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AltWren

Just can't find a balance to this game

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One thing that may really help from what I have read here is doing what we did in Descent 1st edition (and will probably start doing here as well after this questline) is to randomly select your Heroes or even better do it Relic style which is radomly selecting two, then pick one, then repeat that process.  It just sounds like the combination of Heroic abilities you've described is what is making the issue and random selection would (especially since you have the conversion kit) greatly reduce the chances of always having to deal with those combos.

 

For anyone concerned that the OL is too powerful, you can also have this apply to the OL as well. In fact, I would recommend that if the Hero players are forced to choose from a random subset of heroes (and possibly classes after you pick up some expansions), then the OL should have to choose from a random subset of his available open groups in the same fashion that the hero players did, treating each open group as a hero player. (Simultaneously vs. one then the next; a set number (e.g. 2 or 3) vs. a proportional number (e.g. half, evenly divided); etc.)

 

Also note that if you're going to go this route, then I WOULD advise picking up the conversion kit for the variety since ridiculous combinations are much less likely to show up.

Edited by griton
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It's interesting how opinions range re: who has the upperhand, Overlord versus heroes. Variables like player skill, player numbers, CK or no, they all have a huge impact on perceived balance. In my game, we're currently playing 1v1 with no Conversion Kit, but my opponent is controlling four heroes instead of two, giving him total control over equipment, combos, movement, and general shenanigans. Even so, he has lost all three Act 1 quests and managed to win the interlude largely because I failed to recall the win conditions and handed him victory in the final turns. He insists he's fighting an uphill battle, that the quests are designed for him to fail. We're both veteran gamers of similar skill, this is our first campaign (neither of us have any prior experience with Descent).

I honestly can't argue with the results, but I also feel that I'm earning my wins. I also believe that his power level is fast outstripping my ability to cope, and that maybe he has yet to realize the full potential of his troublesome do-gooders.

Time will tell, I suppose.

Edited by Deek

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Xodarap:

 

Just a side note, sir. ^.~ The OL has a HUGE advantage over a two hero game. There is little combo-ing going on that the OL has to deal with and just enough beasts to deal with it. Opposite is true for a three player game. But I Love your approach to the game.

Ah!  So there WAS somethin' to that an I'm not nuts.Thank You Kunzite!  Common sense would say to start over with the 3 or 4 player game but my roomie just scored some sweet shop stuff (finally!) and his combo of Tomble and Tara looks to be on the rise so I think I'll finish this questline and then would you use 3 or 4 heroes for the best balance?  It's not SUPER important but it would be nice.  The important thing is that unlike my 1.0 stuff 2.0 will actually hit the table repeatedly and like the first Descent it's always fun but it no longer eats my dining room.   Thank you for the kind words as well!  My approach to this game is the same as my approach to all others:  I always win because the win for me is being fortunate enough to get to play a fun game!  

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One thing that may really help from what I have read here is doing what we did in Descent 1st edition (and will probably start doing here as well after this questline) is to randomly select your Heroes or even better do it Relic style which is radomly selecting two, then pick one, then repeat that process.  It just sounds like the combination of Heroic abilities you've described is what is making the issue and random selection would (especially since you have the conversion kit) greatly reduce the chances of always having to deal with those combos.

 

For anyone concerned that the OL is too powerful, you can also have this apply to the OL as well. In fact, I would recommend that if the Hero players are forced to choose from a random subset of heroes (and possibly classes after you pick up some expansions), then the OL should have to choose from a random subset of his available open groups in the same fashion that the hero players did, treating each open group as a hero player. (Simultaneously vs. one then the next; a set number (e.g. 2 or 3) vs. a proportional number (e.g. half, evenly divided); etc.)

 

Also note that if you're going to go this route, then I WOULD advise picking up the conversion kit for the variety since ridiculous combinations are much less likely to show up.

 

 

Oh my god I can't believe I never thought about that!  I'm so happy to nerf the overlord (even though I play one as much as I play the Heroes.) that it never even occured to me!  It also never occurred to me to randomize class selection as well. (Even though for our first play through we picked everything.)  You're right of course, that's only fair.  Do you think it would be balanced to allow heroes to pick their classes and therefore the overlord could still build their deck?  That could be difficult to randomize if not....  That way the Heroes randomly pick their characters and the overlord randomly picks the open groups but the Heroes and overlord still get to pick the path and therefore the strategy with the cards.  Sounds fair.  About picking up the conversion kit, I have looked into it since I have a lot of the Hero miniatures still with my RuneBound game so it would be do able but I've kind of prioritized getting the 2.0 expansions first (I have Lair of the Wyrm and love it!) as well as the Leiutenant packs and then I may do just that.  So the craziest accidental combos come from the 2.0 stuff in your opinion then?  (I honestly don't know, we've been fortunate enough to not have to deal anything nearly as crazy as some of what I've read in this topic.)

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Ah!  So there WAS somethin' to that an I'm not nuts.Thank You Kunzite!  Common sense would say to start over with the 3 or 4 player game but my roomie just scored some sweet shop stuff (finally!) and his combo of Tomble and Tara looks to be on the rise so I think I'll finish this questline and then would you use 3 or 4 heroes for the best balance?  It's not SUPER important but it would be nice.  The important thing is that unlike my 1.0 stuff 2.0 will actually hit the table repeatedly and like the first Descent it's always fun but it no longer eats my dining room.   Thank you for the kind words as well!  My approach to this game is the same as my approach to all others:  I always win because the win for me is being fortunate enough to get to play a fun game!  

 

We find the best balance in 4 players, but that is allot for one person to hold down them selves. So is three, but if this is something you would like to try, go for it! You get your best hero combos with four heroes and the OL gets the most monsters. I really feel FFG planed the game with four heroes in mind most of the time.

 

And that is the way games should be played!

 

 

So the craziest accidental combos come from the 2.0 stuff in your opinion then?  (I honestly don't know, we've been fortunate enough to not have to deal anything nearly as crazy as some of what I've read in this topic.)

 

Hehe. Well for heroes, there was a character that would regain a fatigue while the character standing next to him regained two fatigue every time a hero next to him regained any number of fatigue. There is also the prayer of peace and cripple combo.

 

For OL. Unholy ritual + Bloodlust for "all my cards in my hand! Woot!" next to Blood Rage + Reinforce. VERY powerful. I kill my own guys, bloodlust to get my blood rages back and then reinforce. I have successfully locked out my heroes with this. Even I find it a bit too dirty.

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For OL. Unholy ritual + Bloodlust for "all my cards in my hand! Woot!" next to Blood Rage + Reinforce. VERY powerful. I kill my own guys, bloodlust to get my blood rages back and then reinforce. I have successfully locked out my heroes with this. Even I find it a bit too dirty.

 

 

Kunzite, do you use the errata version of Unholy Ritual and Bloodlust in your games?

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For OL. Unholy ritual + Bloodlust for "all my cards in my hand! Woot!" next to Blood Rage + Reinforce. VERY powerful. I kill my own guys, bloodlust to get my blood rages back and then reinforce. I have successfully locked out my heroes with this. Even I find it a bit too dirty.

 

 

Kunzite, do you use the errata version of Unholy Ritual and Bloodlust in your games?

 

 

Not yet... Most likely going to implicate something after this campaign. Early campaign it's not an issue. Late campaign it's stupid.

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I am not sure if it's an offical rule, but we have made a house rule that monsters must face a hero.  You cannot for example move 2 Barghasts to block a 3 by 3 corridor (facing the walls) and other monsters to that effect.  With quite a lot of 'race' or 'get to the exit first' type of quests we felt it was cheating and created imbalance.  Would like to know the official rule though.

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I am new to the game, but we have found the game to be unbalanced in favor of the OL (playing 2 heroes).  Playing the heroes I gave up winning quests and went for treasure and came back with a vengeance in ACT II eventually getting hold of powerful items and narrowly losing the Finale.

 

Thanks for everyone's input into this thread, there are some really awesome ideas here, and I think I am going to start with four heroes from now on!

 

As it take a long time to play a campaign, you have really fast tracked some of the trial-and-error we would have to have done.  

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I am new to the game, but we have found the game to be unbalanced in favor of the OL (playing 2 heroes).  Playing the heroes I gave up winning quests and went for treasure and came back with a vengeance in ACT II eventually getting hold of powerful items and narrowly losing the Finale.

 

You are not imagining things. With only two heroes, it seems to be heavily favoring the OL. There is very limited on what the heroes can do when there are only two of you. Even though the OL's monsters are now very limited, he doesn't have to divide his attention so much. There aren't so many heroes to knock down either. 

 

The most balance I have found as the OL is a four hero game. If you are playing with three people, two people can play two heroes each. We have a four player game where one person takes on two heroes. Works well enough.

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I am not sure if it's an offical rule, but we have made a house rule that monsters must face a hero.  You cannot for example move 2 Barghasts to block a 3 by 3 corridor (facing the walls) and other monsters to that effect.  With quite a lot of 'race' or 'get to the exit first' type of quests we felt it was cheating and created imbalance.  Would like to know the official rule though.

 

The official rule is that large monsters may position themselves however they like, as long as they have the room to do so.  Figures trace line of sight in all directions away from themselves (it is assumed the monster is looking around all the time, not standing perfectly still in the pose the figure displays.)

 

I think cheating is a bit strong, but it's certainly a cheap shot for the OL to block corridors.  Mind you, that's the sort of thing the OL needs to get used to doing if he really wants to give the heroes a run for their money.

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I was being a bit cheeky when I referred to cheating, sorry if that came across as being too serious.  'Cheap' is better wording, and hard to counter with two heroes!. With 4 heroes this maybe the OL's only chance of survival, so that may be a fair call.

Thanks for the ruling information!

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There are 2 schools of Overlord thought:

 

1)  The Zargon Method, named for the "Overlord" of HeroQuest, who played more of an adversarial Game Master role and was expected to challenge the heroes, but to ultimately lose most quests in the spirit of fun and adventure.

 

2)  The Correct Method, named because its how Descent was meant to be played.  Give no quarter, show no mercy, exploit all the things, and murder their faces until each and every one of them is cursing your cheesy, cheap, pedantic tactics simultaneously.  Heroes that can't handle this should go play HeroQuest.

 

In all seriousness I think Descent didn't borrow enough from HeroQuest, but one thing I wouldn't change is the dynamic between the Heroes and the Overlord.  There is a distilled pureness there.  If you're able to find hero players who can really appreciate the ruthless nature of this game (and still have fun when losing), the fun-factor reaches a state of Nerdvana previously unimagined. 

 

There is nothing that the Overlord can do that the Heroes can't, in terms of gaming the system.  I tend to play against people with degrees in Math, Logic, and Computer Science - and the ones that don't have been min/maxing games since the late 80s.  If I don't drop the hammer as often as possible, I end up looking like a cartoon villain - complete with 23 minute failures that end in me shouting "COBRA - retreat!  Retreat!"

 

Jee

Edited by Inspector Jee
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Yeah, with 2 heroes, you really have to take into account a lot of different factors and choose the pair of heroes and their classes a bit more carefully.

 

Tips for playing with 2 heroes:

 

Classes with familiars treated as figures become more powerful (relatively speaking) because they increase the figure count by a higher percentage than when you have more heroes.

 

Pay VERY close attention to the attribute spread. With any number of players, you should try and make sure you have at least a 3 or 4 in every attribute so that at least SOMEONE can deal with any given situation. (This usually happens naturally in games with more players, but has to be very intentional in a 2-player game.) A key mistake is for players to not pay attention to these numbers when they choose their characters and suddenly realize that the entire party is weak in one attribute. As soon as the OL notices this, he can change tactics to use creatures and quests that exploit that weakness, while the heroes are stuck with them for the rest of that campaign.

 

Try and have one character with strong utility or healing and one with strong damage potential. With only 2 heroes, focusing on just one isn't going to give you quite the overwhelming tipping effect that can happen with a party of 4 heavy damage dealers or 4 heavy utility characters. Such gimmick parties can work well with larger groups, but can be really tough with smaller numbers. (As a side note, now that there are enough expansions out, I'm really looking forward to hearing tales of the single archetype groups: 4 warriors, 4 healers, etc.)

 

While a bit debatable, I feel that having a healer in the group is more important in a 2-hero game than otherwise because if the OL can take down one hero, you've suddenly lost half your party, and preventing that from happening should be a big focus. Along with that, as a healer in a 2-hero campaign, I'd focus on single-target healing instead of area of effect spells (and opposite for a 4-hero campaign).

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With 2 heroes and the make up of a lot of the quests it comes down more to speed and the number of actions.  Most of the quests involve picking up tokens and escaping rather than taking out players.  A meat shield and fast moving goblins makes it pretty hard to beat the OL to the objective in these cases.  Blocking and constricting player movement is more effective than knocking out a player.  I actually found Jain to be effective because she can move twice as a feat and can take a beating with fatigue if she needs to.  I partnered her with Grisban to be used as a meatshield as well and to provide the heavy hitting.

 

I managed to win on quests where I had to survive so many turns (Castle Daeron i think) and did well on the Finale as they were more focused on battle rather than a 'race' condition.  As I get more experienced with the game time will tell.

 

I think 4 players seems to be worth a try.

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As far as balance goes this game will never be balanced in fact everything that gets published just adds to that perticular problem. Even with impossible data and all this games veriables it can't be undone. Plot decks won't change much other then I do this now you can do this to me factor that's about as balanced as this game will get. What I would do is just ban certain things if there was a obvious balance issue with said known problem.

My group however is starting to want more risks as hero players so adding something like CK would be great if there wasn't an issue with acquiring models (we don't like to proxy). If this game didnt have elements of randomness and sometimes certain death (OL and Heroes can both achieve this)would it be fun? Idk I think if it was to balanced I'd look the other way. But then again chess is mostly balanced white player has little advantage since they go first (infact chess to my knowledge is the closest to balance you will get game wise). But I play that because it is balanced enough. It is annoying certain loot combos for heroes are pretty nasty, but heros deserve a pat on the back if they manage to acquire known combos in shop decks. This game is kind of a tactical collectible.

One cool thing about this game is once exspansions stop and the game isn't scratching an unreachable itch for you you have all these cool components to make a game of your own design to help scratch that itch! One day I may do away with search tokens and design a way for heros to interact with key features on the tile pieces (like camp area or wagon). But for now we are going with flow of game as is.

One more thing try playing without CK that won't heal everything but it will smooth the game out some. Heroes who like pain would like playing against the CK.

Edited by Silverhelm

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Welp, my group has tried a lot of different configurations, and in all our nights playing this, we have yet to experience a campaign that is closely matched.  We recently removed several characters as options and started again.  I took over as OL once again.  This time, in Cardinal's Plight, I failed all skill checks to raise zombies, even when I used a card to reroll.  Come second encounter, the party just slowly and methodically marched through, killing one monster at a time that I couldn't reinforce, while my one feeble zombie failed to do more than two damage to Koth.  I tried to hold out and finish the encounter, but they saw what a poor time I was having and we agreed to stop.  We're going to retire this game.  It just doesn't seem to be delivering what we want and a lot of the rules are just too strange in their interpretation.  

 

At one point, we had two shadow dragons pushing the heroes into the entrance so only two could attack, which the Knight used Oath of Honor to teleport around.  Line of sight has been drawn through walls on several occurrences.  It feels silly and breaks the immersion of a fantasy adventure.  Someone gets webbed, but they still get to finish their movement?  Skye's abilities don't work because a monster stands on his square?  One of the players said he felt like every time we played, it was just a matter of discovering a new exploit to the rules, and there are plenty.

 

I don't think this game is for us.

 

I had the opposite experience in my wife and I playing a campaign for the first time. I am playing two heroes (Grisban and Widow Tahra) and she's the OL.

 

I made the mistake of going the long way around the initial terrains in E1 of that quest instead of going diagonally through them (we read the rules mid-campaign then she blasted two of her reinforcement spiders through it as I was searching for the door opening item in E1) to rush the search area quickly. I lost a couple turns doing that and she rolled well raising zombies and they were all raised before I could get in there after getting the portal door opened. 

 

Due to the fact she had 4 zombies Encounter 2 quick work was made of the Cardinal with a total of 5 zombies attacking the cardinal (the 4 raised minions and the Master).

 

I pretty much lost badly due to poor navigation and my wife rolling really well raising. I also rolled double blanks for defense of the cardinal once which hurt badly.

 

I am finding the game to be really well balanced so far and only blaming myself for not making that quest a closer affair. Even though her OL play has won every encounter so far the games have been close. I did win a few as the hero when we were just putzing around outside campaign for a couple quests. Bad rolls or small strategic mistakes can turn the tide quickly.

 

EDIT: I think I need to also get Tahra's Familiar on the field quickly but I didn't want to waste a move action that could have been used to race to the objective area. It would have helped stave off some damage in the end.

Edited by jonoden

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There are 2 schools of Overlord thought:

 

2)  The Correct Method, named because its how Descent was meant to be played.  Give no quarter, show no mercy, exploit all the things, and murder their faces until each and every one of them is cursing your cheesy, cheap, pedantic tactics simultaneously.  Heroes that can't handle this should go play HeroQuest.

 

epic comment, D2E was meant to be broken

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