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any2cards

Hero Selection For Campaigns

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EDIT: The title of the thread mentions campaigns.  I mean the discussion below to include all forms of playing D2e (campaigns, co-ops, RTL, Delve, etc.).

 

This thread was created in response to SpawnGarret's thread: Hero Party for Mob/CtR.

 

Within the thread, he describes a party he wants to put together specifically for playing the campaign MoB/CtR.  This got me to thinking about how the majority of you (and those on BGG) seem to play (at least the ones that post).  Since I did not want to derail his thread, I will ask my question below:

 

My group and I seem to be the only one that plays this game (and posts to this site or to BGG) that DOES NOT tailor/cherry pick our groups to the campaign being played.

 

In fact, we always randomly draw our heroes, dealing three cards to each player, and that player picks one of the three to play.  Most times we allow each of the players to know what the others have, so I guess you can say that there is some foreknowledge to our group, but sometimes we do it as a complete random setup, where no one knows what the other is playing. This leads to some interesting strategy situations. If you are dealt a healer, for example, are you forced to choose it, because you want your party to have one? What if no one else is dealt a healer? This quandary has been reduced somewhat with the hybrid classes, but still, it is one situation of many that can occur.

 

We do this because we have found that it lends itself to several key points:

  1. We are forced to play heroes that perhaps we would not choose on our own. This in turn provides variety to our games, and lends a teaching experience as well.
  2. We are forced to discover creative ways to play and equip individual heroes that perhaps are not the strongest for any particular skill class, weapons, armor, etc.
  3. We learn ... learn about synergies we had never considered for a particular party ... learn how to effectively manage and play less than optimal parties or individual heroes, etc.
  4. We are often challenged to a great degree in trying to beat an effective Overlord with less than optimal conditions.
  5. Etc.

We have found that all of the above and more leads to a far more enjoyable battle than just picking what we feel will work best for a given campaign (what I call cherry picking).

 

Now, TO BE ABSOLUTELY CLEAR, I am not trying to be condescending and dismissive of anyone else's approach to forming a hero party.

 

I guess one argument can be made that cherry picking heroes and classes can be perceived as list building, similar to what may be done for say X-Wing in a competitive tournament mode.

 

I am curious ... I want to learn ... So, if you are a group that tailors/cherry picks your heroes:

 

  1. What do you get out of this approach?
  2. How does this approach increase your knowledge of the game, your enjoyment of the game, etc.
  3. Does it maximize your fun?
  4. Is this the only way that you can get a group of players to play? In other words, if they don't get to choose what they want, they perceive they won't have fun, so they won't play?
  5. Is it all about winning, requiring you to have the absolutely best combination?
  6. Does it achieve something else to which I have been blind?

Please take some time to think about it, and provide me some feedback.

 

Thank you in advance for your insights and participation.

Edited by any2cards

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The question is whether OL is playing competitively or not.

If he is picking monster groups and cards randomly, too, that might be fair. Otherwise, he can play pretty badly on weak sides of the heroes.

 

Besides, you pick your hero yourself, because you're supposed to like him. What if I don't want to play an orc and now I am committed to stick for 9 quests to it?

 

What we houseruled so far is that for each subsequent campaign we are to choose heroes/classes that haven't been (extensively) played before. So that gives enough on the game exploration side, I think.

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We always play competitively (meaning both sides do want to win).  I almost always play the OL, and I can assure you that neither side ever goes easy.  :P

 

As far as whether or not the OL picks his stuff with prior knowledge or randomly, that is a bit different, as the rules provide for the OL to basically go after the heroes.  This means the OL is allowed, by rules, to know the makeup of the hero party, and choose his stuff accordingly.

 

Having said that, we have played both ways.  I have chosen OL decks/LTs, etc. with the knowledge of the hero party, and I have done so without the knowledge of the hero party.

 

One more point of clarification ... after we had played all of the campaigns multiple times, we also selected the campaign to be played randomly, but usually NOT UNTIL AFTER the hero and OL parties are already selected.

 

This also makes for some interesting situations.

 

I guess, ultimately, we found doing all of this presented a greater challenge to the game, which in turn led to us having a more enjoyable time.

 

I should also point out that my entire group has been gaming together for more than 50 years.  We all have extensive military backgrounds, with foci in hard sciences, strategic/tactical/critical thinking, etc.  Our lives have already been about real life battles, so now we choose to conduct those exercises via board games. While carnage often still occurs, nobody actually gets hurt ! :D 

 

We have found that many games have not provided a sufficient challenge until we introduce a random aspect to the game, which often increases the complexity of the situations you face.

Edited by any2cards

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Hmm, I haven't played that many campaigns yet, but I'd say this:

 

Randomness certainly creates fun and interesting party compositions, however I thinks this is only something for (very) experienced players as less experienced players won't know important synergies.

 

For new or less experienced players they should pick a hero they personally like (as they have to stick to it) and a balanced group to avoid obvious weak spots the OL can exploit. Picking a hero and creating a balanced party is for newbies part of the fun and very important to learn and understand core mechanics of the game. Once your playgroup is experienced and if they want a greater challenge, you can include some level of randomness. You don't have to go full random immediately. Pick 2 heroes as draw 2 additional ones or as any2cards does: 1 out of 3. Or: each player declares the archetype he'd like to play and draws one of them at random.

 

I am however against selecting open groups at random. Responding to the heroes weaknesses is a fundamental role of the OL. I'd rather grant the heroes access to a rumour quest as a 'reward' for random selection.

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We generally cherry pick our heroes. Mostly, this is a matter of player involvement- the people I've played with have always liked having an attachment of somesort to their character, even if the character changes from game to game. For example, on person picked avric the disciple for his first campaign because he wanted to be a supporting character, but also be a tank. For the next campaign, he chose lindel the stalker, and tried his best to make lindel a tank. Another time, he played as Trenloe- guess why? If he had been "forced" to play a glass cannon, I don't think it would have been as enjoyable. Other players (such as myself) like the variablity to choose a hero very distinct from the last one played. Astarra the conjurer, orkell the skirmisher, sahla the prophet, jain the thief... I think those members of the party would be ok with random selection.

I think repeat parties are boring, and even in our free choice system, we encourage trying new heroes and classes. Logan the treasure hunter can only be used so many times (we've only used him for one campaign. In a second he was a bounty hunter) .

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Randomness certainly creates fun and interesting party compositions, however I thinks this is only something for (very) experienced players as less experienced players won't know important synergies.

 

For new or less experienced players they should pick a hero they personally like (as they have to stick to it) and a balanced group to avoid obvious weak spots the OL can exploit. Picking a hero and creating a balanced party is for newbies part of the fun and very important to learn and understand core mechanics of the game.

These are very good points, something I had not considered, as I have not been in that position in a very long time.  I do think, however, that once you are experienced enough to potentially over come poor synergies due to proper implementation of strategy, strengthening your hero through further Shop Items, Class Cards, etc., I think it would be more fun to not cherry pick heroes.

 

Having said that, this game (as most are) is about having fun.  If your group will have more fun by picking the heroes they want, then that is what they should do - I simply suspect that doing so with lessen the overall challenge, which for my group often results in reduced fun.

 

If he had been "forced" to play a glass cannon, I don't think it would have been as enjoyable.

 

Agreed. See comments above.

 

 

Other players (such as myself) like the variablity to choose a hero very distinct from the last one played. Astarra the conjurer, orkell the skirmisher, sahla the prophet, jain the thief... I think those members of the party would be ok with random selection.

I think repeat parties are boring, and even in our free choice system, we encourage trying new heroes and classes. Logan the treasure hunter can only be used so many times (we've only used him for one campaign. In a second he was a bounty hunter) .

 

I think this is a good point, and a reason why we introduce a factor of randomness (random draw).  There are, admittedly, times when the deal of the cards can end up giving you say 2 heroes which you recently had, almost forcing you to choose the 3rd if you want to play something different.  Your version will guarantee you something different.

 

I wonder if a hybrid solution would be appropriate - that is, simply remove all heroes from the deck that you have already played.  Then deal 3 to player A.  He will get 3 new heroes.  Repeat for remaining heroes.  This obviously is a bit of work, but could be done.

 

 

In fact, we always randomly draw our heroes, dealing three cards to each player, and that player picks one of the three to play.

This is too funny ... first time I have ever quoted myself  :P. I wanted to clarify something here, which will make more sense given my last comment above to Zaltyre.  We don't actually randomly shuffle cards and deal them out.  It would take too much time to eliminate those we had already played (if you do like I suggest to Zaltyre).  All of our heroes are alphabetical.

 

I actually have a spreadsheet that randomly assigns heroes.  You can even choose to ignore heroes.  Once the spreadsheet does the heavy lifting, it makes it easy to pick the heroes from the alphabetized deck.  If anyone is interested, a link to that spreadsheet is provided in the Index of Useful Links thread at the top of the forum.

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In my case, I tend to pick "cherry picks" because of my play group.

 

As Chaoticus said: 

 

Randomness [...] is only something for (very) experienced players as less experienced players won't know important synergies.

 

My play group has played Descent (in general) a couple of times, while I have played much more. So, most of the time, they tend to choose a hero they like without taking in consideration others. Our warrior for example, he likes to go all in, kind of suicidal barbarian, which creates a problem when our mage likes to blow things off. I remember one time when he blew an area in the map and our warrior was there to feel that explosion in person hahaha  :lol:

 

I'm not saying we don't have fun, but when everyone is playing to win, those type of mistakes can cost sometimes the game (quest)  :ph34r: and sometimes it ends on frustation and blaming each other for what they did.   

 

So, that's why I have myself become some sort of analitic player, to choose those "cherry picks"; see what my friends picked to some how balance their careless choices...

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The question is whether OL is playing competitively or not.

If he is picking monster groups and cards randomly, too, that might be fair. Otherwise, he can play pretty badly on weak sides of the heroes.

 

Besides, you pick your hero yourself, because you're supposed to like him. What if I don't want to play an orc and now I am committed to stick for 9 quests to it?

 

What we houseruled so far is that for each subsequent campaign we are to choose heroes/classes that haven't been (extensively) played before. So that gives enough on the game exploration side, I think.

 

Agreed with Garret, I think the limits have to be on either sides, having in mind a contesting enviroment.

 

I'm particularly thinking in a way my group could use a "veto" vote from either OL and heroes regarding the class/heroes and plot deck/basic deck to pick. This is how I intend to prevent exploiting the same synergies again and again. But Im just wondering. I really appreciate the idea of sorting out the game possibilities, giving the fiercing contest to win the campaign more inherent fun.

Edited by Dommus

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I really like your variant, especially for coop.

 

For 1vsmany I feel that my playing group would feel to have a disadvantage if the OL can pick his choices completely freely and this would kind of suck out the fun of the game. Yet we naturally try to play every class and don't repeat heroes before we've seen them all except when we feel that we need another top tier hero/hero-class to make the party competitive.

 

We haven't played Descent that much that there is nothing new to find out and expirience both gameplay and strategy-wise this way yet and I don't own everything Descent, so I guess having more control and agency in party composition without the downside of "seeing this kind of party for the xth time" makes us stick to the standard method without the feeling that it's getting stale.

 

But who knows how long we are playing this and maybe sometime down the road we will try out your variant.

 

ty for posting it in great detail!

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