacting, mistake they are consistently making is a failure to really act as a cohesive team. They are TERRIBLE about sharing potions. They are not taking advantage of some of their more powerful abilities, such as the Knight's Defend (?) and are letting me kill the squishy characters, rather than forcing damage to be more spread out.

They are also not concentrating their fire very effectively. For example, I had blocked them in the starting area with my three Wendigos. Rather than using as many attacks as necessary to kill one of the beasts, and then rushing anyone who had not gone yet out through the opening, they used every hero as an attacker, to deal damage on every Wendigo, in the hopes of killing more than one. As a result, they were all fairly clustered at the start, I reinforced the single monster they did manage to kill, and had three monsters able to Ravage against them. Result? Two hero deaths within my first round.

They tend to hold on to Feats, Potions, etc., so that they have them available "when they really need them", rather than just using as much as possible right out of the gate to gain an early advantage. Because of their hesitation to use what is available, more often than not, they end up not being able to use them at all.

Finally, dice rolls play a MUCH larger part in this game, compared to D1. When I roll well on defense, and they roll badly on attacks, my creatures live longer than they really should. Combining that with mediocre rolls on the heroic defenses means that they are getting crushed.

Sad for them, sad for me. (If they aren't having any fun, I won't get to play anymore!)

We ended the evening by deciding to take a mulligan on that level, and start it over from scratch in the next session.
Hopefully, it will work out a little better this time...
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Richard Dewsbery
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I'm no expert; the first couple of quests I tried, I got slaughtered. Which was enough to help me to learn some important lessons (and I think since then we've only lost one quest).

Know what your aim is, then apply a principle called "maintenance of aim". Use all of your energies to pursue that aim, ignore everything that doesn't further that aim, and when faced with a decision between two competing matters, each of which will help towards your ultimate goal, pick the one that helps the most.

Use the items and the one-shot feats. The items are worth gold whether used or not. It's no good holding onto something "in case" you get a better chance to use it; if you need to use it, do so and move on. Often, making the best use of something means helping another member of the party - either by using actions to help them up after a KO, by passing on potions to them or helping taking down their target.

A dead enemy is an enemy who cannot attack back on the OL's turn; three wounded enemies can *all* attack on his next turn. Taking something down for sure is almost always better than possibly taking down several enemies if you run the risk of killing nothing.

carnagecjb wrote:

They tend to hold on to Feats, Potions, etc., so that they have them available "when they really need them", rather than just using as much as possible right out of the gate to gain an early advantage. Because of their hesitation to use what is available, more often than not, they end up not being able to use them at all.


Encounters are short; which is better, to use your feat in a sub-optimal manner, or save it "until you really need it" and finish the encounter not having used it at all? Even if there are bigger, badder targets in the encounter, using a heroic feat to take out a monster who won't respawn, or to deny the OL an attack, or to gain an important position on the map is IMO a *good* use of a feat.

I'd post more, but Philsy is listening and I don't want to give our OL any help!
 
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