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Players very frustrated after trying campaign


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#1 LoneWolf2k1

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 02:02 AM

Hello!

I have a couple of questions for players that are a bit more experienced in Descent SE (and maybe FE as well)

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First let me briefly "set the scene", describing circumstances and my thoughts behind it:

Although I've been a fan of Descent first edition and have all Expansions sitting on my shelf, since I never got around to excite my gaming group for a try, since the rules were q bit complex and the scenarios took quite a while to play- they prefer a hands-on approach.

That's why I was more than happy to find that the Second Edition worked just in favor of these problems.

However, after trying the SE with two of them last wednesday, both of them were so disappointed that we decided to stop playing mid-scenario. Now I'm wondering what went wrong and if there is a possible explanation as to why this highly-praised game just left them cold…

They chose Grisban the Thirsty, played as a Berserker, and Ashrian, played as Disciple, and we played the "First Blood" and first half of the "Fat Goblin"-Scenario.

"First Blood" went pretty smooth for them, however the heroes only were able to search the spot near the entry since the Ettin blocked passage to the second one. Gisban eventually smashed his heads in, the heroes won.

"Fat Goblin, Pt. 1" is where things turned sour. I chose the spiders as a second group, since I figured poison would be a huge problem for Ashrian and 4 movement should let them catch up to Grisban .
The players spent one round to fight the spiders in the grasslands, then pushed on to the entrance of the fields where a stalemate between heroes, spiders and goblins came to be, with the heroes getting weaker every round. They never were able to kill more than 2 monsters in one turn, usually a goblin and a spider. That resulted in the same thing over and over: Same turn, the monster respawned, went for double-move which put it in range to execute a move-attack next turn.
The heroes were forced to stay side-by-side, since I usually knocked one of them out, and they could not affort to lose a turn standing up by themselves or the other one would have been knocked out as well.

Eventually they wound up in a no-win-scenario with less than 6 health (enough to be chipped away by 3 goblins and 3 spiders with no problems), little or no endurance to spend and with no chance to survive in the long run.

No need to say, they were more than a bit frustrated to a point where even I had no real fun playing as the Overlord without "throwing them a bone", i.e. "forgetting" to play my hand cards or something alike. I also couldn't figure out what else they could have done differently. In the end, we just stopped playing. Next day, we sat together and discussed what the problem had been.

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Now, to my questions:

1. Respawn:  One of the main reasons the players felt frustrated was the respawn mechanism- first turn they killed the champion spider in the grasslands only to have it spawn in their back as soon as their turn ended. 
Did I misread any respawn-delay-rules or something alike?

2. Reward for killing monsters: The heroes get nothing-nada-zip-zilch for killing any monsters. No money, no experience, nothing. Correct?
They couldn't ignore them and focus on the objectives since they would have been completely killed off in one turn if they did, but had no benefits from killing them either. Needless to say, in combination with the respawn, was a quite demotivational for the players.

3. Gold issues: With a maximum of 2 search spots in every map, one usually in an area where it would be more sensible to focus on pushing on or combat, the average turnout for a map for heroes is somewhere between 25 and 50 gold. So, in order to buy ANY equipment in the 75-100 gold range (rune, chainmail) the heroes have to save ALL their money until after 3 maps to buy one of them an item that helps in a minor way(same damage-weapon with a slightly better surge ability, one extra health…), not to mention the 125-150g range. And that's IF one of the store cards is suited for one of the heroes.
How on earth should heroes ever even think about buying any T2-shop items?

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The post got a bit longer than initially expected but I really, REALLY want to have a chance to pitch this game to my group once again and to do so, I need to figure out what went wrong.

Thanks for taking the time to read and answer!



#2 Robin

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 03:54 AM

Some elements one must take into account :

- 2 heroes is deemed the combo which favours the OL the most (try to have your friends manage two heroes each, that would balance the game)

- The balance sways progressively in favour of the heroes. It is quite normal that they have some problems at the beginning of the campaign.


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#3 Robin

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 04:03 AM

LoneWolf2k1 said:

Now, to my questions:

1. Respawn:  One of the main reasons the players felt frustrated was the respawn mechanism- first turn they killed the champion spider in the grasslands only to have it spawn in their back as soon as their turn ended. 
Did I misread any respawn-delay-rules or something alike?

2. Reward for killing monsters: The heroes get nothing-nada-zip-zilch for killing any monsters. No money, no experience, nothing. Correct?
They couldn't ignore them and focus on the objectives since they would have been completely killed off in one turn if they did, but had no benefits from killing them either. Needless to say, in combination with the respawn, was a quite demotivational for the players.

3. Gold issues: With a maximum of 2 search spots in every map, one usually in an area where it would be more sensible to focus on pushing on or combat, the average turnout for a map for heroes is somewhere between 25 and 50 gold. So, in order to buy ANY equipment in the 75-100 gold range (rune, chainmail) the heroes have to save ALL their money until after 3 maps to buy one of them an item that helps in a minor way(same damage-weapon with a slightly better surge ability, one extra health…), not to mention the 125-150g range. And that's IF one of the store cards is suited for one of the heroes.
How on earth should heroes ever even think about buying any T2-shop items?

1. Respawning : it can be nuisance. Note that all quests don't have respawning. In Fat Goblin, at least, it gives a full turn respite before the reinforcing monster is able to attack again.

2. No reward for killing the monsters - most of the time. Well, Descent 2 is objective oriented. Heroes must concentrate on the encounter's goal, which does not allways imply killing all the monsters. So, the "reward" of killing a monster would be, rather than gold or XP, the possibility of reaching the heroes' goal.
This can be disturbing for players who are more focused on the "kill and loot" dungeon crawler style game.

3. When you search, you don't find tons of gold. But you can occasionally find a shop item. In Descent 2, the heroes progression is… progressive, and it takes time to equip them well. Some quests grant powerfull runes which add to the equipment.
But, sure, Descent 2 is not the "super loot" contest where you come out of a dungeon with tons of gold.
Searching thus is a vital element of the game, that heroes cannot ignore, if they still want to buy something at all.
It is much slower and much more "do the best with what you have" than other "dungeon" games.

 


An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered.
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#4 Steve-O

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 03:35 PM

LoneWolf2k1 said:

 

1. Respawn:  One of the main reasons the players felt frustrated was the respawn mechanism- first turn they killed the champion spider in the grasslands only to have it spawn in their back as soon as their turn ended. 

Did I misread any respawn-delay-rules or something alike?

 

 

Sounds like you played it correctly.  Reinforcement rules vary from quest to quest.  In particular, you want to make note of whether they come in at the start or the end of the Overlord's turn.  (If they come in at the end it means they can't activate that turn.)  However, Fat Goblin E1 has them coming in at the start of your turn, so you're good.

LoneWolf2k1 said:

 

2. Reward for killing monsters: The heroes get nothing-nada-zip-zilch for killing any monsters. No money, no experience, nothing. Correct?

 

 

Nothing but the satisfaction of crunching monster skulls.  Unless quest rules specifically say otherwise, of course.

LoneWolf2k1 said:

 

3. Gold issues: With a maximum of 2 search spots in every map, one usually in an area where it would be more sensible to focus on pushing on or combat, the average turnout for a map for heroes is somewhere between 25 and 50 gold.

 

 

The reward at the end of the Fat Goblin quest is 25 gold per hero, assuming they win, of course.  (I realise that didn't seem likely in your game session.)  Since all money is pooled, that's 50 gold as a baseline.  75-100 if they manage to get at least one Search item.  Also, keep in mind that using a Search item does not prevent them from selling it at the end.  Used or unused, they get to sell all the Search cards they found (in fact, they must sell all Search cards.)

 

On top of that, I would second the suggestion of others that you always play with 4 heroes, no matter how many hero player you have.  3 heroes is workable (and some mathematicians in the fanbase say it's slightly better than 4 for the heroes), but the point is 2 heroes generally sucks.  In addition to giving you more actions per hero turn sequence, it also ups your baseline gold income to 100gp, plus Search cards (and there are more Search tokens in a 4 player game.)



#5 Rico

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 05:23 PM

Two things stand out in your description: first, you are playing with cave spiders and two heroes. Why did the heroes even attack the spiders at all? It's not like you blocked them in. They could have easily took two move actions and just avoided them. New players always want to kill the monsters, which is rarely the goal of any D2E quest. Second, you state there was a stand off in the fields. If the OL is playing to grab the grain why is there a standoff happening a t all? It sounds like your group didn't understand the quest objectives. I would try to re-play the quest after reviewing the objectives of both parties. I would also suggest having a mix of melee/ranged. All melee is not a good idea.



#6 Vasquia

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 09:23 PM

In this set up they probably had to kill the spiders due to their ability WEB. If correctly placed i think they cant get through the room  without spending all their stamina to force themselves throug the spiderwebs.

 

We also played this scenario today and the second monsters were spiders to. My players regretted that they took slow characters. Move 3 against the goblins move 5 and ability to run over occupied areas and spiders that strategically can position themselves to slow characters down is indeed very frustrating



#7 LoneWolf2k1

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 12:22 AM

Thanks again, everyone, for answering and giving your thoughts on the situation!

@Rico: Just as Vasquia mentioned, I used the web-ability of the champion cave spider to block off the "upper" path leading out of the grasslands- that's why the heroes chose to fight it instead of rushing past. Didn't seem to be such an unreasonable decision to me: either kill the spider, then press on, or waste 3 Stamina to end up with 3 perfectly healthy spiders in your back (with poison being a huge problem for the disciple).

As for the standoff in the fields, my reason to keep fighting the heroes there was quite simple: I had carried off one bundle, then the respawn allowed me to chip away their health and fatigue bit by bit every turn, leaving them no opportunity to get 3 actions to secure a bundle: 1. pick up, 2. move -they had no fatigue left to spend on moving since each was knocked out every other turn. If one picked up a bundle and went for the barn, all I had to do was knock him out, get a goblin to pick up the bundle and carry it back a few spaces.

Eventually I would have been able to knock out both at the same time, then the 3 goblins would have picked up the remaining bundles and ran off, with the heroes being unable to stop them at all.

I don't really see how that counts as "not understanding the quest objectives"-they were unable to do anything to complete theirs, and I had the luxury to sit it out. Or did I misinterpret your suggestions?



#8 Rico

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 02:33 AM

No misinterpretation. Your additional info paints a better picture. Was it just bad rolls that they were unable to kill 2HP goblins? Perhaps a different hero combo would make for a more enjoyable game?



#9 LoneWolf2k1

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 08:19 AM

I have to admit a bit of bad luck for them was involved: In turn 3, before entering the farmlands, the dwarf decided to go for his heroic feat, hoping to kill the 3 pursuing spiders. Well, he missed two of the three attacks and the third barely scratched the champion spider, dealing mere 2 damage.
I guess the scenario had gone a different way if he had been successful in killing two (or even all three) spiders that round, allowing the heroes to face the goblins without their spider backup… But other than that, the miss-ratio was quite even for both sides.

 



#10 BillyBabel

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 07:34 PM

I suspect that perhaps your heros did not utilize their stamina enough. Remember you can use stamina to move, which allows you to do things like move up to the monsters without taking an action and then attacking twice, or getting in range of the monsters, attacking and then taking a move action.



#11 Steve-O

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 03:26 AM

BillyBabel said:

I suspect that perhaps your heros did not utilize their stamina enough. Remember you can use stamina to move, which allows you to do things like move up to the monsters without taking an action and then attacking twice, or getting in range of the monsters, attacking and then taking a move action.

QFT.

Knowing how to use fatigue makes a HUGE difference in the heroes' ability to fight back in this game.  Always remember that you have the Rest action to recover all your fatigue at the end of your turn, so don't be shy about spending it.



#12 GreenFlame

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 03:21 PM

One question I have after reading your problem, does the Master monsters also respawn? Or just common ones?

In a 3 heroes game, where you can have 3 common spiders and a master spider, does this count as 4 spiders? If the common spider dies, you can spawn a new common spider? can you spawn a master spider if the master spider dies?



#13 Schmiegel

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 06:04 PM

It sounds like Grisban's bad luck when deploying his heroic feat may have had a fairly large impact on the quest's outcome. It seems like one key event like that can swing it one way or the other. In my opinion the main problem was trying to play with just two heroes though. I agree with those who stated that you need four heroes. It's really not hard for one player to control two heroes.



#14 Jake yet again

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 09:24 PM

LoneWolf2k1 said:

1. Respawn:  One of the main reasons the players felt frustrated was the respawn mechanism- first turn they killed the champion spider in the grasslands only to have it spawn in their back as soon as their turn ended. 
Did I misread any respawn-delay-rules or something alike?

2. Reward for killing monsters: The heroes get nothing-nada-zip-zilch for killing any monsters. No money, no experience, nothing. Correct?
They couldn't ignore them and focus on the objectives since they would have been completely killed off in one turn if they did, but had no benefits from killing them either. Needless to say, in combination with the respawn, was a quite demotivational for the players.

3. Gold issues: With a maximum of 2 search spots in every map, one usually in an area where it would be more sensible to focus on pushing on or combat, the average turnout for a map for heroes is somewhere between 25 and 50 gold. So, in order to buy ANY equipment in the 75-100 gold range (rune, chainmail) the heroes have to save ALL their money until after 3 maps to buy one of them an item that helps in a minor way(same damage-weapon with a slightly better surge ability, one extra health…), not to mention the 125-150g range. And that's IF one of the store cards is suited for one of the heroes.
How on earth should heroes ever even think about buying any T2-shop items?

You've summed up a lot of the things I don't much care for in D2 just there. There are far too many races and this seems to favour the OL. It's not difficult for the OL to drop a 2x2 or 2x3 blocking monster or use monsters with movement imparing abilites to force the heroes into fruitless combat (for the reasons you have outlined).

One poster notes that you get 50 gold if you win… but that assumes the heroes win the quest which is far from guaranteed. What if you ignore the search tokens and still lose? (which is perfectly possible) Now you're down the quest reward, have no gold and have only 1 XP to show for the entire scenario.

Much like the first edition of Descent, the balance is all over the shop. My general impression is - like the first edition - that Overlord needs to DM the game to keep it tight. Without doing so, the heroes can easily be overwhelmed.


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#15 JorduSpeaks

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 09:48 AM

Jake yet again said:

Much like the first edition of Descent, the balance is all over the shop. My general impression is - like the first edition - that Overlord needs to DM the game to keep it tight. Without doing so, the heroes can easily be overwhelmed.

This might be true in the early game (with two players), but my impression is that the balance heavily favors the heroes, especially as the campaign advances.

For starters, lets look at the starting stats:  the overlord has a deck of cards that replenish at a rate of one per turn and an assortment of monsters, some of which he must use and some of which he must not use for any given quest.  These monsters might replenish at a rate of 1-2 per turn.  By contrast, the heroes start with two abilities (one on the character sheet and one on the card), some of which are insanely good, that they have access to on every turn and a feat, which is always insanely good, that he or she can use twice per quest.  It is worth noting the significance of the fact that a hero will always have access to at least two useful abilities each turn, whereas the overlord cards are generally quite situational, are available by random chance, and can rarely be reused in a quest.

On top of this, there is the progression discrepency.  Heroes and overlords have two opportunities for advancement:  advancement through items and advancement through xp.  Lets look at advancement through items first.  Most items can dramatically improve a hero's stats, and will be available for use at all times for the heroes.  The heroes may obtain these items independently of winning quests.  By contrast, the overlord can only obtain items by winning quests, and these items can only be used while a scenario calls for a lieutenant to be present (sometimes a specific lieutenant) and before that lieutenent is defeated for the first time.

In terms of advancement by xp, things are stacked even more against the overlord.  Generally speaking, win or lose, heroes obtain xp at a rate 2-4 times that of the overlordnone of the skills heroes buy have "prerequisites" (as is the case with overlord cards), and heroes will have access to the skills they purchase at all times.  When the overlord does get points, he must jump through hoops to "unlock" certain cards for purchase and, once he has obtained a new card, he must either cut off access to an existing card or diminish the likelyhood of drawing his new card.  Even if he does reduce his deck size to 15, he has no guarantee of drawing the new card.

Finally, there is the issue of defeating a figure.  When a hero is defeated, the only consequences are that he gains fatigue and loses between 1/2 and 1 turn.  He or she will then respawn in the spot where he or she fell.  When a monster is defeated, it must respawn at specific locations, frequently quite far from the current objectives.  Additionally, depending on the scenario, the monster may not respawn at all.

If your heroes are struggling in the beginning, just stick with it and they will eventually overtake the overlord in terms of power.



#16 Rico

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 01:38 PM

JorduSpeaks said:

Finally, there is the issue of defeating a figure.  When a hero is defeated, the only consequences are that he gains fatigue and loses between 1/2 and 1 turn.  

Said hero also loses anywhere from 40% - 90% of his life, depending on how lucky you we're rolling two red dice. OLs tend to enjoy pummeling heroes with low life - easy card generation.



#17 Dam

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 07:44 PM

JorduSpeaks said:

For starters, lets look at the starting stats:  the overlord has a deck of cards that replenish at a rate of one per turn and an assortment of monsters, some of which he must use and some of which he must not use for any given quest.  These monsters might replenish at a rate of 1-2 per turn.  By contrast, the heroes start with two abilities (one on the character sheet and one on the card), some of which are insanely good, that they have access to on every turn and a feat, which is always insanely good, that he or she can use twice per quest.  It is worth noting the significance of the fact that a hero will always have access to at least two useful abilities each turn, whereas the overlord cards are generally quite situational, are available by random chance, and can rarely be reused in a quest.

Try an OL using 2x Unholy Ritual in his deck with 9 Kobolds out. He's drawing 1 card as normal, then playing UR to draw 9 cards and choosing to keep 4 (9 Kobolds with 4 heroes), he'll see pretty much half his deck every turn. Throw in Reinforce and now it doesn't even matter if you wipe out the Kobolds, he'll Reinforce and then UR the Kobolds to very likely re-draw Reinforce (keeping enough cards in hand to allow him to draw Reinforce again). Start of most Encounter 2s, big hitters can double-move and double-attack on the first turn with between 3-5 guaranteed extra damage (cards saved from E1), then Blood Rage for an extra two attacks to boot (possible with Expert Blow still in the mix). We lost all four heroes to Ice Wyrms (who have no innate surges) turn 1 of E2 in Ritual of Shadows, as OL goes first in that one.


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#18 JorduSpeaks

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 10:58 PM

Rico said:

Said hero also loses anywhere from 40% - 90% of his life, depending on how lucky you we're rolling two red dice. OLs tend to enjoy pummeling heroes with low life - easy card generation.

Usually, "hero whack-a-mole" only happens when one of the heroes gets separated from the group.  Part of the strategy of the game for the heroes is in weighing the costs and advantages of splitting up.  Generally speaking, your heroes are at their strongest when they are all within three spaces of one another.  However, it may be necessary for the heroes to go off in different directions in order to complete the scenario objectives.  It's up to the heroes to make that decision, and making tough decisions is part of the draw of board gaming, in general.



#19 PhilThePhreak

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Posted 09 March 2013 - 10:30 AM

Lonewolf, you simply must try the second half of the encounter.  The first half of this one is heavily weighted towards OL, but in my game even though the OL got almost all the crops, the heroes obliterated Splig in the second half.  These are meant to be full quests, not individual scenarios.

I agree with others that careful use of surges and fatigue is key, and that as the campaign goes on the heroes get more powerful.  In my experienced, the game has been VERY balanced and every quest has come down to the wire.  Either side could have won since both groups were playing well.  Any mistake can cost victory.

Note specifically that knocking all heroes out isn't always a help because they can use a full turn to recover.  Both sides should go for objectives, not just a total party/monster kill.



#20 Warrior of Myth

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 07:45 AM

Since its release with 1st ed Descent has always been brutal. Sometimes with quests that were nigh unwinnable for the heroes (think Well of Darkness and even worse Altar of Despair). It is a strategically involved game where either side can win and mistakes can be devestating. I have always thought that is one of Descent's defining characteristics, and one of its greatest. When the heroes win in Descent it really means something. 2nd Edition, from my experiences, has made it somewhat less difficult for the heroes (though not by much :D). In particular, the reinforcing rule is much easier to plan for than line of sight spawing with multiple enemies. Ultimately though, my point is that to enjoy descent, the players/overlord have to be able to accept crushing defeats every now and again without all of the QQ. Otherwise, it won't be terribly enoyable. Which is a shame, as IMO Descent is tactically a tactically rich, challenging, and rewarding game. Just some thoughts.






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