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How do you play - what fore-knowledge do you allow?


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#1 any2cards

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Posted 22 June 2014 - 05:42 AM

Advance Notice: TL;DR 

 

I ask this question mostly out of idle curiosity.  But it seems timely due to the fact that there have been several recent threads inquiring as to "what knowledge / what do the heroes get to know" kind of posts.

 

Some background first - our group has extensive experience playing Descent First Edition.  In point of fact, we still play regularly, and probably enjoy the game more than Second Edition.  In case you haven't ever played First Edition, a huge amount of the quest information in First Edition is a secret from the heroes - they only learn about things as they delve into the dungeon.

 

Obviously, Descent Second Edition is completely different, as for the most part, everything within the Quest guides are public knowledge.  Both sides are allowed to read the whole thing, note what the win conditions are, note what the spoils for winning are, etc., and plan/play accordingly.

 

Having said that, as each new expansion comes out, especially with those "big box" sets that have completely new campaigns, our group likes to play our first couple of complete campaigns in the dark.

 

We enjoy the surprises within each encounter/quest.  So, whomever wins the intro quest picks the next quest "blind". That is they do so without knowing anything about the quest.  Then, we setup the first encounter, and only read the information about that encounter.  We do not read the second encounter at this time, which means several things:

 

1) We do not know what the "value" will be in winning the first encounter - so for example, the heroes don't know if it significantly helps or hurts them if they win or lose encounter 1 as it applies to conditions in encounter 2.  Therefore, the heroes have to make decisions for encounter 1 in the dark; often that means they have to decide how to best balance searching vs winning.  I actually think in the long run this has resulted in the heroes playing better and making better decisions strategically - even when they do know everything.

 

2) We do not know what the ultimate prize is for winning the whole quest (encounter 1 & 2) - Is there extra gold? Is there extra XP?  Is there a relic? Etc.  This adds a bit of spice and some randomness to overall results.

 

We continue this way throughout the entire campaign.  It can create some interesting, and often funny situations.  For example, I as OL could decide to simply play balls out in Ecnounter 1 of a quest, only to find out that winning it really wasn't worth it, and the cost of doing so (playing OL cards, threat, etc.) was prohibitive.  The same can be said on the heroes side of the equation.  In fact, often times, if one side or the other appears to be putting forth extra effort to win any given encounter, the other side immediately (whether consciously or not) starts trying to prevent it.  It can be pretty funny.

 

But playing this way has often added an element of fun to the game, even if you are losing.  After all, you can just save face by saying you were playing crazy  :lol:. It is, however, one of the techniques we have used to turn the game from a completely competitive beat down, to one where both sides can share some laughs, have fun, etc.

 

If one side or the other ends up winning the whole campaign in a landslide, which often means that only one "side" of quests were chosen, we will continue to play the next campaign in this manner, especially if we come across a quest we have yet to play.

 

Then, once we have gone through several times, we will play a fresh campaign where everyone does read everything to remind themselves what the goals are, the victory conditions, the prizes for winning, etc.

 

It is amazing how the same quests can play out so differently, even if you use the same heroes/classes/skills, etc.

 

So, after a TL;DR dissertation, my question is this:

 

Do most groups play with complete knowledge?  Does anyone ever play the way we do?

 

If you always have played with complete knowledge, I would encourage you to try it our way once and see what happens.  It is a completely different playing experience.



#2 Chav

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Posted 22 June 2014 - 06:12 AM

We play like you guys, always prioretizing not played quests over known quests. The only difference is, when we choose quest, we look at the reward, and nothing else, and then pick one (with quests we never have tried over quests we have tried).



#3 Steve-O

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Posted 22 June 2014 - 07:20 AM

Yeah, we actually play basically the same way as you do as well. I don't know that any of us ever really go "balls out" per se, as none of us really cares who wins so we generally put the same amount of effort in all the time. That is to say, we're always trying to win, but we're not generally concerned about maximizing our performance in a given encounter.

We all know the quest guide is public knowledge, and sometimes a hero player will ask to read the encounter we're playing because he's confused about something or he wants to know the exact wording of a special rule. Mostly, however, we "pick blind" when starting a new campaign.

One notable difference though - I'm the one who owns the game and thus almost always the OL on first-runs. I DO read the quest guides ahead of time (usually as soon as I open the box,) but this is more out of an interest in the fluff and to add on to my Runiverse Fluff documents. I technically read the mechanics and the rewards, but I'm often not really paying attention to that.

So when I pick quests I'm not picking "fully blind," but it's not like one read through a few weeks ago was enough to memorize everything important anyway.

#4 bladerunner_35

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Posted 22 June 2014 - 11:44 AM

As the Overlord (and owner of my group's game) I try to maximise my competetive edge by carefully reading through scenarios ahead of time with the intent to cherrypick the quest most advantageous for me. I find the planning (combing through internet for advice on quests and tactics against certain strong hero combos) fun and part of the game.

That said I do not try to hide important info from the heroes even though it is generally I who present the quest and winning conditions. I make sure that every one knows what is at stake in both encounters. Although if I would know about a certain winning strategy beforehand I would not share it with the group unless the consensus on the net is that it is more or less broken.
it takes only a small amount of charitable reading to make the internet dramatically more palatable.

#5 Madmartigan

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Posted 22 June 2014 - 05:51 PM

I ask the question whenever I start a campaign with a group. And we discuss what kinds of surprises we want to maintain if any.


"Everything will be alright, once we get to Tir Asleen."


#6 Zaltyre

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Posted 23 June 2014 - 08:57 AM

I ask the question whenever I start a campaign with a group. And we discuss what kinds of surprises we want to maintain if any.

For the first part of their first campaign, some of my heroes wanted the content of quests to be a surprise. They didn't even really want to know rewards, just victory conditions. The other heroes convinced them (and eventually they saw for themselves) that put them at a HUGE disadvantage. By the end of the campaign, they had decided they required a conference session before each quest with the OL waiting in another room (since I insisted on them not leaving the table to communicate secretly during the quest.) From that experience (and others) I'd be willing to say it's definitely my opinion that knowledge of the quest guide must be public to ensure a fair game, even if it takes some of the edge off of the story.



#7 any2cards

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Posted 23 June 2014 - 09:19 AM

 

I ask the question whenever I start a campaign with a group. And we discuss what kinds of surprises we want to maintain if any.

By the end of the campaign, they had decided they required a conference session before each quest with the OL waiting in another room (since I insisted on them not leaving the table to communicate secretly during the quest.).

 

This brings up another interesting point.  We have always played that any discussions, etc. always occurred with everyone present (OL and Heroes).  We didn't make this a formal decision, it is simply how we have always played.  As the OL, I have often wondered how much of a difference it would make if the Heroes planned their turns, their strategies, etc. in private, before executing them (both short-term ... i.e a single round, and long-term ... i.e. strategies for the whole campaign).

 

Do you really think it makes a difference if they would "...leave the table to communicate secretly during the quest ..."?

 

Do you think everyone should be privy to all thoughts?

 

They way I look at it is that the OL is one person, whose thoughts (assuming you aren't like me and think out loud  :P) are always secret (or at least have the potential to be).  Why then, if they want, shouldn't heroes be allowed to conference in private?

 

In fact, I have played many a time when 1 physical person ran all 4 heroes (because there were only two of us available).  Is that not, point in fact, no different than 4 people going in the other room for private strategizing?

 

Please note that I am not really taking one side or the other.  I am just curious how others play, and whether or not their approaches to this have any impact to the play.



#8 Chav

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Posted 23 June 2014 - 10:12 AM

We also play with everybody talking at the table. We have never considered anything else, and when we talk about game balance its one of the things we think adds balance

 

Players are partially guessing (what OL cards do the OL have, what is his plan?) whereas the OL knows EVERTHING (can see class skils, stats and listen to player planning). A few times a player have said we do this and this, just so the OL did not hear the plan, which most often turns up as a bad choice for the players, since he forgets one or two things in his planning :D

 

Its also easier for the players to keep track of everything, as they are more players to do it, thus knowing their plan is actually only fair for the OL, since the players are more players to come up with the plan :D

 

But it is an interesting point having that secret conferance :)


Edited by Chav, 23 June 2014 - 10:13 AM.


#9 Zaltyre

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Posted 23 June 2014 - 11:01 AM

The house rules have been justified by the OL utilizing his monsters as spies. If the heroes are conversing while they are journeying to Castle Daerion, that's one thing- those conversations are reasonably private. However, once the quest has begun, who is to say that the monster's aren't listening to the heroes and passing that information along to the OL, or that the monsters aren't somehow telepathically linked to the OL? (For example, in one of the Shadow Rune finales, Zachareth speaks out loud (implied to the OL) when he's clearly not physically present- it's not absurd.) The "pre quest pow-wow" was something the heroes requested, and I didn't really mind giving them, because in truth it's not hard to deduce strategy in Descent. If the heroes start taking the left path, they're not going right. If by some chance they are trying to "fake out" the OL, they're wasting precious actions doing it.

 

As the OL (and owner of the game) I'm free to look at the quest guide at my leisure between sessions. I don't mind giving the heroes a few minutes to do the same. In my mind, that keeps with the spirit of all information being public and equally accessible to all parties, without infringing on any kind of copyright or everyone needing to buy the game.


Edited by Zaltyre, 23 June 2014 - 11:07 AM.


#10 any2cards

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Posted 23 June 2014 - 11:58 AM

@Zaltyre: Okay ... I like this.  You are using the "thematics" of the game to justify the approach.  Works for me.  As I said (and I think you agree from your comments), I don't really think it truly matters in the long run.

 

I do find it interesting to meet and discuss with people who take the "theme/fluff" of the game to heart.  I guess I am just not that way when it comes to games.  Having said that, most if not all of the heroes I typically play with do enjoy that aspect of the game.

 

Another interesting point is that all of them have an extensive D&D (and other RPGs for that matter) background, where I have none.



#11 griton

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Posted 24 June 2014 - 11:26 AM

They way I look at it is that the OL is one person, whose thoughts (assuming you aren't like me and think out loud  :P) are always secret (or at least have the potential to be).  Why then, if they want, shouldn't heroes be allowed to conference in private?

 

In fact, I have played many a time when 1 physical person ran all 4 heroes (because there were only two of us available).  Is that not, point in fact, no different than 4 people going in the other room for private strategizing?

It depends on how you look at it. Public conversation can be the counter-balance to the fact that multiple people have eyes on the situation and can collaborate. A single player playing 4 heroes doesn't have that advantage.



#12 any2cards

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Posted 24 June 2014 - 11:39 AM

 

They way I look at it is that the OL is one person, whose thoughts (assuming you aren't like me and think out loud  :P) are always secret (or at least have the potential to be).  Why then, if they want, shouldn't heroes be allowed to conference in private?

 

In fact, I have played many a time when 1 physical person ran all 4 heroes (because there were only two of us available).  Is that not, point in fact, no different than 4 people going in the other room for private strategizing?

It depends on how you look at it. Public conversation can be the counter-balance to the fact that multiple people have eyes on the situation and can collaborate. A single player playing 4 heroes doesn't have that advantage.

 

You should meet and play with my buddy Art ... I swear playing 4 heroes all alone is like playing against 7 or 8 people.  The guy has to be borderline multiple-personality.  :blink:



#13 Zaltyre

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Posted 24 June 2014 - 01:17 PM

 

They way I look at it is that the OL is one person, whose thoughts (assuming you aren't like me and think out loud  :P) are always secret (or at least have the potential to be).  Why then, if they want, shouldn't heroes be allowed to conference in private?

 

In fact, I have played many a time when 1 physical person ran all 4 heroes (because there were only two of us available).  Is that not, point in fact, no different than 4 people going in the other room for private strategizing?

It depends on how you look at it. Public conversation can be the counter-balance to the fact that multiple people have eyes on the situation and can collaborate. A single player playing 4 heroes doesn't have that advantage.

 

I agree with this aspect, as well. The OL has no one to check his mistakes in reasoning or strategy, and has a lot of actions to determine. The heroes, on the other hand, each only need to control their own character and guide the decisions of their party. What is strategically more challenging for an OL is balanced by the advantage that he is free to "pull strings from afar." The heroes are in the thick of battle, and have to communicate to survive- they don't have the luxury of "scheming," but they have less to scheme about, anyway. 






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