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Glorious Strategist

Overlord Burnout

41 posts in this topic

I agree, thematics do NOT trump the rules. Another example of a debate I encountered on the same day as the Khorayt "shadow" debate was about gold and search cards. The heroes were under the impression that search items were allowed to be carried into new quests if not used. I showed them the rules and the section about search cards going back into the search deck at the end of each quest. They then argued that if not used, they should get double the gold. For example, they would get the 25 gold up front for finding a stamina potion, and then if they didn't use the stamina potion, they could sell it back for ANOTHER 25 gold, basically getting 50 gold for 1 stamina potion. I tried telling them that this was incorrect, but they were already mad that they couldn't keep their search items between quests so they weren't having any of my reasoning. I can't find anywhere in the rules where it says that their interpretation is correct, but then again I can't find anywhere where it specifically says they're wrong either. In my opinion, therein lies the problem with this game. It's far too open to interpretation and can easily be taken over by stronger personality types.

 

The game isn't that open to interpretation. In no game ever can you make the argument "well the rules don't say I can't do that". The rules don't say I can't declare myself the winner if you don't want to get punched.

 

I don't think the problem is the game, it's the alpha gaming players. They are insisting how the game should work, with no regard for how it affects you or the balance of the game. They are  pushing you around, even if they are your good friends in other settings. It's really just a subtle form of bullying. I'd have to stop playing games with these people.

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I agree, thematics do NOT trump the rules. Another example of a debate I encountered on the same day as the Khorayt "shadow" debate was about gold and search cards. The heroes were under the impression that search items were allowed to be carried into new quests if not used. I showed them the rules and the section about search cards going back into the search deck at the end of each quest. They then argued that if not used, they should get double the gold. For example, they would get the 25 gold up front for finding a stamina potion, and then if they didn't use the stamina potion, they could sell it back for ANOTHER 25 gold, basically getting 50 gold for 1 stamina potion. I tried telling them that this was incorrect, but they were already mad that they couldn't keep their search items between quests so they weren't having any of my reasoning. I can't find anywhere in the rules where it says that their interpretation is correct, but then again I can't find anywhere where it specifically says they're wrong either. In my opinion, therein lies the problem with this game. It's far too open to interpretation and can easily be taken over by stronger personality types.

 

The game isn't that open to interpretation. In no game ever can you make the argument "well the rules don't say I can't do that". The rules don't say I can't declare myself the winner if you don't want to get punched.

 

I don't think the problem is the game, it's the alpha gaming players. They are insisting how the game should work, with no regard for how it affects you or the balance of the game. They are  pushing you around, even if they are your good friends in other settings. It's really just a subtle form of bullying. I'd have to stop playing games with these people.

 

I totally agree. It is valid for any game really, regardless of how much freedom the players get from the game to interprete its rules. The best example I can come up with is Cosmic Encounter, where you need to sit down and decide how your power will be working or interacting in regards to other aliens. But since you do this upon setting up the game, there is rarely any argument to be had during the game itself, as people have already settled on the way these things should be working. Whereas in Descent, situations come and go and many of them are critical enough so people easily get heated up, as it affects the outcome of an encounter or something else.

 

IMHO Descent is not really enjoyable if you have a hero player with a really big mouth and dictating how the other players should be running their character. Another poster said earlier that somebody is his/her playgroup had to leave because of that very reason. If you're still there and reading, then I would actually give your friend a favor and re-introduce her back into your group and kick out the douchebag. If people cannot behave then nobody is having fun, thus there is no point having game sessions. Doesn't feel like these are times where people with a normal life would enjoy additional stress and arguments with their friends.

 

But it's the same for any co-op game really, every player should have a voice. But I also think that it's not your job as the OL to keep your heroes in check with regards to that aspect. It's THEIR job to make sure they have a good group they can handle in the best possible manner. So technically speaking even with an alpha player around, the other heroes should be able to collectively tell him to stop acting like an *******. Why would it have to be the OL's decision? I'm not saying that you should't be part of the discussion, but it's everybody's game. The OL is not the GM, he's a player on his own, but it is probably common that the OL owns the game and is the rules master as well, which probably makes this fine line between the heroes group and the OL fade away, as you suddenly need to step up and take responsability for the whole group instead of watch them tear themselves apart. That could be part of the game, mind you, when heroes just cannot decide efficiently over the course of actions because they are in a disagreement. It just creates tensions though, which is not the best way to experience this game.

Edited by Indalecio

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Descent is designed to be extremely unforgiving if you make a single mistake.  All progress so far, lost.  All hope, dashed.  All in a single moment of misunderstanding or ignorance.  And that's a crazy-annoying context to play in, for anyone goal-oriented.  Fantasy Flight - for some reason - purposely designed a game that won't be fun unless the players are more interested in how things happen, rather than what things happen.

 

Overlords, by-and-by, tend to be those kinds players.  Win or Lose, they really just want to watch the mechanics bounce around and see the outcome of the game's design in an instantiated context.  The meta-narrative is engaging and fun for them - like hosting a party.  But if your guests are only coming because its a chance to steal things from your house then you won't be able to host this kind of party.  The game just doesn't give out enough consolation prizes to keep failure from being super irritating to the heroes.  It always feels oppressive, it always feels like you're out of options, and it never feels like you could have done anything about it.  This is a symptom, mechanically, of not having a lot of in-game options that allow you to recover from a single mistake.  Working as intended, I guess.

 

Griton does a good job of explaining how to prepare your players for this context, to minimize the impact, but some people simply won't be able to separate their attachment to winning from having fun.

 

Jee

Edited by Inspector Jee
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to separate their attachment to winning from having fun.

Well said.

 

This is something that I have no problem with, and that I am sometimes insensitive about with some players. I just want to play, win or lose, it is fun for me (of course I try to win, but I enjoy playing either way). And I sometimes get frustrated with players whose more competitive attitudes clash with that, and especially if it affects the overall fun for the group.

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Interesting Topic,I never picked up Descent due to the OL mechanic (of course I have WarHammer Quest so

that itch is covered) . There are however things I like about Descent & I understand FFG is going to

do some official rules for making the OL a AI so I may reconsider.

Edited by Old Dwarf

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I would suggest the following.

 

1: As someone else suggested, make sure the others know the content of your OL deck and look over your monsters before each quest. If they don't know what Reach or Fire Breath or whatever means, ask. Then they have less cause for complaint.

 

2: Table the less problematic disagreements and solve them offline.

* Should they get paid twice for unused potions? Note the amounts separately. Look/ask/find the answer online. Bring the answer to the next game and adjust the money accordingly.
* Should Khorayt have the Shadow Ability? Play it out both ways. Track the damage that Alric does to him by spending surges or not. If this is infeasible, say, "Fine, we'll do it your way, but if you're wrong, the consequence is forfeiting the quest."

 

I've done a number of post-session compensations. We thought, legitimately, that a card was supposed to play one way only to find out it did differently. For example, I played Word of Misery taking 1 stamina per heart instead of 1 stamina every time I took hearts. After the game I read the FAQ, found out that it was wrong, and we worked out giving them something to compensate for the wrong play. You're inevitably going to get a rule wrong even without arguing about it, so the question is what's the remedy. Arguing about more rule interpretations isn't happy or fun.

 

I would also keep the Rules, FAQ, errata, and if possible BGG's rule forum open while you play. Their Search question is easily and squarely resolved on pg. 20 of the rules. Step #1 of the Campaign Phase. There's no reason to even waste time arguing about it. Or, as I said earlier, just table it until you can look it up.

 

3: A last option is to institute a Wrong Rules Interpretation policy. Any time there's a rule in dispute, write it down. Resolve them all the next week by reference to rules/faq/ask fantasy flight/etc. Whichever side played the most rules wrong get penalized (or the other side gets rewarded). Say 25 gold for them or a third an XP for you. Or 1 threat if you play with that. Increase the penalties if the wrong rules being played result in disproportionate awards.

 

The overall gist, though, is don't get too heavy into arguing rules at the table. And when something is played wrong, figure out how much of a difference it made in the gameplay, and what should be done to compensate. And if that doesn't work, just start fining them for pushing the envelope too much on rules that shouldn't be disputed.

Edited by mm26

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Well, I could still kick him out and take her in again...

Definitely my recommendation. Though this should be handled as 2 separate things.

  1. He should go, regardless of whether she comes back. It's that, or he has to stop doing what he's doing.
  2. After he's gone or has fixed his behavior, then bring it up to her and say "Hey, so we finally told him his behavior wasn't welcome, and (result of him leaving or stopping), so if you are interested in coming back, you're welcome to."

But also be aware that she may have other reasons and that his behavior was just the last straw, so she may not come back, and if so, that's ok too. Either way, your group will be better off without his toxic behavior.

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Last session we tried something new.

 

We dropped the overlord concept and related gimmicks.I wrote a custom quest and played as a DM.

 

The four main changes were :

1- no overlord deck, just monsters

2- tiles being revealed as the players progress through the dungeons

3- no potions, just gold from the seach card, and

4- One item card is drawn with each search token. If the players like the item they can equipped it if the have enough gold (if not they can keep it a aside and get another chance the pick it up at the conclusion of the quest)

 

We also did alot more attribute tests than in the regular quests and a little bit of roleplaying (players had different choices to make each of them with a direct impact on the board).

 

Results : the best time we had with Descent and it's not even close. This is the only way we'll play Descent from now on.

Edited by ropoflu

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Last session we tried something new.

 

We dropped the overlord concept and related gimmicks.I wrote a custom quest and played as a DM.

 

The four main changes were :

1- no overlord deck, just monsters

2- tiles being revealed as the players progress through the dungeons

3- no potions, just gold from the seach card, and

4- One item card is drawn with each search token. If theplayers like the item they can equipped it if the have enough gold (if not they keep it a aside and get to another chance the pick it up at the conclusion of the quest)

 

We also did alot more attribute tests than in the regular quests and a little bit of roleplaying (players had different choices to make each of them with a direct impact on the board).

 

Results : the best time we had with Descent and it's not event close. This is the only way we'll play Descent from now on.

I'd argue that what you played was a very different game from "Descent," but sounds like a fun alternative (if not seeming heavily hero favored)!

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I'd argue that what you played was a very different game from "Descent," but sounds like a fun alternative (if not seeming heavily hero favored)!

 

 

 

Yes, that sounds like a new game using the Descent components.

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Still not a bad idea if none of the heroes want to take up the OL role, it gives the OL a break from the traditional overlording and lets him/her try something else entirely. You could play with pathfinder/dnd rules if you wanted, using the descent minis and tiles as maps.

 

Taking a break and playing a different game is an entirely valid approach to alleviating overlord burnout.

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Still not a bad idea if none of the heroes want to take up the OL role, it gives the OL a break from the traditional overlording and lets him/her try something else entirely. You could play with pathfinder/dnd rules if you wanted, using the descent minis and tiles as maps.

 

Taking a break and playing a different game is an entirely valid approach to alleviating overlord burnout.

 

I created a castle using all descent tiles for a Pathfinder session. Despite being creepy (nothing wrong with the walls calling out "come find me, come find me" in a child like voice, right?) it was a huge success.

 

And I like where BentoSan's mind is at with this. You could always hand the book to a DM and let him create a story with this as the base. Same quests with pathfinder rules and the DM's twist. *shrugs* If my heroes didn't have EVERYTHING memorized, I might try it. Descent did kind of lead me into tabletop gaming in the first place.

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Well, I'm sure playing Pathfinders or any table RPG with Descent tiles and minis icould a lot of fun.

 

However, as far as we're concerned we're still playing Descent in a way. We just see as it I scalable game where we took some parts off.  We felt discombobulated by the amount of different rules and felt it could be simplified.

 

It's not a critic about the game design. Descent is fantastic as it is. It's just that we're a bunch of dead tired young fathers who enjoy their whisky a little too much while playing. We can't handle a complex game even if we love it.  

 

My players like the fact that they don't have to read anything before advancing their minis. They like rolling dice, counting spaces and hit points. They like to consult each other about the way to go.That's it. They don't really want to "beat" me and I don't want to "beat" them.

 

One last thing. We all really like the tactic aspect of Descent. Getting away with the overlord cards removes a level of randomness from the players POV and it's a bonus for us.

 

To further reduce the level of randomness in favor of tactic we're even testing a small rule to our already altered Descent games :

  • Called shot : spend 2 actions on one attack and you get to choose of which side the blue die fall (usually the 2 hearts 1 surge side). Before choosing the player still need to roll the blue die, the lose one action, but can still his remaining one for a regular attack.  Also, another player can give a unused action to another player so this one can move and do a called shot (as long as the both have a LoS on the target).
  • Monster can do called shot to (but still can't attack twice per round unless they have the ravage ability).
  • Heroes can do focus attribute test, which follows the same logic : spend 2 action points and you get to decide which side the grey die falls on.

 

Anyway, long live Descent! I want to own every upcoming expansions and gonna continue to spend tons of hours painting their minis. 

Edited by ropoflu

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All your changes sound like they equal a hero cakewalk.

 

Agreed, if we would play the premade quests as they are.

 

Reminder : my main objective is "fun for everyone" (me included, hence the simpler rules and no overlord burnout). Cakewalking ain't fun for no one, so I adjust my quests for the lack of OL deck by adding more monsters, traps, stronger bosses, etc.  I write custom quests (with the quest vault app) using many of the mechanics we found in the premade ones.

Edited by ropoflu

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IMHO Descent is not really enjoyable if you have a hero player with a really big mouth and dictating how the other players should be running their character. Another poster said earlier that somebody is his/her playgroup had to leave because of that very reason. If you're still there and reading, then I would actually give your friend a favor and re-introduce her back into your group and kick out the douchebag. If people cannot behave then nobody is having fun, thus there is no point having game sessions. Doesn't feel like these are times where people with a normal life would enjoy additional stress and arguments with their friends.

 

I play with a fairly experienced group of players and there is one player that I sometimes have trouble playing with for this very reason. Some people forget that they are playing a game with/against other human beings. When they behave that way, they make the game less enjoyable to other human beings.

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