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Crushing the Players Dreams... Can the Keeper be Nice?


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#1 Admiral142

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 03:41 PM

We've played this game twice now, and each time I've played the keeper.  The first time we played Fall of the House of Lynch with two investigators, and the second game was Blood Ties with three investigators.  Each time we've played, I have ground the investigators into a fine paste and smeared their moist extracts on crackers to make a delicious snack.  The point is, I have creamed them, and I fear that they are losing hope that there is a way for them to win.  Granted, we have only played two times, but I fear they may abandon this game as they did Descent, which we played only once.  To be fair, however, we used to lose Arkham Horror every time we played too, but eventually got pretty good at it, so it may be a practice thing.

I don't know if I need to be nicer as the keeper; I don't feel that I've been particularly mean.  I rarely, if ever, play trauma cards on them, and hardly ever play mythos cards either.  Mostly I depend on my action cards.  

Has anyone else encountered this phenomenon?  If so, have you made any changes, or have your investigators simply improved their ability to beat you?  Do you follow any house rules?  

Any ideas on how to help are sure appreciated!



#2 Cassive

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 04:37 PM

One of the best ways I personally am able to both be "nice" to investigators AND give them a sporting chance (in these early games, at least, it'll probably be more of a struggle to stop them after they've had some practice) is to try to make their deaths and such theatrical.  If I simply beat an investigator to death with 3 zombies I spawned, I have failed in my job.  Unless it's coming down to the wire and SOMEone's got to win soon, playing with people is far more fun than just straight up attacking them.

A lot of my opening game is chasing after them with things to scare them, make them vulnerable to trauma, and generally play havoc without dealing a lot of actual damage.  Once they've gotten around half the clues, the gloves can come off a little bit.  They'll have a couple extra items that will make them feel accomplished, and give them a better chance against you.  You'll probably have a little threat saved up, too, so there are more options available to you, as well.  This is honestly the best way I've found to build suspense in the game.  They might start to think you're going easy on them, but when you hit them hard in that one golden opportunity turn, it'll suddenly focus them on their goal in a way constantly being beaten around by monsters just won't accomplish.

I honestly don't know if this method is easier or harder for the investigators, since I haven't really played a full on aggressive campaign from go.  So, if anyone has played both styles, or has an entirely different one, I'd love to hear how well it works.



#3 NORB

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 04:38 PM

Well I have lost 2 out of 3 as Keeper. What I think you could do is point out what they did wrong. At the end of the game tell them what they could have done keeping in mind that every game is going to be different. The one I won I pointed out that their kill all my monsters before finding clues did them in while it helped in the previous game.



#4 imanfasil

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 08:58 PM

I don't think it is an easy game for the investigators in general, but we have not had this experience.  I think part of you problem is only having two players.  I would recommend trying to have each of them run 2 characters so there is a full team.  Having played a couple games they shouldn't have any problem doing that.

If you want to stick to 1 character each it is probably important to stick to a certain subset of characters.  In any scenario where guns can jam on turn one... the gangster is dead weight.  Harvey Walters is a monster... he is probably the most deadly character in the game and cannot be hosed out of that ability by a mythos card, and is not the worst at puzzles.

Overall though I think the real goal should be for everyone to have fun.  Just like the DM in an RPG can fudge a die roll here or there in the players favor without them knowing it.  As long as there is tension and it comes down to the wire I think that is what matters.  That said I would never go too easy... if there is no challenge or they can tell you are throwing the game I think that is un-fun for everyone.

 

 

 

 



#5 Dreaming Shadow

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Posted 11 April 2011 - 10:39 PM

We've played this game twice, and both times we've got a great story. First game was a spectacular win for the Keeper, second - hard earned draw.

But, the beauty of this game, as I see it - is, that I'm not obsessed with victory, as I play it. Yes, I do my best to beat the Keeper and help my fellow investigators/players, but there is no hard feelings in loosing as long as I get a good story. First game: tension rising, insanity brewing and, at some point, one of the investigators cracks under pressure. Minute later he's standing above the beheaded friend with an axe... After realizing his crime, there was only one choice for him. One shot of his trusty pistol finally released him from this nightmare.

I've got exactly what I expected from a Lovecraft horror story. And it was brilliant.

So, in my opinion, Keeper must be cruel, but inventive and fair. If he will manage to be a little more narrative, than a "Descent Overlord" - it will surely add to the game.

 



#6 AslanTheMightyGod

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 04:02 AM

I am 36 years old.  For 35 years I've played games on "nice mode."  I came to the conclusion that on "nice mode" I lost a lot, because I was intentionally trying not to step on people's toes because I didn't want to upset anyone.  Due to that, often someone else won.  This last year, I've shifted gears, thanks to a particularly ugly game of Twilight Imperium that lasted 18 hours (I left at midnight, the others played till 6 AM).  I had a chance on turn 2 to destroy one of my opponents and I didn't because A) it was his house and B) I thought it would be mean to take him out on turn 2 with a Warsun.

But here is the thing.. I should have.  Since then I've been more aggressive when I've been gaming, and surprise! ... I've been winning.  This goes for the Keeper as well in Mansions of Madness.  If you feel bad for the Investigators and don't hit them where it hurts - they will probably win.  You need to hit them with cards whenever you get a chance.  You NEED to drive them insane so you can take them over and have them start shooting each other.  You need to play hard to make sure you have a chance to win as well.

My two cents.



#7 Ivan Kerensky

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Posted 03 May 2011 - 12:53 AM

 Frankly I dont think the keeper could play "nice" in this game.

Depending on the scenario, but there is usually only a few number of 'spawn' avaliable to him so he must use them as efficiently as he can. Also I noticed that a lot of the scenario we played ended up with a "Game win". It is an interesting twist above Descent in the idea that there is now 3 result and that by playing too nicely the keeper isn't necessiraly helping the investigators to win the game as much as insuring that everyone lose.

Winning for the keeper is interesting and usually challenging, far more than just hindering the investigator to make their win harder. In fact I am convinced that (depending on the scenario) if the keeper doesnt really try to win (and take decision and risk to do so) the game is far too often ending in a draw.

 



#8 Zombiefarts

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Posted 05 May 2011 - 05:03 AM

In the two games I've played I was the keeper and I attempted to play nicely for the main reason that my girlfriend was an opponent.  I would also note that I lost the first game and no one won the second game. 

I tend to agree that there really is no nice way to play the keeper, try as I might to be nice to my girlfriend in-game, I still broke her leg, made her go deaf, and just generally brutalize her.

Needless to say, those first two games were enough for her to never let me be the keeper again.



#9 Elbi

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Posted 05 May 2011 - 06:17 AM

Zombiefarts said:

Needless to say, those first two games were enough for her to never let me be the keeper again.

 

Hahaha, that's great :)

I think that, maybe, there are several interpretations of "playing nice". To me, "playing nice" doesn't mean that you're not going to damage investigators, that you're limiting your amount of monsters, spawning lesser monsters instead of the more dangerous ones or moving around in circles to let the other players catch up. To me, being nice is... well, I give you an example on what I feel is *not* nice:

Story 1, the objective where the keeper has to kill 2 investigators. A simple way of doing this is to always attack Harvey with a Maniac, since Harvey's chance to successfully make an Dex.check is slim. Break his leg as soon as possible, so he slows down the whole group or they leave him behind, which makes it easier to spawn Maniacs on him.
As soon as he's dead (after about 5 turns if he got the statue), switch to a new prime target. Whoever has the second lowest Dex.score might be a good choice. Stab him or her to death. Win. Takes you about, say, 10 turns if you're using only 1 Maniac, if you get some other monsters it's far quicker.
*Always* ignore all other investigators. You have your prime target, the others are just around to keep him/her some company.

Sure, you can win this way. But being nice, imho, means that you, as the Keeper, don't focus fire.
Since I already played that story, I can describe what I did (which apparently was funny enough for people not to beat and/or hate me). I spread damage, both physical and horror. I played Mythos cards on everyone, handed out Traumas as I saw them fit. I managed to get everyone down to a few hit points, trying to finish them off during the finale. Had the players panic and try to minmax whatever resource they had left in that phase, just as it is planned. Sadly for me, luckily for them, they managed some ridiculous dex.rolls in the last couple of turns, fending off several monsters at the same time. Therefore they did not receive any more damage, surviving and ending the game in a draw.

You can try to win without being an ass. That's the right way, imho.

That said, if your players are too experienced, too efficient or just too annoying, take out the sledge. No use in being nice if no one else is :)



#10 MNM79

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 08:50 PM

Hello everyone,

since i am quite new to MoM , our group has so far played the first scenario two times.

I was the keeper both times.

Its really easy for a Keeper to trouble the investigators in my opinion.

I was quite often in a situation were it was possible to play really mean. Such as reseting a Puzzle that lasted allready two rounds, playing panic to prevent an investigator form finding clue 1 and as a bonus causing him to make a Horror-test which if it has failed would drive him insane.

I think its a great task for the keeper to read the game and find the balance to keep it challenging for the investigators but let them a chance to get through the story.

I keep it slow in the beginning and if the investigators come closer to the goal i give them more challenging tasks.

This way the other players don´t feel like they are only a playball for the keeper.

Perhaps the other storys are harder for the keeper but in the fall of house lynch the keeper has to balance the game by his playstyle in order to keep it fair and intresting for all players.

Just my 2 Cents



#11 CraggleRock

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Posted 19 June 2011 - 11:02 AM

Elbi said:

Story 1, the objective where the keeper has to kill 2 investigators. A simple way of doing this is to always attack Harvey with a Maniac, since Harvey's chance to successfully make an Dex.check is slim. Break his leg as soon as possible, so he slows down the whole group or they leave him behind, which makes it easier to spawn Maniacs on him.
As soon as he's dead (after about 5 turns if he got the statue), switch to a new prime target. Whoever has the second lowest Dex.score might be a good choice. Stab him or her to death. Win. Takes you about, say, 10 turns if you're using only 1 Maniac, if you get some other monsters it's far quicker.
*Always* ignore all other investigators. You have your prime target, the others are just around to keep him/her some company.

See, I think that should telegraph to the players that: the Keeper wins by killing off X number of characters, therefore, every effort should be made to avoid a single death from occurring.  And that becomes even more interesting once everyone is so experienced that the Investigators have to figure out if you're bluffing just for the purpose of slowing them down.

But I say such all-out play tips your hand too much that it should balance out with more easy to form counter strategies.  Admittedly, I wouldn't say such tactics should be played by experienced Keeper against a full group of first time players, but more seasoned groups: fair game.



#12 Elbi

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Posted 24 June 2011 - 01:28 PM

@MNM79: "Perhaps the other storys are harder for the keeper but in the fall of house lynch the keeper has to balance the game by his playstyle in order to keep it fair and intresting for all players."

Watch out for Story 2, it's waaay too easy to just swamp the investigators with monsters. I felt bad for killing mine just because I underrated cultists and zombies (and their inability to hit anything when it actually mattered).

 

@ CraggleRock: the Keeper wins by killing off X number of characters, therefore, every effort should be made to avoid a single death from occurring.

Honestly, I don't know how they'd manage this. As the keeper can always move monsters and attack the target s/he wants, there's no way another investigator can "heal" the primary target. Of course, they might manage to find the correct spell. But that's playing roulette and calling it "tactic".
As an investigator, I'd get frustrated quickly, as there basically is no way to protect someone except killing everything that might attack them. Le sigh.


Admittedly, I wouldn't say such tactics should be played by experienced Keeper against a full group of first time players, but more seasoned groups: fair game.

Absolutely! If the group is experienced and gets bored by minor threats, the keeper needs to be mean! :)



#13 cylle123

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 07:51 PM

I played twice as keeper, (both times with 4 investigators, story 1 & 2)

And i would say that i lost 1st Story due to me not paying attention to my ultimate goal and focusing to much on hacking the Investigators apart with the maniacs ["Heeeeerreeeessss JOHNNY!!!!!"] - i succeeded in killing 1 investigator this way, I did not consider my objective untill round 4.

I lost and the Investigators were able to hold of my ultimate monster of easily untill the end of the game.

In Story 2 the same 4 guys completely lost track of clues and ended up focusing on killing the (infinete) supply of cultist, while a single Investigator attempted to locate all clues (Seriously - no wine involved; they just missed it) - And they spent all their skill points before the Objective was revealed, another grieveous error.

I was able to reveal Objective in round 10 (out of 20) and ended the game after 2 turns, because i swarmed them and had all investigators down to 1-2 health before revealing objecitve - BUT, the main reson they lost was that they completely missed the object of the game (locating clues and copleting their objective)

Where am i going with this: If both teams keep and eye on the objective, the chances of either side winning is roughly equal, if either side looses sight of the objective, then they pretty much loose - and new players will not be ready to spot (or consider) all the keeper strategies that can be involved in this game.

I think that this game works best with 4 Investigators, and a keeper that is mildly lenient to new players (if he knows intimately how all the mechanics works) and explains what he is doing, and that there might be a long term plan behind his actions, to new players. Explain (reexplain) the Evade rules, and other mechanics of the game again, if the playes seem to miss some of it. - In this way when the keeper brings down the hammer, it will seem fair and the Investigators will know they lost either due to lots of bad dice rolls or a few bad desicions on their part, not due to an gae balance issue.






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