I posted this over at BGG, but I figured I should put it here too for FFG to see.
I've been playing as Overlord for a family campaign and there's one issue that's been bugging me about reinforcements. I thought I'd post my idea here, see what everyone thinks, and maybe it'll get enough traction for someone to work up a variant (or even end up in a future expansion).
Quick background on me: I play to have fun and to help others have fun. As the Overlord I ideally want to the heroes to win the campaign by the skin of their teeth. I've been trying to keep each quest tight, and we're at about a 50/50 split on wins right now. I also want to keep things interesting and throw new enemies at them as often as possible. This is what led me to post this…
The reinforcement rules as is are very streamlined. "X monsters from X monster groups, respecting group limits". Unfortunately I feel that that streamlining has severely limited the initial choices of monsters at the quests beginning. As OL I could have one dragon come back every turn…. or one kobold. Even as a fairly non-competitive OL, my selection is very limited if I want to avoid it being a total blow out. Yes there are quests with no reinforcements, and I have gotten to use my kobolds (Which, incidentally, was hilarious. My father charged into the room, killing a few, but totally ignoring the "swarm" ability. They took him from full health to dead in response and necessitated a scrambling change of tactics for all). I just wish that using weaker, swarming style creatures was more viable.
So here's my suggestion. Can we reintroduce a VERY simple threat system with regards to reinforcements? Each monster would have a threat value and each quest would give a set amount of threat per turn. You can split it up whichever way you want, but you can't "bank" it and use in on a future turn. That way, with 5 threat worth of reinforcements, I can choose to spend it all on a 5 threat dragon, all on 5 - 1 threat kobolds, or maybe a 3 point barghest and 2 - 1 point skeletons.
I really feel that this would greatly expand the OL's experience. Instead of "pick the strongest creature" for the monster groups, you can tailor it to your needs. If you want to try to drown them in a sea of cannon fodder you would be able to. If you still wanted to just use the heavy hitters that would be possible too.
In addition to just making the base game more varied, I think that there's a huge potential for using threat in expansions. Here are just a few basic ideas:
New OL class (Beastmaster? Monster Lord?) where the cards give bonus threat: +threat this turn, +threat per heart of damage done/taken, +threat per fatigue spent by heroes, spend threat to heal creatures, sacrifice creatures to get their threat value, etc…
Quests/Campaigns with varying threat: OL gets 1 threat on turn 1, 2 on turn 2, etc… heroes have to complete objective without all being knocked down at once. Maybe winning a quest gives XP and a permanent threat bonus for the rest of the campaign. Quests where pulling levers increases or decreases threat.
My personal favorite idea: Monster upgrades. You could do things like add a new ability to a monster class (Give Skeletons Stun, Poison, etc..) and simply increase its threat cost. Want to give your kobolds Reach? Up the threat cost by 1. Want to have flaming skeletons? Threat cost goes up!
Even without these ideas though, I really feel like something needs to be in place to help make every monster a viable choice. Maybe a threat/points system? Maybe someone else has a better idea? I just thought I'd throw it out there and see what happens.
Think of the kobolds, all alone, unused. Do it for them!