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Zamzoph

Just got through Interlude as OL... Am I just going to snowball now?

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In my group's first campaign (The Shadow Rune, 4 Heroes), I find myself at a seriously dilemma in that I'm winning too much as the Overlord.  Sure, the Heroes won the heavily-biased first Quest, but since then, I have thus far won every Act I Quest (A Fat Goblin, The Cardinal's Plight, and the Masquerade Ball) quite thoroughly and yesterday just dominated in the Interlude (The Overlord Revealed).  With Spiritspeaker Avric separated from the rest of the group to deal with the Runelock of Power in the north-east, getting himself cut off by Barghests, I managed to knocked down the other three Heroes all at once in the second turn using the right OL cards such as Word of Misery and Frenzy on the Master Shadow Dragon.  Not only did this effectively waste the Heroes' entire third turn, but it also got my ball rolling in continuously drawing OL cards and keeping the heroes effectivelly paralyzed while Zachareth is able to bugger off with the Shadow Key using Dash.  I had no idea how the Interlude was going to go, but on setup, I thought that the Heroes had a good chance of winning it, especially when considering Jain's shiny new crossbow and the Heroes all acquiring new damage-dealing 2 XP skills.  I turned out to be very wrong.
 
Now heading into Act II, here's what we're looking at:
 
For the Heroes:
  • 5 XP, No Relics, 850 Gold (including the sell value of their starting items)
  • Disciple Ashrian
  • Necromancer Leoric
  • SpiritSpeaker Avric
  • Wildlander Jain
 
Take note of no Warrior archetype and a weakness in the Might attribute.
 
As for the Overlord:
  • 6 XP, allocating towards Sabateour
  • Staff of Shadows, Bones of Woe, Shadow Rune
  • 9 Threat Tokens for Queen Ariad's plot deck (which at this point I'll feel bad about ever using)
 
Now the Heroes have been positive for the most part, except for one cynical player who frequently takes issue with the game mechanics and declared early on that the game in general is bad ("Everything works in favor of the Overlord!"), but now I can see fatigue starting to set in on everyone after their latest loss.  Even I'm getting worried as it seems like I've built up enough of an advantage to snowball through the rest of the campaign, further disappointing the Heroes.
 
So now I got a series of questions:
  • Are my concerns of snowballing legit?
  • Are we better off simply starting over rather than continuing this campaign?
  • What can we do to ensure that the Heroes are able to perform better, particularly against my favorite hall-blocking Shadow Dragons?
  • Should they pick up a Warrior and be more concerning with having all of their attributes covered?
  • Having the Labrynth of Ruin expansion and a couple of lieutenant packs (Zachareth and Queen Ariad), should I also pick up the Lair of the Wyrm expansion and include the sub-campaign to give the Heroes more opprotunities to get gold?
  • How should the heroes approach buying items between offense/defense and Act I/Act II?
 

I'm confident that the game is fairly balanced, having read plenty accounts here of Heroes doing well in the campaign.  I just need to be able to show my fellow players that.   :(

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At this point, the heroes need to decide to focus exclusively on equipment and try to win an overlord favored finale. It's still possible, but frankly their group makeup rather sucks.

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Yes, you have some snowball concerns. With all of those relics in hand the cards are really stacked in your favor.

 

I'm not really sure what the remedy is. In my experience, the OL really struggles with A Fat Goblin and also with the Overlord Revealed interlude. Masquerade Ball is fairly neutral, so the only one that really favors the OL over the heroes that you played was Cardnial's Plight. If they couldn't pick up one of those wins, it might be a question of play, not a question of balance.

 

I would suggest restarting the campaign, I guess. Now that they've got a few games under their belt and they may even be familiar with some of the quests, their chances should be better.

 

Yes, Lair of the Wyrm will give your players more opportunity to grab gold and the act 1 Lair of the Wyrm quests are player favoring, although the act II quests are a mixed bag. Trollfens also seemed to be player favoring in both act I and Act II.

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Oh yeah.. two healers. Ditch that. The other heroes are fine. Jane is awesome, borderline too good. Avric as a disciple is awesome too.

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Is this your heroes' first time playing the game? If so, they may not have had the knowledge necessary to pick appropriate classes. However, I can say that the combination of the disciple and the necromancer SHOULD be deadly, as if the disciple has Divine Fury and the necromancer has Vampiric Blood, the reanimate can be attacking blue, red, yellow, yellow. That will squash even most act 2 monsters quickly. 

 

You mentioned the spiritspeaker was separated from the group? That should never have happened- it suggests to me that maybe it's their strategy. 

 

Campaigns don't always snowball. I (as OL) lost all of Act 1 and the interlude, proceeded to win all 3 Act 2 quests, and then lost the finale. That being said, I've been a hero in a LoR campaign where we gave up after the Interlude- it was clear that we were getting annihilated, and that wasn't going to change. Whatever you do, consult with your heroes- this is mostly their decision. However, be careful not to phrase it as, "you might as well give up now, because I'm going to continue pulverizing you. Want to start over?" You want to preserve their interest in continuing to play the game (even if not this campaign) if possible.

 

The options I see are:

-Start over.

-Try the first Act 2 quest. If it's a massacre, start over.

-See the campaign through, let them try again later.

Edited by Zaltyre
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Yep, Zaltyre is talking truth. The only thing I would say is that the first quest of act II almost always goes the Overlord's way, and usually in dramatic fashion. This is because the OL just picked up Act II monsters and the Heroes are still working with Act I gear.

 

One other tip I would give the players is that new players often underestimate the value of gold and focus too much on winning every encounter. There are some that are just tough, either because the balance of the encounter is off, or because of some early bad luck. When the stakes aren't too high, the players have to make a mid-game, not a late-game decision about whether this will be a treasure run.

 

With the inclusion of a thief who can appraise treasure and the Lair of the Wyrm expansion with secret rooms, heros may want to decide on a treasure run sooner than later in an encounter. In general, consider 25 gold the equivalent of 1 XP for 1 hero. Yeah, it's that important.

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Yea there's a bit of bad synergy in the group, not just because of no warrior, I've run groups with no warrior before and have done ok. But you have 2 healers AND Jain, a character who needs very little healing. :)

The overlord has a power spike at the first quest of act 2 as well, since he gains act 2 monsters and the heroes are still on act 1 gear (though it should be finished act 1 gear since you can run through the entire deck after the interlude).

With all those relics, especially bones of woe(holy crap that's a good one to win), it's going to make the power spike even bigger.

I would still say play it out though. If your heroes are looking truly defeated and aren't into the game then talk to them and see if they want to continue, or give it a go with a more balanced party. I feel the heroes have most of the power in the core campaign as well, so keep that one cynical player in check, or make him be overlord next time. ;)

 

But for now... MURDER THE PUNY HEROES! Mwahahahahahaha!

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You could let the spirit speaker change classes to something like Syndarel with the beserker or beast master class - that will definitely up their game.

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While it's a bit late for doing things the same way I do, is that after a player's first session, I allow them to call a mulligan on the campaign and trigger starting over. (Scrapping something where nobody is having fun is better than dragging it on)

 

It definitely sounds like when they started the campaign, they didn't think much about synergy or attribute spreads. However you decide to continue, for the next go, I'd definitely try to convince your hero players to take a closer look at their party composition instead of just going with what each person thinks is cool.

 

If you do keep going, your heroes should definitely try to consider whether attempting to win a quest is worth it or if they should just make the treasure hunt their top priority. And if they realize part-way through that they can't win, adjust tactics accordingly to make the most out of the encounter. 

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You aren't allowed to pick duplicate roles in your party, so there shouldn't be two healers. In a four-hero game, you'd have one each of warrior, healer, scout and mage.

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You aren't allowed to pick duplicate roles in your party, so there shouldn't be two healers. In a four-hero game, you'd have one each of warrior, healer, scout and mage.

You are allowed to have two healers- it's just that both heroes aren't allowed to be Disciples. It's fine to double up on an archetype, just not on a class.

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You aren't allowed to pick duplicate roles in your party, so there shouldn't be two healers. In a four-hero game, you'd have one each of warrior, healer, scout and mage.

This is a common misunderstanding from reading the rules the first time, but it's usually because people confuse the archetypes and classes (as they are very related). But the only restrictions are:

 

From the core Rulebook, p. 5, Under "Hero Setup"

 

3. Choose Classes:

...

A player may not select a hero class that does not match the archetype icon shown on the hero's Hero sheet. Furthermore, a player may not select a class that has been chosen by another player.

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