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Why Death Isn't Fun: ie Death MUST Wait... or...


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#1 librarycharlie

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Posted 04 February 2011 - 03:32 PM

I've played a mere two games of DQ, and many of you will discount anything else I say due to a small sample size, but I beg you to consider the following anyway.

I've seen 6 adventurers enter the dungeon, and the only person who survived was careful to avoid the Treasure Chamber, and left the dungeon with 30 gold coins after realizing that everyone else was going to die and exploring just 9 total rooms.

Let's forget the Catacombs for a moment, which I recommend, since by turn 4 in our last game, I had acquired both the Vampire (1 damage per turn for the rest of the game) and the Shade (who has a 1 in 36 chance of instantly killing you each turn you're in the inescapable Catacombs).  I tried to play conservatively and died 8 times before the game ended with my being trapped in the dungeon a mere one square from the entrance, and as penniless as I'd begun.  I was killed not once, but twice by an unforeseeable and unavoidable Swinging Blade, which forced me to roll a 4 or less on two dice (both of which were, of course, failed).

I would argue that the game is not just pointless to play without the Death Can Wait rule, but that it is actively offensive to one's sensibilities in that regard.  My reasoning is that without this rule, as host of the game, I would have enjoyed the company of 3 friends over to my house, and within 10 minutes of a 2 hour game, I would have been eliminated.  Playing as the monsters is, I would argue, unsatisfying, particularly after two (or three!) of the four players have been killed.

I want to give you a nearly-best case scenario, ignoring the deadly Catacombs, and assuming that every single dungeon tile faces the perfect direction, that you never encounter a trap, snag, hitch, chasm, or other obstacle, but also for mathematical purposes, discounting the corridors because they are effectively not usable spaces, in part because of their dreadful tendency to rotate.

If you want to search the treasure room just once, your game will run 21 turns long (barring a rare Corridors).  Since the game will kill you on turn 24 or so, this is already cutting things extremely close.  To demonstrate why it's nearly impossible, I've broken the Dungeon Rooms cards into separate categories to show why 21 perfect turns is somewhere between improbable and "blue moon."

14) Non-deadly cards (like "Empty" or Catacomb Entrance)

2) Good Treasure, won't kill you (woot!)

2) Is this really treasure? 50% bad result (bottle imp, unstable)

0) Shuffle (doesn't count as a card)

1) You're probably dead this is unavoidable "Swinging Blade"

2) You're hurt! (razorwings, crossfire)

1) Corridor Rotation (may result in an instant unavoidable character death)

4) You can't play anymore (cave-in, torch out, trapdoor)

3) Weak monsters (skeleton, sorcerer)

3) Awful monsters (demon, golem, troll)

 

16) Search another pile of cards... the other piles seem to be filled with Scorpions... (if we assume that the other piles have similar ratios, these can be mathematically discounted)

 

So on turn one, you have 18 "harmless" cards available, and 14 "harmful" cards available (below shuffle).  For the first ten rounds, you also have a chance of drawing an "instant-death" tile.  Ignoring search cards, you are in a statistically likely to encounter 8 or the 14 harmful cards.

Now, just for fun, pick 8 of the cards below Shuffle at random.  Encounter them in a row.  Did your character survive?  Now add to the fact that Torch Is Out can cost you 3+ turns (causing you to be locked in the dungeon and killed, since you only had a 3-turn leeway in your perfect run anyway).  Also add Trap Rooms, Chambers of Darkness, Spider Webs, Chasms, and the Bottomless Pit... and how likely is it that anyone survives?  In a 4-player game, maybe one person?

 

I know that better runs will happen, but I have some suggestions for ways in which death can be maintained, but made somewhat less inevitable.  This would be rules to replace the "Death Can Wait" rule.

First: Add 10 to each character's life total.
Second: Instead of moving the sun each turn, the first player rolls a die and only moves the sun on a 2+
Third: Any effect that would kill you outright (rather than by damage), instead deals half your remaining life total (rounded up) and moves you if necessary
Fourth: Whenever rolling an attribute check, you may choose to use 1d4 and 1d6 rather than 2d6

... or.... you could die on turn 3 and watch your friends play a game for several hours. 



#2 ishinken

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Posted 05 February 2011 - 11:51 AM

op:
Very nice post I must say with good statistics.

I agree this game feels like too much of a slap in the face. I played the original "Drakborgen" tons of times and never felt as meaningless as now. This one is more sadistic to a point where you might aswell start the game, roll a die and say "let's get this overwith, on a 1, we win, on a 2-6, we all die".

Heh... well, maby not that bad but still... the time really is a pain in this game. At least I felt you had perfect amount of time in the original, here it's just unreasonable little.

How come they don't use the optional rules for rolling sun dice where you roll a 6 sided die and on 1-3 the sun doesn't advance this turn. On a 4-5 it advances one step and on a 6 it advances two steps. This worked nice for "drakborgen legenden" at least.

It feels like theres tons of content to be added to this game to be honest... helpful items for once. Like keys you were able to find before and stat-increasing items. More mong-sided and fun stuff to find and use to actually make it POSSIBLE to BOTH enter and leave the treasure chamber in a bit more than a 1 to 20 chance.



#3 Jocinetu

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Posted 11 February 2011 - 04:01 AM

We play a simple rule: When you die you lose all treasure and start from starting tower with half of your maximum health indicated on the character card! When you die second time you lose all your treasure and start with 1/4 HP... That way those players still play but they ave a slim chance to win... But with game mechanic all is possible. The best part is nobody complain... It's funny to watch guy just died in Treasure chamber with bag full of loot, starting all over again... ROFL



#4 Grove12345

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Posted 13 February 2011 - 07:15 AM

Thinking about getting this game and i thought if we just reset players once they died it could work. But alot of people complain the game is just too out of your hands, which isnt really appealing as a game. Hard is one thing. I enjoy a challenge. Winning or losing doesnt matter. But not getting a chance to control either is just lame.



#5 Steve-O

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 10:55 AM

librarycharlie said:

I've played a mere two games of DQ, and many of you will discount anything else I say due to a small sample size, but I beg you to consider the following anyway.

First off, you're not wrong about the game being brutally quick to kill people.  That's always been part of it's charm as far as I'm concerned.  I can understand why some people wouldn't enjoy a game like that, and I don't blame you for being disillusioned with the game if you're one of those people.  Everyone's entitled to their own opinion.

I enjoy the fact that the game is (very) difficult to win.  I think somone pegged the odds around 15% chance of survival once.  Not sure if that was accounting for getting all the way to the treasure room or not.  As far as I'm concerned that's just a "challenge accepted!"  Of course, in all the old editions and in this one, too, I've always used a house rule that when one hero dies you draw a new one and start over, so the whole getting eliminated early and sitting around for two hours hasn't really been an issue for me.

librarycharlie said:

I want to give you a nearly-best case scenario, ignoring the deadly Catacombs, and assuming that every single dungeon tile faces the perfect direction, that you never encounter a trap, snag, hitch, chasm, or other obstacle, but also for mathematical purposes, discounting the corridors because they are effectively not usable spaces, in part because of their dreadful tendency to rotate.

Discounting corridors hardly provides for a "nearly best-case scenario."  I've heard stories of people getting to the treasure room in one or two turns because they drew a succession of corridors, and then got a treasure that let them teleport out.  Boom!  Headshot!  I'm sure the odds of that happening are phenomenally small, but it does beg the question how many other scenarios might exist in between your "nearly best-case" and that one if you don't completely ignore corridors out of hand?

Again, I'm not saying the game is easy.  It's certainly not.  I'm not saying that your relatively small number of games is somehow misrespresenting the gameplay; it's not.  The game is highly random and very deadly.  I enjoy that, as do some others I've heard around here in the past.  If you're not one of them, that's unfortunate.  Maybe you can sell the game to recoup some losses, or make a series of house rules that help you enjoy playing, if you're so inclined.  All I'm saying is that not everyone wants the game to be easy, or even reasonable.  Some of us enjoy the prospect of a challenge we'll need to play 100 games to succeed at, and that's why we like DQ just the way it is.

Incidentally, if you really dislike DQ this much, I would highly recommend you stay away from the "roguelike" genre of computer games.  Most of those (the good ones anyway) make DQ look like a walk in the park. =)



#6 JCHendee

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 05:02 PM

I feel for you, L.C.... though the reasons my group buried this game were different than yours.  And indeed, as others have commented, DQ3 is more deadly than DQ1.  I have not run the numbers fully on this issue, so I don't know to what degree... it may not be a large margin.  But I've run probabilities long enough for so many years that I can "smell" when something is a little different.  And it is.

As to selling the game off, that may be the only way for some.  Too bad on that count as well, since it's salt in the wound for those who find themselves in that position after throwing down a chunk of change.  But I'd suggest to anyone feeling that way to hold off a while.  First consider some of the house rules mentioned here and elsewhere. You don't have to play it by the official rules in part or whole (some of which make me shake my head... got worse responses from my crew.)  You can turn it around and find the fun that some of us feel was left behind one way or another.

The sun isn't one to mess with.  DQ should be race against time the way I see it.  But one thing that should be trashed are those stupid die roles near the end. Ignore them.

When a character dies, use a straight draw of a new character without any penalties. Sending a character back in at half lives (or whatever) upon resurrection is another recipe for more salt in those wound.  Time is already running out, and the odds are against a character (re)starting late; don't hobble it further.

Ditch the card combat. Unto itself, it is unique, and I appreciate it. But it was cribbed from another game outside of DQ and doesn't belong in this game.  It was top of a list for why my crew tossed everything in the box and shelved it.  Even the so called official "variants" missed the mark.... ignoring the game's greater  "fan community" history; one of those variants was very much out of touch.

Go to BGG and elsewhere and learn all the ways the game was... is... player for speed... real speed... and real fun. it can be done, and I'm determine to prove it to my own.



#7 AlDungeonQuesting

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Posted 23 March 2011 - 07:52 AM

 Hey all!

Well I played my first 5 games (2-player) of DQ3 over about 3 hours last night. Boy the first one was rough trying to figure out the combat rules, but in the end we really liked the card dueling. I had also read many reviews online critical of the low survival rate and uncontrollable sudden deaths, but decided to risk it because I loved how awesome the tile bits all looked and if a game is worth printing a decade later it must not be too horrible. Anyhow, I fully understand your frustration and I thought that I might share what I have learned in my 5 games.

I also considered and discussed with my roommate before the first game that it would require a near perfect game to make it to the Treasure Chamber and back in the minimum 21 turns without acceleration (Corridors, Catacombs, Cards), so we both started the game with a smash-and-grab plan in mind. I got pretty plain dungeon tiles but 3 scorpions later I was dead. As I removed my hero from the board I was thinking to myself how it was going to suck sitting there for the rest of the game. My roommate had made it to the Treasure Chamber as I died and was coming out now with 4 loot cards. He boasted about how it didn't seem that hard, then he had walk into the Bottomless Pit the tile before the Tower Room. We both laughed that he got cocky (he could have chosen to retrace a few of the explored tiles out but chose to take more unexplored tiles just to be brave) and in the end while he was taking his turns he went pretty fast and I didn't mind watching it. Perhaps with 3 other players it would be long enough for me to tire of watching, but as people die the game should become noticeably faster.

Anyhow, out of 5 games I survived one time, my roommate survived one time, and the Treasure Chamber was reached one time (and he subsequently died in a Bottomless Pit). So far, 20% survival without making it to the TC. Out of these 5 games we learned a few strategies which we put to work well on games 4 and 5 and I think they are worth sharing to possibly improve the brutal experience of DungeonQuest.

26-31 Turns before Sundown; 10 squares to move to Treasure Chamber, 1 to loot a Dragon Card, 10 squares to move to exit from Tower Room. No acceleration accounted for.

 

Strategy 1: Minimal distance from Tower Entrance, double searching each room. (The Search a lot and leave strat!)

This strat worked well for us, the only downside is that it's not as exciting and your friends can taunt you while you cower in the first few rooms of Dragonfire. This taunting in one case prompted me into taking a secret door which sealed my fate (and my loot) shortly after. For this strategy you want to place as few rooms as necessary as close to the Tower Room as possible and search those rooms over and over again. Ideally you want to draw and place 2 regular dungeon rooms with search icons. This way you can move, search 2 times from a deck that contains some loot like Crypt or Corpse, then move back and search 2 times again. This can find you some mediocre loot while minimizing your chance of taking fatal wounds. Once you have some loot you can risk continued searching or make for the Tower Room and watch everyone else die trying to beat your benchmark. At the point you leave with even just 100 gold, you have forced each other adventurer to match that amount or die trying. The pressure it puts them under seems thoroughly entertaining as they choose to cross Bridges and draw cards they otherwise may have ignored (such as passing on a Corpse or Crypt just to play it safe).

 

Strategy 2: Catacombs path shortcut. (The free d6 roll to the middle strat!)

We both were hesitant to enter the Catacombs the first time (neither of us has read that section of the rules yet, so it was truely unknown what would happen to anyone who dared enter first or if they would ever leave in one piece. After some combination of foolishness and bravery I ventured down one of many Catacombs Entrances we had found (In all 5 games Catacombs Entrances were plentiful as result of both tiles and searching). I fought a troll, suffered a Vampire bite, and was convinced I would die in the dark, but ultimately once I had been in the catacombs for 5 or 6 turns I realized that if I managed to surface I would be placing myself right next to a Tower Room! The d6 that you roll to the right or left of your exit point is basically a free d6 worth of moves you get to take! I chose "to the right" before I rolled, requiring 3 or more to put me against the edge and 1 square away from a Tower Room. I miraculously exited the dungeon with 1/12 of my life left and won it with a 40 gold loot card. So, we realized how powerful the Catacombs were for quickly moving around. The next game we both had the same idea; enter the catacombs as fast as possible, hope to draw an exit card 3-5 turns later, then use the d6 shift to the side to surface in or adjacent to the Treasure Chamber! I ended up meeting a Demon in the dark and never made it out, my opponent ended up coming out 1 tile away from the TC but got an unfortunate dead end tile next. We both died but we like this strategy and plan to make thorough use of it in the next games, and I recommend anyone feeling pressed for turns should consider the d6 move to the side an excellent way to accelerate your character to the Treasure Chamber or back to a Tower Room.

So there's my advice to anyone stressing the 21 turn perfect game scenario. Either disregard the amount of time it takes to reach the Treasure Chamber by planning to loot conservatively from near the Tower Rooms; or Make a break for the Treasure Chamber through the Catacombs, then try to use Catacombs to exit adjacent to a Tower Room for the win!

Overall, I love the game. It really has a speedy pace to it once you've got the rules worked out. I really liked playing out a few hands of combat card duel. It feels like a mini game within the game which I'm glad wasn't reduced to die rolls. I play MTG so at first a deck of 4 mini sized cards seemed like a practical joke but I quite like it now.

Here's to an expansion with a few new heroes and their power cards, another monster or 2, and a slew of new tiles!

I PLEDGE TO PURCHASE IT IF YOU MAKE IT!



#8 Dam

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Posted 23 March 2011 - 08:06 AM

AlDungeonQuesting said:

 

Strategy 1: Minimal distance from Tower Entrance, double searching each room. (The Search a lot and leave strat!)

Only time people search around here is if the path is blocked and backtracking would either be bad (Trap Room or worse), impossible (Rotating Room) or they hope to draw Secret Door and save time. While there is no active enforcing of the "No Guts, No Glory" variant (where you need at least 1 Loot from Treasure Chamber before you can exit) for us, it is very much an unspoken agreement that you do all you can to reach the center, but if everything goes against you and you have Loot, if there is time just enough (maybe 1-2 turns leftover) for you to reach an exit (and have Loot), you can go for the exit without having visited the Treasure Chamber. Search early and leave would result in IMO boring games of grabbing 70 Gold and leaving.

While it does initially appear that you'll be hard-pressed to reach the center, grab more than one turn of loot and head out, in reality, there is in fact plenty of time in most cases to get to the center, loot 3-4 turns and then head back out. And that doesn't even take into account turns like Brother Gherinn had in one of the recent games where he drew Spider Web (pass test) -> 4x corridor -> chamber, moving six spaces in a turn, all toward the center. Since that same route was then available should he be trying to exit, he looted in the center first four turns, left for one turn (to reshuffle all the Dragon cards) and went back to loot for three more turns.


"A dirty mind is its own reward."


#9 AlDungeonQuesting

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Posted 23 March 2011 - 10:35 AM

Dam said:

 

Search early and leave would result in IMO boring games of grabbing 70 Gold and leaving.

While it does initially appear that you'll be hard-pressed to reach the center, grab more than one turn of loot and head out, in reality, there is in fact plenty of time in most cases to get to the center, loot 3-4 turns and then head back out. And that doesn't even take into account turns like Brother Gherinn had in one of the recent games where he drew Spider Web (pass test) -> 4x corridor -> chamber, moving six spaces in a turn, all toward the center. Since that same route was then available should he be trying to exit, he looted in the center first four turns, left for one turn (to reshuffle all the Dragon cards) and went back to loot for three more turns.

 

 

If you're tired of dieing though this strat does allow you to spend a good 10 or more turns out of 26 searching, and then you can move past the feeling that you can't possibly survive Dragonfire Dungeon and into the desired mindset of the game; that you are here to take greater risks for greater rewards. It's really the slump-buster strat that you use after 4 or 5 games of not surviving at all.

Concerning your game, I would be thrilled to draw 4 corridors in a row! I agree that instance makes the Treasure Chamber much more accessible as long as they send you in the right directions. If I do the math though, you got 5 free moves from the lucky tiles turn; then if I assume no acceleration for the previous 5 spaces (it takes 10 moves from Tower Room to Treasure Chamber), that was 6 turns. Add 4 for looting the TC comes to 10 turns. Add 1 to leave the TC, reshuffle, then enter and loot for 1 more, and loot for 2 more to put you at 14 turns. That leaves you 12 turns and 10 (-4 or 5 for acceleration moves) spaces to reach a Tower Room before sundown. I feel this puts you in the position of Medium Risk, High Reward, very much in the spirit of the game. I also feel this position would have been riskier and less rewarding if not for some great luck (VERY lucky to have gotten 4 corridors in a row, and Moderately lucky to have not disturbed the dragon while looting 7 times!). It would not be "plenty of time" by any means without the 4 corridors; by definition moving 10 spaces unaccelerated or uninterrupted, looting 4 times, then moving back the same way would just barely get you out at turn 24 of 26. Considering that many dungeon tiles cost you a turn and many others will simply not have a passage open in the direction towards the Tower Room, so I'm inclined to say that your 24 turn strategy doesn't work without the luck of both acceleration and passages aligned in your favor.

I'm afraid that I don't see where you define the choices that make your strategy work though. Overall it seems like the strategy you are advocating is simply "Walk into the TC, loot it and leave", which is the goal of many strategies, but I was attempting to identify specific decision making trends you can apply to decrease risk or increase reward in a more reliable way. As I stated, it may be considered the cowards strategy, but I believe with the low chance of your opponents survival it results in a higher percentage of technical wins than most strategies, and therefore is a decent option for players severely discouraged by dieing such as the OP.

I'm curious, did your friend make it out with his 14 loot cards?

 

Thank you for your post! :)



#10 Dam

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Posted 23 March 2011 - 12:19 PM

AlDungeonQuesting said:

 

If you're tired of dieing though this strat does allow you to spend a good 10 or more turns out of 26 searching, and then you can move past the feeling that you can't possibly survive Dragonfire Dungeon and into the desired mindset of the game; that you are here to take greater risks for greater rewards. It's really the slump-buster strat that you use after 4 or 5 games of not surviving at all.

My stats show that each character has entered 8 times, total number of deaths is 31 (out of 48 possible). DQ is as much about dying as getting to the center and getting out.

AlDungeonQuesting said:

It would not be "plenty of time" by any means without the 4 corridors; by definition moving 10 spaces unaccelerated or uninterrupted, looting 4 times, then moving back the same way would just barely get you out at turn 24 of 26. Considering that many dungeon tiles cost you a turn and many others will simply not have a passage open in the direction towards the Tower Room, so I'm inclined to say that your 24 turn strategy doesn't work without the luck of both acceleration and passages aligned in your favor.

Bridge, Spider Web and Secret Door (from Dungeon and Search Decks) both can boost your movement as well, ditto for Chamber of Darkness, so it's not all corridors. And Catacombs can give a few turns worth of speedrush as well.

AlDungeonQuesting said:

I'm curious, did your friend make it out with his 14 loot cards?

6,481 Gold + Bottle Imp. Just 120 Gold short of the current record for us, held by Krutzbeck, who in his 6,601 Gold game basically waltzed in and came out and never took a single point of damage. Before the last game where both characters died, three of the four heroes to enter had all reached the center and exited with 3,800+ Gold. In that Gherinn corridor game, Lindel got 4,221 by getting his path to join with Gherinn's path, so despite getting to the center about 10 turns later than Gherinn, he still got a ton of loot (ironically, one more turn there and he would've drawn Sun Spear to go with his Staff of Light and would've become the record holder).


"A dirty mind is its own reward."





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