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grillepainman

Forgotten age difficulty...(sigh)

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Hi,

First of all, this is not a rage post or whatever...

Second of all, pardon my english if not correct (not my 1st language).

I am the average joe here, usual silent customer, father of young kids (latest is 4 months old) and I play Arkham Horror: LCG with one of my very good buddy every tuesday night.

I'm not the kind of person who usually is very active on forums or other social media platforms.  I'm the silent (usually) type of customer who publishers never hear about but who buys everything (or almost...everything, I'm looking at you Descent 2nd ed...).

I have been an Arkham fan for a long time. and been a fan of the LCG since the start.

I'm writing this post by any luck than one of the dev will read it and understands to maybe evaluate things a bit before the new cycle.

Forgotten Age is brutally-can't-let-you-breath-super-intense-hard-core-difficult! Seriously! I understand that the "arkham" type of game  have never been "easy" ones but still.

I've read other post and comments elsewhere and yes we have proper deck build (thanks to arkhamdb) and yes sometimes we tend to have *very bad luck* with the chaos token (one game we pick up the automatic fail 5x times! 5!!) That kind of bad luck scrap a game...but this is not what I'm talking about here.

What I'm talking about here is the concept of "exploration" with twice the Myths effects, the sheer long-term difficulty regarding the "vengeance" new concept, and the accumulation of traumas from scenario to scenario.

I house-ruled my campaign so far because it was not enjoyable...getting our butt kicked non stop like there is no tomorrow and re-doing the same scenarios 4 times until success was not enjoyable at all.

So, what I'm trying to say, is that I really hope the dev will learn from all the critics and different opinions similar to mine on the web (reddit, boardgame geek forum, etc) so that the next cycle will be a way nicer, well balance (which forgotten age isnt), story, lore based adventure...we play to have fun and having fun by cheating is not our usual motto.

Anyway, that's it.  I know I'm a not an elite player or a hardcore card game player but still, I think that we (the adult silent majority) have some "right" or"regards" to have regarding the amount of money we put in those game knowing that a pack of card cost like 35 cents to produce and sells for 20$ in here ;) but I'm not taking that route...it's ok to make money as a business :) 

Thanks for reading and I wish you all the best for you and your families

Best regards,

Dom

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Are you aware the game comes with an "easy" mode?   Have you tried that?   If not, you really should.   

I really honestly feel that anyone can do well on easy mode with some basic deckbuilding skills.   People on the forums are happy to help, if we can.   

 

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This is what they make Easy difficulty for. I've been playing the game with a friend since the core box came out and we're currently playing Forgotten Age on Easy difficulty. You're correct that it is fairly brutal, but on Easy mode, you should still be able to play the game and have fun. There is a certain amount of capriciousness and ability to get defeated in a scenario even on Easy mode, but that's always been a core element of the Arkham Horror files games, and frankly from what I've seen, the narrative and writing even for getting defeating is very fun and entertaining. If this is an issue for you, I highly recommend playing on Easy difficulty.

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I always do my first playthrough of a campaign on easy.

My daughter and I have been working through The Forgotten Age as Ursula and Silas, and I really haven't found it significantly more difficult than Carcosa.

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I wanna speak out against the "easy" argument here.

Difficulty needs to be consistent throughout a game system and FA definitely broke that mould a bit, this campaign is rife with interlude text that stacks trauma on you and there are even a few kinda no-brain decisions like choosing blankets for the team. Also FA with the expliration mechanic is unusually tight on time.

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I hear you, but even if the devs did read and consider this perspective, the cycles are designed well in advance of when they release, I'm sure. It's always good to get your voice out there, but results take time no matter what. 

FA is tough for sure. It's the first cycle where I may actually completely lose an investigator by the end (yes, on easy). That being said, I'm okay with a fastball pitch every once and a while, just so long as there is variation. I'm enjoying FA, but I don't replay scenarios until I beat them. The design of the game intentionally does not require you to beat each scenario to move forward. It would be a bit of an outlier perspective to expect a game to do regularly what it is not designed to do.

I may be entirely wrong, and I apologize if this sounds judgmental because I don't mean it that way, but perhaps you should try playing through without replaying any of the scenarios and get used to losing them and try enjoying them anyway with no expectations of winning a single scenario? You actually lose out on some cool story moments if you win each scenario as it changes things in latter scenarios. 

Scenarios are bound to lose their appeal if you replay them until you win. Not saying you shouldn't try to win, but you don't win or lose Arkham Horror LCG until you win or lose the last scenario of a cycle or unless a resolution says you lose the campaign. Even if you completely lose an investigator, you get to pick up a new one with a 0 xp deck.

Just a thought, and I hope it helps you enjoy the cycle more, but I appreciate your perspective as well. 

Edited by Soakman

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I think the obstacle is that FA changes the way you approach the game, as the punishments you receive are due to doing things the game had taught you that it was the correct way to play.  I can see even Easy mode not helping people who first play thru it, as its something you need to adjust to in order to mitigate the consequences.  I have enjoyed it thus far though, even if I have been getting beat down through the scenarios, and I do think the aggressiveness of the campaign matches the theme of the story. 

I think in the end, some people will just like some arcs more than others.  Same thing happens in LotR, as Heirs of Numenor and Lost Realms are brutal compared to other arcs, at least IMO. 

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6 hours ago, Soakman said:


I may be entirely wrong, and I apologize if this sounds judgmental because I don't mean it that way, but perhaps you should try playing through without replaying any of the scenarios and get used to losing them and try enjoying them anyway with no expectations of winning a single scenario? You actually lose out on some cool story moments if you win each scenario as it changes things in latter scenarios. 

Scenarios are bound to lose their appeal if you replay them until you win. Not saying you shouldn't try to win, but you don't win or lose Arkham Horror LCG until you win or lose the last scenario of a cycle or unless a resolution says you lose the campaign. Even if you completely lose an investigator, you get to pick up a new one with a 0 xp deck.

 

That one right here is right on the spot.  Wrong approach maybe ? Since the Dunwich "train" scenario where everyone dies if we do not run we do indeed  try to "win" a lot because we 'feel' like we didn't do a enough good job if we don't 'win' the scenarios (+ the chance that the game is over like that dunwich scenario one)...but you are 100% right! Might be time to take a breather and get back on the "adventure" instead of focusing on "winning" all the time ? and accepting "defeat" from time to time, even if it mean death in oblivion ;)

Thanks for that comment.  

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That is a great mindset. Focus on getting to the last scenario, no matter how good or bad and enjoy the trip. Then, do your best and....Good luck? :D

 

I am starting my 2nd FA age run soon. The first one ended after the boundary beyond due to lack of supplies (The kind of supplies that provide material to play with).

Edited by Raahk

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To echo sentiments posted elsewhere, The Forgotten Age is not that much more difficult than the other campaigns in the sense of how hard it is to get to scenario resolutions and on to the next scenario. Enemies are not significantly more damaging, nor are locations significantly higher shroud, and there are mechanics in place to compensate for failing (your mileage may vary as to how well those mechanics are designed, but they are there).

The perceived difficulty is more because of punishing and frustrating mechanics - progress completely undone by encounter cards; having to Explore for locations to progress only to be given an additional Treachery for your trouble; being punished for killing monsters, only to find that you are then punished for trying to evade monsters; a greater element of luck with some really vicious encounter cards particularly if you get them at the wrong time; supplies and all the issues with them as a mechanic; certain investigators/decks being unsuitable, making a campaign doomed from the start, etc.

In that sense, changing to a lower difficulty won't help much (or at best the ease of passing tests will counterbalance the frustration of the other mechanics, rather than making them less frustrating, though it will help with the issue of unsuitable investigators).

The above comments that it's partly due to the campaign needing a new approach and previously successful approaches being less effective also holds true, so to an extent you have to adapt your thinking to the challenges the campaign presents - and because of the campaign structure of this game, you need to do it before you start a campaign.

 

The comparison bought up by C2K with Heirs of Numenor from LOTR is apt and one I have seen (and repeated) elsewhere. Perhaps we'll end up thinking of this campaign as the tough, punishing one that felt unfair and required specific deckbuilding, as a kind of challenge or thematic preference, but I think it's completely legitimate to not be enjoying it (and by extension to wonder why the campaign was designed this way instead of a way that would be less frustrating to some players).

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If the FA is ‘the hard one’ among campaigns, then that’s cool. It’s good to have a range of experiences across the different campaign cycles, in terms of storytelling, game mechanics, structure and difficulty. However, I think what the OP was getting at was a concern that this is the new normal. If it were, I’d struggle to keep enjoying this game as much as I have, but I suspect that’s not the case. I reckon they’ll keep mixing up all elements, so as campaigns come out you will continue to find cycles that appeal to different play styles and player types, and that’s really healthy, I think.

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My thoughts...

My wife and I normally play two investigators each and are fairly casual players.  I've played numerous card games over the years, so I understand how to optimize during deck building.  She doesn't as much.  We built a pretty average Guardian/Seeker/Survivor/Mystic "take all comers" set of decks and approached The Forgotten Age how we'd normally approach things.  We played on easy.  We killed all the monsters.  We got all the clues.  We stomped our way through the scenario, crushing everything in our path.  It didn't work well.  The Vengeance mechanic effectively cranked the game from easy to super hard over the first several rounds.  No spoilers, but we took numerous traumas and a few permanent player kills over the first two scenarios.  It was grim.  It almost broke us.

But...

I took a step back and thought about how to approach this new campaign.  We restarted with a Rex deck built to grab clues quickly and a Sefina deck built to evade everything and generally protect Rex.  Both decks have some combat ability, but neither can kill swarms of critters.  Knowing a little more about the scenario, we made better choices when bringing supplies along.  The net result was that the games went swimmingly well.  We finished the first two scenarios with only a single mark under Yig's Fury, coming from the second scenario.  I don't think we actually killed anything during either game.  It was an interesting and refreshing way to play.  I'm really curious to see how the rest of the campaign goes.  We could definitely be in trouble if we run into a critter we MUST kill to progress.

TL/DR - The initial scenarios of The Forgotten Age can be super hard if you try to smash your way through.  They're much easier if you try to sneak your way through instead.

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11 minutes ago, KrisWall said:

My thoughts...

My wife and I normally play two investigators each and are fairly casual players.  I've played numerous card games over the years, so I understand how to optimize during deck building.  She doesn't as much.  We built a pretty average Guardian/Seeker/Survivor/Mystic "take all comers" set of decks and approached The Forgotten Age how we'd normally approach things.  We played on easy.  We killed all the monsters.  We got all the clues.  We stomped our way through the scenario, crushing everything in our path.  It didn't work well.  The Vengeance mechanic effectively cranked the game from easy to super hard over the first several rounds.  No spoilers, but we took numerous traumas and a few permanent player kills over the first two scenarios.  It was grim.  It almost broke us.

But...

I took a step back and thought about how to approach this new campaign.  We restarted with a Rex deck built to grab clues quickly and a Sefina deck built to evade everything and generally protect Rex.  Both decks have some combat ability, but neither can kill swarms of critters.  Knowing a little more about the scenario, we made better choices when bringing supplies along.  The net result was that the games went swimmingly well.  We finished the first two scenarios with only a single mark under Yig's Fury, coming from the second scenario.  I don't think we actually killed anything during either game.  It was an interesting and refreshing way to play.  I'm really curious to see how the rest of the campaign goes.  We could definitely be in trouble if we run into a critter we MUST kill to progress.

TL/DR - The initial scenarios of The Forgotten Age can be super hard if you try to smash your way through.  They're much easier if you try to sneak your way through instead.

It took a retooling of our decks (Leo & Ursula) and second attempt at the first 2 scenarios to get our feet.  This campaign is certainly different than Dunwich, and it takes a different approach.  That said, I love it.  I really enjoy the switch for handling of monster threats brought about by Vengeance.

With Pathfinder & her ability, Ursula flies across the map.  Her high evasion gets her out of jams that would stop other Seekers cold.  Then Leo swoops in, takes care of the enemies without Vengeance and draws agro from those with it.  Very different playstyle for me, but very happy with it.

I am hoping the next cycle offers new and interesting mechanics.  The ones from TFA fits so well with its theme and setting.

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Had our first total fail and reset after Scenario 2 with TFA.  3 dead investigators.  Ouch.

In general I don't mind the increased difficulty.  The one part I REALLY don't like so far is supplies.  I don't mind them in concept, but you have to go into your choices completely blind.  Some of them make fairly logical sense, but some make no sense at all, and the punishments are BRUTAL...

 

Everyone gets trauma for not having a BLANKET?  Are we all channeling Linus here or something?  And who'd think that binoculars in a dense jungle would be the way to avoid trauma?

Edited by Buhallin

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Yeah I agree, supplies are a bad mechanic. I can see what they were going for, and maybe there was the germ of a good idea in there, but it's bad for four reasons:

1: As you say, when you go in blind, you're probably just going to make choices you regret and be annoyed because you had no way of knowing you were going to ruin your game. There's no indication of what they actually do when you buy them, so it's impossible to make choices as anything other than arbitrary guesswork.

2: Once you have played the campaign, you know what the supplies do. At that point, it essentially becomes a solved problem. You look at your deck, look at your playstyle, and look at what the supplies do, and work out which benefits you most want and which drawbacks you can least afford. In a few edge cases there may be interesting build and strategy decisions to be made, but mostly it will end up being a case of there being one optimal route, and certain supplies just not being worth having.

3: The mechanic scales really badly by player number. Since some of the effects are bonuses for one investigator and some are benefits that the group enjoys, they inherently have different value depending on player count. The way the supply points scale by player is particularly galling as certain combinations are unusable for certain group sizes - and since some of the supplies are consumable, the issue is exacerbated further, as in a game with more players, each investigator has to spend their significantly reduced points on things that won't provide a long-term benefit.

4: It makes absolutely no sense, from a flavour/thematic viewpoint. This is gonna be a huge and slightly tongue-in-cheek rant and I apologise in advance, but why are we limited in terms of supplies? The campaign book has a vague handwave that the expedition is poorly financed, but that doesn't make sense with the actual costs we see - how come we can't afford to each buy a water canteen? Even in the 1920s, this is hardly a major expense. How come the Fed with the expenses account, the fabulously wealthy Dilettante, or the professional psychologist can't chip in enough to buy a compass for everyone (maybe $2.50 each in the '20s)? How am I able to afford a .45 automatic, fine clothes and a satchelful of dynamite, but not a blanket? How does a stick of chalk cost as much as a pair of binoculars? Basically all of the supplies are things that any expedition would very obviously have sufficient amounts of - and that Leo Anderson, for instance, would have just lying around in a bag at home, one careful owner, no purchase needed. How on earth is a scientific expedition to the jungle not equipped with sleeping bags for everyone, or a map, binoculars and a compass? If I don't have a canteen, how on earth is my investigator managing to avoid dying of thirst?

I like the idea of having to choose how you prepare before you set off, but I would prefer it to not seem utterly absurd - why not a question of whether we take a car, a chartered flight or trek through the jungle on foot? Or a question of what supplies we choose to save from the camp following a fire, or what equipment we take with us from camp on a day's expedition, with penalties depending on how light we travel? There's any number of ways to implement a similar idea in a way that passes the laugh test. Not to mention that our investigator decks contain cards that imply we have similar equipment to the Supplies - how can I have First Aid, a Medical Text and Painkillers and not have Medicine, or have Liquid Courage but not have a drinking receptacle, or have a Flare and a Lantern but not be able to use them as a Torch, or have a lucky Rabbit's Foot that doesn't serve as a pendant? The Arkham Horror series, particularly the LCG, sometimes needs quite a big dose of willing suspension of disbelief, but the Supplies mechanic took my suspension of disbelief and threw it into a fire lit by the torches I apparently cannot afford.

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2 hours ago, Allonym said:

3: The mechanic scales really badly by player number. Since some of the effects are bonuses for one investigator and some are benefits that the group enjoys, they inherently have different value depending on player count. The way the supply points scale by player is particularly galling as certain combinations are unusable for certain group sizes - and since some of the supplies are consumable, the issue is exacerbated further, as in a game with more players, each investigator has to spend their significantly reduced points on things that won't provide a long-term benefit.

This is about the only part of it that I like.  Generally speaking, Arkham is easier with more players.  But larger groups need more supplies, but have less overall.  The end result is a balancing mechanic that punishes larger groups more.  Specific elements still don't make a lot of sense, and there are undoubtedly gaps in how this gets applied, but overall I liked the idea.

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Of all the campaign's so far, I'm actually enjoying the design of Forgotten Age the most. I thought the supplies were an interesting mechanic, with having to guess what you'd need most. It does require some suspension of disbelief, but so does the entire game.

Maybe I'm in the minority when I say: more campaigns like this, FFG!

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10 hours ago, CaffeineAddict said:

Of all the campaign's so far, I'm actually enjoying the design of Forgotten Age the most. I thought the supplies were an interesting mechanic, with having to guess what you'd need most. It does require some suspension of disbelief, but so does the entire game.

Maybe I'm in the minority when I say: more campaigns like this, FFG!

This!!! I just love this campaign sooo much...the jungle/wilderness theme is one of my favorites in the lore the other being mountains of madness/alaska & Innsmouth/R'lyeh. Plus you get the last 2 scenarios in the city of Yithians & Yoth..really this is the best experience in the game for me so far. I might have not found a scenario so cool both in mechanics and the overall vibes like Blood on the Altar & Unspeakable Oath but still this campaign overall does better for me...keep em comin indeed!

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18 hours ago, Allonym said:

Yeah I agree, supplies are a bad mechanic. I can see what they were going for, and maybe there was the germ of a good idea in there, but it's bad for four reasons:

 

Supplies isn't a bad mechanic.  I think most of the complaints come from the abuse you receive on the first playthrough, because the unknown actually hurts you.  On the 2nd playthrough, I believe this campaign is about as challenging as Dunwich Legacy. 

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17 hours ago, Buhallin said:

This is about the only part of it that I like.  Generally speaking, Arkham is easier with more players.  But larger groups need more supplies, but have less overall.  The end result is a balancing mechanic that punishes larger groups more.  Specific elements still don't make a lot of sense, and there are undoubtedly gaps in how this gets applied, but overall I liked the idea.

I would be OK with mechanics designed to challenge larger groups (if carefully implemented - the LOTR method of single encounter cards that reveal additional cards per player and so on is a terrible solution), but I don't see any reason to think that Supplies were intentionally designed with that in mind. It's not as simple as "supplies make things harder for larger groups", it's more like "larger groups are more restricted in the choices they can make" and perhaps "the scaling of numbers wasn't properly balanced".

After all, it's not like The Forgotten Age is well-balanced for player numbers, as the tiresome Explore mechanic is much harsher the fewer investigators there are.

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I quite like the supplies mechanic, the points allocation is a little on the low side, but in the 1920's expeditions were often strapped for cash and the more explorers that went, the less there was to pass around. The only thing that worries me with mechanics like this is that there's a lot of calculating to do, which adds to an already hefty amount in the Cycle. Never has our threat areas been so pounded.

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I've really enjoyed Forgotten Age for the theme - it's done an absolutely fantastic job of making me feel that I'm lost in a hostile jungle with people shooting arrows as me. Thematically, I think it's the strongest campaign so far. But as people have mentioned, the difficulty has really been kicked up a notch; not only that but it's also increased inconsistently.

We're not too far in as a group yet, but when we looked at Threads of Fate and the way the plot deck is structured, we were sure we'd fail miserably - but instead we managed to get everything done. It was challenge and we only just managed to scrape it, but the fact that we achieved everything the game laid out before us was brilliant. We then arrived at the Boundary Beyond and just got utterly piledriven into the dirt - we're playing on Normal and those two adventures didn't feel like they were on the same planet in terms of difficulty, let alone the same ballpark.

I'm fine with losing, it's a Cthulhu Game, I'm supposed to - but when it seems to swing back and forth so massively it's not an amazing experience. Who knows, perhaps we just had terrible luck? It's only our first time through and all that so my perspective might be out.

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18 hours ago, Ersatz Nihilist said:

I've really enjoyed Forgotten Age for the theme - it's done an absolutely fantastic job of making me feel that I'm lost in a hostile jungle with people shooting arrows as me. Thematically, I think it's the strongest campaign so far. But as people have mentioned, the difficulty has really been kicked up a notch; not only that but it's also increased inconsistently.

We're not too far in as a group yet, but when we looked at Threads of Fate and the way the plot deck is structured, we were sure we'd fail miserably - but instead we managed to get everything done. It was challenge and we only just managed to scrape it, but the fact that we achieved everything the game laid out before us was brilliant. We then arrived at the Boundary Beyond and just got utterly piledriven into the dirt - we're playing on Normal and those two adventures didn't feel like they were on the same planet in terms of difficulty, let alone the same ballpark.

I think that was intentional. Especially with the locations from Midnight Masks as well, Threads of Fate felt like coming home. More familiar game mechanics, familiar locations, familiar encounter card sets! The fact that we had stumbled out of the jungle after two punishing scenarios, particularly the second, then had a more relaxed time, also getting the best resolution and completing all the agendas, then heading back into the jungle, we actually felt like our characters must have done. That sinking feeling when you realise you have to go back out there... So, I thought the relative difficulties was all part of the narrative structure, personally.

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I did not start this cycle yet. I only start when the full campaign is available and then finish that campaign as one huge adventure within a week or two.

So I can not comment in detail at all.

BUT it is often referred as bad game design when you punish a player too much. I remember Rob Pardo of Diablo3 and World of  Warcraft fame saying this multiple times in an interview.

Reward should be a focus not punishment. A player will keep playing if he looses but still has the IMPRESSION he is rewarded any how. This applies to any game. And to a certain degree AH LCG respects  this principle as you simply can run an ongoing adventure even when you have a R1 to R3 result. 

Losing constantly things (like resources) in a massive way you fought for (and built up) is bad game design really. It is better to go for other constructive things that will motivate a player to do better.

That exactly is why I always put that punishing card in Eldritch Horror (the one where you need to reshuffle a victory card back) OUT of the game before we start playing. The dude who designed that card has no clue what drives people to have fun in games.

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1 hour ago, MMOfan said:

 

That exactly is why I always put that punishing card in Eldritch Horror (the one where you need to reshuffle a victory card back) OUT of the game before we start playing. The dude who designed that card has no clue what drives people to have fun in games.

Or that dude threw a bone to the masochists who are drawn to the game.  ?

I personally like when a co-op game throws everything it has at me.  Win or lose, I have fun taking on what may seem impossible odds and unfortunate turn of events.  I understand not everyone may enjoy that, or just get angry when they don't win.  But I wouldn't call it bad game design because a designer wants to challenge the player base. 

Also loss is a prevalent thing in the Lovecraftian Mythos.  I was told before my first game of Call of Cthulhu RPG experiences "Don't expect to survive".  You rarely get rewarded in the Mythos, and when you do, it will never feel like enough.  But that struggle, the "against all odds" spirit is what makes it fascinating.

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