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The difficulty of the game.


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#1 Stenun

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 11:46 AM

Various threads on this forum sometimes end up in a discussion of the apparent increasing difficulty of the game.

To be honest, I do actually think this is a problem - it's nice having hard sceanrios but if we just have had scenarios then we are going to alienate a lot of players, the sales will decrease and the game will stop.  Personally, I think FFG need to start bringing out some easier scenarios, what do you think?

The current mean average Difficulty Number of the scenarios (not including the PoD expansions or the first Hobbit deluxe which came without difficulty numbers) is just over 5.  If we drop the only 1 from the calcuations, the mean average is 5.3.  That might not seem like much but I personally think it's quite telling.  If we include the PoD expansions, the mean average leaps up to 5.4.  Surely I'm not the only one who thinks all of these means are too high?

 

The mode average (the one that appears the most often), for those who are interested, is 7.

Seven??  Seriously??  C'mon … that's obviously too high, surely?

 

Now I know, I know, a lot of people say that the difficulty numbers aren't that reliable a guide.  But I would still maintain that the game is pitched too high and alienates the less hardcore players.  I have no problem with difficult scenarios but I would like some variety, too.



#2 jc1138

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 12:18 PM

I think you bring up good points.  I don't put much stock in the challenge ratings, however, as I really struggled with the Anduin encounter (a 4), but beat Rhosgobel (a 5) first try.  (I'm only playing solo).  Also, DG as everyone knows is a 7, but it should perhaps be a 10 from what I've read and the times I've tried--it really is much more difficult.

On the whole, I'd rather they skew the encounters on the hard side than easy, overall.  That way I can beat it using 4 heroes, solo (count threat of 3 highest) first, then try to do it standard with only 3, or maybe try 2-handed (haven't tried this yet).  Also, when I do finally beat the Encounter with 3 heroes solo it's an accomplishment.

I do wish they would throw in an easier one in, every now and again.



#3 richsabre

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 12:26 PM

the problem with those stats is that difficulty ratings in this game are meaningless. i actually thought theyd given up putting them in after the hobbit, but aparently not

as a vetern player i find quests easier to win than perhaps the average player, but still enough of a challenge that i dont feel like they need to be harder

i guess im in the sweet spot.

this is indeed something that comes up often though, so i guess its something that ffg should, and probably are, taking into account

i guess the later on packs get the harder they get- just a way to sell packs

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#4 spalanzani

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 03:15 PM

I too lament the fact that some quests are just too hard to get through. I often ascribe this to the fact that the game is designed for two players, but I only play solo (that it can be played solo is, as often discussed, more accident than design). In terms of length of time playing, I suppose I'm a veteran of this game as well, though in terms of actual number of games played, I'm as fresh-faced as a fairly new player. This is partly because I am, at best, only a casual gamer, but also because the difficulty of this game can sometimes really turn me off, and I won't play it for months. (Watcher in the Water is the only game I have played that has caused me to swear so vociferously I could have burst a blood vessel or two). 

I wouldn't like to see easy quests, but I don't want the trauma of having to concede the game once the encounter cards are drawn during setup, either.


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#5 Ellareth

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 03:25 PM

Skipping the unreliability of difficulty rating, I agree with the point you are trying to make.

 

Let's look at last few expansions we had:

Shadow and Flame, Battle at Laketown, The Hobbits, Heirs of Numenor.

 

Without a specific deck (Ori dwarf deck or Hama feint deck), Shadow and Flame is no cakewalk.

Battle at Laketown is argueably the most difficult scenario so far

The Hobbit quests weren't that difficult, but it is not easy neither, I think this expansion was a sweet spot

While I enjoy Heirs of Numenor with the new found love for tactics, the difficulty of all three scenarios are definitely higher than average.

 

I think this happened because we are inbetween cycles at the moment.

Shadow and Flame had to be difficult because it was end of a cycle (Return to Mirkwood was tough too)

Battle at Laketown was PoD so, again, it had to be tough.

The Hobbit Saga expansion was something new, but is not a regular thing (although I wouldn't mind regular releases of Saga expansions)

Heirs of Numenor had to be slightly more difficult than the last delux expansion due to the player card power creep.

 

However, I think once we get into the actual Against the Shadow cycle, the problem will resolve itself, as the first 2 adventure packs are usually mild in terms of difficulty.



#6 jc1138

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 05:01 PM

I like what you say, Ellareth, about the difficulty increasing gradually over the course of an Encounter rotation (ie how Moria cycle hightens in difficulty up to Shadow and Flame).  It's a good model to follow, and gives a climax to a cycle, rather than just saying "btw, it's over now."

It's hard to fix any kind of difficulty to any Encounter, as they will be played so differently depending on circumstances.  A 4-player Escape from Dol Guldur will play very different from a solo.  Also, some quests are punishing, almost impossible, unless/until your deck is built to handle them, but if/when it has the right tools (like location control for the Emyn Muil Quest) they're a breeze and your deck will win almost every time.  How would you judge such Encounters?  (Yes, you can build a deck to go up against any Encounter, but many still remain difficult in solo even when you built to beat them).

It would help if we know what criteria FFG uses to establish it's challenge ratings; out of the blue, I'd say they probably rate them judging by a standard 2-player game. 



#7 spalanzani

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 11:31 PM

I suppose part of the problem could be said to be down to the way the game is distributed. If each cycle was instead a big-box expansion of six quests, it would have something for everyone and so we probably wouldn't complain so much. At least, I don't think I would. The core set has a difficult scenario, an easy one, and a middling one, but because the quests are single-issue things, I end up feeling like I've paid £12 for something I can't play with. Well, excepting the player cards, though they're only, what, a fifth of the cards in the pack? 

 


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#8 kennoastic

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 11:51 PM

Deluxe expansion like Heirs of Numenor could have 1 easy, 1 medium and 1 hard quest, so there is something for "everyone".



#9 Raven1015

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Posted 25 December 2012 - 07:32 AM

kennoastic said:

Deluxe expansion like Heirs of Numenor could have 1 easy, 1 medium and 1 hard quest, so there is something for "everyone".

 

True, but then advanced players might complain that there is only 1 real quest for them, and similarly new players might say there is only 1 quest that is suitable for them. I think the best solution is just to make quests more customizable. Include with the rules for each AP/expansion instructions for an easy mode ("remove these cards", or "ignore the effects on this quest stage"), normal mode, and hard mode ("add these hard cards", "add this effect to this quest stage"). I don't think it would be that difficult to do this as part of the design process, and would improve the experience and longevity of quests for everyone


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#10 kennoastic

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Posted 25 December 2012 - 09:15 AM

Raven1015 said:

kennoastic said:

 

Deluxe expansion like Heirs of Numenor could have 1 easy, 1 medium and 1 hard quest, so there is something for "everyone".

 

 

 

True, but then advanced players might complain that there is only 1 real quest for them, and similarly new players might say there is only 1 quest that is suitable for them. I think the best solution is just to make quests more customizable. Include with the rules for each AP/expansion instructions for an easy mode ("remove these cards", or "ignore the effects on this quest stage"), normal mode, and hard mode ("add these hard cards", "add this effect to this quest stage"). I don't think it would be that difficult to do this as part of the design process, and would improve the experience and longevity of quests for everyone

It's a good solution. But there will be someone complaining about buying cards they don't need because they never play easy/hard mode ;)

How about having extra rules on the quest and encounter cards? If there is room for it ofcourse… A quest card could have something like "Hard: All enemies have surge" or "Easy: At end of turn draw an extra card". An encounter could be for example "Hard: When revealed [this] engages the first player" and so on…



#11 richsabre

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Posted 25 December 2012 - 10:05 AM

there is really alot of ways ffg could change the difficulty of the quests, but the point is, will they? will they put the extra amount of time into play testing each and every quest in each difficulty level.

you may be thinking, well, just adding 'gains surge' or 'draw 1 extra card' isnt going to add alot of design work, but weve seen several times how one minor mistake or oversight on ffgs behalf can send a game crazy hard or easy

personaly i dont see things changes for a long time yet, if at all.

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#12 Raven1015

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Posted 25 December 2012 - 09:32 PM

richsabre said:

there is really alot of ways ffg could change the difficulty of the quests, but the point is, will they? will they put the extra amount of time into play testing each and every quest in each difficulty level.

you may be thinking, well, just adding 'gains surge' or 'draw 1 extra card' isnt going to add alot of design work, but weve seen several times how one minor mistake or oversight on ffgs behalf can send a game crazy hard or easy

personaly i dont see things changes for a long time yet, if at all.

rich

 

I guess it depends on whether they think it is enough of an issue or if there is enough of an incentive to make those changes. For me personally, I'm pretty happy with the difficulty overall. I guess the issue is that we've heard of some new players getting turned off by the difficulty when first getting into the game. But beyond those stories, we don't really have any hard data on how new players feel about the game and difficulty, how many turn away from the game, etc. From what I've heard, this game is one of FFG's top sellers, so such changes probably don't seem like that big of a priority at the moment.


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#13 karagh

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 01:44 AM

Is always easier to find negative opinons than positive opinions. We ear of those turned off players often, but we don't ear about turned on players often.

I'm happy with the difficulty level. Is really easy to soften quests removing baddest encounter cards, then I don't think we need "easy mode cards".



#14 just Logan

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 05:42 PM

Agree, I strated gaming with AD&D, my 1st encouter with FFG was when AGoT TCG came out, a great game that they turned into a money sink hole. When it started to get huge powr creep, I being a not rich person, stopped playing. Then I played The Hobbit, LotR (the board game), and Arkham Asylum.  Those games are hard, and require thought, planning and cooperation beyond anything else I have ever played. I've played RPG's with great GM's that could make this happen but it's never been built into the game. If a co-op game isn't really hard, it's bad. AH is the best board game I have ever playedand the first too many times I played it I lost , then I scraped by, then I got an expac, then I lost, then I scraped by then etc.  If you want a  game you can play through go get your modern duty halo warfare call. If you want a game that gets easier and easier the better you get play your WOW and every other C"RPG" if you want a game that challenges you to make good decisions and interact with people play an FFG game. If you would quit a game becase it's "too hard" go home and play your games. but admit that you suck at games that you will get you ass kicked by bowser, and Mike Tyson, and a dirt bike track and a ghost named pinky.



#15 divinityofnumber

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 08:52 AM

I enjoy extremely difficult quests. Beating a quest the first or second try is seriously disappointing. True, you can always keep trying for a better score, instead of simply beating it. But, I get more enjoyment out of finally beating a really dificult quest than I do out of trying to improve my score on an easy one. 


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#16 Mattr0polis

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 10:40 AM

divinityofnumber said:

 

I enjoy extremely difficult quests. Beating a quest the first or second try is seriously disappointing. True, you can always keep trying for a better score, instead of simply beating it. But, I get more enjoyment out of finally beating a really dificult quest than I do out of trying to improve my score on an easy one. 

 

 

This. You don't want to wait a month for a new quest only to destroy it on the very first try and have to wait a month again for a new one. It's funner if you have to work at it.

And as more and more cards are released for the game, old quests get easier as it is (for example, the core set and Mirkwood cycle quests are so easy now) so you don't want things too easy right off the bat.

I do though like the big box expansions when it's like an easy quest, medium quest, and a hard quest. Especially if they are planning to eventually add Nightmare add-in decks for ALL old quests.



#17 rfox01

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 07:51 AM

I just started playing this game and I'm really liking it especially with the solo play capability. So far I've only played with 2 of the 4 preconfigured decks from the Core set playing Passage through Mirkwood (DL=1) and I'm just barely surviving most of the games, and that's playing without Shadows! I know I'm still learning the game and I'm sure my player deck will improve with expansions, but I can't imagine what the harder Quests would be like.

I'd be thrilled to continue playing this game for a while and I'm excited to get into the exansions and adventure paths. For example, the Hobbit saga expansions sound really interesting, but everyone says it's really hard and only experience players should get it. I understand making more difficulty scenarios to appeal to the hard-core advanced players who want a challenge, but I would hope the designers keep in mind to make games and expansions as accessible as possile to a wider audience.

Can it really be that hard to scale Quests for different levels?

I like the idea of an increasing level of difficulty as an adventure cycle progresses.

Other options could be they could have adapted easily for scalability is indicating optional Encounter sets for a Quest. If you want a harder game, include this optional set; if you want an easier game, don't include it.

Or they could have a small icon on the face of the Encounter cards to indicate an "Easy","Normal", or "Hard" difficulty. So for example, if you want a medium game, just include the Easy or Normal cards. Maybe a color icon would be less intrusive: Green, Yellow, Red
It would take a little more setup time for you to sort through the cards to include or exclude cards, but it least then more people can play all Quests at whatever difficulty level they want, and it also gives you the ability to replay the Quests at increasing difficulty when you improve your game.

 



#18 jc1138

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 02:29 PM

I definitely lean towards preferring a higher difficulty, and agree that we as players have some measure of control over this.  For instance: Hunt for Gollum, Hills of Emyn Muil are easy with Spirit decks, especially with Northern Tracker.  To make them harder limit your deck by playing without the Northern Tracker, or even not using Spirit.  Then, try using just Tactics (a sphere which, though it's come a long way since Core, is not well suited to these scenarios) if you feel it's still too easy.



#19 Hannibal_pjv

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 12:03 PM

Yep, it is better to make scenarios difficult enough. Some customization would be nice. Those comeing nighmare add on cards will help a situation a bit, but casual players are more keen on making the game more easier. I find most scenarios too easy after some try, but not all players are so keen on deck tuning or willing to buy all nesessary cards.

Fortunately it is much more easier to make the game more easy than to make it harder. Here are some suggestion that I put in Boardgamegeek.

 

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I may suggest some modifications that you may use. (Use one or more of them depending an how difficult the scenario is.

1. Hard duty: (aka Night shift) Untap a character by giving a wound to the untapping character (owerworking)
2. Backpak: (select one, two, or three… cards in advantage from your playing deck and when you draw a card, you can take it/them from your draw deck or backpak.
3. Gifts of Caladriel: (or other suitable character) A variation of backpak, but you get a fixed amount of preselected cards directly to your hand in suitable part of the game (beginning, start of second phase etc.)
4. Prepared defenses: (a variation of Gifts of Caladriel) You start the game with some preselected cards. They replase or are additional to your normal starting hand.
5. Favor of Valar: (Plessed by Eru etc…) You get additional resource token(s) in the resource phase
6. Prepared for battle: (Family heirlooms) Every character starts the game with one item (or attachement)
7. Fellowship: (Start the game with one or more allies)
8. Long journey: Start the game with 7, 8, 9 or 10 cards (instead the normal 6).
9. Campfire: (aka Resting plase) You get one or more healing after you complete one stage.
10. Sanctuary: (as Campfire, but you reduce you threath level after you complete one stage)
11. an Elven cloak: You start the game with reduced treath level (because of an Elven cloak it is harder for enemies to catch you)

So here we have some options that makes the game easier. Thematically it is easy to fith these to the scanarios. The more dangerous mission is, the more you get support from free peoples of Middle Earth.
Just don't over use them or you make the game too easy! It is guite easy to make up more of them, just make sure that there is somekind of "reason" for the modification.

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#20 GalaxyUC

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 10:59 AM

I am a very casual player. I play maybe once every month if I'm lucky. I bought this game to play solo. However, playing solo means one of two things, if you want to be a DL 7, you need two hands or just quit, because it cannot be done. I have many Kazad Dum and 1.5 Cycles of adventures…I REALLy wish there was scaleability, because I can barely beat the DL-1 in the core set. BARELY!!! This game is HARD. i have logged 8+ plays of the game so far and have beaten DL-1 from the Core like, twice. I play this game for it's story and the great art. I wish I could play casually without having to cheat…too much  ;-)






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