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Lord Loren Soth

is descent unbalanced? and if yes for who?

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 Hello guys

one of my players keep whining telling us that descent is unbalanced for the overlord(overlord too much stronger than heroes)

what are the opinions here?

is descent unbalanced towards the overlord? or towards the hero?

or just it is balanced?

 

bye and thanks

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It varies alot from set to set, expansion to expansion,

The basic set leans towards the heros, I find even newbies can get through it with not too much problem, Both early expansions help the overlord, the one that adds "threat" tot he game makes it much harder for the heros. It can be hard for the heros to win the expansion games. But then tomb of ice gives the heros feats which swing it back towards the heros.

 

over allt he game is so friggin fun, it dosnlt matter, I even had fun in the first campaing where the overlord has little chance after the heros get to gold level.

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This is a complicated question, partly because the quests vary in difficulty. You also have to consider whether balance should be assessed from the first time through the quest, since knowing what's coming gives the heroes a bit of a better position then before. 

Typically, on this forum, the loudest, most zealous minority will say that the game is perfectly balanced. This tends to follow the logic "I like the Descent. Good games are balanced. Therefore, Descent is balanced, and anyone who says differently is an idiot."

In my experience, which I think is the more common one, things are bit messier.  If all the following things are true–

  1. The quest is not one of the first few in the base game
  2. The Overlord genuinely tries to destroy the heroes
  3. The Overlord and the Heroes have approximately the same level of skill
  4. The Heroes have not drawn the most ridiculously powerful party and/or skill set
  5. It's the first time the quest has been attempted

then I would estimate that the chances of OL success are about 80%. If no expansions are being used, then it might be more like 70%. 

I would agree with the previous poster, though, that– because Descent is so fluffy– balance is not as important as having a good time. 

-pw

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I think the game is reasonably well balanced with all expansions in, at least.  I thought the same before Tomb of Ice came out, though, and that one is widely purported to "help the heroes."

There are two issues that can skew the perception of how well the game is balanced - first of all, the heroes are almost entirely generated at random - random hero cards, random skills, random treasures.  A very lucky combination of these factors can provide a hero party that will easily trounce the Overlord on most quests.  A very unlucky combination will have great difficulty.  An average draw will produce average results (go figure.)  The kind of draw you get when newbies are first playing can strongly colour their opinion of how the game is "balanced."  Especially if the group is going for a more "RPG flavour" and therefore keeps the same heroes from quest to quest instead of drawing new ones each time (technically, you're supposed to draw new ones each time, btw.)

Using the "draw 3 choose 1" for the hero cards has proven, at least in our group, to provide a better chance of average to above-average hero combinations and therefore keep the game competitive, if not slightly in the heroes' favour.  But we have fun with that mix, so that's good enough for us.

The other issue that can colour a newbie's opinion of the game is that there are a number of things which might seem intuitive to do in a high fantasy dungeon crawl which are likely to get the hero party killed in Descent.  Trying to kill every monster the OL spawns anywhere on the map, for example.  Or going out of your way to grab one measly healing potion that you can probably do without.  The dungeon is the OL's turf.  Every turn you spend in there is another turn he gets threat, and therefore grows stronger.

Based on the kinds of questions I see newbies asking, especially pertaining to "game balance," it is my belief that a lot of people start playing this game thinking that the heroes are entitled to win the day, first time, every time, and if that doesn't happen, something must be "wrong."  Some people like to play this game like it's an RPG and the OL is a GM.  Others like to play it like it's a board game and just follow the rules.  You can play it however you prefer, but you need to recognize that the way the rules are written, the OL is given a fair shot at winning.  This is objectively true, whether your group wants it to be or not.

I'm not going to tell you how your group should play the game, I'm just saying these are things to be aware of.  Try playing several games with new and different hero mixes each time and people should start to get a better handle on what is or isn't balanced about this game.

 

 

 

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Hi,

 

I have all the expansion excluding RtL and when we play we let the good players to choose the heroes and the result is the same: heroes lose in 95% of times. There are also some mission that are simple IMPOSSIBLE! an example is the 6th of WoD. To balance a bit the game heroes must know the mission in every detail and overlord must be the less skilled player.

 

We start to play SoB because heroes were frustrating to end the game before taking gold treasures or facing the boss. Additionally if heroes arrived to the boss the whole game was decided by a roll.

 

This is my experience with 4 groups of players.

 

   

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Meridian said:

We start to play SoB because heroes were frustrating to end the game before taking gold treasures or facing the boss. Additionally if heroes arrived to the boss the whole game was decided by a roll.

 

If your hero players were frustrated by how difficult they found it to win vanilla, then Sea of Blood is the wrong move.  Even the people who say the majority of the game is reasonably well balanced seem to agree that SoB is broken in the OL's favour.

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Steve-O said:

I think the game is reasonably well balanced with all expansions in, at least.  I thought the same before Tomb of Ice came out, though, and that one is widely purported to "help the heroes."

There are two issues that can skew the perception of how well the game is balanced - first of all, the heroes are almost entirely generated at random - random hero cards, random skills, random treasures.  A very lucky combination of these factors can provide a hero party that will easily trounce the Overlord on most quests.  A very unlucky combination will have great difficulty.  An average draw will produce average results (go figure.)  The kind of draw you get when newbies are first playing can strongly colour their opinion of how the game is "balanced."  Especially if the group is going for a more "RPG flavour" and therefore keeps the same heroes from quest to quest instead of drawing new ones each time (technically, you're supposed to draw new ones each time, btw.)

Using the "draw 3 choose 1" for the hero cards has proven, at least in our group, to provide a better chance of average to above-average hero combinations and therefore keep the game competitive, if not slightly in the heroes' favour.  But we have fun with that mix, so that's good enough for us.

The other issue that can colour a newbie's opinion of the game is that there are a number of things which might seem intuitive to do in a high fantasy dungeon crawl which are likely to get the hero party killed in Descent.  Trying to kill every monster the OL spawns anywhere on the map, for example.  Or going out of your way to grab one measly healing potion that you can probably do without.  The dungeon is the OL's turf.  Every turn you spend in there is another turn he gets threat, and therefore grows stronger.

Based on the kinds of questions I see newbies asking, especially pertaining to "game balance," it is my belief that a lot of people start playing this game thinking that the heroes are entitled to win the day, first time, every time, and if that doesn't happen, something must be "wrong."  Some people like to play this game like it's an RPG and the OL is a GM.  Others like to play it like it's a board game and just follow the rules.  You can play it however you prefer, but you need to recognize that the way the rules are written, the OL is given a fair shot at winning.  This is objectively true, whether your group wants it to be or not.

I'm not going to tell you how your group should play the game, I'm just saying these are things to be aware of.  Try playing several games with new and different hero mixes each time and people should start to get a better handle on what is or isn't balanced about this game.

 

 

 

 

and what about RTL? is it balanced or unbalanced playing it with all the expansions?

 

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Lord Loren Soth said:

and what about RTL? is it balanced or unbalanced playing it with all the expansions?

To be honest, I haven't played RtL as much as I have played vanilla.  That is in no small part due to how much longer it takes to run a campaign game, but the point is I've had significantly fewer opportunities to see all the ways the AC game can bend (or break) because I've run through fewer iterations.

Based on my own experiences, and those I've read about from other people around here, I would say RtL is probably reasonably well balanced.  It has its share of issues, as do all games, but I haven't heard anyone complaining too loudly about either "team" always winning, the way I have with SoB.  Except, of course, for people who bought RtL and the base game together and just jumped right into the AC game.  That would be a mistake, if that's the position you're in, btw.  Play vanilla a few times, I would suggest to play each of the base quests at least once, preferably with new hero teams for each.  Learn to play the basic dungeon crawl game, then add the extra layer of strategy provided by the Advanced Campaign.

Even SoB can probably be "fixed" with a few well-thought out errata, and hopefully we'll be seeing something official along those lines from FFG soon.  I know Corbon and a few others have been working tirelessly to collect all the major game-related questions (many of which pertain to SoB) and phrase them in ways that should hopefully minimize ambiguity in the responses.  I thought it looked like they were culminating and getting ready to finalize that project, but the other shoe has yet to fall, as far as I know.

 

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Lord Loren Soth said:

and what about RTL? is it balanced or unbalanced playing it with all the expansions?

I think it depends on the avatar the OL chooses. If it is one who has its keep close to Tamalir, it can get very difficult for the heroes - moreso if the avatar's Event Treachery cost is low. With the official rules, which let the OL choose his avatar and plot, I think it is unbalanced in favor of the OL. With the Demon Prince, heroes can't even blitz efficiently, because a competent OL will just plop out one Farrow after another for the measly cost of 5 conquest and add 3 siege tokens somewhere (or converge on Tamalir for the dreaded rush) while the heroes are busy doing almost nothing.

If you add a couple of house rules though, like choosing the avatar at random (or among those who have their keep far from Tamalir) and having some system of semi-randomized Treachery during Lieutenant fights, it gets back to balanced, and even unbalanced in favor of the heroes.

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I think of Descent overall as an adventure game as opposed to a competitive game.  The overlord is really the controller of the game and really has the power to control the game from the very start.  The Overlord is in charge of deciding the outcome more or less and the level of fun and dificulty the hero players have.  In my experience the Overlord really has the best position of enjoyment of the game.  The Overlord can really control the pace and dificulty of the game pretty well.  I just try to make it fun for everybody.

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I find that the balance of dungeons sets from vanilla and the expansions change from heroes to overlord as you get further along in each set. It makes sense, in that the quests roughly follow a story and as the "plot" progresses, the dungeons get more difficult for the heroes. When I play as the overlord, I have no problem letting the heroes win (if only barely), but I find it harder to pull my punches in the later quests.

RtL is a different matter, and it seems that it depends almost entirely on what treasures players have at the time. I am nearing the end of an RtL campaign with my players now. All the way through silver level, my players received barely any treasures and had to rely mostly on what equipment they could buy at the town shop. Once we hit gold level, they started finding all kinds of treasure, such that they are almost entirely decked out in them. Now my players are stomping through every dungeon, killing rooms full of monsters before I even get a chance to do anything.

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I think of Descent as a more hero-centric game anyways.  As  a looong time dm/gm (over 2 decades) I find that overall the goal is to have the characters succeed if not just barely.  Its really not alot of fun to eliminate the party over and over.  I find that I tend to not hold the players interest for long if there is no elation of success at some point.

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IraShaine1972 said:

 

I think of Descent as a more hero-centric game anyways.  As  a looong time dm/gm (over 2 decades) I find that overall the goal is to have the characters succeed if not just barely.  Its really not alot of fun to eliminate the party over and over.  I find that I tend to not hold the players interest for long if there is no elation of success at some point.

 

 

Our group is just the opposite.  If there's no legitimate risk of the heroes losing, they get bored.  "What's the point?"  They might ask, "If we wanted to RP we'd play an RPG."

Make no mistake, we enjoy playing RPGs too, and when we do we follow the same philosophy you espouse here.  But not when we play Descent.  Descent is what we play when we want to throw out concerns of story and character and just get our twink on.  I'm not saying the way you play is wrong, btw, not at all.  I'm just saying different strokes, that's all.

At the end of the day, "balance" is a highly subjective concept.  I think the best definition of "game balance" I've ever heard is "when all sides are complaining equally."  If you're having fun playing the game, don't worry about whether it's balanced.  If you're not having fun, take whatever steps you think are necessary to fix that.  Descent certainly has enough meat to bite into, no matter how you want to play, that you can probably find a way to enjoy it no matter what you want.

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