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Gyallarhorn

Runemaster my nemesis

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Hey I'm overlording for my group, and one of the heroes plays Tarha as Runemaster.

Now I don't see any weakness to this character, especially if paired with a Knight Syndrael and a Disciple.
The Runemaster has rune mastery since the second quest and the heroes got lucky and got to buy mana weave after the first Quest.
Now that bastard never runs out of stamina, because he can always just exhaust those cards to regain stamina if he doesn't throw enough surges, so he never runs out of stamina or has to rest.

Plus the disciple gives him another yellow dice (without using an action) and the Knight protects him from attacks. Since he is a ranged fighter he can also hide just one square behind the Knight, making it impossible to throw him with Ettins because I can't get on an adjacent target, so I can finally get him away from the knight.
This makes him rain (explosive) death on my monsters without me having any way to prevent it. He easily kills the toughest monsters in one turn.

Arcane Bolt

  1. Gives a blue and a yellow dice (since he is Tarha he can reroll the blue dice if he gets the X)
  2. 1 surge gives pierce 2
  3. Potential for two surges and 4 damage

Disciple

  1. Gives an additional yellow dice
  2. potential for 1 surge and 2 more damage (3 surges and 6 damage so far)

Mana weave and rune mastery

  1.  2 guaranteed surges (potential for 5 surges and 6 damage)

Surges

  1. Runic Knowledge (adds two guaranteed damage and suffer one fatigue (or damage in case he has no stamina left, but he gets healed every round by the disciple anyway)
  2. pierce 2
  3. recover one stamina (or health when close enough to the disciple, making runic knowledge cost nothing, even at full fatigue)

End result: An attack with a guaranteed damage of 3 with pierce 2 and propably blast too, with no fatigue costs and the potential to have it cost 1 fatigue and be an 8 damage pierce 2 blast... for ONE action.

A second attack follows, where he regains another stamina thanks to his guaranteed surges (at least only two potential surges from rolls here, but nevertheless he usually gets back all of his stamina, unless he uses exploding rune, in which case the potential damage goes through the roof and which presence alone forces me to not put my monsters together, making many monsters almost unplayable or very weak in tight spaces)

So this character rarely runs out of stamina, cannot be dispatched quickly and gets healed for 1-3 points every turn unless the really tough knight takes a harsh beating (but why would I want to attack the knight? The amount of damage I would need to bring him down AND attacking the Runemaster before the Knight is up and running again.) and kills multiple monsters each turn. The massive amount of surges also make shadow dragons useless, Ettins die even faster, small monsters get killed by blasts. I don't know how to deal with that group. The only weakness they have is that every one of them has only 2 perception, but that rarely does anything for me.

And tips about weaknesses I overlook here? A monster that would be great dealing with her? So far I am only playing the base game. Any particular expansions you would recommend to make it a little harder for this character?

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I think you're playing with this rule (and it won't matter when he buys Iron Will anyway) but make sure he's only spending 1 surge per attack to recover fatigue.

The runemaster is a powerful mage to be sure, and disciple and knight are strong supporters. 

The disciple can't heal unless he's adjacent. Monsters with knockback (or throw) or immobilize can help here. He also can't heal if he doesn't have fatigue. If the disciple happens to be Avric you have his hero ability to worry about, but if the runemaster is spending surges to heal himself he's not spending surges to do damage.

My best advice for the runemaster is not to focus on killing him. As an OL, keep your priorities straight. Killing heroes is fun, but it is secondary (and often irrelevant) to winning a quest. You want to hinder the heroes and make them less effective. The end result of a KO is usually not much more than that of a stun (one hero loses one action to revive) and a KO takes a lot more work on your part. 

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Even after all the expansion content released thus far, the Runemaster is still the most powerful Mage in the game and the Mana Weave is one of the best items in the game.

Knight is also arguably the strongest Warrior, and the Disciple is best healing option within the base game.

They are making best-in-slot skill and item choices so far it sounds like too.

With just the base game the Overlord doesn't have as many tools. I'd say the Warlord deck would help you score kills - with excellent cards like Blood Rage and Expert Blow. Without Labyrinth of Ruin you don't have to worry about the Rune Plate making your life even more difficult than it is right now.

For monster picks within the base game, your options are limited. Shadow Dragons are a great large monster, but with a 3 hero team you only get 1, making it significantly worse. Goblin Archers are usually a safe and effective choice if you keep the Master safe. Cave Spiders aren't too bad either in Act II as they have solid damage output. Blast can be countered with proper monster positioning.

From your description sounds like you're playing within the rules correctly. Keep in mind that one of the best ways  to defeat the heroes is to separate them from one another so they can't support each other as effectively. Dark Charm should almost always be used to perform the move action to go away from the objective and other heroes, rather than the attack. Immobilizing the Runemaster with Web Trap is quite effective as well. They can't put out their top-tier damage output if they can't reach their targets.

Its generally believed that 3 hero games also favor the heroes due to the monster group limits. If you want an optimally balanced game, see if you can't get 4 heroes next time. One easy way to do this if you can't get more players is to suggest one of the players control an additional hero, or have a 'communal' hero whose actions are decided in a rotation.

Even though expansion content can't legally be added to a game that is already in progress, I'd say the greatest power boost to the Overlord you can get in any single expansion is Manor of Ravens. The Unkindness deck's Call of the Ravens card is nearly broken in power - providing the Overlord with a 1XP card that creates reusable companion monster that will provide ongoing pressure to the heroes in the form of additional damage, as well as an assistant to perform objectives/open doors/block corridors/soak up hero actions/etc. Its especially silly on quests where reinforcements occur at start of turn, as the Ravens can be summoned just prior to the reinforcement to make the summon 'free', or 'better than free', by finishing off a weakened or condition-afflicted monster so that a fresh one can be spawned in its place. The heroes are punished whenever they leave any monster less than completely eliminated. For example, heroes will often like to leave a monster poisoned and with 1 health remaining, or Immobilized away from the team rather than eliminate it. It can save actions and may even deny a reinforcement.. The Ravens often negate this strategy. They also scale their damage into Act II by getting an additional yellow die.

Manor of Ravens also gives you access to the Bandit monster group, which is one of the most powerful and over-statted monster groups in the game and is an optimal monster pick in most situations where Wildneress/Civ open group is available.

Its borderline unfair, but they're using a min-max hero composition against you - so I wouldn't feel too bad ;)

Finally, if you're still on the ropes even after all that - pick a top tier Plot Deck like Baron Zachareth or Tristayne Olliven and really make the heroes cry! :P See Indalecio's great guide to plot decks on BGG.

Edited by Charmy

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Just one point I want to add ...
The goal (a few Quests put aside) is not to kill the heroes but to achieve the Quest objectives ... and even if killing heroes can help, it's not the only way !
Of course with only the base box choices are limited, but problems also (you don't have, as already beeing said, to bother about Rune Plate for example !! :-) ) !
Try for example using Bargheists to lower everyones fatigue
or Goblins archers if enought space ... ok Runemaster can one shot two.. but this leaves 3! which means someone else must loose actions, or wait another round for Runemaster to kill 2 more !
You can also put monsters out of the way leaving the heroes with the choice of loosing time going after them or keep going but perhaps be attacks from two fronts...

Last thing you only spoke about 3 heroes .. are you playing only against those 3 ?
if so, most people who played this composition (4 people : OL + 3 Heroes) tend to conclude that this way Heroes are more favored / powerfull that with more (4) or less(2) heroes...
 

EDIT : hadn't yet read all Charmy reply ... my last comment was already risen ! :-(

Edited by Felin

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Thanks for the replies and suggestions so far.

Yes, I am playing against just three heroes. And I know I don't have to kill the heroes. My problem is how hard it is to block them with the runemaster dealing so much damage, so consistantly and possibly even to more than one target. Big monsters don't survive long, thanks to pierce and 2 extra damage. Small monsters get blown to bits by explosive rune and can't reinforce fast enough.

But I'll have a look at the suggested expansions and try new tactics. Also the shadow rune campaign seems to massively favour the heroes, from what i've read. I'll see about other campaigns too.

I am just suprised that the runemaster doesn't seem to be able to run out of stamina, and doesn't really have any weakness. Barghest's aren't really helping either, because the Knight (Syndrael) doesn't need as much stamina, and Tarha and Avric pass most of the willpower tests. But at least they do damage and are numerous enough. If at least she couldn't use stamina she got from surges in the same attack, that would at least keep her from going to full fatigue and make a barghest prevent at least a little damage. But from my investigetions regarding that, it is possible.

 

Edited by Gyallarhorn

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I think the Disciple should be your first kill priority. Try to keep him at low health at all times so you can kill him whenever you need to damage control the Runemaster. Use Web Traps to isolate the heroes and create distance between them, which in turn negates most support abilities. I think for you to win encounters in this type of scenario your only option is to go on alpha strike mode before your monsters die, so be very conservative with your cards until you see your moment. Then luck with decide whether you can pull it off or not.

I would suggest to try to lure the Knight into wasting protection abilities against some decoy attacks. Then attack with the support from your Warlord/Basic cards once that's gone. Basically don't bother bringing down the Knight until the other two are dead.

Use numerous monsters against Pierce, since Pierce makes elite defense monsters worse. Goblin Archers and Flesh Moulders in the base game. Barghests are very good too, plus they have Howl to annoy stamina levels. Obviously Shadow Dragons remain your best monsters and you should keep these Dark Mights so you can trigger Fire Breath when applicable.

Dark Charm can do some damage and should be your best card in that scenario, but basically Warlord and a couple of Saboteur cards shoudl be thrown in as you start gathering some XP. Blood Rage is the best Warlord card in your case as none of your monsters will be alive anyway so that supports your alphastrike strategy the best. Stuff happens in Descent but I would not hold high hopes for keeping monsters alive ahead of a possible rematch or backup plan, you´re going to go big and win or lose terribly, no in betweens.

With only the base game you are in hardcore mode. Expansions would help you a ton. Servants (Call of the Raven, Chains that Rust) force your heroes to waste actions against endless bodies. Against killing machines that's perfect. Stamina disruption is even more present in these expansions. Then Terrify condition basically shut down surges (and therefore Runemaster all together). Changelings are good, Kobolds, Reanimates, Hellhounds are good and numerous attack monsters. Basically a lot of your monster choices depend on what gear your heroes have.

Kyndrithul plot deck would eat that Runemaster alive. Okay not quite like that, but almost. You basically harm abilities directly by making them more expensive to trigger along with other things. It's the ultimate toolbox against heroes relying on super powerful abilities.

 

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As the OL, always try to use space to your advantage.  It really doesn't matter what the hero class is, for most heroes 1 action = 1 dead monster, and while some heroes may have trouble against a particularly large heavy armor monster, I never expect a monster to live through more than a single hero turn if it is in range of that hero.  So if you want to save your monsters (and actually attack with them), you need to make sure Heroes are wasting actions on anything and everything OTHER than attacking.

In the case of Tahra, use small ranged monsters that you can space out (goblins work well), and make sure you keep them at around 11 squares away from Tahra when engaging.  This forces Tahra to spend all fatigue, Move, then attack (4 fatigue + 4 movement + range 3 attack.  Not only will this use up her fatigue in a way that will prevent her from using it offensively, but she will be less able to recover that fatigue due to having only a single attack.  With any luck, this will result in only a single dead goblin, allowing you to counter attack with 3 goblins, then move all 3 back 5 spaces to force another move action (resulting in one less dead goblin) from the heroes the following turn.

Also when it comes to 'blocking', it is far more effective to place monsters about 4 squares behind where the heroes want to be.  The reason is that if a hero is intending to double move to get to a critical location, they are less likely to do so if you have a monster group ready and able to attack on your following turn.  If you 'threaten' their desired positions from a position of safety, then they will waste turns attempting to 'lay up' (moving half way there, resting, etc)... this accomplishes the same result as placing a larger monster directly in their path, except you get to actually HAVE the monster on your turn.

Edited by Silidus

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31 minutes ago, Silidus said:

Also when it comes to 'blocking', it is far more effective to place monsters about 4 squares behind where the heroes want to be.  The reason is that if a hero is intending to double move to get to a critical location, they are less likely to do so if you have a monster group ready and able to attack on your following turn.  If you 'threaten' their desired positions from a position of safety, then they will waste turns attempting to 'lay up' (moving half way there, resting, etc)... this accomplishes the same result as placing a larger monster directly in their path, except you get to actually HAVE the monster on your turn.

^--- This.  It works very well, achieves the same thing as a large blocking monster, leaving you with multiple monsters to attack with (instead of one).  In addition, it helps you slow down heroes, which often is all you need to do (especially in the Shadow Rune campaign).

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10 hours ago, any2cards said:

^--- This.  It works very well, achieves the same thing as a large blocking monster, leaving you with multiple monsters to attack with (instead of one).  In addition, it helps you slow down heroes, which often is all you need to do (especially in the Shadow Rune campaign).

While this advice sounds very good in theory, my experience with the shadow rune so far shows that most maps are just too small to do that. First encounter of "a fat goblin" makes me run towards the heroes. Second encounter has too many corners to get a good line of sight, and is very narrow. Castle Daerion forces me to actually go towards the heroes to get the peasants, while their targets don't move and they just need one opportunity to use Syncrael's feat, stamina and two movement actions to get to the last bonfire. And because I can only reinforce at the end of my turn, I can't react as well as I need to. If I don't kill enough peasants the second encounter is already lost, because I can't block Sir Palamon from just running towards the exit in the first rurn.

The Masquerade ball... well... I actually won that, thanks to fast goblins and my charming vampire lady just convincing the heroes to step away from the door to the dungeons. And once the first encounter is won, the second is pretty much a win by default. But when we played that, the heroes only had one XP and no equipment. So the runemaster was pretty much just where he was in "first blood".

"The Shadow rune" again forces me to go towards the heroes, because If I don't they just heal up and slaughter the next group of monster. But I won that, thanks to them not having any hero with more than 2 perception, and a few traps that let Syndrael run into a very nasty ambush while the others couldn't follow.

I'll see how well I can use your advice in act II and in other campaigns. Goblins I didn't really consider that useful, thanks to them reinforcing so slowly, while reinforcing a Barghest or a Dragon actually brings back a lot more power to the table.

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I would recommend web trap!  While it is overly fun to kill heroes, as others stated, that rarely is the goal.  The goal is usually to slow the heroes down and then get the objective done!  Just be careful how you play this card.  Eventually the disciple will get remove condition so you need to time the card correctly. 

 

Also make sure the add a yellow die is only done for one attack!

 

 

web_trap.jpg

 

divine_fury.jpg

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13 hours ago, Gyallarhorn said:

While this advice sounds very good in theory, my experience with the shadow rune so far shows that most maps are just too small to do that. First encounter of "a fat goblin" makes me run towards the heroes. Second encounter has too many corners to get a good line of sight, and is very narrow. Castle Daerion forces me to actually go towards the heroes to get the peasants, while their targets don't move and they just need one opportunity to use Syncrael's feat, stamina and two movement actions to get to the last bonfire. And because I can only reinforce at the end of my turn, I can't react as well as I need to. If I don't kill enough peasants the second encounter is already lost, because I can't block Sir Palamon from just running towards the exit in the first rurn.

I feel like we should set up a per-quest strategy page for OL and heroes on http://descent-community.org/index.php/crrg/ so we can properly hash out different moves/counter moves for each quest and encounter, but ill do my best for Fat Goblin (from memory mind you) and work from there and hopefully give some idea of how to play the OL at a very general level to show you what I mean (disclaimer, there are always counters to any style of play, and there are always cases (dice, heroes etc) that will work well against any particular approach... this is not intended to be a 'do this and win' tutorial, just some general decision points for the OL to be aware of).

The Fat Goblin
Encounter 1: 
Assuming you are using only the base set, we need to first consider the choice of open group.  Now, when picking open groups for an encounter, always check the re-enforcement rules.  Some large groups of small monsters can be very powerful in a swarm, but if the re-enforcement condition is 1 monster, then you may not get the same bang for your buck as a large monster.  This is especially true if the group is initially placed close to the hero starting location, as you can fully expect that group to be eliminated on the heroes first turn.  In this scenario, I highly recommend Merriods for the initial open group.  They are large and strong individually, have a fairly large threat range with reach and flail, tough to kill, and can immobilize.

So first hero round you can expect heroes to wipe out your tightly packed Merriods in the first room.  Depending on how well they do, and how far they are able to proceed up the path to the farm tile will heavily determine your next turn.  If the heroes end their turn more than 4 squares from the 'edge' of the water tile at the top of the map, then you can safely double move your goblins up to the top of the map or dash one into the actual farm.  If they HAVE moved further than that, or have lots of excess stamina, then you want to keep the goblins back behind the corner, and about 7 spaces from where the heroes can reach if moving directly to the first batch of crops.   The idea here is to threaten the heroes next move, if they see that they will get hammered by an entire group of goblins if they move to the farm, then they will hopefully slow down, allowing the re-enforced Merriod to catch up behind them.

Second hero round will either see them moving directly to the first crop, moving closer to the corner at the top of the map, or splitting up to kill the re-enforcing Merriod while the rest of the group moves forward.  If they moved to the crop, its your opportunity to punish them for it, move the goblins within range 4 (master first) and try to kill the weakest hero, then either pick up one crop with an extra goblin, or just retreat the group back.  Bring the Merriod further up the hall.
If the heroes hung back, try to engage and immobilize with the Merriod, send one goblin to go grab a crop, and use the rest to 'threaten' any hero that is considering moving forward the next round.
 

The goal here is to try to wear the heroes down, get them as low as possible and wasting actions until you can either safely retrieve the crops while still knocking down heroes as they stand up, or simply end the encounter with heroes with the least amount of hp when entering the next encounter.

Encounter 2:
No re-enforcement on this one, Shadow dragon is a good group for the lair.  Heroes will spend their first turn wiping out the spiders.  First OL turn, open the Back door with the dragon, and move away from the door to threaten any hero moving close to the other door, or thinking of opening it.  Goblins should all move to open the door to the prisoners.  Again the idea is the threaten the heroes potential next position as much as possible while causing them to loose as many actions as possible.  If you are playing against 4 heroes, you can leave the minion shadow dragon inside the lair next to the door.  The idea here is to either temp the heroes to open the door and kill the minion (allowing the master to move forward next turn and FB the lot of them, or to open the door next round and attack with both if they choose to end turn to close to the door.

Second hero turn should be a 'lay up' to the door, moving everyone close to the first door, but not opening it.  2nd OL turn should be dragging 3 prisoners to Splig, interrogating one (hope and pray), and then CLOSING the inner door with the dragon and moving dragon back slightly to threaten anyone opening the door this round.  At this point you can either open the door with the minion dragon, then attack with minion and master, or pull back the minion again and close the door inner door, blocking the master shadow dragon and goblins from the heroes (who have to use 2 actions to open both doors plus move in order to get attacks in).

Third hero turn should be another lay up to the inner door.  

At this point, if everything has gone right, its time for some action.  OL should have a full goblin group, and a Master shadow dragon to take down some (hopefully) weakened heroes from the first encounter.  If Splig has found Fedrick, then your goal should be to kill as many heroes as you can, and dash Splig to the far side of the inner door, close it, and place a dragon infront of it.  Playing a Frenzy (extra attack) card on Splig to knock back a surviving hero to get them out of the way is a good move here too.  If Splig hasn't found Fedrick yet, you may be in trouble, unless you can kill a decent amount of heroes and prevent them from reaching each other to revive.

Keep in mind you have lots of cards at your disposal.  Depending on the heroes, 'Web Trap' is an indispensable card for slowing down the hero group, or forcing them to split up.

 

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Also remember that in many 2-encounter quests it is wise for the OL to collect cards in the first encounter to have a full hand at his disposal in the second one. Only valid for quests in which the reward of the first encounter isn't critical. You may also want to apply some conditions to the heroes in the first encounter as they are carried over to the second one.

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