My group is heading toward the interlude of our first play through of Shadow Rune and we're enjoying it quite a bit. As the Overlord, I've managed to win 2 of the 3 Act 1 quests, so I'm certainly not suffering. Even so, something is bothering me:
The majority of quest reinforcement mechanics in Descent truly favor large monsters. It's unfortunate.
The reinforcement mechanic in "Gathering Foretold"/encounter2 is the only one I've read that makes sense for both large (4-6sq), medium(2sq) and small monster(1sq) types.
I pulled the above quote from a different thread, but it succinctly sums up my concerns. I find that, as the Overlord, I rarely see reason to choose a "medium" or "small" based monster group over the "large" stuff (Shadow Dragons, Ettins, Merriods, etc.). Not only are these creatures powerful--tons of HP, double grey or black defense dice, abilities like Reach, Throw, and Shadow--they are also massive, taking up 4-6 spaces. In a game where blocking is paramount, how can small monsters hope to compete? Compund this with the reinforcement rules allowing only 1 monster to return (more often than not), why would I ever opt to bring back a solitary Goblin Archer when I can instead resurrect a FIRE BELCHING DRAGON?
... which also leads me to ask: When I have the option to choose a Shadow Dragon group, when would I ever NOT choose a Shadow Dragon group?? But I digress ...
One could even say the issue is again compounded by setup, where I'm often instructed to place my open group on the tile adjacent to the hero's entrance. No matter how I place my beasties, the heroes inevitably spend fatigue and unleash hell before I'm able to react. Only larger monsters have a hope of surviving this unavoidable onslaught. Groups of small beasts are cut to pieces--no where to run, no where to hide.
Naturally, there are exceptions. With their speed 5, my open group of Goblin Archers did very well for me in Masquerade Ball, for instance. Not sure I fired a single arrow, mind you. It was all about turn and burn, search and escape. When I need speed for a grab and go mission (exiting with the Shadow Key, for example), only then do I cast a passing glance at the smaller monsters. Their combat prowess is rarely a consideration, however.
I've scanned ahead and examined the reinforcement rules for the remainder of Shadow Rune and it doesn't appear to improve much (overall). Would it not make sense to scale reinforcements to the size of the monster? For example: Place 1 large monster OR 2 medium monsters OR 3 small monsters? I realize this would require adding the distinction between small/medium/large, but you get the idea.
I guess my issue boils down to a lack of meaningful choice. As the Overlord, I'm not so much presented with legitimate options ... moreso the illusion of choice. The "optimal" decision is often obvious, and not because I'm a gifted strategist and tactical mastermind. The available open groups, the objectives, the maps themselves; if I'm gunning for a win, I feel pigeonholed more often than not. "Man, I'd really love to try THIS monster group, but if I want to win, the obvious choice is *INSERT LARGE BASED MONSTER GROUP HERE*.
Admittedly, I'm still pretty new to this gig. I'm hoping for some insight from veteran Overlords. Does this situation improve? How does Labyrinth of Ruin stack up in this regard? Do the expansions change things at all? Or, best of all, am I simply flat out WRONG? I could be way off base. If so, please set me straight!
If it helps: We have only the 2nd edition base game (Lair of the Wyrm is en route from the eBays). It should also be noted that I have no intention of purchasing the Conversion Kit, as I intend to keep my collection 100% 2nd edition. I love variety as much as the next guy, but I'm not convinced that the elements introduced by the CK are balanced, nor do I wish to get caught up tracking down proxies or ... more likely ... the original models. I'm an unrepentant completionist. I've decided it best to avoid tempation.
Thanks for reading!
Edited by Deek, 23 September 2013 - 06:42 PM.