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I've played Legendary give-or-take 5 times now, ranging from solo plays to four-player games. One thing remained constant: we utterly destroyed the game. There was no competition to speak of. There's an initial scare as the city fills up with villains and you're still trying to build your deck, but then the moment comes when you shift the tides of war. You start amassing 12 attack points in a single turn or an equal amount of recruit points, and the game just becomes a cruise to the finish line.

Happens every time for us. So, I put the game down for awhile. Randomly, this morning I was thinking about Legendary again, and it dawned on me. People have been proposing a variant where you flip up two villain cards per turn from the very beginning, but that seemed to brutal to start out the game. I figured, why not have an adjusting scale similar to Pandemic. Allow me to explain...

In Pandemic, every time you receive an epidemic card from the draw pile, you raise the threat level by 1 space. As your threat level increases, the amount of city cards you flip to infect with a given virus is increased. You start by only flipping two city cards per turn, but as you gain epidemic cards and your threat rises, you may be flipping 3 or 4 cards per turn.

There should be a similar threat meter in Legendary which scales the difficulty as you grow more powerful. This could be triggered in a couple ways, and I'd like to get your opinion on which would work best. The first I thought of was every time a master strike card pops up, not only do you do the master strike, but you also increase the threat of the mastermind. The threat level would look something like this: there are 5 master strike cards, so the scale would be 1 (starting threat)-1-2-2-3-3.

This way, by the time you receive your 5th master strike card, you will be forced to draw three villain cards from the deck per turn. That might be overkill. Maybe you should start by drawing 1, then the threat track should be 1-2-2-2-3. I haven't play-tested it, but this should conceivably eliminate much of the problems associated with the game being too easy without murdering you from the very beginning.

The other variant would be, every time a villain escapes, you still KO a hero and execute whatever effect is on the card, but you would also increase the threat level as well.

Like I said, a lot of people have already proposed flipping 2 villain cards per turn. My problem with that is the fact that you can easily be overwhelmed at the beginning and collapse into utter failure. With this threat scale, the game will progressively get more difficult as you become stronger.

Tell me what you think, and if you get a chance to playtest it before me, please tell me how it worked out for you. This method works extremely well in Pandemic and Forbidden Island, so I don't see why it shouldn't here as well, but if you see any flaws, let me know.
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Sky Zero
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Difficulty in this game is wildy varied due to a number of factors:

Scheme
# of players
Mastermind
Heroes
Villains
Henchmen
Experience of the players

The sum of those factors equals difficulty. Simply flipping additional cards is not a solution to adjust difficulty. I created a solo variant where flipping 2 villain and 1 hero card is a viable solution because it behaves within the boundaries of the standard rules defined for the 2 player game. From there, I then just made a few additional tweaks to beef up the challenge any normal 2 player game would face.

I think a better approach to the questions around difficulty is for the designer to come out with an official "challenge" scorecard for each scheme (1-10 scale). The reality is that Super Hero Civil War with Loki is far more difficult than Cosmic Cube with Loki. And any 5 player game against Loki and the Super Hero Civil War is going to lose and lose quickly without coordinated team play. Having a difficulty scale for the schemes would help folks assess how much of a challenge they want based on their game group. You'll of course figure this out eventually through repeated plays, but it wouldn't hurt to make it known up front which schemes are going to give you a greater challenge.

With regards to the threat level, you should play a few games and see if you can make something work. I'm always up for trying new variants!
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Bryon Hake
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I like the idea of increasing the difficulty as you get stronger. I've felt the same thing about the game: once you really get rolling, the Villains stop escaping and the game switches from "do everything I can to help the group survive" to "get the most victory points." I really like that dynamic nature of the game, but the group-survival aspect could stand to be extended for a bit, I suppose.

I am not sure that you should tie the timing of the difficulty uptick to the flipping of Master Strikes, though, since those could easily happen well before (or well after) you get your deck rolling.

Perhaps you could tie it to the first time the Mastermind is defeated? Each time you defeat the Mastermind, you have progressed toward victory. The game should respond with a "level up" in difficulty, right?

To allow the game to "keep up" with the players, each time the Mastermind is defeated, you should increase the difficulty of something. Some people increase the power of the Mastermind by 1 each time you hit him. But another option is to do what you suggest: increase the number of cards played from the Villain Deck.

Perhaps:

When you defeat the Mastermind...

The 1st time: play one extra Villain card at that moment.
The 2nd time: play 2 Villain cards per turn
The 3rd time: play 3 Villain cards per turn
The 4th time: you win.

Would that work?


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Sky Zero
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Bryon wrote:


Perhaps:

When you defeat the Mastermind...

The 1st time: play one extra Villain card at that moment.
The 2nd time: play 2 Villain cards per turn
The 3rd time: play 3 Villain cards per turn
The 4th time: you win.

Would that work?




Statistically, you exceed the defined villain draw per round for 2-5 players when the # of players exceeds two. This "may" make some of the easier schemes artificially more difficult, but it would make some of the more challenging schemes impossible. The reality is there will always be easier schemes and more challenging schemes and then variability within itself depending on the villains and masterminds chosen. I really think the answer lies in simply in tagging each scheme with a difficulty rating.
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Bryon wrote:
I like the idea of increasing the difficulty as you get stronger. I've felt the same thing about the game: once you really get rolling, the Villains stop escaping and the game switches from "do everything I can to help the group survive" to "get the most victory points." I really like that dynamic nature of the game, but the group-survival aspect could stand to be extended for a bit, I suppose.

I am not sure that you should tie the timing of the difficulty uptick to the flipping of Master Strikes, though, since those could easily happen well before (or well after) you get your deck rolling.

Perhaps you could tie it to the first time the Mastermind is defeated? Each time you defeat the Mastermind, you have progressed toward victory. The game should respond with a "level up" in difficulty, right?

To allow the game to "keep up" with the players, each time the Mastermind is defeated, you should increase the difficulty of something. Some people increase the power of the Mastermind by 1 each time you hit him. But another option is to do what you suggest: increase the number of cards played from the Villain Deck.

Perhaps:

When you defeat the Mastermind...

The 1st time: play one extra Villain card at that moment.
The 2nd time: play 2 Villain cards per turn
The 3rd time: play 3 Villain cards per turn
The 4th time: you win.

Would that work?




I like this idea a lot actually. Another play on what I suggested would be to follow Pandemic's set up and place the master strike cards somewhat evenly distributed throughout the villain deck. That way you can't pull crap luck and get 3 master strikes back to back. I think either option is viable and will make the game more challenging in the right way.

Skyzero,
I agree and disagree with what you're saying. For starters, yes the game should have the difficulty of each scenario rated. The game is significantly easier with 2 players than it is with 5. With that being said, almost of the 5 scenarios I've played were a breeze. Without the cards in front of me and without a description of the scenarios, I won't know whether or not I've played the difficult scenario you bring up.

I completely disagree, however, about flipping more cards making it more difficult. The more villains that escape, the more likely you are to fail at certain scenarios and the more likely you are to get hit with negative effects by the character cards. Additionally, if the villain deck were to run out, I believe the villains should automatically win, which adds in a time factor just like Pandemic and Forbidden Island. This makes the game more challenging because there are more ways to be affected negatively, and in my opinion, it will make the game more fun due to the increased challenge.

I typically play with just two players, therefore, I have to increase the difficulty somehow in order to make it even worth my while to play. The suggested difficulty increases in the book are what seems artificial to me. A villain threat level makes more contextual and thematic sense than merely raising the already printed attack value of a given mastermind by 4 magical hit points. This threat level shows that while you're building your forces, so too does the master mind build his forces to combat you.

I also feel there should be a scale that adjusts similarly to the outbreaks scale in Pandemic. This scale could be based off of how many enemies escape the city. Each time an enemy escapes, the cities good/evil scale lets call it shifts in favor of evil. If it ever tips too far toward corruption, you lose the game. This scale could seesaw as you eliminate enemies, it tips in your favor and vice versa. These variables can add to the game in interesting and meaningful ways.

From my playthroughs of the game, it feels like it is missing intensity and excitement. Most, if not all, of my games with Pandemic come down to the final turn or two, and half the time, I lose. I hate to bring up Pandemic so much, but it truly is the most well put together cooperative game I've ever played, and I've played a ton. I love the idea of a deck-building cooperative game, especially in the Marvel Universe, but Legendary is missing something. To me, that something is almost directly related to its difficulty.

Affixing a rating of difficulty to each scenario won't make the easier missions more difficult. It will merely let me know what I already know.
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Dave Maynor
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The more I theorycraft it... I come to realize this game is more competitive than it first seems. It really is a game where you try to beat all the other players. Only, the scenario takes your resources from you so that you all don't fail miserably. I think when you play more aggressively against the other players this becomes more apparent. At that point, you expect to 'win' against the mastermind, but all struggle against each other to 'win more'.

Maybe there is a way to scale difficulty and make this feel more challenging as a pure co-op. But the competitive co-op model, and playing a bit cut-throat against other players seems to feel better with the game.
 
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Brian M
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I'm feeling like a broken record here on the forums. I'm not trying to discourage you from making a variant you want; I just want to point out that I think you are, in your last thread, getting close to where you need to be to figure out a good variant.

My girlfriend and I are die-hard co-op nuts. We love co-ops. Just seeing that an upcoming game is co-op puts it on our wishlist. We have made numerous co-op variants for games that are not intended to be co-ops.

We like Legendary. We play Legendary pure competitive out to gain the most points hose the other play with attack cards I am doing everything to win.

Playing pure competitively, the Mastermind has won about 4 games of out of 40. 3 of those involved a badly behind player deliberately taking "more points" over "would definitely keep us from losing".

We have tried to play more cooperatively. This is not a cooperative game.

Just by letting one player focus on a few of the good cards rather than fighting over them we were able to get insane combos very quickly. Granted, it was dull for the player who wasn't building the insane combo, but it sure worked well.

If you really want to play this is a co-op, I don't think you need to start with a difficulty variant. You need to start with a co-op variant and work on the difficulty from there.

* I think you need to make points matter. A lot of the game is focused on gaining points.

* I think you need to need to create more incentive to spread out the good cards and combos.

* I think you need to adjust the game offer more dangers; as is, it offers mostly opportunities. Even "take a wound" can be handy if you've got the right cards.

Then you can try to tweak the difficulty.
 
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Sky Zero
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There are others who play this competitively! That's how we play the game and enjoy it immensely. The Co Op aspect is secondary when we play and we'd just as much play the easier schemes knowing we'll win and have 1 winner then to play Super Hero Civil War against Loki and have to actually work together to win. It's all about mindset and what you're looking to get out of the game.
 
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Marcus Walker
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Necromancy!

I've been using this "master strikes as a threat meter" idea in 2-player games, since reading about it here, to make it something approaching challenging, and it works great! Here's a card I threw together to have on the table.

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Darth Ed
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I love the artwork you used for your card!

I might try this variant in my next 2-player game.

Another good way to scale difficulty for the number of players is to reduce (or expand) the number of city spots. For a 2-player game, I think 5 city spots is too many. 4 seems about about right, so I eliminate either the sewers or the bridge, depending on whether I'm playing against Spider-Foes (the Lizard) or Masters of Evil (Cyclone).
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Mike TheRed

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I like the idea of using each Master Strike as a catalyst for increasing difficulty.

I've just been increasing the power of the Mastermind each time he is fought; we call this the Mary MacComber rule, for any City of Heroes players out there.

Having each Master Strike cause more than just the Mastermind's special ability (which is often easily accounted for in your deckbuild) is a cool effect.

Which do you think would be more difficult, flipping more Villains, as in Qesdenova's Rising Threat variant? Or increasing the power of the Mastermind AND all villains? I could see the game getting ridiculously difficult (and to me, more fun) if the Mastermind and Villains make it to +5 while still flipping one Villain per turn.
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Darth Ed
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MikeTheRed wrote:
I like the idea of using each Master Strike as a catalyst for increasing difficulty.

I've just been increasing the power of the Mastermind each time he is fought; we call this the Mary MacComber rule, for any City of Heroes players out there.


Ooh, I like this! Last night, I played the "Replace the World's Leadsrs with Killbots" at legendary difficulty (+3 scheme twists) against a tyrannical Red Skull (+3 power) with 2 players. The Killbots increase in power with the number of scheme twists with that scheme, which is very similar to the variant you've been playing. By the end of the game, the Killbots were at 9, but tyrannical Red Skull was still 10. If Red Skull increased in power with Masterstrikes, he would have been 15. By the end of the game, we were turning out on the order of 18-24 fight each turn.
 
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