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What exactly is the problem with sea of blood?


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#1 PinkTaco

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Posted 08 August 2012 - 08:36 AM

Everyone seems to think sea of blood is completely broken and makes descent crap.

 

why?

 

I have the expansion but me and friends are still well into RtL and havent busted it out yet.  But we plan to.



#2 Rajamic

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Posted 08 August 2012 - 01:25 PM

I haven't played a ton of SoB yet, but here are the issues our group ran into with it already:

  1. The main hook for SoB is the naval encounters. However, enemy ships completely outclass you until probably Gold-level campaign (your 25 HP ship with 1 Coldfire and maybe one other cannon at the start, vs most of the time a 40+ HP ship firing 4 cannons on a side at you that if you are lucky will only be Coldfire). This ignored the fact that you can't have cannons on the front of your boat, and most encounters, if you get ambushed, you end up in position to T-bone the enemy ship, meanign you can't do anything to them until you ram and board them, but they might be able to completely take out your ship before you get there. The naval encounters with no enemy ships (just a group of flying or swimming enemies), the overlord has no incentive to bring the boss monster (the thing you have to kill to win the encounter) anywhere close to the hero ship. So the vast majority of the game, any encounter in the sea has no good option other than first turn fleeing. But the latest FAQ has a ruling that you can only flee the ship off the opposite side of the map from where you start, so in order to even do that, you have to rules-lawyer that the individual heroes can flee off the side still by abandoning ship, which is technically allowed but clearly against the spirit of the new rule. Even if you do stick around to fight, most of the sea maps are practically suicide to get into combat range with an enemy ship, because of the positions of the rocks and how gigantic the ships are in comparison to the map itself; you basically end up with 2-3 turns on most of them to both move into attack range and kill the enemy before you sink on a rock.
  2. The leiutenants are unbalanced and many are practically unusable due to the restrictions on what levels of campaign you have to be at and/or what avatar you have. Seriously, there's only 2 of the 7(?) Lts that can be put in play at bronze level, and one of those is avatar-specific. The one Lt that all overlords can call at bronze is likely to destroy one city right off the bat and there's nothing the heroes can do about it, but then will get massacred. The other Lts are extremely beefy, but most are Avatar-specific and a few require Gold-level campaign, at which point they will likely get ignored while the heroes blitz through to the final showdown. What was the point of including the one Lt that you have to be in Gold-level campaign to summon and be playing a specific Avatar?
  3. The griffin Lt (Darkwind?) is practically impossible to kill, because it can move 2 spaces per turn and use secret paths, just like the fully-upgraded boat. You basically get the choice of chasing after it endlessly, not powering your heroes up at all, or let it ransack towns while you raid a dungeon or two and hope you can get back to the town to frighten it off before it scores the kill on the town. Either way, you waste a ton of weeks.


#3 PinkTaco

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 02:17 AM

so basically, ship combat at the start is broken and LT's are the problem?

As for ship combat, I'm not 100% sure but aren't there a few dungeons right next to the starting town?  is it not possible to upgrade the ship as soon as gold is available or does this gimp the heroes for training etc?



#4 Rajamic

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Posted 10 August 2012 - 04:50 PM

Yes, there is at least one dungeon before you have to leave, and that's about the only good starting option. But one dungeon is all you can afford without completely giving up one of the cities to the Siren Lt in exchange. And it's not just a matter of one upgrade to balance it out; you effectively have to completely max out the ship (which costs something like 10,000 gold and 100 XP) to be on even footing with the enemy ships.



#5 PinkTaco

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Posted 11 August 2012 - 06:07 AM

I looked over the rules as far as ship combat goes.

 

The starting heroes boat has 25 hps but in copper the highest health ship is only 18 however they almost all have 4 to 6 cannons



#6 Corbon

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 07:04 PM

PinkTaco said:

Everyone seems to think sea of blood is completely broken and makes descent crap.

 

why?

 

I have the expansion but me and friends are still well into RtL and havent busted it out yet.  But we plan to.

Many, many reasons, some of which combine and multiply each other, others of which are individual.

A non-exhaustive list, from before the most recent FAQ (which is only a month or so old - before that almost nothing was fixed).

Basic rule problems.
1. There are some components that are required in the same scenario, yet are on opposite sides of the same token - you literally cannot use them both. There are some locations with, for example, rocks under the starting locations of the ships! And Lts with no starting location (fixed already)!

2. There are scenarios with ridiculously broken rules that clearly haven't been played (eg swimming shadowcloaked fast bosses (two) on an Island level).

3. There are entire sections of the rules that simply don't work (tentacles, largely) - in that the first time you try to use them you find that the rules are simply inadequate for doing anything a normal person would do. Simple example for tentacles - they must stay within 3 spaces of their main montser, yet the monster can move 8 or more spaces faster than the tentacles can, and often will want to do this. What happens to the tentalces then? Who knows!

4. There are lots of situations where lots of stuff (figures, ships) is getting moved around by various forces simultaneously, and often to any one of several new locations, yet no rules for how to adjudicate this. Most of the time its of little, or no importance. Sometimes its crucial.

5. None of the new 'terrain' was categorised as obstacles (or any other way) so how it all interacted with other things (such as flyers, or Precision shooters, for example) was totally unclear.

6. Encounters were ridiculously easy to avoid, simply by moving off the side edge of the map on the first turn. Meaning they were a waste of time and space unless the heroes were very powerful and wanted to profit from them (when they are supposed to be a challenge).

Critical Balance issues.
7.  Lts were impossible to actually fight, unless they chose to let the heroes fight them, and suffered almost no penalty for fleeing. Therefore you couldn't kill them and couldn't drive them off, so inevitably they would eventually win the game through Plot or Raze. Mathematically it is more or less assured, unless the OL deliberately takes unnecessarily risk, or a small selection of characters and skills and luck all come into play together. There simply aren't enough CT on the map for the heroes to get to the Final Battle before the OL wins through Plot or Raze unless the heroes deliberately kill themselves frequently.

8. Lack of a central important location and inability to move quickly around the map. Unfortunately a lot of weak players found Tamalir difficult to defend in RtL and complained about their games ending frequently on Tamalir Razes. This was actually a feature, IMO. Tamalir was eminently defendable, but you had to plan for it and sometimes comit time and resources to do so, and many poor players failed to do this, then complained about suffering the results of their own actions (or inactions). So the Tamalir raze was changed to SoB to 'any 5' city locations. What that actualy means is that instead of having one important place that not only can be defended, and is worth defending, and can be reached from anywhere on the map in one week, in SoB the heroes have to defend everywhere, and can't move around freely (you can return to your home port, but then you are stuck on that area of the map and unable to defend the other side at all). Its a fundamental strategic dictum - he who defends everywhere in truth defends nowhere. Combine that with the fact that you can't even chase Lts away from somewhere effectively (they flee and will be back the very next week). And you really really defend nowhere. So its really just a matter of time until the OL wins and the heroes can't get to the final battle fast enough…

Other Balance issues
9. Ship combat  (and other encounters) is (are) poorly balanced - its almost always entirely one sided, with the heroes easily fleeing when he odds are against them.

10. The cities are badly balanced. They have some cool things there, but too many of the cities have a cripplingly bad negative that the designers clearly didn't understand.
Dallak - can be razed by a plot card and the combined total of markets on all the other cities nearby is 1. Thats crippling.
Gafford - nice, but easily bottlenecked as the starting location
Garnott - market 1 is crippling, if there is not another market nearby (see Dallak).
Trelton - Special ability is woefully pathetic when a single crushing blow… And that comes at the cost of 20XP, no alchemist and no market!

11. Treasure Maps are wasted space. unless the OL is playing badly the heroes are under so much time-pressure that they can never afford to go get the treasure. Its a cool idea, but the only people who actually get to play with it are those playing badly (even when they don't know it yet)

12. Divine favour  - accentuates the campaign timing issues by slowing the game when the heroes need to speed it up. And IMO totally destroys the game fun anyway for this reason:
Divine Favour radically alters the decision points when it is in effect. The cost/benefit ratio to continuing in the dungeon or fleeing the dungeon becomes quickly skewed. If the heroes are behind, they are suddenly worth less and it becomes very much more worthwhile to gather their own resources (cash, treasures, hero CT) within the dungeons because they are conceding less of the OLs resources (OL CT) in order to get them. If the heroes are ahead, they wish to speed the campaign up anyway in order to reduce the potential number of Lt actions. So they go for all the resources they can get and can afford to concede a few more to the OL. In short, either way the decision, the balance point, the tension, of when to flee a dungeon is removed from the game if Divine Favour is in force. Without tension, there is no drama, no meaning to the mechanical conflict.

13. Removed some of the best skills (yay!) and put in even more overpowered ones (I'm looking at some of you, Marks) instead. Sigh.
 

I'm probably forgetting some others too.

The latest FAQ has changed some of this.
1. They just said use something else.
2. Mostly fixed
3. Sadly nothing effectively for tentacles
4. Fixed
5. Fixed
6. Fixed I think
7. Changed, needs testing to see if fixed or not. Who has the time and willing people though… Most who have already tried SoB won't go back now. It was that bad.
8. Mostly unchanged I think, but changes in 7 may address the problem a little. Not enough I'd judge, but only playing and testing will show for sure.
9. Not sure if changed or not. Fixing 6 will help.
10. No changes I think, maybe something I forgot though (Trelton?)
11. No changes I think, but changes to 7 may help.
12. Improved. I still prefer not to use it at all.
13. Not changed.



#7 Corbon

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 07:12 PM

on the plus side, the dungeon levels are much better designed. They have greater variation in bosses, a more even distribution of monster types, a bit of variation on the loot types and are usually difficult or nearly impossible to entirely prevent spawning in. Quite a few also have some sort of timing mechanism (eg, stand in this place for x turns) that prevent the heroes from sprinting througg them too easily as well.
A few can be spoiled by Astarra though - they have unactivated glyphs behind runelocked doors, but Astarra can just run up to the (sealed) door and activate the glyph without bothering to get the key first. That's a bit sad, but is a product IMO of a poor decision on what closed doors block rather than a flaw in SoB.

IMO, if money is not an issue, SoB is worth buying just for the extra dungeon levels to mix in to RtL.



#8 PinkTaco

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 03:11 AM

Corbon said:

PinkTaco said:

 

Everyone seems to think sea of blood is completely broken and makes descent crap.

 

why?

 

I have the expansion but me and friends are still well into RtL and havent busted it out yet.  But we plan to.

 

 

Many, many reasons, some of which combine and multiply each other, others of which are individual.

A non-exhaustive list, from before the most recent FAQ (which is only a month or so old - before that almost nothing was fixed).

Basic rule problems.
1. There are some components that are required in the same scenario, yet are on opposite sides of the same token - you literally cannot use them both. There are some locations with, for example, rocks under the starting locations of the ships! And Lts with no starting location (fixed already)!

2. There are scenarios with ridiculously broken rules that clearly haven't been played (eg swimming shadowcloaked fast bosses (two) on an Island level).

3. There are entire sections of the rules that simply don't work (tentacles, largely) - in that the first time you try to use them you find that the rules are simply inadequate for doing anything a normal person would do. Simple example for tentacles - they must stay within 3 spaces of their main montser, yet the monster can move 8 or more spaces faster than the tentacles can, and often will want to do this. What happens to the tentalces then? Who knows!

4. There are lots of situations where lots of stuff (figures, ships) is getting moved around by various forces simultaneously, and often to any one of several new locations, yet no rules for how to adjudicate this. Most of the time its of little, or no importance. Sometimes its crucial.

5. None of the new 'terrain' was categorised as obstacles (or any other way) so how it all interacted with other things (such as flyers, or Precision shooters, for example) was totally unclear.

6. Encounters were ridiculously easy to avoid, simply by moving off the side edge of the map on the first turn. Meaning they were a waste of time and space unless the heroes were very powerful and wanted to profit from them (when they are supposed to be a challenge).

Critical Balance issues.
7.  Lts were impossible to actually fight, unless they chose to let the heroes fight them, and suffered almost no penalty for fleeing. Therefore you couldn't kill them and couldn't drive them off, so inevitably they would eventually win the game through Plot or Raze. Mathematically it is more or less assured, unless the OL deliberately takes unnecessarily risk, or a small selection of characters and skills and luck all come into play together. There simply aren't enough CT on the map for the heroes to get to the Final Battle before the OL wins through Plot or Raze unless the heroes deliberately kill themselves frequently.

8. Lack of a central important location and inability to move quickly around the map. Unfortunately a lot of weak players found Tamalir difficult to defend in RtL and complained about their games ending frequently on Tamalir Razes. This was actually a feature, IMO. Tamalir was eminently defendable, but you had to plan for it and sometimes comit time and resources to do so, and many poor players failed to do this, then complained about suffering the results of their own actions (or inactions). So the Tamalir raze was changed to SoB to 'any 5' city locations. What that actualy means is that instead of having one important place that not only can be defended, and is worth defending, and can be reached from anywhere on the map in one week, in SoB the heroes have to defend everywhere, and can't move around freely (you can return to your home port, but then you are stuck on that area of the map and unable to defend the other side at all). Its a fundamental strategic dictum - he who defends everywhere in truth defends nowhere. Combine that with the fact that you can't even chase Lts away from somewhere effectively (they flee and will be back the very next week). And you really really defend nowhere. So its really just a matter of time until the OL wins and the heroes can't get to the final battle fast enough…

Other Balance issues
9. Ship combat  (and other encounters) is (are) poorly balanced - its almost always entirely one sided, with the heroes easily fleeing when he odds are against them.

10. The cities are badly balanced. They have some cool things there, but too many of the cities have a cripplingly bad negative that the designers clearly didn't understand.
Dallak - can be razed by a plot card and the combined total of markets on all the other cities nearby is 1. Thats crippling.
Gafford - nice, but easily bottlenecked as the starting location
Garnott - market 1 is crippling, if there is not another market nearby (see Dallak).
Trelton - Special ability is woefully pathetic when a single crushing blow… And that comes at the cost of 20XP, no alchemist and no market!

11. Treasure Maps are wasted space. unless the OL is playing badly the heroes are under so much time-pressure that they can never afford to go get the treasure. Its a cool idea, but the only people who actually get to play with it are those playing badly (even when they don't know it yet)

12. Divine favour  - accentuates the campaign timing issues by slowing the game when the heroes need to speed it up. And IMO totally destroys the game fun anyway for this reason:
Divine Favour radically alters the decision points when it is in effect. The cost/benefit ratio to continuing in the dungeon or fleeing the dungeon becomes quickly skewed. If the heroes are behind, they are suddenly worth less and it becomes very much more worthwhile to gather their own resources (cash, treasures, hero CT) within the dungeons because they are conceding less of the OLs resources (OL CT) in order to get them. If the heroes are ahead, they wish to speed the campaign up anyway in order to reduce the potential number of Lt actions. So they go for all the resources they can get and can afford to concede a few more to the OL. In short, either way the decision, the balance point, the tension, of when to flee a dungeon is removed from the game if Divine Favour is in force. Without tension, there is no drama, no meaning to the mechanical conflict.

13. Removed some of the best skills (yay!) and put in even more overpowered ones (I'm looking at some of you, Marks) instead. Sigh.
 

I'm probably forgetting some others too.

The latest FAQ has changed some of this.
1. They just said use something else.
2. Mostly fixed
3. Sadly nothing effectively for tentacles
4. Fixed
5. Fixed
6. Fixed I think
7. Changed, needs testing to see if fixed or not. Who has the time and willing people though… Most who have already tried SoB won't go back now. It was that bad.
8. Mostly unchanged I think, but changes in 7 may address the problem a little. Not enough I'd judge, but only playing and testing will show for sure.
9. Not sure if changed or not. Fixing 6 will help.
10. No changes I think, maybe something I forgot though (Trelton?)
11. No changes I think, but changes to 7 may help.
12. Improved. I still prefer not to use it at all.
13. Not changed.

hmm.  interesting points.

I'm mostly worried about the Lt. Fights being ridiculous.  I remember reading way back that Lts only fleeing 2 spaces away rather than returning back to the OL's keep seemed a bit broken but we never playtested it to actually see.

 

Since it seems 'most' of the issues have been fixed im curious to try out the changes.  To be honest I always felt Lts were broken in RtL anyway.  (7 armor regen 5 immune to pierce at silver level? what a joke)  combined with the fact every LT encounter assures a crushing blow and them being impossible to kill before a flee by placing the LT 1 space from the exit.  Then throw in the fact you have 4 of them running around and it just becomes a mess.



#9 Corbon

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 02:31 PM

PinkTaco said:

Since it seems 'most' of the issues have been fixed im curious to try out the changes.  To be honest I always felt Lts were broken in RtL anyway.  (7 armor regen 5 immune to pierce at silver level? what a joke)  combined with the fact every LT encounter assures a crushing blow and them being impossible to kill before a flee by placing the LT 1 space from the exit.  Then throw in the fact you have 4 of them running around and it just becomes a mess.

Actually most of the RtL Lts are really quite easy to deal with for the Heroes if they prepare and plan well - thats exactly why the Lts stand 1 space from the exit and flee on turn 1. That includes Alric. Ar7 is pretty piffling really when heroes have silver weaponry, copper and silver support treasures, applicable skills, some extra power dice and use fatigue and power pots. Regen 5 is pretty much a joke when the Lt is going down in 1-2 turns worth of hits - its basically just +0-+10 wounds total.
Its only once the OL gets a lot of Treachery that the Lt fights actually become 'interesting'. And a couple of Lts become very dangerous indeed (Slaggorath and Kar-Amog-Atoth).

And sending them all back to the same place means that the 'threat' is always coming from the same area - sure you will probably lose one or two of the closest cities to the OL's keep early on, but that's not really all that important in the long run.

The main problem with Lts in SoB is two-fold. In the actual encounters they are simply sooooo far away and the heroes simply cannot do 'big moves' through deep water, generally. So you can't get to a Lt and pound it hard all in one turn - the Lt always has time to absorb a threat developing and flee. Then on the map, they don't actually get chased away when hey do flee (they only flee one trail, not two, so they are right back again in the same location before the heroes can even move on!) Even if they did flee 'home', because they all start in separate spots, and the heroes do not have ready movement around the map in the same way, the Lts can still threaten varied areas of the map simultaneously, easily. The first of these problems has been… adjusted. Lts can now only exit the map on the oppositeside of the board that they started on, so now it will take them 2-3 turns at least to flee, and the heroes can at least know in what direction they need to head to try and head off a potentially fleeing Lt. 



#10 PinkTaco

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 07:47 AM

Yeah, I never really considered 4 Lts running around all armed with a crushing blow was considered balanced though. 

4 cities could simultaneously be getting sieged at once, you can only defend one of them at a time and as soon as the fight starts, they destroy an item then flee.  only to do it all over again.  So an issue of Lt's being broken is nothing new to me.  And it seems the other issues have been fixed. 

The only thing I'm still worried about is the money sink for the boat and outdoor encounters.  In RtL you are strapped for cash as it is, having additional expenses for the boat seems like you may struggle on hero upgrades and items.  That can be a serious problem.



#11 Rajamic

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 02:05 PM

I've only played a little SoB, as I think I said, but Money didn't seem like it was going to be much of a problem. In the one game we played after we learned to start with the nearby dungeon, we got through 2 floors before having to stop for the night (and haven't been able to group back up since), but we already looking at enough gold to buy the Elven Sails (which seemed like the logical first option for using money to us, as it cuts travel times in half), heal everyone up, and potentially buy another cannon or treasure if we completed the third floor. We were looking at being down about 2-to-1 on CT due to some horrendous rolls (and the fact our Overlord decided to modify the combat rules as much as necessary to make the game work as much like Vanilla Descent as possible [which means no Reinforcement Marker, no removing of skills, starting with 3 skills per hero, etc.]), but nothing to change the money earned from SoB's rules.



#12 Corbon

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 05:13 PM

PinkTaco said:

Yeah, I never really considered 4 Lts running around all armed with a crushing blow was considered balanced though. 

4 cities could simultaneously be getting sieged at once, you can only defend one of them at a time and as soon as the fight starts, they destroy an item then flee.  only to do it all over again.  So an issue of Lt's being broken is nothing new to me.  And it seems the other issues have been fixed. 

In RtL Lts who fled went back to a single location (and originally came from a single location), and cities outside Tamalir didn't actually matter in real terms, so both attacking Lts and forcing them to flee, and ignoring them, could be afforded at different times. Especially as you can always get back to Tamalir in one week from anywhere on the map.

In SoB Lts don't get treachery. So no Crushing Blow issue.

PinkTaco said:

The only thing I'm still worried about is the money sink for the boat and outdoor encounters.  In RtL you are strapped for cash as it is, having additional expenses for the boat seems like you may struggle on hero upgrades and items.  That can be a serious problem.

Its a money sink, a time sink and an XP sink. I highly recommend as a house rule you ignore the dumb-arse FAQ ruling that the whole party pays the XP cost of ship upgrades (which counters the rules, all precedents, balance and common sense, just because some moron asked a stupid question which included misinformation and a bigger moron answered it without paying attention, and now they won't back down). Ships are still too expensive really, even after that.

OTOH, the heroes tended to be overpowered by late silver and gold level in RtL, so forcing them to devote resources elsewhere is no bad thing - just as long as it doesn't cause to many problems in the early game (which I think it does).
I ignore cannons almost entirely (unless OL is Captain Bones of course) but Elven Sails is critical, the right Figurehead is a big help and I found getting a bigger vessel, as big as possible as fast as possible, helped a lot on Lt encounters - longer (and faster) vessel cuts down on the available map space (and time) for Lts to avoid the heroes in if that was their plan. Of course, things may have changed now you can't just avoid encounters by slipping the Revenge off the side of the map, I've not had time or opportunity to re-evaluate that.






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