I just finished playing through the Shadow Rune campaign as the Overlord (Warlord focus, Goblin Uprising plot deck). I was playing against a friend and his wife (2 heroes: Laughin Buldar - Knight, Andira Runehand - Spiritspeaker).
The heroes won the Introduction, First Blood.
In Act 1, I won A Fat Goblin, and the heroes won The Masquerade Ball and Death on the Wing.
Thus, the Interlude was The Shadow Vault, which I won.
In Act 2, I won The Desecrated Tomb, and the heroes won The Ritual of Shadows and The Wyrm Turns.
Thus, the Finale was Gryvorn Unleashed, which I won.
Tally: Heroes quests won - 5, Overlord quests won - 4, Campaign victory - Overlord.
As has become clear in this official campaign, if one side is winning, the difficulty of the interlude or finale will be slanted toward the other side by design. So, since the heroes were winning in both acts, the interlude and finale we had to play were both slanted in the Overlord's favor.
The dissatisfaction came during and after the finale. As you may or may not know Dragonlord Gryvorn is a beast. His stats are very high. And during the finale, I pulled both of my Frenzy cards in a row on the first two Overlord turns, and rolled a surge for Fire Breath on almost every attack. Gryvorn roasted the heroes alive without taking a single point of damage.
This result caused a conversation about balance issues, and a negative hero player assessment of the campaign. My evaluation was quite different.
During the campaign, I noticed that many of the quests force the heroes to make a decision between searching (earning more gold and gear), and completing the victory conditions of the quest. During this campaign, the hero players almost invariably chose to ignore many of the search tokens in favor of completing victory conditions. This was not much of a problem for them in Act 1, because they drew a Treasure Chest twice, and had enough gold to purchase 2 or 3 more items. In Act 1 they were well-geared. However, in Act 2, they left a lot of search tokens on the map, did not pull any Treasure Chests, and so were only able to purchase 2 items total. In the finale, they seemed under-geared. The heroes had gained a lot of Experience, and so had many skills unlocked, but they were not able to absorb or produce large amounts of damage.
Thus, when they came up against Dragonlord Gryvorn, who also benefited from the luck of the draw (Frenzy x2), the less flame-retardant heroes were literally toasted.
My conclusion is that when playing a campaign, and because all of the quest materials are open to all players, a group must sometimes choose to concede victory to the Overlord in a quest, in favor of searching, so that in addition to unlocking skills, there is the potential for better gear, which is also very important.
Gryvorn Unleashed is slanted in the Overlord's favor. But, I think that if the two heroes in this campaign had had better gear and maybe 1 or 2 less skills, and if I had not pulled both of my frenzies so early, that the heroes would have had a fighting chance, and the player dissatisfaction may not have been so pronounced, if they were still to lose.
So, my question is, given how I have explained this playthrough, and your experiences with campaign play on either side, what is your evaluation of campaign balance in Descent 2E? Is it broken, or relatively fair? I still think the latter, but that is just my opinion based my experience with 1E, and on one 2E campaign and a few individual quests.
Edited by Madmartigan, 01 June 2014 - 07:13 AM.