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Antistone

The Enduring Evil - Descent, Rebalanced

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Well, I've been promising it for a long time, and it's finally ready...

The Enduring Evil is a rebalancing of Descent: Journeys in the Dark featuring improved player scaling (2-5 heroes), tougher monsters, 10 original quests and over 300 print-and-play cards. It is designed to take advantage of components from the Well of Darkness, Altar of Despair, and Tomb of Ice expansions, but you can play the first quest with only the base game components and the new cards.

Want to play with two heroes (or five) without the game breaking? Want to see monsters that don't all die before they get a turn? Want ranged weapons that keep up with melee and magic ones? Area weapons that don't quadruple a hero's effectiveness? Skill cards that look like someone actually tried to balance them?

The Enduring Evil has entirely new item, skill, and overlord decks, as well as new monster stats.

You can get it now!

 

Please let me know if you have any questions or problems using The Enduring Evil, if you discover any errors, or if I can make it available in a more convenient format.
 

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Wow...

I'm really impressed. I especially like your idea of scaling your new spawning cards and I really like the architecture of your dungeons.

 

This week must be something like christmas for Descent-players. At first the new dungeon editor, now your great "enduring evil"...

Thanks a lot!

 

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In your list of changes for power potions, you mention that a hero might drink several power potions in a single turn (presumably to boost multiple attacks).  Do power potion tokens still get removed from your hero sheet when you drink another potion of any type?

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Graf said:

This week must be something like christmas for Descent-players. At first the new dungeon editor, now your great "enduring evil"...

Thanks a lot!

This actually wouldn't have been released yet if not for the new dungeon editor; the quest guide was the critical path, and that saved me a bunch of time.  (Thanks again, avianfoo!)

Thundercles said:


In your list of changes for power potions, you mention that a hero might drink several power potions in a single turn (presumably to boost multiple attacks). Do power potion tokens still get removed from your hero sheet when you drink another potion of any type?

 

 

Yes, all potion tokens are still removed from your sheet when you drink any new potion.  But you can drink a power potion, attack, then drink another power potion, then attack again, all in a single turn.  (The new "bandolier" shop item makes this particularly easy.)

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I scanned through each file last night. It certainly looks like you took an exhaustive look at the game. I have a couple of questions-

1. Out of curiousity, would your new quests function with standard rules?

2. Are your new items and skills there to specifically address the balancing issues you have with vanilla descent, or are they just there for "flavor"?

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1.  I have no reason to think any of my quests would be balanced if you tried to play them with vanilla rules; I suspect they would tend to be very easy for the heroes, since they'll be able to kill the monsters much faster (for example, in a 4-hero Enduring Evil game, beastmen have 14 wounds; under normal rules, they have 4).  I'm sure you could steal the basic ideas and the dungeon layouts if you like them, but you'd pretty much have to balance them from scratch.

And before you ask, no, you can't take just the revised monster stats, because that will completely break the standard spawn cards.

2.  The overall power level of items and skills in Enduring Evil should be fairly similar to the vanilla decks--probably a bit on the high side for treasures (though there's no treasure caches) and a bit on the low side for skills.  However, the normal decks have very inconsistent power--skills hand out things like Leadership and Rapid Fire right next to crap like Endurance, Fire Pact, and Holy Aura, and the treasure decks put a blue-yellow bow that charges 2 surges for 1 damage at the same level as a white-green Blast rune.

I've tried to make new cards that enhance the "flavor" of the game, as you put it, with a wider variety of interesting effects, but the goal was just as much to pull the outliers back in line with the rest of the deck.  However, you should keep in mind that I'm balancing them under different assumptions than in vanilla--most importantly, monsters routinely take multiple hits, which makes differences in damage output more significant, and you fight fewer monsters at once.  My version of the copper blast rune is arguably better than the official version if you were playing under normal rules, but in Enduring Evil, you fight fewer monsters with more wounds, so the low damage is a larger penalty and the Blast is less of a bonus.

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I've discovered that I neglected to include definitions for Cold-Immune and Heat-Immune (they're just shorthands for freeze/ice immunity and burn/lava immunity).  I didn't even use them on the monster stat cards (I wrote them out instead), but I ran out of space on the reference sheet and had to improvise.  I've updated the changes document and reference sheet with the definitions.

I expect it will take a while before interested players actually put together Enduring Evil games, but be sure to post a session report when you do!  Also if anyone has read over the cards or quest guide and has any questions or comments, feel free.  I'm mildly surprised no one has mentioned the hexes yet.

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We played a 3 player, 5 hero, game on Sunday. I'll write a full report later but that probably won't happen for maybe up to a month as I have a pretty full schedule coming up and my brief notes alone run to two pages over 19 (IIRC) turns.

The brief report... (and I'll post this to BGG as well If I can find it)

Heroes won the first (proper) quest with two CT left, using their last attack of the round (so a single extra miss would have left a huge horde of major monsters requiring only to kill a single hero with two weakened heroes right in their midst and another weakened hero within easy reach of many...). Further, the last attack used a potion, giving the OL an extra card from a power. If that potion had of been used on any previous attack then the extra card would have given the OL enough threat to play a nasty space trap on that last hero before he moved in and the result would have killed them (as OL I mysteriously asked them to roll the dice just so I would know whether the hero would have died or not, before he attacked).

All players agreed the game was awesome! Much more interesting and varied than Descent, though part of that would be having 5 heroes and having everything new (skills, equipment, OL cards etc).

Facing the much tougher monsters gave the heroes some pause at first but they quickly found that although it took longer timewise to kill the monsters, there was little danger to the heroes during that time and until quite late no hero was in any significant danger of dying. Of course, that partly related to the heroes picked (one player drew 3 and kept 2, the other player drew 5 and kept 3) and skill combo's they got as well.

The game took a loooong time, 7.5 hours, but that was not unexpected. Firstly, it was like a first game of Descent all over again, where everything takes ages because you don't know or remember all of the skills and effects. Secondly we were running 5 heroes with two players, with all new stuff, so it wasn;t a smooth or fast process sorting out everything that could happen. Thirdly, there are a lot more useful option with shop equipment and one player in particular took a very long time sorting out his heroes. Alas, it was time well spent for the most part and his off hand whip (Entrap 2) nicely complemented his Brawler skill (Entrap 3 + other stuff). Fourthly it took a long time to assess the skills drawn, hwo they interacted and which should be discarded out. They wanted to check out the other possible draws too so they were effectively skimming through the entire skill sets, which takes a long time. But since it was a learning exercise for everyone, and an exciting new thing, there was much fun to be had just oohing and aahing over possibilities.
We did find that the game takes a bit longer as well simply because there are more options for interactions and more possibilities for the heroes. I don;t think (after only one playtest that's somewhat dubiously subjective at best) that this was due to having 5 heroes but I think that a lot of the skills are very interactive or have a wide number of possibilities. Fortunately, Mimicry was used almost exclusively to mimic Spiritwalker, which was very nasty for the OL but made for a lot of simplification of possibilities!

We did discover a bunch of nasty combos, some of which I think could probably be addressed with minor changes and may not (or may) have come up during playtesting.
The most significant of those that I can remember now was the new version of Ghost Armour (Ghost Charm?). Although happily dropping the 'armour' name, it has also lost the 'Rune' designation. This, disturbingly, allows it to be used by heavily armoured tanks who can't use runes. That makes it very much more effective, in particular with the Combat skill Exhuberance!!!! Maybe you (Antistone) have looked at this already, but it was really an impossibly good combo, and requires only 1 random draw to achieve. Making Ghost Charm a rune again would at least restrict it's use by the heavy tanks, who are also the most li9kely to draw Exhuberance.

We are also a bit worried about seeing Critical Shot combine with Focus or Wild Talent. Scary! But we didn't see those combos and it is more theoretical fear at the moment (at least focus has an exhaust function, so it can't Aim both attacks).

We also have a new Rule.
All heroes shall carry a Salve whenever possible. partido_risa.gif

 

 

Big thanks Antistone, awesome work.

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Still haven't started the first writeup, but played quest 4 Sunday evening with me controlling 3 heroes.

We decided on a draw 4 discard 1 method of hero choosing. I 'mulligan-ed' the first draw after getting 4 ranged heroes.
Second draw was Mok (discarded), Sahla, Lyssa and Grey Kerr. Yes, thats right, 1 melee dice in two draws. Just 32 wounds and 2 armour for 3 heroes.

EE definitely doesn't work any better than Descent if you draw rubbish. cool.gif
And Black Aura out early is crippling to a very light, fast (3 speed boosting skills were drawn for an already fast group) party who can't even kill skeletons with a battle action most of the time... llorando.gif

It was fun still, but one of the more frustrating games of Descent I've played in. A bit like being crushed  by vastly superior monsters in RtL actually. partido_risa.gif
It also didn't help that there were no weapons in the first chest (ring of quickness though, yippee, more speed!) and hero miss ratio was up around 1/3, OL miss ratio at about 1/10.

I actually had a shot with a Sahla drawing the Leviathan (and promptly buying a dagger) in the second chest. With Wild Talent (surges and enhancements are interchangeable on power dice, and Sorcery 1) and power pots Sahla could actually one-shot the bosses with 35 odd damage per attack as long as the stealth dice didn't come up X. But having been unable to kill monsters (total 4 killed in the entire quest) until then I just couldn't get into that final room with 2 heroes (1 to make space/knockback shades, Sahla to go for the kills). All that Aura (ouch) and entrap was decisive, and the odd trap made the going even more congested.

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Just thought of something...

Corbon said:

until then I just couldn't get into that final room with 2 heroes (1 to make space/knockback shades, Sahla to go for the kills).

You can't Knockback Shades, they're Unstoppable.  (Seemed thematically appropriate.)

The downside to making damage actually matter is that you can get into trouble fairly quickly if you don't have level-appropriate weapons.  Still, the overlord is supposed to win sometimes, and you apparently made it to the boss room, which means you did about the same as my test group's heroes on their first try of quest 4 (I think they played with Hawthorne, Okaluk, and Astarra).

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Hi everyone!

I have just bought Descent and have a following question:

Do you think I should play the first few games using basic rules or start with Enduring Evil straight away? We are probably going to play in 2 (Overlord and player using 2 heroes), so I don't want it to be too hard for any of us (I want it, well, balanced;)). I've read and heard much about Overlord's troubles in normal Descent and I don't want my first games to be one-sided matches.

I would really appretiate your opinions.

Best wishes!

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Don't play normal Descent with 2 heroes.  Use at least three, no matter how few players you have.

The first quests in the base game are considered to be rather easy for the heroes, but there's a learning curve on both sides; it's difficult to predict how it will go for an all-new group.

 

I'm naturally biased as regards Enduring Evil, and would certainly be happy to have more people trying it out, but a couple things you should consider before you jump in:

  • You have to make a bunch of custom cards, which will probably involve some money and some work cutting them up, and that may be more investment than you want to make if you're not even sure yet whether you'll actually enjoy playing Descent.
  • Enduring Evil is ideally played with the Well of Darkness, Altar of Despair, and Tomb of Ice expansions.  You can get started without them, but the quests use more and more expansion components as they go on, and you'll need to keep an eye out for references on cards to monsters and effects that you don't have (assuming you only bought the base game).  There's more info in the download package.

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Why shouldn't we play with 2 heroes? I thought that the balance problem is that Overlord is too weak in the basic Descent. So wouldn't it be a bit more fair to use less heroes? Besides, it's better mood when one player has 2 heroes, isn't it? Cheers

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No, the problem is not that the overlord is too weak.  At least, not with only 2 heroes.  Ignoring a few easy quests, most people consider the overlord to have a good shot at winning against at least 3 heroes (possibly 4) in the base game quests with no expansions, and many of the expansion quests are commonly considered to be excessively stacked against the heroes even when there are four of them.  This is a useful resource.

You also occasionally get posters saying that, in their group, side A always completely crushes side B, no matter what they do.  But you get that for both sides, and they're infrequent, so those are probably just outliers.

Enduring Evil isn't designed primarily to address the overall win rate of one side over the other, but to address systemic issues (like scaling to different numbers of heroes) and content issues (like some cards being ridiculously more powerful than other cards in the same deck).

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Hi!

In some other thread on this forum concerning balance you wrote that for 2 heroes the game is unplayable. I would be really grateful if you explained that. Is it too hard for heroes in such case? Or too slow/fast/boring?:) In other words: could you please explain why do you think it's unplayable for 2 heroes?:) It would be great if you could consider playing with/without add-ons:)

Thx,

cya!

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And one more thing: do you think it would be a good idea to use in easier scenarios (like 1st and 2nd in the basic box) monster stats for 5 players in 2-3 heroes games? I just don't want my players to say at some point (as I've heard from other Descent players):

"Well, yeah, it was nice, you know, thx, but from the middle there was no challenge for us and it became a bit boring..."

;) You know, what I mean?

Thx for your attention

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Can you use EE to play RtL? If not, are you planing on adapting it to RtL as well? I love Descent, but after playing RtL I have trouble wanting to play regular descent anymore.

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No and no.  Sorry, I'm just not interested in a competitive board game that takes 80 hours to play.  And even if I wanted to give RtL the Enduring Evil treatment, I'd never get it adequately tested.

Anyone is welcome to try to adapt the EE material for an extended campaign if they want; the monsters are already categorized by the treasure level they're balanced against, and there's more notes about how everything is supposed to be balanced in the zip file.  But it's not a project I have any plans to undertake myself.

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In my experience with Descent (and all expansions) is that it's really unbalanced when you play with less than 4 heroes.  You may get lucky with 3, but if you are already having one person play more than one character, why not go all the way.

The real issue, and easiest to see, is the fact that 2 heroes really only get 4 attacks (without moving, far).  On a good day, that means 4 dead monsters per round.  Now if the heroes kill 4 monsters, that means they didn't really move.  Thus the OL probably has some prime openings for spawns, which most of the time are 3-4 monsters.  And if anything the heroes are just wasting their time because the OL is eating right through his/her deck.

So you can see one (of many) issues with playing with few heroes.  You just don't have enough actions on the hero side to clear or sprint through rooms to get anything done.

My recommendation would be to play lots and lots of the original Descent.  But stick with at least 3 heroes.  It's a great game and is worth playing!

I haven't tried EE yet, in fact I just saw it for the first time today.  It really has potential to be great, it looks like a lot of issues with scaling are addressed.  If anything it's a great addition after beating all of the expansions to get some new skills and items.

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I just looked through your Descent variant. It is really impressive.

However, when I tried to print it I realised that the format of the pages is really bad for private users. You don't have by chance a printer friendly version of the material sheets, do you? I. e. a version to print on A4 sheets (8.27 x 11.69) that has only as many cards on the page that really fit this format.

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The paper sizes I used are standard sizes in my part of the world, but I can probably reformat the cards onto different paper for you.  What's your maximum printable area?  (Most printers can't print right up to the edge of the paper, but the closer you can go the more cards I can fit on a page; individual cards are 2"x3", I believe.)

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