# Thinking of making house rules changes, community thoughts?

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Hello everyone! This is my first time posting on these forums as I just got Descent very recently for Christmas.  I've spent the last 5 days extensively play testing the game and learning the rules, (about 8 - 16 hours a day) and I've come to find some minor problems.

Let me preempt by saying I think this is one of the most fun games I've ever played! It really brings me back to the days of Final Fantasy Tactics, and the fine strategy games of that era, when my cousin and I would spend hours upon hours just breaking the game, (Leveling Cloud from 1 to 99 as a mime, or beating the game with only the main character as a Calculator). Unfortunately nothing is perfect for everyone though, and the group I play with has some very valid complaints, and I have some of my own.

Rather than just changing up the game based on some math I've done, however, I'm posting this here with the hope that someone can set me straight on a few things, so maybe the pages of errata I have lined up aren't necessary. After all, I can't hope to think that after 60+ hours of play testing, (mainly A1, but a good chunk of A2 as well) that I'd know more than a community who's spent collectively years worth of time playing this game. So here goes:

Preliminaries: How I'm calculating averages.

Many of the results I've come to about damage vs defense calculations, hero abilities, etc. are coming from how I calculate the average value of the attack dice. If I'm doing this wrong, then most of what I say will probably be gibberish, so the more mathematically savvy might want to especially scrutinize this.

How my group thinks of dice rolls in the game is that first you roll the blue dice. If you get a miss, no point in rolling the power dice. This model drives my calculations. I find a mean of the individual dice the standard way you'd normally do it, add up the symbols as they appear on the dice and divide by 6. Just to be explicit, I'll state my calculations:

Blue: 1 1/3 damage, 1/3 surge

Yellow: 1 damage, 1/2 surge

Red:  2 damage, 1/6 surge

Now to find the mean for 2 dice, what I did is listed every possible roll that a blue dice could get, then added to it the mean of the color(s) being rolled with it, with the exception that a miss always results in a 0, no matter what the mean is added, just like would happen in the game. From there, I took the "new" dice and found the average based on that. This is what I'm most unsure of as conditional probabilities weren't my strongest subject in statistics, so I don't know if my model fully accounts for the miss mechanic. Anyway, my averages for these calculations are:

BY: 2 1/6 damage, 3/4 surge

BR:  3 1/3 damage, 1/2 surge

BYY: 3 damage, 1 1/6 surge

BYR: 3 5/6 damage, 8/9 surge

BRR: 4 2/3, 11/18 surge

Next, I calculated average defenses for creatures, and since there's no miss mechanic there, you just calculate the means for each defense dice and add them together.

Brown: 2/3

Grey: 1 1/3

Black: 2 1/6

Brown, Brown: 1 1/3

Brown, Gray: 2

Brown, Black: 2 5/6

Grey, Grey: 2 2/3

Grey, Black: 3 1/2

Now the formula I'm using with this information is what I call the Time to Kill formula, which is:

Average Kill Time = Health / (Average Damage - Average Defense)

From here I did all kinds of things like calculate average damage for weapons based on this information. That information is too vast to list here but I'll give you an example on my thinking on this, since weapon scaling is a HUGE part of the game.

Lightning Strike: BYY -> Average Base Damage = 3

1 1/6 Average Surges -> +2 damage and + 1/6(2) damage

Total Average Damage = 5 1/3

Grinding Axe: BRR -> Average Base Damage = 4 2/3

11/18 Average Surges -> + 11/18 (1)

minimum Total Average Damage = 5 5/18

Average Base Damage = 4 2/3

11/18 Average Surge -> + 11/18 (5/2)

maximum Total Average Damage = 6 7/36

Average total average damage is 5 53 / 72

The true average damage, if you do all the work and calculate it the hard way, is 5 65/72, so 1/6 of a damage point off my rough estimate, and the Grinding Axe is the weapon with the most variance in damage in the game, so I don't think this method of doing things is too far off the mark for what it is, and it saves me quite a few hours of work calculating each weapon the same way I calculated the axe (a big table with all the dice rolls, yay Kronecker Products!).

Ok so with the preliminaries out of the way, my first issue with the game is how much more efficient the big creatures are for most of the missions in the game. If the objective involves killing things, there are some better candidates, however most of the A1 missions involve a timer and while looking at the book I can see at least half to 3/4 of the A2 quests involve some kind of stall mechanic as well in at least one of their rounds.

As noted by posts I've been reading, a pack of little minions often has more HP than their bigger counterparts, and they have higher damage potential as well. For stall missions, this just doesn't matter. I don't want to kill heroes, and heroes don't have to kill ALL my goblin archers to get some quick heroes through the hallway they're guarding, they just have to kill a couple. And what of their health pool? Let's assume for sake of argument that the larger health pool is a good reason to pick little creatures. I will show that the bigger defense pool of the bigger creatures WAY more than makes up for the health of the little ones. Let's take a solid A1 weapon for example:

Iron Spear does average damage of 2 11/12. Flesh Moulders have 17 hp and defend with one grey dice. Average time to kill all Flesh Moulders assuming LoS and everything works out is 17 / (2 11/12 - 1 1/3) which is 10.73 actions approximate.

Now let's examine the time to kill for ONE MINION shadow dragon.

6 / (2 11/12 - 2 2/3) = 6 / (1/4) = 24 actions, and that's using a melee weapon with reach to get around shadow aura. Were you in a bad movement spot, you'd lose 3/4 of a point of damage on average and would roll on average less than the dragon would defend, hence would on average never kill a shadow dragon. I'll bring up the shadow aura specifically another time, for now I just find it interesting that it's quicker to kill a whole group of spiders than it is to kill one minion dragon, just due to how powerful 2 grey dice are.

Specifically, it isn't that dragons and ettins are hard to kill that is the problem by itself, but the fact that you have no way of getting around them to reach your objective unless your thief wants to use his hero ability to skip the two dragons, then say hi to the two ettins in the next hallway all by himself. That usually doesn't end well for our friend the thief.

This leads me to my first house rule: Attacks against creatures which occupy 2 or more spaces on the board perpendicular to your character are not allowed to roll "X". If an "X" would be rolled, simply re-roll the blue dice until you get something that isn't an X.

From a role playing perspective, this rule makes sense. If the hallways in my house would occupy 1 space on the game board, and a big monster can take up double my hallway. That's pretty big. Clearly if I'm a hero that has any training at all with a bow or a blade, I'm going to hit SOMETHING if I swing in their general direction, add to that I can now sum up big monsters with a Professor Farnsworth-esque one liner. "Good news everyone! Big monsters are so big they block everything from going around them. Bad news everyone, big monsters are so big, they block everything from going around them". That's good fun and all, but what does it do to the time to kill on big creatures?

Blue: 1 3/5 damage, 2/5 surge

Yellow: 1 1/5 damage, 3/5 surge

Red:  2 2/5 damage, 1/5 surge

BY: 2 3/5 damage, 9/10 surge

BR:  4 damage, 3/5 surge

BYY: 3 3/5 damage, 1 3/5 surge

BYR: 4 3/5 damage, 1 1/15 surge

BRR: 5 3/5, 11/15 surge

With this, let's do our time to kill calculation on the minion dragon again:

Iron spear now does 3 1/2 damage against the big creatures on average, it's damage on little creatures is unchanged.

6 / (3 1/2 - 2 1/3) = 6 / (1 1/6) = 5 1/7 actions to kill a minion dragon. For a master dragon just scale everything by 1.5 to get: 7 5/7, add the two to get: 12 6/7. Pretty good, but we can do better. Let's try replacing the defense dice of the dragons with one black rather than 2 grey and see how the calculations add up.

6 / (3 1/2 - 2 1/6) = 6 / (1 1/3) = 4 1/2, 6 3/4 for red. 11 1/4 total. Still not even the same time to kill, especially considering how weak little monsters are to stuff like blast and whirlwind, but after playtesting, I'm finding the dragons do a lot less stalling heroes for 2 to 3 full turns than they did before and now they can both be killed in about one to two full hero cycles, which is just right for missions like the cardinal's plight, assuming other house rules I'll get to later. So the second house rule is:

All A1 monsters which occupy 4 or more spaces on the board will have 1 black defense dice. No change to A2 monsters currently.

Due to how powerful the weapon "Immolate" is in A1, I'm also adding in the house rule that: If Heroes ever loot immolate from a chest, the overlord gets 1 exp. I think that's only fair given how hard that thing hits, and how much of a thrashing the big monsters took.

The next thing I want to talk about is the Berserker. He has the lowest movement out of all the standard heroes. His hero cards give him zero utility, the only thing he's really good at is running up to things and swinging at them. This gives the overlord one more advantage for putting shadow dragons on every map in A1 they can fit them in, since you're now making a character on average, useless just by them being on the map. What I mean by that is that the Berserker's starting weapon does an average of 4 3/5 damage after the no-miss nerf to big creatures.

Remove a surge from his roll due to shadow dragon aura and you get an average damage of 4 but only a single surge every 3 out of 5 rolls on average. On those 2/5 rolls he doesn't get a surge, he can't even hit the dragon, so his damage is 0. (3/5) multiplied by 4 is 2 2/5.

Average time to kill a dragon minion after nerfs is: 6 / (2 2/5 - 2 1/6) = 18. That's 18 actions just to kill one dragon, which wouldn't be a problem if we were talking about a healer, or a scout. But we're not. We're talking about a character with no other utility but to kill things, taking an absurdly long time to do it, which means a design change is in order. There are a few ways I can go about helping the Berserker out.

The first way is I can change is hero ability, (His feat is fine). I can change it to something like, "After attack dice are rolled, you may pay X health to be granted a surge to your attack". That's a natural way for him to deal with dragons in act I before he has access to the charm in the shop (9 A1 clears and still never randomly got the mana weave) or his weapon mastery class card. Since it costs health for him to use his ability, it fits nicely into his class theme of actually being a Berserker.

The next thing I could try is making his 1 stamina ability add a surge to his attack, rather than a single heart of damage. Then since it costs stamina to use it, and he'd have to use it before he attacks, it makes the Berserker more susceptible to disease and counterplay by the OL using cards like Dark Fortitude, which adds a nice synergy with his already existing class ability, and it makes it non spammable since he'll have to rest some time.

The final thing I could try is just removing the Dragon's shadow aura until the the end of the first A2 quest. Until then they'd just be regular dragons with no aura, but no other changes except for the nerfs they've already been given. If the first A2 quest is Dawn Blade / Desecrated Tome, then obviously they'd be shadow dragons when they're supposed to be, since the story actually involves shadow dragons.

All have their pros and cons. The first two solve the problem for specifically the Berserker, since IMO it's ok if the Disciple / Spirit Speaker / Knight have a harder time hitting things at the beginning since they actually have things they can be doing to benefit the party even if their damage isn't cutting it at that point in time. But for groups that get disheartened if their Disciple can't act like a Cleric and swing that big hammer, the third option is a nice way to fit that dynamic as well. What do you guys think?

The final thing I want to talk about is some tweaks to the actual quests. My design philosophy for my groups games is that it's alright if the heroes lose, (I play at least one hero AND the OL at the same time during our campaigns, letting the other heroes strategise, so I don't make plans based on what I know is in the OL's hand) but they need to at least have a chance to interact with the quest mechanics. You'll see what I mean by this in a quest by quest basis.

A Fat Goblin: Archers carrying bundles may only perform 1 move action, but may be affected by dash. Even with the big creature nerfs, it still takes the heroes 2 turns to kill the big creatures we have blocking the path, by then the archers are usually about ready to pick up the bundles. I know we aren't meant to stop the archers, what bugs me is that there's almost no OL interraction with the heroes on this quest, just stall build up cards and let the goblins do their thing for a win. The heroes don't even get to attempt to get chests beyond the first one most of the time. More interraction and pressure on the OL is necessary to keep encounter 1 more than just a guaranteed chest or two and nothing else.

Encounter 2 is great the way it is.

Castle Daeron Encounter 1: Since the nerfs to big creatures, the map is much more fun since you don't see hour long stale mates of heroes and big creatures swinging at each other for 4 turns in a row just waiting for something to die. The fact that the OL's minions can come through both doors makes it play kind of like a waves of survival + capture the flag game, we love it!

Castle Daeron Encounter 2: The already made errata made this perfect, we always have fun playing this map, no matter who's getting lucky rolls.

The Cardinal's Plight Encounter 1: The nerfs to big creatures solved the problem. The heroes, if they roll decent enough can actually stop the OL from getting more than 2 zombies out, which was head and shoulders above where it was before, where they'd finally kill the dragons just as the last zombie was raised. That was no fun for anyone.

The Cardinal's Plight Encounter 2: Less zombies makes this map easier to manage, but even only 2 zombies out managed to get the cardinal down to 6 health on OL's turn 2, which made us come up with a house rule that might actually be a rule(?) and that is that the Thief can use his hero ability to teleport through the locked door. That way at least SOMEONE can interact with the cardinal / zombies and the heroes don't feel disjointed from the quest until they suddenly lose.

The Masquerade Ball Encounters 1 and 2: Lady Eliza Farrow can only do one action a turn. That way if the OL wants to use her huge health pool to make sure she doesn't drop a guest, it costs her speed and heroes can actually react to it. Also if the heroes lose the roll at the end of encounter 1, OL victory is no longer obvious in encounter 2.

Death on the Wing: Encounter 1 is great. Encounter 2, increase health of soldiers to 8. Some of my playtesting revealed scenarios where one unlucky roll by the heroes resulted in the soldiers being dead turn 3 before they could even attack Belethor once, and that was with them winning the first encounter, I shudder to think of what happens when they lose.

The Shadow Vault: Probably the most fun quest out of the bunch so far, no changes.

I haven't got to try the other interlude yet, nor many of the A2 quests. Every single one I tried so far, heroes got stomped, and not barely either, but that might be due to all the basically guaranteed losses they suffered in A1. I'm going to take another run at the campaign with some of these new rules and see how the new gear and stuff we get affects A2 for them.

Anyway, sorry about the wall of text, but I'd love to know what you guys think about my interpretation of the game so far and if I'm missing anything major that makes these changes not necessary. Thanks for reading!

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Jeesh dude..lol...man that's a lot of calculations. I've read a lot of stuff on these forums and I don't think ive seen any math like this. I actually don't know what to say on this one except just enjoy the game.

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All of your edits only serve to help the heroes, in my experience the heroes dont need a leg up and are well armed to deal with the overlord.

Also your calculations do not take into account hero abilities which are arguably just as important or even more important than the dice being rolled.

Another thing is your calculations in killing small monsters does not take into account the fact alot of damage goes wasted 'overkilling' the monsters and wasted actions moving into position to kill them.

Blocking the heroes in hallways is just a small part of the game.

I am personally very heaitant to make edits to the game as my own experiences are statistically insignificant. I believe these sorts of changes should only be made once statistally significant information such as the win/loss ratio of quests has been made.

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I agree with BentoSan.

I have taken out many Act II Shadow Dragons in one turn with Grisban - Strong items with his abilities makes him a tank, slow but lethal when he finds his target.

I wouldn't touch the 'X' roll either - Missing is what makes the game fun and is that randomness that can throw your strategies to the wayside and force to you to change tactics on the fly.

I would play it a few times more before you start making house rules.  You'll find it is more combinations of characters, items and abilities that can throw out the balance more so than anything else.

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First I like the calculations, it sheds some light to the game. But I just have a few thoughts:

1. I have only seen the heroes win cardinal's plight so not sure why they need more help.

2. I have been playing as the OL lately in the late second half and the heroes are just destroying my stall tactics with the dragons or even LTs. Between the dwarf having the spear as a second weapon and the bow chick, they don't need surges. In fact my entire game plan is screwed at the moment in the second half as the OL. At this rate we will be dead even in experience by the finale.

Anyways guess my point with the second one is I think the game is trying to force you to modify your heroes strategy. I don't disagree that the changes you are wanting to make will make it more even I just think some stuff is just meant to be a little lop sided.

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Have you checked out any of the official errata / FFG Sez posts on BGG? There are a lot of clarifications / small changes that may alleviate your concerns.

BentoSan has some really good points, especially regarding your calculations: using averages doesn't fully account for the swing that happens (even in the long run) of how long it takes to kill creatures. Someone else did a lot of math on the topic a while back on this forum that was even more in depth; you may want to track it down.

It seems like you're basing a lot of your calculations on the early game. Once heroes start getting more and more gear, and utilizing conditions / condition removal, they tend to not need a whole lot of help.

Also keep in mind that NOT every quest is meant to be equally winnable by heroes or the overlord. There is a lot to be said for the meta-game of selecting which quest to do next based on where each player is in their progression, what abilities are available, what rewards are at stake, and the general difficulty of the quest.

Additionally, it seems that you're a bit confused on one point. You mentioned "Helping the Berserker by adjusting his hero ability". The Berserker is a class and doesn't have a Hero Ability. Grisban is a Warrior Hero who may or may not be the Berserker. Each Hero belongs to an archetype, and can select any class within that archetype. So with the base game, you may have Grisban as a Knight or Syndrael as a Berserker.

You're also making a lot of assumptions about game balance based on "majority of quests" that you've looked at. In which case, you should really be focusing on quest balance. I haven't played it yet, but a lot of people have mentioned that the second Campaign (Labyrinth of Ruin) tends to have a bit more open space and less "blocking" tactics involved. Suddenly all of your house rules may not apply here or may change the balance significantly more than you expect.

I'm also really leery about adding rules just because "this makes sense from a roleplaying perspective". It's a really slippery slope when the rules are there specifically to abstract away a lot of things.

A lot of the problems you're trying to fix also seem to be able to be fixed by making different choices along the way with hero progression. If the OL is choosing a lot of Shadow Dragons, the heroes may want to focus on more ranged attacks or look for weapons with reach (everyone is equally good with every weapon unless a skill specifically requires a certain type.) But then if the heroes choose heavy ranged setups, the OL may switch to Barghests. Alternatively, if the heroes are worried about blocking, they may want to choose the Thief class which can slip through or may need to be better about positioning themselves to prevent blocking.

I'd really look at each problem you're trying to solve and instead of immediately trying to apply a fix, first look to see if there's a solution within the game rules. Maybe that solution isn't immediately available based on how the players got there, but that's part of the point of planning / progression and adapting to situations.

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All of your edits only serve to help the heroes, in my experience the heroes dont need a leg up and are well armed to deal with the overlord.

Also your calculations do not take into account hero abilities which are arguably just as important or even more important than the dice being rolled.

Another thing is your calculations in killing small monsters does not take into account the fact alot of damage goes wasted 'overkilling' the monsters and wasted actions moving into position to kill them.

Blocking the heroes in hallways is just a small part of the game.

I am personally very heaitant to make edits to the game as my own experiences are statistically insignificant. I believe these sorts of changes should only be made once statistally significant information such as the win/loss ratio of quests has been made.

Late game, the heroes may get some teeth, but I just got done playing an A1 campaign where, pre changes, the heroes wouldn't have been able to kill the first two shadow dragons in Cardinal's Plight 2nd encounter, but with them, the quest came down to a couple lucky dice rolls after an epic fight where everyone was running on empty.

Hero abilities are great until you get 3 misses in a row, due to the finite number of stamina you get, and the infinite number of reinforcements an overlord usually gets, I as the OL can usually always wear down the heroes stamina to the point where a rest loses them the game, but without their hero ability, the shadow dragons / ettins end up with 1 or 2 health and they lose anyway, it's not that hard to do.

The "moving into position to kill them" part I consider a wash because in order to fulfill objectives as heroes, you don't have to kill ALL the small monsters, and is usually a waste of time doing so 90% of the time. Kill 2 to make an opening for your archer, use hero ability to zip through and shoot a monster in the next halway, use a tank / healer to block LoS from the archers you just skipped and laugh as their damage doesn't beat your defense rolls 3 times in a row. It's been the meta game for every single quest we've played all week, and by that I mean over 30 hours of play, and it's getting old, so we're trying to change the stall game up a bit.

As for the final comment about statistical information, Cardinals Plight was a loss for heroes 5 / 5 times pre-changes. Not only was it a "loss" it was a "We couldn't even kill the first two mobs while we watched the quest guy die" loss. Maybe we as a group are just INCREDIBLY unlucky with dice, but I think it's more than that.

Masquerade Ball was a loss 3 / 3 times for the heroes, and when I say loss, I mean even winning encounter 1 still had heroes just killing the dragons and starting in on the ettins in the next open group zone by the time Eliza left the exit and won. That was first loss. After losing encounter 1, they just auto conceded encounter 2 and took their chest, because they knew they had a 0% chance of beating it before getting past the shadow dragons. After changes, the next time we did Masquerade Ball, OL won encounter 1, but Heroes still managed to win encounter 2, but it came down to ONE dice roll. The very next test roll, Eliza would have escaped (we tried it just for giggles). Quests that are well fought and come down to the wire, even when things seem hopeless in the beginning are the kind of moments my group plays for.

I agree with BentoSan.

I have taken out many Act II Shadow Dragons in one turn with Grisban - Strong items with his abilities makes him a tank, slow but lethal when he finds his target.

I wouldn't touch the 'X' roll either - Missing is what makes the game fun and is that randomness that can throw your strategies to the wayside and force to you to change tactics on the fly.

I would play it a few times more before you start making house rules.  You'll find it is more combinations of characters, items and abilities that can throw out the balance more so than anything else.

Act II anything is currently unchanged except "maybe" the no miss rule. That still has to be tested once we try A2 with more of a 50 / 50 win / loss ratio and heroes get some good starting gear. If people are easily "one shotting" dragons, that's something I would tweak the other way, since I play both heroes and OL, and anything less than a well fought battle would be boring for all involved.

There is no tactics to change when dealing with big monsters blocking halllways. Lady Farrow is escaping, to catch her we must get through these dragons. We miss 3 times in a row and now do 2 total damage to one of the dragons for a turn cycle. We change what about our tactics? Big creatures are mathematically binary, you kill them or you don't.

In A1, most all the quests are unplayable with starting gear, so I'm not worried about the item and gear combinations throwing things off balance just yet. As of now our group was running into a problem where we'd have like 2 quests to choose from as our first quest because we had no gear and knew we didn't have a prayer of beating the others, all because they had shadow dragons involved. All I can say is from the campaign we just played last night, that was no longer the case, and the group said it felt like a breathe of fresh air.

Once items start unbalancing things and we as a group start seeing more trends, we'll probably end up balancing things in the OL's favor just to keep battles interesting. These changes aren't about giving anyone an instant win, but about keeping the feeling that "This mission could be anyone's win" going throughout the quest, rather than it being over by turn 3 because we still haven't killed the Ettins / Shadow Dragons.

First I like the calculations, it sheds some light to the game. But I just have a few thoughts:

1. I have only seen the heroes win cardinal's plight so not sure why they need more help.

2. I have been playing as the OL lately in the late second half and the heroes are just destroying my stall tactics with the dragons or even LTs. Between the dwarf having the spear as a second weapon and the bow chick, they don't need surges. In fact my entire game plan is screwed at the moment in the second half as the OL. At this rate we will be dead even in experience by the finale.

Anyways guess my point with the second one is I think the game is trying to force you to modify your heroes strategy. I don't disagree that the changes you are wanting to make will make it more even I just think some stuff is just meant to be a little lop sided.

1. Every time we did Cardinal's plight, even when the OL got 2 zombies out in Encounter 1, the Cardinal was dead before the Shadow Dragons were. That's why I specifically opened with "I don't mind if heroes lose, but they need to be able to at least interact with the quest mechanics". Losing before we could even get the key and fight the boss of the quest just left a bad taste in everyone's mouths, and group consensus was that it was due to how easy it was for Shadow Dragons to stall the party indefinitely.

2. Again, I haven't touched A2 yet. My first design goals were to open up A1 for some group variety, and change the phenomenon of big monsters having everyone swinging at them for 2+ full turn cycles and still not dying if it's within the first two quests. If balance swings too far in the heroes' direction in A2, I'm more than happy to squash it back down based on the targeted problems we're seeing.

Also, we found any weapons that roll BY dice to be down right useless on anything that rolls 2 grey dice in A1 unless it gets pierce for free ala crossbow, but that's just because pierce is awesome. When we tried the spear, we'd be seeing about 2-3 damage per turn after defense rolls, nothing if the OL used dark resilience, on dragons / ettins. After changes, we're consistently seeing 2-4 damage per turn with BY nonpierce weapons on dragons, so two heroes with BY dice that use abilities can usually use their turns to kill the dragon while the warrior / healer use their turns to get the red dragon to 1 or 2 remaining health.

Have you checked out any of the official errata / FFG Sez posts on BGG? There are a lot of clarifications / small changes that may alleviate your concerns.

BentoSan has some really good points, especially regarding your calculations: using averages doesn't fully account for the swing that happens (even in the long run) of how long it takes to kill creatures. Someone else did a lot of math on the topic a while back on this forum that was even more in depth; you may want to track it down.

It seems like you're basing a lot of your calculations on the early game. Once heroes start getting more and more gear, and utilizing conditions / condition removal, they tend to not need a whole lot of help.

Also keep in mind that NOT every quest is meant to be equally winnable by heroes or the overlord. There is a lot to be said for the meta-game of selecting which quest to do next based on where each player is in their progression, what abilities are available, what rewards are at stake, and the general difficulty of the quest.

Additionally, it seems that you're a bit confused on one point. You mentioned "Helping the Berserker by adjusting his hero ability". The Berserker is a class and doesn't have a Hero Ability. Grisban is a Warrior Hero who may or may not be the Berserker. Each Hero belongs to an archetype, and can select any class within that archetype. So with the base game, you may have Grisban as a Knight or Syndrael as a Berserker.

You're also making a lot of assumptions about game balance based on "majority of quests" that you've looked at. In which case, you should really be focusing on quest balance. I haven't played it yet, but a lot of people have mentioned that the second Campaign (Labyrinth of Ruin) tends to have a bit more open space and less "blocking" tactics involved. Suddenly all of your house rules may not apply here or may change the balance significantly more than you expect.

I'm also really leery about adding rules just because "this makes sense from a roleplaying perspective". It's a really slippery slope when the rules are there specifically to abstract away a lot of things.

A lot of the problems you're trying to fix also seem to be able to be fixed by making different choices along the way with hero progression. If the OL is choosing a lot of Shadow Dragons, the heroes may want to focus on more ranged attacks or look for weapons with reach (everyone is equally good with every weapon unless a skill specifically requires a certain type.) But then if the heroes choose heavy ranged setups, the OL may switch to Barghests. Alternatively, if the heroes are worried about blocking, they may want to choose the Thief class which can slip through or may need to be better about positioning themselves to prevent blocking.

I'd really look at each problem you're trying to solve and instead of immediately trying to apply a fix, first look to see if there's a solution within the game rules. Maybe that solution isn't immediately available based on how the players got there, but that's part of the point of planning / progression and adapting to situations.

I looked at the errata on the FFG site. Since I just got the game this Christmas, my rule book came with the errata written into it already. I'd never heard of the FFG Sez posts before, I just looked at those. Unfortunately nothing in them had much to do with my specific concerns, but they are a great resource for me to check on in the future. Thanks for bringing it up!

I'll look for the other math post, I had been reading the forums for a couple days now and something I was seeing from posters over and over again was that people who had some gripe or another were bringing up personal experiences to make judgments on the game rather than doing the math, which led me to believe that none was being done already so I didn't look for it.

Yes, all my calculations thus far are about the early game. My goal is for heroes to be able to pick any quest after beating the training level and say, "You know, we haven't done Masqerade Ball in a while, let's do this one!" without the reply being, "We don't do this quest because it's basically an auto loss if it's the first quest." I'm not advocating for errata for the official rule book here, I'm attempting to see if there are more efficient ways to solve targeted early game problems that remove a lot of content for "non tournament" players, more or less. When I read "utilizing condition removal" I read that as "Disciple is mandatory", since I don't remember anyone else in the original game who can remove conditions from others. If that's the case, that's also another design that needs to be changed. Heroes should be able to do well enough with any party.

There's a chasm between "not equally winnable" and "You don't interact with the quest ever unless you win the lottery on your first two turns and the overlord gets ridiculously unlucky with tests." The latter basically turns the game into, "Kill shadow dragons in X turns. Here's some flavor as to why you're bashing dice against shadow dragons, but yeah... that's all you're doing this quest."

Grisban being a Knight and Syndrael being a Berserker was actually a rule I did not know about. While you "could" play them in opposite roles, that would be kind of silly, no? The knight's cards use shields, and / or have a lot of "target hero or monster within X adjacent spaces..." abilities that require decent mobility to pull off at the right time. I'll have to play with them more and see if I can come up with some interesting class synergies with them. Thanks for the heads up on that one.

If I get the expansion, many of my rules may change. I don't know when I'll have the time or money to get the expansion and dig into it after holiday break (I should really be working on my Master's paper right now...) but I can see some rules changing as new monsters are added and more quest goals are added. The plot cards will definitely shake things up. All I can say is that for A1 for the base game, these rules so far have turned the quests from battles where we stand toe to toe with big creatures and bash their heads in before our timers run out, into epic battles of killing lots of monsters, and making the overlord really think about which cards to use. Most quests have come down to one good roll on either side, and regardless of outcome it at least feels like a quest well fought on either side. I was mainly questioning the efficiency of the changes (maybe I can get the same result changing less mechanics of the game?) or changes in gameplay (Iron spear suggestion was a good one. We already tried it and it didn't hit hard enough, but that's the kind of suggestions I'm thinking about).

I would never add a rule just because it makes sense from a roleplay perspective. I showed the math every step of the way for every rule I added, paying careful attention to the "tme to kill formula" because since quests are on a timer, that's all that matters. The fact that it makes sense from a role play perspective is a bonus, and not completely irrelevant given how much role play flavor the devs attempted to add to each quest, (The Shadow Vault was exceptionally good).

Believe me, I've been staying up till 1 to 3 in the morning for the last several nights looking at these problems. Anything in A1 with reach rolls BY dice, which from my simulations / play testing just doesn't do any damage to 2 grey defense dice for the majority of rolls. Making those weapons viable is the sole reason we switched to black defense dice, as I discussed with my math. Now iron spears with reach may be something I can try without getting rid of shadow aura, but it still doesn't sit right with me that Grisban, with the lowest mobility in the game, and most susceptible to traps, is the one singled out to play a pseudo ranged class, or go knight and do utility stuff every turn, just because of one mechanic.

You mentioned better positioning and this isn't possible in any of the A1 quests. The Masquerade Ball, you open the door and there are two dragons in front of you. We have an archer with eagle eye, a necromancer with good LoS, and a melee character up front, with a healer in the back, all wailing on these dragons, all getting misses or not beating their defense dice turn after turn. Again, we can slip the thief through, but now we have ettins blocking the next door, so he's using all his stamina on tumble / hero abilities and hoping to kill the boss by himself while everyone catches up, or he's trying to help kill when he can get LoS. The Cardinal's Plight, block the opening hall off with two dragons, OL moves them back towards the hallway every turn they're alive to double block the hallway. We can't position around the dragons, they're right there at the beginning.

For fixes within the game, that's why I came here.

As for how the players got there, we're talking about the first and second quests in the game. There's not a lot of progression you can really mess with between those quests. To do optimal, archer should get eagle eye to help attack even in cramped hallways, knight should get challenge for the extra damage if you're on a timer, Berserker needs to save up for weapon mastery if the shadow dragon aura stays how it is, since you're not guaranteed to draw a mana weave from the shop, necromancer has many good options, thief has no damage scaling, so he gets appraisal to increase our gold gain, haven't tried the runemaster yet, disciple should save up for the thing that adds yellow dice to our rolls, best damage scaling they get until the thing that does guaranteed heart damage to monsters, spirit speaker stuns a lot, but little to speak for for damage, especially in the first two levels, maybe tempest?

I'm racking my brain over it, and I really can't see many "progression" options to alleviate the problems. All the option are around the interlude, where I have no problems, or A2, which have quests that need individual tweaks such as Ritual of Shadows (Heroes skip their first turn AND the guy gets to move 3-4 guaranteed spaces? Yeah how about no.) but once we get there, you're right there are plenty of scaling options to deal with things as they come.

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If it ain't broken, don't try to fix it.

You are certainly "racking your brain" too much.

There is a principle about fixing things : KISS (keep it short and simple).

You seem to have misunderstood rules as simple as the difference between archetypes and classes (there is nothing "silly" in having Grisban, whose archetype is Warrior, to choose to be a knight rather than a Berserker - if you grasped the rules, that would not present the slightest problem for you).

Seeing the length of your posts and your overcomplicated elaborations, I would recommend that, rather than try to change a game which rules and different factors you clearly don't fathom, you learn to play it as it presents itself, rather than change it.

Otherwise you could design another game which fits your presuppositions about what makes it "good".

However, whatever you do, aim for simplicity and keep things short.

Sorry if I seem to come out harsh, but I am slightly concerned that you seem to be burning too much energy to solve a problem that does not really exist.

Edited by Robin

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Btw, how can you have dragons in Masquerade Ball?

Do you apply the monster restrictions indicated by the icons at the top of the encounter pages?

Your description of Act 1 quests results seems to indicate that you are playing some elements wrong.

Cardinal Plight, with only two additional zombies and a proper use of the altar, is quite possibly winnable by the heroes. Your saying that the cardinal is killed even before the heroes confonted the dragons seems to indicate that somehow you played wrong (perhaps allowing monsters to attack twice?).

Edited by Robin

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If it ain't broken, don't try to fix it.

You are certainly "racking your brain" too much.

There is a principle about fixing things : KISS (keep it short and simple).

You seem to have misunderstood rules as simple as the difference between archetypes and classes (there is nothing "silly" in having Grisban, whose archetype is Warrior, to choose to be a knight rather than a Berserker - if you grasped the rules, that would not present the slightest problem for you).

Seeing the length of your posts and your overcomplicated elaborations, I would recommend that, rather than try to change a game which rules and different factors you clearly don't fathom, you learn to play it as it presents itself, rather than change it.

Otherwise you could design another game which fits your presuppositions about what makes it "good".

However, whatever you do, aim for simplicity and keep things short.

Sorry if I seem to come out harsh, but I am slightly concerned that you seem to be burning too much energy to solve a problem that does not really exist.

I rack my brain over everything always, the only thing that changes is the target.

Keeping it simple is why I'm here, to make sure there wasn't something I was missing. Turns out I was missing one big thing that fixes the Cardinal's Plight all by itself, I scanned the section for the overlord several times, and every time my eye caught "monsters perform 2 actions" but never caught the 2 statements, "Monsters may only attack once". Thank for helping me catch that one.

As for misunderstanding "simple" rules, you're right I did misunderstand the classes. It seemed to me that the guy that has throwing knives on his card picks the deck that starts with throwing knives. It was a surprise to my whole group. However, to be fair the quest guide says about open groups:

"For each open monster group, the overlord may choose any unused monster type that matches at least one trait icon listed at the top of the page."

The Masquerade Ball Encounter 2 has two open groups, and has BOTH matching symbols for the shadow dragons at the top of its page, so when you asked me about shadow dragons, I was doubly puzzled. I checked the updated FAQ on the website thinking they posted something later than the one I looked at the other day with an errata that gets rid of shadow dragon icons for that quest, and found none. Is there a resource that says I shouldn't be using shadow dragons the Masquerade Ball?

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I totally agree shadow dragon stall tactics suck ass in hallways, it can be not very fun for the heroes to deal with if they do not have the abilities / weapons to deal with them. That said shadow only affects adjacent monsters, so your ranged characters can all wail on the shadow dragons and get them down in good time. It pays to have ranged weapons to deal with shadow dragons.

What i have found that totally gimps the shadow dragons ability to dish out damage is to use the runemaster with his ability to apply any condition to immobilize the shadow dragon, stand back and chomp him down at ranged. It can make the shadow dragon a bad pick for anything but stalling tactics in hallways.

There are also weapon options available for heroes that after applying damage allow the hero to move the shadow dragon a number of spaces. This allows the hero to push a hole open to get through in some instances, such as the masquerade ball encounter 2.

At the end of the day you also have the option as just not choosing the shadow dragon, or just choosing not to use them to block hallways, that does not require any rule changes.

I have not yet had any issues however in game play of shadow dragons in blocking hallways to buy time, the heroes eventually break through and we have had some very close calls where the game could have gone either way because the overlord used this tactic.

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I totally agree shadow dragon stall tactics suck ass in hallways, it can be not very fun for the heroes to deal with if they do not have the abilities / weapons to deal with them. That said shadow only affects adjacent monsters, so your ranged characters can all wail on the shadow dragons and get them down in good time. It pays to have ranged weapons to deal with shadow dragons.

What i have found that totally gimps the shadow dragons ability to dish out damage is to use the runemaster with his ability to apply any condition to immobilize the shadow dragon, stand back and chomp him down at ranged. It can make the shadow dragon a bad pick for anything but stalling tactics in hallways.

There are also weapon options available for heroes that after applying damage allow the hero to move the shadow dragon a number of spaces. This allows the hero to push a hole open to get through in some instances, such as the masquerade ball encounter 2.

At the end of the day you also have the option as just not choosing the shadow dragon, or just choosing not to use them to block hallways, that does not require any rule changes.

I have not yet had any issues however in game play of shadow dragons in blocking hallways to buy time, the heroes eventually break through and we have had some very close calls where the game could have gone either way because the overlord used this tactic.

I'm not too worried about Shadow Dragon damage. As Robin pointed out, I've been allowing all overlord monsters to attack twice, three times with frenzy, and still our group found the damage manageable to mildly frustrating when a fireball caught us all with bad defense rolls.

I don't mind stalling tactics as a whole, and don't find them unfun by definition, I just think there should be a little more risk involved in using them. The overlord should have an "oh ****" moment when they fail too soon and have to scramble to fix their defenses. In reality, I won a game once with OL using shadow dragons and didn't even attack with the dragons. I just let them sit there while heroes rolled miss after miss and failed to meet defense rolls. By the time dragons were down, I had like 8 cards in my hand, and hit the group with tons of traps, then popped dark charm, frenzy, dark fortitude when they got to the next group and just destroyed them. That's not counting how easy they are to reinforce in maps such as the Dawnblade Encounter 1.

As for weapons, crossbow is a tier 1 weapon for our group and something we make darn sure to have going into A2. In terms of pure damage output, my calculations show it's only beaten by immolation and only by a small amount, too small given the fact that a crossbow is a 1h weapon, and hence can be used with a shield. We managed to make brilliant use of the move mechanic in Death on the Wing encounter 1. The problem is we can't seem to find the crossbow in most campaigns until about the interlude when we just hold on to most bad shop items we loot just to keep the shop bare enough to draw it.

I'm looking at the map for Masquerade Ball and am having trouble seeing how movement will help, however. If the OL sticks the dragons side by side with their tails against the door Eliza Farrow exits in the goblin cave, the only place it looks like you can move them is towards the heroes, which doesn't alleviate the blocking issue. Maybe I just don't understand the movement mechanic well enough.

It's true that I could just not use shadow dragons or not use them to block hallways, but that just seems to gimp the OL way too far in the other direction. If the goal of the mission is to stall, and I take away the OL's best chance at stalling then I've done everyone a disservice. My hope is to encourage variety in options the OL can use to stall (Why not 4 Barghests, rather than always Shadow Dragons?).

Does your OL use Dark Fortitude? If the OL tried to stall with dragons but went traps or magus, I could see dragons being easy to break through, but in our games, OL just stalls encounter 1 as long as possible to ensure dark charm, dark fortune, dark fortitude when they know they need to stall in encounter 2. Pre changes to dragons, this strategy is enough to stop all damage for a turn on dragons if the cards are played correctly. Post changes, since BY nonpierce weapons actually do 1-2 damage an attack on about 75% of rolls (rough guestimate from our tests) the OL can't block all the attacks and then we punch through. Before the changes, "lol miss, lol miss, didn't beat defense dice, hey this attack is about to do 2 damage to my dragon, lol no dark fortitude." That about sums up how our first turn goes.

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Movement works like this, first the monster shrinks down into a single space that it occupies, chosen by the hero if he is doing an attack that forces a move.

The monster then moves 2 single spaces then enlarges in any orientation the player wants him to enlarge. Effectively this can move the shadow dragon from being adjacent to the doorway, to virtually anywhere in the room where he will fit. This same mechanic happens at the end of a move action and when a move action is interrupted with another action (like an attack action). This said the monster must be able to perform his interrupt from his shrunken position before he is allowed to expand and perform the interrupt action - not stop 1 or 2 spaces short of the hero, expand to become adjacent the hero , attack, then spend the rest of his movement points running away. This gives the large monsters more movement capabilities than their card shows, but stops short of total abuse of the monster shrinking/expansion system.

Last time i played masquerade ball it was the heroes who used the stalling tactic of leaving the last monster alive to max out on valor tokens from the champion, then heal up and grab the search tokens. That allowed the heroes to easily dispatch anything in the start of the second encounter getting +1 rolls every shot (for a maximum of 8+ damage per round in a 4 player game). The runemaster also gets 2+ damage spending 1 fatigue 1 surge, 1+ damages from the valor tokens and blasting anything that was standing adjacent to anything else. The first couple rounds ended up being a total massacre of the overlords forces and the lieutenant was dispatched shortly after that.

Its very easy for the heroes to win the first quest of the game, from there the heroes choose quests where the overlord cannot use shadow dragon blocking tactics until such a point they are comfortable that they can take down a shadow dragon in short order.

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Oh, shadow dragons would actually be kind of hilarious to have in encounter 1. It's encounter 2 where they can be a nightmare to deal with.

Movement works like this, first the monster shrinks down into a single space that it occupies, chosen by the hero if he is doing an attack that forces a move.

The monster then moves 2 single spaces then enlarges in any orientation the player wants him to enlarge. Effectively this can move the shadow dragon from being adjacent to the doorway, to virtually anywhere in the room where he will fit. This same mechanic happens at the end of a move action and when a move action is interrupted with another action (like an attack action). This said the monster must be able to perform his interrupt from his shrunken position before he is allowed to expand and perform the interrupt action - not stop 1 or 2 spaces short of the hero, expand to become adjacent the hero , attack, then spend the rest of his movement points running away. This gives the large monsters more movement capabilities than their card shows, but stops short of total abuse of the monster shrinking/expansion system.

Last time i played masquerade ball it was the heroes who used the stalling tactic of leaving the last monster alive to max out on valor tokens from the champion, then heal up and grab the search tokens. That allowed the heroes to easily dispatch anything in the start of the second encounter getting +1 rolls every shot (for a maximum of 8+ damage per round in a 4 player game). The runemaster also gets 2+ damage spending 1 fatigue 1 surge, 1+ damages from the valor tokens and blasting anything that was standing adjacent to anything else. The first couple rounds ended up being a total massacre of the overlords forces and the lieutenant was dispatched shortly after that.

Its very easy for the heroes to win the first quest of the game, from there the heroes choose quests where the overlord cannot use shadow dragon blocking tactics until such a point they are comfortable that they can take down a shadow dragon in short order.

That movement tactic works well and is something we'll have to try. At the very least it will force the OL to put shadow dragons in the smaller room. I don't have the champion yet, since I only have the base game, but he seems pretty OP. For or group, to take down a shadow dragon, we usually need immolation, crossbow, manaweave for melee characters. Without those 3 things, it's miss after miss after zero damage, and by the end of it everyone is kind of burnt from sitting there just rolling dice. Due to the randomness of the shop, it's common to find one of the three items, it's rare to find two, and I've never, in 8-10 A1 campaigns found all 3. Anyone missing out on an item usually does such an infinitesimal amount of damage to the dragons they're just like, "Yeah I don't know why we don't just skip me. Here goes... zero... again." or "Woo got a damage + surge for 2 damage. Screw you dragon!" OL plays Dark Fortitude:  (╯°□°）╯︵ ┻━┻

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