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

Subject: Player Autonomy rss

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Joshua Muscat
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I am playing descent with a group of friends, and we intend to run through the campaign. I am playing the overlord, and there are four hero players. So far, the players have been able to win every scenario. While I can certainly see some places where I have made mistakes as the OL, it is starting to feel like the game is tilted in favor of the hero players. One thing that I think may be contributing to this is that each turn, the players spend a long time calculating every possible move they can make. They coordinate all of their actions, and keep revising the plan until they come up with an 'optimal strategy'.

What I am wondering is what level of autonomy I should expect the players to have in regards to making decisions about what their in game character does. Currently, all decisions are being made by committee. I think this may be throwing off the balance. In any game, if you sit there and think about it long enough, you will be able to come up with an optimal move. Having four people all working on the problem together just compounds that fact. It seems to me that people should be making their own decisions and taking less time doing it.

I think that game designers may have been assuming a greater degree of autonomy would take place than what my group enacts. One piece of evidence in support of this notion is the first half of the Castle Dareion scenario. The scenario rules state that the last player to take their turn on a given round is the one who moves the villagers. In my group, this rule has no meaning since of course the whole team is going to thoroughly discuss what should be doe with the villagers before anyone moves them. I can not see why the rules would specify a particular player to move the villagers if it was expected that the whole group would be making that decision. I have trouble thinking that this rule is simply to specify who takes care of the task of moving the physical game pieces only.

Thoughts?
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Chris J Davis
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skullcap wrote:
I am playing descent with a group of friends, and we intend to run through the campaign. I am playing the overlord, and there are four hero players. So far, the players have been able to win every scenario. While I can certainly see some places where I have made mistakes as the OL, it is starting to feel like the game is tilted in favor of the hero players. One thing that I think may be contributing to this is that each turn, the players spend a long time calculating every possible move they can make. They coordinate all of their actions, and keep revising the plan until they come up with an 'optimal strategy'.

What I am wondering is what level of autonomy I should expect the players to have in regards to making decisions about what their in game character does. Currently, all decisions are being made by committee. I think this may be throwing off the balance. In any game, if you sit there and think about it long enough, you will be able to come up with an optimal move. Having four people all working on the problem together just compounds that fact. It seems to me that people should be making their own decisions and taking less time doing it.

I think that game designers may have been assuming a greater degree of autonomy would take place than what my group enacts. One piece of evidence in support of this notion is the first half of the Castle Dareion scenario. The scenario rules state that the last player to take their turn on a given round is the one who moves the villagers. In my group, this rule has no meaning since of course the whole team is going to thoroughly discuss what should be doe with the villagers before anyone moves them. I can not see why the rules would specify a particular player to move the villagers if it was expected that the whole group would be making that decision. I have trouble thinking that this rule is simply to specify who takes care of the task of moving the physical game pieces only.

Thoughts?


That rule is there in case of conflict. What if the players can't agree on how the villagers should move? With this rule, one player has the final word.
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Robin Reeve
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After what I have read, Descent v1 took a lot of playing time, because the players spent a lot of it to prepare the "perfect plan", as defense was not governed by luck at all.
D2 seems to have reduced that excessive, "chess like", planification, but I presume that hero players still need to have a good planification, as they face an OL who is the sole coordinator of all his monsters.
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Bryce K. Nielsen
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Heh, I swear I just read a thread that was the opposite (the Overlord trashing the heroes and they felt it unbalanced in the OL's favor to the point they don't want to play anymore).

Maybe your groups should swap Overlords?

-shnar
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"Every Board Game I Reach Is Dead"
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This is no different to Descent 1st Ed, where in my experience Hero players will spend anywhere up to an awful 15 minutes a turn discussing and evaluating all players' possible moves before they actually take their turns! I suspect that this was one of the reasons for people going on about how long the original version was all the time.

Do what you like, make people move in a certain turn order, ban any turn discussions, give them a time limit. All possible ways to avoid it if that's what you need to do. goo
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Joshua Muscat
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If my players only took fifteen minutes to take their turn, I would be overjoyed
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Ken Marley
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I see nothing wrong with the way they are playing. It says that they are a good team.
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Andrew Fillhart
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I'm OLing 4 different campaigns and my "[E]Litest, Try Hard" Group has been destroying me but my other groups hard doing poorly or having an okay time. I found that making sure you pick your open groups carefully and (as much as I hate the idea of doing this) create choke points or block hallways with monster formation will help make the game a closer win for both sides.
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Brian M
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There's no time limit and no rules on communication, so the heroes are meant to coordinate and play together as a team!

Quote:
Heh, I swear I just read a thread that was the opposite (the Overlord trashing the heroes and they felt it unbalanced in the OL's favor to the point they don't want to play anymore).

Maybe your groups should swap Overlords?

I'm thinking more likely Joshua's group should send over one player so it's two groups of three heroes...

Quote:
After what I have read, Descent v1 took a lot of playing time, because the players spent a lot of it to prepare the "perfect plan", as defense was not governed by luck at all.

I didn't ever feel like preparing plans in Descent 1e had anything to do with defense values - it was generally assumed that mostly one attack would kill one monster. Preparing plans was all about clearing paths for someone to take out key monsters, or grab chests, or how to set up line of sight to keep spawns from appearing close by.

Having to pick which empty piece of hall to watch was probably not only the most boring part of Descent 1e, but also one of the most time consuming pieces.
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Albert
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I think that's exactly what the players should be doing. If the players went into the encounters with no cohesive strategy and just did what they thought was 'generally' correct, the heroes would most definitely lose unless the OL was really bad.

---

You can listen to all their planning, hold your dice re-rolls (to foil critcal parts of their plan) and save up for dark might + critical hit combos to knock out one of their weaker members. Use larger monsters to block bottlenecks and try to keep them alive as long as possible. But if you get reinforcements just save a dash to place it back into the road block when you get a chance.

In Castle Daerion, Frenzy + Dark Might/Critical hit with just using the Ettin should be bringing the guy down quite fast! Dash the lieutenant to allow him to start hitting the target too. In the meantime, use traps and large monsters to impede the heroes as much as possible. I find retrating the open group monsters into the hall and blocking the choke point to be much more useful that running them forward or even blocking the hallway (this is because the heroes will have to waste move actions to get close enough to attack or spend all their fatigue (in which case Word of Misery also causes more damage to the heroes and the target you're trying to kill).
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Josh A
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OP are you using cheap tactics as Overlord? One tactic that may not be obvious to you is to not bother to win the first encounter - but to stall and draw as many cards as possible. Then for the second encounter you have a full deck of cards that you can use to win.

Some quests are harder than others so you should try and pick the ones that favour the OL if you get the opportunity to choose. I found Masquarade Ball challenging for the heroes (but I was playing with 3 heroes not 4).
 
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Frank Franco
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You are american. You can beat the hive minded comunist players if you really try.
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K J
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I actually did not like D1 very much because of being able to math out the game, I felt like I wasn't playint it as much as just goint through the motions. A lack of fun.

I do think that sometimes a group can sit for way to long and plan things or have an annoying person in the group that pretty much dictates what everyone does. I am not to fond of varients or too many house rules but it COULD be interesting if you made it that everyone has to take thier own turn unless someone is adjacent to them. At that point the hero whos turn it is and any adjacent heros can have a quick pow wow.

Just a thought but it could add to the theme a little bit and the "leader" may have to take it upon himself to set up positioning if he wants to lead/boss the group.

Thoughts are welcome.
 
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M.J.E. Hendriks
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They are allowed to discuss, but like with any game if it takes too long then you need to curtail that. The argument that that's what makes them a good team is BS - also the argument that there is no time limit. Otherwise they could discuss until you fall asleep!

Set a time limit for the heroes. I think 15 minutes is a good start.
 
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Brian M
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Quote:
Set a time limit for the heroes. I think 15 minutes is a good start.

If a round is taking 15 minutes, you have some serous AP problems.
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M.J.E. Hendriks
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StormKnight wrote:
Quote:
Set a time limit for the heroes. I think 15 minutes is a good start.

If a round is taking 15 minutes, you have some serous AP problems.


He stated he wished the heroes took 15 minutes implying they took much longer and you reacted saying that was good team play. I was very surprised but you seem to have missed that post and were (happily) not reacting to those comments.

15 minutes seem long to me too.
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Risto R
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Mr Skeletor wrote:
You are american. You can beat the hive minded comunist players if you really try.


 
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Robert
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Yeah, 15 mins is WAAY longer than my players take. They enjoy a quicker pace.
 
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Brian M
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Quote:
He stated he wished the heroes took 15 minutes implying they took much longer and you reacted saying that was good team play. I was very surprised but you seem to have missed that post and were (happily) not reacting to those comments.

Yeah, I was not referring to the time taken. I was just saying "yes, heroes are supposed to communicate and act as a team".
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Christian @BoardGameMonster
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I tried putting a 3 minute clock on the "discussion before the first hero turn" phase and it worked ok. Problem was they then took forever on each heroes turn rehashing their strategies.

Then on my (OL) turn after 30 seconds they are all "Hurry up! Get a move on! We want to go again!"

It can be lonely being an OL in a 3/4 hero game.
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Joshua Muscat
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My group can easily take in excess of twenty minutes to plan before any players take their turn.
 
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Kelly Overholser
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There is a rule about if the heroes can't decide what order to go in, the default is going clockwise around the table. I would say to start enforcing that rule if they take a long time.

Another option is to give the heroes a 5-minute timer. As soon as your turn is done, start the timer. As soon as one hero starts taking his turn, stop it while he moves and rolls dice and whatnot, but start it once they start discussing strategy again. Once the timer is out, the heroes are unable to say anything if it's not their turn. After a hero's turn is finished, the next player to say anything becomes the next hero.

You may want to give the heroes a set number of "time-outs" for each quest, in that case, for when things start getting really serious; if they use a time-out, the timer does not run at all during that hero turn, they can talk and plan as much as they want, but once you start your turn again, they're back to using the timer.
 
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Sylvain BONNEAU
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The puzzle aspect of the game makes it prone to AP. Yes, by design, you can no longer math out the most probable result of an attack with a sufficiently narrow accuracy window… but for old D1 players with a tactical background, it just means that you need to analyse deeper in the tree of possibilities (is this expression valid in English?). In 1st Ed, you could fuel a dice roll with enough resources to tame the odds and assume your attack will succeed. In 2nd, attacks are more random by nature (defense dice) and the attacker has less means to increase his chance of success: as a hero, you have to include a backup plan, for plan A is likely to fail. And it takes time.
The new LoS rule has its share. Granted, it becomes almost useless to seek cover. Almost. The fact that sometimes, with no foreseeable reason, a square falls out of sight (mainly due to auto-hiding abnormalities) simply forces the players to be very careful when checking LoS in advance. You not only check the actual board, you also imagine how the board looks like when all moves are resolved. That's far from intuitive.
Finally, the game is harsh on the Overlord: his monsters hardly last two consecutive turns and it is thus very unlikely that you can plan your next turn in advance.
All in all, D1 players may well find D2 harder to predict and end up taking longer turns.

--
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Christian @BoardGameMonster
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skullcap wrote:
My group can easily take in excess of twenty minutes to plan before any players take their turn.


Whoah.... and I thought I had it bad waiting 5 mins.

Seriously, though, 20 mins is ludicrous. A 9 turn game would last 3h++!!!

I hope they are at least winning after all that analysis.

I'm going to try taking a 3 mins + 2 mins per player thinking time rule into my next game and see what happens (using a kitchen timer, pausing it when they are actually doing something and just counting the discussion time). When the times up no more discussion.

After all, do you think this Ettin is going to hang around getting a manicure from the Goblins whilst you hold a committee? This is meant to be tense!
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Joshua Muscat
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[/q]

Whoah.... and I thought I had it bad waiting 5 mins.

Seriously, though, 20 mins is ludicrous. A 9 turn game would last 3h++!!!

I hope they are at least winning after all that analysis.

[/q]



Indeed they are winning. This was the whole point of my original post. All options are weighed and reweighed before they will do anything. I brought up the idea of a timer, and some of them got pissy about it saying that it would ruin their fun. I guess it is ok for my fun to be ruined though...

Oh yes.. usually my OL turn is over within two minutes
 
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