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What advice would you give a new OL playing for the 1st time this saturday?


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#1 Topper28

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 12:10 PM

As the topic says.... If you could give a couple of pointers to a firsttimer OL what would it be? :)



#2 RagsMckay

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 12:30 PM

Forward

 

After my first experience in Descent: Journeys into the Dark Second Edition, I went online to see what tips were available to the overlord. I was surprised to find that there were no guides or tip articles (at least none that i could conveniently find.) Now that I've played a few games and muddled out the rules, I feel that I should put my observations on the forums here. If you have thoughts or comments, I'd be happy to field them, but I'd rather not turn this into a flame war about whether the Overlord is overpowered or underpowered or motor-powered.

 

Tips for an Overlord

 

When playing Descent: Journeys into the Dark Second Edition, one person must play the evil overlord. The responsibility of being the opposition in a cooperative game is pretty heavy and it is not for all players. To that end, I have written a bit of a guide to help new or frustrated overlords cope with the ordeal.

 

First off, play the introductory mission more than once, with the players trying different characters. This will allow all players a sandbox to acclimatize to the rules in an environment you are not penalized for losing. Make sure that you enjoy being the arch-villian. If you find yourself envying the players, switch places and see it from that perspective. If you have more fun as the player, offer the position of overlord to another player, even if you know the rules better than they do.

 

Which leads me to my second point. The person who owns the game or knows the rules the best is frequently the overlord. Though it may be because they believe they are best suited to the burden, it really has to do with the overlord being the most complex of the characters to play. In reality, the best person for the position of overlord is the person in your gaming group with the best attention to detail. If there is a commander of the players who tactically plots out every turn for all players, they may make a good overlord. Ask them to try it out, even for just one game. They may enjoy the idea of having direct control of all the models on their side.

 

Something else to bear in mind is that this is not a roleplaying game, and the overlord is NOT the game master. As such, the overlord's job is not to provide an enjoyable gaming experience for the players, it is his job to win. That aside, it IS likely that the overlord is the owner of the game and does have the best command of the rules, and, as a result, it is his/her job to teach his/her opponents. This is EXACTLY what the mission “First Blood” is for. If the players lose, who cares? If the overlord loses, no big deal. Once all players are comfortable with their roles and the rules, then discuss the idea of a campaign, possibly skipping the first quest since everyone has already played it. After all, the results are the same regardless of who wins or loses. You might want to keep track of the gold values of the search cards they find and either average them or take the highest value of the trial runs. It might be a good idea to warn the heroes that the kiddie gloves are coming off for the next game and you are not going to be as helpful. Just avoid taunting or belittling them: they will be taking the next game more seriously too.

 

I have heard some people say that the power creep for the players is greater than that as the overlord. I will say that the players do not have to use their abilities as strategically as the overlord does, as they generally are used for hacking up monsters better. Something to think about is that, when the players win, they usually do not get much more than the overlord does. When the overlord wins, he gets two cards (or a more powerful one.) The gold the players get can be used to buy and item or two, but the items are highly randomized. They might get inappropriate items or ones they cannot afford. True, the relics are powerful, but equally so for the overlord.

 

After a few games as the overlords, you'll notice that your monsters are not much of a challenge for the players anymore. The players are working together better and their gear is ripping your monsters to shreds. For heavens sake the players are SUPPOSED to be better than the monsters. That's why you have so many of the things and overlord cards to boot. Used well, they are more than a match for the players. Do not always select the biggest, baddest monster for the open slot. Think about how the monsters synergize or what their job is supposed to be. If the idea is to delay the players (like in “A Fat Goblin” or the one where Ruin the dragon is trying to destroy the bridge) try spiders. They are awesome at delaying the group. Goblins are good for getting by players with their scamper ability, allowing them to damage support characters with low hit points. Ettins can throw players out of a carefully constructed formation, forcing them to spend a move or stamina. Try to focus conditions on those who cannot cope with them (poison on Tomble or disease on Grisbad.) Know the heroes: you know that they are learning all they can about your minions and your cards. Force them to blow feats early by spreading out damage. It isn't as exciting as killing players outright, but later in the quest they might find they have to fight all the damage they've accumulated while racing the clock. This is doubly true if the Divine is in the group: they will need to decide if they want to use surges to heal or do damage, and the Heroic Feat will get used far before they intended to prevent three-quarters of the party from going down early.

 

Lastly, a word about sportsmanship. Descent is a game more likely to generate bad feelings among a group than most games. This is because of the group dynamics: its an all versus one game. Frequently, if the overlord wins the heroes will feel frustrated and helpless. If the heroes win, the overlord will feel ganged up on. As the host of the game, the overlord is in the best position to cope with this. As the overlord, win graciously and explain to the heroes why you won. When you lose, appreciate the accomplishment of the heroes. Do not belittle them, or accuse them of having got off easy. Doing so will increase their resentment when you win.

 

Descent: Journeys into the Dark is a complex game and carries along an interesting psychological aspect to it. With some work and experience, the group will be just as happy when they lose as when they win. The point will be the adventure, and to overcome the adversity.


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#3 Kirgat

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 09:52 AM

I also would recommend to try to advance to players actions: in first blood if they're playing with Leoric try not to put all goblins in reach so he can kill them with its heroic feat.

 

If players are experienced be as bad as you can be. The OL doesn't have much advantage against good players (specially if there's 4 heroes). If they're not it's up to you if you want to anihilate them but remember no one wants to feel crushed and impotent.

 

If going to play a campaign:

Many of the quests are about running and catching items and lieutenants (in shadow rune capaign) so having some trap cards to stop heroes movement come in handy. Also if they are not playing with Avric and the ability to remove status from allies with its healing ability, having cards that inflict status will help you a lot.

 

Also try to play cards with attribute tests on heroes with the fewer amount of attribute (be patient and use them when you need to). And take into account that the quest ends when the second encounter ends and therefore it is better (not always but mostly) to get a lot of cards on encounter 1 by not using them and then use them during encounter 2 to beat the heroes (or at least to have more options).

 

I hope I haven't repeated anything RagsMcKay said (I read it diagonally but seems to be a good advice). Good luck!


Edited by Kirgat, 29 October 2013 - 10:23 AM.


#4 No Hero

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 10:27 AM

My advice would be: for First Blood, throw the Ettin(s) right at the heroes' faces, preferably blocking the passage. Winning this quest is almsot never an option for the OL; your objective would be to limit the search tokens the heroes can take in this introductive scenario. Save your Dash cards for the goblins, and don't stop attacking with them. If the heroes feel pressured enough they should go for a quick finish without searchign a single token.

Before setting up a quest, thoroughly read both the first and second encounter. If the first encounter doesn't seem winnable, or if it will have a small impact on the second, don't waste cards on it. Try to prolong it and KO heroes to build a nice hand for your second encounter. And if you can, make access to search tokens hard yet again.

Heroes will dominate Act I and that's a fact of life. If by any miracle you win the introduction or first quest, choose either Castle Daerion or Cardinal's Plight early, because tehy are the hardest for the heroes but a good group with 2-3 XPs each and some nice equipment will blow through them anyways.

Use large monsters to block, and abuse that silly thing they do when moving. Always abuse the "shrink-expand" mechanic and don't pull punches, because the OL has a more difficult role than the heroes and s/he needs perfect management.

And last thing: if the heroes have access to Blast or Leoric, take note - AoE + badly placed monsters usually means that encounter is over for the OL.


Edited by No Hero, 29 October 2013 - 10:28 AM.


#5 JorduSpeaks

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Posted 30 October 2013 - 02:50 AM

Be upfront about your intentions, but if you are the Overlord in this game (in a campaign, at least) this will quickly turn into a cake-walk for the heroes unless you are a complete bastard at every opportunity.

 

Slow the heroes down with trip-wires whenever possible, going for the heroes weakest in that attribute.  Try to separate one hero from the pack, then mercilessly pick on that hero.  Do not EVER go easy on the heroes.  Pulling even one punch in this game will drastically reduce their challenge from that point on.

 

Above all, you need to have a VERY thick skin, and so do your heroes.  Things will happen in this game that just don't feel fair at all.  You need to get used to that and roll with it.  There's always the next quest.  Just remember, that sickly feeling you get when you realize you never really had a chance, unless the heroes feel that on a regular basis, you will.


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#6 rfisha

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Posted 30 October 2013 - 02:55 AM

Heroes will dominate Act I and that's a fact of life. If by any miracle you win the introduction or first quest, choose either Castle Daerion or Cardinal's Plight early, because tehy are the hardest for the heroes but a good group with 2-3 XPs each and some nice equipment will blow through them anyways.

 

 

Castle Daerion hard for the Heroes?  This is a walk over for the Heroes IMO with the Errata added



#7 C2K

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Posted 30 October 2013 - 02:58 AM

I think it depends on how new everyone is to the game.  If they are new players, try to give them a break now and then.  Don't make them hate the game on the first play.

 

 

If they are seasoned though, show no mercy.  They are usually up for a challenge. 



#8 JorduSpeaks

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Posted 30 October 2013 - 03:06 AM

I think it depends on how new everyone is to the game.  If they are new players, try to give them a break now and then.  Don't make them hate the game on the first play.

 

I strongly advise against this, especially if you are a new overlord.  The last overlord who pulled punches in our group won only a single quest.  He only pulled punches early on, but it was enough to secure defeat.

 

Let them know you're going to be tough on them.  If necessary, remind them that only the last quest counts.  Whatever you do, though, DO NOT PULL PUNCHES.  Otherwise, even the newest, most inexperienced players will run roughshod on you.



#9 No Hero

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Posted 30 October 2013 - 05:57 AM

 

Heroes will dominate Act I and that's a fact of life. If by any miracle you win the introduction or first quest, choose either Castle Daerion or Cardinal's Plight early, because tehy are the hardest for the heroes but a good group with 2-3 XPs each and some nice equipment will blow through them anyways.

 

 

Castle Daerion hard for the Heroes?  This is a walk over for the Heroes IMO with the Errata added

 

The other Act I quests in Shadow Rune are even easier though... What would you suggest the OL picked, Fat Goblin?



#10 Radish

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Posted 30 October 2013 - 06:45 AM

Here's some tips I think are useful.  I won my last campaign by a hair (literally came down to one die roll on the last map) after I changed my outlook halfway through.

 

 

#1 thing.  Don't hyper focus on killing heroes.  Make sure you know what the goal of the quest is and use your monsters to make sure it happens for you.  When choosing your monsters make sure they can help this.  This is very important.

 

When it's your choice to pick a quest, flip to the very end and look at the quest rewards.  Make sure if you lose that the benefit to the heroes isn't huge (some crazy +black dice armor with rerolls or something) and that if you win you can actually benefit.

 

Plan out your deck in advance.  Also check the faq and errata.  Card draw effects have been hugely nerfed and where you used to be able to sacrifice a monster group's action to get 3 or 4 cards it's now capped at 2 so those types of cards can generally be skipped.  I found in the last campaign that I almost always needed my monsters doing something and sacrificing half of their turn to get +1 card wasn't worth it.  I personally think the basic set 1 is better than 2.  Frenzy, dash and the card that adds a surge after you roll are all great.  The re-roll any dice card can also save a bunch of your plans from bad luck.  Any card that lets you draw when it fails is "free" since there is no negative to it failing as you are not down any cards in your hand.  Dark Charm is one of the few ability based cards I think is worth it for this reason and also it doesn't require other cards to be taken.  Stuff like the chest bombs, poison door traps or the pits should be dumped very early since they are often dead cards in your hand as their use requires a specific hero to be doing a specific thing when you have that specific card in your hand and useless in all other circumstances.

 

Load up on any card that increases damage or pierce.  The card that is a straight +2 damage and a surge lets you return it to your hand is amazing.  Blood rage is also good when you know the monster won't survive the next turn anyway and you can sacrifice him to make sure a hero is starting his or her turn on the floor.  Later in the game heroes will have access to disgusting amounts of damage mitigation so anything with pierce can be thought of as pure damage.  

 

The best card in the game is probably Reinforcements.  It allows you to put a group of monster within range of attacking heroes and often gets around quest restrictions of which minions you can get back after they are killed.  Once heroes know you have that in your deck they will start playing around it which is also a benefit.  The cards that are required to buy in order to get the ability to purchase it are also solid so you aren't wasting XP.

 

Make sure your monsters can unload lots of damage.  Monsters are almost all paper sacks and will not stand up to any kind of hero offense so don't really focus on how many dice their are throwing for defense since it largely won't matter after the first few quests in a half of the campaign.  Always assume that monsters will go down in one or two hits and plan accordingly (if they don't it's a bonus and you won't be disappointed).  Look for +damage, pierce, sorcery and possibly blast.  Monsters that can move heroes around with abilities like slam are also useful for positioning or stopping them from completing quest objectives.

 

Ignore ability checks unless the quest notes gives you a gift.  Heroes will almost always pass the ones that matter once they know which ones you can attack.  For instance if a quest requires a hero to grab an objective and they know you have traps that test agility, the thief is going to go for it with his or her stat of 4.  It also requires you to have cards for every type of stat and that just isn't possible to predict that you will have the card you need the exact turn it is required.  Just killing heroes is easier, more consistent and gets you more cards.  Monsters and cards that focus on these sorts of things are gimmicky more than anything.  Additionally there is gear that makes these incredibly trivial regardless of how bad the character's starting stats are.

 

Read up on how big monsters move.  They typically have about 2 more movement than their card suggests and can be very fast, especially with the dash card,

 

Familiars get around a lot of quest rules so make sure you understand how they work before choosing a quest.  This kind of goes for heroes as well since they are a weird part of the game in general.  Make sure everyone is on the same page before starting a map to avoid arguments or getting screwed when they don't work how you think they will.

 

While abilities make heroes better, it's the gear that is typically what makes them ramp up in power.  If you can force quests to end before they get to search tokens and obtain money you will hamper their ability to upgrade significantly.


Edited by Radish, 30 October 2013 - 06:54 AM.


#11 jadedbacon

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Posted 30 October 2013 - 06:55 AM

 

 

Heroes will dominate Act I and that's a fact of life. If by any miracle you win the introduction or first quest, choose either Castle Daerion or Cardinal's Plight early, because tehy are the hardest for the heroes but a good group with 2-3 XPs each and some nice equipment will blow through them anyways.

 

 

Castle Daerion hard for the Heroes?  This is a walk over for the Heroes IMO with the Errata added

 

The other Act I quests in Shadow Rune are even easier though... What would you suggest the OL picked, Fat Goblin?

 

 

I'd go with Cardinal's Plight. If you can get at least 2 zombies out the door in E1 and stockpile as many offensive cards as possible you would be at least on equal ground (remember to disease the cardinal if you roll 2 surges in one attack and deal at least 1 damage.


Never believe in "never"

- Algus Sadalfas


#12 griton

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Posted 30 October 2013 - 09:30 AM

Cardinal's Plight is great for the Overlord if you can keep the Master Zombie immobilizing the Cardinal. Even if he dies, he is reinforced at the start of your turn, so getting the Cardinal out becomes almost impossible unless he rolls well to avoid Grab.


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#13 Radish

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Posted 30 October 2013 - 12:59 PM

Almost forgot but don't let anyone play Silhouette as a thief,  That is straight broke and makes some of the quests impossible for the overlord to have a chance if the player knows what he or she is doing.  I played that since it looked like a good combo and I wanted a cool thief character to play as but quickly realized that it was totally messed up and no fun for the OL player.






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