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Are there quests that the players just can't win?


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#1 colvinatch

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 08:01 AM

I have only recently started playing Descent after my friend demoed a pair of encounters for my group.  We ran "A Fat Goblin" and beat the OL (it was very close).  To insure that we were getting the rules down correctly we set up and ran "A Fat Goblin" again with nearly identical results.  Recently our group played "A Cardinal's Plight" using epic rules and it is impossible for the players to win the second encounter.  During the first encounter the OL was able to raise and move 3 zombies off the board, when we entered the second encounter the OL was able to kill the cardinal in three turns using the 3 zombies, the players had not even been able to leave the first room on the map by then.  We played both encounters again, carefully reading the setup and rules to insure that we had not missed anything but we got (again) nearly identical results.  Most recently we played "The Masquerade Ball" and the OL was able to ID and get three guest out of the ball, using dash cards, before the heros had even left the first room, from there in the second act the OL was able to get Lady Eliza Farrow off the map and win in about 4 turns.  Both of these quests seem terribly lopsided in favor of the OL, I mean it literally took longer to set the board up than for the OL to win each of the second encounters!  So far running them again has yielded identical results, I want to like this game and was really drawn to it at first but if each encounter is pre-determined to be a big win for the OL or heros what is the point of playing?



#2 No Hero

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 08:17 AM

I think this is a bit intentional. That's the intent between the rule that the winner of a quest can choose the next - some quests are unbalanced in favor of the OL or the heroes, so if one or the others can get a victory they can press the advantage by choosing a quest that vafors themselves.

Well, that would require a lot of experience in playing all the quests in the book, so we just choose based on rewards!



#3 Cursain

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 10:09 AM

Yea, some quests are like that.  The the heroes responsibility to read each quest before taking it.  They should  be able to get a good idea if they have a chance or not.

 

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#4 Radish

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 10:12 AM

In the expansion quest Heart of the Wild, the first half is almost impossible for the heroes to win unless the overlord makes serious mistakes (and will take about 3 turns so incredibly quick). The second half is literally impossible for them to win if the overlord won the first half.

Fantasy Flight is apparently aware of this issue so I assume it's getting fixed eventually. This one is so broken it goes outside of simple one sidedness bonus of being able to choose a quest. It should be avoided completely until a fix is made.

Edited by Radish, 09 November 2013 - 10:13 AM.


#5 Surreal

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Posted 10 November 2013 - 07:44 AM

Yes, there are some quests which are almost impossible and very unbalanced. Some quests the odds are maybe 75/25 and that is totally fine for me but I find some quests about 95/5. But I am not sure if this even matters. I think Descent is for players who don't care for rules or balance. Descent is not about "playing a board game" it is much more about "toying around" but still lot of fun.

 

But anyway, Shadow Rune campaign includes these unbalanced quests by my experience:

 

Ritual of Shadows. The most imbalanced quest by my experience. Merrick will be very far with only one dash card. Heroes might catch him if there Jain thief with Tumble. Without thief it is practically impossible.

 

Blood of the Heroes. very hard for the overlord to win. Maybe if this 1st ActII played but still insanely hard.

 

Castle Dairion. After errata made it way too hard for overlord. The win practically is decided if Overlord can get one throw with ettins and even this is not very easy to make.

 

Cardinal Plight. This is not actually so unbalanced and would say it maybe favors heroes. The reason why you found this imbalanced because you played ActI quest with the epic rules. I don't think all quest are balanced with epic play variants. But what makes this quest annoying and unbalanced is master zombie grabbing cardinal every single turn if heroes don't have condition removal (we have fixed this by allowing altar activation remove 1 condition from cardinal also). Otherwise I find this quest good.


Edited by Surreal, 10 November 2013 - 08:23 AM.


#6 TheHunterBoy

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Posted 10 November 2013 - 09:46 AM

Well, there's another thred here where peoples are talking 'bout this issue. The general agreement on the balance of Descent is probably impossible to reach: someone finds it too unbalaced in favor of OL, someone else exactly in the other direction! What I liked most was the concept that Descent never will be a chess-like game (neither a RPG), so we'll never have some kind of 50/50 ratio to win when we'll play it. The variables in Descent are too many and all of them could play a key role in the pathway that leads to victory. Chose the right character, then the appropriate class deck: well, these are the only things you can manage well (along with the actions during the game, of course)...Then you have to roll many dice and draw many cards, and always you can roll miss or draw unuseful cards instead of right ones just when you need them the most!

I'm convicing myself gradually more that Descent is that kind of game where skilled players could make the difference, in particular if they know well the quests and all the options that the game can offer them.

It's far to be a shallow game, IMO. So, if a skilled OL plays at his best against a party of new players (and vice versa), there will be no game at all



#7 Radish

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Posted 10 November 2013 - 11:22 AM

Perfect balance would be very difficult to ever get to but losing in one turn is just messed up.  It's all well and good to say something is just for fun but in a board game if one side is typically having an uphill battle most people will get to the point where they won't want to play which isn't good at all.


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#8 Robin

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Posted 10 November 2013 - 11:47 AM

I think Descent is for players who don't care for rules or balance. Descent is not about "playing a board game" it is much more about "toying around" but still lot of fun.

I don't catch the relationship between caring for balance and caring for rules.

I rather would say that some people, who have a subjective feeling of global unbalance of the game (always in favour of one side - OL or heroes) and who do care for balance are those who care the less for the rules and craft house rules.

 

The obsessional debates about balance of Descent are very strange:

- as many other games with multiple factors, including some luck, balance is quite a complicated notion to define - thus the whole idea of stating that the game clearly favours one or the other side is hardly rational.

 

- why don't we see such a debate about other similar games ? I still don't understand the "special treatment" that is applied to Descent.


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#9 rfisha

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 04:17 AM

 

I think Descent is for players who don't care for rules or balance. Descent is not about "playing a board game" it is much more about "toying around" but still lot of fun.

I don't catch the relationship between caring for balance and caring for rules.

I rather would say that some people, who have a subjective feeling of global unbalance of the game (always in favour of one side - OL or heroes) and who do care for balance are those who care the less for the rules and craft house rules.

 

The obsessional debates about balance of Descent are very strange:

- as many other games with multiple factors, including some luck, balance is quite a complicated notion to define - thus the whole idea of stating that the game clearly favours one or the other side is hardly rational.

 

- why don't we see such a debate about other similar games ? I still don't understand the "special treatment" that is applied to Descent.

 

It seems a very tedious topic all over the forums of Descent.  Other FFG games are unbalanced and do get a mentioned on their forums but most players get a rule clarification or get some suggestions over a rules tweek and the the thread ends to discuss the next one.  The fact the game is unbalanced is generally accepted. 

 

Maybe because Descent spans over 9 quests it is more of an issue?  I don't know.  With 4 heroes we have had even results (3-4 score so far, 2 VERY close games) without making any changes.  

 

I believe you will find the quests in Labyrinth of Ruin to be a lot more achievable for both parties than the original quest book.


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#10 Lilikin

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 06:38 AM

Perfect balance would be very difficult to ever get to but losing in one turn is just messed up.  It's all well and good to say something is just for fun but in a board game if one side is typically having an uphill battle most people will get to the point where they won't want to play which isn't good at all.

 

I couldn't agree more with this statement, I used to OL on D1E and after 3 games sold it.  worst was I ended up hating how it made me as I became a total idiot playing every single rule check, etc etc to a bunch of players who cruised through the dungeon at their will and the only time I really got a kill is if I could force one of them too get greedy and head into an unexplored room before the rest of the group.  This ruined the fun of the game because even as a very seasoned DM Descent didn't give me the creativity DMing always had so I at least needed some strategy to think through.

 

Having said that my few games of D2E are a lot more balanced than first edition as long as you are playing the rules right, maybe a play around maybe the loser of the last game picks the next game rather than the other way round may mean it's less of a rout.

 

Thoughts on that people?


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#11 Surreal

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 09:15 AM

I am ok with unbalanced game. I don't even find balanced game very fun and is usually quite boring. However, there is a line between unbalanced and broken. I would say about 80-90% win odds for one side is about the line for me. If the win odds for certain side goes even over 90% then it comes a bit broken in my mind. Of course it is almost impossible to measure those odds but is more of a general idea.

 

There are some quests in Descent which are unbalanced but still fun. But there are still many quests which just feel broken and quite stupid to play for me. The extreme example is preFAQ The Frozen Spire which allowed overlord to win the whole quest first turn by playing a certain overlord card. That kind of thing just make think did the company even play test their product. FFG seems to be really pushing out expansions of Descent even faster than before and that doesn't have my hopes up for better quality control. This is especially bad in Descent because it is meant for a longer campaign play and there are only 2 different sides. In a shorter board game, where they are 4-6 different players playing their own game, it doesn't matter so much because you can avoid it usually easier. On top of the unbalance there is very confusing and poorly written rules which makes the total experience a mess sometimes. I still enjoy FFG games a lot because they look amazing and are full of theme. However, I feel they have the worst quality control of the whole industry. This makes me think FFG products more as a "toys for toying around" than a "board games for gaming".


Edited by Surreal, 11 November 2013 - 09:15 AM.


#12 Lilikin

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 11:44 AM

I am ok with unbalanced game. I don't even find balanced game very fun and is usually quite boring. However, there is a line between unbalanced and broken. I would say about 80-90% win odds for one side is about the line for me. If the win odds for certain side goes even over 90% then it comes a bit broken in my mind. Of course it is almost impossible to measure those odds but is more of a general idea.

 

There are some quests in Descent which are unbalanced but still fun. But there are still many quests which just feel broken and quite stupid to play for me. The extreme example is preFAQ The Frozen Spire which allowed overlord to win the whole quest first turn by playing a certain overlord card. That kind of thing just make think did the company even play test their product. FFG seems to be really pushing out expansions of Descent even faster than before and that doesn't have my hopes up for better quality control. This is especially bad in Descent because it is meant for a longer campaign play and there are only 2 different sides. In a shorter board game, where they are 4-6 different players playing their own game, it doesn't matter so much because you can avoid it usually easier. On top of the unbalance there is very confusing and poorly written rules which makes the total experience a mess sometimes. I still enjoy FFG games a lot because they look amazing and are full of theme. However, I feel they have the worst quality control of the whole industry. This makes me think FFG products more as a "toys for toying around" than a "board games for gaming".

 

Worst Quality in the whole industry........?

 

they have had some issues but I think they are no where near that, and the main thing is when it does go wrong case and point Mansions of Madness FA they got their finger out and sorted everyone out!


Edited by Lilikin, 11 November 2013 - 01:00 PM.

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#13 Cursain

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 12:11 PM

I am ok with unbalanced game. I don't even find balanced game very fun and is usually quite boring. However, there is a line between unbalanced and broken. I would say about 80-90% win odds for one side is about the line for me. If the win odds for certain side goes even over 90% then it comes a bit broken in my mind. Of course it is almost impossible to measure those odds but is more of a general idea.

 

There are some quests in Descent which are unbalanced but still fun. But there are still many quests which just feel broken and quite stupid to play for me. The extreme example is preFAQ The Frozen Spire which allowed overlord to win the whole quest first turn by playing a certain overlord card. That kind of thing just make think did the company even play test their product. FFG seems to be really pushing out expansions of Descent even faster than before and that doesn't have my hopes up for better quality control. This is especially bad in Descent because it is meant for a longer campaign play and there are only 2 different sides. In a shorter board game, where they are 4-6 different players playing their own game, it doesn't matter so much because you can avoid it usually easier. On top of the unbalance there is very confusing and poorly written rules which makes the total experience a mess sometimes. I still enjoy FFG games a lot because they look amazing and are full of theme. However, I feel they have the worst quality control of the whole industry. This makes me think FFG products more as a "toys for toying around" than a "board games for gaming".

 

I'd like a listing of all the games you play to give FFG the #1 worst Quality Control.

After you supply that entire list, let's talk about the other games.


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#14 JorduSpeaks

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 03:49 PM



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agreed.  They have some of the best (if not THE best) component quality in the industry, terrific customer support, and are great at supporting the products they release.  

 

More than that, though, they actually LISTEN to their customers.  Example:  In terms of balance, (not counting FAQs and errata, which they also do a great job with) one of the major complaints about the game was that the overlord was underpowered over a long campaign.  (some people also complained about the overlord being overpowered, but considering that the person who owns the game is far more likely to play as overlord, I think they made the right call addressing the former issue first.) One of the reasons the community came up with for the power difference was that heroes gained persistent effects that were always available, while overlords could only gain effects that were available to them at random times.  The plot decks that come with the lieutenant miniatures seem to be a response to this, since they give the overlord access to persistently available effects.


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#15 colvinatch

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 07:28 AM

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agreed.  They have some of the best (if not THE best) component quality in the industry, terrific customer support, and are great at supporting the products they release.  

 

More than that, though, they actually LISTEN to their customers.  Example:  In terms of balance, (not counting FAQs and errata, which they also do a great job with) one of the major complaints about the game was that the overlord was underpowered over a long campaign.  (some people also complained about the overlord being overpowered, but considering that the person who owns the game is far more likely to play as overlord, I think they made the right call addressing the former issue first.) One of the reasons the community came up with for the power difference was that heroes gained persistent effects that were always available, while overlords could only gain effects that were available to them at random times.  The plot decks that come with the lieutenant miniatures seem to be a response to this, since they give the overlord access to persistently available effects.

 

I agree completely, I spend a good deal of my gaming time play testing for FF games, (and writing the associated lengthy reports afterward) I do this because they have some of the best products in the industry and I want to contribute to keeping them that way.  I also attend conventions and for over a decade have demo'ed in an official capacity for FF games, I do this because I want to help spread the word about their products.  I personally know ALOT of the crew from FF games and they are all carefully chosen by Christian because of their love of gaming and excellent people skills, every person I have ever met or dealt with from FF games is really great, approachable and will bend over backwards to insure that you are enjoying their games.  I wish I could say the same of some other companies I have dealt with in the past, I could rattle off a list of companies with very noticeable QC issues and very poor customer support most are no longer in business.  I consider FF Games, hands down, the best overall company in the industry.  

 

I only recently got into Descent (I honestly can't figure out why it took so long, busy with other games I guess) and was initially really put off by how lop sided some of the victories for the OL were in the encounters (hence the post).... then... over the last few days I my group discovered that: 1. after running an encounter a couple of times back to back we were able to figure it out and devise strategies that worked well against the OL and 2. by tweaking our items and changing out some characters we were better able to deal with some of the OL's attacks making for some very close games.  While I think the balance in this game CAN swing wildly from one side to another it is a game that the players, whether OL or heroes, can study and craft a solution to.  However on first blush some of the encounters do seem un-winnable.

 

BTW we played "The Cardinal's Plight" as part of a campaign last night and the heroes won a narrow and hard fought victory against the OL this only because we had a strategy to deny him of Zombies during the first encounter to attack the cardinal with and the heroes had an incredible streak of good luck vs the OL who at the same time had an incredible run of bad luck (something like 5 misses in row!).  It was great fun, which is the main reason anyone should sit at a gaming table in the first place. 


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#16 Steve-O

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 09:44 AM

- why don't we see such a debate about other similar games ? I still don't understand the "special treatment" that is applied to Descent.


It has been observed several times in the past that the Overlord player really needs to go all out in order to win (quest-specific situations notwithstanding.) He has a level shot at victory, but he can't pull his punches.  The game play is even, but the competition is heated. This leads to debates about what's "fair" or "logical" as players scrutinize the actions of the opposing team. That in turn leads to debates about how the rules should be interpreted, as each side seeks to uphold what they believe is "fair."

It doesn't help matters that any example of one side or the other being "overpowered" will, by necessity, make reference to a specific quest and therefore bring scenario-specific rules into the discussion.


Now, consider other dungeon crawling games. It seems to me that most of the other dungeon crawlers on the market today are co-op games, therefore there is no heated debate between heroes and DM. Everyone is a hero player, which makes it much easier to agree on how the rules will be interpreted (whether correct or not.) Hence no lengthy online debates.

Many people also come into Descent expecting it to be an "RPG-lite" experience. In a traditional RPG, the DM will usually put up a good fight but allow the hero players to progress in the end. The focus is on the story, tactical combat is just something that happens. We all know that's not the focus in Descent. =P

I also often hear Descent compared to HeroQuest as a classic dungeon crawling board game. But HQ was actually skewed in favour of the heroes. The dice had two "hero defends" icons and only one "monster defends" icon, therefore monsters died easier. They also generally didn't come back, so the heroes could clear the dungeon if they wanted to. Again, the focus of HQ was on the story that was told from one quest to the next. Combat happened, but it rarely stopped the heroes cold.


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#17 Robin

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 10:59 AM

Could one also consider that Descent has a relatively important learning curve?
Thus a tendency to have a lot of "first judgements" which lack sufficient hindsight.
I understand that the non cooperative nature of Descent can add to the tensions of rule debates.
However, I do play many confrontational games, and even though natural debates about specific scenarios balance exist, global judgements about the game system are quite rare. It seems that some people are able to make the difference between specific situations and a global, complex and multifactorial system.
Others are less.
An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered.
G. K. Chesterton

#18 Silverhelm

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 03:03 PM

Could one also consider that Descent has a relatively important learning curve?
Thus a tendency to have a lot of "first judgements" which lack sufficient hindsight.
I understand that the non cooperative nature of Descent can add to the tensions of rule debates.
However, I do play many confrontational games, and even though natural debates about specific scenarios balance exist, global judgements about the game system are quite rare. It seems that some people are able to make the difference between specific situations and a global, complex and multifactorial system.
Others are less.

I agree with this my first impressions of the game has changed. After playing and playing and having played the game again (my group really likes this game) my final verdict of the game comes with experience. The game plays well when both sides know what their doing, and what gear they need to achieve there goals or building a good OL deck. Both sides knowing the objectives and maps good. Both sides understanding the strengths and weaknesses if both hero combos and OL monsters. OL should (in my opinion) be ruthless but never over extend himself! I also think this game place best in a 4vs1. As both teams grasp all things during game sessions the game gets better and better. I think some miss interpretation of how a card is read can hurt a game (or over thinking). There are important choices to make in this game and there are elements of randomness and that is what this game does good.

Beginning strategies in the beginning get better over time or honed in better for perfection. From the time we first started playing to now the game has only proved to be a good buy.

Edited by Silverhelm, 16 November 2013 - 03:05 PM.

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#19 DeeJay507

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 04:58 PM

Cardinal's Plight is hard for the heroes, but for a reason: The reward is absurdly overpowered and can win the entire campaign. But, it is not possible to win without the disciple. It also disables the Act II quest that has an unique incredible reward for the overlord. The key to winning it is to be very fast in encounter I and not let the zombies escape. Overord needs to pass a test to raise a zombie and the zombie can't move the turn it is raised. Also if it is the "far" zombie it can't escape in 1 turn. And I saw hereos opening the barrier on the 2nd turn, while smashing the zombie before it left. Encounter 2 is easy with Avric healing the Cardinal and 1 zombie. The heroes must be prepared to quickly dispatch the dragons at the entrance, so skills like Oath of Honor or Tumble or Additional surges are important. 

 

On the other hand First Blood is very easy for the heroes for the same reason. They get to choose the quest first, so they will rarely go on Cardinal's Plight unprepared. 

 

Masqarade Ball is balanced imo. You probably did not noticed that leaving the unclaimed objective tokens counts as rescuing the guests. You just need to focus on fighting not collecting guest in encounter I.


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#20 Silverhelm

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Posted 19 November 2013 - 10:09 AM

Lol hero quest I remember that game
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