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KarmanMonkey

Thoughts on Feats and RtL

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Recently we started up a campaign using feats pretty much as described in ToI for a standard game of Descent.  It was a little silly, and definitely too powerful.

Here are some alternatives:

1)  Someone on another thread suggested that you could get one Feat card as your action on a "Visit" to town, or a whole mitt full as a hero's "Train" action.  Good in theory, but I don't know anyone who would take feat cards as an alternative to spending XP.

2)  Suggesting this to my brother, he had the thought that instead, you get a feat card either as your "Visit" action, and you also get one feat card any time you spend XP in training (sort of as a bonus tag-a-long)

3)  It was also suggested that rather than getting feats on every glyph, you get one for defeating the final boss of any dungeon, or for winning an outdoor encounter.

4) It is also my suggestion that feats be unusable on the final level of the Avatar's Keep.

Thoughts?  Other suggestions?

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I assume by "standard Descent" you are referring to RTL which the subject line suggests. If so, I have played a full campaign with the Feats and they are fun to play and play against. Nothing was overly unbalanced with them. At copper, they gave much needed support and at Gold Level, the heroes were so powerful that they were not used as often.

My group enjoys playing them the way they are supposed to be played and nerfing their use is not needed at least when I am OL.

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The house-rules we've been using which are linked to in my tag line are below. We've found them pretty good so far. The other suggestion which I liked was Immortal's on a recent threat... something along the lines of one feat for a visit action in the Training Ground and a full set for a training action.

Proposed house-rule for Feats in Road to Legend:

At the start of each dungeon, heroes draw their starting feats as listed on their hero card. They do not receive any additional feats while in the dungeon, except for Arvel who receives one additional feat per glyph.

At the start of an encounter, the heroes draw their starting feats as per a dungeon, but then discard down to one feat each (or two for Arvel).

At the end of each dungeon/encounter, all unused feats are discarded.

Reasoning:

I really like the look of feats and think they work very well in standard Descent, but they don't feel right as part of the "metagame" of RtL with feats carrying over between dungeons. I feel that three feats per dungeon is about the number of glyphs which will be activated in a normal dungeon and the occasional extra glyph gets represented by the extra ones for encounters. Heroes who are demoralised after being completely plastered in one dungeon won't then have to start the next dungeon with no feats, and those who stormed through won't get the bonus of having 5 feats saved up for the next one.

I dislike the importance that 'Prevent Evil' and 'Foil Plans' have in Lieutenant encounters and really dislike the way that right-thinking heroes can, maybe even have to, save their feats from a dungeon to use in relieving a siege three weeks later. However, I do like the fact that they do create a way for heroes to thwart the likes of Merrik with Danger and a Dance of the Monkey God/Animate Weapons besides getting Wind pact. Not only is there a reasonable, but far from certain chance that the heroes would draw one of these as their Encounter Feat, the fact that there is a reasonable chance that they might, should encourage an overlord to choose more, varied, treachery cards than risking the single, devastating ones.

I also am quite disappointed by how a hero's starting skills listed on their cards get missed in RtL. I like the fact that Nanok and Landrec would have a subterfuge skill, giving way to all out fighters like Steelhorns. Under current rules, Nanok will always pick Fighting feats and Landrec will always pick Wizardry. I like getting the heroes back to their roots, as it were. Nanok might just hang onto that crossbow for when ***** in the Armour or Shooting for Distance comes up.

Finally, I hope this rule will affect the balance between the campaign levels slightly. At copper, when heroes are more likely to be dipping into only the first level of a dungeon for the treasure, the feats will help them deal with early Overlord dominance. At gold when heroes are more likely to be working all the way through to the end of dungeons and rumours, they will have marginally fewer feats than they would otherwise, and some of which are for secondary traits in which they aren't rolling 10 surges.

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My group started using feats in the middle of our campaign, since we got ToI about 3 sessions in.

Elsewhere on this forum, one of the designers (Kevin, I think) made some post or another about the use of feats in RtL, which has worked out pretty well for us.

In short, you get one feat at the beginning of the game. You get one feat every time you activate a glyph. You max out at (usually) 4 cards. Share and enjoy.

They definitely make for more dramatic moments since we can throw down one of these cards and do some really cool stuff. It also helps our survivability in light of the treachery that the OL gets to play with.

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ColdStone said:

My group started using feats in the middle of our campaign, since we got ToI about 3 sessions in.

Elsewhere on this forum, one of the designers (Kevin, I think) made some post or another about the use of feats in RtL, which has worked out pretty well for us.

In short, you get one feat at the beginning of the game. You get one feat every time you activate a glyph. You max out at (usually) 4 cards. Share and enjoy.

They definitely make for more dramatic moments since we can throw down one of these cards and do some really cool stuff. It also helps our survivability in light of the treachery that the OL gets to play with.

While it is good that Feats have worked out for some, it is quite clear that they are not at all designed to be used in RtL.

The ToI rules have a section for what to use with RtL - feats are not included. Feat rules did not include a way to introduce them to RtL (ie how do characters start with feats given their skills have been reduced).

Kevin's post was clearly  a "whoops, we screwed up here but I can't tell you not to play with your lovely new toy or there will be a riot" response. I don't remember the exact wording but I got the clear impression that his response was a temporary solution anyway (I think he added 'for now' at the end or something).

Feats give the heroes a significant new power for no campaign cost and no dungeon cost. Logically, either RtL was imbalanced before Feats or it was balanced, and will now be imbalanced with Feats added. Logic, analysis and empirical evidence suggest it was balanced before Feats (despite the steeper learning curve for Heroes that gave a seeming imbalance early on).

This is why some people have been working on some good house rules for feats. They are a cool toy, good for the game, but we want to keep things even, not make them too easy for the heroes.

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I agree that pre-ToI RtL was not significantly imbalanced in favor of the Overlord, and adding feats as per ToI rules (one per Hero per Glyph) is incredibly, incredibly powerful and gives the Heroes far too big of an advantage.

As per my initial suggestion (one Feat per 'visit' to a Training Ground, and full hand on 'Train'), I don't think it's a matter of giving up training so as to get feats instead, it's rather do the Heroes spend an EXTRA turn where everybody stocks up on feats before heading off to the next battle.

That said, the other suggestions here all seem very reasonable.  I also contemplated the idea of drawing Feats on defeating the final Dungeon Leader, as it creates a nice incentive to carry through to the end of a dungeon which is currently rather lacking in non-legendary dungeons.  However, this might favor Gold heroes a little too much and not help Copper heroes enough, since even with this incentive I can't see Copper Heroes wanting to do an entire dungeon very often.  I've also contemplated that Feats should be dropped for the final Avatar Battle, and it's probably a good idea.  Mr. Badger's suggestion of drawing new feats upon each Dungeon/Encounter is a very different approach, but still quite nice, as he correctly points out it mitigates some of the weird effects of churning the feat decks to 'save' the best feats, and definitely helps the most at Copper.  I think it is a little bit stronger for the Heroes though, as they are still getting "something for nothing," and there is also a downside in that it just further encourages the strategy that is already the best: blitzing first-floor dungeons and not delving in very deeply.   The idea behind my approach is that the Heroes trade time for feats - while almost certainly this increases their power over not having feats at all, it's still a trade-off and therefore has costs and benefits.  The downside is that the Heroes can easily churn the feat decks and fish out the best ones without ever entering combat, which can probably lead to undesirable effects in the same way that non-randomized Treachery does.

So, pretty much upsides and downsides to all suggestions.  Any one of them is fine I think, but in the absence of a ruling by the official designer (well okay ther e WAS one, but as Mr. Corbon points out, it was rather problematic), the problem is everyone just has to pick whichever suggestion they like best.

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But Corbon, as much as I generally agree with your conclusions (and they way you argue), I think you shouldnt pretend that they arent major balance issues on the overland part of RTL in copper with LTNTs and treachery!

 

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Dreepa said:

But Corbon, as much as I generally agree with your conclusions (and they way you argue), I think you shouldnt pretend that they arent major balance issues on the overland part of RTL in copper with LTNTs and treachery!

 

Why? Lieutenants aren't powerful enough? gui%C3%B1o.gif

In early copper, there is not enough Treachery floating around to make a difference. In late copper the heroes have powered up a bit and should have a reasonable complement of treasures.

Lieutenants are much greater bark than bite. They aren't necessarily easy to beat (nor should they be) but they aren't that hard either. Aldric is tougher than the others, but still beatable. (Note, I haven't run in with many of the unique Lts yet).

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Corbon said:

 

 Why? Lieutenants aren't powerful enough? gui%C3%B1o.gif

In early copper, there is not enough Treachery floating around to make a difference. In late copper the heroes have powered up a bit and should have a reasonable complement of treasures.

Lieutenants are much greater bark than bite. They aren't necessarily easy to beat (nor should they be) but they aren't that hard either. Aldric is tougher than the others, but still beatable. (Note, I haven't run in with many of the unique Lts yet).

 

 

 

Lieutenant  describes completely different ennemies balance wise. The demonprince lieutenant and the giant onesare not really on par. There are some maps where the giant hero ogres cannot even reach 50% of the map tiles thanks to water :)

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inle_badger said:

 

The house-rules we've been using which are linked to in my tag line are below. We've found them pretty good so far. The other suggestion which I liked was Immortal's on a recent threat... something along the lines of one feat for a visit action in the Training Ground and a full set for a training action.

Proposed house-rule for Feats in Road to Legend:

At the start of each dungeon, heroes draw their starting feats as listed on their hero card. They do not receive any additional feats while in the dungeon, except for Arvel who receives one additional feat per glyph.

At the start of an encounter, the heroes draw their starting feats as per a dungeon, but then discard down to one feat each (or two for Arvel).

At the end of each dungeon/encounter, all unused feats are discarded.

Reasoning:

I really like the look of feats and think they work very well in standard Descent, but they don't feel right as part of the "metagame" of RtL with feats carrying over between dungeons. I feel that three feats per dungeon is about the number of glyphs which will be activated in a normal dungeon and the occasional extra glyph gets represented by the extra ones for encounters. Heroes who are demoralised after being completely plastered in one dungeon won't then have to start the next dungeon with no feats, and those who stormed through won't get the bonus of having 5 feats saved up for the next one.

I dislike the importance that 'Prevent Evil' and 'Foil Plans' have in Lieutenant encounters and really dislike the way that right-thinking heroes can, maybe even have to, save their feats from a dungeon to use in relieving a siege three weeks later. However, I do like the fact that they do create a way for heroes to thwart the likes of Merrik with Danger and a Dance of the Monkey God/Animate Weapons besides getting Wind pact. Not only is there a reasonable, but far from certain chance that the heroes would draw one of these as their Encounter Feat, the fact that there is a reasonable chance that they might, should encourage an overlord to choose more, varied, treachery cards than risking the single, devastating ones.

I also am quite disappointed by how a hero's starting skills listed on their cards get missed in RtL. I like the fact that Nanok and Landrec would have a subterfuge skill, giving way to all out fighters like Steelhorns. Under current rules, Nanok will always pick Fighting feats and Landrec will always pick Wizardry. I like getting the heroes back to their roots, as it were. Nanok might just hang onto that crossbow for when ***** in the Armour or Shooting for Distance comes up.

Finally, I hope this rule will affect the balance between the campaign levels slightly. At copper, when heroes are more likely to be dipping into only the first level of a dungeon for the treasure, the feats will help them deal with early Overlord dominance. At gold when heroes are more likely to be working all the way through to the end of dungeons and rumours, they will have marginally fewer feats than they would otherwise, and some of which are for secondary traits in which they aren't rolling 10 surges.

EDIT: Halfway through Silver and this rule is working well so far. Only change I'd make is that feat cards shouldn't be allowed for any encounter besides Lieutenants. It's overpowered otherwise and adds to the set up time necessarily.

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 Immortal...

 

Curious about some aspects of you implement your rules and how you're finding them.

-When heroes perform a train action, are they limited in their feats in any way? For example, are they only able to draw feats in areas available in that city (magic in Greyhaven, Melee or ranged in forge, nothing in Riverwatch).

-Are they limited according to their starting skills as described on their card?

-Are skills ever discarded? For example, does a 'full mitt' gained by a week's training action create a full hand of three cards at the expense of discarding all current ones? Do the heroes have a choice as to whih they discard if so?

Let us know how it's working.

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