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Hesitating to buy this because FF refuses to scale their games better with lower player counts

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On 10/24/2018 at 1:38 AM, neo_nille said:

But how about movement?  Do you feel like you can get around the board with just one gator?

I was thinking something similar. It could be just a case of increasing the move speed for small player counts. Forex, if only one player a move action lets you move four space, if two players a move action lets you move three spaces. Players can get around the board quicker but won't be able to do more things. 

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There is no need for any special scaling rules. The way the Mythos bag operates automatically scales the game according to player count. Fewer players = slower cycling of the bag so the nasty effects occur less frequently.

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13 hours ago, Joelist said:

There is no need for any special scaling rules. The way the Mythos bag operates automatically scales the game according to player count. Fewer players = slower cycling of the bag so the nasty effects occur less frequently.

But I feel like a solo investigator would always still be at a disadvantage due to limited mobility. Even if there are less nasty effects happening each turn, the nasties might always spawn in the district furthest away from you, depending on the luck of the draw. Meaning you would have less time to work on progressing the scenario. With more investigators, the likelihood of having someone with quick access to the priority location would be higher, even if that means the nasty mythos stuff would spawn more often.

Personally, I am not actually overly concerned how the game works with just one investigator as you would be missing out on a lot of the fun character synergies this way. But hopefully the game will work fine with two and three investigators, as I often find that to be the sweetspot for single player games. Four investigators tends to be too much for me to handle solo, at least based on my experiences with EH, where you often accumulate masses of items/spells/conditions that you need to keep track of.

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1 hour ago, AstroChicken said:

But I feel like a solo investigator would always still be at a disadvantage due to limited mobility. Even if there are less nasty effects happening each turn, the nasties might always spawn in the district furthest away from you, depending on the luck of the draw. Meaning you would have less time to work on progressing the scenario. With more investigators, the likelihood of having someone with quick access to the priority location would be higher, even if that means the nasty mythos stuff would spawn more often.

In the azathoth scenario, there are 2 monster tokens in the bag. In single player, it takes 7 turns to cycle the bag, meaning a solo investigator will only see a monster draw once every 3.5 rounds. And not every monsters (or threat) needs to be dealt with. High player counts are balanced by the fact that by drawing so many tokens in a row, there are many threats you simply cannot answer -- by the time it's the investigators' turn again, the 8 tokens that 4 players drew produced enough doom to straight up spawn an anomaly, and they have to spend time closing that anomaly (which is both more urgent and more of a commitment than cleaning up doom before an anomaly opens). In single player, you're likely go many rounds before enough doom accumulates to spawn an anomaly, quite possibly even a full cycle of the bag and then some.

Again, play the game a few times before you insist it needs to be "fixed."

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4 minutes ago, BD Flory said:

Again, play the game a few times before you insist it needs to be "fixed."

I never said the game is broken. Nor am I insisting anything. Just curious how this all will work out since I cannot actually play the game yet.

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3 hours ago, BD Flory said:

In single player, it takes 7 turns to cycle the bag, meaning a solo investigator will only see a monster draw once every 3.5 rounds. And not every monsters (or threat) needs to be dealt with.

Two locations on the map can be up to 7 spaces apart. Therefore, if a monster that needs to be dealt with spawns, it could spawn so far away that it will take a solo investigator 3-4 turns just to walk over there, in which time another monster has probably spawned.  The average distance between spawns and investigators falls dramatically as player count increases. 

This is why increasing the walking speed of solo investigators is a good idea. To prevent frustration and tedium of wasted turns. 

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2 hours ago, Hedgehobbit said:

Two locations on the map can be up to 7 spaces apart. Therefore, if a monster that needs to be dealt with spawns, it could spawn so far away that it will take a solo investigator 3-4 turns just to walk over there, in which time another monster has probably spawned.  The average distance between spawns and investigators falls dramatically as player count increases. 

This is why increasing the walking speed of solo investigators is a good idea. To prevent frustration and tedium of wasted turns. 

You assume that every single monster needs to be dealt with immediately and/or that some monsters don't walk towards the investigators by themselves.

 

Just play the game before jumping to conclusions.

 

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I've had an easier time with 1 investigator than I've had with 2.  That's not a big enough sample size to conclude anything.

Remember that Cthulhu games are built around stress and amassing threats against you.  Also, the majority of enemies move 2 spaces toward you in the Monster Phase.  So long as you're prepared to kill the monster after you engage it, most of them are not too much of a problem.  The rest of the monsters are Lurkers.  Lurkers sit where they are and do something bad during the monster phase (add 1 doom to their location, move 1 doom from their location to the scenario sheet, hit all investigators for 1 stamina).  Those are the ones you begin sizing the board to move to and deal with.

Doom & Anomalies (all scenarios have Anomalies except The Devourer Below, which use something else awful instead) are often a bigger threat to your otherwise peaceful night on the town.  Anomalies prevent you from having a normal encounter in their neighborhood.  They give you Anomalous encounters instead, which are nice because the give you the opportunity to remove more doom before the Mythos (spawn bad things) Phase which can easily drop more doom on your already burdened neighborhood (which, so long as there's an anomaly on that neighborhood, just goes straight to the scenario sheet instead).  However, encounters are how you equip yourself with spells, items, and allies, all of which you'll need to fight off those very threats.

So engaged monsters and anomalies causes you to miss out on opportunities to advance your own agenda by preventing you from having normal encounters.  That said, there's not much else working against you.  It's the bad stuff that makes it challenging and tense - which makes for a good game and really good Cthulhu game.  Bad things happening too far from you to be able to address them this turn makes the better, it ratchets up the theme of you against the darkness.

Withers starts with the ability to teleport to any space with doom on it (or at least he can, it might be 1 of his 2 options), and both McGlen & Muldoon can start with vehicles (although, admittedly, McGlenn's car is just a battering ram that has no movement bonus).  That same teleport spell is in the starting deck, so anyone can use it if they can find it.  Well, Jenny probably can't as her starting lore is 1.

TL;DR  I don't feel the movement mechanic needs adjusting with fewer players.

Edited by Duciris
I said that being in the streets prevented you from having encounters. That was wrong.

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5 hours ago, Hedgehobbit said:

Two locations on the map can be up to 7 spaces apart. Therefore, if a monster that needs to be dealt with spawns, it could spawn so far away that it will take a solo investigator 3-4 turns just to walk over there, in which time another monster has probably spawned.  The average distance between spawns and investigators falls dramatically as player count increases. 

This is why increasing the walking speed of solo investigators is a good idea. To prevent frustration and tedium of wasted turns. 

The vast majority of the enemies that you need to chase -- those that add doom or whatever -- spawn either at the street nearest the lead investigator (so, one space away in in every possible map, at least until we get some non-street tiles that connect to neighborhoods), or in the location with the most doom, where you should probably already be heading anyway. I believe one or two may also spawn at the unstable location, which again, is somewhere that's probably not out of the way for you, since it's been recently active with doom or clues.

And as Duciris points out, you can cover 7 spaces in two actions if you find yourself badly out of position. And that's assuming you don't have anything that increases the ground you can cover -- you might be able to get there faster.

This really isn't the issue people are imagining it to be. Play the game.

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9 hours ago, AstroChicken said:

I never said the game is broken. Nor am I insisting anything. Just curious how this all will work out since I cannot actually play the game yet.

I'm not really interested in playing semantic games. You're repeatedly arguing solo and low player count investigators are at some imaginary disadvantage, despite people who've actually played the game indicating those concerns are either a non-issue or are addressed by game or scenario design (though granted, even those of us who have it can't have completely analyzed it yet, as there are a lot of moving parts). Then you pivot to some other reason solos are at a disadvantage, again based on nothing but speculation and other games. Charitably, maybe you don't realize you're doing it, which is why people keep saying to give the game a chance instead of leaping to conclusions.

If you're curious, by all means, ask questions. That isn't what you're doing.

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15 hours ago, BD Flory said:

I'm not really interested in playing semantic games. You're repeatedly arguing solo and low player count investigators are at some imaginary disadvantage, despite people who've actually played the game indicating those concerns are either a non-issue or are addressed by game or scenario design (though granted, even those of us who have it can't have completely analyzed it yet, as there are a lot of moving parts). Then you pivot to some other reason solos are at a disadvantage, again based on nothing but speculation and other games. Charitably, maybe you don't realize you're doing it, which is why people keep saying to give the game a chance instead of leaping to conclusions.

If you're curious, by all means, ask questions. That isn't what you're doing.

I said that I was curious about movement and I mentioned once that I felt that lower player counts might be at a disadvantage. How is that now repeatedly arguing anything? Or maybe you are mixing me with the OP or some of the other posters here that expressed similar concerns. Anyway, maybe you are right in that  I should have taken the time to express my concerns in the form of actual questions instead, since nuances are often lost in forum discussions. I did not mean to attack the game or insult your sensibilities. If I did, my apologies. It's been a while since I've actually posted anything on any forum and I tend to forget how touchy people can get. Which is fine to be honest. Good to see people being passionate about their hobbies.

I am more than happy to hear that the game is looking pretty solid in all respects, based on Duciris' reports here.

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18 hours ago, Duciris said:

I've had an easier time with 1 investigator than I've had with 2.  That's not a big enough sample size to conclude anything.

TL;DR  I don't feel the movement mechanic needs adjusting with fewer players.

Just wanted to say that I really appreciate you taking the time to experiment with different investigator counts and then sharing your experiences here. Would love to hear more of your thoughts on player count scaling with different scenarios and different characters. Might take a while before I can pick up the game, so I have to live vicariously through forums posts and youtube videos for now.

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2 hours ago, AstroChicken said:

Anyway, maybe you are right in that  I should have taken the time to express my concerns in the form of actual questions instead, since nuances are often lost in forum discussions. I did not mean to attack the game or insult your sensibilities. If I did, my apologies.

You said nothing that requires an apology. Movement rates are an issue for many similar games, and is something that, in this case, has a trivial solution. I've always found it best to consider solutions to potential problems before playing a game if a rule seems problematic. Sometimes it turns out that the rule change isn't needed but that's much better than giving up on a game due to a mechanic that doesn't work. 

Remember, you're playing the game for your own entertainment. If adjusting the rules makes the game more enjoyable, then the rules should be adjusted. This is especially true in solo or co-op games. Also, keep in mind that game designers have limitations on the rules they write which individual players do not have. 

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1 hour ago, Hedgehobbit said:

You said nothing that requires an apology. Movement rates are an issue for many similar games, and is something that, in this case, has a trivial solution. I've always found it best to consider solutions to potential problems before playing a game if a rule seems problematic. Sometimes it turns out that the rule change isn't needed but that's much better than giving up on a game due to a mechanic that doesn't work. 

Remember, you're playing the game for your own entertainment. If adjusting the rules makes the game more enjoyable, then the rules should be adjusted. This is especially true in solo or co-op games. Also, keep in mind that game designers have limitations on the rules they write which individual players do not have. 

Thanks. It's good to hear that the core game mechanics make movement a non issue. And while I do agree that one can always adjust the rules to their liking, I personally often feel bad about doing this. Feels like cheating in a way. If any given game requires adjustment, in terms of rules, I would prefer that there would be an official variant or whatever. Just so I could sleep better at night. But that's probably something I just need to get over, personally ?

Speaking of house rules, someone on the BGG forums quoted one of the developers at Arkham Nights talking about having their own house rule, where you can pay $2 to get a 3 space taxi ride, when you draw a blank token from the mythos cup. Not commenting on whether this is a good house rule or not, but sounds like the blank tokens would be good way to easily incorporate house rules.

Speaking of money, how easy is it to make money in this game? Is that something that you specifically need to set out to do by heading to a specific location to work or whatever? Or is that something that sometimes also happens as the side effect of other encounters? Basically what I am wondering about is how much money you are generally accumulating in a game and whether that is something you can afford to spend on increasing movement, without screwing yourself over.

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So money is not 'easy' to get unless you end up with a retainer (job) or are Jenny though you can spend an action to get a money I think (I can't remember). All I know is that you already have pretty decent gear just by starting. I found myself repeatedly using money to move further with McGlenn. He starts with a weapon that is very good, so I don't know what else I would need money for. In Eldritch and Arkham, you find yourself wanting to buy items to get bumps to stats, which obviously still help, but remember that the focus mechanic sort of fills the same role (to a more limited degree) without spending money at all.

Also, remember that you can't just 'acquire assets' so even if you have money, you still need to have an encounter to let you buy something, and that is not a guarantee. Additionally, sometimes you can't have encounters because of anomalies. I think money is very much expendable for extra movement.

As I attempted to state earlier, I honestly think that lower player counts (if anything) are going to be easier games due to being less 'swingy' when it comes to the mythos bag phase. But I have only played 2 games and that was my impression.

Edited by Soakman

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4 hours ago, Soakman said:

As I attempted to state earlier, I honestly think that lower player counts (if anything) are going to be easier games due to being less 'swingy' when it comes to the mythos bag phase. But I have only played 2 games and that was my impression.

Having played low and high player count games, as well as middle, I think it scales very well, but not necessarily by scaling every aspect of the game identically. You can't prioritize threats quite the same way at different player counts. You can let doom simmer for a while in low player counts, for example, because you're much less likely to have multiple tokens compound doom in a single neighborhood in one mythos phase without the opportunity for investigators to respond. Conversely, enemies are less of a threat at high player counts because there are more players to absorb them -- you can keep right on warding while your buddy Michael McGlen puts the tommy gun to that cultist, for example.

Personally, I prefer this. It introduces variation in gameplay at different player counts. If you want gameplay to be the same at all player counts, you'll find it frustrating. I don't think it's any more or less difficult, just different.

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7 hours ago, Hedgehobbit said:

Remember, you're playing the game for your own entertainment. If adjusting the rules makes the game more enjoyable, then the rules should be adjusted.

This is, of course, true. But proposing fixes for a game you haven't played, nor even read the rules for, is just silly. A bunch of forum posts and marketing previews are a poor frame of reference to decide whether adjusting the walking speed of investigators, as you propose, is a good idea.

Once played, sure, you might want to adjust something. You might also find that the problem is completely imaginary or based on sheer speculation; or that you simply need to adjust your strategy, not the game rules, to have fun and/or be successful, without the unintended consequences of hasty house rules spoiling some other aspect of the design.

But you know, your game. You're free to wallpaper your bathroom with the encounter cards, if you like. *shrug*

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43 minutes ago, BD Flory said:

Having played low and high player count games, as well as middle, I think it scales very well, but not necessarily by scaling every aspect of the game identically.

Based on your experiences, do you feel like there is a player count sweet spot? Or is there a specific investigator count that you tend to gravitate towards?

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6 minutes ago, AstroChicken said:

Based on your experiences, do you feel like there is a player count sweet spot? Or is there a specific investigator count that you tend to gravitate towards?

I've played the most at middling range, like 3-5. Not out of any particular intention, that's just how the games pulled together in terms of available players and so on.

I think which you prefer is going to be down to taste, or even mood on the day. High player counts definitely need to worry about doom, and they're almost always going to be chasing anomalies and playing catch-up to clear doom from neighborhoods and remove anomalies. Because they draw many mythos tokens in sequence, doom can stack up before they have a chance to respond, and once anomalies spawn, you have to remove all doom from a neighborhood to remove them, rather than just policing to keep it below a certain level.

In lower player counts, doom explosion is less of a threat. You can plan a somewhat more studied route through arkham to keep doom from hitting that critical mass, since drawing many fewer tokens per mythos phase, hitting the various hotspots on the way, rather than seeing what breaks in the mythos phase and racing to fix it. On the other hand, enemies can be more disruptive, either by attacking you directly or through various global effects, so you're obliged to prioritize them in low player counts.

The main thing with scaling, I've found, is not the number of tokens you draw in itself, it's the number of tokens you draw in a row, without having player turns in between to answer their threats. That's why doom can pile up and explode in high player counts and `10 or 12 tokens per mythos phase; Lower player counts might see only 2-4, before they can act, giving them a chance to deal with threats before they magnify one another.

Middling counts feels like the sweet spot in terms of seeing the most of what the design has to offer, as neither of the above extremes are really in force. You get a decent chunk of mythos tokens in a row each round -- about half the bag -- but not so many in a row that there are emergencies every round (unless you've been slacking in previous rounds, of course). Both doom and monsters spawn quickly enough that they're threats, but neither so fast that one outweighs the other.

Like I said above, I don't think one extreme is more difficult than the other (nor more or less difficult than the middle range of players), but it does mean approaching the strategy in different ways. And investigator selection is obviously a factor as well -- it's more important that the majority of investigators be able to ward well with doom spawning all over the table every round, and in lower player counts it's more important that each investigator be able to deal with monsters in some fashion on their own. (The choice between starting loadouts for each investigator goes a long way to help here.)

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I have now played and won (and lost) with 1-, 2-, & 3-players, as well as having lost and won all 4 scenarios and played with all the characters.  Sorry.  I thought the game would be out by now too.:(

Monsters.  So far I'm concluding that you need one investigator who can deal with monsters for every two players.  That doesn't mean you need a guardian, if your mystics can get spells or if anyone can get the tommy-gun or shotgun, or any other means of reliably dealing with threats then you're covered.  Monsters spawn at an annoying rate, and all 4 scenarios start with 2 monsters on the board, with at least 1 of them being mobile.

In the same way that you'll have Swarm of Rats in many of your AH:LCG adventures, you'll have generic cultists or nightgaunts in most of the scenarios.  Every other monster, however, is exclusively in 1 scenario!  They behave differently & are easier/harder to beat on the whole depending on which AO they tie to.  That goes a long way to making the scenarios different.  The location decks are the same every time they are in play, but the encounter cards (the location cards you get clues from) are exclusive to the scenario, so they feel very different as well (even though mechanically they're very similar from one scenario to another).  The Codex (what cards with flavor and mechanics of how to advance the narrative), of course, is very different in each scenario, except for #2 - the rules for Anomalies - which is in 3 of the 4.  They all add to making the 4 scenarios feel unique.

Movement.  There is usual 1 or 2 times in a game when you can't get across the map fast enough.  It's an Arkham game though, so it just adds to the tension.

The game overall is about managing threats while waiting for the right encounters to get you what you want - spells, clues, guns, cultists, (Golden) Pocket Watch.  (That makes it sound less fun than it is.)  You could guarantee that nothing bad will happen to Miskatonic University, but to do that you'd have to ignore the rest of the board.  Instead, you reason how much doom/monsters can be on the board and in each neighborhood and you try to keep them stable enough.  It's like Pandemic.  How many disease cubes can you leave in Europe so that you can go to Asia and prevent a chain of outbreaks?  Is it worth San Palo outbreaking this turn if you can cure the Blue disease next turn?  You won't know which tokens are coming out next, but you will know what the missing token pool is; similarly, after you have a Gate Burst, the discard pile is shuffled and placed on the bottom of the encounter deck - cards are drawn from the bottom of the deck to spread doom - so you'll know what neighborhoods and locations are in the greatest danger.

All the investigators play differently and have interesting approaches to the game.  I don't actually know how investigators are chosen - if it's random or a selection.  I can safely say that taking Mihn (Seeker), Rex (Cursed Seeker), and Wendy (Survivor) does not beget easy-mode.  But both groups Mihn-Mcglen and Muldoon-Rex-Lambeau survived their horrors and the Agnes-Calvin-Daniela team was devoured 1 turn (I tested) before they could stop the madness.

The scenarios are not uniformly difficult.  I have an opinion on which is the easiest, which is the hardest, and I'm close to concluding which of the remaining 2 is easier than the other, although that's much closer call.

Unless I am blind and have completely screwed something up (which I did in new and exciting ways for the first 4 or 5 of my playthroughs), all 4 Scenarios start with the same Mythos Cups of 14 tokens - 3 Doom, 2 Monsters, 2 Clues, 2 Headlines, 1 Reckoning, 1 Gate Burst, 3 Blanks.

The mechanics work very well, and I have already played 3rd edition more times than I played 2nd (Sorry again).  It feels right, including that it will take you 2-3 turns to cross the entire board.  I think @Soakman's onto something with the game being more predictable with fewer players - fewer things can blowup in your face in a given round.  It's more strategic with 1 player than it is with 3.  I don't know that it's easier with fewer players, but it is more strategic.  With more players, you have more capacity to quell threats, so there will be times you will look at the board and conclude that you're doing well and you will just Gather Resources (get $1) and move to a preferred location.  In the same game, you will watch as the board explodes with 3 Anomalies and you'll wonder how each player can squash those before 1 more doom is placed on the scenario sheet advancing the plot against you.

I don't think the game is particularly swingy.  I think there will be rounds where you're surprised how little you were hurt in a round, but otherwise it's pretty much damage-control.  If you put the tokens back into the bag (Mythos Cup) after you drew them, or after a Mythos phase (so after everyone's drawn them), I think the game would be much swingier - it would allow for consecutive rounds of nothing bad or nothing good.  With it being emptied before refilling, however, I think Nikki found a really good way to randomize the chaos without unbalancing the game.

I think the size of the Item, Spell, & Ally decks is about right for the game.  You won't see every card in any deck (without very silly & lucky shenanigans) but they're small enough to be otherwise consistent as well.

TL;DR  I'm impressed with how much I like this game and I think you will too!

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Thanks for great review!

Now, as you have played all scenario, could you tell something more about them? Are they all the same length or maybe some are shorter than others? How about replayability? Which are more sandboxy, which feel more scripted?

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10 minutes ago, player1329291 said:

Thanks for great review!

Now, as you have played all scenario, could you tell something more about them? Are they all the same length or maybe some are shorter than others? How about replayability? Which are more sandboxy, which feel more scripted?

I can, but I'm going to wait until the game is out for a week.  Then I'll do it and sleep better about not giving away too much.;)

They all start with 'you don't know enough, go find clues' and diverge after that.

They've been taking me 2-3 hours, unless I die early - which only adds 1 doom to the scenario sheet and then you get a new investigator, but still.

For replayability, there's at least 1 that has multiple win conditions.

All the investigators have tweaks in how they play, so trying them out and finding your favorite is really fun (my favorites so far are Norman Withers, Michael McGlenn, Mihn Thai Phan, & Marie Lambeau (and not just together)).  All  investigators have a starting item/spell/talent/ally and 1-5 dollars, then you choose between 2 other spell(s)/item(s)/talent(s) before you start the game.  (Calvin & Rex have a different set of starting options, but you still get a choice.)  Not all of the options are equal, and some are better determined by scenario.

For example, Tommy Muldoon starts with $3 & Becky, a +4 Strength on Attacks weapon with 3/2-Sanity/Health and requires two hands to use.  His ability is that he can opt to have monsters engage him instead of other investigators in his space.  His other 2 cards are a motorcycle which reduces the bonus movement costs by $1 (so free at 3 and $1 for 4) and handcuffs which defeat non-epic human monsters if he deals them damage or they deal damage to him or if he evades them.  The first is good in every game, but the second is useless if the scenario has few human monsters, which can be the case.

Next, I want to run each scenario with Norman & Michael consecutively and see if the 2 of them can beat each of the 4 now that I'm not playing blind.  I'd really like to carry over some or all of their sanity/health, but I suspect that if I do, I'll feel I should similarly carry over some of their equipment.  The drawback to that would be how overpowered those characters would be if they started any of the games with certain gear.  Perhaps I'll instead add their items/spells/allies to the tops of their respective decks so that they'll have preferential access to that gear through encounters...

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