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PrinceLucifer

RtL: Game balance

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Hi Guys!

I am a big fan of Descent, but am a bit confused over the balance with Road to Legend. We have now played a quite lot of rounds with different overlords, different heroes and different tactical approaches. And all of them ended in the same desaster: The Overlord way outrun the heroes in terms of experience points and his plot. Only one approach ever brought up a game that was close: Never going into dungeons, only going for encounters.

This bears the question if there is something that we got wrong with the rules... Especially two things generate huge problems for us:

1) In a dungeon level the heroes can generate a maximum of 5 XPs (2 for the boss, 3 for the glyph). Opposing that the Overlord has enough power in each level to kill at least 3 character, sometimes up to 5 characters and more, giving him an average 10 XPs per level. After two or three dungeons the ratio is even worse, because the Overlord simply outpowers the heroes through his upgrades...

2) There are some levels that have a boss with the "Undying" abitlity. (Hope it's called that in English, we yesterday played a german version...) It so happened yesterday that this boss (an orgre in that case) rose from the dead 5 times in a row. According to our interpretation of the rules this meant that we had to battle him down 6 times before we had a chance to escape, costing us 30 XPs to the overlord on that level alone, bringing us only 5 again...

Those two facts combined with the fact that nearly no potions are to be found in dungeons and even less treasures there is no way for me to see a positive outcome for the heroes. Combined with the quest of the Overlord that needs him to raze cities (that leads the heroes to having no time at all to train, buy stuff, etc.) it seems like a winning set for the dark side.

So... what did we miss on that? Where is the one balancing factor that we just overlooked in the rules and FAQs?

I would really appreciate some advice on that.

Lucifer

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PrinceLucifer said:

Hi Guys!

I am a big fan of Descent, but am a bit confused over the balance with Road to Legend. We have now played a quite lot of rounds with different overlords, different heroes and different tactical approaches. And all of them ended in the same desaster: The Overlord way outrun the heroes in terms of experience points and his plot. Only one approach ever brought up a game that was close: Never going into dungeons, only going for encounters.

This bears the question if there is something that we got wrong with the rules... Especially two things generate huge problems for us:

1) In a dungeon level the heroes can generate a maximum of 5 XPs (2 for the boss, 3 for the glyph). Opposing that the Overlord has enough power in each level to kill at least 3 character, sometimes up to 5 characters and more, giving him an average 10 XPs per level. After two or three dungeons the ratio is even worse, because the Overlord simply outpowers the heroes through his upgrades...

2) There are some levels that have a boss with the "Undying" abitlity. (Hope it's called that in English, we yesterday played a german version...) It so happened yesterday that this boss (an orgre in that case) rose from the dead 5 times in a row. According to our interpretation of the rules this meant that we had to battle him down 6 times before we had a chance to escape, costing us 30 XPs to the overlord on that level alone, bringing us only 5 again...

Those two facts combined with the fact that nearly no potions are to be found in dungeons and even less treasures there is no way for me to see a positive outcome for the heroes. Combined with the quest of the Overlord that needs him to raze cities (that leads the heroes to having no time at all to train, buy stuff, etc.) it seems like a winning set for the dark side.

So... what did we miss on that? Where is the one balancing factor that we just overlooked in the rules and FAQs?

I would really appreciate some advice on that.

Lucifer

Its difficult to say this without appearing patronising or rude...

It seems your hero players just aren't very good (or perhaps are very unlucky, or whatever).

On the first level the OL has very little power at all. He starts with no threat (Sorcerer King excepted) and only 3 cards. He shopuld count himself lucky to get a single kill on this level if the heroes players are reasonably competent, two at worst. It takes very little for the heroes to crush the first level easily. To say that the OL has enough power on the first level to kill 3-5 heroes basically means that your hero players are playing badly. They simply should not die that often. (Or of course you have some rules wrong).
For example, in another thread I gave two separate play-by-play examples of a hero party with no upgrades at all, only 1 treasure each, and one potion each, clearing entire levels of all cash, treasure, glyphs, and killing the boss and without taking a single loss (OL only gets one turn, often with no monsters and/or no spawning spots available), or at most 1 2CT character dying if the OL got every dice roll required exactly perfect.
Now you can't do that every time, but those were extreme examples with good but not great heroe parties but good planning and execution.
Every week 2 potions will be available from the Alchemist. On average, each chest will also have a potion.

The deeper they get into a dungeon the worse they will get hurt because the OL will have accumulated more resources to hurt them with. So you don't always go deep. Sometimes you run away. Heroes don't actually start of as heroes, they start as chumps, and their job is not to clear dungeons, their job is to save the world. To do that they must first roam the world a bit accumulating the skills and equipment necessary for the task.

Tactics will vary slightly according to which Avatar is in play, which heroes are drawn (and their skills) and which dungeons come up. But, it is actually relatively easy, most of the time, to stay in front of the OL VCT wise at least until the first monster upgrade - by which time the heroes should be almost ready for an upgrade of their own and have some decent equipment as well.

Undying can be a bummer, but that 5x in a row is statistically unlikely (1/243 and might happen once every 10+ campaigns). Even when it does come up it merely compensates the OL for the last 20 times Undying didn't work even once.

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Hi Corbon!

Thanks for the reply, maybe we are doing something wrong in the rules... I would appreciate to hear your thoughts about this situation:

The heroes are: The Runewitch with an extra black magic die, a rune as weapon, and an armor value of 2. Ispher with a total of 4 black dice and a copper level bow, also armor of 2. Varikas with the BoneBlade and Earthpact as additional skill and armor of 5. And last Canthos the mad with armor 3, a magic staff and an extra power die in magic. All heroes are fully healed and rested, the partie has one Healing Potion in stock.

The overlord has bought the Silver level upgrade for the Magic creatures so far.

We started the Dungeon in a setting where a Demon is in a circle and four switches in a long corridor to release the deamon and open the door. The overlord chose to start with a small army of skeletons. (4 normal, 2 elite I think it was) What would be your approach to this? The corridor is 12 pieces long, from the starting point of the corridor we have no LOS on any of the oponents other than the demon. (btw. Armor 7, Fright 3, meaning that only Canthos stood a fighting chance to even cause him harm..., Varikas had to little power surges to overcome the Fright, the others just were not strong enough to penetrate the armor)

What would your approach be for that situation? No LOS means no way of harming the Overlord in the first turn, his army of 6 skeletons and the demon being enough to kill a character in the first round where he gets LOS and even after we got through into the large hall it took us two rounds to kill off all the skeletons. This giving the Overlord three game rounds to act, killing one character in the first round, another one in the second, after that spanning two Dark Priests (one normal, one elite) and we hadn't even started to tackle the demon at this point. The dark priests gave the Overlord enough thread (through Dark Prayer and two silver dice) to summon some more sekeltons, before we finally managed to slip past the demon and escape the level, leaving us with 3 XPs for the glyph we opened as we run by.

I am looking forward to hearing your opinion. I could go on and on with similar examples, but I guess this one covers the dilemma pretty well...

Cheers

Lucifer

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PrinceLucifer said:

Hi Guys!

I am a big fan of Descent, but am a bit confused over the balance with Road to Legend. We have now played a quite lot of rounds with different overlords, different heroes and different tactical approaches. And all of them ended in the same desaster: The Overlord way outrun the heroes in terms of experience points and his plot. Only one approach ever brought up a game that was close: Never going into dungeons, only going for encounters.

This bears the question if there is something that we got wrong with the rules... Especially two things generate huge problems for us:

1) In a dungeon level the heroes can generate a maximum of 5 XPs (2 for the boss, 3 for the glyph). Opposing that the Overlord has enough power in each level to kill at least 3 character, sometimes up to 5 characters and more, giving him an average 10 XPs per level. After two or three dungeons the ratio is even worse, because the Overlord simply outpowers the heroes through his upgrades...

2) There are some levels that have a boss with the "Undying" abitlity. (Hope it's called that in English, we yesterday played a german version...) It so happened yesterday that this boss (an orgre in that case) rose from the dead 5 times in a row. According to our interpretation of the rules this meant that we had to battle him down 6 times before we had a chance to escape, costing us 30 XPs to the overlord on that level alone, bringing us only 5 again...

Those two facts combined with the fact that nearly no potions are to be found in dungeons and even less treasures there is no way for me to see a positive outcome for the heroes. Combined with the quest of the Overlord that needs him to raze cities (that leads the heroes to having no time at all to train, buy stuff, etc.) it seems like a winning set for the dark side.

So... what did we miss on that? Where is the one balancing factor that we just overlooked in the rules and FAQs?

I would really appreciate some advice on that.

Lucifer

Well, there are more complaints that the game is unbalanced in favor of the heroes... serio.gif

But it shows that RtL is indeed a very unbalanced game in the sense that the balance is hard to find whatever players do. Every decision has a butterfly effect, from the choice of heroes, skills and OL to actions in dungeons and overland map, and also luck or lack of it (regenerating boss x5), so the game can easily tip in one favor or another.

However, one thing to keep in mind is that even in case the OL has a lot more conquest points than the heroes, he is in no way assured to win. It can even be argued that he needs a lot more conquest than the heroes because he has to split them into upgrades for the overland (Lieutenants, Gem of Transport, Siege Engines, Lawlessness, monsters, Treachery...), dungeons (other monsters, Treachery) and the final battle (specific avatar upgrades), whereas the heroes' upgrades are usually useful at every stage (overland, dungeons and the final battle). The game is actually balanced when the OL has a huge lead in conquest, usually around double of what the heroes have. In such a case, do not give up, because it means you are in an interesting, balanced campaign! Just survive, try to get the skills that give multiple attacks, and if the heroes make it to the final keep, they'll be a favorite even though the OL has twice as many conquest points as them.

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PrinceLucifer said:

[...] the demon. (btw. Armor 7, Fright 3, meaning that only Canthos stood a fighting chance to even cause him harm..., Varikas had to little power surges to overcome the Fright, the others just were not strong enough to penetrate the armor)

What would your approach be for that situation?

Flee.

A small numbers of dungeons are a little too difficult for heroes during copper. When you draw one containing a huge untouchable beast, go away and enter another dungeon instead of letting the OL gleefully demonio.gif collect a zillion conquest.

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Ispher said:

PrinceLucifer said:

 

[...] the demon. (btw. Armor 7, Fright 3, meaning that only Canthos stood a fighting chance to even cause him harm..., Varikas had to little power surges to overcome the Fright, the others just were not strong enough to penetrate the armor)

What would your approach be for that situation?

 

 

Flee.

A small numbers of dungeons are a little too difficult for heroes during copper. When you draw one containing a huge untouchable beast, go away and enter another dungeon instead of letting the OL gleefully demonio.gif collect a zillion conquest.

+1

Sometimes, fleeibng is a very painful option (eg during a rumour of legnedary dungeon), but if you get a bad level, flee it is.

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One very important thing to keep in mind is that, the heroes get NOTHING for killing all the monsters.

Now I dont know if I remember this level correctly or not, but I believe all you have to do is get all 4 heroes to stand on the spots and, while it releases the demon, it also unlocks the door. There is no need to have to kill the demon, unless he is blocking the way and does not move. Otherwise, you can unlock the door and run right around him.

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You are right about that, but the demon only needs one movement to block the way, and there is no way to sprint from the switches to the gate within one turn.

You are also right about the monsters, the only thing we found out so far was that the whole bunch of monsters can in one coordinated strike always kill at least one hero, sometimes even two, meaning that not dealing with them is a death sentence...

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RtL is not balanced if your expectation is that the Heroes and the Overlord recieve the same amount of conquest. It is not atypical for the OL to gain a 2:1 ratio in terms of conquest. The biggest lesson the Heroes need to learn is when to run. If they are out of their depth, they should flee. Having a sacrificial fast hero whose job is to scoop up coins, treasure and glyphs can help a lot too.

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PrinceLucifer said:

You are right about that, but the demon only needs one movement to block the way, and there is no way to sprint from the switches to the gate within one turn.

Yes, there is, although without Acrobat or Fly the OL can block it with skeletons or spawns.

The requirement is that heroes must stand on all 4 markers at the same time. Not tha they end their turns on the markers
So turn 1, 3 heroes stand on the markers. The one closest to the monsters should really be dodging, heavily armoured (with 2 shields) if possible, and preferably with an Invisibility potion active. Turn 2, the fourth hero goes first and moves onto the last marker, immediately unlocking the door. He can probably even get an attack in, possibly clearing some 'blocking' skeletons is he has a Blast or  Breath weapon. The the front hero runs for the door, needing only 8 MP including opening the door. THe other heroes can retreat, go forward or fight as desired.

I know that your party isn't quite set up for this yet, so should probably flee anyway. But it is really only an AoE weapon for Carthos (who can be the fourth hero going first on turn 2 and blasting clear the route if it is blocked in an Advance action) and a couple of potions away from doing this.

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@PrinceLucifer

Don't get too angry about the OL racking up lots of XP in the first few game weeks. The difference margin is going to dwindle quickly.

In my game (where I was/am OL) I had a rather 'thick-headed' group who absolutely wanted to clear out the first dungeon they entered.

They slowly but carefully crept through it in the first round (first major mistake: slowly!), cleaning out every coin pile and every section of the dungeon.

Second they went through all three dungeon levels, even when they took their (severe) hits. I actually went through the OL deck TWICE in that one dungeon, and racked up a total of 89 CT during the course of that first week.

After that I upgraded eldritch (what else?!? haha) monsters, and from then on the heroes were in a world of hurt. They had failed to gain even one item from the total of 4 chests from the first three dungeon levels. But they had enough money, so they traveled to Riverwatch and cleaned out the market as well as the alchemist. They were able to actually upgrade their heroes after the first dungeon because they actually had gained themselves enough coins and 24 CT during that dungeon.

Yet still that was not enough, considereing that they had 5 copper items (which were not all that useful), 3 potions, and around 500 coins leftover.

So they entered the next dungeon, and did it again! Slowly during the (crucial) first round of the dungeon levels, then too fast without planning the next few rounds. End result: me ending the second dungeon (week 5) at 134 CT, they were at around 50. Thus after game week five we were almost ready for silver campaign level, me being able to upgrade each and every week. I am currently at a total of 6 treachery (4 trap, 2 event with the Spider Queen as avatar), plus several OL upgrade cards.

 

So, from my point of view (and as a piece of hero advice): the first two or three dungeons, go into the first dungeon level like crazy, hit as many CT-giving locations as possible (ie glyphs, plus maybe 1 or two chests), then go for the money, and then leave (flee). If the OL is really lucky, he might kill off 2 heroes with 2 CT value, or maybe (if he is VERY lucky) a 4 CT and a 2 CT hero, but not more, giving him a total of 7 CT for that game week. Now go for the count: you explored a new dungeon location (+1 CT), activated 1, maybe 2 glyphs (3-6 CT), and maby opened 1 or 2 chests (if you are as unlucky as my guys, you won't get items from them, but at least you get another CT for your efforts). Now the total CT you can get is between 4 and 9 CT for that action, and it will cost you approximately 100 coins for the four fatigue potions (which probably will be restored by the chest(s). Thus you can actually get out ahead of the OL during the first weeks. Second week hit Riverwatch for shopping. Repeat with the next dungeon. Return to Riverwatch.

Then, consider which cities you might consider expendable (if they actually are under siege) and DON'T worry about them. You cannot prevent the OL from razing at least one city. Don't go for a lieutenant at copper (or directly after a campaign level swithc) unless you have a lot of very good items for your heroes. If you do take on a lieutenant, don't forget power potions (if you have them). They are probably the only things which can give you that significant edge to that combat.

Instead go shopping for one week, maybe even for two weeks at Riverwatch while the other heroes do their training there. Riverwatch will always have 5 items for sale. It is highly unlikely that there won't be at least one really good item for your party there. Maybe you can even get enough CT and coins during your first three dungeons that you can buy another few skills (maybe even Boggs the Rat at Riverwatch). That one is a spawn preventer beyond belief. He can get through the monsters and still get LOS behind them, so that even those spaces won't be available for the OL to spawn monsters. Shadowsoul also ain't something to be sniffed at. Next most important thing is the party upgrade Staff of the Wild, then the Guide. These two together increase the parties survivability immensely. And as you have seen, you can get quite a few bonuses from encounters, if you play it wisely.

Now you should be up to snuff, and get ready to give out some kicks. The OL might have succeeded in besieging and razing one city. Yes, tough luck. But that is (probably) better than being up in a world of hurt like my guys now.

So now: Kopf hoch, da draussen, der Prinz der Dunkelheit lässt sich nicht klein kriegen! ;)

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