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Justin Alexander

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  1. It's okay, really. There have been several people in here saying things that are worth hearing. They've offered some good insights and helped me to develop my ideas in interesting and useful ways. People like Jegergyte and DanteRotterdam, on the other hand, have done us all the great honor of making it abundantly clear what a waste of time it would be to take their posts seriously by lacing them with profanity, ad hominems, and factually inaccurate claims.
  2. First: Multiple examples of the inconsistent skill guidelines are given in the review. Second: An example of the types of house rules I'm talking about is given literally two sentences later in the review. Not only are all of these examples present in the review, multiple people in this thread have talked about them specifically. I'm really unclear how you (or Whafrog) could have missed them. Third: "The main rule to keep in mind is that none of the three result types (success/failure, advantage/threat, triumph/despair) can cancel out another kind of result." That is exactly what I'm talking about. What you just wrote there is not the way the game works. In the RAW, Triumphs count as successes (and thus cancel failures). Despair does the exact opposite. You've house ruled it in order to simplify the mechanic and apparently don't even realize you've done it. And this has happened virtually every single time I've gotten into a discussion like this. The people championing the dice mechanics repeatedly reveal that they are not, in fact, using the dice mechanics as published.
  3. Yes. It's something that I really like about the system in fact. It's what I call the "Reichenbach Falls" Effect. This was something that really excited me when I first read the rulebooks. I was disappointed when the actual practice ended up being so tangled up that I felt the underlying virtue had been lost. Reading this, though, I now wonder if it might be more effective to simplify the core mechanic in a different way. Unlike the house rules I posted above, these obviously haven't actually been playtested, but it might be better if: (1) Successes and failures canceled. (Except for damage and recovery, they only report the binary outcome of success-or-failure. Everything else that involves spending successes instead involves spending advantage.) (2) Advantage and Threat cancel each other. (3) Triumph counts as two advantage that CANNOT be canceled. (It no longer counts as a success.) (4) Despair counts as two threat that CANNOT be canceled. (It no longer counts as a failure.) (5) Any effect in the game that uniquely requires a Triumph symbol requires 4 Advantage instead. Similarly, anything that uniquely requires a Despair symbol can be triggered with 4 Threat. This preserves the "Reichenbach Falls" effect, but still simplifies dice pool outcomes to a more usable core concept of (a) binary success/fail; (b) degree of advantage; © degree of threat. (In other words, you've still eliminated the different tiers of qualitative success that are independent from each other.) I'd want to check the impact on probability from removing the success/failure mechanic of Triumph and Despair. Might need to fall back to Triumph doing 1 success (can be canceled) and 1 advantage (cannot be canceled) for a more balanced result.
  4. There were several people in this thread expressing that they had had the same problems with the system that I had experienced, including the person I was replying to. I had a solution in my pocket that had helped me fix a lot of those problems, so I thought I'd share it. And, yeah, it's a big fix: It completely changes the core mechanic of the game. It's not some small little change. It's going to have a big impact on how the game plays. I'm not sure why the idea of people changing the game to make it play better for them and their groups is something that elicits such boiling rage from you. You've said a lot of hurtful things here about me. You've now admitted that some of those were lies, which I appreciate. But I still don't appreciate all the other lies you've posted about me. You may consider it "megalomania" to post things which factually contradict the lies that you've told about me, but I'm afraid that's not going to dissuade me from pointing out the radical inaccuracies in what you're saying.
  5. Sneak peek for the Big Fix I'm posting tomorrow, which you may find useful: THE NEW CORE MECHANIC Build and roll your dice pools the same way. (1) The Triumph symbol counts as a Success, but also has the additional effect of either (a) cancelling Despair, (b) cancelling all Threat symbols, or © if there are no Threat symbols, counting as two Advantage symbols. (2) Despair does the exact same thing in reverse: It counts as a Failure, but also has the additional effect of (a) cancelling Triumph, (b) cancelling all Advantage symbols, or © if there are no Advantage symbols, counting as two Threat symbols. (3) Any effect in the game that uniquely requires a Triumph symbol requires 4 Advantage instead. Similarly, anything that uniquely requires a Despair symbol can be triggered with 4 Threat. (4) With the exception of damage and recovery, the number of Success or Failure symbols you roll is irrelevant. (The only thing that matters is the binary assessment of whether you succeeded or failed.) Everything else in the rules that ask you to count or use Success instead uses Advantage. (5) The guidelines for Knowledge skills are chucked completely: If you succeed on a Knowledge check, each Advantage gives you an additional piece of information. If you fail, Advantage can give you a lead on where information can be found. Threat either corrupts the information in some way (misleading, missing detail, missing context), gives you straight out misinformation, puts you in immediate danger (such as an angry alien in a bar shouting, "You'll be dead!"), or alerts the bad guys to your search (like stormtroopers noticing that you cut off the alien's arm). DESIGN NOTES Essentially, what I'm doing here is lopping off one of the dice result tiers and having Triumph/Despair cancel each other so the symbols are all counted the same way. The system will no longer generate 18 different possibilities (with varying degrees along multiple axes), but the system will still give you: Succeed Failure Succeed-Advantage Succeed-Threat Failure-Advantage Failure-Threat You get two bits of information: One is a binary success/fail. The other is good/neutral/bad, with varying degrees of good and bad. In play, I think you'll find that this: (1) Gives you guidance essentially indistinguishable from the original system; (2) Results in dice pools being resolved about three times faster (because of simple symbol cancellation and players needing to report less tangled information); and (3) Quietly eliminates a wide swath of the game's dizzyingly inconsistent mechanics. (End sneak peek.) For those claiming that I'm lying about the 20 hours I spent playing the game: Whatever. For those claiming that 20 hours isn't enough time to spend playing a game before reviewing it: I don't think you have a reasonable expectation. For those criticizing my penmanship: I'm disturbed by the implication that you broke into my house in order to look at samples of my handwriting. For those claiming that I hate systems that involve interpreting qualitative results: Quite the opposite. As I said in my review, I love systems like that. As I mentioned in the comments over on the Alexandrian, I actually wrote a meta-system like that for Pyramid Magazine 15+ years ago before the concept was popular (Dice of Destiny). I'm actually a huge advocate for systems with qualitative results and I think the improv cues they give greatly enhance creativity at the gaming table. As I explained in the review, my problem with FFG's system isn't that it involves qualitative results: It's that the system features three inconsistent tiers of qualitative results, but provides no guidance for what the significant differences between these tiers are supposed to be. And it's clear that the reason the game fails to clearly explain these differences is that they do not exist: You can use the skill guidelines or you can ignore them, but what they clearly reveal is that even the designers can't tell you what the difference is supposed to be between a success, an advantage, and a triumph. As designed, the core mechanic is making you jump through a lot of needlessly inconsistent hoops in order to feed you information that is needlessly complicated. This is sloppy design and it's a major problem. Evidence of this sloppy design can also be found permeating the entire system. And, again, you can ignore the sloppily inconsistent skill guidelines completely here. Toss that entire chapter out of the book and you'll still find plenty of other mechanics (as the review offers examples of) which are inconsistent for no particularly good reason. As many people in this thread have said, of course, you can simply choose to not use any of the rules in the rulebook. But, ultimately, that doesn't actually change the rulebook. Which is what I was reviewing.
  6. Pg. 9: "... he must resolve a single Combat Encounter against each monster on that space, one at a time, in the order of his choice." Each monster is a separate Combat Encounter, ergo the Kerosene can only be used against a single monster. (It doesn't have to be the first one; you could have a Combat Encounter with one monster and then discard the kerosene to help you with the Combat Encounter with the second monster.)
  7. The groups I've played with have varied from 4 to 8 players. But the bit you're quoting is a typo: It should have been "3 times" each, not "30 times" each. I've done a full cycle of the Other Worlds encounters in at least one game, but I haven't cycled through 900 encounters.
  8. I don't know about "mostly random". It's not like you're playing Sorry. There's still a strategy to how you play and the goals that you choose to pursue (and how you pursue them). But the success or failure of the encounters you need to attempt in order to win is massively random in a way that Arkham Horror is not. Personally, I'm finding that the outcome of EH appears to be a lot more random than I would prefer for a game with a playing time of 3-4+ hours. There's a lot of really nice things about the game, though, so I'm probably going to keep experimenting a little while longer to see if there's still something I'm not quite grokking. But it's looking dim. (The clue tokens are behind the same random wall as everything else, so they can't solve the random wall problem. Skill improvement initially looks appealing, but the hard time limit imposed by the limited Mythos deck seems to make it impossible to actually pursue that as a systemic strategy for mitigating the randomness of the cards.) I didn't actually do any of that analysis until I decided to post in this thread. At that point I'd played the game more than a half dozen times and seen all of those Other Worlds encounter cards at least 30 times each. So: a) I wasn't really spoiled anything for myself; and b) It was just mathematically confirming what playing the game had already made obvious But, in general, I agree with you. Which is one of the reasons I'm quickly reaching the conclusion that EH is not a great game: It looks like the only way you can begin to even mitigate the randomness of the game is to dissect the game to determine which encounter decks require which skills (and even that only seems to get you down to a coin flip). And, for me, that's not fun. I'd much rather play a co-op game like Arkham Horror or Knizia's Lord of the Rings or Space Alert where effective strategies can be made by simply looking at the board. I really can't agree with that assessment. While having thematically similar mechanics (clue tokens, Ancient Ones, etc.), Eldritch Horror is a completely different game than AH in terms of how those mechanics actually work. They really are two completely different games and not simply two different flavors of the same game. As for the AH vs. EH issues that Ken at Sunrise has mentioned, I think comparing Arkham Horror + All of Its Expansions to just the base game of Eldritch Horror is ridiculous. For one thing, EH is guaranteed to have expansions. If you're just comparing the base game of AH to the base game of EH: - The difference in price is inconsequential ($5). - Both games feature a similar amount of complexity. - Both games feature a comparable set-up time. - Both games feature a similar play dynamic (co-op vs. AO). - EH has more mechanical variety between Ancient Ones (due to all the AO-specific components). - AH has more variety overall (due to the larger number of encounter cards). It's apples-and-oranges, frankly. If I had to choose only one or the other, however, I'd currently go with AH.
  9. Let's stop there, buttercup. First, you know as well as I do that Combat Encounters are the one type of encounter which is completely transparent in the game. You also know that the Acquire Assets action isn't an encounter; it's an action. You will never do it during the Encounter Phase. So you're off to a bad start: Constructing blatantly disingenuous strawmen doesn't convince me that you're actually saying anything worth hearing. But let's proceed to your first meaningful statement: "To shut down portals, you better have someone who has either high Lore, Will, or Observation (adequate Strength is not bad too)." This, obviously, is absurd. What you're saying is that you need to be good at 4 out of 5 stats in order to reliably succeed at an Other Worlds encounter. Fortunately, your "deep analysis" of the game is completely wrong. Simply reading the rulebook reveals that the actual skills the designers claim you need for Other Worlds encounters are Lore and Will. In either case, however, we discover that the information is inadequate: There are only 4 characters out of the 13 included in the game who are actually good at both of those skills. Which means that even if you DO recognize which skills you need, it will still usually come down to pure luck whether you'll draw the card that matches the skill you have. An actual deep analysis of the game, it should be noted, will reveal that if you analyze all the possible encounter card results that lead to a successful gate closure, there are a total of 39 possible checks. The checks break down to: LORE: 16 WILL: 10 INFLUENCE: 6 OBSERVATION: 4 STRENGTH: 3 Most cards, of course, require multiple checks for success. So it might also be useful to look at the breakdown of how many success chains each type of check is part of. There are 28 chains in total, which means the percentage chance for each skill being required in a given chain are: LORE: 57% WILL: 38% INFLUENCE: 21% OBSERVATION: 14% STRENGTH: 11% So we can immediately note that you were completely wrong in your list: Influence is actually twice as valuable compared to Strength. Another useful piece of information would actually be the situations which require only a single successful check in order to close the gate. The breakdown for this sort of thing is: LORE: 7 WILL: 3 INFLUENCE: 1 OBSERVATION: 1 STRENGTH: 1 Lore obviously has a huge advantage here. Based on this, obviously, you'd want to identify a character with high Lore and high Will to attempt these encounters. Assuming you did that, what would be the odds that you still drew a card which required a skill check that wasn't Lore or Will? Turns out there are 13 such cards. Which equates to a 52% chance that you'd draw a card requiring a different skill. That's a coin-flip. So much for the argument that this game isn't massively dominated by random chance.
  10. I've seen this said in several places, but it doesn't actually make much sense to me. First, the game requires the consistency of strateg that comes from being able to mostly predict the mysteries you're going to get. Second, just the variation of 3 out of 4 is significantly more than any other co-op game I've played. And EH comes with multiple AOs. So I'm completely baffled by where the "replayability" assessment is coming from.
  11. I wouldn't mind seeing your decision re:Rumors revisited. (If for no other reason than the Rumors that don't kill you directly.)
  12. You don't resolve mysteries until the end of the Mythos phase and you immediately lose if you have to draw a Mythos card and can't. While you can technically continue playing after drawing the last Mythos card, the game is effectively over: You can't win.
  13. It's not just a frustrating mechanic, it also appears to be completely unbalanced. There's no way that the game is properly balanced around solving three mysteries, but if you randomly get this particular skill check and fail it the game remains balanced even though you now need to solve four mysteries. Another way to look at this is in terms of the reward a given encounter card gives you: A typical mystery says you need to grab clues from successful Research encounters and place them on the mystery. So if you're playing with 7 players, these broken encounters cards -- on a success -- are literally worth as much as succeeding on four Research encounters. They're 4x more valuable than other encounters. That makes no sense.
  14. Expanding on the luck thing: In both AH and EH, you generally know which skill checks you need to be good at EXCEPT for encounters. The difference is that in AH you don't need to succeed at encounters in order to win the game (and, in fact, you should generally be AVOIDING encounters). In EH you absolutely have to succeed at encounters. And this distinction is HUGE in terms of the role luck plays in both games. In AH, the key game-winning activities all revolve around known skill checks, which means you can prep characters and use the characters best-suited for a particular check (thus mitigating the role luck plays in those checks). In EH, OTOH, the game-winning activities almost universally revolve around the blind skill checks in encounters. For example, in the last game I played we needed to close two gates in order to win the game vs. Azathoth. We had two characters trying to close gates: One with a high Lore and a low Strength; the other with a low Lore and a high Strength. And for three turns in a row we watched the low-Lore character get Lore skill checks and the low-Strength character gets Strength skill checks. If the order of those cards had been inverted we would have easily closed those gates and handily won the game. But the luck of the draw (which is virtually never an issue in AH) screwed us and we ended up losing. Conversely, we've had EH games where we cake-walked the entire thing. And the key distinction seemed to be entirely in the luck of the draw. After playing the game 8 times (and initially being very impressed by it), my gut is beginning to say that Julia is right about this: The radical swings in "difficulty" resulting from the random card draw make the game unsatisfying and, ultimately, much less rewarding than AH. Which is unfortunate, because in all other respects the designers did a really fantastic job of designing a game thematically similar to AH in both setting and mechanics while simultaneously creating something that's utterly unique in its play and strategy.
  15. eiterorm said: I imagine this is the reasoning they used when answering the Nightgaunt question. And if you read the rules strictly, you'll probably arrive at the same conclusion. However, that doesn't mean that this is the best way to play the game. If one or more of the investigators have the Find Gate spell, it could well be an advantage to have a Nightgaunt on the board. In my opinon, monsters should be a disadvantage rather than an advantage. Besides, the Nightgaunt can be exploited even if you don't have the Find Gate spell. Nightgaunts are frequently useful even if you don't have a Find Gate spell: For a minimal risk of losing 1 sanity, you can get dumped straight into a gate that has a stack of otherwise impassable monsters on it. The regular players in my group will frequently go out of their way to avoid killing a Nightgaunt even if there's no immediate use for them. eiterorm said: One related question, though: Can you choose to fail a combat check, or do you have to roll the dice? In a couple occasions in the past we've gone hunting for a rule clarifying this. AFAICT, it doesn't exist. In the absence of it, I'm fairly certain that you're not allowed to choose failure. Thomas Cartwright said: Well here's another test case, one that's not as improbably as the nightgaunt/find gate combo: Can you spend movement points to read a tome at the end of your movement phase, after you've defeated a monster? This actually happens sometimes: you fail to evade a monster and get stuck in the same space it was in, with leftover movement points, after the combat. No. Entering combat expends all your movement points, so you don't have any left to read the tome with. Tibs said: I'm struggling to figure out why you think a failed combat check doesn't end your movement. Entering combat may expend all your movement points, but there's absolutely nothing in the rules that suggests expending all your movement points immediately causes your Movement Phase to end. Nor is there anything to suggest that entering combat causes your Movement Phase to end. In fact, there are plenty of reasons that it's clearly not true. For example, there's Call Down the Storm: A spell that takes up a hand, must be cast during the Movement Phase, and adds +2 to any Combat check that takes place in your neighborhood until the end of the phase. If your interpretation of the rules were correct, this would be a spell designed to be used during combat (hence the hand requirement) which cannot affect that combat. Tibs said: No, you still can't do the ability. "Search the deck" is just worded for completeness's sake. How else would you obtain the relevant named card from the deck? You're not paying the money for the privilege to search the deck, you're paying the money to obtain the specific card. If none remain in the deck, you can't take one, so you can't do the action, so you must have an encounter. I'm skeptical of any rule interpretation that starts with "ignore what the rules actually say…" and ends with "…and then make up something else to replace it". This is something you and Julia seem to do a lot when answering rules questions. It's a bad habit. You should try to break it.
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