A Brief DS Alpha Update

I’ve been a bit overrun with various craziness for the last week, so haven’t posted as much as I’d like. The following is a sort of roundup of answers to common questions. There’s so much discussion and suggestions on the FAQ page (thank you everyone!) that my answers are getting lost. This should make things easier to find.


Dungeon Sagas Alpha Update 1

  • Doors
    • The Necromancer cannot open doors.
    • When you are smashing a door, it cannot outnumber the Hero and Heroes cannot outnumber doors.
    • Doors do not suffer the modifier for being attacked from behind.
  • Piles of Bones (PoB)
    • A model (from either side) can stand on top of a PoB. A PoB cannot be used to resurrect a model if a model is standing on top of it.
    • PoBs are removed when they are used to resurrect a Skeleton Warrior (whether the model survives or not).
    • PoBs always produce a Skeleton Warrior, regardless of what may have crumbled to leave the PoB. I may be able to include different “flavours” of PoB later that can raise different things. But that’s for later.
    • PoBs can stack on top of each other in the same square.
  • Scenarios
    • In all scenarios, the Necromancer cannot have more than 4 Skeleton Warriors on the board at one time. Mortibris really has better things to be doing than faffing about with Skeletons. He’s trying to decipher the Book of Valedor so he can conquer the world!
    • If a scenario has a set of doors, place the tiles with the Heroes on and all tiles on their side of the doors. Place any models and counters on these tiles. Do not place any tiles or models that lie beyond the closed doors.
    • Models that lie on the other side of a closed door are not in play.
    • The Journeys are not intended to be balanced. They are training scenarios designed primarily to give you practice with the core mechanics. This worked better when the battle was lopsided. Don’t worry if the Necromancer struggles a bit. He’ll have his revenge!
  • Dwarf Feat
    • He may still take Free Strikes while using his Feat. 
  • Outnumbered
    • A model is outnumbered if it is in the front arc of more than one standing enemy model.
  • Range Rulers
    • The short one measures 4.5 inches.
    • The long one measures 8.5 inches.
    • Width isn’t critical.
    • Spells say which one they use.
    • Bows use the long ruler.
  • Shooting
    • You can shoot a model that is adjacent to an enemy model, assuming you have a clear line to see it.
  • Feet of Stone
    • A model with this spell effect on them still has a front arc and may still make Free Strikes as normal.
    • The negative modifier for this spell does not apply when resisting Burn.
  • Wizard Feat
    • Cast any two different spells (either Minor or Major).
  • Necro cards
    • Cards that allow you to act with a number of models also allow you to raise Piles of Bones. Each PoB counts as 1 model for these purposes.
    • You cannot interrupt the Heroes before one has had a Turn.
    • You can raise a Skeleton as an interrupt and then act with that model during a subsequent interrupt or your turn. You may not raise and act with a model in the same interrupt/turn.
  • Break Away
    • This is a consequence of a model’s movement, not a separate action.

In addition to this I need to update the Hero cards as I’ve been improving them. That will be in a later post.

There have also been a lot of more general comments about adding detail in various ways. I’ll just point you at my previous answer to this.

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100 Responses to A Brief DS Alpha Update

  1. eriochrome says:

    Great to see these compiled. Easier to copy out and print to but with the rules.

  2. souterrien says:

    An enquiry on the general structure of a campaign.

    Say, an adventure(a campaign) is a number of scenarios tied together.

    How does it work? Each time the heroes/necromancer wins a scenario, the heroes/necromancer earns advantages or give disavantages to be applied onwards until the players progress to the grand finale that concludes the adventure and gives the winner?
    Examples of victory objectives? Will they be several ways to win/lose a scenario?
    Can you win/fail an adventure before the last scenario?
    Will items like pieces of equipment be scattered around and treated like secondary objectives?

    • Quirkworthy says:

      At the moment I think there will be a slight difference between the Core, fixed campaign and the rules for linking your bespoke ones. The Core campaign needs to be balanced, and for that reason the approach I’m using is based on video games. In those you must complete a level to progress. This allows every scenario to be very closely balanced as you know exactly what each side has to hand.

      Overall in the campaign the objective is to reach Mortibris and either kill him or get the book back. This being the case there is a general need to move through his defences, which means that the main aim of many scenarios is positional. Within this are several sub-plots such as finding items that will be needed later.

      • souterrien says:

        I am not sure I understand. In a level based games, progression happens after the player meets requirements, after the player beats the level. In case the player fails to meet the requirements, the player can retry over and over again.
        Following that analogy, does it mean that heroes wont move to the next scenario until they have met the requirements to do so by beating somehow the necromancer in the current scenario?

        • Quirkworthy says:

          In the full narrative campaign, yes. Otherwise the story wouldn’t make any sense.

          The strength of the multi-mode approach is that the scenarios will be designed to be played individually, so if you don’t want to play the full campaign from one end to the other you can just pick up and play any one of the scenarios, in any order.

        • souterrien says:

          So the game is strongly story driven. Does it mean that the necromancer can not win the game other than by keeping his life with him, which is already a big thing?

        • Quirkworthy says:

          Victory conditions for the whole campaign are still something we’re discussing. I’ve got a couple of different approaches to try, and we’ll see which one works best. The Necro should definitely be bale to win though.

        • Psychopomp says:

          I have to caution strongly against the ‘the heroes must win to advance to the next scenario’, because when added to your stated ‘the necromancer can as will play to win the scenario’, you end up with a design paradigm of ‘the necromancer player is trying to halt the campaign’. I don’t know how fun that would be.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          It seems to work quite happily in video games 🙂

        • Torkel says:

          @Psychopomp The necromancer is definitely trying to halt the campaign, or halt the advancement of the heroes, if you will 🙂
          Having to succeed at a scenario/dungeon before moving on with the campaign is the way pretty much all computer RPGs and dungeon crawlers do it (World of Warcraft, Diablo etc). In computer games it’s often not linear, but a party always has the option to try again, and they rarely get properly rewarded until they complete the dungeon. It reinforces the idea that scenarios in this game are obstacles to overcome, “nuts to crack” if you will.
          In pen-and-paper RPGs, the party always wins and the fun is in always exploring new things; in the adventure. Here, the fun is in figuring out how to beat difficult scenarios; trying a different approach if the first one fails.
          That’s my take on it, anyways ^^

        • Quirkworthy says:

          Well put Torkel.

          Also, remember that one side’s failing is the other side’s success. When someone lose, someone also wins. Even against AI, one of the most common complaints I hear is that it’s too easy!

        • Psychopomp says:

          No one is playing the dungeon in video games.

          You’re proposing a setup by which if one player/set of players win, everyone gets to advance and see what happens next. But if the other player wins, play halts and we have to keep playing the level over and over until he’s beaten. So, one side is trying advance the game, and the other player is an asshole trying to deny everyone for seeing more of the game.

          That’s…a terrible victory result for the necromancer. Why would the necromancer want to win if it means they don’t get to see the rest of the game either?

        • Quirkworthy says:

          Play doesn’t halt at all. You simply have to try a different approach to achieve whatever your objectives were. Talking to people who played DKH, they frequently played the first scenario multiple times, and there was no particular reason for them to do so other than it was fun to play.

          If you are unable to bear playing a level until you work out how to beat your opponent in it, and must advance regardless of the story, then you can choose to play the scenarios in whatever order you like anyway. They are all designed to be playable as a stand-alone games. If you particularly like scenario 4 then you can play that and ignore 1-3, and then if number 6 looks interesting you could jump to that. There’s no requirement for you to play things in a sequence, that’s just one of the options.

          And I’m pretty sure someone is playing the other side in quite a few video games, especially online ones.

  3. Minitrol says:

    I still don’t quite follow the thought process behind the range ruler? Sorry you may have covered this and i have missed it just tell me its covered and I’ll hunt it out but why not juts a grid range it seems like an odd mishmash to include in a board game?

    • Quirkworthy says:

      There are several reasons that boil down to thinking that this is the simplest approach overall. To pick out a few:

      One of the features of magic is that it doesn’t always need a line of sight. This means that you may need to measure range across several gaps in tiles. Easier when you’re not limited to counting spaces (which aren’t there).

      With attacks that need a line of sight, you need some way to determine this. The simplest to explain and the most intuitive to understand is to use a straight edge to check. if you’re giving people a straight edge then you might as well make it a range as well, while you’re at it.

  4. Mark callahan says:

    Just wanted to let you know I read and printed out the dungeon SAGA rules. Played about 4 games already with the dwarf and Barbarian scenario. Two suggestions:

    Perhaps instead of allowing all models to move diagonally; heavily armored or slow models might not have that diagonal movement ability. Perhaps the dwarf, zombie and Skeleton models would be not able to utilize the diagonal movement- you could call it ‘not-agile’ or something like that.

    Also allow the Necromancer to discard cards from his hand during the turn to allow a draw of another card. Still put a cap on the number of cards form the draw deck (12), but just allow the necromancer to discard cards from his/her hand if he/she desires. Still max of 1 draw per necromancer turn. While I was playing as the necromancer, I had 3 cards in hand that I could not use. Only 2 models on the table and all 3 cards in my hand were all extra action cards which were useless to the me. This allowed the hero’s to get the upper-hand and they ended up winning.

    Have a few other thoughts if you are interested. Let me know.

    Otherwise, nice smooth flowing, easy to play game. Look forward to the Kickstarter.

    • Birdman says:

      Were all your PoBs obliterated? Remember that you can use a regular action to instead raise a skellie from a PoB.

    • Birdman says:

      Also, it sounds like you were enforcing a 3-card hand limit, but I can’t see in the rules where this is specified. Necro certainly starts with 3 cards, and (interrupts aside) is limited to playing a single card in his own turn, but there’s nothing in the rules to say that he can’t exceed 3 cards in hand – he draws one card every turn, period.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Nice suggestion about the diagonals.

      Extra action cards can also be used to raise Skeleton Warriors from Piles of Bones. As Birdman says, were there none left?

      Discarding cards is unlikely to be a good option very often, especially as the deck is finite (though you could discard to the bottom of the draw deck). I’ll look at this again when the deck has been expanded.

      As Birdman says, there is no hand limit for the Necro. It’s not necessary as you need the cards to win. The game balance will assume that the Necro is playing them.

  5. souterrien says:

    Another question on exploration and the layout of the dungeon:
    Parts of the dungeon are behind closed doors. Is the necromancer the only one to know what is coming or do the heroes have insight on the complete layout?

  6. Danny says:

    Thanks for this update, Jake, much appreciated. I’m also very much looking forward to the updated Heroes!!!

    Good calls on the Break Away and Doors!

    It may be something completely obvious, but its just not occurring to me at the moment. This sentence:

    “PoBs are removed when they are used to resurrect a Skeleton Warrior (whether the model survives or not)”

    …Under what circumstances will a model not survive? A Free Strike made against the Skeleton Warrior as it is raised (but wouldn’t there be the possibility of it turning back into a PoB with two hits from a free strike?). Or is this perhaps some future proofing where the heroes may have some anti magic/divine power opposed roll in an attempt to prevent the successful raising of a Skeleton Warrior from a PoB?

    Also, will the range for “Bows” remain at Long Range for all? I’d kind of like to see a little differentiation between say a Goblin bow and an Elven Long bow (I know this can also be done with dice allocation and/or abilities etc), or is this just purely for the purposes of the models used in the so far supplied scenarios (Elf and Skeleton Archers)?

    • Quirkworthy says:

      The comment about PoBs being removed regardless is a slightly inelegant way of explaining something that needs an example. It’s to do with Free Strikes killing them as they raise, and what happens. Very occasionally this confuses people.

      Different weapons will need to be differentiated. However, the main limitation on bows in dungeons is the low ceilings. Archery arches its shots 🙂

      Without headroom the ranges of all bows are far below their potential and are made more similar than they would be otherwise. There are other ways to separate them though, not least of which is the skill and character of the model using them.

  7. Hasnul says:

    Any insights about the scenario builder/ dungeon generator ? Will it be like Earth Reborn or towards Descent 2nd Ed. (Publish online) ?

  8. davekay says:

    “The Necromancer cannot open doors.”
    Then how did he get into the dungeon??

    A: He used a skeleton key

    Thanks, I’ll be here all week.

  9. souterrien says:

    The last comments’ve intrigued me.

    Scenarios may be played independently.
    How does it work with the campaign system and the levelling up system?
    Say, the campaign lists six scenarios, each of them can be played independently. In a campaign, the heroes might be levelled up a the end of the fourth scenario.
    Does the necromancer level up for the 5th and 6th scenarios in order to keep the balance requirement?
    Do several versions of the scenarios exist, one to be played with the legendary heroes, the other with the basic heroes?

    • Quirkworthy says:

      In the Core game, the scenarios list exactly what each side has available. This includes what upgrades each Hero and the Necromancer may have had by that point. This allows you to play each scenario individually without worrying about the balance.

  10. eriochrome says:

    A lot of great info about the game in the comments here. It would be great if this stuff could be collected and placed up explicitly on the kickstarter page or the dungeon saga site. Not to make more work for you but it would probably help sell the game better and cut down on the repeated questions and confusion.

  11. eriochrome says:

    I think that the “Necromancer” Decks probably should be color coded and have a unique icon for the basic game and the expansions as they will need to be different. I would guess Black with White Skull, Green Orc Face, and Red with some type of summonign circle/rune and then you can keep the brain for the AI cards and use the colors to help keep the decks separate. That is a production design issue not game design but might be helpful.

    And I totally agree with peoples comments about two dice colors base in the first game.

    • Probably already part of the plan (the different Decks getting their own color and icons).

      Two different color sets of dice probably isn’t an issue. We’ve already seen different color six sideds in previous Mantic Games such as Dreadball, so not too big a leap.

      • mastertugunegb says:

        Although… Come to think of it, maybe if the Necromancer Deck was renamed to something more generic, like Dungeon Deck, and it’s Necromancer-specific cards were marked as such, you could keep the same back, and then have expansion set cards to swap in and out of the core box’s set deck, just with their own faction specific symbols on the rules side. Much like how Azure Forest’s dreadball cards have the Yndij head symbol in the background.

        • eriochrome says:

          The d&d coop games put little set symbols on the cards info side also. The models also have the same symbols on the bottom side of the bases. The dungeon tiles use different scenery markers for where monsters start. You can build custom decks for home brew stuff but sorting stuff back out is a pain so each game definitely should have its own complete deck where mixing would only be for custom.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          Exactly how the cards need to be marked depends on how the mechanics end up working. If each deck is entirely separate then they can have their own faction symbols on; if they can be intermixed then they need the same back and a way of sorting them on the front.

        • mastertugunegb says:

          Yeah, well, if enough of the ‘Necromancer’ cards can be used universally for any type of faction then maybe just swap in cards like for Azure Forest are all that’s needed. Raise X Skeletons for example might be the ones to swap out for “Rush X Goblins” cards or “X Shots” cards.

        • eriochrome says:

          Probably will depend on if the necromancer deck in tuned for each scenario, changing the card composition would certainly allow for easy scaling of the necromancers strength as the campaign progressed at the cost of additional setup time. If you are used to building the deck custom for each mission, then swapping cards in and out for the expansions will feel normal. If you just play with the base deck all the time, then swapping cards for the expansion might just feel like mantic was being cheap to not make a complete deck for those and you have to do extra work because of it. It might slso depend on how the other decks are structured as well. Having to sort in and out cards for 3 or more decks might start to get annoying.

        • mastertugunegb says:

          Depends how big the Deck can get. At the moment the first three games only use 12 cards, so there could be a chance the deck won’t be nearly as big as say a Dreadball or Deadzone deck. Esp if each scenario is supposed to have the Necromancer run out of cards after so many turns.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          My working theory at the moment is that you will use some of the basic deck, plus some new cards for decks after the Necromancer. Exactly which bits of the basic deck you retain, and how many extra cards you add, will not always be the same.

  12. souterrien says:

    Is it possible to get a sneak peek at what will make the expansion, at the thematic use?
    In the base game, the necromancer’s theme is used with capabilities like raising a skeleton from a pile of bones and what follows strategically.
    What is going to be the equivalent for the orc expansion and the daemonic expansion?

    • Quirkworthy says:

      I need to confirm some details with Ronnie before I talk in detail about it. That’s got to wait for him being back in the office after his trip to the US for GenCon. Before the end of the KS though.

  13. Danny says:

    Jake, will the Dungeon Sagas Alpha Update 2: Hero Edition, be coming rather soon. I’d like to point my eyes at something other than work right now 🙂

  14. souterrien says:

    Another day, another set of questions.

    This time about heroes. The basic pledge comes with an increasingly impressive number of heroes.
    So I am starting to wonder how they are handled in the base game/expansions.

    At what level are the heroes outside the base quatuor (BDEW) introduced?
    Can you play the core game lining them instead of the base quatuor or in supplementation etc?

    Various extracts here and there suggest that the extra heroes come with a set of specific skills, for example, Ally’s descriptive text reads and I quote

    You can’t have a thief without loot, without stealing or without pick-locking doors – and that’s exactly what introducing Ally gives you in your game!

    Lockpicking seems to be another way of opening doors rather than bashing them but what about stealing? Shall it read like the equivalent of an heroic deed as the quatuor introduced it? Or is it a an action that can be repeated like instead of fighting an opponent, Ally can try to get some loot from them?

    Will the heroes’ skill be enabled in the core game/ advanced game etc?

    What kind of skills can be expect from heroes?

    As a side question but related, is a system of loot planned in the game? If yes, what kind?

    • Quirkworthy says:

      The Core game uses a fixed set of Heroes and villains in the scenarios. This allows for them to be closely balanced. The Advanced rules will allow you to replay the campaign with any combination of Heroes you have available by listing their values. Due to the synergies between Heroes this will be slightly less balanced.

      The Advanced rules will allow Heroes to have more complex or unusual skills than in the Core set.

      Yes there will be a system of loot/treasure. Exactly how this will be implemented is not yet settled.

  15. souterrien says:

    @ Torkel

    Noticeable differences come in video games.
    A few of them,
    First point is that levels are designed to be beaten, they made in a way they challenge the player for some time. When applied to a game like DS, it implies that the levels are designed so that the necromancer loses it. Other than that, the necromancer might halt the progress of the campaign altogether.

    Second point, among the many addictive mechanics that video game designers use to make their games, one is permanent progression/permanent gain. You might not advance in resolving the level but you advance somewhere else, be it through collection of loot, or levelling up through grinding etc In other words, you are paid/rewarded to fail. Which is a very strong addictive element.
    While you fail at beating the level, you always get something else that keeps adding when you retry beating the level, be it better gear,gold or better stats etc The number of video games that do not give you a feeling of progression while failing is very small these days, in anything, your time is spent to unlock things ahead (new gear, new characters, new this, new that), games making it restart at the same level are very scarce because permanent gain is now one rope to hook players.

    Third point: when in a multiplayer type of games, you draw from a pool of already connected players to form your party (or associated) players are already there. This is very different from gathering people around a table so that a game session happens. How long will a group of gamer keep reuniting to see that their efforts repeatedly thwarted by the necromancer?

    There is more but already enough to affirm that the comparison to video games is abusive as the formula used in video games is different.

    You can review all the examples you quoted: Diablo, WoW, you’ll find in them elements that keeps progression tangible, everytime the player is more after failure than when the game session was started.
    In Diablo, you’ll find that dungeons are designed to be beaten, that grinding is very real (your PC is always more after one game session) and omnipresent and that when playing multiplayer, you can invite from a pool of players.

  16. Having played as the Necromancer, a limit of 4 skeletons is horrendously difficult. The other players got average dice rolls and were wiping through skeletons even when I had 6+ on the board- many of them simply didn’t get to do anything. Either skeletons need to be a little tougher or the 4-skeleton cap needs to be higher.

    Can we have the range-ruler in squares rather than inches? We’re not using your tiles as that’s printing and we are proxying other squared tiles.

    • eriochrome says:

      I did not find that the heroes mowed through the skeletons but I have only had time to check the first journey so far. Some quick numerical simulations show the Barbarian straight up against the skeleton has about a 34% chance of doing nothing, 28% of making a new bone pile, and 38% chance of destroying it. The dwarf fairs better at 19, 21.5 and 59.5 respectively at least until he is hurt then he is the same as the barbarian. Assuming no outnumbering is going on looks like the 4 hours would generate about 1 bone pile and 1.5 destroyed skeletons per turn.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      @Peter – The squares are 25mm, so for a “close enough” rule of thumb you could call them 4.5 and 8.5 squares, if that helps.

      The two “journey” scenarios are training missions and their function is really to teach the players the rudiments of the basic rules. We found that making the scenarios very balanced was actually less of a useful training mission, so they are skewed in favour of the Heroes. The third scenario you have is the first “proper” mission where it is intended to be evenly balanced.

      • Jason MacDougall (Bookkeeper) says:

        When you say 3rd scenario is that including the two journey missions, (so scenario 1) or starting at scenario 3 which is not in the alpha

      • But it isn’t. With only average dice rolls the heroes were having an exceptionally easy time getting through the skeletons and because raising them triggers a free attack even that was not an option (though most of the destroyed skeletons didn’t become piles of bones, instead simply being annihilated because of their low armour and low dice.

        The heroes were actually in worse positions when we did the training scenarios.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          It’s unusual to see the Heroes go through the armoured zombies easily, let alone the dwarf revenant. Especially on average rolls.

          Raising PoBs when the Heroes can smash them isn’t always your best plan, and there are so many PoBs in scenario 1 that you usually have the option of raising blocking models before the heroes get to them.

          Surprised to hear that the Heroes had a harder time in the training missions. That’s not been my experience.

        • The issue was (especially in training 2) that the heroes can’t dish out damage- especially not as the wizard has to spend 5 turns to break through the door. (On a side note, does the wizard need LoS to do that or just to be adjacent.

          And I didn’t tend to raise Skeletons next to them, but in the first full mission the piles of bones are all there. I got to a point in the scenario where I had more activations than models because the Dwarf simply sat next to three PoB so it wasn’t worth raising them.

          Also, if you use a card to raise piles can you then use an activation to move/attack?

        • Quirkworthy says:

          You can’t raise and then act with a single model off a single card (and you can’t play multiple cards at a time).

          The Dwarf typing things up like this sounds like good play on his part. Although it does tie him down and keep him out of any other fights…

        • Then the scenario is even harder for the necromancer, it really isn’t balanced, they womped through the skeles. And the dwarf being out of it didn’t matter by that point- Barbarian+ Elf with only a few skeletons left made for a perfect combo.

          Can I point out, you asked for feedback from people who’d played the game. This is our feedback, so far all I’ve had is you telling me I’m stupid and tactically unsound. I know what I’m doing and five of us came up with this feedback.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          I’m sorry Peter. I don’t think you’re stupid at all. Your feedback is very useful. I didn’t see the game so I can only responding to the limited comments you’ve made here. From those it sounds like you had an experience which is at odds with the many games I’ve watched myself. My tactical suggestions were simply trying to point up things you may have missed.

          Just to be clear, which scenario are you referring to here? I’ve lost track. As I said above, the first two “journeys” are training scenarios that the Necromancer is unlikely to win. This is a deliberate choice because that makes them better training missions, which is their purpose. Scenario 1 (the third one you have) is more balanced, though it is still in playtesting so will probably get tweaked before it’s finished. Is that the one you find so lop-sided? If anything, I’ve seen the Necromancer win that more than the Heroes.

        • The first proper scenario, hence referring to it as Number 3.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          OK, just checking.

    • eriochrome says:

      I just played the second journey mission and again the heroes won but I would not say they mowed down the skeletons. When the fifth ward got broken the heroes had 3 skeletons plus an archer within 4 squares of them and the skeletons almost had the ranger pinned against a wall after I advanced him a little to far forward. Had to burn both hero feats that turn to dig myself out of that mistake. Remember that for the attack tests that the attacker has to beat the defender armor and beat the defender die in the comparisons so all the ties go to the defender unlike many other games where getting the armor is all you need.

  17. Jason MacDougall (Bookkeeper) says:

    Just two quick clarifications,
    1 there is no limit on the number of cards the necromancer plays in a single turn,
    2 your FAQ says out numbering is purely based on enemy arcs, friendly arcs have no effect (two heroes facing two zombies, all models are out numbered?

    • 1. Last I looked in the original Alpha Rules it said that you can only play one Necromancer card a turn out of the Extra Model, Double Models and Raise cards. Then you get the option of playing one Interrupt between two Heroes’ Turns. So if you had enough Interrupts you could play up to 3 Interrupt cards (Hero1-Interrupt-Hero2-Interrupt-Hero3-Interrupt-Hero4) then still play one of the other types of cards during your Necromancer Turn.

      2. Looks that way. Way easier to figure on the fly too.

  18. eriochrome says:

    Finished going through the Alpha scenarios today:

    Heroes lost when I forgot about the X’s in the diagonal movement rules and had a dwarf and door preventing my barbarian from coming up for support. Only question I had was can the necromancer raise the same pile of bones over and over in the same turn if it keeps getting free attack back to bones. Only really matters in desperate situations as each free attack has a chance of destroying the skeleton but sometimes you really need a skeleton up. If so can you use like a raise 3 skeleton card to try to raise it up 3 times.

    • Souterrien says:

      I doubt it. I see the raise three skeletons as a one time use card that enables the player to raise up to three skeletons at a time.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Souterrien is correct.

      • eriochrome says:

        I figured that but you can try to reanimate them again using your model actions or another card since they were replaced with a skeleton and then turned back into a “new” pile of bones.

        Seemed to me in my play through that the heroes benefited a lot by standing on bones piles to prevent them from being used. It might be cool if the necromancer could try to animate those bones. Heroes get their free attack but if they do not destroy or re piles of bones it then they are forced to set back to their rear arc (or their front arc if all rear arc squares on not usable). Might be useful to help balance out giving the heroes Especially the fighters another action type at the start.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          Being able to stand on the bones to stop them worked very well in DKH 1 and I see no real reason to change that. If it is slowing down a specific scenario then that’s a case of needing something else to add urgency elsewhere.

  19. JD says:

    Hi Jake,
    I played the training scenarios with my wife and we felt scenario 2 (Journey from the east) was nearly impossible to win for the heroes. We played it three times and the heroes succeeded only once, the wizard having 3 wound markers and the elf 4.
    The third scenarion in contrary (the one with the Dwarf Revenant) was ways too easy for the heroes. The dwarf and the barbarian stood on a PoB in each corner and crushed every raised skeleton warrior with free strikes while the wizard and the elf got rid of the zombies. Once this room was cleaned, they entered the second room, “captured” all of tho PoBs in the middle of the room and shot and burned the poor Dwarf Revenant to death. As he was gone the dwarf smashed the door to pieces and secured an easy win for the heroes. We played this scenario three times as well without a single win for the necromancer.
    I think the main problem is the heroes having plenty of time to take care of each and every enemy and the restrictions of 4 skeleton warriors and One-use-PoBs.
    If the heroes had some kind of time pressure or at least more enemies to fight, the Necromancer may have a chance to win this scenario.
    What about restricting the front arc of a modell to the three squares directly in front of it? The two squares to the sides would be neutral and would not allow free strikes?

    • eriochrome says:

      When I tried that mission I did not capture the initial two corners and instead went straight for the zombies but whiffed. I figured out pretty quick from looking at it that the optimal things are as you describe and move the first two guys to the corners and then move up the other guys like a square to add their free strikes and try to kill the basic zombies first as they fight the same as the armored but die a lot easier.

      Another thing to do is never attack the door with your last character to act and attack the door at the diagonal so that after you break it you are not blocking the path. If you switched the basic zombies positions with a pile of bones and lengthened the entry hallway the mission would probably be a lot tougher. Otherwise the necromancer needs an interrupt card to move an armored zombie up to pin the heroes in.

      For the second journey it really seems to me that it is going to come down to whether the elf can destroy a few skeletons with her bow before she gets injured. Once she has an injury she is hard pressed to get them down beyond back to piles of bones.

      • eriochrome says:

        Ofcourse we might not be crafty enough necromancers. If the bones piles get captured then not trying to raise them and just allow the heroes to kill the zombies in that fight while you stock pile raise and interrupt cards. When they try to move into the next room they will then have to split their strength if their are 6 bones piles behind them.

        • But they won’t- as was mentioned earlier if you raise even with a card, then you can’t act with that model. So your activations are useless and because you have so few this scenario is very difficult for the Necromancer to do well in.

        • mastertugunegb says:

          That’s why you look for opportunities to use Interrupt Cards to raise skellies without being subjected to free strikes and heroic feats and what not. Usually done between the third and fourth Hero if you have the best Interrupt card to hand, then you can raise a bunch of them, and only one Hero can attempt to stop them before your own turn comes.

        • eriochrome says:

          I beat of the bone piles were split apart more in both rooms it make it easier on the necromancer. Such that no hero can stand on one and free strike two. I will see what kind of layouts ican devise.

    • JD says:

      I’d like ro hear Jakes opinion on our experiences and what the heroes or thenecromancer did in playtesting to avoid an uphill strugglefor the necromancer.

      • Quirkworthy says:

        Hi JD.

        We’ve found that the relative experience of the different players has a big effect. The Necromancer won quite a few of scenario 3 at first. After a while it evened out. Have you tried Danny’s suggestion below?

        I don’t think that it’s as balanced as I want it to be yet, not least because I’ve not yet played it enough. As an aside, there is always a question of what level of experience you aim at, and whether aiming it at inexperienced folk will make it unbalanced later and reduce the replayability. The DKH scenarios were balanced best when played by reasonably experienced players and this seemed to work well and was what I was planning on here. If there are a couple of tactical suggestions that would help the new player out (which they may not initially realise) then I can add them as tactical notes in the scenario. Again this approach seems to work well.

    • Danny says:

      JD, if I was playing the Necromancer and you were playing the heroes and your first move was to move the Dwarf and Barbarian to stand on the PoB’s in each corner, then during the Necromancers first turn I wouldn’t waste my activations (4 models for this scenario) attempting to raise PoB’s, not at this stage. I would simply move both Armoured Zombies directly towards the Elf and Wizard. This will have them situated one space away from the Elf and Wizard at the entrance of the heroes starting corridor. I would then move the two Zombies so that they were each standing on a PoB’s between the Armoured Zombies and the Dwarf and Barbarian, effectively locking up the Dwarf and Barbarian for their next turn, maybe more. Now it would be your turn, after your first hero had his turn, if I had an interrupt card, I would then play it and attack your Wizard with an Armoured Zombie. In any case, from this position, as the turns progressed, unless your dice rolls were extremely lucky and mine were extremely bad, it would be no easy task to extricate yourself from this predicament. I’ve played this same scenario several times and although it is not a difficult scenario, the heroes do not always win. Moving to the two corners with the melee heroes is not a checkmate move. Also, remember, it is the very first “Real” scenario in what looks like to be a few dozens scenarios coming with the basic pledge…I wouldn’t expect it to be ball breakingly hard.

      Have another game with your wife and move the Dwarf and Barbarian directly to those corners as you describe, and then move the 4 Zombies how I describe and see how it plays from there. Depending on the cards in hand and the roll of the dice, it may not be so easy…

      • eriochrome says:

        If you only move the barbarian and dwarf one diagonal square they better protect the ranged attackers. Not all the way to the corner juston top of the nearest bone piles using free attacks to hold down the others. If the first round ranged attack do well say removing both zombies the necromancer is going to be in a hard place, but if they whiff you can pick a side, move up an armored zombie then try to raise a skeleton using the outnumbering advantage to drop the number of attack dice for the free attack. Probably works better at the barbarian with his one lower base attack. Necromancer is probably always be a little behind well played heroes and need a little luck to get a win. I am not sure how the campaign will deal with a necromancer win as killing a hero in an mission sort of ends the campaign. I think it looks good though that for such simple rules and missions it appears like moving to x or y first matters and that the diffeculty can be scaled by just repositioning the initial pob and zombie layouts. I bet it would not be hard to have two versions of the initial setups. One that slants heroes for the narrative campaign and one more 50 50 for one off play.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          From scenario 1 I’d like it to be 50/50 each time for both campaign and one-off play. That keeps interest for both sides, which I think is important.

        • eriochrome says:

          Probably at 50-50 with real scenarios will tilt toward the heroes with the necromancer AI system since unless the AI cheats(gets to do things a player would not) I would expect the experience human necromancer to be better.

        • Danny says:

          Yes, moving the Barbarian and Dwarf one square diagonally is better (you can defend the Wizard and Elf better) and you can still gain a free attack on any raised PoB’s from that position. In this case. I would move a Zombie to the corner bone pile and tie up the Dwarf (and remain outside the LOS of the Wizard and Elf unless they move further out, but will then expose themselves in doing so)…and then send the two Armoured Zombies and remaining Zombie after the Barbarian with his 2 Armour (also positioning the Zombies to be out of LOS of the Wizard and Elf).

          Like all games of this type though, there is a certain amount of luck involved which can see either side gain advantage…that uncertainty is what generates *some* of the fun. In this case, the Necromancers card draw and both players dice rolls will influence the outcomes 🙂

        • eriochrome says:

          Ok here we go for more challenging monster set up positions:

          Part 1

          Part 2

        • eriochrome says:

          Added new possible layouts to my scenario 1 run through and posted images but they got caught in the spam filter for having 2 links.


  20. Jason MacDougall (Bookkeeper) says:

    I am upto 6 play throughs of the longer mission, and I have to agree the necromancer is fighting an uphill battle, three things I can see,
    1 the simple option is adding 2 skeleton archers in the second room towards the back
    2 or more globally change of the necromancer card so raising a skeleton using the “raise skeleton card” becomes a raise and activate card
    3 alternative global change, bone piles count as enemies with 360 facing for determining die penalties (and/or standing on bones adds an additional -1die penalty for being unstable)

    • Quirkworthy says:

      The Heroes need slight tweaking, which is one reason I haven’t worried too much about fine tuning the scenarios. No point in doing that with Heroes that will change as you’ll only have to do it all over again.

      In general though, I think there need to be some changes in position of PoBs. Perhaps the addition of a Skeleton Archer or two, though that may be a bit overboard with the other changes.

      Overall, balancing these scenarios is quite subtle and a change in position of a single square for a PoB or a model can make a huge difference in play. Just needs a lot of playing through…

      Tried raise and activate and it’s way too powerful.

      PoBs cannot be attacked because they are indistinguishable from the rubbish lying around all over the place. If you made them a thing the Heroes had to watch (exerts threat) then logically they could attack them too, which doesn’t work.

      • Tyr says:

        Re: Tried raise and activate: How about raise and move, with a limitation of not being able to move into or out of enemy combat range?

      • Jason MacDougall (Bookkeeper) says:

        Thanks for trying. I appreciate your responses. I will try to concentrate on developing some better evil necromancer tactics some. I will look more carefully at Danny’s and Eriochromes tactics and see if I can close the gap that way while I wait for the next round of tuning.

        On the plus side I really do like the mechanics, the read twice method and the damage tables. Waiting with interest to see how some of the other models get represented.

        I also have to admit I would prefer to have the heroes have the edge over the necromancer particularly for the first real scenario 1 (“the entrance hall” not “journey from the west”) but until I improve tactics they have a bit too much.

        As a side request in the next version of the alpha can we have a name for each of the scenarios so there is no confusion between the journeys and scenarios.


  21. Danny says:

    Thanks for sharing the link above Erio. The changes you have proposed to the PoB’s and Monster set up looks like it will increase the difficulty of the scenario for the heroes. On my next days off work I’ll give it a play through and see how I get on 🙂

    • eriochrome says:

      It seems like it will be a little harder. I took away the sort of obvious tacticss. You can still go out and try to control all the bones piles but you are likely to exposure either a heroes rear arc or expose the Ranger and Mage to direct attacks. I am guessing their will be opportunities in the first room to use the characters feats to push them over the top.

      Second room will probably involve going in as a team the protecting any heroes significantly hurt in the first room.

  22. Danny says:

    Erio, I gave Scenario 1 a go tonight with your suggested repositioning of the starting locations for the monsters.

    In short, it was hard to tell if it made it any harder or easier. It seemed about the same as the normal set up to be honest. However, over many games with different rolls and card draws in may average out to be harder, or not…not sure. I played the Heroes this time and my second son (17yr old) played the Necromancer, and he played well.

    At the end, the heroes were in the following condition;

    Barbarian: 1 wound remaining (and had used his Feat)
    Elf: 3 wounds remaining (and had used his Feat)
    Wizard: 3 wounds remaining
    Dwarf: unwounded

    Essentially, I used the Dwarf and Barbarian to do the majority of the fighting in the first room (with my son concentrating as best he could on the Barbarian), whilst positioning as best as I could to protect the Elf and Wizard (who did get a couple of shots/spells off). With only a couple of PoB’s left in the first room, I left the Barbarian behind (2 wounds left at this stage) to cover the rear as the Dwarf pushed forward, smashed the door down with the Elf and Wizard right behind him. After getting into the second room, the Elf and Wizard had some good rolls (including the Elf turning the Dwarf Revenant into a PoB on his second attack at him). The Dwarf took out a single Raised Skeleton and went straight for the door and smashed it in, winning the game.

    • eriochrome says:

      If a hero got down to 1 health then it was a close game. At that point any basic skeleton attacking the Barbarian has like a 30% chance of causing you to lose. While the Barbarian is certainly easier to hurt than the dwarf, the dwarf loses 20% of his combat effectiveness when hurt unlike the Barbarian so just getting 1 wound on him early can change the game. Sounds like the elf was pretty lucky to POB the revenant at armor 3 with 4 dice against her and shooting with only 3 due to being wounded.

      Overall you still fighting the same number of monsters with the same rules, but the changes just sort of removed some simple tactics which caused lots of problems for the necromancer. If you look at the monster counts the journeys have 8 and 10 for 2 heroes and the scenario 1 has 15 for all 4. I have a feeling that the heroes working together probably scale a little better than linearly. I bet that returning the line of sight rules to center to center would certainly affect how it plays.

      • Danny says:

        Yeah, if you can get a wound on the Dwarf early, it certainly would help. Even with a wound though, the Dwarf is still tougher and hits just as hard as the Barbarian…so I think if the Heroes are playing a tight game and keeping the Elf and Wizard well protected, then the Barbarian is definitely the choice target. I think he needs a little attack boost somehow to both bring him level with the Dwarf in overall usefulness in combat and to also make it not such an obvious choice to attack him when only presented with him and the Dwarf as targets…if he can dish out more damage, then the Necromancer player will be force to assess what the best attack option are for fear of losing monster more reliably if going against the Barbarian.

        I found the dice probability charts you did for the Dungeon Saga heroes on your website very interesting! I think if the Barbarian and Dwarf kept all their current rules but simply changed the Dice stats to;

        Dice: 5 attack / 4 defence

        Dice: 4 attack / 5 defence

        …it would bring the two melee specialists closer in overall usefulness.

        Yeah, the heroes working together would give an exponential increment to their effectiveness. The Interrupt cards can really keep you on dancing though and force you to change tack…which is very cool.

        Yes absolutely! If the LoS was determined from center space to center space, it would have a significant effect on the game play. It gives the Elf and Wizard better angle to spell and shoot with from behind the protection of the melee heroes up front and it also allows long ranged fire too. For instance, the Elf can fire at the Dwarf Revenant in his starting position from the corner of the room…if it was center to center, the Elf would not be able to do that, she would have to move 3 spaces closer to do so.

        • Danny says:

          **I mean drawing LoS from any part of the firing space to any part of the targets space gives better angles and better range…I didn’t phrase that too well above 🙂

        • eriochrome says:

          Loose shooting rules really benefit the heroes with half the base ones having ranged attacks vs slow moving undead. Only 2 of the base 18 models have an obvious ranged attack but the zombie trolls can probably throw those column bits short range. I would not be surprised if the armored zombies pick up an extra attack die to give more variation on the monster side. Not sure what is planned for the ghosts. I would guess they always attack at like armor 1 using their incorporal nature.

      • eriochrome says:

        Ran the numbers and the injured ranger only has like a 1 in 6 shot of POB or destroying the revenant with a ranged attack.

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