Well, work is done for the day, babies are down for a nap, and I'm going to try Forgotten Souls again. I did a review last weekend, which was long. This is probably going to be quite long too.
My rules -
1. 4 player game. I preference classes I haven't ever played before (Illusionist, I think, is the only one left) and don't choose classes I find ubercheesy (Right now, Treasure Hunter and Bard are on that list, but after playing it Skirmisher also seems ridiculously OP. That may only be in Forgotten Souls, though.)
2. I deal out three random heroes of each class, pick the one I want.
3. No cheesy plays - the Forgotten Souls rules sometimes allow the players to move monsters in such a way that some can't attack. I don't do that.
4. This is new for my current (4th, 3rd solo) playthrough - Tharn is too weak. I'm going to play so that he doesn't start immobilized. Let's see if that slaughters me.
Okay, so character choices. In general, I find movement and stamina to be MUCH more important in Forgotten Souls - I'm going to have a really hard time choosing someone without at least a 4 in each.
Warriors - I get One Fist, Hugo the Glorious, and Eliam. I'd be thrilled with Eliam if I wanted to play Skirmisher again - 5 move AND 5 stamina - but as I said Skirmisher is just too powerful. (Carve a Path is insane.) One Fist is not exciting, as there are a lot of great 2-handed melee weapons. Hugo the Glorious I've always wanted to try as a Knight - even though he's got 3/3 I'm going to try it and see how it works.
Wizard - Zyla, Challara, and Master Thorn. I like Master Thorn's hero ability, and it seems to work well with Illusionist, so let's try him.
Healer - Sahla, Okaluk and Rakash, Rendiel - Bleh, nobody I'm excited by. I guess I'll go with Rendiel as a Disciple.
Scout - Kirga, Tomble, and Roganna the Shade - Roganna looks really interesting, but the Tomble/Hugo combo is too hard to pass up. Tomble the Thief it is.
Choosing skills - I tend to prefer saving up for 3-cost skills after the first major adventure. With Hugo, though, Advance is his best skill so I buy it. Master Thorn saves up for Prismatic Assault. Normally with a Thief I would take Appraise or save up for Bushwhack, but Sneaky is amazing in this case - it'll be a free action every turn or so for no cost and 1 point. Disciple saves up for holy power. And, I'm ready to go!
Turn 1 doesn't start out wonderfully. I have no blast, and Hugo misses 2 of his 3 attacks. Generally weak die rolls mean that I wind up with all 3 zombies and the master barghest still on the board... I think this is the worst start I've had yet. Greedy Tomble gets a health potion, but takes six damage, 5 from the master barghest.
Master Thorn kills 2 zombies, giving me my first draw from the deck. My choices are Bone Blade, Trident, and Baron's Cloak - I briefly consider giving Tomble the Bone Blade but Trident to Hugo is just too good. Hugo unfortunately still can't hit, which puts me in a REALLY bad position. Tomble barely manages to kill the last zombie, but having Sneaky lets me open the door. This is one of the toughest choices in the game - to push forward with no actions left or to take the fate and peril card. Tomble needs some healing, and Hugo is way, way behind, so I'm going to take the hit. Peril is not bad - 3 damage distributed however I want among the heroes (all to Hugo, unsurprisingly.)
Next room is Lengthy Sewers, which is not thrilling because Tomble went first, to open the door, and the Flesh Moulders get to activate. Luckily, the attack the least wounded hero they can see - Master Thorn. Unluckily, they roll great, I roll terribly, and he gets knocked out. Rendiel picks him up, but my heroes don't do any better attacking - only one moulder down. Hugo spends his whole turn catching up - but because he does, Tomble's now impressive black/grey defense pool sucks up most of the Moulders' damage on their turn. Rendiel kills another Moulder giving me my second card draw - I choose Mana Weave over Bloody Dagger and pile it right onto Hugo. Master Thorn still can't hit for anything - he's rolled three misses in three turns now - and barely manages to scratch a moulder. Hugo misses once as well, and kills the last moulder on his second attack. Every hero in my party is full up on stamina, so Tomble searches, rests, and I take another chance on Peril. Luckily, the Sewers allow me to refresh fate. The peril card is nasty though - everyone takes a stamina hit, and Hugo and Thorn - who are maxxed out - are stunned.
Room of Souls is next, and luckily Tomble + Hugo again soak all the damage from the iniital Moulder attack. I'm still playing catch-up, though, and can't take any bad guys off the board; Rendiel pays for it with a huge 5-point hit. That wakes Hugo up, who takes three moulders off the board, recovers a stamina, and moves towards the door. Rendiel scoops up the cauldron and rests. Master Thorn - who is insanely far behind at this point - blows his teleport to catch up, and finally hits something to stun the master Moulder. Tomble sets himself up for the next door.
Two Moulders spawn, and between the three of them they poke at Hugo for 4 damage. Rendiel completes the mission by moving twice and chucking the cauldron off the edge, which gives him Holy Power (healing himself and Hugo for 3 + 1 stamina, yay!). Hugo and Thorn kill two of the remaining moulders, Tomble opens the next door onto the fog-filled passage, luckily a bit of a snooze, and then fails to do anything with two thrown knives at the last Moulder.
By now, I've realized that Prismatic Assault is totally wrong for the run-and-gun style of the solo campaign, so I take all 3 1-cost skills for Thorn, Dirty Tricks and Appraisal for Tomble, and Guard for Hugo. The last moulder and the zombies do nothng, so I wipe out the Moulder and 3 of the zombies, getting chainmail for Tomble. Three grey dice are more or less enough to zombieproof him, and they accomplish nothing on thir turn. My team can use a rest, so I leave 1 zombie on the board, move everyone towards the door, search, and wait it out. (Tomble searches up a treasure chest - yay! for a Belt of Alchemy - boo!)
It takes Tomble - who really needs a new weapon - two shots to kill a zombie, so I'm at a disadvantage going into the Treasure Room. When Hugo fails to pass a strength test, I decide to use my turn healing and just give up a search token (and actually use that Belt of Alchemy to remove Disease! Yay!
Lava Tomb is next up - the earliest it can possibly come, which is a good thing. Flesh moulders get their first strike, but even with a +1 damage from their activation card they're barely able to dent Tomble. On my turn, three item cards turns up nothing better than an Iron Shield, and now I want to be careful - ideally, I'd like my next card to be from the Act II deck, if possible.
On the monsters' turn, I get to pull off a fun move - guard and advance, to let me kill two Barghests after resting to refill my stamina on my turn. Moulders chew up Rendiel a bit, but he gets to release the farmer, I XP up (Bushwhack, Divine Fury and Armor of Faith, Inspiration, and what the heck - Prismatic Assault. ) I pull most of the bad guys off of the map, leaving only one Moulder and giving me my first big upgrade to anyone but Hugo, Lightning Strike for Master Thorn. Peril hits Tomble and Thorn for 3 stamina, Tomble opens up the door to Tunnel's End, which turns up a peril card that locks Hugo from healing. Luckily, searching clears it, and there's a token right next to Hugo. He searches up a stamina potion, kills the last Moulder, getting the Ironbound Glave, and the whole team heads for the door.
Tunnel's end turns up a peril card every turn, and this hits my whole team for a heart and two sweat. Ouch. The next room is Hall of Riddles - suck - and the peril here stuns Hugo. Not only that, but because both cards prevent healing, I can't push faster to get to the door... I have to eat another peril card before I can clear the door. And it's the big one; +1 doom. Luckily, fate is still clear. Since I can't heal stamina, Master Thorn has to waste his whole turn taking one step to test knowledge for the door. Luckily, it's the deadly kennel, which gives me all the time in the world to rest up and get ready. Tomble sneaks in, searches, and I easily wipe out the room, getting the Bow of the Sky for Rendiel. Peril does 3 damage to Hugo.
Next up, another big winner, Trash Heap! At this point I'm geared up, so by the end of the turn, the master is dead (I love the Shroud of Dusk, but the choice is obvious - Tomble gets the Bow) and Thorn has searched two tokens. All the dragon can do is close. Next turn Thorn searches the remaining tokens, Tomble opens the next door. Shiny corridor (and only one card left in the deck.) Once again, Greedy is incredibly useful here, allowing me to search the token without bothering to close and have to test. Hugo kills the dragon, giving the Star of Kellios to Rendiel. Peril adds a zombie, who does nothing.
I open the door. Tomble pokes Tharn for two, but then Rendiel comes up with his ridiculous BRYYG die pool to stun and adds six damage. Hugo walks past Rendiel (picking the Star up from him along the way) and slams Tharn for seven damage. Did I mention that Tharn rolled maximum shields on his defense die? Well, he did. I had a plan or something here, but instead Master Thorn just walks up and kills the big bad. Hugo takes Stone Armor, because why the hell not, I want to see Tomble roll BBBGG with a shield.
After that, the game is more or less trivial. I'm geared and skilled up. The remaining monsters can't close in one turn, and they get all bunched up - even though I roll up three zombies (and had one left out in the corridor) I'm able to wipe all 4 barghests and 4 zombies off the board in one turn. Next turn I roll blanks on both brown dice to summon zombies, and just stop there - I search the tokens, find the objective, and the babies are starting to wake up so I'm not going to bother spending three turns battering down a 35 hp door. There's zero chance I'll fail, so I'm not going to waste the time.
Final thoughts - Illusionist looked really weak, which is why I haven't tried it yet, and I was not impressed playing it. It might be stronger in the non-Forgotten Souls context, but it just doesn't feel like Illusionist is doing the kind of things that help you win games. Feels like the Hexer in that regard. On the other hand, Thief - which in normal play is made obsolete by the Treasure Hunter - is amazing here. Greedy makes two whole rooms trivial, and helps you get several out-of-the-way search tokens. Sneaky is eleven guaranteed extra actions over the course of the game - probably on par with Advance. In this context, Thief is amazing.
Tharn is still too easy. I got lucky here - Act 2 came up early, and I was able to get five act 2 items - including a weapon for each hero - by the time I got in the door. I might give Tharn an extra 4 life for each card between the Lava Tube and the finale. In this case, that would have given him an extra 20 life - he still probably wouldn't have gotten an attack off, but he would have soaked up enough damage for his minions to attack.
Well, some of them.
Forgotten Souls is fun. It's not hard - It's not unloseable, but you really need terrible rolls or card draws. But it's still a fun and interesting way to experience the game.