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Sea of Blood -impossible to play... possible to fix?

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Bravo McWilley said:

re: patmox

I just got Seas of Blodd myself and have yet to play it, but reading through these threads gives me pause for concern. your simple house rules seem like they would go a long way to improving the most common issues, but I do have a question still. Do you use Divine favor and if so, do you use any modification for this?

I personally do not like this rule for all the reasons stated by others in this thread and am wondering if it should just be tossed? What is your take on this?

We tossed the Divine Favor rule, and thanks to that we still have a tiny chance of reaching the final battle.

We are behind 150-221 in conquest and regularly get pummeled in dungeons (facing gold monsters with 3 heroes still wielding copper weapons doesn't help), but at least time progresses fast conquestwise. With Divine Favor, we'd have no chance because our OL would have eons to raze the three remaining cities he needs to win.

Divine Favor was a really bad idea. Without it, the OL has about 30 to 40 weeks to achieve his victory conditions against heroes who play relatively efficiently in terms of map traveling but get killed about twice per dungeon level. With Divine Favor, that duration can probably be stretched to more than 50 weeks, which becomes a piece of cake for the OL.

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One way to make Divine Favor playable would be to make the end of the campaign depend not on the total conquest, but on the heroes' conquest only. Like, the final battle starts when the heroes reach a total of 250 conquest, whatever the OL's total is.

This would also prevent any "we-kill-ourselves-50-times-or-let-the-OL-cycle-his-deck-once-every-level-to-end-the-campaign" shenanigans.

This might actually be a better way of "timing" a campaign than the current one.

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interesting idea iSpher. I agree with your Divine favor thoughts. I aksed this because during our last RTL campaign we found that there were exactly these type of shenanigans that could happen that breaks the game entirely. Im still not sure if/how this can be avoided, but this might work.

basically it came down to this:

I was to a point where I could upgrade to silver. The heroes realized thisdecided that it was better for them to continue through the end of the dungeon instead of running, because the OL could only buy one upgrade each week.  By forcing through the dungeon the OL now has the stupid problem that if he continues to kill the heros, the CT would rack up too muchthus advance the campaign at such a fast rate that he would not be able to buy enough upgrades to do anything worthwhile, but if he stops killing the herosbasically moves all his minions away, the party gets easy CTthe game basically becomes broken. Lose/lose for the OLWin win for the heroes.

I know its metagamy, but the fact that things like this cando happen is a major issue.

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Bravo McWilley said:

interesting idea iSpher. I agree with your Divine favor thoughts. I aksed this because during our last RTL campaign we found that there were exactly these type of shenanigans that could happen that breaks the game entirely. Im still not sure if/how this can be avoided, but this might work.

basically it came down to this:

I was to a point where I could upgrade to silver. The heroes realized thisdecided that it was better for them to continue through the end of the dungeon instead of running, because the OL could only buy one upgrade each week.  By forcing through the dungeon the OL now has the stupid problem that if he continues to kill the heros, the CT would rack up too muchthus advance the campaign at such a fast rate that he would not be able to buy enough upgrades to do anything worthwhile, but if he stops killing the herosbasically moves all his minions away, the party gets easy CTthe game basically becomes broken. Lose/lose for the OLWin win for the heroes.

I know its metagamy, but the fact that things like this cando happen is a major issue.

The fact that the game mechanics let one have these thoughts is indeed annoying.

If campaign progression was based on the heroes' conquest only, it seems to me that the problem would be avoided without any inconvenience (that I can think of).

We could even introduce difficulty levels:

"Easy/short campaign": 60/120/180 as hero conquest totals for the end of copper/silver/gold ages

"Medium campaign": 80/160/240 as hero conquest totals for the end of copper/silver/gold ages

"Difficult/long campaign": 100/200/300 as hero conquest totals for the end of copper/silver/gold ages

This way, Sea of Blood could at least be winnable by heroes at the "easy" level... serio.gif

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In addition to Ispher's thoughts, I've come up with one or two other ideas to improve sea encounters.

Once the heroes have acquired Elven Sails and Dead Man's Compass (which is usually the first thing they get at the beginning of the campaign), sea encounters practically never happen. We are currently close to Gold and we've *never* had any sea encounter up until now, only Lieutenant fights.

In order to correct this problem I've modified the Lawlessness Overlord card by adding: "Trails which do not have any threat markers now have one marker of the follwing type: 1 red marker for secret trails and 1 yellow marker between Bright Sea and Midnight Cove". At least we might get to witness one of these encounters now.

This has not been tested yet, but during encounters which don't involve a ship (like Lieutenant encounters), creatures cannot move further than 8 (or 6 or 10, not sure yet) squares away from the Revenge.  If a Lieutenant does that, he flees. This also means that monsters start of at 8 squares distance around the Revenge at the beginning of an encounter.

I have the feeling that this could lead to more tense battles as, for instance, Lieutenants like the Siren wouldn't be able to hide on the opposite side of the map just doing nothing.

Concerning The Kraken, without going into too many details on tentacle movement and so on, I am considering allowing the Kraken to attack the Revenge: for each tentacle aboard the Revenge, instead of attacking with a tentacle, the Overlord may roll one silver power die per tentacle in order to inflict damage on the Revenge. If a tentacle is busy doing something else (grappling an adventurer), the tentacle cannot damage the Revenge.

My idea is that a Kraken is a huge beast and is supposed to try and sink boats. This rule also solves the problem of the adventurers hiding on the opposite side of the boat in order to avoid the tentacles. With this idea, the heroes will be forced to deal with the Kraken if he attacks the Revenge.

Finally, in addition to this, The trails leading to buried treasures do not count as movement. For example, if the heroes travel to Mountain of Ash they can claim the buried treasure without actually having to spend movement to get to the X marker.

There is absolutely no reason to penalise the party further by making them travel *two" weeks to get a treasure.
 

My general idea with these house rules is to make the game playable without having to go in to too many card or basic rules modifications. I think that we might be now getting close to something playable. But still, all of this should have been thourougly tested and debated by the designers from the start.

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Patmox, for whatever it's worth, I attended the Realms of Terrinoth I event in Roseville in 2010 and Kevin Wilson was asked about the Kraken attacking the Revenge. He responded that he thought that the Kraken should be allowed to attack the Revenge. This was just a quick comment in passing and no further details were mentioned. I came away with the impression that he is encouraging of players making up their own house rules as kind of a matter of course. I didn't get the impression that anything further would be forthcoming pertaining to Sea of Blood or the Kraken rules.

I find this entire situation extremely odd. Maybe someone with a better idea about game company politics could advance a theory, but I'm personally mystified in that he acknowledged that the Kraken should be able to attack the Revenge and yet that is not built into the official Sea of Blood rules... Additionally, the Kraken is kind of the "poster boy" for Sea of Blood, by virtue of being prominently featured on the box cover art. Yet the Kraken rules are such a mess that nobody seems to want to touch them (or the Kraken) with a 10-foot pole, via FAQ or errata or whatever. It's just very odd. We have simply eliminated the Kraken from being played in SOB because he is such a headache.

It's a game with so much potential, in my opinion, and yet with so many warts that one has to avert one's eyes. The only answer appears to be house rules. Thanks for posting as I continue to watch other players' house rules for SOB with interest.

If anyone ever fixes the Kraken I hope they will post their solution here.

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We will include a suggestion for new and/or clarified rules for the Kraken in the next FAQ proposal document. Though damaging the Revenge is not part of that, albeit it´s a cool idea.

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Divine Favour: Why not reverse the rule? If a side is 25 CP down they get +1 CP every time they get a CP. If they are 50 down they get +2 CP, etc. This speeds the game up rather than slowing it down.

Cheesing out by killing yourself 200 times to pass through Gold. Fix: Instead of being limited to one upgrade, the Overlord can buy as many upgrades as they can afford before the Hereos enter the OL Keep.

Re: Razing. There is no limit to the number of cities the OL can raze. No sudden game end condition. The OL wins by completing his plot or a TPK in the final confrontation, the Heroes win by killing the OL.

Re: LTs. LTs who flee from combat reappear at the Overlords keep. They cannot move on the next turn as the OL is too busy reading the riot act to them.

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Jake yet again said:

Divine Favour: Why not reverse the rule? If a side is 25 CP down they get +1 CP every time they get a CP. If they are 50 down they get +2 CP, etc. This speeds the game up rather than slowing it down.

Cheesing out by killing yourself 200 times to pass through Gold. Fix: Instead of being limited to one upgrade, the Overlord can buy as many upgrades as they can afford before the Hereos enter the OL Keep.

That Divine Favour idea is a good one I think. I would, however, make it +1 CP if they are 25 down whenever they get any amount of CP (a level leader kill is worth 3, a glyph 4, an chest without treasure 2). +1 CP for every CP they get (a glyph would be worth 6) would be a little much.

The other idea has a small problem. In a "normal" game where heroes don't kill each other, the OL would not have any incentive to buy any upgrades for his avatar before the final week. The feeling of "growing power" of the avatar would somehow be lost. Also, the heroes wouldn't be able to react to some avatar upgrades by buying specific equipment or by training specific skills.

The one solution that would solve BOTH these problems would be to make the "time passing" dependent only on the heroes' Conquest Points. Killing each other would become totally useless, and "sloppy play" from the heroes so that time passes quicker, or from the OL so that time passes slower, would be gotten rid of, too.

I estimate the limits for an average campaign between 80/160/240 (easier) or 100/200/300 (more difficult) for the end of each age.

Jake yet again said:

Re: Razing. There is no limit to the number of cities the OL can raze. No sudden game end condition. The OL wins by completing his plot or a TPK in the final confrontation, the Heroes win by killing the OL.

Re: LTs. LTs who flee from combat reappear at the Overlords keep. They cannot move on the next turn as the OL is too busy reading the riot act to them.

If the OL can win by razing every city except one, it would be fine I think.

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Ispher said:

That Divine Favour idea is a good one I think. I would, however, make it +1 CP if they are 25 down whenever they get any amount of CP (a level leader kill is worth 3, a glyph 4, an chest without treasure 2). +1 CP for every CP they get (a glyph would be worth 6) would be a little much.

That was the intention, but I think I phrased it badly.

Ispher said:

 

 

The other idea has a small problem. In a "normal" game where heroes don't kill each other, the OL would not have any incentive to buy any upgrades for his avatar before the final week. The feeling of "growing power" of the avatar would somehow be lost. Also, the heroes wouldn't be able to react to some avatar upgrades by buying specific equipment or by training specific skills.

The one solution that would solve BOTH these problems would be to make the "time passing" dependent only on the heroes' Conquest Points. Killing each other would become totally useless, and "sloppy play" from the heroes so that time passes quicker, or from the OL so that time passes slower, would be gotten rid of, too.

I estimate the limits for an average campaign between 80/160/240 (easier) or 100/200/300 (more difficult) for the end of each age.

 

100 / 200 / 300 would work, though it might require both sides getting to that target. Theoreritcally, if the Heroes take a lead they might not have an adequate challenge in the OL Keep.

Another option may be that the OL can buy multiple cards per week, but each additional OL card after the first costs an extra 5 more CP to buy. To balance this, Heroes can train multiple times in a week, but each additional training costs an extra 5XP to purchase.

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Schmiegel said:

Patmox, for whatever it's worth, I attended the Realms of Terrinoth I event in Roseville in 2010 and Kevin Wilson was asked about the Kraken attacking the Revenge. He responded that he thought that the Kraken should be allowed to attack the Revenge..

.

Interesting that KW should mention that. SoB has obviously been completely rushed...:-(

We tested the Kraken-attacks-the-Revenge idea. Actually it seemd to be working very well until the stupid beast got killed due to a very bad placement on the board. Nevertheless, the idea should be retained. We decided that during Silver, the Kraken could throw one silver dice for every tentacle attacking the ship and logically one gold dice per tentacle during Gold.

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Corbon said:

Antistone said:

 

Corbon said:

 

Most issues with the combined score actually come from deliberate attempts to break the mechanic, rather than regular in game 'accidental' issues.

 

 

You say that like it's a good thing.  "Accidental" issues tend to arise rarely and at random, and thus don't usually matter to the overall gameplay; issues that arise as a direct result of one side attempting to achieve the game's stated goal tend to arise systematically and consistently, because someone has an incentive to seek them out, making their effects much more pernicious.

The fact that issues arise "from deliberate attempts to break the mechanic" is precisely the reason that I suspect the mechanic ought to be changed.

 

 

Like I said, it isn't perfect. But it is a lot better than 'use just the heroes' score' proposal for example. Perhaps my point was badly articulated (even to myself) - most issues with the combined score come from massive, obvious, attempts to totally devastate the entire game structure. Yes, it isn't good that these are possible, but they are generally fairly extreme and clear.
Just using one side's score have a number of subtler and therefore more problematic and more abuse-able issues IMO.

I was really hoping to see this train of thought keep going, so I'm going to revive it a little.

I did a cursory brainstorming analysis on the goals and incentives for Descent, and I realized that Antistone's right: there is a fundamental incentive problem with the advanced campaign.  I noted the following:

  • More Hero CPs lead to sole hero win condition, so good hero play leads to hero victory (good)
  • More OL CPs lead to sole hero win condition, so OL has time limit for obtaining enough CT to win that is based on how well he plays (odd)
  • More OL CPs lead to sole hero win condition, so bad hero play leads to hero victory (getting weirder)
  • Divine Favor + SoB: Heroes cannot win without the OL having CP, but the OL can control whether he gets CP or not  and the heroes can force their victory condition if the OL is relying on Lieutenants for map victory (broken given SoBs LTs)

Essentially, the following hold true:

  1. if the time limit is tied to OL CP totals and Hero victory, heroes are incentivized to die.
  2. if the time limit is tied to Hero CP totals and Hero victory, then victory is not an incentive for the heroes to stay alive: they are in fact not connected.

So, one of these variables is wrong: either CP totals cannot be tied to Hero Victory or CP totals cannot be the only method for hero victory.  Without testing it, possible solutions might be to establish another way for the heroes to open the OLs keep (defeating all LTs once maybe)?  Or maybe the final battle timeout results in  a win for the OL instead?

Normally, in Vanilla descent, Conquest points are a countdown for the heroes, and keep them racing.  It's odd to me that the Advanced campaign chose to apply the Conquest time limit to the Overlord instead.  in any case, I don't think anything can be done about the SoB LTs until the trouble with the conquest economy being the most easily broken.

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Thundercles said:

Corbon said:

 

Like I said, it isn't perfect. But it is a lot better than 'use just the heroes' score' proposal for example. Perhaps my point was badly articulated (even to myself) - most issues with the combined score come from massive, obvious, attempts to totally devastate the entire game structure. Yes, it isn't good that these are possible, but they are generally fairly extreme and clear.

Just using one side's score have a number of subtler and therefore more problematic and more abuse-able issues IMO.

Could you develop what kind of issues using only the heroes' score would create? Because I can't think of any. sad.gif

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sounds like a great game , i'm tempted .
 

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Ispher said:

Thundercles said:

 

Corbon said:

 

Like I said, it isn't perfect. But it is a lot better than 'use just the heroes' score' proposal for example. Perhaps my point was badly articulated (even to myself) - most issues with the combined score come from massive, obvious, attempts to totally devastate the entire game structure. Yes, it isn't good that these are possible, but they are generally fairly extreme and clear.

Just using one side's score have a number of subtler and therefore more problematic and more abuse-able issues IMO.

 

 

Could you develop what kind of issues using only the heroes' score would create? Because I can't think of any. sad.gif

1. Significant time pressure is taken off the heroes.
1.1 If the OL's score does not contribute to the campaign condition, then the campaign does not ever move forward unless the heroes are active in scoring. This takes a lot of heat off the heroes - the OL's weekly CT does not matter so much, any losses during a random encounter don't matter so much (as long as the heroes avoid killing an encounter boss the campaign won't progress), precises losses afordable in dungeons are now only important in OL purchase equations (which are often very simple), not in campaign status equations etc etc.
This is particularly important towards then end of each campaign level, where the heroes are often racing to time a secret training or legendary dungeon or similar before the campaign ticks over (and if they are really good at planning, to train two consecutive weeks at secret masters, one at each level with the campaign advancing a level after the first training week).
1.2 If the OL's score does not contribute then as long as the heroes believe they can contain the OL's Lts (assuming any are left) then the time-pressure on the heroes is at least halved, if not removed entirely. The heroes can afford to sit in a town for 4-5 weeks training, resting, healing, and equipping from the market and alchemist. Sure, the OL gets a few CT, but often the OL's critical CT values are increasing by 10-30, and spending 5 weeks looting markets and alchemists could easily save the same few CT from hero deaths, so nothing has been lost.
But when the OL's score counts too, every CT the OL earns is one less that the heroes can earn, and a little less that they can spend towards training etc.

2. Hero deaths greatly reduce in value.
2.1 As already noted, if the OL's CT doesn't count then losing a hero only gives the OL more resources (which he is not always able to usefully spend in any reasonable time frame anyway). It no longer effectively reduces the CT that heroes can earn during a campaign, and thus it no longer has any effect on limiting hero overall upgrades.

3. Gamey tactics.
3.1 CT is frequently the resource that heroes have the greatest excess of. Shortages can occur in all three resource types (cash, CT, treasures), but the one the heroes can most commonly afford to forego, in favour of the others, is CT. IME the heroes are often desperately short of cash and at times desparately short of treasures (particularly one type, if the OL has targeted Crushing Blows wisely - eg a campaign that at the start of silver saw two mage heroes using shop treasures vs gold monsters because the OL had successfully targeted magic treasures with Crushing Blow). If the OL Ct score no longer progress the game, then the heroes will often choose to give up unnecessary CT, even though that increases the OL's resources, by not taking all the CT they can, in order to have more time to gather non CT resources of their own.
For example, we've already seen the heroes avoid activating forward glyphs, taking the risk that it won't cost them greater losses, in order to limit their own CT score in order to achieve campaign goals before the campaign changed state. Remove 90+% of that risk (additional losses won't count against the campaign state anymore) and such behaviour should become common instead of rare.

4. Loss of tension.
This is the most critical point, but is not really a new point but a combination of parts of 1, 2 and 3.
In our experience what sustains the Advanced Campaigns is the critical tension between both sides.
If you remove the OL's CT from the campaign state equation you remove 90+% of the uncertainty in the campaign. The heroes now have virtually complete control over campaign progression. Without uncertainty, there is no tension
The OL might as well be removed from the game, as his only campaign task is to choose upgrade purchases (which are rarely uncertain choices) and direct Lt actions (which are similarly, rarely uncertain choices). When OLing the most interesting task is to mess with the heroes plans - a well timed encounter (Big Trouble) can easily cost the heroes an opportunity at a Legendary dungeon or Secret training, or tip a campaign level a week earlier than expected and totally reverse the power balance just before the heroes try to break a seige. If OL CT is irrelevent then this part of the game is pretty much removed, and you might as well just play teh OL by group decision and rotate the OLing 'duties' during dungeons or encounters.

 

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Soooo, I ran (or rather, played as overlord) the second session of a SoB campaign.

We've used some of the suggestions on this thread to curtail the Overlord raze to win strategies but left the dungeon delving rules as they are since there don't seem to be the complaints in that area.

The first game went great, 26 points for me, 21 for the heroes, so fairly tight.

Then the second game. The next dungeon went fairly well until they got to the boss of the second level. I had upgraded beasts and the boss was a dragon. By the end of the night I was at 84, they were at 42! I don't want to make any snap judgements but is this typical for this stage of the campaign? Is it just because the heroes haven't upgraded yet; is the difference that extreme? Or did I just get lucky?

The dragon only survived the first round due to Fear but then I Raged to breathe twice, spawn some bloodapes (more very durable beasts) and ended up with a number of conquest.

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Corwyn77 said:

Soooo, I ran (or rather, played as overlord) the second session of a SoB campaign.

We've used some of the suggestions on this thread to curtail the Overlord raze to win strategies but left the dungeon delving rules as they are since there don't seem to be the complaints in that area.

The first game went great, 26 points for me, 21 for the heroes, so fairly tight.

Then the second game. The next dungeon went fairly well until they got to the boss of the second level. I had upgraded beasts and the boss was a dragon. By the end of the night I was at 84, they were at 42! I don't want to make any snap judgements but is this typical for this stage of the campaign? Is it just because the heroes haven't upgraded yet; is the difference that extreme? Or did I just get lucky?

The dragon only survived the first round due to Fear but then I Raged to breathe twice, spawn some bloodapes (more very durable beasts) and ended up with a number of conquest.

Sadly for blundering noobs, yes its typical. Not for players who put some thought into the game though.

Two important points.
1. The heroes blundered very very badly by conceding more than 23 CT in the first week. That allowed the OL to upgrade monsters immediately, which is the biggest power boost for the OL for the entire campaign, and the only major power boost in the entire copper level. They should have fled the dungeon earlier and had at least one more full dungeon with no upgraded monsters.

2. The heroes can, and often should, flee dungeons that are 'too hard'. Its even right there in the rule book! Fighting through a 50+CT hammering just to get to the other side (ie without a major campaign incentive) is another enormous blunder.

I usually have a long post answering this sort of thing about people crazy enough to commit to a 60+hr Advanced game  thinking they can blunder along making it up as they go without any effort to understand the game and develop strategies, without skewing the normal results terribly - the facts that your heroes conceded 26 CT in the first dungeon (if I read you right) and then 58 in the next tells me that they don't have a clue what they are doing and therefore didn't make any effort to understand the game before starting.

It is an Advanced Campaign. Treat it with disrespect and it will trash you! cool.gif

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Corbon said:

Ispher said:

 

Thundercles said:

 

Corbon said:

 

Like I said, it isn't perfect. But it is a lot better than 'use just the heroes' score' proposal for example. Perhaps my point was badly articulated (even to myself) - most issues with the combined score come from massive, obvious, attempts to totally devastate the entire game structure. Yes, it isn't good that these are possible, but they are generally fairly extreme and clear.

Just using one side's score have a number of subtler and therefore more problematic and more abuse-able issues IMO.

 

 

Could you develop what kind of issues using only the heroes' score would create? Because I can't think of any. sad.gif

 

 

1. Significant time pressure is taken off the heroes.
1.1 If the OL's score does not contribute to the campaign condition, then the campaign does not ever move forward unless the heroes are active in scoring. This takes a lot of heat off the heroes - the OL's weekly CT does not matter so much, any losses during a random encounter don't matter so much (as long as the heroes avoid killing an encounter boss the campaign won't progress), precises losses afordable in dungeons are now only important in OL purchase equations (which are often very simple), not in campaign status equations etc etc.
This is particularly important towards then end of each campaign level, where the heroes are often racing to time a secret training or legendary dungeon or similar before the campaign ticks over (and if they are really good at planning, to train two consecutive weeks at secret masters, one at each level with the campaign advancing a level after the first training week).
1.2 If the OL's score does not contribute then as long as the heroes believe they can contain the OL's Lts (assuming any are left) then the time-pressure on the heroes is at least halved, if not removed entirely. The heroes can afford to sit in a town for 4-5 weeks training, resting, healing, and equipping from the market and alchemist. Sure, the OL gets a few CT, but often the OL's critical CT values are increasing by 10-30, and spending 5 weeks looting markets and alchemists could easily save the same few CT from hero deaths, so nothing has been lost.
But when the OL's score counts too, every CT the OL earns is one less that the heroes can earn, and a little less that they can spend towards training etc.

2. Hero deaths greatly reduce in value.
2.1 As already noted, if the OL's CT doesn't count then losing a hero only gives the OL more resources (which he is not always able to usefully spend in any reasonable time frame anyway). It no longer effectively reduces the CT that heroes can earn during a campaign, and thus it no longer has any effect on limiting hero overall upgrades.

3. Gamey tactics.
3.1 CT is frequently the resource that heroes have the greatest excess of. Shortages can occur in all three resource types (cash, CT, treasures), but the one the heroes can most commonly afford to forego, in favour of the others, is CT. IME the heroes are often desperately short of cash and at times desparately short of treasures (particularly one type, if the OL has targeted Crushing Blows wisely - eg a campaign that at the start of silver saw two mage heroes using shop treasures vs gold monsters because the OL had successfully targeted magic treasures with Crushing Blow). If the OL Ct score no longer progress the game, then the heroes will often choose to give up unnecessary CT, even though that increases the OL's resources, by not taking all the CT they can, in order to have more time to gather non CT resources of their own.
For example, we've already seen the heroes avoid activating forward glyphs, taking the risk that it won't cost them greater losses, in order to limit their own CT score in order to achieve campaign goals before the campaign changed state. Remove 90+% of that risk (additional losses won't count against the campaign state anymore) and such behaviour should become common instead of rare.

4. Loss of tension.
This is the most critical point, but is not really a new point but a combination of parts of 1, 2 and 3.
In our experience what sustains the Advanced Campaigns is the critical tension between both sides.
If you remove the OL's CT from the campaign state equation you remove 90+% of the uncertainty in the campaign. The heroes now have virtually complete control over campaign progression. Without uncertainty, there is no tension
The OL might as well be removed from the game, as his only campaign task is to choose upgrade purchases (which are rarely uncertain choices) and direct Lt actions (which are similarly, rarely uncertain choices). When OLing the most interesting task is to mess with the heroes plans - a well timed encounter (Big Trouble) can easily cost the heroes an opportunity at a Legendary dungeon or Secret training, or tip a campaign level a week earlier than expected and totally reverse the power balance just before the heroes try to break a seige. If OL CT is irrelevent then this part of the game is pretty much removed, and you might as well just play teh OL by group decision and rotate the OLing 'duties' during dungeons or encounters.

 

1.1. I disagree. If the heroes do not score, the campaign does not move forward for them, but it sure does for the OL! His way of moving forward is not reaching the end of the game – that’s where he usually loses, so that’s what he wants to avoid - but razing cities and accomplishing his evil plot through his Lieutenants! If the heroes do not score, Lieutenants not only act but also get stronger (through monster upgrades and more Treachery) as the OL always gets points through his weekly conquest.

 

For the heroes, the only significant time pressure is: Lieutenant actions. If they take their time and do not make the campaign end fast enough, Lieutenants will have enough time to win the game for the OL. True, there would not be any direct time pressure for Secret Trainings, but if they waste too much time going there, Lieutenants would still take advantage of it.

Time pressure would still be there for the heroes if only their score was recorded, and the OL would have no more reason to stop collecting conquest.

1.2 To loot a market 4-5 weeks in a row, the heroes must have accumulated a lot of cash, which they would necessarily have earned in dungeons. If as a OL I let the heroes score 4’000 in cash without scoring any significant hero kills for upgrades (like more lieutenants, or Treachery to make my Lieutenants more dangerous), then I just deserve to lose. Besides, this is no different under the current rules: if the heroes can contain the Lieutenants, they have no time pressure.
You are however right to point out that, under the current rules, every CT the OL earns is one less CT the heroes can earn.

2.1 The problem is that currently, a hero death gives the OL more resources but also takes him closer to losing the game by making the campaign end faster. That the CT the heroes can earn would no longer be reduced is a much smaller problem in comparison, something that the game could live with because it doesn’t induce a collapsing of the game during the endgame of the campaign, which is a very disappointing way of ending an epic campaign.

3 and 4. On these points I fully agree on. There would, however, be a solution to these problems, as well as to many of the problems you listed before: for the silver and gold age levels of the campaign, the total CT counts. The end of the game, however, would be reached only when the heroes reach a certain amount of CT (between 240 and 300, as I proposed earlier, or maybe simply 80 or 100 more than what they have at the start of the gold age). That way, we would have the best of both worlds: all the tension and tactics from campaign level changes still there, and an endgame that would work perfectly well with no “bad play” shenanigans involved.
 

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Let's leave the hero CT count option for the moment. It's interesting but such a major change requires a lot of playtesting and, as far as I know, the current combined-CT-count works well in RtL. (I don't know, I have never played a whole RtL campaign.)

Now, back on to SoB. Say we take the Divine Favour out, we revise the problematic dungeoun levels, we rerule that the lieutenants go back to their initial location when fleeing (as in RtL) and/or we make it harder for them to flee encounters. Would it work? I just got a copy of SoB and some friends want to start an advanced campaign so I want to do everything I can to make it playable.

To give some trouble to the lieutenants I have an idea: Since all lieutenants are swimmers of flyers (or a boat), they will all start at an edge of the board. My idea is to forbid them to flee through any edge other than the opposite one. So if the siren starts at the west, then she can only escape through the east (an so on). This way, Lieutenants with minions cannot just wait while their minions do the job and flee if things get nasty.

If the avatar cards are too powerful that's another thing that could be adjusted while maintaining its spirit. For the exploding skeletons, for example, a different die could be used (white?). Or it could be used instead of an activation (rather than anytime during its activation). Or it could target one hero only. Or it could be a normal attack with explosion 1 targeting the skeletons square. Any other idea?

It is also possible to allow the heros to enter the OL keep before the final battle if the OL needs to destroy just one more city to finish instead of forcing him to destroy all the 7 port cities.

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I have given been considering Ispher idea (two posts before this) and I have come with a variant of it. This may be no more than a stupid idea because I have never played a whole campaign but it somehow fits with what both Corbon and Ispher have been discussing about CT. It may be better suited for RtL than for SoB because SoB's leutenants and Avatar upgrades are said to be too powerful, hence any CT rerule idea would not help much.

First: Take out Divine Favor (it would probably work against the arrangement rather than make it work better).

Second: Don't consider the final battle as a phase as cooper, silver and gold are. Instead consider that the final battle consists just of exploring the OL keep. This will normally occur during the gold phase (not after the gold phase).

Third: Let the cooper-to-silver and silver-to-gold trigger condition stay as they are. The campaign will level up to silver when the combined total of CT gets to 200 and to gold when that total is 400. However, the final battle will not occur at 600 CT, but on a different condition.

Fourth: If the heroes get about 275 CT (this number could be different, but it surely must be between 250 and 300) then they discover the OL keep. After discovering it, heroes can move to it and enter it as if it was a normal dungeon, but they are not forced to do so. They still have to move through the map to get there and the lieutenants can still attack them to prevent them from entering. A lieutenant that attacks the group after the OL keep is discovered may not flee (he could still flee if the heroes attack him instead). Once inside, the rules of the OL keep apply: no fleing, no market or alchemist restock... This means that if the heroes get to that number of CT, they can force the game to end. Yes, this could happen during the silver phase (but heroes would not want to go there before getting ready). This way, killing themselves or staying for a very long time in the dungeons to force the OL to get CT will not help them getting to the OL lair faster.

Fifth: If, on the other hand, the OL gets 275 CT (this number may also be different, I expect it to be a little bit higher than the heroes goal if not equal) then he can force the heroes to enter his lair. Yes, he could decide that those stupid heroes are a problem that he has to deal with himself. If you need a thematical reason for this here you have it: "The OL gets powerful enough to create a portal to Tamalir and start absorbing the power from the Obelisk of Journeys. The heros have now one only chance to stop him once and for all, so they enter the portal and assault his lair." Or "The OL becomes powerful enough to create a storm that takes the revenge direcly to his lair. Wind now blows so wildly that the revenge can't even return to its home port. The heroes know who the responsible is and so they enter his lair to finish this war." If the OL decides to challenge the heroes this way, then the Final Battle begins with the heroes entering the OL keep. He can also get to this number of CT, and wait some weeks before deciding to challenge the heroes (for example because he can end his plot in a couple of weeks if the heroes don't stop his lieutenants). The OL can challenge the heroes at the beggining of any week (before "time passes") after getting his CT goal. He's not forced to do this, and probably won't want to do it if his lieutenants are doing their job well. But as Corbon metion the possibility of not being sufficienly prepared to battle the OL puts the heroes under preasure. They know that if the OL gets too many CT, they will have serious problems. And yes, the OL might be able to challege them during the silver phase (though that would mean that the heroes were really bad players).

Do you think this arrangement makes more sense than the original rules? I think the main weak point of this arrangement is that as long as the heroes can retain the lieutenants and the lieutenants preassure can keep the heroes from training, the gold phase could last forever. No side is forced to start the final battle. But the heroes can't win utnil they enter and the OL has no reason to allow them to train once he knows he cannot finish his plot.

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