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Subject: What is an all powerful Overlord to do? rss

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Brad Thompson
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I've just started a campaign. I'm playing the Overlord against 4 heroes (I'll need to look up which hero's as I believe they are from the conversion kit, but there are one of each class colour).

So far we have played the Intro, Castle Daerion & Masquerade Ball. I have won all of them pretty easily and managed to prevent the heroes from doing much in the way of searching.
So far I've only been using the monsters that come in the 2ed box. We are all experienced gamers. This is all our first time playing apart for one of the heroes who also owns the game and has played it several times before.

The heroes are getting very frustrated as they feel like it is impossible to win as I keep winning without too much trouble. They think I should pull my punches and not pick monsters like shadow dragons and block passage ways. They think monsters should be restricted to be like zombies and can't move more than once a turn.

I don't feel the Overlord should have to pull punches and that the game is designed to be competitive between the Heroes and the Overlord.

So is this game not balanced or am I just goods gift to Overlording?

I've seen lots of posts about the heroes steam rolling the Overlord, are there any tips to make the game harder for the Overlord so the heroes can have more fun?

Should I just skip the odd turn to monologue about my master plan to give the heroes a fighting chance?

I want the game to be fun for the heroes, but I also want the game to be fun for me. I don't want to play badly on purpose.

What is an all powerful Overlord to do?

Edit: The heroes I'm facing are - A Disciple Ispher, a Wildlander Tatianna, a Berserker Grisban & a Runemaster Landrec the Wise.
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Dustin Whitmire
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We need some more information. What heroes/classes did they pick? Are they playing for the objectives or just charging forward and killing your monsters?

It's very odd, uncommon for the OverLord to win the Introduction quest; it is considered highly favorable to the heroes. It would be interesting to hear a recreation of what happened on this quest; it could give some clues to why the heroes have suffered so much.

Also, Castle Daerion and the Masquerde Ball are considered to lean toward the OverLord, especially Castle Daerion. The Cardinal's Plight also (strongly) leans in favor of the OverLord. Death on the Wing and A Fat Goblin are more favorable to the heroes, FYI.
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Brad Thompson
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dustwhit wrote:
We need some more information. What heroes/classes did they pick? Are they playing for the objectives or just charging forward and killing your monsters?

It's very odd, uncommon for the OverLord to win the Introduction quest; it is considered highly favorable to the heroes. It would be interesting to hear a recreation of what happened on this quest; it could give some clues to why the heroes have suffered so much.

Also, Castle Daerion and the Masquerde Ball are considered to lean toward the OverLord, especially Castle Daerion. The Cardinal's Plight also (strongly) leans in favor of the OverLord. Death on the Wing and A Fat Goblin are more favorable to the heroes, FYI.


When I get home from work I'll look up what heroes they selected. I know one of them is a conversion kit Archer, one is a conversion kit Mage, one is a Berserker Grisban the Thirsty & one is a conversion kit Healer.

In the intro they only managed to get one search token. They ran up to the middle and started shooting at Mauler who I put at the front of his starting tile next to his brother Steven & Kevin (I like to name my monsters). I think they also murdered a goblin or two. I moved Mauler to stand in front of the goblin spawn and Steven & Kevin in front of the water tile. My goblins then proceeded to run through Mauler, the Heroes and Steven & Kevin into the water and take a turn to catch their breath before leaving. New goblins spawned safely behind Mauler so they can spend the hero turn putting their running shoes on without dying. Steven & Kevin died before all the goblins could get away, but some good draws of the dash card finished it up.

They are trying to charge to the objective but often there is a big pile of monsters blocking the way.

 
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Dustin Whitmire
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Nice work with placing the Ettins where the heroes can never get a shot on the goblins, yet Mauler still should have fallen quickly, especially if he's right there next to everyone. You mentioned they killed the minion Ettin for some reason; I don't know if you had moved Mauler behind him at that point, otherwise that was a waste of their time. Did they roll a bunch of misses? All they have to do is kill Mauler of course. 8 hit points and 8 hero actions a turn should make quick work, not to mention help from heroic feats and abilities. I often get through this quest as the heroes with 3 search tokens, and getting all 4 is not particularly difficult. Something doesn't jive. Maybe I'm not asking the right questions. Then they are at a disadvantage, because you get to chose the next quest, where typically the heroes do (A Fat Goblin or Death on the Wing; though I'm not saying that's what everyone choses).

Well, I'd encourage them that they/you picked two of the hardest quests for them to start on. Whatever you do, don't chose Cardinal's Plight next or they will not play this game again. . Go with A Fat Goblin, and they need to understand that this game is less about combat, and way way way more about movement and spatial tactics. Engaging in needless combat, will distract them from the ultimate objective, and the game is less forgiving of heroes failing to grasp that. For example, in a Fat Goblin, they need to run passed the open group in the Grasslands and go straight for the crops. If you block their pass, they should only attack what they need to in order to move the rest of the heroes through. The wrong choice would be to stay there and kill a bunch of your monsters; you will get 1 goblin and 1 open group figure at the beginning of your turn!

Edit: enabled emoticons, spelling
 
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Jacob Søgaard
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Mauler has health equal to 8 + 2 times the number of heroes as far as I remember. Still I agree that they should be able to kill fairly fast.

You can try choosing your monster groups completely random (as long as the traits match the encounter). I've been doing that when the heroes have complained about a too powerful OL. I also like it that way, since I get to play a lot of different monsters (with the CK) I probably wouldn't have picked otherwise.
 
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Jonathan Neufeld
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I second what Dustin said we need some more info to make sense of what they are working with. I too find it odd that you succeeded in the intro, and in the other quest's mentioned.

I also agree with you Brad, that you should never feel like you have to pull any punches, it's no fun otherwise. Are all the hero's experienced in Descent or just games in general? I find that people that are new to Descent take a while to develop any sort of strategy. Encouraging them to talk it out a lot should help them as well, as I've seen much more success when hero's communicate and discuss a plan of action every round.

One other aspect of the game that can be a lot of fun is just taunting and such... often the hero's need to take time to figure themselves out, and I'll just muddle them up by talking about a strategy they could use against me... but if I have this card then muhahah devil

Mind you that probably won't help them any... well you get the idea.
 
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Dustin Whitmire
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Chubby wrote:
Mauler has health equal to 8 + 2 times the number of heroes as far as I remember. Still I agree that they should be able to kill fairly fast.


Thanks. You are correct. Presuming that the OL chooses the master Ettin as Mauler, than he would have 16 health in a 4 hero game.
 
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Erik Burigo
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I have the same issue. With yesterday fight the Overlord has won 5 encounters in a row (First Blood, Castle Daerion, Cardinal's Plight, Masquerade Ball and The Overlord Revealed).

Problem is that my four heroes really tried hard to reach their winning condition, but either had bad luck in crucial moment or messed up their strategy mid-quest.
The net result is that they not also have lost all quests, but they didn't managed to get many search tokens too. And, in fact, I think they are poorly equipped.
Throw in a subtle inner struggle between the 2 thinkers, bad knowledge of the rules and unexplainable mistakes in their equipment choice (e.g.: Barbarian with a single one-handed weapon), and we have a really foul cocktail for them to swallow.

Entering Act II will make the things worse, I suspect. They'll find improved version of the monsters whilst their equipment is still subpar for Act I encounters. Furthermore, I now have acquired Reinforcement (Warlord III).

I don't want to pull my punches, but still I both fear them to get bored and frustrated and, on the other side, the moment they finally trigger the right ability combo that will change the odds to their favor.

Last, but not least, I'm starting to imagine a campaign where the heroes lose every quest but the finale. Would such a campaign be fun? Or would it instill in the heroes (and Overlord) the feeling that the best tactics for heroes is to forfeit objectives and focus on search tokens only, saving money for their equipment just before the grand finale?

Are my fears real or illusionary?
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Rafal Areinu
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Your players are probably discussing strategy before moving, so you can hear their ideas. Do they pursue goals or battles? Did you see them doing something wrong? My heroes often forget about feats they have. If they are not discussing strategies before each round then you can already see what they are doing wrong.

Maybe you got some rules wrong? At first we forgot that monsters could attack only once per activation and players got destroyed.

Also, except for First Blood you've chosen 2 of the hardest quests for players, and as players didn't have time to get equipment nor experience before those you had pretty easy time. Remind them that only last mission counts, and in 2nd act they can still win 2 quests to get ahead.
 
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Chris J Davis
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We instituted the house rule you suggest - only allowing the monsters to perform one move action each turn - along with a few others to help balance out such a big change (only allowing the heroes to spend fatigue as part of a move action to move extra spaces, and imposing an MP penalty on moving diagonally between blocking obstacles/figures, plus a few others). This seemed to work perfectly as it allows the encounters to be drawn out a bit longer, providing a bit of back-and-forth between the heroes and OL and preventing the OL from winning on his second turn due to monsters that can move so incredibly quickly.
 
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Erik Burigo
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Areinu wrote:
Your players are probably discussing strategy before moving, so you can hear their ideas. Do they pursue goals or battles? Did you see them doing something wrong? My heroes often forget about feats they have. If they are not discussing strategies before each round then you can already see what they are doing wrong.


Yes. That's what I was beholding. They are torn. There is one player that is sure to have grasped the situation and foreseen the next 6 turn, and suggests a decision based on that delusion. So it's not uncommon to hear "Okay, we could either try to escort guest out or to kill every monster. I'd go for the latter: so the Overlord wouldn't have enough time to take the guests out." (Masquerade Ball), and then forgetting that monsters may perform two move actions.
Other times they change objective mid quest. In "The Overlord Revealed" they started by spreading out to close the three portals (striving for their winning condition) but then they got scared and went back to kill the monster bearing the shadow key (so, trying to thwart my winning condition). This objective change made them waste time and resources.

Oh! And they forget to use heroic feats (not very often ultimately, but it still happens).

Areinu wrote:
Maybe you got some rules wrong? At first we forgot that monsters could attack only once per activation and players got destroyed.


I regularly check rules, FAQs and read a lot on these forums. While possible that I've misread some rule, I think that is highly improbable now.

Areinu wrote:
Also, except for First Blood you've chosen 2 of the hardest quests for players, and as players didn't have time to get equipment nor experience before those you had pretty easy time. Remind them that only last mission counts, and in 2nd act they can still win 2 quests to get ahead.


Yes. I've chosen them on purpose To be fair, I added 8 health (2 times the number of heroes) to the lord in "Castle Daerion" because of the consensus about how unbalanced that quest is for heroes. Still, even if the Knight's Oath of Honor and Spiritspeaker's Barkskin prevented much damage to the lord, I managed to win.

You are right. I must remember them that they can actually win some quest in act II. They almost always fight hard (even if not always well), and make me sweat. I think they are learning and could actually win, but my concerns are about their two thinkers divergence and their equipment.
 
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Rafal Areinu
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Painkeeper wrote:
You are right. I must remember them that they can actually win some quest in act II. They almost always fight hard (even if not always well), and make me sweat. I think they are learning and could actually win, but my concerns are about their two thinkers divergence and their equipment.


As for equipment you could suggest them saving all money they could for next 2 quests. As soon as you're done with interlude, special market step allows them to choose anything from act 1 market deck. They should be able to get crossbow, mana weave, good stuff. After 1st quest of 2nd act they will use rest of their money on act 2 items, which are usually pretty good.
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Brad Thompson
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The heroes I'm facing are - A Disciple Ispher, a Wildlander Tatianna, a Berserker Grisban & a Runemaster Landrec the Wise.

I didn't know what missions were biased towards either side, one of the heroes had played A Fat Goblin a lot in several one offs in a different group and requested we don't choose that one. I went for Castle Daerion because of the bonus XP reward and then Masquerade Ball was pretty much at random. Will try Death on a Wing next then and see how that goes.

Mauler had 16 health and they were attacking him but the game was over in 3 turns. Also I find it rare for the double grey defence dice to ever roll less than 4 shields.

Encounter one of Masquerade Ball only lasted 2 turns. I had goblins and zombies. A wall of zombies blocked off the heroes first room to the connection to the rest of the board. The heroes charged in to cut a path through the zombies to reach the rest of the guests. Meanwhile one hero stayed behind and checked one of the guests and found it to be good and proceeded to run off the board with it. On my turn I send my goblins to start finding guests. I find 2 good and 2 Flesh Moulders. The heroes try to cut through the zombies some more and kill some of the goblins that have joined the wall protecting the guest carrying ones. They are unable to reach them though. The heroes who carried the guest off comes back onto the board and checks the other guest in the first area. They are also good! Their turn is over and it looks like it maybe a 50/50 split. I send my guest carrying goblins off the board, the remaining Goblins and Flesh Moulders run through a nice path the heroes left for me and shot the hell out of the hero holding the last guest to secure me the encounter. Vampire Lady didn't do anything that game for me apart from check the final bottom room to get me more flesh moulders. So the heroes never got a chance to search.

Each encounter I try to try out different monsters, but I haven't proxied up the conversion kit monsters yet and so far I often don't have much of a choice when it comes to picking which monster groups to use from 2nd Ed.
 
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Darren Nakamura
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Always Red wrote:
Also I find it rare for the double grey defence dice to ever roll less than 4 shields.


The chance that two grey dice will roll 4+ shields is only 1/9 or ~11%. If you found it rare for the Ettins to roll fewer than four shields, then you got very fortunate with the defense die rolls.

Here's my take on the heroes you're up against:
Ispher isn't great, especially near the beginning of a campaign, because you as Overlord hardly even have access to monsters and abilities that deal Poison. Fully healing sounds nice, but the fact that it uses an Action and Ispher only has 8 HP makes it less so. Fortunately, Ispher chose the Disciple. As long as Ispher's player makes good choices of skills, he will be pretty useful near the end of the campaign, though he is relatively easy for you to take out.

Tatianna is a great choice, with her speed and HP, and good ranged abilities which pair with the Wildlander class well. Her biggest downside is in her attributes; 2 for Willpower, Might, and Knowledge means she's got a good chance of failing anything other than Awareness checks. However, I can't see any problem with this selection. She should be double-attacking for decent ranged damage when necessary, and double moving for ten spaces when necessary.

Grisban is generally considered to be the less useful of the base game Warrior archetype characters, because his Speed is so low, and compared to Syndrael, his Heroic Feat grants the heroes one bonus Action where hers grants the heroes two. Also, Grisban's Hero Ability doesn't really come up often, making it largely negligible. That said, make sure your heroes note the erratum regarding his hero ability; it makes it slightly less useless.

Landrec the Wise is another character who starts off fairly useless, but gets much better with the right skills. If I were playing Landrec as a Runemaster, I'd get Rune Mastery as my first skill to guarantee his Heroic Feat does something, then probably Exploding Rune as my second skill. With that combination, Landrec can do huge damage that also has an area of effect, which could be devastating. That said, having three Speed and only a brown defense die make him pretty bad at everything other than dealing damage, and I personally don't consider him a very good choice, and I'm not the only one who thinks that.

So partially, I think that the heroes you're playing against need a few more XP to come into their own and start being useful, but partially, they picked a less-than-optimal team. With Grisban and Landrec, you've got two slow heroes, and in a game where a lot of the quests involve getting somewhere and doing something quickly, that can be a huge thing to get around.

Anyway, rather than you pulling punches, they need to take the time and reflect on what they could have done differently, and how they can overcome your play style. You mention that they think you shouldn't be able to use Shadow Dragons all the time, but rather than that, they should be considering how to deal with Shadow Dragons (for that team, Landrec with Rune Mastery or Grisban with Weapon Mastery is how I'd do it).

On the other hand, I did just finish a campaign as Overlord, and when I was winning pretty easily, I felt bad and used less than optimal monster choices. However, once the heroes started getting good gear and were able to dispatch my monsters without much effort, I went back to ruthless mode, so I know what you're going through. The unfortunate sounding thing for your group is that they haven't searched much, so even though you're nearing the end of Act I, they still don't have very good items. I second the notion of choosing Death on the Wing for the final Act I quest. Not only is it one of the easier Act I quests, but the first encounter also has four very easily obtained search tokens, so that should bolster their bank account a bit.
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Dustin Whitmire
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Darren gave a very helpful breakdown of the heroes.

You mentioned that you blocked off passages with zombies/goblins in the Masquerde Ball. Does the RuneMaster not have Exploding Rune? That would have been devastating to you if they sent a blast or two your way with a bunch of single spaced, low health, low shield monsters packed together. I made this mistake a couple times as overlord with a group of heroes that helped me learn that the hard way. Heroes with blast can really punish an overlord who groups single tile units together.

From what I'm reading, it seems like you are the more strategically minded of the group, or at least, they are not melding and utilizing their characters well. The rules recommend that the most experienced player should operate as the OverLord, but often I think that when the heroes have the more experienced player(s), it serves for an all around more enjoyable experience. That is because, in cases of an imbalance, the game is much less forgiving of hero decisions, than of the overlord, imo.
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Rafal Areinu
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Also if heroes are winning there is only 1 person who is unhappy, while if OL is winning there are 4 players who get displeased
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Always Red wrote:
What is an all powerful Overlord to do?
Isn't the Ovelord underpowered? http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/892436/overlord-underpowered
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Brad Thompson
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Hmmm...

So do you think maybe I should give them the option to change heroes?

So you think the combination of bad hero selection and Overlord favored maps is why I win so easily so far?

Is the Overlord Revealed and the beginning of the part 2 quests with the upgraded monsters going to swing things still in my favor?

I'm not sure how they have been upgrading, but the heroes at least haven't used any kind of area of effect power. Thanks for the tip though, I'll keep an eye out for that.

I wouldn't say I use Shadow Dragon's all the time. Just 2 encounters so far, and only because I looked at what I needed to do and decided I needed something with a big butt that will block the way and saw I could take shadow dragons and you can't get a butt much bigger than that.

Encounter 1 of Castle Daerion I filled the first area where the heroes spawn with Shadow Dragons. Their first turn they couldn't even give one of them a paper cut. Then on the heroes next turn they killed them both. They still ended up getting hammered though.

Should I just give the heroes some pity gold and xp?
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Darren Nakamura
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I don't know that their hero selection is so bad that they require a mulligan, but if you and your group want that, I don't see why not. I think more important is that they learn from their mistakes, and choose skills to make up for their shortcomings. If your group wanted to make one minor tweak, I'd switch out Grisban for Syndrael, but keep everything else the same. Syndrael's Heroic Feat can even help Landrec get into the fight, and if Landrec has Rune Mastery, he can guarantee +5 damage with his Heroic Feat (unless he rolls an X).

If you'd rather just give them pity gold, that would work too. I would shy away from pity XP, because the end game will be hugely in their favor if they have many more than the 8 XP that they would normally have by then. You may want to allow them to re-spec once now, now that they understand the mechanics better. Basically all of my heroes, by the end of the campaign, talked about how they would have done things differently if they could do it over again.
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John DiMaggio
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A respec and picking new heroes seems like a good compromise. The gold deficit may just be from their playstyle. I find if no one's a thief then no one prioritizes searching as much as they should. If they're too gungho about killing monsters then perhaps just a gentle nudge about the importance of searching may be in order? Either way, best of luck!
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Kent Trustrup
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dustwhit wrote:
For example, in a Fat Goblin, they need to run passed the open group in the Grasslands and go straight for the crops.


Ok, seen several people indicating starting monsters infront of the heroes.

The Open group is not placed on the board at the start, they come in 1 at a time, at the start of each of the Overlords turns.
Meaning the Heroes are almost already at the crops (Move, full fatigue, Rest, or just Move, Move, Full fatigue) before the first Monster from the open group appears.
 
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Rauli Kettunen
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manrata wrote:
Ok, seen several people indicating starting monsters infront of the heroes.


Maybe it's because they've actually read the Guide Book :

Fat Goblin, E1, Setup (p. 4):

"Place the goblin archers the Exit. Place the open ground on the Grasslands."

Open ground not getting placed my ass.
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manrata wrote:
dustwhit wrote:
For example, in a Fat Goblin, they need to run passed the open group in the Grasslands and go straight for the crops.


Ok, seen several people indicating starting monsters infront of the heroes.

The Open group is not placed on the board at the start, they come in 1 at a time, at the start of each of the Overlords turns.
Meaning the Heroes are almost already at the crops (Move, full fatigue, Rest, or just Move, Move, Full fatigue) before the first Monster from the open group appears.


No, you're wrong. The open group is placed at the start, but can then be reinforced 1 per turn after that.
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