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klecser

Experienced player getting his rear destroyed (Gathering spoilers)

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Posted (edited)

So, I've played through the "beginner" scenario three times now and I have yet to get even close to "winning." I'm a long time tactical gamer, knowledgeable about Lovecraftian tropes and have played Arkham Horror Board Game several times. So, please spare me the "git gud" comments . The game is obviously designed to be difficult and to punch you in the face. Which is just about as Lovecraftian as you can get.

I'm still trying to figure out the expected "tempo" of this Core set. I've read criticisms of the brutally random nature of things and advice ranges from "you need to waste no time" to "you need to build resources first." This, I think, is where the randomness can make it difficult to give advice.

I know I'm just musing here, but I'm also just wondering if I'm off base in considering the very first scenario to be punishingly difficult. It's making me question if I'm going to even enjoy any expansions or the other two campaign missions. I've also had some spectacularly bad luck where I'll roll a 7 Attack on a 4 and draw the -4 chit. I started a game fighting all vanilla mobs, attacked with cushion, and failed every roll, losing six Health on Roland (through various means) in the first two game rounds.

Advice I've read:

1) "Exhaust" monsters. Yep. I understand that. That is very difficult to do with Roland.

2) Go into the Ghoul King with attack buffs. This seems to contradict the "hurry" advice of some people, and makes me question if "hurry" is just bad advice. His retaliate makes attacking him perplexing to me. Exhaust him first, then attack. The whole time there are other mobs spawning that always threaten to mind kill Roland if I don't deal with them.

3) Recruit what's her face (don't remember her name sitting here, game is elsewhere) Well, yeah, I know. I'm playing Dual Character Solo BTW. I'm finding that needing to have both Investigators at the hallway at the end results in potentially so many monsters spawning in the hallway that I don't have enough actions to both disengage and move to the Parlor. In both games I've made tactically sound decisions, with cushions, and can't help taking so much damage in the first half of the game that I can't afford to take any attacks of opportunity later.

So, I'm frustrated. I understand that this is what this game is supposed to be. I understand that there are things I could do to lower the difficulty. But if I'm having to lower the difficulty of the very FIRST scenario, what are the later ones going to be like. I think this Core set has a difficulty scaling problem. The first scenario you do, the "beginner" scenario, should not be this difficult and I think the designers at FFG should have known better or tested more with fresh players. Am I bonkers? Be kind. Please. Maybe this is not the right time in history to be starting a difficult game. ;) 

Edited by klecser

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Hello and welcome to the game and community!!!

Regarding the first scenario of the core set - it is not regarded as a hard scenario. However, there are usually mistakes in rules interpretation, because the rules are pretty hard to get at the beginning. It would be very helpful if you could explain your situation in game. How do you attack, how do you interpret attacks of opportunity and so on.

There's a absolutely a luck factor in this game - the encounter deck (mix and randomise it well before playing) and the chaos bag. With expanding player card size (5 full expansions) you can mitigate both. The card pool in the core set is very limited so a constant and well build game is hard. I would recommend trying with proxys (print another set of core set cards and slip them in the cards you are not using (if you are using sleeves). You will have at least have 2 copies of strong cards (beat cop, machete, guard dog), while you can get rid of the not so useful ones (knife, physical training...). As stated before, with more expansions the game will become more manageable regarding your play options (you can for example buy a true guardian with guns blazing).

Regarding the advice:

1. The Agenda deck is your "time" marker - you can go slower until it gets close to the threshold. If you finish the act of the same number before the agenda turns, you are fine. My advice, don't rush through this scenario. Also, when you turn the first act, remember to discard all enemies in play (you can turn it strategically this way).

2. Buffing is an all important thing, you should try to do as much of it at the first two rounds of the game. It will make your life easier. Again, with the limited card pool in the core set, you will have difficulty against it. I would recommend using the easy chaos bag for the first couple of plays, so you get the hang of all the mechanics and rules (seasoned players are still making mistakes, we are discussing about them all the time on this forum).

3. If you play two handed, Lita (that's her name) should be a priority - you should be able to get her with the investigator who is not engaged with the Ghoul priest. She gives you a combat boost and an additional point of damage per attack. Not to be overlooked. Also, the first scenario should not have as many enemies and most of them should be killable by Roland (rats, ghoul minion). Also, you just need to spend 6 clues in the hallway, you should be able to have some from other locations (spending them is not an action and you get no attacks of opportunity - the ones for the act deck).

I hope what I wrote was understandable, my intention is to help you. Also, a lot of other members will surely try to help you and add to what I wrote (or disagree with me 😅).

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Very understandable and helpful. Thank you.

I find myself a hair away from successes frequently. 

Question about Guard Dog. It specifies that it can soak damaged when attacked, but big mobs like the Priest aren't likely to prioritize it as a target when Roland is there? Is the idea to have Guard Dog and Wendy together?

Can you trade resources/clues between players if in the same area?

If one of two investigator dies but you meet the objective, is that still a scenario "win?"

The game instructs you not to use level two or three cards in the beginner scenario, but should I consider that?

The Dunwich Legacy is widely regarded, but very few of the expansions seem to be available for it. Would I alleviate my struggles if I just got cards from the Dunwich Legacy Deluxe expansion?

Maybe the best thing to do would be to do an example log from one of my turns and that will reveal where I may be making errors?

An example off the top of my head:

In my first game, I managed to recruit Lita with Wendy. Roland has only two Mind left, so any attack from the Priest was going to defeat him. Wendy went in (Move), Engaged the Priest, Succesfully Evaded him. He's exhausted. Roland kills Mob from prior round, needing two attacks because it has three health and he  had his +1 damage gun. Attack on Priest misses. Next round mythos, pull mobs on both Investigators. Roland is engaged with two mobs, either could kill him. Wendy is engaged with mob, can kill her. It is a no-win scenario. It takes two actions: Engage and Evade to pull the Priest off Roland safely. But Wendy missed her attack on the extra mob, she dies when it attacks.  Roland is then left with a mob on him that has to be killed or it kills him.  There is no way I can put the damage on the Priest needed (10) from that point on. There was a game where I missed the Priest with Roland and killed Wendy instead. 

In two games I've had the dynamite, but not the resources needed to use it, or the actions to evade and then move and then use it.

Edited by klecser

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Let me answer your questions first and then I will go on to general advice.

1.  If the guard dog is on the table,  he mostly functions as "part" of roland.  So if you take an attack from the Ghoul Priest you can assign the damage to the Guard dog.   You can even split it between Roland, the Guard Dog, and any other assets with health that you might have.   The only time you can not do this is if the game specifies "direct" damage.   This is rare.      As long as at least 1 damage was dealt to the dog after damage is assigned,  the guard dog may deal 1 damage to the attacking enemy.

2.   You can not trade resources or clues unless a card specifically tells you to do so.

3.  ...   You're approaching this the wrong way.     The only "win" or "loss" is in the last scenario.    Read the scenario end instructions.   It will tell you what happens.   

-----

How much time you need to be spending really depends on the scenario.   Fortunately, you've played this one a couple of times now, so you should have a pretty good handle on the pacing.   If the scenario is ending in failure most of the time because you have too much Doom and the Agenda advances too far,  then you probably need to move a little faster.    If you're finding yourself knocked unconscious or driven insane most of the time,  then you probably need to spend a bit more time setting up, playing assets, and gathering resources.

I'm getting the impression that you weren't aware that you could assign damage to your assets by what you said about Guard Dog.   Maybe you already knew that,   but if you didn't,  this is absolutely going to boost your survivability.   It's critical that you can push damage on to your dog,  beat cop, or Wendy's Leather Coat.  Don't forget about Roland's "dodge" card either,  that can soak a big attack from the Ghoul Priest if you have it.   Be careful with how you spend your ammo.   Spend it,  but also try to save enough that you can be doing enough damage to the ghoul priest when he comes out.   If you can handle an enemy with just a knife,  it might be better to use that than waste your precious ammo.   Lita's ability helps a lot against the ghoul priest,  and don't forget you can put damage on Lita also.   It might be beneficial to try to work it so Roland gets Lita most of the time,  but if you can't,  then you can't.   

good luck, my friend.

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6 minutes ago, klecser said:

Question about Guard Dog. It specifies that it can soak damaged when attacked, but big mobs like the Priest aren't likely to prioritize it as a target when Roland is there? Is the idea to have Guard Dog and Wendy together?

The Guard Dog is an asset. Whenever you take non-direct damage, you can assign a portion of that damage to Guard Dog. Thus, when the Priest attacks Roland, you can have Roland take 1 damage while the Dog takes the other point, then use the Dog's ability to damage the Priest.

9 minutes ago, klecser said:

Can you trade resources/clues between players if in the same area?

No.

10 minutes ago, klecser said:

If one of two investigator dies but you meet the objective, is that still a scenario "win?"

The only consequence is that the defeated investigator picks up a point of trauma and is therefore a bit weaker for the rest of the campaign (outside of the handful of scenarios that include separate resolutions for defeated investigators). If the team reaches a resolution, it applies to everyone, including defeated investigators.

Note that the campaign still continues even if you don't reach a resolution, as the campaign log includes a "default" resolution if all investigators are defeated. That said, if you're new, you probably should just retry The Gathering, since future scenarios won't get any easier.

23 minutes ago, klecser said:

In my first game, I managed to recruit Lita with Wendy. Roland has only two Mind left, so any attack from the Priest was going to defeat him. Wendy went in (Move), Engaged the Priest, Succesfully Evaded him. He's exhausted. Roland kills Mob from prior round, needing two attacks because it has three health and he  had his +1 damage gun.

Lita's reaction explicitly triggers off any investigator at her location, and all Ghoul enemies have the Monster trait. Thus, Roland's attack would have killed the Ghoul immediately (1 damage base, +1 from his gun, +1 from Lita).

25 minutes ago, klecser said:

Next round mythos, pull mobs on both Investigators. Roland is engaged with two mobs, either could kill him. Wendy is engaged with mob, can kill her. It is a no-win scenario. It takes two actions: Engage and Evade to pull the Priest off Roland safely. But Wendy missed her attack on the extra mob, she dies when it attacks.

Wendy should have evaded her enemy rather than trying to attack it, because her combat score is terrible.

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Posted (edited)
31 minutes ago, awp832 said:

I'm getting the impression that you weren't aware that you could assign damage to your assets by what you said about Guard Dog.   

Your impressions are completely correct. There are several games that I would have survived had I been following this rule. :) 

See, this is why one comes to the forum, because something seems "off" to an experienced gamer...that there was some key advantage I was missing.

  

27 minutes ago, rsdockery said:

Wendy should have evaded her enemy rather than trying to attack it, because her combat score is terrible.

I had a 5 to 3 attack advantage with various cards and buffs and pulled a -3. Let's just say I'm going to the "easy" array of chits until I get a handle on things.

I also had two absolutely critical combat tests in one game and I drew the "auto fail" token on both of them.

Just to clarify...any asset that tells you to spend a Resource to get +1X, that can only be done once for any test, right?

The Dunwich Legacy is widely regarded, but very few of the mini expansions seem to be available for it. Would I open up deck building a bit if I just got cards from the Dunwich Legacy Deluxe expansion?

Which expansion is best for raw utility cards?

Edited by klecser

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The timer I mostly give myself in the beginning is "finish the first act before the first agenda advances". That seems pretty solid in many scenarios. The exceptions are pretty obvious, like when the first agenda has 10 doom, or there is only one.

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55 minutes ago, klecser said:

Just to clarify...any asset that tells you to spend a Resource to get +1X, that can only be done once for any test, right?

You're talking about something like physical training? As long as you've got the cash, you can keep getting +1 x; the only limit is on your resource pool. They're "free" actions, so you can stack them as much as you want. If the asset exhausted, then you could only do it once.

58 minutes ago, klecser said:

Which expansion is best for raw utility cards?

Dunwich is pretty strong; it has some allies for Roland (I think) and Peter Sylvester for Wendy; one of the best survivor allies full stop.

I think the best advice I can give you, from reading what you've said, is to re-read the rules. I mean this in the nicest possible way; the learn-to-play booklet has gotten you off and running, so now that you know what confuses you, sit down with the Rules Reference and leaf though it for an afternoon. I'm the kind of person who loves to do that; I'll pull up the Arkhamdb.com rules website and poke around, looking up keywords that I'm not familiar with.

I would sit down with both documents, the learn-to-play booklet and the Rules Reference, and go through things step-by-step, following the instructions from the L2P book and looking up anything I don't understand in the Rules Reference. Then if you've got something neither of those books cover, come back here and we'll be happy to hash it out with you.

The rules do fail. It is super confusing. But it is so, so good. We're super glad you're here.

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Posted (edited)
29 minutes ago, SGPrometheus said:

I think the best advice I can give you, from reading what you've said, is to re-read the rules. I mean this in the nicest possible way; the learn-to-play booklet has gotten you off and running, so now that you know what confuses you, sit down with the Rules Reference and leaf though it for an afternoon. I'm the kind of person who loves to do that; I'll pull up the Arkhamdb.com rules website and poke around, looking up keywords that I'm not familiar with.

I think this is a fair point and is definitely guiding me from now on.

I played another game and it went MUCH better. 

Along the lines of your point, it really made me question whether I understand the enemy engagement process.

The situation:

Wendy and Roland are both in the Hallway with the Priest. Roland is engaged with another Ghoul (this is at the start of the Investigative Phase). Wendy used "Engage" to get him off Roland. She attempted Evade to attempt to exhaust, but failed. At that point I decided to cut my losses and preserve an action for the Parlor and played Elusive. The card text on Elusive bothers me because it says "Disengage from each enemy engaged with you and move to a revealed location..." It doesn't say "Evade" an enemy. It says "disengage." And disengage is not a glossary term. So, the Priest is not exhausted, right?

So, as soon as Wendy leaves the room, what does the Priest do? Does it immediately engage with Roland? It doesn't seem to meet any of the "triggers" for engagement specified in the engagement rules.  It hasn't spawned, it hasn't moved, and an investigator didn't move there.

Can Roland attack the Priest while engaged with the other ghoul? Will the Priest engage immediately? Will it engage when the Enemy phase happens next because of Prey? All the answers to those questions matter, but the rules could use some more engagement examples.

 

Edit: Oh, and being able to "stack" things like physical training is also huge. That would have changed several games. 

Edit 2: "Any time a ready unengaged enemy is at the same location as an investigator, it engages that investigator, and is placed in that investigator's threat area." So, I think that answers the engagement question. Went to ArkhamDB, as instructed!

Edited by klecser

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Posted (edited)
13 minutes ago, klecser said:

I think this is a fair point and is definitely guiding me from now on.

I played another game and it went MUCH better. 

Great to hear that!

13 minutes ago, klecser said:

Along the lines of your point, it really made me question whether I understand the enemy engagement process.

The situation:

Wendy and Roland are both in the Hallway with the Priest. Roland is engaged with another Ghoul (this is at the start of the Investigative Phase). Wendy used "Engage" to get him off Roland. She attempted Evade to attempt to exhaust, but failed. At that point I decided to cut my losses and preserve an action for the Parlor and played Elusive. The card text on Elusive bothers me because it says "Disengage from each enemy engaged with you and move to a revealed location..." It doesn't say "Evade" an enemy. It says "disengage." And disengage is not a glossary term. So, the Priest is not exhausted, right?

So, as soon as Wendy leaves the room, what does the Priest do? Does it immediately engage with Roland? It doesn't seem to meet any of the "triggers" for engagement specified in the engagement rules.  It hasn't spawned, it hasn't moved, and an investigator didn't move there.

Can Roland attack the Priest while engaged with the other ghoul? Will the Priest engage immediately? Will it engage when the Enemy phase happens next because of Prey? All the answers to those questions matter, but the rules could use some more engagement examples.

The priest automatically engages Roland. Disengaging does not exhaust an enemy. The prey keyword is only intended when there are more possible targets (if both Roland and Wendy were at the same location). When an enemy is ready it always engages the investigator at the same location.

Roland can attack whichever enemy is engaged with him or another investigator in the same location. The other monsters do not attack you (attack, evade, parley and resign do not trigger attacks of opportunity).

It is really unbelievable what multiple readings of the rules do, especially for this card game 😁 But when you get going, this is one of the best coop games there is.

Edited by Jurcccy

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Posted (edited)

Wendy engages Ghoul, then attempts an evade and fails. Then plays elusive.

Unengaged, unexhausted enemies will immediately engage with investigators in their location. When Wendy ducks out, Roland is now engaged with both enemies.

You can Attack, Evade, Parley, and Resign without causing an attack of opportunity. So if Roland attacks either of his engaged enemies, no enemy will get an attack of opportunity (in fact, Roland can attack an unengaged enemy or an enemy engaged with Wendy without triggering an Attack of Opportunity).

If Wendy had successfully evaded, the evaded enemy would be exhausted and would re-engage the moment it became ready in Upkeep.

If I understand the situation correctly, I might have had Wendy go and try to pick up Lita in the parlor and return (Move, Parley, Move). Roland could then get three attacks in all of which would benefit from Lita (and none of which would trigger an Attack of Opportunity, failed attacks directed at the Ghoul Priest would lead to retaliation damage) .

Edited by Eeyogre
clarity of post

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12 minutes ago, klecser said:

It doesn't seem to meet any of the "triggers" for engagement specified in the engagement rules.

The only triggers are that the enemy is ready and at the same location as an investigator (and, of course, that no card effects are preventing engagement, such as Aloof). The Ghoul Priest will immediately re-engage Roland.

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Posted (edited)

Fortunately any set you get at this point is going to be a huge boost to your deck variance.   So probably any set will do.   If you want to head over to arkhamDB.com and go to the "cards" tab, you can  actually see what cards come in each set,   if you're the type to want to meticulously look over everything and know exactly what you will get.    But some people would rather be surprised,  so if that's you...  any deluxe box will probably do.   If pressed,  I would suggest your next campaign be Dunwich if you can get the mini expansions for it.   If you can not,  then I would suggest Carcosa instead.     If you just get Dunwich Big Box, you will get some nice player cards, and 2 fun missions to play.... but it won't be a complete story arc like the Core set is.   The mini expansions are part of the story.

-----

So, if Wendy plays Elusive the Priest does NOT get exhausted.   You are correct, disengaged does not mean exhausted.   In your example the Ghoul Priest will immediately engage Roland.   Check page 10 of the rules reference.  "...Any time a ready unengaged enemy is at the same location as an investigator, it engages that investigator, and is placed in that investigator's threat area."

If Roland is engaged with multiple enemies at once (the Ghoul Priest, and another Ghoul) he can attack either one, at his preference.   The Ghoul Priest should already be engaged with Roland at this point, since Wendy played Elusive.  If Roland is the only one there,  the GP is engaged with Roland.

Lets set up a different example,  where Wendy does not play Elusive.

Roland and Wendy are in the Hallway.   Wendy has Lita.    Roland is engaged with a Ghoul, and Ghoul Priest, Wendy is unengaged.   There are no other enemies.   On her turn, Wendy uses her first action to engage the ghoul priest, and then her second action successfully evades the Ghoul Priest.   The Ghoul Priest disengages from Wendy.   Wendy just plays down an asset with her other action and stays in the hallway.    Roland's turn.   He now has a ghoul engaged with him, and an exhausted Ghoul Priest in the hallway.    Roland spends his first action to attack the Ghoul.    He doesn't want to use any ammo, so he just attacks.   It's a hit.   At this point, Wendy notices that a Monster enemy at her location (the Ghoul) was successfully attacked, so she activates Lita's reaction ability to deal an extra damage.  Rolands 1 damage plus the extra 1 from Lita is enough to kill it.   He then spends his second action to attack the Ghoul Priest.    He may do this, even though it is not engaged with him.   He misses.   Ghoul Priest's retaliate keyword does not trigger, since it is exhausted.   He attacks again for his third action and scores a hit.    Again, Wendy activates Lita's ability, since another monster enemy at her location was successfully attacked.   Roland's hit on the Priest deals +1 damage.   But it doesn't die.    Enemy phase rolls along,  and the Ghoul Priest does not attack because it was exhasted.   It then has to make a "choice" between engaging Roland or engaging Wendy.   You check the monster's Prey instruction and see that it engages the investigator with the highest combat.    The Ghoul Priest will engage Roland.

Hope that helps.

 

Edited by awp832

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I have ordered Dunwich. I'm kind in a weird situation between story and gameplay in that I'm not a huge fan of the Yellow King. So, I've heard that people rave about Carcosa, but Hastur has never been my jam. 

Any main expansions with Serpent People or Yithians? It sounded to me like Forgotten Age would be prime Elder Thing/Serpent People situations.

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Posted (edited)

Forgotten Age has both of those in spades.    You should know that Forgotten Age is a bit harder than Dunwich campaign,  which is why it's usually not suggested as a first adventure.    A larger card pool will help you.

 

Edited by awp832

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3 minutes ago, Jurcccy said:

Also a lot of interesting mechanics but is quite a bit harder than Dunwich and Carcosa.

Well, now that I understand the base mechanics better I feel a lot more confident. My current plan:

Dunwich doesn't arrive until May 1. So between now and May 1:

1) Play the Gathering with a variety of different investigators/Decks

2) Settle on my favies and attempt a campaign.

3) Receive Dunwich, play with new cards. Play two missions that come with it.

4) Decide on Forgotten Age.

Thanks everyone!

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Update: I'm finding Skids and Daisy to be far more conducive to my play style than Roland and Wendy. Like most tactical gamers, I find options for extra actions FAR more useful than raw strengths.

My first game with them was poetry, so much so that I immediately decided to move into the second part of a campaign with them.

I got a lot of tomes and spells rolling with Daisy.  Old Book of Lore is an amazing card.

That, combined with all of the clarifications above, and I'm feeling a lot more confident. I'm going to play through the campaign on "Easy," see how it goes, and then likely go to Standard on another run.

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that's great!    I feel Daisy is still quite powerful,  and yeah,  OBL  is really good on her (it's not as good on other seekers).   Skids has lost a little bit in the current state of the game,  but he's good fun and perfectly fine for the core set.  


Daisy is so strong because she has raw strength (5 Lore)  *and* extra actions (from Tomes).  I certainly agree that extra actions are probably more valuable than a point or two of primary stat if you are playing on easy mode.    If you get into harder difficulties,  you might reconsider your stance, as higher base stats are very valuable when the token bag is meaner.

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9 hours ago, klecser said:

Update: I'm finding Skids and Daisy to be far more conducive to my play style than Roland and Wendy. Like most tactical gamers, I find options for extra actions FAR more useful than raw strengths.

My first game with them was poetry, so much so that I immediately decided to move into the second part of a campaign with them.

I got a lot of tomes and spells rolling with Daisy.  Old Book of Lore is an amazing card.

That, combined with all of the clarifications above, and I'm feeling a lot more confident. I'm going to play through the campaign on "Easy," see how it goes, and then likely go to Standard on another run.

So, I’m enough of a masochist that I played through on the Arkham Horror difficulty, and the starter deck weaknesses are pretty much tailor made to cripple both Roland and Wendy, the difficulty of NotZ also ramps very fast because of the consistent doom adding encounter deck cards, and most enemies requiring multiple weapon hits from Roland thanks to 3-4 health being very common.

As you note, Roland’s low evasion means that means getting a weapon and some other booster frequently becomes the top priority, because it’s his only plausible way out of a bad situation. When playing Roland/Wendy two-handed, I like to focus them on slightly different goals. Roland hunkers down at a high shroud location and arms to the teeth, with Wendy to feed him boost cards, especially events, using her amulet to then play them back to the bottom of the deck. If too many enemies show up, and I have a choice, I put them on Wendy to evade and buy some time. Nobody investigates unless I have a flashlight (and it’s guaranteed vs a 1-2 shroud location) or I have no other good moves on tap.

For what it’s worth, I found the core three scenarios to require careful planning of moves well in advance on Arkham Horror level, and even then, dumb luck can cripple you pretty easily. On Easy/Standard, you should probably just play the odds and never boost anything unless it absolutely has to happen in X actions.

After NotZ I found the difficulty downshift to the first Dunwich Horror episode is pretty dramatic.

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Posted (edited)

We mulligan hard in our opening hands for assets. The first round for us is almost always setting up. Since you are guaranteed no enemies that round, the more you can can get out; spells, weapons, search tools, Allies etc; the greater your position of strength is for what’s coming. 

Edited by Mimi61

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12 hours ago, klecser said:

I'm going to play through the campaign on "Easy," see how it goes, and then likely go to Standard on another run.

The third scenario is brutally difficult. If the first two scenarios went perfectly, it can still go down the tubes in a few bad pulls. The worst part is that it's not interesting, it's just hard. I was trying to think if it was harder than some end-campaign scenarios from other campaigns, and I realized that those scenarios actually have other things you can do, so they might be harder, but at least you can do something.

Just as a heads up.

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The 3rd scenario is very difficult.  Don't get discouraged if you can't beat it,   pretty much nobody can their first time through.   Maybe mess around with different characters and see what you can come up with.    You can also ask for advice if you're still stuck.  Myself and others have come up with some solid strategies,  but I'll avoid mentioning them for now  if you'd like to see what you can come up with on your own.

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Good advice all!

General strategic question, and this could be completely context-dependent:

Is it generally better to split the party or keep them together? I've tried both and I'm not convinced that either is necessarily a no-brainer.

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