As I understand it:
SoB has a lot going for it but is ultimately broken against any Overlord who seriously tries to win.
Maybe. Probably. Almost certainly. I still don't think people have tried enough different things to be sure. I think people are still mostly crying foul before they have explored options and possibilities. But that doesn't make them automatically wrong, just right without proper data backup.
Lieutenants are almost unbeatable except in very contrived circumstances, and are practically unkillable. The fact that they do not have to return to their starting location makes forcing a Lieutenant to flee a mostly fruitless victory.
I don't think Lts are unbeatable at all. Without exploding skeletons and some luck, my Siren would have been beaten quite easily. It took the exploding skeletons upgrade to let me actually put some hurt on the heroes - without that I would have struggled to threaten them and eventually would have had to flee.
But Lts don't seem to actually be killable unless they choose to stand, or the heroes have the silver web weapon (cue crushing blow target in dungeons).
Unlike RtL, it is much harder for the heroes to actually get at the Lt.
Yes, pretty much contrived circumstances to kill Lts, I agree.
Some people find that SoB's sea encounters and island levels in general to be impossible but this is more contentious. Others find only a couple of extreme examples to be terrible (but no more so than shades in Box Canyon, say), but are generally fine, if not easier than a Dungeon level.
Indeed. There may be a level or two that require some minor modifications (much like some RtL levels did), but Islands are not a problem.
Encounters (again with the exception of a couple of fixes needed) are more of a disappointment issue than a balance problem. Nasically they are only interesting or fun if the heroes back their chances. There is often a major difference in capabilities, which makes the encounters un-fun.
Other factors (Home port, a better structured map, Divine favour, Amended final battle, Treasure maps instead of Legendary Locations) in general seem like they would make for an improved campaign from RtL... if only it were winnable.
Actually, I think some of these could change as well.
The Home Port thing is good. However I don't find the Port mixes very good in general. The city strengths and weakness tend to be too bland, or too extreme, and don't usually balance each other out well.
Divine Favour is IMO a disaster (given the campaign balance) because it greatly reduces the 'tipping point' of choice about when to stay or when to flee. If teh heroes are ahead they basically don't care about CT too much anymore and are more interested in cash, treasure and XP for their next upgrades (and they are probably outpowering the OL anyway). If the OL s ahead the heroes don't lose much by just blasting forward regardless of losses and making sure they get the maximum CT, cash and treasures for their next upgrade. Basically, either way the 'choices' are less important, and it becomes a grind-through for one or both sides, which isn't fun - the tension is gone.
The amended final battle looks better (haven't got that far - has anyone?) but is pretty much irrelevant for Captain Bones.
The treasure maps are a nice idea, but what hero party truly has the time? They tend to be in very inconvenient locations timewise. We wouldn't have collected a single one yet in three campaigns even if they were in convenient locations (despite having all the map pieces most of the time) because there is simply too much map pressure (even if that map pressure is not yet apparent in the campaign).
I also think that some of the dungeon levels need looking at. The lack of a forward glyph can make for interesting play (sort of, mostly it just means a more painful grind forward and a higher cost in CT to the OL), but needs to be balanced out for the 'lost' CT opportunity somehow. Similarly the lack of a chest might be interesting, unless you are already being crippled with a lack of treasures! I like that they tried to mix up the formula, but the results were bad when combined with the campaign pressure and other capabilities (like the double price weapons, no alchemists upgrade).
I'm really hoping that FFG is devoting some serious testing into how to make this game playable... but in the meantime, does it seem as though this would be a good game if only the Lieutenants were houseruled into being beatable? Current suggestions seem to run along the lines of forcing Lts back to their starting location and counting the Revenge exiting the far side of the map as a hero victory. The Immortal mentioned that he had some ideas... care to share them?
At the moment, my best idea is to simply remove the 5cities win condition entirely. And make the Siren (with immunity to Web) the only Lt able to carry plot tokens or seige (unravel) bindings (she is the only Lt with hands, arguably, and available to all OLs).
This means that the OL can still siege lots of cities, increase his CT/week, and eliminate certain skills etc. The pressure is on the heroes as training capabilties and special abilities disappear, but they can't lose the game directly because of it. Having only one Lt capable of carrying the plot items or unravel bindings means that the heroes can make a reasonable effort to block plot victories. Yes, it means the OL is screwed if he loses the SIren, but if he does that he has made a choice and a mistake.
Corbon concedes after several attempts that the campaign is unwinnable
against an Overlord who seriously and aggressively pursues victory through Lieutenants:
I didn't say that, though I am getting closer to that state.
That particular campaign is 'unwinnable' because a) I screwed up the strategy, basing it entirely on using Dallak as the base until mid-late silver, but the OL has a plot card to destroy (close) Dallak at the start of silver which will deny me any real market (note that both of the other cities on the mainland have markets that could only be described as 'abominably bad') and b) the treasure luck in this campaign has been truly abominable - ridiculously few treasures in chests and appalling market draws (eg 1 good weapon in 25 market draws over 5 weeks) to such an extent that 3 (of 4) heroes have just 1 copper weapon between them as the campaign enters its final copper dungeon level!
I would like to try a more aggressive hero strategy - basically throw away the option to flee 99% of the time and ignore OL CT in order to focus in maximising hero resources and minimising campaign time.
There are two problems though.
a) that is generally 'bad' play, and certainly not fun, to just 'grind' through dungeons regardless of costs etc - the 'choices' and 'balance tipping points' are removed, so what's the point?
b) the last two campaigns were so un-fun that we will probably take a AC break for a while.