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

Subject: OL Monster Limitations rss

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Charles Burke
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So, after out initial play through of 2nd Edition with the Conversion Kit, I noticed that as Overlord I had to choose from 10-15 different monsters each encounter. There are obviously many different combinations, but there are some monsters that will almost always be chosen when available. I proposed to my play group to limit each monster to 1 open group per Act (maybe campaign). That should make choosing monsters more tactical as you have to account for the chosen encounter but others you might also want to save a certain monster for, even though you may not even ultimately play that encounter.

Curious as to your thoughts on this idea.
 
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Bryce K. Nielsen
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There was another thread about different variants that make the Overlord choose different monsters than the usual 'giant' for every quest, though no real good ideas were solidified. One was to treat the monster deck as a 'stack' and once you use Monster A, you couldn't use it again until you've gone through the whole deck. Another was less limiting, just the same monster group could not be chosen 2 quests in a row. Another was to assign a power level and only allow the OL to 'buy' monsters for the quests (though that idea is the least fleshed out idea).

-shnar
 
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Charles Burke
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Thanks Shnar, I read through that thread and many of the suggestions are overly complicated. I did like some of the more basic suggestions such as a random selection of monsters (matching traits) vs having them all available.
 
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Are you saying that some of the monsters are clearly better than others or that your OL happens to like one monster over another?

I could see how the later might be annoying, but I don't think a new rule would be appropriate in that situation. Afterall, why should your preference trump the preferences of another player?

In the case of the former, wouldn't it make more sense to nerf the monster (assuming the monster is actually better)?
 
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Bryce K. Nielsen
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It's a mixture of both, really. Most of the time, the larger monsters are better than the smaller ones, though in some quests (like the Masquerade Ball) more monsters is better than strong monsters. But in the case where you are trying to plug hallways or hit the heroes a lot, the big Giants and Demons and Dragons are the best choices. They last longer, their respawns are better (much tougher respawns), their movement is better (the expand making up for awesome movements), etc.

There could be an argument that 5 Goblin Archers means 5 attacks while 2 Giants could fall to fewer attacks, but that seems to not be the case. The 2 giants are much better at plugging up hallways (speed usually being very important in quests), and being able to bring 1 Giant back as opposed to 1 Goblin Archer goes a long way.

So this leads to the Overlord wanting to make the choice that will help him out, and also picking monsters that you see in almost every quest. It gives much less variety to the quests (which the point of the Conversion Kit was to *add* variety) and can even make some quests very difficult to complete for the heroes. So having some rule variant that forces the Overlord to choose between the different monsters I think is good. It's already like that with the base game (limiting quests to specific monster Traits), we're just suggesting going one step further.

-shnar
 
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Sylvain BONNEAU
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slacks wrote:
In the case of the former, wouldn't it make more sense to nerf the monster (assuming the monster is actually better)?


Sounds like the way to go… at first. Then you think of all the monsters in the Conversion Kit, how fun they'd be would they just not suck that much when compared to the tough big strong fast Shadow Dragon… OK, you know what? I think it's credible that a Shadow Dragon is stronger than a Goblin. I would be very sad otherwise. Should we nerf the poor reptile because some green poxy little humanoids have thin upper body? In fact, I want my monsters to be of different strength. What I do not want is for the dragons to constantly swarm my dungeons, be it during a given encounter (see the other variant regarding reinforcements) or at the campaign level ("Oh no, dragons? Again?! Don't you ever cook anything else?"). And since the campaign lacks a strategic layer, why not introduce a "threat pool" (oooooh) for the Overlord to draw from whenever he wants to hire/summon a stronger monster group for a given encounter? Or a way for the Overlord to "unlock" monster groups (I reckon there's already something like that in the campaign). I don't know, just something strategically constraining - and thus fun… for me, at least.

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Kelly Overholser
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My personal suggestion is to create a "pool" of available monsters for each scenario. Sort out all the monsters that are legal to use in that scenario and shuffle up their cards, then deal out one card for each trait icon in the encounter, and two more cards for each open group. For instance, in the first encounter of The Twin Idols, the overlord should get 5 monsters to pick from - 3 from the trait icons and 2 from the single open group. Encounter 2 should give him four monsters to pick from, since it only has two trait icons. That still gives the overlord a good selection of monsters for the encounter, without giving him free reign over everything.

If the overlord wins a quest such as The Dawnblade that gives him access to a monster group regardless of traits, that monster should be set aside while the pool is created, and added in as an extra choice. For instance, if the overlord won The Dawnblade, he would have six monsters to pick from for the first encounter of The Twin Idols; the 5 he'd normally get from the random pool, plus the shadow dragons.

Also, I would say he should have full access to all monsters for the finale, since it doesn't have trait icons (and hey, it's the final quest, it needs to be epic).
 
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Kelly Overholser
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shnar wrote:
There could be an argument that 5 Goblin Archers means 5 attacks while 2 Giants could fall to fewer attacks, but that seems to not be the case. The 2 giants are much better at plugging up hallways (speed usually being very important in quests), and being able to bring 1 Giant back as opposed to 1 Goblin Archer goes a long way.


Actually, I would almost say kobolds are better for clogging passages than the larger monsters. In a 4-player game, it'll take a minimum of 15 attacks to kill all of them (barring AoE effects, at least), and even though they only get a blue die for offense, letting a large group of them surround you means that any surges they get add a pretty hefty chunk of damage.
 
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Bryce K. Nielsen
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You know, adding in "if the overlord wins" option is a good idea. Something like Random Selection if the overlord lost, Overlord can pick if the overlord wins (just one more incentive for the Overlord to win). You could even make that on the Encounters (i.e. if the Overlord loses Encounter 1, he has to randomly select monsters in Encounter 2)...

-shnar
 
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Bryce K. Nielsen
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Sethala wrote:
Actually, I would almost say kobolds are better for clogging passages than the larger monsters. In a 4-player game, it'll take a minimum of 15 attacks to kill all of them (barring AoE effects, at least), and even though they only get a blue die for offense, letting a large group of them surround you means that any surges they get add a pretty hefty chunk of damage.

Yeah, in my other thread about Blast and empty spaces, Kobolds was brought up. They are practically the number one reason to get AOE attacks.

-shnar
 
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Bvggy wrote:
slacks wrote:
In the case of the former, wouldn't it make more sense to nerf the monster (assuming the monster is actually better)?


Sounds like the way to go… at first. Then you think of all the monsters in the Conversion Kit, how fun they'd be would they just not suck that much when compared to the tough big strong fast Shadow Dragon… OK, you know what? I think it's credible that a Shadow Dragon is stronger than a Goblin. I would be very sad otherwise. Should we nerf the poor reptile because some green poxy little humanoids have thin upper body?

You get 2-4 times as many Goblin Archers as you get Shadow Dragons.
Goblin Archers run as fast as a Shadow Dragon, but cannot be blocked while the Shadow Dragon is easier to block than even a standard small monster. Goblin Archers produce about twice as much damage as the Shadow Dragons when at full strength. The only real advantage of the Shadow Dragon is blocking hallways and staying alive, which are pretty important but not the end all of a good monster.

Bvggy wrote:
In fact, I want my monsters to be of different strength. What I do not want is for the dragons to constantly swarm my dungeons, be it during a given encounter (see the other variant regarding reinforcements) or at the campaign level ("Oh no, dragons? Again?! Don't you ever cook anything else?").

I guess it is good that they are at different strengths and that Shadow Dragons do not swarm while Goblin Archers do... I feel like I am missing some point you are trying to make here.

Bvggy wrote:
And since the campaign lacks a strategic layer, why not introduce a "threat pool" (oooooh) for the Overlord to draw from whenever he wants to hire/summon a stronger monster group for a given encounter? Or a way for the Overlord to "unlock" monster groups (I reckon there's already something like that in the campaign). I don't know, just something strategically constraining - and thus fun… for me, at least. :)

--
Buggy

That sounds great, but it isn't at all what the stated problem is in the OP. The "problem" is that the OL is always picking the same monsters. My question is if this is really a problem that should be handled in the rules or is it a conflict of personal taste?

I don't have the conversion kit and maybe that is why I don't understand the complaint. Using the core game, the only monster that doesn't see regular play is the Merroid because I don't like them. The fact that I don't choose Merroids does not mean there needs to be a rule to force me to use them.

On the other hand, I also wouldn't use Zombies if I didn't have to because I think they are mechanically weak. If the conversion kit introduces monsters that are obviously better (giants maybe?) then there may need to be some tweaking to address that.
 
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Frank Franco
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But Merroids are one of the best monsters in the game!
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...but they're ugly and I hate them
 
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Kelly Overholser
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shnar wrote:
You know, adding in "if the overlord wins" option is a good idea. Something like Random Selection if the overlord lost, Overlord can pick if the overlord wins (just one more incentive for the Overlord to win). You could even make that on the Encounters (i.e. if the Overlord loses Encounter 1, he has to randomly select monsters in Encounter 2)...

-shnar


The problem with doing it for encounters is that sometimes the "Overlord wins" end to the first encounter isn't actually good for the overlord, and some scenarios don't actually have a "winner". (For instance, in The Cardinal's Plight, the overlord "wins" if all the grave markers and zombies are off the map, and "loses" if Merick is killed, but sometimes the heroes can end the encounter by killing all the zombies instead of the lieutenant, giving the overlord a "win" but still leaving him in a bad spot for the next encounter; similarly, The Fat Goblin doesn't have either side "win", just more health on the boss in the second encounter.) I do like doing it for quests, though, with the overlord getting his choice of monsters if he won the previous quest.

Regardless of what method you decide to use however, I would strongly suggest that it never leaves the overlord player in a position where he's forced to use a specific monster. He should always have a choice of what to use, just a smaller pool of options. If you draw random monsters, make sure there's enough to give him good options; if you put a limit on using the same monster multiple times, make sure it will "fall off" before he runs out of options for later quests.
 
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Sylvain BONNEAU
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slacks wrote:
You get 2-4 times as many Goblin Archers as you get Shadow Dragons.


And how long do they usually last? Hopefully, Goblin Archers are ranged so they can try to avoid melee devastation. But in such small areas, they hardly last a turn. And then you get your one gob reinforcement per turn and it just ruins the fun.
(note that Goblin Archers are my favorite monsters from the vanilla D2… but they are not easy to chose!)

Quote:
Goblin Archers run as fast as a Shadow Dragon, but cannot be blocked while the Shadow Dragon is easier to block than even a standard small monster.


True enough.

Quote:
Goblin Archers produce about twice as much damage as the Shadow Dragons when at full strength. The only real advantage of the Shadow Dragon is blocking hallways and staying alive, which are pretty important but not the end all of a good monster.


Nevermind: I'm already sold on the fact that Goblin Archers are interesting - if they can get to actually play a turn, which is not always possible depending on the quest. I took this example because of the visual physical difference between a goblin and a dragon, to emphasize how two monsters can be of different strength and not require nerfing whatsoever. But it was not a wisely chosen example, I admit, nor a really relevant point.

Quote:
I guess it is good that they are at different strengths and that Shadow Dragons do not swarm while Goblin Archers do... I feel like I am missing some point you are trying to make here.


Or maybe my English is not good and "swarm" is not the correct term.
My point is: are dragons supposed to be as common as goblins? If your Overlord choses dragons often, combined with the fact that their reinforcement rate is equal to that of the swarming goblins, you may well ask yourself whether some kind of reptile infestation is going on… (might do a themed campaign by itself, note)

Quote:
That sounds great, but it isn't at all what the stated problem is in the OP. The "problem" is that the OL is always picking the same monsters.


I address this very problem. Two birds, etc.

Quote:
My question is if this is really a problem that should be handled in the rules or is it a conflict of personal taste?

I don't have the conversion kit and maybe that is why I don't understand the complaint. Using the core game, the only monster that doesn't see regular play is the Merroid because I don't like them. The fact that I don't choose Merroids does not mean there needs to be a rule to force me to use them.

On the other hand, I also wouldn't use Zombies if I didn't have to because I think they are mechanically weak. If the conversion kit introduces monsters that are obviously better (giants maybe?) then there may need to be some tweaking to address that.


Again, valid points. But is this what the OP is after? Let's say there are two or three top-notch monsters and all other are pretty much crap in comparison. Would you rather tweak the monsters stats to even things out a little, or add a rule to constrain the monster selection and help those poor bastards hit the board once in a while? You prefer monster stats tweaking, I prefer socialism… err… giving a chance to lesser beings.
(moreover, my take on the subject can also settle the case of personal tastes conflicts and adds a strategic layer)

--
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Robin Reeve
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I am still waiting for the game to land at my place...
But as an OL, I don't know if I would have fun allways using the same Monsters.
I am conscious that good play aims efficiency, but I would tend to try out combos of different Monsters as a personal challenge - and to put some more "immersion" by variance.
Having fun is an important aim too - and in my case, winning is not an absolute, compared to varying and interesting situations.
All a question of balance, I would say.
 
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Pat M.
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I was thinking of a simple an efficient way to reduce OL monster choice.
OL simply draws 3 (or 4, not sure yet) available monster cards at random for every Open Group. So, for instance, that would be 6 (or 8) monsters to choose from in the case of an encounter with 2 Open Groups.
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Bryce K. Nielsen
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Robin wrote:
But as an OL, I don't know if I would have fun allways using the same Monsters.

Yes, but there are some of us who have a hard time not playing to our fullest ability, even if it is in the name of 'fun'...

-shnar
 
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Frank Franco
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Patmox wrote:
I was thinking of a simple an efficient way to reduce OL monster choice.
OL simply draws 3 (or 4, not sure yet) available monster cards at random for every Open Group. So, for instance, that would be 6 (or 8) monsters to choose from in the case of an encounter with 2 Open Groups.


That's what I'm trialing. Mix all the cards together after taking out fixed beasts. Then for each open group deal out 3 cards which match any of the available symbols and chose one of those for your open group.
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Robin Reeve
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Mr Skeletor wrote:
Patmox wrote:
I was thinking of a simple an efficient way to reduce OL monster choice.
OL simply draws 3 (or 4, not sure yet) available monster cards at random for every Open Group. So, for instance, that would be 6 (or 8) monsters to choose from in the case of an encounter with 2 Open Groups.


That's what I'm trialing. Mix all the cards together after taking out fixed beasts. Then for each open group deal out 3 cards which match any of the available symbols and chose one of those for your open group.
That "semi-choice" way of selecting Monsters seems nice: it limits the OL's tendency of allways using the same Monsters (thus challenging him to make the best of what is available), but still leaves him with a choice.
And it is not fully what I would call a "house-rule": it is rather a personal constraint that the OL imposes to himself.
Very interesting proposal!
 
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Charles Burke
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I appreciate everyone's input. This all started when the heroes I was running through the campaign with were playing The Cardinal's Plight (as the first quest in the campaign). I chose Shadow Dragons, Trolls and Barghests. The Shadow Dragons were the group in the first room. The heroes entered and damaged the master dragon somewhat. A few turns later they finally take down the master dragon and are able to run one hero (healer) by the minion and to the altar to prolong the Cardinal's life.

I stuffed up the hallway essentially trapping the healer by himself. The other three heroes were unable to do too much to the minion and this is about where the game ended. The healer was hesitant to take on either the trolls or the barghests by himself and so stayed at the altar to prolong the encounter. It didn't help much considering the heroes either missed, didn't roll a surge, or I rolled really, really well on the double grey defense dice for my minion Shadow Dragon. The heroes were upset/discouraged at having had to face 2 Shadow Dragons in only the second encounter without the equipment/skills to really deal with one. Given that the Shadow Dragons can be used in all but one quest in the entire book, there is the possibility of this swaying the game early in the OL's favor allowing him to pick most quests in Act I and making it much more difficult for the heroes to win the overall campaign.

My opinion is that the Shadow Dragons aren't broken, but rather the heroes will find them easier to deal with later in the campaign after they have some additional skills/weapons that will assist in their endeavors.

So my mind started thinking of ways to nerf the OL's ability to always choose the absolute best/most appropriate monster for each encounter (which I think is the underlying problem)and replace it with an additional tactical decision that would affect the entire rest of the ACT. By allowing the full slate of monsters that meet the encounter criteria, we do not take away any options from the OL, but simply force him to expend his armies more carefully. (I'm also interested in the random option.) His choice in the first quest will affect his choice in the second and so on until he gets through the interlude as which point he has access to a new set of monsters. It has the added side effect (bonus) of forcing variety within the campaign.

Also, I would not simply call this a self-imposed constraint. At some point, if the OL is simply getting bashed in, he may choose to ignore that self-imposed constraint. Making it a house rule from the beginning forces the OL to use it as opposed to choosing when to use it or not based on when it's convenient for him.
 
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guinch Nudrevil
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All of this comes from the insertion of '' open groups''.. In term of challenge balance of each quest, it's a lame idea, because the monster's choice ruins any test made on that quest. What for? Probably so as to sell conversion kit and maybe some v1 descent.. Too bad. I'd rather like balanced and wisely playtested quests.
 
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JH
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I've been thinking on this, and while I wouldn't make it a rule, I might limit myself as OL to one open-group use (at most) of each monster (from the conversion kit and otherwise) per act. Mix things up a bit.
 
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Rafal Areinu
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willmanx wrote:
All of this comes from the insertion of '' open groups''.. In term of challenge balance of each quest, it's a lame idea, because the monster's choice ruins any test made on that quest. What for? Probably so as to sell conversion kit and maybe some v1 descent.. Too bad. I'd rather like balanced and wisely playtested quests.


What would they get from Descent 1E being sold? Your conspiracy theory has a hole - all 1E's are used, it has been long OOP, and no one bought it from FFG after getting CK.

Giving OL "open groups" has the same effect as giving heroes skills. So they can make some meaningful decisions that affect outcome. If we want to take that out then I have game for you: Go. And it's awesome. But it doesn't have dragons.
 
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Nice sense of respect, sir. I appreciate.

I don't have 1st edition, and everyone tells with CK and first edition, the game is more interesting for harcore gamers because monsters are stronger and better.

I might consider buy a first edition. new. There are not all used in every shop around the world. Some extension are still sold on the official shop in my country :
http://www.edgeent.com/v2_fr/edge_tienda_lista_sub_det.asp?e...

Gears Of War and Mansion of Madness, to keep on FFG's products, don't have "open groups", their challenge are fair, feel playtested, and aren't closer to GO game than Descent 2.

Thanks for your game advice. I suggest you HIVE CARBON and STRATOPOLIS if you want some 2 player fast and tactical abstract games.
http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgameversion/25401/carbon-editi...
http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/125022/stratopolis
 
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