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renediffie

Thoughts about balance in descent

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I have to address something that keeps coming up:

 

Many people think that the Overlord is OP.

Many people think that the Heroes are OP.

Many people think both factions are evenly matched.

It's roughly a 30/30/30 split.

This does not mean a game is balanced.

 

There are many factors inherent in the design of the game that create bad match ups.  In fact, I have yet to really see a good match up in this game.  In the end, the question of who these match ups favor is irrelevant to a discussion of game balance.

 

To my thinking, a well balanced game has as few bad match ups as possible.  By this definition, given the poll data with the 30/30/30 split, Descent is not a well balanced game, as it generates bad match ups at least 60% of the time.  This imbalance is worse in Descent than in some other games, because the imbalance usually shows up early in the campaign and is exacerbated with every quest.

 

Don't get me wrong.  I love Descent.  It's probably one of my favorite games, but the imbalance of the game is just something you have to accept going in if you are going to enjoy the game, just like you have to accept the chaotic randomness of Wiz-War, the fiddly-ness of Merchant of Venus, and the tendency of Arkham Horror to be a game where "the game plays you".

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I agree with you jordu speak. Descent has too much elements to be able to be balanced perfectly. It´s not chess (even then some say black have disavantage :) ). It´s the nature of the game. Exploiting the best combo is an élément of the game : team and abilities for players, cards and monster choice for OL

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I agree with you jordu speak. Descent has too much elements to be able to be balanced perfectly. It´s not chess (even then some say black have disavantage :) ). It´s the nature of the game. Exploiting the best combo is an élément of the game : team and abilities for players, cards and monster choice for OL

 

A slight one, but then again, you will play with the whites in the second game. ;)

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I have a lot of trouble as the Overload, actually.  I tried to run Death on a Wing tonight.  The heroes won the first mission, because Spiders can't really stop an 8 movement double blasting Quellen, so their party started within range of Belthir for the second half.  I tried to set up to contain them with the elementals, but Steelhorns was having none of that and immediately cleared a path for the rest of the group.  Belthir had taken 14 damage and was stunned before I even got a turn.  Then, due to stun, he could only use one move action and the party quickly caught up to him and finished him.  I did manage to take down two of them on my turn, but a single action from Avric has the whole party back on their feet.

 

I really dislike how ineffective defeating a hero is in the game.  Wow, you get another card, such as a tripwire, and worst case scenario, the heroes lose one action whilst they pick their guy up.  At least make them miss a turn or something.

As OL I had a very similar experience, the hero players all selcted the most powerful heroes, and thy kept picking the same ones over and over. I ended up forcing the hero players to select their heroes and class at random. That way I was not facing steel horns every single campaign.

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The OL has a major advantage when playing almost all quests. He knows who are the heroes. He can choose accordingly. Steel Horns is very easy to defeat with the right monsters and cards.

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Mind the talent gap between players when thinking about balance in games based on opposition. Maybe the game seems unfair on your side simply because you're not focusing enough, playing lightly : descent 2nd édition is not a dungeon crawler, it's a tactical about movement and combining skills.

And, sorry to suggest that, maybe you aren't the smartest of the game.

Stay humble while talking about balance.

Good gaming

 

Im sorry. I should have known im not smart enough to post on this forum. 

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I didn't intend to offense anybody and sincerely do apology if I did. I wrote "smart" refering to "experience, focus, strategy", not "intelligence". My native language is french so my writing might be more rude than I would. I tried to add many forms of politness before and after that sentence.

 

Like Robin many forum experiences about Descent makes me think people are often concluding it is unbalanced for OL or players (50/50) too soon.

 

There are quite good suggestions to enhance your descent skills here

http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/85205-poor-overlord-heroes-op/?p=837320

 

 

 

My full vision of Balance in Descent is summarized there :

http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/85205-poor-overlord-heroes-op/?p=833418

 

"I've played with 2, 3 and 4 players, in both oneshot and campaign modes through many games.

My experience is the game is quite balanced.

Some thoughts :

 

1) In an Act I game, players are slighty stronger than OL. In an Act II game, OL benefits from tougher monsters and has packed some nasty cards (especially in campaign mode)

 

2) Some scenarios are advantaging more OL or Players, or are balanced. It depends and give interest to winning the previous game to be able to choice your scenario in campaign mode although only the final game makes you win all.

 

3) I might say the number of players are a bit of a balance factor :

- 2 players game is harder for the players because they lack of time and action.

- 3 players game is harder for the overlord because the monster increase in strengh (red instead of white) not in number.

- 4 players game should is balance because overlord has more monsters and players benefits from many powers they can combine, moreover if their team is well built.

 

Conclusion : yes, that tactical miniature games requires more reflexion than many others and has nothing to do with hack'n'slash. You need to use your brain, and play gentle and fast."

 

 

SORRY AGAIN.

 

PS : I think Bayushiseni 's suggestion about balance is THE solution - when calling unbalance, immediatly replay the game with players in others roles. And see what happens. The 2P miniature game CLAUSTROPHOBIA is all about that feeling and challenge. So was SPACE HULK back in the days.

 

Hi Renediffie:

 

Willmanx already explained what he meant with his words. There was no offense intended.

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Im sorry. I should have known im not smart enough to post on this forum. 

 

You certainly are smart enough - or I am not smart enough either. ;)

The fact that you have issues with balance in your experience of the game is quite normal, as Descent does include a great number of factors that do have their weight upon the outcome of the quests.

The human factor belongs to the array of those variables.

I personally experminented the fact that misreading the rules, failing to grasp the precise tactical challenge of an encounter or making a (decisively) stupid move did tip the scales in favour of one or the other side.

I would consider quite healthy not to blame the system as a whole, before all factors have been taken into account.

However, one can stumble upon a clear problem of balance, as was the case with the original version of Castle Daerion, which was nearly impossible to win for the OL (thus the errata, which actually tip the scales in favour of the heroes).

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The OL has a major advantage when playing almost all quests. He knows who are the heroes. He can choose accordingly. Steel Horns is very easy to defeat with the right monsters and cards.

 

Please tell me these monsters and cards.  Golems.  I got that.  Do I have to use Golems every encounter if he's in the game then?  Many trap cards don't work, because they trigger on a move action, which would not affect Steelhorns' power.  For my group, he is a major part of the problem.  Blocking player movement is a major tactic in this game and he bypasses it, not just for him, but for the entire party.  If that's not needed in the map, he herds the monsters into little cubes for the blasters to take advantage of.  It breaks encounters, such as the Death on a Wing scenario I mentioned.  The elementals cannot stop the party from killing Belthir before he can move, as they are shoved out of the way (well, he was reduced to 1 HP and stunned.  Close enough.)  If there's a 'very easy' solution to this, I'm not seeing it.  

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However, one can stumble upon a clear problem of balance, as was the case with the original version of Castle Daerion, which was nearly impossible to win for the OL (thus the errata, which actually tip the scales in favour of the heroes).

 

 

Think you meant in the original version, it was nearly impossible for the heroes to win.  Hooray for errata.  When they actually nerf something affecting the heroes, let me know.  So far all I've seen is making Daerion overly easy for the heroes now and the crippling of some OL cards.

 

(and on the subject of feelings everyone, let me just say I hope I never come off as too harsh in my posts as well.  I am bitter and jaded, but it's at the game, not at any of you.  I have been tending to be snippy the last week or two though.)

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However, one can stumble upon a clear problem of balance, as was the case with the original version of Castle Daerion, which was nearly impossible to win for the OL (thus the errata, which actually tip the scales in favour of the heroes).

 

 

Think you meant in the original version, it was nearly impossible for the heroes to win. 

 

Oops, yes, that is what I meant.  :blink:  ;)

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(and on the subject of feelings everyone, let me just say I hope I never come off as too harsh in my posts as well.  I am bitter and jaded, but it's at the game, not at any of you.  I have been tending to be snippy the last week or two though.)

 

 

I personally don't mind heated debates.

What can be a problem, is when ad hominem (i.e. personal) arguments are used.

For the present, I don't see it being the case.

As one says: full respect for people, no pity about ideas. ^_^

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I think one thing what people can try to achieve a more balanced game is not use the Conversion Kit. It is quite obvious that many of the CK monsters are really much better than those in a pure 2E game. I'm Overlording a LoR campaign with all expansions but no CK (heroes or monster choices) for now and will see how the game goes from there. Thus far the heroes have won both the intro quest and the 1st encounter, and both instances I was but one turn away from winning.

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I think one thing what people can try to achieve a more balanced game is not use the Conversion Kit. It is quite obvious that many of the CK monsters are really much better than those in a pure 2E game.

 

You're probably right about that.  The Conversion Kit was originally intended as a gimmick to encourage 1E players to make the switch to 2E, so it's not very surprising that the stats on those monsters and heroes would be "inflated" somewhat.

 

That's not to say it breaks the game, I personally haven't experienced any great balance issues while using the CK.  But the game is probably "better balanced" without the CK.

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The OL has a major advantage when playing almost all quests. He knows who are the heroes. He can choose accordingly. Steel Horns is very easy to defeat with the right monsters and cards.

 

Please tell me these monsters and cards.  Golems.  I got that.  Do I have to use Golems every encounter if he's in the game then?  Many trap cards don't work, because they trigger on a move action, which would not affect Steelhorns' power.  For my group, he is a major part of the problem.  Blocking player movement is a major tactic in this game and he bypasses it, not just for him, but for the entire party.  If that's not needed in the map, he herds the monsters into little cubes for the blasters to take advantage of.  It breaks encounters, such as the Death on a Wing scenario I mentioned.  The elementals cannot stop the party from killing Belthir before he can move, as they are shoved out of the way (well, he was reduced to 1 HP and stunned.  Close enough.)  If there's a 'very easy' solution to this, I'm not seeing it.  

 

Today is a Holiday in Portugal, so yesterday night I've played "Death on the Wings" with a friend and my wife. They both used two heroes and I asked that one of them used Steelhorns. My wife knew that I was going to try to cilindrate Steelhorns so she passed. My friend used (not so much) Steelhorns.

 

In the first part of the quest I wasn't able to counter the use of Steelhorn's special feat, but it wasn't a dire problem, because they over-extended themselves and I knocked down Jain Fairwood and was able to surround her with my spiders and a bad roll from my wife ended the scenario in my favour.

 

Second part was better because I had the first turn all for myself.

I refrain from using the golems, since I was trying to figure what else could be done.

 

Using just the basic OL deck I had 5 cards to use against Steelhorns: 2 tripwires, 1 pit trap, 1 word of misery, 1 dark charm.

I was lucky and I draw a tripwire in the begining of the game. I kept that card to use it when Steelhorns tried to use his special feat.

 

I used the skeleton archers to kill fast the Guards.

I decided that Belthir would take care of one group of guards with one archer and the other 3 would take care of the other.

 

I used the Elementals just to stop the heroes on their tracks. I knew that the player with steelhorns would try to use his feat and I gambled on that.

 

In my first turn I've moved one elemental (the minion next to the heroes (steelhorn) and I've turned him to stone. I moved the other one away. I moved Belthir into one of the rooms with one of the archers and the others into the other.

 

My friend tested willpower and succeeded and tried to use Steelhorns feat. I forced him to roll his awereness with tripwire and he failed, and he spent his special feat doing nothing. He then attacked the Elemental and killed him. The other heroes rushed forward. In the second turn I've repeated the action with the master elemental, putting him next to two heroes. I've played dark charm on Jain and she went back to the entrance joining Steelhorns. I wreaked havock against the guards killing 2 and letting the other two bloodied.

 

In the third turn I lost my two elementals and two skeletons, but it didn't matter because quickly I killed the other two guards.

 

Then my friend asked me: "Why did you wanted me to play with Steelhorns?"

 

So it came in to my mind the doubt: Are you using the special feat always, or you use it once and then flip Steelhorns card over?

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You've played incorrectly.  Tripwire triggers on a move action.  Steelhorns ability says "move your speed" not "take a move action."  Tripwire cannot be used.  Believe me, if I could trip him, we'd have a lot less of an issue.

 

And yes, having a party who overextends and doesn't aid each other with moving boulders is an excellent way to win the encounter and ensure Belthir has a turn to run.  Unfortunately, I play a four hero game where blocking and teamwork are much more common, and they would never leave themselves pinned when there were still six other actions to be taken by the party.  

 

Anyways, the issue is that Steelhorns can clear a path to Belthir and kill him before the OL has a turn in this situation.  Thank you for your efforts though.

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I have a lot of trouble as the Overload, actually.  I tried to run Death on a Wing tonight.  The heroes won the first mission, because Spiders can't really stop an 8 movement double blasting Quellen, so their party started within range of Belthir for the second half.  I tried to set up to contain them with the elementals, but Steelhorns was having none of that and immediately cleared a path for the rest of the group.  Belthir had taken 14 damage and was stunned before I even got a turn.  Then, due to stun, he could only use one move action and the party quickly caught up to him and finished him.  I did manage to take down two of them on my turn, but a single action from Avric has the whole party back on their feet.

 

I really dislike how ineffective defeating a hero is in the game.  Wow, you get another card, such as a tripwire, and worst case scenario, the heroes lose one action whilst they pick their guy up.  At least make them miss a turn or something.

Steelhorn's ability is nasty.  About your best bet is to use Basic II deck and start using Saboteur.  Webs and grease trap would work pretty good.

 

Also, if you're worried about your lieutenant's getting wasted to quickly, you may want to consider some universal OL cards such as Dark Remedy or Resilience.

Edited by Cursain

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You're right. It says move your speed. I will have to apologize to my friend and wife.

It's not hard to pin someone, if you bait them well.

Still, I have to try again with the correct rules. If I find that Steelhorns is too poerful, I'll use Hanzo Hatori good council and I make an house rule and change the wording from "move your speed" to "As a Move action". It's my game and for me and mine enjoy it.

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Actually, I think a move action is any action that provides movement, in the same way that an attack action is any action that causes a figure to attack.  It's the same reason why a minion reaver can't attack and skirmish in the same turn.

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You've played incorrectly.  Tripwire triggers on a move action.  Steelhorns ability says "move your speed" not "take a move action."  Tripwire cannot be used.  Believe me, if I could trip him, we'd have a lot less of an issue.

 

And yes, having a party who overextends and doesn't aid each other with moving boulders is an excellent way to win the encounter and ensure Belthir has a turn to run.  Unfortunately, I play a four hero game where blocking and teamwork are much more common, and they would never leave themselves pinned when there were still six other actions to be taken by the party.  

 

Anyways, the issue is that Steelhorns can clear a path to Belthir and kill him before the OL has a turn in this situation.  Thank you for your efforts though.

 

I don't think you're playing that right.  It is a "move" action per-say.  The figure is moving from one space to the next.  It's not like a Throw or Knockback effect where you pick up the model and place it in a new tile.

 

Tripwife and Pittrap both will work.

 

You have like six different cards to deal with that ability now.

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Once we open the plastic around it, the game is ours to have fun with it.

 

I've changed rules in almost all games I love to play:

 

Leviathan is the late '80's. The swarm of missiles would cripple the game in the very begining. I've cut them to 1/3rd and it played just fine. Still a force to be scared of, but you would have to maneuver and break the enemy rank for them to destroy the enemy.

 

Wings of War (now Wings of Glory). I needed 30º maneuvers. I pillaged a deck and made them. If we were playing serious, the fixed firing arcs weren't 60º angles but just the front of the planes.

 

Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition. No more victory points. We made secret victory conditions and it has been a blast since.

 

Etc.

 

The day I feel I need to change Descent 2nd Edition to maintain my fun, I'll do it.

 

As a tabletop player and a GM, I aim to the pleasure of all involved. Less than that, it's a waist of time.

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I don't think you're playing that right.  It is a "move" action per-say.  The figure is moving from one space to the next.  It's not like a Throw or Knockback effect where you pick up the model and place it in a new tile.

 

Tripwife and Pittrap both will work.

 

You have like six different cards to deal with that ability now.

 

 

I don't know about that, sir.  Pit Trap and Web definitely work, because they say "When a hero enters an empty space" but Tripwire says "When a hero enters an empty space during a move action."  Very different wording.  He's technically using a heroic feat, not a move action.  I'd love to hit him with tripwires, but I don't know if it's legal.

 

-------

 

@ Cursain:  Basic II huh?  I don't own it yet...  I wonder if I can find it before our next game on Sunday.  Thanks for the suggestion.

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I don't think you're playing that right.  It is a "move" action per-say.  The figure is moving from one space to the next.  It's not like a Throw or Knockback effect where you pick up the model and place it in a new tile.

 

Tripwife and Pittrap both will work.

 

You have like six different cards to deal with that ability now.

 

 

I don't know about that, sir.  Pit Trap and Web definitely work, because they say "When a hero enters an empty space" but Tripwire says "When a hero enters an empty space during a move action."  Very different wording.  He's technically using a heroic feat, not a move action.  I'd love to hit him with tripwires, but I don't know if it's legal.

 

-------

 

@ Cursain:  Basic II huh?  I don't own it yet...  I wonder if I can find it before our next game on Sunday.  Thanks for the suggestion.

 

 

Yea, Grease Trap is a lot of fun, and very effective:

 

Play this card when a hero enter an empty space.  He tests awareness.  If he passes he suffers 1 fatigue.  If he fails, move the hero 3 spaces in a straight line in the same direction he last moved.  For each space he cannot move, he suffers 1health or 1fitigue (your choice).  If character is a mage, the hero is stunned.

Overwhelm:

 

Play this card during your turn on a hero adjacent to 4 or more monsters.  He tests willpower.  If he passes immediately attach with 1 adjacent monster of your choice.  If he fails, the hero is stunned and immobilized.

 

 

I would argue his ability is a move action.  Notice the errata mentions the Immobilized condition with special movement cards, and page 9 under "use a skill" and the "move" section on page 8.

 

It would be tough to say trip wire doesn't work.

Edited by Cursain

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I actually realized something else too while I was gone.  Steelhorns isn't entering empty spaces.  He's entering spaces containing monsters.

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I actually realized something else too while I was gone.  Steelhorns isn't entering empty spaces.  He's entering spaces containing monsters.

 

Yea, that's going to be a problem.  You might need to think about using monsters with knockback.  Ogres are fairly nasty, especially with the master's undying skill.

Edited by Cursain

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