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BigBadUnshaved

Terrifying power creep of shop item cards.

88 posts in this topic

Hello everyone. Please forgive me if repeat an old discussion but as a new member of this forum I can only resort to search engine and I haven't found any topics related to the matter I'd like to discuss with players more experienced then I. And I belive it's an important one, especially seeing the speed with which FFG announces content for Descent.

 

There is a very delicate balance between strength of the heroes and the overlord, and while people can argue which side has it easier, i belive we can all agree that shop item cards that heroes manage to get their hands on have collosal impact on the outcome of the campaign. As such, it is of utmost importance to keep benefits of those items in check, otherwise the very frail balance between two sides will lie in shambles. And with Labirynth of Ruin I had to ban first item shop card in my playgroup, because in my eyes it's horribly broken. An act I item so powerful, one could argue it's the the best in it's category, and for one archetype it's not even an argument. I'm speaking of course about the Rune Plate.

 

To those unfimiliar with it: it's an act I heavy armor that costs 175 gold pieces and gives you grey defense die. If you have 4 or more knowledge (which all of avaible 2 edition mage characters do) it gives you additional +2 health; moreover, if you have a rune equipped (which, for a mage character is very likely) you replace grey defense die provided by it with a black one. And that's it.

 

What's the biggest problem with this card? Is it that it's the only act I shop item that can grant a black defense die? Considering that it requires you to have a rune equipped (which, if you're unlucky and your mage didn't start with one you might not see for a while) and there is an act I relic that gives black defense die for anyone no, that's not it (however it is a concern raising precedent). Is it the fact that it rivals act II armors? That's more of a problem, but then there are other act I items that you will use thought whole campaign (mana wave anyone?), so no, once again that's not it.

 

Can you guess what's the biggest gripe I have with it? No? Look at other armors avaible to the players and you might guess it (or already know it if you are fimiliar with the cards well enought). The biggest problem is that it's one of the two only armors (and the only act I one) that gives you grey (or better) defense die that has no penalties whatsoever for using them. All while being the best pick mitigation wise for one hero archtype throught entire campaign.

 

Just look at items like demonhide leather, an act II light armor that costs 200 gold, gives you a grey defense die and makes you suffer 1 fatigue when you perform 2 move actions on your turn. Why is it more expensive (and as such, considered 'better') then rune plate? Because some hero abilities work better with a light armor or something?

 

I simply cannot understand FFG as to what drove You into making such unbalanced cards that obselete previous ones. This is not a LCG god **** it, people WILL buy descent products without You resorting to power creep like this, it's a completly different business model, where the key is the variety. The new Shadows of Nerekhail with it's city based campaign? Awesome idea, gives a whole expansion with city tiles. I'm really happy with it since I use these for pen & paper RPGs, and let's not forget a very nice Influence idea. Manor of Ravens, which gives us gothic feel and Warhammer-esque heroes? Superb, that's what some people were asking for. See, that's what customers appreciate in Descent and it's line of expansions/addons - variety. Not the power creep.

 

Maybe I overthink things, maybe I'm slightly oversensetive on such matters. But still, I'm slightly worried, and I'd love to hear opinions of more experienced folks over here.

Edited by BigBadUnshaved

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I think taking it out is unfair but possibly house rule nerf it. Brown and grey instead of grey/black? None of my campaigns have drawn it yet but I know alot of people think it is op.

rfisha likes this

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I don't necessarily agree that the rune plate is OP. I *DO* think it's huge power creep, though.

 

Honestly, I think the designers have come to understand that armor in the original box was way, WAY too weak. By act 2, monsters blow through armor like it's not there. Remember, two gray dice means less than three points of defense on average, when monsters are rolling three dice plus surge abilities. In the last campaign I was overlord in, Act II was characterized by the heroes one-shot killing virtually everything they touched, and a group of goblins being able to take down a 16 HP hero in one round.

 

So yes, Rune Plate is a huge jump in power level, and looks insane compared to previous Act I armor. However, I wouldn't be too surprised if that power level is the new normal for armor, and we see a lot more stuff like it in the future. It makes armor relevant again.

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Consider of course that rune plate is only useful on mages really. Add in the fact that it's a one of in a large deck of shop cards, it's very expensive, it's not all that great once act 2 hits, and a variety of other restrictions/factors, and it's not hard to see why it isn't overpowered. It's very good, but it's not spectacular. It's the only decent armor in the game for a mage really, they certainly aren't going to use chainmail.

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Thanks for all the responses, good to see opinions from both sides of the barricade.

Consider of course that rune plate is only useful on mages really.

But that's the thing: even if you don't have a rune, even if you have less then 4 knowledge it gives you a grey defense die with no penalty. That's my biggest problem with it really, and not only that but it's an act I item. Pretty much every other armor that gives you grey or black defense die has some sort of limitation, as in lower movement, limit of specific actions taken per turn, not allowing you to equip runes etc. Up to trollfens there are only two more armors that do that in addition to Rune Plate: Cloak of Deception (an act II shop item) and Aurium Mail (an act I rumor reward relic). So it's not only useful for mages, for them it's powerful enought to be pants on retarted.

 

Remember, two gray dice means less than three points of defense on average, when monsters are rolling three dice plus surge abilities. In the last campaign I was overlord in, Act II was characterized by the heroes one-shot killing virtually everything they touched, and a group of goblins being able to take down a 16 HP hero in one round.

 

So yes, Rune Plate is a huge jump in power level, and looks insane compared to previous Act I armor. However, I wouldn't be too surprised if that power level is the new normal for armor, and we see a lot more stuff like it in the future. It makes armor relevant again.

And for the resons you've stated (act II being ridicullous on damage for everyone that is) Rune Plate (in it's current form) would be a great addition if it were an act II shop item with 200+ cost. Some say it's expensive as it is, but for what it does I'd say it has to cost more. As it is now, I think I'll try it out with thedremark's suggestion of having it give brown/grey and see how it's then. One thing I forgot to mention: my playgruop usually goes with the basic epic variant (aka 3 exp +150 gold for each hero on start), so it's a bit less of a case 'you might not even draw it during act I'.

 

Once again, thanks for the input.

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Never feared runeplate, our mage has it in our campaign and despite grey black and +2 health its still easy to pulp them.

Just started act 2 and they dies to 3 attacks, at full health, from a group of cave spiders.

Armor in general is poor for heroes, 1 reasonably high priced suit that goes on a squishy has not deterred me.

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Agreed that it is a bit OP in comparison to other items, but still hasn't stopped me from taking the heroes down.  Bad dice rolls will always happen eventually.

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Bad dice rolls sure happen, but it works both ways: nothing is as frustrating as rolling that **** X on attack die with your master monster throught the whole encounter.

 

But that's a different matter, I see I'm in minority here, so I'll ask your opinions on other slightly related issue.

 

We have a mage with 4 knowledge that wears a Rune Plate and needs to be delt only two more damage to be knocked down. For whatever reason his knowledge falls down temporarily, like because of Terrifying presence plot card from Valyndra's deck. I would argue that it would KO that hero, but as you might have noticed I'm a little bit biased and search for every single opportunity to harass the heroes (but then they're experienced players and if I want to win I have to use every little thing I can).

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No you are correct, that would KO the hero. His wounds would be exactly equal to his maximum hit points.

 

As for 'power creep'. Don't compare each card to each other: it's normal for some cards to be better than others, sometimes significantly so. If they were all of almost exactly equal power, the random draw of the deck would be mostly meaningless. And for every great card that got added to the deck, another nearly useless card got added, like the mapstone.

Edited by Whitewing

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Agreed that there's a definite power creep.  Its nothing too terrifying though.  If you think about it, for every superb Act 1 item added (Rune Plate, Bearded Axe), there's a handful of semi useful ones (Mapstone, Poisoned Blowgun) so the heroes have a smaller chance to get the good stuff, unless they're moving into Act 2, then its not that big of a factor since they're spending gold that could be used in Act 2 and you have newly pumped up monsters to crush them with.  

 

The only thing I can think of is that this is the first armor that's tailor made for Mages.  Whereas the Chainmail seems to be better suited for slower heroes like warriors (one where the hero already has 4 speed so its not really a penalty, and if you're using only 2E heroes, only newcomer Swifty has 5 speed).

 

As for your new question, it seems like the +2 Health is a constant so I'd say the heroes would lose the health.  If the game would only check when the armor was equipped/unequipped, then the health would stay.  However, that's just my opinion, this sounds like a good question to send FFG.

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We have a mage with 4 knowledge that wears a Rune Plate and needs to be delt only two more damage to be knocked down. For whatever reason his knowledge falls down temporarily, like because of Terrifying presence plot card from Valyndra's deck. I would argue that it would KO that hero, but as you might have noticed I'm a little bit biased and search for every single opportunity to harass the heroes (but then they're experienced players and if I want to win I have to use every little thing I can).

I'd agree, based on RAW. Heroes don't have remaining HP, they have Health and current damage, and if their current damage equals their Health, they are defeated. Normally this happens from damage being applied, but it could also happen from their Health being reduced.

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As for the Rune Plate being OP, remember that the goal of the Overlord is rarely to ever kill the heroes. (This is quite a bit different than in 1st Edition or in many other minis games.) In most quests, its rare that the OL needs to kill the heroes to win. I'd be much more worried about an item that made it easier for the heroes to kill the OL monsters (which would prevent the OL from completing his objective) than one that adds to Hero survival.

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As for the Rune Plate being OP, remember that the goal of the Overlord is rarely to ever kill the heroes. (This is quite a bit different than in 1st Edition or in many other minis games.) In most quests, its rare that the OL needs to kill the heroes to win. I'd be much more worried about an item that made it easier for the heroes to kill the OL monsters (which would prevent the OL from completing his objective) than one that adds to Hero survival.

 

Pretty much. In Act 1, I just ignore the mage with rune plate honestly with my monsters, using cards to deal with him. Trap cards to stall his movement like grease trap, pit trap, or web trap are all ridiculously effective choices against mages anyway. The runeplate doesn't improve his ability to remove monsters from the map at all, so my monsters can just focus other targets while the mage is locked down by overlord cards. In Act 2, the armor isn't remotely good enough. The cost of it is also extremely high for an act 1 item, meaning that they could have had other items instead. Compared to the crossbow, which came with the base game, I'd say that cards like bearded axe or rune plate have virtually no power creep at all.

 

Incidentally, Crossbow + logan lashley as the treasure hunter is an absolutely hilarious combination.

Edited by Whitewing

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As for the Rune Plate being OP, remember that the goal of the Overlord is rarely to ever kill the heroes. (This is quite a bit different than in 1st Edition or in many other minis games.) In most quests, its rare that the OL needs to kill the heroes to win. I'd be much more worried about an item that made it easier for the heroes to kill the OL monsters (which would prevent the OL from completing his objective) than one that adds to Hero survival.

The most important thing in this game is actions, killing heroes costs the heroes action(s). Never underestimate what killing heroes can do for winning a game! They also give you threat tokens which are also incredibly useful to have.

Also someone mentioned runeplate as being expensive... I think 150g is not really expensive.

As for being OP, my group plays the card as its written and while it certainly helps i dont think its a totally game breaking card. It is definitely power creep though - especially considering you can guarentee any group will buy it after the interlude, its one of those must buy cards.

Edited by BentoSan

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The most important thing in this game is actions, killing heroes costs the heroes action(s). Never underestimate what killing heroes can do for winning a game! They also give you threat tokens which are also incredibly useful to have.

Also someone mentioned runeplate as being expensive... I think 150g is not really expensive.

As for being OP, my group plays the card as its written and while it certainly helps i dont think its a totally game breaking card. It is definitely power creep though - especially considering you can guarentee any group will buy it after the interlude, its one of those must buy cards.

You said what I was about to: the best way to stop heroes from reaching their objective is to deny them actions, and most efficent way is simply KOing them (and additional threat is great). As for the cost it's actually 175, not a big difference but one has to admit it's among the highest price for an act I item (are there any that cost 200? I don't think so).

 

Either way, thanks for all replies, it does seem I was needlesly panicking and I'll have to give it a go few times. However, I do hope further power creep won't be a trend. Otherwise the game might suffer a bit as well as this forum (since you'd end up with me ranting all the time about it).

jonasthewooki likes this

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Hey, you don't need to tell me that. Hell, I've stated in this very thread I'd be more happy with it if it were an act II card that costed 200 or possibly more.

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One can always just house rule to shuffle it in to the Act 2 deck. Draw from the bottom if you're fussed about knowing it's coming up.

 

The issue with it being in the Act 1 deck is less that it comes out in Act 1, and more that because of the post-Interlude shopping phase special rules, the heroes are guaranteed to get it. It's easily the best armour for a mage in the game, so there's no reason not to grab it unless you're planning to forgo armour on your mages entirely.

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The reason to not get it might be that you don't feel like spending 175 gold on armor for a mage that, when played carefully and properly, is difficult enough to attack already that there's little point in armoring him, especially when act 2 equipment is expensive and right around the corner.

 

It's up to the heroes, but I can definitely see why you would skip runeplate.

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The reason to not get it might be that you don't feel like spending 175 gold on armor for a mage that, when played carefully and properly, is difficult enough to attack already that there's little point in armoring him, especially when act 2 equipment is expensive and right around the corner.

 

It's up to the heroes, but I can definitely see why you would skip runeplate.

There are many good reasons not to be worried about Runeplate's extremely high power level. Not using the strongest armor in the game because "Armor on mages isn't that good" isn't one of them.

 

As to all the people saying that runeplate wouldn't be so bad if it were act 2... it's significantly stronger than any other act 2 armor, as well... again, I point to my earlier post, where I said that I'm not WORRIED about power creep here because I think armor is too weak in the original Descent box, and I think we'll be seeing stronger armor in general going forward. But even in act 2, RP is still at the top of the power curve.

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I agree with this topic even outside of armor.  We just finished running through the Trollfens mini-campaign.  At the final the heroes had tier 1 gear and were pretty much one shotting everything even though the monsters were tier 2.  Red giants took about three shots depending.  When we looked at what was causing the most damage it was the gear that was included in various expansions.  The tier 1 bearded ax for example was doing 6-7 damage pierce 3 on average which is outrageous.  The item creep is getting really out of control and it's one of the things that I think was a problem in original Descent I was hoping wouldn't show up here.

 

I think the big problem is that heroes are constantly scaling with items while monsters scale once a campaign and are done.  Every expansion has new combinations of stuff to make heroes better and better but the ettins that come in the base box will be the same forever.  New overlord cards that can be used once and are discarded don't really have the same game impact as an item that is used sometimes twice a turn.  

 

I think what really needs to be errata-ed is that the shop step after the interlude where heroes get to pick through the level 1 shop deck is removed.  With the items just getting so crazy amazing they can really make amazing load outs that is very difficult to deal with.  The randomization of that deck is one of the few limits to hero power.

Edited by Radish
mm26 likes this

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As to all the people saying that runeplate wouldn't be so bad if it were act 2... it's significantly stronger than any other act 2 armor, as well... again, I point to my earlier post, where I said that I'm not WORRIED about power creep here because I think armor is too weak in the original Descent box, and I think we'll be seeing stronger armor in general going forward. But even in act 2, RP is still at the top of the power curve.

 

 

Yeah it would still be one of the strongest items in Act 2. But that's fine, the shop deck doesn't have to be balanced, some stuff can be better that others, because you can't predict what will come out. There's a luck element there. To be frank it would be manageable in Act 1 if it weren't for that final "sort through the shop deck and buy whatever you want" phase. Yeah, it would be bad luck for the Overlord if the first three items the heroes were able to buy were Runeplate, Bearded Axe and Mana Weave but thems the breaks.

 

There's a similar item in Nerekhall - it lets heroes trade in two skill cards and get a refund on the experience. Only costs 75g. In isolation, kinda nice, certainly not overpowered. But it's an Act 1 item. So as long as the heroes save 75g for that shopping step, they can spec a hero in Act 1 with low cost skills, then trade them in at the start of Act 2 for stronger ones, without having to worry about saving up. The knowledge that that card is in the deck and will be made available, with absolute certainty, makes it far more powerful than if the shop deck were random.

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Yeah I agree.  I think that rule was fine when the game first came out but now that there are certain items that are just really, really good or combo incredibly well with each other it has become abusive.

Edited by Radish

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