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2nd Edition Overlord too weak?


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#1 Bitterboy

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 01:43 AM

I had a nice time playing the game at Sci-Fi Genre in Durham, NC this weekend.  And friend & I played "First Blood" and "the Fat Goblin" scenarios and had a pretty good time.  We are both very experienced 1st Edition players.  We both loved a lot of the changes in 2nd Edition (smaller maps, simpler rules, hero skills, etc.) but we both thought that the Overlord was really weakened in 2nd Edition.  We both fear that game balance has really shifted in favor of the heroes.  The limited number and initial placement of monsters in scenarios along with very difficult winning conditions really seemed to tip the game heavily in favor of the heroes.  Also, playing the scenarios outside of the campaign game seems pointless. 

Also, I remembered seeing a rule in the online preview that allowed the Overlord to draw another card when failing to have a favorable result when playing a card on a hero, but I did not see that rule in the rulebook.  Has anyone else seen that rule?  Would have really helped the OL player in our games.

I was wondering what other players experiences were with the game this weekend.  Happy gaming!

 



#2 jjcole

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 03:38 AM

I have played First Blood a few times and I definitely think the Overlord has a disadvantage in that quest, but I haven't played enough of the rest to be able to comment. One rule I missed for a while though was that the Overlord also draws a card when a hero gets knocked out, that helps a bit too.

The Overlord card itself will specify if the Overlord draws a card. I believe Dark Charm is one where if the hero passes the attribute test, the Overlord draws a card.



#3 jwdenzel

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 05:34 AM

This weekend I had a chance to play the "First Blood" episode twice.  (At the Elk Grove, CA event)   The first time I played as a Hero, and the second time as the Overlord.  There's no doubt that the map leans toward favoring the heroes.  The Overlord is at a serious disadvantage if the heroes have any prior experience. The heroes won both games played by a landslide. 

But I suspect this was done intentionally.  In a lot of situations, the Overlord will be an experienced player, and the Heroes will be newbies. If that's the case, then the Overlord can try and win the game while the Newbies are figuring out how to optimize their movement and attacks. 

In 1E, the first map favored the Overlord. And very often heroes got frustrated with how quickly and often they died. Maybe the developers wanted the heroes to have a better first impression of the game?

As for the First Blood map itself… I cannot think of a solid strategy to give the Overlord an advantage. As Overlord, the only time I managed to get the goblins to escape the map was when I got lucky and managed to draw a “Dash” card, giving the goblin extra movement to get out. It also helped that the heroes missed the goblins with some of their attacks.



#4 jjcole

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 07:48 AM

I think the Overlord has a decent (though maybe less than 50%) chance of winning First Blood against two heroes. If you get one hero knocked out it has a bigger impact since there's only one other player to revive him. Every action they lose to a revive is one less action they can use to chase and kill goblins. I think with some more experience and some tactics the Overlord can increase his chances, and as jwdenzel said above, usually the heroes will be less experienced when playing the intro quest which might even things out a bit more.

Also, if you get lucky and block a hero in the starting area, you can keep knocking out one hero while the other is stuck on the other side just attacking the Ettin. This might help out in 3 or 4 hero games as well if you could use the Master Ettin's Throw ability to move a hero once the passage is blocked. I didn't get to try this out but I thought it might be a plausible strategy.



#5 LinkN

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 10:18 AM

Actually, I found the first quest in 1E to be incredibly easy for the heroes, at least if they had a larger group (it was still difficult for only 2 heroes, thanks to poor scaling).

Regardless, yes, I'm pretty sure the first quest is intended to be easily winable by the heroes.  It's also the only quest that doesn't give the winner any extra rewards in the campaign.



#6 Coldmoonrising

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 02:48 AM

I demoed the game in Salt Point, NY this weekend and played the OL for 75% of the time. It's crazy hard to win that first map "First Blood." The only strategy I saw was pushing your Ettin up front to block a hallway, move your goblins behind the Ettin to protect them and on the 2nd turn run them out cause once they're at the door, they're pretty much good to go and get out.

The only problem with that strategy is that your Ettin gets focused on and you better hope for high defense rolls. It really call came down to luck of the dice and OL card draws. I usually got 3 goblins through before losing, once I got 4 but that was all. I was never able to beat the heroes in "First Blood" but with no extra rewards all you really lose out on was the ability to pick the next quest.

I still had a blast and I can't wait to get my hands on my own copy.



#7 KristoffStark

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 05:37 AM

I did my store's demo of 2nd ED, and had the good fortune of being allowed to keep the box.

I've run First Blood three time, and also the two Encounters of The Fat Goblin.

Yes, First Blood is seriously slanted towards victory for the Heroes, but as has been noted, there are good reasons for doing that.

Also, as has been noted, since the winner of First Blood gets no additional benefit, it doesn't really matter.

Fat Goblin was a different story.  I acquired 3 of the 4 crop bundles in the first Encounter, and only just barely lost the 2nd Encounter, and I may well have won if I'd remembered to play Dash on the boss at the end.  It didn't help that luck went against me, and I didn't find Freidrick until the very last token.

From what I've seen so far, I would not say that the Overlord is too weak.



#8 Columbob

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 08:27 AM

Calls of this (too strong/too weak!), don't you think they're a bit premature? Same thing happened with D1.



#9 SDeaver

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 11:50 AM

I have a copy I picked up at Realms of Terrinoth.  Though I haven't gotten to play since then, I've read the quest guide cover to cover.  There are one or two encounters that look like they might be very difficult for the Overlord, but most look fairly balanced.  Some are diabolical.

Without playing them I can't know for sure, but I doubt the Overlord will be underpowered.  Keep in mind all the monsters get more powerful in Act II, and the Overlord gets to purchase new cards (one of which allows for summoning reinforcements).  The relics the OL can win from successful quests are nothing to sneeze at, and there are other rewards that allow the OL to use more powerful monsters for any open group.



#10 Steve-O

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 01:03 PM

I agree with other posters who say it's probably a bit too early to be making judgement calls like this.  Unless you got an advance copy at GenCon and have been playing the game every day since then, I doubt you've got enough plays under your belt to really say for sure how the game is balanced.

Having said that, I can certainly see how the Overlord position would appear weakened in 2e compared to his position in 1e, based on reading the rulebook.  As the OP mentioned, he has generally fewer monsters, new and potentially quest-based objectives (not simply "kill the heroes a lot,") etc.  However, I'm hoping that this just means the OL needs to try a bit harder in 2e.  After OL players have had a chance to ramp up, my hope is that the OL and hero teams will be roughly equal.  (For what it's worth, reviews I've heard coming out of Realms - games where the OL was, by and large, played by an FFG staffer - seem to indicate that the game is well balanced, with the question of who will win hanging in the balance until late in the game.  Barring a few reports where the OL or the heroes made a serious tactical error, of course.)

In 1e, the Overlord had a pretty easy learning curve.  Heroes had a lot more counter-intuitive tactics to pick up on before they could play effectively, and they had a lot more random draws leading to sub-par character builds.  In 2e, the randomness of hero development may not be entirely gone, but it does seem to be seriously reduced.  Combine that with the fact that the Overlord appears to have a learning curve that requires some effort, and I can see how the game might seem weighted towards the heroes at first.  ESPECIALLY on "First Blood," the self-proclaimed "tutorial quest."  And on top of all that, the hero tactics are mostly unchanged from what I can tell.  Some of the cheesier moves are discouraged, but the basics are still perfectly functional.

What that adds up to is an Overlord who needs to learn how to play a new game while the heroes (mostly) do the same thing they're used to from 1e.  Given time to learn the new style, I suspect things will even out.  Somewhat ironically, a group who never played 1e may find it easier to pick up 2e fresh and learn the ropes than a group who is accustomed to the 1e mechanics.  I'm not shy about saying I think 1e's rules were sorely broken, so i don't necessarily see this as a bad thing, mind you.

 

Edit:  I do agree that it seems like playing without the campaign is mostly pointless in this edition.  Unless you don't have a lot of time and just want a quick one-shot Descent fix.  Of course, the campaign mode was resoundingly what fans wanted out of 1e, so I don't blame FFG for going that route, either.  I doubt our group will be much interested in playing non-campaign games anyway.

On the plus side, the rules for playing one-shot games at different power levels are fairly straightforward.  If your group really feels that either the OL or the heroes are overpowered, it should be easy enough to handicap one team or the other by giving the "weaker" side a power boost using those guidelines.  I wouldn't recommend doing this until you've played enough to say with confidence that one team or the other needs the handicap, though.



#11 Antistone

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 01:45 PM

Steve-O said:

Of course, the campaign mode was resoundingly what fans wanted out of 1e,

How do you know?  I mean, I'm probably biased, and I remember a number of forum threads in which players of 1e complained about the lack of continuity between quests, but the comparative lack of threads begging for non-campaign play didn't mean that players didn't want it, just that they already had it - I wouldn't draw any conclusions from that.  Maybe one could learn something from sales figures of the various expansions, if they were available…

I also saw a lot of threads asking for solo or cooperative play, and they didn't give us that.



#12 Bitterboy

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 03:16 PM

I was hoping to find the opinion of someone who had read for of the campaign book than I did.  I am encouraged to hear that things may even out as the campaign/scenarios progress.  I figured they might but it never hurts to ask around and this seemed like a good place to ask.   

 

 



#13 Sausageman

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Posted 11 July 2012 - 12:34 AM

Antistone said:

 

 

How do you know?  I mean, I'm probably biased, and I remember a number of forum threads in which players of 1e complained about the lack of continuity between quests, but the comparative lack of threads begging for non-campaign play didn't mean that players didn't want it, just that they already had it - I wouldn't draw any conclusions from that.  Maybe one could learn something from sales figures of the various expansions, if they were available…

I also saw a lot of threads asking for solo or cooperative play, and they didn't give us that.

Probably  the sales of Road to Legend, the leiutenant miniatures, the number of people talking/asking questions about it gave the impression that people wanted that sort of thing.

And I must confess, playing Descent stand-alone now feels like something is sorely missing…



#14 IronRavenstorm

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Posted 11 July 2012 - 10:53 AM

If you read my little review you would have heard me voice this opinion.  The OL player has to be a tactical genius to beat the heroes.  The games that I played it came really close at the end were we won only by the skin of our teeth.  Besides placing monsters the other big factor for the OL player is to pick monsters that work well together.  I think that out OL player didn't fully grasp the new monsters he was playing with (really he just missed his beastmen and razorwings). 

Plus, I think he was too focused on the winning objectives for himself.  He didn't spend enough time trying to knockout us heroes.  The only people he tried to knockout were the beefy heroes (Which he failed, and he never got one knockout while playing at the event).  He never really focused on the weaker heroes like the scout or mage.  I know that when I get a chance to play as the OL I will take my time to go after the weaker heroes while slowly accomplishing my objective. 

Overall, I think that the OL needs to know the heroes abilities/feats just as much as his own monsters.  I know that he forgot a lot of the time about Jain Fairwood's feat of running full speed and still making an attack.  I would end up with all of the treasure, or get him before he escaped.  Two words of advice: Closing doors behind you is useful when trying to escape, and stop heroes from getting treasure.  Sure you might lose, but make sure that we don't score a lot of points to buy even better weapons for the next round.  That is just simple OL training 101.



#15 Steve-O

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Posted 11 July 2012 - 02:35 PM

Antistone said:

 

How do you know?  I mean, I'm probably biased, and I remember a number of forum threads in which players of 1e complained about the lack of continuity between quests, but the comparative lack of threads begging for non-campaign play didn't mean that players didn't want it, just that they already had it - I wouldn't draw any conclusions from that.  Maybe one could learn something from sales figures of the various expansions, if they were available…

I know from the number of people we saw calling for more continuity when the base game was released.

I know from the sheer number of times we had to tell newbies NOT to jump right into the AC game after it was released.  (Surely you remember those threads - they happened at least once or twice a week.)

I'm sure there are some people who were perfectly happy with non-campaign play.  I enjoyed it well enough for what it was myself.  But to me, the whole vibe of the old forum screamed AC, both before and after RtL.  Perhaps you have a different opinion, and that's your prerogative, but I'm quite confident that the AC is what the majority of fans wanted out of 1e.  FFG seems to agree, since they built 2e such that half the components in the box won't see the light of day without playing the campaign.



#16 MasterBeastman

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Posted 11 July 2012 - 07:54 PM

I've played a few times as I have my own copy and I'm getting a similar feeling, but not exactly.

It's still too early to call (haven't played enough yet) but my feeling is that there's not enough fighting.

The Overlord has no incentive to even roll an attack against a hero. He can ignore them completely and just play a solo game of blocking hallways and pursuing quest goals. Yeah, the OL gets a new card for getting a Knockout but even in looking at the upgrade options for the Overlord's deck I was underwhelmed. I looked through all three classes and my impression was that they're all Meh.

When I got my first XP I just took the heal, a universal ability, as I don't really care about the class-specific abilities.

I miss the trash-talk of 1st edition because it revolved completely around the wholesale slaughter of monsters and heroes alike, and scaled up with higher tiers of loot/monster upgrades. I'm missing that in 2E.

Hopefully as we progress with the game and see the Tier2 loot in play my impression will change (though the tier2 monsters aren't very impressive.)



#17 Sausageman

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 12:41 AM

MasterBeastman said:

I've played a few times as I have my own copy and I'm getting a similar feeling, but not exactly.

It's still too early to call (haven't played enough yet) but my feeling is that there's not enough fighting.

The Overlord has no incentive to even roll an attack against a hero. He can ignore them completely and just play a solo game of blocking hallways and pursuing quest goals. Yeah, the OL gets a new card for getting a Knockout but even in looking at the upgrade options for the Overlord's deck I was underwhelmed. I looked through all three classes and my impression was that they're all Meh.

When I got my first XP I just took the heal, a universal ability, as I don't really care about the class-specific abilities.

I miss the trash-talk of 1st edition because it revolved completely around the wholesale slaughter of monsters and heroes alike, and scaled up with higher tiers of loot/monster upgrades. I'm missing that in 2E.

Hopefully as we progress with the game and see the Tier2 loot in play my impression will change (though the tier2 monsters aren't very impressive.)

This makes me :(

It was my one big worry too - that upgrades (whether hero or overlord) weren't all that.  Gone are the dice upgrades, the monster upgrades, etc.  I would actually like to see a bit more customisation get added in expansions (or in an 'Advanced Campaign' should one come out in the future…)



#18 hooliganj

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 05:22 AM

Having played a lot of Descent 1e over the years, from the half-dozen games of 2e I enjoyed over the preview weekend I would say that 2e is a much more tactical game for the overlord. This time around everyone's favorite villain has to deal with a very limited pool of resources (much fewer monsters and cards, no threat or conquest), more complicated goals (as opposed to 'kill all heroes!'), and a limited amount of time in which to accomplish them (i.e. before the heroes reach their objective). All of these factors conspire to make the overlord's job harder than ever, especially if that player is used to 1e's model of making the overlord a more antagonistic DM.

Over the weekend I saw 6 games played - 3 rounds of First Blood, and 3 from various other Act 1 quests. I agree with the assessment that First Blood is weighted toward the heroes - the overlord has to be very lucky to save the gobs - but as an introduction it makes sense. For the other quests, 2 of them also went to the heroes, both for the same reason - the overlord kept trying to fight them rather than advancing the objective. The only game the overlord won that weekend was the last, where some fighting did occur, but he remained focused on the goal the entire time - and that game was a landslide.

So for now my conclusion is that overlord players will need to relearn their role in the game. It's no longer about killing the intrepid heroes, because they're now more intrepid than ever. With the limited pool of resources, the overlord needs to spend those resources accomplishing their goal, or they will eventually fail and the heroes will win. In my opinion this makes playing the overlord more of a game than before, and I had a lot of fun when I sat in that chair - more than I ever really had overlording in 1e.



#19 jjcole

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 08:12 AM

hooliganj said:

So for now my conclusion is that overlord players will need to relearn their role in the game. It's no longer about killing the intrepid heroes, because they're now more intrepid than ever. With the limited pool of resources, the overlord needs to spend those resources accomplishing their goal, or they will eventually fail and the heroes will win. In my opinion this makes playing the overlord more of a game than before, and I had a lot of fun when I sat in that chair - more than I ever really had overlording in 1e.

Well said, I've played a few Act I quests now and I agree, now the Overlord feels more like playing the game to win rather than just trying to make the heroes lose.



#20 Cyan_of_Doma

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 04:27 PM

jjcole said:

hooliganj said:

 

So for now my conclusion is that overlord players will need to relearn their role in the game. It's no longer about killing the intrepid heroes, because they're now more intrepid than ever. With the limited pool of resources, the overlord needs to spend those resources accomplishing their goal, or they will eventually fail and the heroes will win. In my opinion this makes playing the overlord more of a game than before, and I had a lot of fun when I sat in that chair - more than I ever really had overlording in 1e.

 

 

Well said, I've played a few Act I quests now and I agree, now the Overlord feels more like playing the game to win rather than just trying to make the heroes lose.

 

I concur.  Everything about the way the overlord acts in 2e seems to make it more fun for the whole table, and as an added bonus your hero players don't vehemently hate you by the end of the night :D.






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