backupsidekick

Unbreakable Bonds - First game thoughts

22 posts in this topic

First off, I'm willing and wanting to be proven wrong.  If you saw a rule I missed, point it out.

Second, this will contain some minor spoilers as to content in the expansion.

My opinion is based on having played and owned second edition for a long time, 20+ playthroughs, and now owning third edition and playing a handful of times (probably 5 total).

Going into this expansion, I was excited to have the opportunity to have a party and work cooperatively.  In Runebound 2nd edition, you could have allies fight along side your hero, I was looking forward to the possibility of having heroes enter into battle together.  I was excited to see new tokens for the monsters to compensate for additional heroes joining together to battle the monsters.  Spoiler, this doesn't happen.

There are a lot of questions that I have now that I've had the chance to play cooperatively, and honestly, a feeling of really being let down.  The party aspect really boils down to, you move together, and if you happen to have the right party skills that you have unlocked, you get to do some things together.  However, other heroes don't engage in the battle as a party (not really, but spoilers), each battle is done as a one-on-one battle.  HUGE letdown.  From what I could read in the rules, if one player is active, but the other party member wants to shop... can't do it.  If there is an adventure card that one party member wants to complete, has to do it on their turn.  Really the only thing that happens as a party, is that you move together.  The rules even restrict trading between heroes, apparently they are willing to walk together, but if I realize that I have a ton of gold and great gear, but my party member could benefit greatly from having it, too bad, so sad, they have to trade me an equal value of gold and/or items. Wha?!?  IN your generosity, you can give the one gold per turn... but even that wasn't laid out in the rules very clearly so I'm not really sure if I can give you one gold on my turn, and then give you one gold on your turn...  In other words, there is no group battling, except for minimal skill based benefits, only if you've spent your XP to unlock those skills instead of individual ones, there is no group sharing of items, and there are no group actions, except for movement.

Next, the new enemy sheets and tokens.  This made the game go much more smoothly, however, there were times where the timing of actions for the enemy meant that the enemy was busy doing fiddly things, instead of getting in a few more points of damage, and then the hero killed the monster before those actions resolved.  Any player would have dealt the 2-3 points of damage knowing his monster was going to die, but the sheet makes the monster fiddle with doubling and flipping rather than just dealing damage before he dies.  Minor quibble, and we can fix that in house, but still... odd.  The big issue is the Savage class.  Holy crap!  The other classes are pretty reliable with putting out a few damage a combat round, but the savage class is INCREDIBLY destructive.  Reliably they can deal around 5 damage a round, and one round, mind you still in the first age, I was dealt 6 or 7 points of damage...?  4 of those were unblockable.  When you have a hero with 8 hit points, and they are dealt half their health as unblockable, that's just brutal.  I think this class needs to be tuned, IMO.  No other classes came close to the destructive force of the Savage class, to the point where likely in the future, if I face a brutal class, I won't bother, I'll flee.  It turned into using wings to try to flip the massive damage tokens just to potentially survive another round, not potentially kill the monster, just survive.  That's not a good feeling where you look at the tokens and decide to just flip an opponents token because otherwise you are guaranteed to die.

The last point, and likely a spoiler, is the Locust Swarm mission.  Overall, it felt great.  We REALLY thought we had no chance to survive until we pulled out a win. Basically what this mission boils down to without spoiling too much is there is no main boss, but a few swarms that spread out, based on the number of players, destroying civilized spaces.  Different things cause the swarms to grow, and based on their size they target different spaces on the board and move autonomously.  The first issue arose when we looked at the mission sheet, and there was no indication on how many units are supposed to start in each swarm.  They need 1 unit to target any location, but the mission never mentioned that you should seed the swarm with any units.  There is one rule that states if the swarm can't target any locations, you instead of moving, add a unit to that swarm.  We took that to mean they start with no units, and after the first round add a unit.  However, that ended up (if true) REALLY being a pain in the butt through the rest of the campaign.  Several times when we were fighting the swarm (based on the rules I won't spoil) the fight ended up being meaningless because even if we killed off the two units on the card, they would freely gain one back at the end of the round, and that round triggered the unit growing.  Also, the swarm card never mentioned when it would die officially.  Would it be when it's reduced to 0 units or total health removed?  We decided that it was based on total health, but a simple mention of how the swarm is defeated would have been really valuable (since there are options on what to do with damage dealt to the swarm instead of just to kill the swarm).

I don't know overall how I feel about this specific mission.  It did a great job of leaving me feeling like the world was truly going to end, and we needed to work together to stop that, and we truly felt incredibly outnumbered with no way to win but we worked together, got scrappy, took some calculated losses to keep the enemy from winning, and were able to pull out a win on our first try.  But, going into a fight knowing you are going to lose, your hero is going to get defeated, but at least you brought the enemy down a little bit, was super depressing.  I took the hits so the other hero could stay fit and build up for the final battle, in the end I was glad it was a cooperative game, because had it not been, the other player was truly the winner, based on my constant sacrifices.  But, they were never enjoyable losses.  

What I enjoyed about Runebound 2nd edition was that you were fighting a ton of monsters, and those monsters were always leveling you up and giving you better gear and stronger attributes, you were growing your party to deal more damage, it was all about getting better.  With this mission, we really felt super pressed for time, so we didn't get a chance to grow our heroes.  In the end, I spent all of my trophies on party skills, so my hero didn't improve, and I earned a grand total of 6 gold.  Defeating the swarms didn't add value to the hero, only helped slow down the rest of the swarm (at least the swarm cards we drew) which really started the whole "is this really coop?" feeling.  I was busy killing swarm, which didn't grant me trophies or gold, and the other party member was completing other missions and turning in good for coins.  I killed off half the swarm, but my hero was a zero in the second age and couldn't kill anything, and the other party member was able to finish off the game because he was able to complete the missions that rewarded him with gold and trophies.  I never had that satisfaction of building a hero, and even the other player ended up with 1 individual skill and 1 item at the end of the game, not a great haul by any stretch.  I don't like that about 3rd edition.  2nd edition gave you the opportunity to overpower your hero, if you chose to, the timeline issue was only if the gems ran out or the other heroes were pressing into the main objective.  3rd edition I have always felt weak at the end of the game.  I feel like if Runebound 3rd edition was an rpg, the game ends just as you finish the tutorial.  This coop expansion compounded this issue by speeding up the game even further.  If you go to the end of age 2, you lose, automatically.  It would be surprising if you could keep the other lose conditions at bay until the end of age 2, but still.

I still really like Runebound 3rd edition, and I think the fight system makes this a better game than 2nd edition so I would still give this game a great score and will gladly play whenever there's an opportunity, and I did enjoy the FIRST play-through of the coop option, but I just don't know the staying power of this expansion.  It never really felt like a party doing things together except for some fiddly bits (not spoiling, it's there), and there were obvious sacrifices that one party, I feel, will always need to make in order to secure the victory for the team, but do I want to go through that again, or do I want to make another player deal with that feeling of "my hero sucks compared to all of the awesome stuff you have"?  Now, considering there are 4 other coop missions to try out... this is not a final opinion.  Gotta play them all...

TLDR: the savage class is way more powerful than the others (I didn't say broken), sometimes the new token spending sheets make monsters do dumb stuff, trading is horrible in this expansion, as a party you can't take group actions (unless skills are unlocked, even those are lame), the locust swarm mission has some clarification issues, fun experience but may not have good staying power and makes players sacrifice their hero for the party's success.

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Swarms start with 0 units, and they generate a unit on their first movement since they cannot move. You're probably not getting the right strategy to take them down tho: attack them with hero 1, bring the total units on them as low as possible, then retire from combat and allow hero 2 to finish them off. You won't trigger their movement upon a defeated hero, and they won't be moving before hero 2 attacks. So, time is of essence :)

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5 minutes ago, Julia said:

Swarms start with 0 units, and they generate a unit on their first movement since they cannot move. You're probably not getting the right strategy to take them down tho: attack them with hero 1, bring the total units on them as low as possible, then retire from combat and allow hero 2 to finish them off. You won't trigger their movement upon a defeated hero, and they won't be moving before hero 2 attacks. So, time is of essence :)

Is there a rule I missed regarding how many units start on a swarm?  For other player reference, or possibly a rules update, it would be good if that was mentioned in setup.  Glad we played that rule correctly.

As for strategy, (spoiler) considering the difference between defeating a unit with 2-3 units or removing 2-3 units is usually only a couple of hit points, it doesn't make sense to always remove units as soon as possible.  It is possible to kill a swarm in a single attack.  We did it twice.  However, the second swarm we attacked, we separated due to one player NEEDING to shop because he had 9 gold and no items, and I didn't want to waste 2 actions, so I attacked.  Since the other player needed to shop and split the party, he couldn't kill the swarm before it moved.

If I hadn't attacked, it would have scorched a civilized area, been right next to another civilized hex, and grown to (I believe) 3 units the next turn.  It was a calculated loss, but it ended being a waste by math, a win by strategy.  Still not a fun turn.

Perfect rounds with players picking who moves first, yes that would be best to bring a swarm down then finish it off, but the game doesn't allow that all the time. 

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I cannot answer about the presence / abssence of the rule about starting units since I don't own the final version of the product; I just told you how is to be played. In any case, if rules don't say "Setup: place X units on each warband in play", then you place none.

As for removing units: I never said you have to remove units as soon as possible. I simply said that you can tag team attacking a warband without being in a party, it's enough that players move their heroes wisely on the board so that the same warband is attacked twice in a row before being allowed to move and generate more units on it. At the moment I played 6 times the scenario, and won 6 times, so, I'm confident good strategy is rewarded.

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Really the only thing that happens as a party, is that you move together.  The rules even restrict trading between heroes, apparently they are willing to walk together, but if I realize that I have a ton of gold and great gear, but my party member could benefit greatly from having it, too bad, so sad, they have to trade me an equal value of gold and/or items. Wha?!?  IN your generosity, you can give the one gold per turn... but even that wasn't laid out in the rules very clearly so I'm not really sure if I can give you one gold on my turn, and then give you one gold on your turn...  In other words, there is no group battling, except for minimal skill based benefits, only if you've spent your XP to unlock those skills instead of individual ones, there is no group sharing of items, and there are no group actions, except for movement.

That’s... extremely disappointing, actually. I was really hoping for a more cooperative adventure game experience. I guess the rules against trading items and gold are easily ignored at least, but it’s a shame you can’t fight together as a group. 

Thanks for the write up!

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You can fight together as a group, if you learn the proper party skills. So, if people believe fighting together is such a vital part of the party, they could houserule that party skills are available not mixed in the deck, but as a learnable roster and that could be learned as soon as you pay for them, and you have games where you fight together all the time. So, not really a biggie

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Posted (edited)

Soooo, does anyone have experience with the solo mode?  I picked up the expansion primarily interested in that, but in my first game I got completely slaughtered by Margath.  He seems to start moving really early on (maybe I have a rule wrong?) plus I rolled like 3 wilds at the end of that first round, but I didn't have enough equipment/skills to come even close to winning.  I didn't necessarily expect to win on a first try but it wasn't even close, so I assume I'm doing something terribly wrong here.  Should I just control 2 or 3 heroes?  Does that make it any better?  Looking at the rules it doesn't really seem like it would except for maybe the party skills.

EDIT: It was also my first game with Hawthorne so maybe that was it.  I know he's an old hero... I just always ignored him and haven't played as much as I'd like to.

Edited by Willange

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12 hours ago, Julia said:

You can fight together as a group, if you learn the proper party skills. 

This is only partially true and is overall misleading to the concern of fighting together.  The skills really only allow VERY limited interactions.  One allows you to have one party member take all of the damage from one combat action for the entire fight, one allows you to exhaust to have a party member recast (not flip) 2 unspent tokens, there was one that allowed one party member to use one token in a fight, but we weren't able to have the trophies to unlock that skill.  there are only around 10 party skills, mixed in with ALL of the other skill cards, and they aren't all related to fighting, and the ones that are, don't make the game feel like you're fighting together, you're still fighting one-on-one, but you get a little bit of help.  Plus you are spending a TON of your trophies on single, individual abilities to do minimal help in party fights.  Very underwhelming.  Sometimes helpful, but not exciting.

4 hours ago, Jazzdrummer said:

How are the solo rules?

Solo rules are pretty much same, you just don't have access to the party skills... so... they've just formatted the game to play itself, instead of needing another player to decide what actions the monsters take.

 

I'm not saying this isn't something anyone should purchase.  I'm glad I did purchase it as it gives me options for a game I enjoy, I just feel that overall it was a swing and a miss as to it's potential.  The party and cooperative feel isn't really there except for it being a joint win or loss.

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19 minutes ago, backupsidekick said:

This is only partially true and is overall misleading to the concern of fighting together.  The skills really only allow VERY limited interactions.  One allows you to have one party member take all of the damage from one combat action for the entire fight, one allows you to exhaust to have a party member recast (not flip) 2 unspent tokens, there was one that allowed one party member to use one token in a fight, but we weren't able to have the trophies to unlock that skill.  there are only around 10 party skills, mixed in with ALL of the other skill cards, and they aren't all related to fighting, and the ones that are, don't make the game feel like you're fighting together, you're still fighting one-on-one, but you get a little bit of help.  Plus you are spending a TON of your trophies on single, individual abilities to do minimal help in party fights.  Very underwhelming.  Sometimes helpful, but not exciting.

As said, this can be easily houseruled by having a roster of skill cards set aside. You'd be surprised by the amount of damage you can pile up with the two skills you mentioned. Going full party (with people working together all the time) would have meant re-designing the core set for coop play, with different enemies and encounters, which wouldn't have been feasible for a single expansion. It'd have meant a 4th edition of the game just to have it coop.

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After reading the rulebook I, too, am rather disappointed. Coop would have meant dealing with at least bosses together (for regular monsters, it would have been overkill of course). The restrictions on trading are just weird, not sure why you needed them if it is not competitive, most players will houserule this anyway. But then that cannot be the answer to everything, then there is no reason for the whole expansion.
Also, I'm not sure how well this automation will work, but I definitely like playing against other players when encountering monsters. They have good moves, ones that surely the "paper AI" will not do. I know it is good for solo and for people that don't like to fight agains others, but for multiplayer, I don't see the point. 
The pros for me are the new skills and items, the heroes and scenarios. I'll pay the price for them.
But this leaves me with no choice but to do the cooperative ruleset myself :) We already made an OK coop scenario for the game but in that one you have as many villains as many heroes. So it is time we made an All vs 1 combat ruleset. I really hoped FFG would do it, but no problem... 

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I've actually found it's sorta fun to play against the AI enemies.  That's probably because when I play against my family, most of them are sort of bad at the combat side of it.  While the AI doesn't always play 100% optimally, it does play relatively well, and I think it's very cool that monsters have different categories of tokens to throw now.  Plus, the boards give the monsters a slight boost over what the tokens do on their own, so it's decently well balanced that way.  If you don't like the monster AI boards though, then I definitely recommend using the new tokens.  They make the enemies way more thematic.  

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37 minutes ago, Jazzdrummer said:

How powerful or weak are the new heroes compared to each other and compared to the others?

Tatianna seemed pretty good.  She gets 1 free movement hex if she starts her turn in a wilderness space, and she spends a surge to deal damage equal to the number of unspent melee tokens.  I would say she is a strong character.

I haven't used Eliam yet.

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Yeah. There were a lot of possible party actions that were left out by FFG. We just house-ruled them back in to make the expansion even more “co-op”y. 

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On 8/1/2017 at 3:14 PM, Julia said:

As said, this can be easily houseruled by having a roster of skill cards set aside. You'd be surprised by the amount of damage you can pile up with the two skills you mentioned. Going full party (with people working together all the time) would have meant re-designing the core set for coop play, with different enemies and encounters, which wouldn't have been feasible for a single expansion. It'd have meant a 4th edition of the game just to have it coop.

Or they could have used designs from other games where the game scales the number of enemies based on the number of players.  

As written, I'm not even sure why this expansion was necessary, instead of just ignoring player conflict cards as they come up in the deck.  With the boss fights being single player still, limitations on trading, and the weird party skill system required for even modicum levels of cooperation that you would assume would just naturally be present as cooperative mechanics, it really feels pasted on while not really providing what people wanted.

 

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1 hour ago, Shadin said:

Or they could have used designs from other games where the game scales the number of enemies based on the number of players.  

As written, I'm not even sure why this expansion was necessary, instead of just ignoring player conflict cards as they come up in the deck.  With the boss fights being single player still, limitations on trading, and the weird party skill system required for even modicum levels of cooperation that you would assume would just naturally be present as cooperative mechanics, it really feels pasted on while not really providing what people wanted.

 

The Margath fight involves all players. It seems pretty clear that the expansion adds a lot of things for co-op. 

Two of them are essential:

  1. AI for monsters (essential)
  2. Co-op scenarios (essential)

The rest are nice to haves that enhance interaction:

  1. Party skills
  2. Party movement 
  3. Envelopes

I'm sorry that it's not what you expected, but please don't speak for 'people'.

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Just now, cfmcdonald said:

The Margath fight involves all players. It seems pretty clear that the expansion adds a lot of things for co-op. 

Two of them are essential:

  1. AI for monsters (essential)
  2. Co-op scenarios (essential)

The rest are nice to haves that enhance interaction:

  1. Party skills
  2. Party movement 
  3. Envelopes

I'm sorry that it's not what you expected, but please don't speak for 'people'.

Sorry, I didn't realize we were being pedantic.

I should have said it doesn't provide what would be the expected cooperative adventure game experience based on observations of many other such products in the marketplace.

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8 hours ago, Shadin said:

Sorry, I didn't realize we were being pedantic.

I should have said it doesn't provide what would be the expected cooperative adventure game experience based on observations of many other such products in the marketplace.

I wasn't trying to be pedantic, just answering your question on why the expansion was necessary and what it adds to the co-op experience. I didn't have the expectation that it would let you fight as a group, which seems to be the core complaint of you and the OP, and I don't think that's necessary to a fun co-op experience. 

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p.s. this is not to say I think the expansion is perfect. The AI is clearly tacked on to enemies that were intended to be human-controlled, and doesn't always work well. e.g. the Sorceror will never use any of its surge abilities under Unbreakable Bonds rules, because it will always convert all surges to damage. 

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As a pure solo player, I love this.

i completely ignored RB3 as it didn't include solo play and I think winning a game ... by downing the end boss by ... defeating yourself in combat is not great at all.

The AI combat changed that and they added 4 different sets of combat chits and proper battle boards.

Love the game. Time in solo mode is perfect too btw. I don't agree the AI is bad at all.

They managed to design a solo combat system with the least fuzz possible and satisfying my desire to play with my hero solo in a world setting. I love how Lord Hawthorne kills magicians with his axes and double attack.

so big thumbs up for this. I am quite curious how Fallout will be in solo mode.

Edited by MMOfan

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As someone who plays in a two that never fought anyway - what's the point ruining the game for the other person - I would say that it doesn't really bring loads to the game.

I got a bad impression of the combat boards because the first few enemies were all Savage. I drew a Razorwing and got absolutely smashed in the first two rounds of combat as Nanok. It was such a surprise when they used to be the weakest enemy!

After that experience every other board feels super easy.

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