DS Beta Rules Up

The beta of the core rules are up now. It’s a big download, so be aware.

Don’t worry about the end of the pledge manager coming up as there’s going to be a second one fairly soon. This gives you a bit of time to read the rules, maybe play a game or two, and have a think. If you play the Necromancer then you might want to practice your maniacal laughter too. No rush though.

As it took longer than expected to get them up, please use this thread for comments and queries about the Beta rules. Ta.

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75 Responses to DS Beta Rules Up

  1. Quazai says:

    Hey Jake.

    First off I’d like to say I think the core rules look great. Simple, but with a decent amount of depth and choice. The facing rules alone are a major advantage over Descent IMHO.

    I do, however, how one major concern/criticism:

    The campaign progression. I really don’t like how if the heroes lose a scenario they simply repeat it. Those I play with are not generally not keen to immediately repeat a scenario they’ve lost. It feels choppy/unthematic (and doesn’t make a Necromancer victory feel like as much of a win). I’d rather have a blurb at the end of the scenario explaining what happens if the heroes lose (e.g. they are forced to find another passage, the spirit of Elshara moves deeper into the dungeon etc.) and then have minor consequences/rewards carry over into the next scenario (or into the final battle). So maybe the layout of the next scenario is a little different, or the monster count slightly altered, or a couple heroes start with a wound etc. depending on who won/or lost the preceding one. If a hero gets ‘crippled’ during a scenario they could have a minor penalty carry over into the next scenario as well (start with a few wounds, have a token they need to shake off etc.) .

    Note that I DON’T think the campaign needs to be branched. While this can be nice, it can also be a headache for balance, and a straight campaign with reward/consequence carry over is more than enough. One game I think does this fairly well is Sentinel Tactics (don’t know if you’ve tried it).

    • Mike Miller says:

      Not saying that repeating a scenario is desirable, but the problem with rewards/penalties is the snowball effect – if the heroes can’t win scenario X, then starting scenario X+1 with a penalty is probably going to mean they aren’t likely going to win again, and then scenario X+2 will be harder after that. Better that the heroes learn how to win (and that the scenarios are balanced).

      A counter-balance (heroes win, necromancer gets an advantage next game) is interesting, but less thematic. Of course, a mix of the two ideas might be neat, some scenarios are win friendly, then others are counter-balanced.

      I like Sentinel Tactics, but its hard to take seriously – and I think the balance issue would be more pronounced if the play time was longer. The original Descent RtL had that issue – you were playing a campaign with potentially hundreds of hours invested and there was no chance for the other side to catch up if the game got away from them.

      All that said, I don’t care much for a 1 vs many game myself, and look forward to the solo rules. We’ve waited many years for a game to unseat Warhammer Quest as our go-to coop crawl, and have yet to find it, we’ve got high hopes for DS.

      • Quazai says:

        I think if you keep the advantages small, and apply them only to the next scenario, the snowball effect is drastically reduced. I like your idea of a mix with counterbalancing scenarios though. You could have the occasional thematic power boost for a losing side too. For example, if the heroes lose three in a row they get a bonus to even things out (divine intervention etc.). I think overall it just tells a better story and makes things more rewarding.

        • eriochrome says:

          Perhaps it is all about how it is presented. For a campaign, instead of hours say that the heroes have like 4 rejuvenation potions. If one of the heroes falls in a mission they do have to fall back and use one. Now if the overlord wins by the time limit then you keep playing until either the heroes succeed but they have to split the potion 4 ways to recover fast enough to make up the lost time or if one falls then they have to fall back and try again.

          This would help cut down on replaying a mission which would probably get annoying and it stops the campaign at the real point at which the heroes have failed as opposed to still playing mission 6 in the 14th hour for an unlucky band of adventurers.

        • Quazai says:

          That would certainly be an improvement, but I would still REALLY prefer some sort of mechanic not involving repeating missions at all. Having to go back and repeat a level (reloading it exactly to the way it was before the previous attempt) just doesn’t feel thematic, and has the potential to be very frustrating. Maybe just a sliding point scale would be the easiest alternative. There are 8 missions.
          The clock starts at Zero hours. Losing a mission adds time to the clock. Winning a mission has no effect or takes time away. Time bonuses and penalties could even be built into scenarios as mini objectives. If the clock hits a certain number the Necromancer wins (or if the Necromancer wins the final battle). Scenarios never need to be repeated. Simple, easy to implement and requires minimal changes to the way things are now.

    • Matt Price says:

      Oh wow. I haven’t yet read the rules, and I do hope this isn’t implemented in the final game. This sounds, well, a bit like a cop out… If the heroes now know the hidden details of the scenario, this makes playing it again a rather dull affair. And I’m with Quazai on this. No one I play with would want to repeat the same scenario again regardless of outcome.

      If one side is winning too many times, it would make sense to “reward the loser” in an effort to make the gameplay more balanced, but as others have noted, this balance is delicate. I was one of those folks who had invested scores of hours into a Descent Road to Legend campaign, only to have it become unwinnable for the Overlord. After 2-3 games of just getting demolished, it was so un-fun, that the thought of sitting down and trying to slog through the next few games just to get to “gold” level (where presumably the Overlord would get some new upgrade to counter the heroes) was horrible.

      I really do hope the “play over if the heroes lose” rule mechanic is not used. It’s more work, for sure, but give us more scenarios, or offer a fresh (and very significantly different) take on the scenario, and don’t use it often.

      • Quirkworthy says:

        This wasn’t a “cop out” at all. It was part of the original brief, and was a decision based on the simplicity Mantic wanted for the core game. That simplicity is helped by the fact that everyone who has played a computer game will be familiar with the concept.

        I disagree with the suggestion that it becomes dull just because the Hero players have seen it once. This certainly hasn’t been the experience I’ve had from playtesters after gaming sessions. Also, if that was the case then every game without a hidden board would automatically be dull after the first play through, and that is clearly not the case. I played Squad Leader many times, and some scenarios were fun to fight again and again even though there was no hidden anything. It was just a fun game. Most abstract games (chess, draughts, etc) have fixed boards where you replay the same “scenario” every time. DS scenarios aren’t made interesting solely because they have a gradually revealed map.

        The fact that you have seen the board once (even if you can’t remember all the details) gives the Heroes an advantage which makes it easier for them to complete in a second run through. This makes it unlikely that the Heroes will lose many times in a row, though it is possible. Most of the tests we’ve run see the Heroes win on the first or second attempt. If the players are so imbalanced in skill that they lose many times then that imbalance is outside the scope of the rules themselves. What I have done (and I think this is in the core game), is include a section on rebalancing scenarios if you have such a difference in player skill.

        • Matt Price says:

          But this *isn’t* a computer game… The thought of replaying a Descent scenario, or an Imperial Assault scenario, or a Level 7 OP scenario, just because I lost doesn’t sound appealing… And comparing a vs. fantasy campaign game like this to Squad Leader doesn’t strike me as an appropriate comparison. I’ve played The Tractor Works more times than I can remember. One game of a specific scenario of Descent is plenty for me. Squad Leader is a very different beast with very different variables in play.

          I like your designs, Jake. And I’m looking forward to this one. And I reckon I’ll just have to wait and see how this shakes out. Perhaps I’m in the minority, but it just seems odd, thematically (…maybe) and mechanically.

        • Quazai says:

          I think this is an example of why broad beta testing (and getting the rules available early) are a good thing. If you check the feedback and comments (on Kickstarter and the Mantic website as well) you’ll see quite a number of people expressing concern about the ‘repeating a scenario’ mechanism currently in the campaign (so Matt isn’t alone). So this is some quite different feedback from what you’ve had so far.

          Now I’d like to be clear that I don’t think repeating scenarios is inherently bad. You’re perfectly correct that many games used a fix board etc., and playing them over again is fun. And I can even see repeating scenarios here as being fun at times. But ONLY if they’re being played as one offs. The issue for me is being FORCED to repeat scenarios (as per the rules) when playing a Campaign.

          When I play a Campaign for a dungeon crawler, the whole purpose is to experience a story – one that I want to be immersive and flow smoothly. I want to feel that my hero is progressing through a story (and ideally having some effect on it). And in a ‘versus’ game like this one, I want the villain to have the same experience. And how well a game achieves this depends heavily on the mechanics.

          The problem I have with the current Campaign mechanics is that they feel gamey and threaten this immersion. Take ‘Journey from the West’ and ‘Into the Depths’. The object is to basically get through the Necromancer’s forces and reach the door. Now if the heroes fail one of these scenarios the game essentially halts and they’re forced to reload. The Necromancer’s STORY reward for his victory? Well…nothing. Basically he simply has to do the whole thing again, this time at a bit of a disadvantage (which for some people may be frustrating). And while this is puzzle-like, it breaks the flow of the story. And that right there threatens the immersion for me. Plus, especially when playing with a group of people, there’s a good chance that at least some of us won’t want to immediately repeat the exact same scenario we just lost. But in order to continue, the rules as written make this necessary. I worry this could be a turn-off, and mean that the game gets put away instead of played further (and shorten it’s longevity in general).

          I guess I’m hoping that maybe you’ll include an official variant of some sort (nothing complex) that allows you to go through the campaign without repeats. Yes players could mod the game themselves, but not everyone is willing to do that (and this may be especially true for much of the target audience for the basic game).

          Here’s another thought. Would you possibly consider at least giving the Necromancer some choices during a scenario repeat? For example, allowing him to vary the specific minions or change the position of things somewhat? Thematically this would represent the Necromancer regrouping prior to another assault by the heroes, and mechanically it would help rebalance the scenario and restore a bit of the ‘unknown’ exploration aspect.

          Anyway, just trying to explain where I’m coming from (hopefully it made sense), and I don’t want to come across as too critical. I think you’re a good designer Jake and I am still very much looking forward to playing this.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          Thanks to both of you for your comments and kind words.

          @Matt – good old Tractor Works. Ah, the nostalgia 🙂

          You’re right, this isn’t a computer game. I wasn’t suggesting that it was, just that the analogy is a good one to explain the process as most people will understand it immediately.

          @Quazai – I’ve got a meeting later today about DS (among other things) so I’ll bring it up again there. Whichever approach is used there will be dissenters, and I have heard a few people question this approach, so I am aware that it’s a point of discussion.

          This aspect of the rules was something that Ronnie suggested very early on, when I was focussed on the core mechanics and before I’d even really considered which campaign structure would work best. Left to my own devices I probably would have suggested something more involved*. Ronnie and I are both passionate about creating the best games we possibly can, and because we’re passionate and have slightly different ideas about what “best” might look like, we do have some rather excitable discussions about details. This one, though, I didn’t argue. Why would I? It’s simple, it works, it’s familiar, easy to explain, unequivocal, and it also makes perfect narrative sense to me. All those are good things in rules, not bad ones.

          If a Hero takes 5 wounds they are described as crippled rather than dead for exactly this (narrative) reason. The back-story says that all four Heroes must be present at the final battle, so any one of them being severely battered means that they have to stop, pull back, and heal up. “Crippled” is simply the point at which a Hero needs to get out and heal up. When they’re recovered they still have the original mission to do, so they go back to try again. I can’t see why that doesn’t make perfect sense. It’s exactly what would happen if I ran this as an RPG. You tried to break in, got creamed, ran away, and are now all healed up. The Big Bad is still in there, and you’ve still got to save the world…

          Now whether the current incarnation is as much fun as it could be is different from whether it makes narrative sense. I can see your point, though I haven’t found that an issue when playing it myself. I look at a failed scenario attempt as a puzzle I haven’t yet solved, and I instinctively want to solve it. However, not everyone will see things the same way. So, I’ll see what we can do to add to this without changing the overall simplicity of the process (which I think is a good thing).


          *I suspect that my choice might have resulted in a more niche product that fewer people played. And success matters for me (so I can pay my bills and continue designing games) as well as you (by building a vibrant community of gamers who also play). After all, the best game in the world is no good if you can’t find an opponent.

        • crimsonsun says:

          Just a minor comment, your saying you see each scenario as a puzzle to be cracked is bang on but I like playing the bad guy so If I win a mission I’ve cracked that puzzle and now don’t want to have to replay it at a disadvantage (as the heroes know what there up to) which is counter productive in itself as I’m being punished twice for winning.

        • Tyr says:

          @ Jake: I think it could be as simple as working with the “hours” system. Players can either choose to replay a scenario (which would take one campaign hour) or they may skip it after losing, the narrative being that they found a longer way around, snuck through, or battled off camera, healed their comrades, etc… The latter would take more than one hour though (the exact amount would be subject to playtesting). Its simple, allows both replaying and skipping, and makes it a choice: Do you replay and save time? Do you skip but risk losing too much time?
          Best of both worlds. 🙂

        • Smud says:

          Me too would have the heros repeat the mission in an RPG (pen and paper), but the scenario would have changed. Maybe they killed some minions or maybe a lot of them. So the enemys would have changed. Maybe there are less or even more or the bad guy went to another place.

          These makes narrative sense, when one hero is crippled. When the time runs out the heros have to evade because more minions arrive, if I remember correctly. So these minions are just passing and leave the place, when the heros aren’t present? Why don’t they stay their and block the way?
          Consider the chests, why should these get refilled?
          Yeah it is possible to explain to get the same scenario again, but it doesn’t feel neutral. To make it simple, in a RPG I would change a lot in the scenario for the second try. All the explainations for the same scenario would fell like excuses. There is no reason, why the acting of the heros should be ignored.

          Just my thoughts…

        • Quazai says:

          Hey Jake.

          Thanks for bringing this up again with Ronnie. I know you guys are trying to keep the core game simple, but as you can tell I think this has gone a bit too far :).

          I’d just like to point out that the ‘retreat, regroup and try again’ approach ALMOST makes narrative sense. The fact that the Overlord conveniently sets up the dungeon exactly the way it was originally (right down to monster types and positions, the contents of chests etc.), without factoring in anything from the previous attempt does kind of ruin this illusion though :). Yes a nitpicky detail, but something I feel is important nonetheless. Also having to keep using the ‘heroes retreat and try again’ could get a little stale story wise 🙂

          Anyway, thanks for listening to us and taking the time to explain things. As you can tell some of us are fairly passionate about this game : P

        • Quazai says:

          Looks like Smud just beat me to the punch with the exact same points 🙂

        • eriochrome says:

          Given that there are like 5 campaigns that need to be written and advanced rules different campaign structures can easily be used and presented. The overlords inital hand seems like agreat place for modification. For a time out finalnscenario he could draw extra initial cards and pick the three he wanted to start with. For a non time out ue could get extra cards to start.

  2. Nakano says:

    Skimmed through the beta rule book. The locked action order of first move, then attack made me wonder is it necessary to limit this. Probably due to balancing the game.

    Then some minor notes:
    – The font of 1 looks like roman i.
    – A few spelling mistakes:
    -> There allow should be “These”

    -> These llow should be “allow”

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Thanks Nakano. The fixed order is about balance. With large moves on a fairly small board, and powerful Heroes against individually weak opponents, a flexible action sequence means a 90% win rate for Heroes.

      • Shane says:

        What if move rates were halved and models could move/attack, attack/move, move/move? Probably too big of a change for balance though

  3. Quazai says:

    Can a hero attack another hero? Or can the Overlord use one monster to attack another monster? This strategy could be used to break the Transfix effect.

    • mastertugunegb says:

      Ugh, that’s just metagamey. Plus it breaks the immersion effect of Heroes or Minions/Bosses trying to cooperate to bring the other side down. Plus how long does your Heroes trust in each other last once one of them douche moves you by attacking you, even if it is just to help remove a spell effect?

      • shane says:

        Some of the spell effects say they are under the control of the enemy… seems legit for someone to slap their friend to slap them out of it.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          No, you can’t attack your own side.

          Two points. One is that it’s a bit too gamey in my eyes. Attacking your own side is almost invariably some dubious wangling around the intent of the rules in every game I’ve ever seen it done (with the sole exception of a handful of background-based instances such as Soviet commissars executing those running the wrong way or Mongols running down a front line of prisoners).

          Secondly, I’d question whether they’d be likely to notice in the heat of the moment. There you are, in the depths of unfamiliar enemy territory, with your trusted buddies by your side. There are few of you and many of them. Skeletons keep appearing as if from nowhere. Danger lurks around every corner. So, where are you looking? Around you at the enemies to see where the next attack comes from, or into the eyes of your buddy to see if he’s a bit glazed over?

        • shane says:

          @Quirkworthy – Depends I guess… I always figured dwarves kept a close eye on the elf watching their back because they expect them to run away at a moments notice… 😛

        • Quirkworthy says:

          Sure, that’s possible. But you have to consider whether there’s a difference between being generally aware that someone is legging it or not and gazing into their eyes. The Elf’s likely to think that the Dwarf fancied her, and that would be… odd.

        • shane says:

          Granted. I was just playing devils advocate. Honestly I don’t see it being a positive trade off in most situations anyway. You are essentially trading one character missing a turn in exchange for another character not missing theirs AND taking some damage. Sure it could be worth while doing if you have 1 turn left and only your wizard can open a door and he’s stunned… but otherwise you’re really not doing your team any favours.

          As stated below though I do have some concern over recursive “skip a turn” mechanics.

          The beta rules mention the player must spend their turn getting rid of the state but it doesn’t mention how. I assume it is just a marker that goes away at the end of their turn. (or after they are attacked as mentioned)

        • While it kinda works for mind type effects in 40K where usu your fancy power armour wouldn’t do anything (Deny the Witch rules I refer to here), in games like Hero System, you get Mental Powers where you might need to get a very high effect total just to pull off the Mind Control level you want, get it, then, cos it doesn’t take place til their next active phase, and they get a Breakout roll first to shut it down completely, you can start to think that maybe investing a chunk of points into 12d6 Mind Control in the hopes of being a Charles Xavier wannabe was a waste of time if even a local tough can shake off the control before it properly takes root on an 11- on 3 dice.

          ‘Screw that, I’ll just go energy blast or super strength!’ is probably the reaction to seeing that in practice. I know it was mine after having my MC targets wriggle out even after giving them a big Breakout Roll penalty, only to see the dice erase all your previous Phase’s progress.

  4. Shane says:

    Comments from reading through rules – I’ve been unable to play test. So please take the comments accordingly.

    I count at least 3 methods of causing a hero to essentially skip their next turn. I’m not the biggest fan of this mechanic, especially as at least one of these methods (darkness) is repeatable every turn. Its not so bad in a situation where one player controls more than 1 hero but these mechanics can lead to some boring sequences of turns. I hope this is considered and “skip a turn” is minimised. Having a target can only move or attack not both (like dazed in AD&D board game) is a fair compromise especially for a repeatable effect. My biggest concern here is if games have a max turn limit of 20 and there are numerous skip a turn mechanics every turn you are affected by this you could end up doing very little in a round.

    Staff of silibar and Book of Valandor combo – do these effects stack? can the player cast any major spell (as a minor spell) each turn in addition to their other spells?

    I realise this probably fits into advanced rules more than basic but, it could be nice to see time used more as a resource – so certain actions could result in a random card being reshuffled back into the necromancers draw pile. This could be the cost of casting a powerful spell by the villain or the benefit caused by completing a mini mission objective. Even allowing a card dead overlord the ability to shuffle their hand and discard pile into the deck to redraw X cards. (I recall someone complaining in alpha rules testing that they weren’t able to do anything as the necromancer (although they did misread the rules about hand limit etc). Another example of implementing this would be as an addition to the raise dead mechanic – listed are X type of undead you can raise for “free” and then some missions have a stronger undead (dwarf revenent/zombie troll) that can be raised at the expense of shuffling Y cards back into your overlord deck)

    As time limits are going to be such a heavy part of every scenario it would be nice to see some trade off between adventures searching a level for extra treasure/aids in future levels vs trying to complete the mission as quickly as possible. Once again I realise this is probably more for advanced rules than core. I just think that it would be nice to have levels be more than just a race to find the X marked door with a few dead ends along the way. (Although some missions like this are certainly nice to come across).

    In kickstarter fluff (and possibly on this blog) there was talk of needing to acquire magic items to damage ghosts. Has that been removed from the game? I quite liked the idea of maybe only having the magic user and the barbarian in a situation that they could actually damage the ghosts.

    The banshee mission seems pretty final for Elshara, does she feature in any other of the 8 core missions? Going back to time limit stuff she seems like she would be a pretty good penalty to be applied to earlier missions that ran over time. An invulnerable spell caster that passes through walls comes out to clear the intruders out of the dungeon. – Cool model, cool fluff, shame to only see her exist in one mission as what seems could be just as easily replaced by an environmental mechanic/adventure specific special rules. And then for those who were after tangible benefits / disadvantages for losing a mission, if you fail free the spirit of the banshee you will continue to face her in future missions as the time winds down in the mission. Could be something like at the end of necromancers turn roll 1d6 if you roll lower than the number of cards left in the overlord deck the spirit of the banshee approaches. or some such other mechanic. Obviously a bit of a radical change from the core basic game. I don’t really expect to see you implement it, but I’ll probably work on something like this for house rules/my own campaigns.

    Clarification question – as soon as the heroes reveal a zone that contains a door that would have them exit the dungeon the overlord must identify it?

    Im really tired after working a monster shift yesterday and have to go back in for another, so that’s all I’ve got for now. Thanks for reading.

  5. crimsonsun says:

    Before I begin to respond as to my Feedback regarding the Beta basic rules release may I ask what sort of feedback your actually looking for?

    By which I mean are you wanting feedback regarding possible editing and comprehension errors? Possibly problematic mechanics or combinations of Mechanics? Or something more general based on our opinions and feelings regarding the rules and any concerns we have along with any areas we specifically like? Obviously the first two types of feedback are purely fact driven with opinions left out while the third is entirely subjective but all of the types of feedback give very different information to you and while all useful in general your bound to be looking at/for a specific type of information to work with as otherwise your going to be overwhelmed.

    • ampoliros says:

      From Update 67:
      We are looking for feedback on a number of specific topics:

      – Are the rules easy to understand?

      – Is the game easy to learn?

      – Is the game fun?

      – What did you enjoy about the game?

      – What didn’t you like about the game?

  6. Tyr says:

    Some thoughts about abilities:
    So far, most abilities (that we know of) seem to confer passive bonuses. Rerolls, additional dice, that kind of stuff. Just a passive buff with no downsides. In my mind, that makes using cards for them kind of wasteful – they seem to be a glorified cribsheet and not much else, and merely add to the clutter.
    Similarly, since most abilities are passive, they dont really add much to combat. They make you better, sure, but they dont add any additional tactics, decisions, etc. Especially if youve only got one hero to control, you need varied combat. Feats are the right kind of idea, but making them one-use limits them.
    What Im trying to get at: Add skills that can be toggled. Make frenzy, for instance, into a decision: Do I want to gain additional attack dice (for instance), but at the cost of losing dice when my hero is attacked? Or do I want to retain my basic dice and keep my defense up?
    Stuff that might work:
    – Offensive and defensive stances (and a neutral stance everyone starts out in), these give a small bonus at the cost of a small negative, 1 die either way. Can be changed at will, probably before the action phase.
    -Crushing blow (or similar): Something akin to a major spell: a kind of “mini-feat” that doesnt take all game to recharge, but does need some time before it can be used again. Gain X dice, but leave yourself open: Your opponents gain bonus dice (double outnumbering bonus, count all hero-facings as rear ark, that kind of thing)
    -Skills toggled by things happening, like your hero taking a wound: Could be used for the barbarian or a bloodmage (bloodlust, bloodsacrifice, etc)

    Of course these kinds of skills would add some complexity, but since youd have to level up to get them, I reckon itd probably be fine. You probably wouldnt have more than three or maybe four activatable skills at any time anyway.

    Lastly, Im not a fan of the current implemetation of tough. The way it works atm makes it seem like a “regeneration-lite”, which doesnt really work that well for what its supposed to depict: Being tough doesnt mean I have a small chance to regrow the hand that skeleton just chopped off, it means Im less likely to have it chopped off in the first place. Additionally, rolling each turn adds time and things to remember. Ive often forgotten to use regeneration in games since its completely disconnected from everything else in the game. Instead, a bonus die to defense could work well, and it would open up avenues for multiple levels of tough. (tough 1= 1 die, tough 2= tow dice…). You could even go into negative toughness for squishy things like goblins or glass hammer-type heroes. These have the added bonus of working on things without wounds. The current tough ability might work as a magic item though (ring of rejuvenation, helm of fortitude, that kind of thing).

    Of course some of these ideas may have already been implemented in the advanced rules, but I just thought Id share my thoughts anyway. 🙂

    (oh, and btw: would really like to see some more infor on races, classes and abilities! 🙂 )

    • Tyr says:

      Oh, and one last thing: Ive heard some people getting worried about the campaign, in particular getting stuck in a scenario and losing it over and over again and losing interest since there nothing new; How about altering the timelimit in campaign games? Instead of the game ending once the necromancer runs out of cards, the heroes may choose to push on, providing none of them have been crippled. The Overlord reshuffles his deck, and the game continues. However, the heroes took longer than anticipated and the scenario took *two* hours instead of one… just an idea, dunno if itd work. 🙂

    • eriochrome says:

      Tough could let you reroll a defense die that missed target number.

      • Tyr says:

        Yeah, definitely. Though the additional dice idea might work as well, and allows negative toughness, which rerolling wouldnt allow. Just an idea though. 🙂

        • eriochrome says:

          There are lots of ways to modify the combat. Additional dice is probably stronger than rerolling a miss as it increases you max passes.

        • Tyr says:

          Oh, absolutely. Though it wouldnt be too difficult to balance since you could just limit the natural amount of dice a mini has. Something with 4 dice shouldnt have Tough (2). Something with two dice might though. 🙂

        • eriochrome says:

          One could set up a whole range of special abilities to affect the die rolls in attack and defense:

          For Defense you could have:
          Hard Target(1): Opponent Treats your armor as 1 higher when he attacks.
          Tough(1): Reroll 1 defense die that misses the armor value
          Expert Defense(1): Roll an additional 1 die for defense

          Each of these could also be limited to a certain class of defending (fight, shoot, and magic) giving 9 total abilities.

          Similarly you can have the offensive versions:
          Penetrating Strike(1): You treat opponents armor as 1 lower when attack
          Frenzy/Sure Shot(1): Reroll 1 attack die that misses
          Crushing Attack(1): Roll an additional 1 die for attacks.

          Also with different versions for the test types.

        • eriochrome says:

          Ofcourse there is not much point in having a rule to add a die to shoot instead of just changing the base number expect mainly for the case of expendable magic items like magic arrows. Ofcourse that would be a cool addition to give the archer a magic arrow or two. A little extra resource management.

        • eriochrome says:

          You can also just give people hits or subtract hits in special cases. A mace on a cleric that adds on hit on models that can become piles of bones could be interesting.

          There is so much that could be done that it a sort of sad that it took so long to get anything out. Jake has probably already thought on a lot of this stuff but he is only one guy. Right now just in the hero cards their are essentially 2 repeated abilities across 4 legendary heroes (2 tough, and 2 sure shot/frenzy). Not really the best way to make the heroes not just look but play and roll differently. The duplicates make things simple but with like 10+ heroes at 2 or more levels plus 29+ bad guys plus the besterary all the variation possible could be most helpful.

        • Tyr says:

          Absolutely. The stuff we got so far doesnt really show enough, I think. Particularly the CC guys just… dont do enough. I think Ive mentioned it before, but as it is, taking any pure fighter seems like the most boring thing you could do. Run at something, hit it til it dies. CAsters get all sorts of spells, archers can at least attack at range, etc…

        • eriochrome says:

          Quote from my review of the alpha rules for Journey from the West


          “For the heroes the actions seem pretty straight forward with decisions mainly based on stopping easy access to your flank and not getting too outnumbered. Seems like even the basic game needs just a little more for these two close combat oriented heroes. They are the most basic as the Ranger has both close combat and ranged attacks while the wizard has small selection of spells.”

        • eriochrome says:

          Since the dwarf is there to be a tank and control enemy movement maybe his free strikes if they hit could stop a model from breaking away. The barbarian as the killer could knock back enemies that are not killed. But again the core game is all about balance in the adventures so it is hard to expect significant changes to the characters at this point.

          It would be great to see a longer run down of the advanced rules skills and feats and such. There is probably tons of room in that section for cool stuff unless they have to make a card for every single thing.

  7. eriochrome says:

    There seems to be some inconsistencies in the power level of Major and Minor spells between and within the Hero and Necromancer cards. This is fine in a game were everyone spell are assigned but probably very troublesome in the sandbox advanced rules.

    • eriochrome says:

      In fact, I am guess the card text is just rough draft stuff but it would be great if the text on the ones for the core games also included the information for advanced rule stuff like spell tree/family to make organizing spell sets easier later as well as damage type so that we know what types of damage resistance apply without going off the card. Since we have creatures that hang out around lava in an expansion one would assume their will be some rule for energy type damage resistance like

      Damage Resistance (Fire, 1): After determining the number of hits remove 1 if the attack has the Fire energy type listed.

  8. eriochrome says:

    For rules clarity purpose it might be helpful to refer to the Overlord Deck which contains Overlord Command Cards and Overlord Interrupt Cards (ie remove the Command label from the Interrupt cards). This makes it easier to be clear that 1 command card can be used by the Overlord only during his turn and multiple Interrupt cards can be used during the heroes turn (up to 3 with 4 heroes) and not having to worry about how Interrupt cards are special command cards that do not follow any of the rules for command cards.

    Also, I really do not see the point of the Delay Card. Using a Card to draw a card which might end the game if their are no cards, seems to have almost no real affect on the game different than just having 1 less card in the Overlord Deck. The only thing I can think of is that it is there to surprise the heroes at the end of the game to force the time out 1 turn earlier than they were expecting. Such an effect is only a surprise on the first time through any adventures and requires the Overlord to hold the card until that last few turns to get any real gain. Not sure if that is worth one of the limited number of cards available in any of the game boxes.

    • Tyr says:

      Well, you might not have a Delay card in your deck, since youre not using all cards all the time… but yeah, seems kind of weird.

      • eriochrome says:

        I could see it if ,aybe you rolled a d3 and then discarded that many cards or something. That could be more than just a surprise and put pressure onthe heroes to try to rushbut you also might lose a good command card to the discard.

  9. Smud says:

    But still I like the higher variety of the deck compared to the one from the alpha rules.

    • eriochrome says:

      Seems to me that these are the majority of the cards for the heroes and necromancers since there appear to be more than few cards that are not used in the test scenarios

  10. Smud says:

    Just a bit direct feedback on one of the scenarios:
    Yesterday I was able try the mission “Into the Depth” as the Overlord. The game was very quick… I think we played only 30 minutes. The heros won with two cards left on the pile, while the Overlord only archivied one wound on two heros. Overall the game played ok, there were two moments were the heros blocked themself, so two heros had to skip their turn. Which was kind of interesting to see and I think I like this opportunity. Apart from that it was a smooth game. The game is pretty much luck depending, but still it feels like the heros have an advantage on this map. They can get to easy to the right door. Maybe it’s because they choose randomly the fastest way or they got some lucky rolls, but as I mentioned they opened the door with 2 cards left on the pile even though I played the delay card and I only played to delay the heros not to cripple one of them. I think the map would be better with another door the heros have to open.

    We realy enjoyed the exploring part of the game. Don’t knowing what’s behind the next door is great! With only one door between the entrance and exit it felt kind of a minor feature and we would love to get more of it in a dungeon. We also felt that the dungeon itself is a bit small in this mission and the others as well. Sure with the small timelimit of a mission they can’t get to big, but especialy with the exploring it feels kind of tiny. You only get to discover one or at it’s best two times in this dungeon, we would love to see more like 4 or 5 times in it. The heros have such a high movement, which is not needed in these dungeons. They can just walk nearly everywhere without need to consider their movement.
    A bigger dungeon would also increase the length of a game, because with the short timelimit and the small map the game is a bit to quick in my opinion. It shouldn’t take 3 hours, but from 1-2 hours would be better. Sure there need to be variety on the maps, but with the exploring part there is at least a bit of it.

    We also noticed that the chest on this map is (in our opinion) pretty useless. The only reason we can imagine the heros want to get there is, when there would be teasure in it they could keep in the next map. At the moment the chest is in the same room as the exit and it’s a bit of the track. Also the wizard is needed to open it, so only one of the four characters can get its content. It distrects from the goal to get out of the map, which is already in sight. So the wizard have to get away from the main path in order to get it, so he can’t help the rest of the group to get out. This happens in the last two rounds and I realy don’t see a need for it in these rounds. Maybe there are possible scenarios, where the heros want to open this chest, but we think that would mainly happen because someone is gready or when the wizard has to open the door on his own, which will persumably never happen. We think the chest could only be useful, if it would not be in the same room as the exit.

  11. Danny says:

    I’ve had quite a few games now with a couple of different people, and everyone has enjoyed the games. The game is travelling along very nicely 🙂

    I only have a few comments;

    1) I haven’t read other peoples comments above, and I’m sure it’s been brought to your attention already, but just in case it hasn’t…in the Beta rules the Journey From The West Adventure B Adventure description has been simply cut and paste from Journey From The West Adventure A. Obviously Adventure B Heroes are different, but what about the Overlord and Victory Conditions?

    2) If at all possible, could we keep the timed adventures to an absolute bare minimum please. They are not as fun as non-timed adventures.

    3) I mentioned this before quite sometime ago on here somewhere, but I’ll mention it again. I really think that it would be better presenting Armour values as need to hit, not need to beat. It is one less function your brain has to perform and during long game sessions when your are constantly comparing numbers, it can get draining so any opportunity that exists to reduce brain fatigue should be taken. Also, I think when this game goes to retail, because of the type of boardgame it is, it will likely see a lot of generally non-dedicated or very casual boardgamers buying it and playing it, likely with kids too, and I just think it would be easier to understand if it was explained as, and presented as, need to hit not need to beat. For instance, to hit the Barbarian you look at his card and see a 3+…not a 2 and then work out that you need to see 3 pips to hit him. It seems like a small thing when isolated in an example like that, but over a long gaming session and/or to people unfamiliar with gaming on anything more than a casual level, it can be one thing that just isn’t needed…and its just look neater and smoother if you just have to look at the card and instantly know what you need to see on the dice for them to be successful.

    • Matt Price says:

      I’d second Danny’s comment about armor. It’s just easier to see and interpret: 3+ vs. 2. The “2” is a bit harder to interpret and requires remembering one more thing. Was it meet or beat? The 3+ is less ambiguous and a bit easier on the casual gamer (and certainly welcome by the more hard core gamer!). Just one less thing to fumble through as you’re playing.

      • eriochrome says:

        I think it is better at beat the armor since that keeps it consistent with beat the defender die in the pairwise comparisons. Otherwise you have one were you meet it and the other where you have to beat the value which I think is more prone to issues. It is easier to adjust armors up by one to make it meet change the defender comparison from beat to meet totally changes the probabilities.

        • Danny says:

          I’m not sure I follow your last sentence mate.

          In any case, I disagree that having the armour value as a to hit number would cause a problem. Quite simply, you look at the card see what you need to roll and roll the dice. Any that don’t reach that number are discarded. You then make the dice comparisons. I don’t see the logic in keeping one action more difficult than it needs to be when you could make it easier….but meh, it is just a feedback suggestion 🙂

        • eriochrome says:

          Danny, what I was trying to say is that if you want a system that is uniform (attacker always needs to beat Armor and Defender Die or Attacker just needs to tie/match Armor and Defender Die), then the change from what is written now beat to just needing to tie is a trivial modification for Armor since you just adjust everyones armor value up one point but it is not a trivial modification for the Die comparisons since it makes a 6 die from defender a losable roll as opposed to an unbeatable roll. That changes how easy it is to hurt people.

          I understand that you were just suggesting changing the Armor part making the system non uniform which is fine. Not that many games use uniform mechanics for stuff like this since you just learn as you play whether you want to meet or beat (or even roll low) for any particular die roll. That should happen pretty fast in this game since there is just the one type of test. The issue is probably more that many games us a meet the target number standard than beat the target number so there is a little mental hysteresis here.

      • Quirkworthy says:

        It’s been both ways round at various stages in the process, and people complained both times. That being the case (and as it’s only presentational anyway – the actual mechanics are the same) I’ve put it back to how it used to be in DKH. Nobody ever mentioned it as an issue then. I also prefer it this way round 🙂

        • mastertugunegb says:

          For the most part Dwarf king’s Hold and Project Pandora are not too different from the Defense values in their Kings of War/Warpath 2.0 tabletop stat blocks. Unit 17 has better than average Corporation Marine ‘Defense’ (Armour Value 4= Warpath Defense 5+ like for regular Enforcer protection) but then either their armour works better in tight spaces or the Marines have been issued with near enough Enforcer grade protection to keep their small force alive for the long haul.

          You get used to it quickly enough anyway (the DS:DKQ method of reading dice that is).

  12. eriochrome says:

    Jake, I wanted to say even though I have a lot of critical comments that I really like what I see with the game. I have noticed that most of my comments are more in the grey area between the core and advanced games, trying to add a little more of the advanced into the core (more varied players skills, different campaign structures, etc.) which I am guessing will actually appear gradually in the expansions as you have to worry about for example targets of different height (halflings and goblins) being smaller than standard furniture and not just the bookcase.

  13. Danny says:

    Jake, what are your thoughts on the following tweak (or something similar) to the Minor Spell, Break Ward?

    Same Name, same range etc, etc, however;

    “When cast, roll 2D6, on any score other than a double 1, a single magical ward in an adjacent square is reduced in strength by 1. When the ward’s strength reaches zero, it is broken.”

    As it currently stands, I just feel a little flat and unenthused when casting this spell. It’s as though I’m just following a process with a forgone conclusion, it seems like a robotic or mechanical process with no risk of failure and no induced excitement at the prospect of failure and things going awry. It doesn’t seem like magic, or that I am casting a spell, it feels more like I am stacking a pile of chips until I get to X before opening a door.

    It doesn’t really matter what mechanic is used, I just feel it needs to have the slightest chance of failure (or getting worse even – “This time, the magical ward reacts negatively to the magical tampering and gains in strength by 1.”…it would add excitement, even if only a little, and also add flavour to the uncertain nature of magic.

    • Shane says:

      I feel that with time limits door defences are perhaps the biggest speed bump in the game. If a door is defence 2 it takes 3 turns to move through (turn 1 move and break ward), turn 2 break ward the door opens but you can’t move. Turn 3 move through door. Adding any failure rate to that could create painful level losses/reduce the choices a Mage has. 15 turn game with 3 level 2 doors to get through… Seriously reduces the choices of that hero for the game.

  14. Smud says:

    Another idea on the game design.
    The comparing dice checks to smash the doors feels a bit awkward to me. I would very much prefer just a check against the armor (or a specific value) compared with the need of a specific amount of successes. This is pretty near to the original check, but it would just feel a bit different.
    It wouldn’t make a big difference for the balancing but it would just feel a bit more realistic. There is only one active side in a real fight against a door. 😉

    This would just increase the variety of the different checks a little and in my opinion it fits great between the combat checks and the breaking ward mechanism.

    • eriochrome says:

      I think the idea is really not to have a variety of different check types. Also if you need a set number of success what happens when you have an injured Ranger or uninjured Mage at a 3 success door. They cannot get through. I guess you can say the same things about the wards but Jake said every spellcaster has access to Break ward. With the current system everyone has a non zero chance of breaking through any mundane lock.

      • eriochrome says:

        If I had to guess I bet the locking picking skill will just allow you to use a number (probably 4 or 5) other than your fight value but use the exact same mechanic.

        One of the ideas of the dice comparison mechanic is both sides are involved in every roll for the game. Neither of the sides sits back while the other does a bunch of stuff waiting for something to do.

        • Smud says:

          I fear the same, when it comes to lock picking :(… Involve every side in a game roll isn’t necessary in my opinion. Some times it’s nice to just lay back and enjoy ;). Especialy when it comes to passive objects. In real life they don’t vary their resistance, so why should they do it in the game?

          If you don’t like the possibility that a hero can’t open such door, it’s possible to give the doors a sort of wounds (please with a different name… maybe resistance). These could be carried over from the attacks.
          So even a hero with two dice could crack the door, if he has enough time.
          This mechanism would also encourage to even more teamplay, because it’s faster to open a door with more heros and every one has a noteable impact on it.
          Not just another chance to get it done.

      • Smud says:

        Yes I think the intention could be to have no variety of different check types. Personaly I think that isn’t a good decision a bit variety isn’t a problem for anyone. As long as they feel naturaly.
        With this change there is the possibilty, that a injured Mage cannot open a specific door (without a boost!). I think that’s totaly ok, because in reality it would be the same and it would encourage more teamplay to get the stronger characters to the door.

        • eriochrome says:

          Stronger character does break down the door much more easily now so I think there might be a reason to use him even if it is not impossible for the weak characters.

  15. Smud says:

    Look at my comment above, just an idea which could solve your problem with my suggestion.

    I think the main differents is, the little higher complexity to make a decision, because it is not possible to get through the door simply because you got a lucky roll. With this mechanism it’s possible to create a higher variety of different doors, which can add a lot to the game.

    There is also the chance to get great team moments. When everyone is involved to break a door and the last character accomplished the last “wound” to the door and it cracks.
    These are way better moments than just everyone trys it on their own.

    • Smud says:

      wrong reply button…. 😦

    • eriochrome says:

      Maybe we will see more variety in the obstacles in the other campaigns or advanced rules.

      When you say that doors do not fight back, reminds me of someone I knew who broke his hand hitting a door one time.

      • Smud says:

        😀 Yes these things happen… My brother went through a glass door once… Bad idea!

        But that’s kind of another thing. The opponent who throws the dice for the door alters the resistance with this roll, that’s far from logical.
        I would love to see this mechanism at least in the advanced rules but I think he could add a lot of good scence to the base campaign already.

        One note on the checks that involves everyone. The person who will be involved is the overlord, which at the moment is involved in realy every roll. Compared to the heros he has the upper hand in the roll count, so he doesn’t need it ;).

        • eriochrome says:

          I guess the question shows up as whole rolls for the bad guys for AI overlord, player across from you maybe.

        • eriochrome says:

          We might also see a mission where the overlord is trying to get monsters through the doors. There is so much one good do that Jake is probably already overloaded with ideas.

        • Smud says:

          One additional scence, which this system can create. Think of a door which is nearly broken from the barbarians axe, but has still one more wound. The barbarian could move away do deal with another foe or smash another object, while a weaker character like the wizard or the elve could finish the job instead of wasting their turn. Maybe the first of them didn’t manage to do it but there is another space next to the door so the other could also try.

          I’m getting excitated about this system… On the narrative site I think it’s much better. It’s not more complexity but it adds a lot of variety and depth.

        • Smud says:

          Another advantage of this mechanism: it’s better calculable.
          So it makes it easier to balance dungeons, when it comes to the timelimit.

          Sorry, I’m getting a bit excited about this rule. But it represents in a great way the image I have in mind, when I think of smashing a big door :).
          Jake, please think about it.

        • Quazai says:

          I really this door idea Smud. Seems like it could be used to add some interesting variety. Hopefully Jake will consider it for the Advanced Rules 🙂

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