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The dubious usefulness of dark relics in Descent


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#1 zealot12

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 12:52 PM

While it's a cool concept and a novel way to punish heroes, I really don't see  justification for such a huge threat cost for the dark relic, especially in the advanced campaign  since Road to Legend introduced a shop item that effectively removes dark relics. The dark relic is discarded upon the afflicted hero's death, for which the OL is awarded with the usual  conquest, but there are much cheaper ways to kill a hero anyway. I mean. with the threat I spend on one cursed item, I could easily activate two powers that would prove more useful over a longer  period of time.I realize that each dark relic has its own effect, but still, something is missing about this  "torture device" mechanic.

Any thoughts on this?



#2 Antistone

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 01:25 PM

Two power cards?  I think the most you can pay for Dark Relic is 12 (replacing gold treasure) + 11 (black ring), which is less than the cost of Evil Genius.  A better use is probably 4 (replacing copper treasure, early in the game) + 8 (boots of iron), which is significantly less than the cheapest power card.  Of course, it costs 2 treachery...

I haven't actually used dark relics in a game, but my impression is that they're pretty inconsistent in power, but generally a good use would probably devastate a hero to the point that they might actually want to commit suicide to get rid of it.  I believe the nastiest one is considered to be Boots of Iron on a 3 speed melee hero, which limits them to a maximum of 2 movement points per turn (-1 speed, can't run, can't spend fatigue to move), which is slow enough that they probably can't accomplish anything at all except preventing spawning behind the party, or maybe glyph ambushes.  So, you probably win 4 conquest and waste a couple hero actions as his allies kill him (in addition to denying him a treasure).

There are a lot of things I don't like about the dark relics, though:  the incentive for the hero to die, the terrible scaling to different party sizes, the situational ability to destroy large amounts of party wealth, the unclear triggering condition, and the generally puzzling costs of the different relics.  In The Enduring Evil, I got rid of them in favor of "hexes," which inflict some negative penalty on the entire hero party and last until they activate a glyph.



#3 Corbon

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 02:31 PM

zealot12 said:

 

While it's a cool concept and a novel way to punish heroes, I really don't see  justification for such a huge threat cost for the dark relic, especially in the advanced campaign  since Road to Legend introduced a shop item that effectively removes dark relics. The dark relic is discarded upon the afflicted hero's death, for which the OL is awarded with the usual  conquest, but there are much cheaper ways to kill a hero anyway. I mean. with the threat I spend on one cursed item, I could easily activate two powers that would prove more useful over a longer  period of time.I realize that each dark relic has its own effect, but still, something is missing about this  "torture device" mechanic.

Any thoughts on this?

 

 

Well, it killed a treasure card of your choice when it was played, since the hero receives the Dark Relic instead of the treasure he draws. Since the Dark Relic card is triggered when the hero receives the treasure card, and treasure cards are not hidden at reception, you get to choose (within your tactical choice limitations of which hero you want to target etc) which item that has been 'just received' you 'block'. That is pretty powerful on its own, especially with Gold Treasures (which is why I disagree with Antistone that it is best played on copper treasures).
Further, if you choose the Black Ring the hero must equip it immediately (both hands), so he may also have to drop other items from his backpack to make room for the weapons/shields he was carrying (and be useless in combat until he loses the ring).
If you choose the Lodestone you destroy everything in the heroes pack (which includes one of the other items he was wearing if he has to make room for the Lodestone) and potions. That can destroy valuable backup weapons, or even specialist weapons that have specific uses but a general disadvantage (like the Stone Cutter for example - a weapon you want for a single big hit against something really tough (like a boss) with an Aimed attack (or a Killing Blow Feat Card), but don't want to use otherwise due to the stealth dice).
If you choose the Glass armour the hero must unequip his normal armour and stick it in his backpack, which will probably then force him to drop something else.
Etc, etc.

In short, as well as the basic effect of whatever Dark Relic you choose, you also prevent a treasure, sort of of your choice, from being acquired by the heroes and can also force them to some useful items or backup weapons.



#4 Solairflaire

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 02:58 PM

As a clarification, the Overlord does not get to see what treasure he "blocks".

FAQ pg. 11

Q: Dark Relic: Is the overlord allowed to see the treasure card a hero draws before deciding whether to play this card?
A: No.

Personally, I think the idea is that instead of drawing a treasure, the hero (or hero party in the advanced campaign) gets the Dark Relic. Just my 2 cents.



#5 Antistone

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 03:40 PM

The reason I thought replacing a copper treasure would be better is that it occurs earlier in the quest, and therefore the hero has longer to languish under the effects of the dark relic (unless the other heroes immediately kill him).  A big conquest loss may also be more threatening to the heroes near the start of the quest.  I suspect consideration of when you want to hand out the dark relic is just more important than the level of card you're denying the hero (in vanilla); though, again, I haven't tried it.

You also can't really determine the value of denying a treasure to a hero without considering their other available equipment.  If a hero already has a silver weapon, upgrading to a gold may provide the same (or less, considering overkill) relative benefit of upgrading from a shop weapon to a copper, even though it costs you an extra 8 threat to block (though the gold treasure does sell for a lot more, at least).



#6 Corbon

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 04:17 PM

Antistone said:

You also can't really determine the value of denying a treasure to a hero without considering their other available equipment.  If a hero already has a silver weapon, upgrading to a gold may provide the same (or less, considering overkill) relative benefit of upgrading from a shop weapon to a copper, even though it costs you an extra 8 threat to block (though the gold treasure does sell for a lot more, at least).

Indeed, which increases the value of using it to cancel a gold treasure, because you can target teh hero that most needs a good treasure.

However the FAQ ruling, which I missed (thanks solairflaire), guts that purpose anyway, since the heroes will just swap equipment round anyway. But still, blocking any gold treasure is a good thing!

 



#7 dragon76

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 06:38 PM

Quick side question concerning Dark Relic, how does it interact with the Bardic Lore skill?

Does the hero with Bardic Lore have to equip the Dark Relic immediately and then get to redistribute the remaining items?

Does the BL hero get to choose who gets the Dark Relic?

Here is the relevant text from the BL skill:

Whenever a Chest is opened, you draw all the treasure cards and distribute them equally to the heroes as you see fit.

And the text from Dark Relic:

Play this card when a hero receives a treasure card. The hero must roll a power die. If the result is a blank, nothing happens.

 

If the result is not a blank, he receives a Dark Relic of your choice instead of the treasure card. The threat cost for this card is 4 if the treasure card was copper, 8 if it was silver, and 12 if it was gold. In addition, you must pay the threat cost of the dark relic you choose to give to the hero.

And last but certainly not least the text from AoD concerning Dark Relics:

Dark Relics
A few items are even more dangerous than mere cursed items. These are the legendary dark relics, and their only purpose is to bring misery wherever they appear. In order to use them, the overlord must spend treachery to swap at least one copy of the “Dark Relic” overlord card into his deck. Then, when he plays the card, he can substitute any dark relic of his choice from the deck of dark relics for one of the treasure cards the heroes were about to receive.

The hero who receives a dark relic must immediately equip it, un-equipping other items to do so if necessary. Worse, the hero cannot unequip or drop  the dark relic. In fact, the only way to get rid of a dark relic normally is to die, at which point any dark relics the hero is carrying are discarded.

IMO this makes a character with Bardic Lore the only one who will ever be 'targeted' by playing Dark Relic.  Thoughs?



#8 dragon76

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 06:42 PM

Just had another thought,  as the triggering condition for Dark Relic is when a Hero receives a treasure does that mean the OL can then play Dark Relic after the Hero with BL has redistributed the wealth?

This would play into Corbon's original concept of denying the use of a particular treasure when it comes up as the BL hero is likely to discuss what will go where.



#9 Specialist0815

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 07:32 PM

I am not sure if there is something in the FAQ for the dark relics in RTL, but I have a question too.

 

The heroes open a chest and roll one blank. Normally they would see the Treasure, discuss and give it to one of the heroes.

 

But how to deal with it in RTL?

Some ideas:

A) They discuss without the OL and announce who gets the treasure. This char will be targeted by the dark relic

B) The OL interrupts before actually drawing a card and plays the dark relict on a hero he wants to

C) The players draw the treasure, give it to a char and then the OL interrupts.

D) Something i did not think off?



#10 Antistone

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 08:35 PM

Regarding Bardic Lore:  based on the FAQ answer, my guess is that it works like this:

  1. Heroes open a chest
  2. Overlord checks table and announces that each hero gets a treasure.
  3. Overlord plays Dark Relic on the hero of his choice, giving him a Dark Relic.
  4. Hero with Bardic Lore draws one less treasure than the number of heroes, and distributes them among the heroes that weren't targeted.

 

If Road to Legend normally reveals a treasure card before determining which hero receives it, then I have no clue how that can be made consistent with the FAQ answer.  That might argue there's a disconnect between the FAQ author and the RtL author about how the card works...or that none of the designers ever thought about them at the same time, since they're from separate expansions, and we all know how thoroughly Descent gets tested and edited before release.



#11 Corbon

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 09:16 PM

Antistone said:

Regarding Bardic Lore:  based on the FAQ answer, my guess is that it works like this:

  1. Heroes open a chest
  2. Overlord checks table and announces that each hero gets a treasure.
  3. Overlord plays Dark Relic on the hero of his choice, giving him a Dark Relic.
  4. Hero with Bardic Lore draws one less treasure than the number of heroes, and distributes them among the heroes that weren't targeted.

 

If Road to Legend normally reveals a treasure card before determining which hero receives it, then I have no clue how that can be made consistent with the FAQ answer.  That might argue there's a disconnect between the FAQ author and the RtL author about how the card works...or that none of the designers ever thought about them at the same time, since they're from separate expansions, and we all know how thoroughly Descent gets tested and edited before release.

As far as I am concerned it is the FAQ authored who screwed up. Treasure draws are not hidden in any way (they can't be because you have to immediately react to treasure caches and redraw).
My guess is he/she didn't think about things at all and just went with a gut feel that prevented Dark Relic card from being too highly powered (which I don't think it would be considering it costs 2 treachery, lots of threat and has a very limited trigger to play, which a bunch of other cards also trigger off).



#12 Solairflaire

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 10:27 PM

My take on it is that for Bardic Lore, the hero with the skill would get the Dark Relic in addition to the other cards (minus 1 treasure)  and could distribute them the way he feels appropriate. The Overlord is still denying the heros a treasure that could be important. It wouldn't be the first time a skill would partially nullify (or fully nullify in some cases) an Overlord card. It would still be consistent with the FAQ answer I think too. It would make for an interesting tactical decision by the heros if nothing else.

This could be extended to RtL and SoB too. The heros all essentially have Bardic Lore during the campaign anyway.

  1. The heros open a chest, a blank is rolled
  2. The Overlord plays Dark Relic, heros do not draw a treasure from the current deck instead getting a Dark Relic of the Overlord's choosing.
  3. The heros discuss who gets it and give it to who they want.

Granted, this way takes away power from a 2 point treachery card. But, that isn't necessarily a bad thing. The only question would be who would roll the power die to avoid the effect during campaign play then. Probably the person finally receiving it then, since he's the one ending up with it. There's my other 2 cents now. Don't make me find more pennies.

Edit: As far as I know, this is the only card in the game that triggers off a hero receiving a treasure. It's a Trap - Treasure card. It does not trigger off a chest opening (Trap - Chest cards) if that is what you were thinking Corbon. So, an Overlord could play a chest trap (like Curse of the Monkey God) and when treasures are distributed play this card on a different hero (assuming no Bardic Lore or Campaign play). This is why I think it cost 2 treachery. Not because of anything else. Otherwise it isn't really any more powerful than Crushing Blow.

Edit 2: The OP mentioned that the advanced campaign introduced an item that removes them. It does cost 500 gold. That's effectively a silver treasure they have to buy to remove it. It also denies the heros the ability to spend that money on other things, like training. I feel the costs are justified to play the card in the advanced campain. Besides, if played right, it'll let you kill one or more heros anyway. But that's true of most Overlord cards.



#13 Parathion

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Posted 13 August 2010 - 12:02 AM

Since Dark Relic is Trap (Treasure) card (not a Trap (Chest) card), I assume it would be legal to play it when the heros buy a treasure card in town (vanilla) or during a Restock (in RtL/SoB).

Thoughts?



#14 mahkra

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Posted 13 August 2010 - 01:04 AM

Parathion said:

Since Dark Relic is Trap (Treasure) card (not a Trap (Chest) card), I assume it would be legal to play it when the heros buy a treasure card in town (vanilla) or during a Restock (in RtL/SoB).

Thoughts?

The triggering condition is 'when a hero receives a treasure card', and buying a treasure card in town seems to fulfill that condition.



#15 Steve-O

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Posted 13 August 2010 - 01:41 AM

zealot12 said:

The dark relic is discarded upon the afflicted hero's death, for which the OL is awarded with the usual  conquest, but there are much cheaper ways to kill a hero anyway.

Depends on the hero and the Dark Relic in question.  I think hitting a highly armored (and high CT) tank with Glass Armor before hitting him with every nearby monster would probably be much more effective that trying to wear him down with Doom and Hordes, for example.  Most of the time I would ignore the tank and go for the squishy other heroes, but every now and then it pays to let the tank know he's not invincible. =)

And in a vanilla game, using that technique to take away the heroes' last 4CT all in one swoop can be very satisfying.

As far as the rest of the Dark Relics go, I don't think I'd use them on heroes I was planning to kill anyway.  My goal with those relics would be to hinder the party without killing the victim and the payoff would be in making the hero less effective (or ineffective!)  For example, dropping the Black Ring on the party's most consistent damage dealer so they don't have a weapon anymore (that they can use at least.)  I've often fantasized about (though never actually pulled off) dropping Lodestone in combination with Black Ring or Glass Armor on a  hero who's drawing two treasures, only to watch him vacate his bags of everything including his primary gear.



#16 Corbon

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Posted 13 August 2010 - 01:56 AM

Solairflaire said:

Edit: As far as I know, this is the only card in the game that triggers off a hero receiving a treasure. It's a Trap - Treasure card. It does not trigger off a chest opening (Trap - Chest cards) if that is what you were thinking Corbon. So, an Overlord could play a chest trap (like Curse of the Monkey God) and when treasures are distributed play this card on a different hero (assuming no Bardic Lore or Campaign play). This is why I think it cost 2 treachery. Not because of anything else. Otherwise it isn't really any more powerful than Crushing Blow.

Yes - I've been having a bad couple of days with mistakes, but at least you've been there to pick up my mess.



#17 James McMurray

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Posted 13 August 2010 - 03:04 AM

I don't really see the point of Dark Relic in RtL anyway. The only time it's remotely useful is if you can get it off late in the final dungeon, as otherwise they'll just send someone to town to buy the item that gets rid of it. Even if they kill the hero, it's only 1-5 CT for you, which isn't a game ender like it is in a vanilla game.



#18 zealot12

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Posted 13 August 2010 - 07:53 AM

I guess you could extend the influence of the dark relic in the advanced campaign by house-ruling that after each death instance of the affected hero, he may  roll a power die, and only discard the cursed item on say, a surge. Still, there's the quick cure option via the remove curse shop item, which should've been more expensive, in my opinion.



#19 Badend

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Posted 13 August 2010 - 10:02 AM

So if dark relics can be from shop items, does that mean that in RtL if the party bought the Enchanted boat while in the dungeon doing a restock that the boat could really be a dark relic, making the heroes waste a lot of gold(oh yes Nanok, just put these boots on and click your heels together 3 times to summon the boat)?



#20 zealot12

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Posted 13 August 2010 - 10:18 AM

I think the overlord cannot use his deck outside of dungeons(save for lieutenant encounters in Road to Legend), so he can't "land"  the dark relic on the restocking hero.

Additionally,  the enchanted boat is a collective possession(party upgrade), so there's no way to determine the dark relic's  target.






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