Monday, September 28, 2015

Lantern-side Stories - Kingdom Death First Story miniatures, and 7 reports EDIT: 8th

So, Kingdom Death is all it's cracked up to be. In my not-so-categorical-opinion.

I haven't explored the multipose kits other than to look around, they look nice for multipose but I prefer the monopose since they're dynamic and I really don't care about WYSIWYG when it comes to a huge volume of gear and likely character deaths. (I plan to eventually do a bunch of cool characters that are whatever I think looks good, with a decent variety.)
Allister doing his strut. (He was Squid, to us.)

For these five, the only modifications I made were to the bases (again, plaster casting and carving, still experimenting a bit) and the lion's teeth, which I thought looked really weird, and not in a cool body horror way.

Props to whoever thought of putting all the starter scenario minis all on one mixed sprue. An annoyed glare to whoever didn't get the instructions site up for when minis were first shipping.

I'll be doing a review later, but for now, our first few reports. We played 7 games in the 5 days since I got this, so suffice to say our initial impressions are positive.

Year 1R
Ezra, AKA, Wella, in a pretty cool defensive
stance. Too bad lanterns aren't shields.

Nothing to pick other than names, so names it was: Snowball 1, Alexia, Squid, and Wella N. Dowd

We fought the first (mini) White Lion, which was a lot of fun, and had a few threatening moments, but flew through with flying colors: All 4 survivors made it through, with my own Snowball getting an injury, courage, and a lion claw ripped off with his own teeth somehow.

We were lucky and got the maximum of 10 survivors, and settled Mt. Rushmore, discovering our Lantern Hoard and building our three suggested locations. With our extra endeavor, we innovated Hovels. Wella stayed home to contemplate existence (+1 Understanding), and Chuck rose to the challenge, and took her place for the next hunt. We spent all our various resources buying some armor and weapons, most notably getting Chuck a combo set for better defense and the ability to look in the monster deck, and a ranged weapon. Speaking of which, a nice little element of the game is that all gear is intended as communal, so your settlement will keep getting better even if veterans die along the way.

We had enough fun with it that we immediately played our second session.

I know it's not white- you try getting something white to not look orange
with orange OSL! :p
Year 2R
We chose a level 1 Lion as our quarry, Snowball got his foot in a trap and then we got ambushed by the Lion (2 turns in a row). This time, we had scenery- four patches of grass (better defense and you can hide) and one giant head (obstacle, gives range buffs if you can climb on it).

Squid did a fine job plinking the Lion at a distance, and Snowball became our campaign's first casualty after the Lion seemed to particularly hate him (even outside of when he was, for a bit, the Priority Target).

Being able to tell what the next moves would be was great, since those were also the next cards to take injuries, so, it's always nice for a support option to be a real option.

We also learned that survival is most important for actually surviving (dodging likely killing blows is probably a better use than any of the cooler, fancier moves).

We didn't get to the settlement phase this session since we were tired, and haven't gotten back to this campaign since one of our housemates has a busier schedule.

Zachary (Ron) was the hardest to work with, with both
weird lighting and one bit that didn't fit quite.
Year 1D
Having a different group, we started a new settlement (Ron, Shirelle, Chordette, Harold, settling New Detroit). We had a lot worse luck this time, and got two of our four starting survivors killed (we were too cautious with conserving our expendable weapons- again hammering in a guaranteed success is better than getting fancy- the lure's there, and it probably pays off when you're a little tougher, but I feel like it's too risky at least early). We also experimented with using fists instead of stones when the situation presented itself, which opened up an interesting course: fists have worse accuracy and power, but are one of very few early weapons that have improved Luck (chance of crit). I'm still not sure if doubling our crit range was worth taking away 1/5 of our chance to damage, esp. when there can be repercussions for failed damage rolls.

We also only got 6 additional survivors. So, when it came to dealing with our dead, we decided to make this an experiment since we weren't expecting New Detroit to last as long as Rushmore. We went with cannibalism, which gives everyone insanity, and the consolation prize of a random general monster resource every time.

With fewer resources, we had fewer decisions, mostly bought a little new armor and mostly better weapons.

Year 2D
This Lion fight went spectacularly, kind-of. We trounced the Lion with no serious injury until it had 2 AI cards left in its deck, and then realized that the only AI card in the discard was the one we'd just played, a non-damaging action that gives everyone a permanent buff: after cutting off the Lion's paw, if it attempts to use it, you learn a bit about monsters as it feebly does nothing.

We also had a rock we could throw for an auto-wound.

We looked around, and there was no ambiguity, our first system breakdown. It would just loop, giving us Understanding (one of a few mini-XP tracks), so we all sat around gawking for a few rounds as the lion limped and we nearly reached Survivor Nirvana* with 1 complete Understanding level-up and nearing the second (we didn't get there, since you can only benefit once per phase and we already had our fighting buff-instead we finished it off).

*Not a real thing, but maxing out the XP track.

Back at town, we had our first new kid, who we raised sternly (you pick methods, and we continued with this as our belligerence experiments settlement), which got a bunch of combat buffs and a mental disorder. We also rolled terribly (partially because of our kid methods), and ended up losing all four of our non-statted (not yet played) survivors to wandering off and killing themselves in pairs as we tried to bolster our ranks with more kids, for a net of 3 fewer survivors and 1 hulked-out weirdo.
An aside: Don't roll 1's. Kingdom Death random events are not for the faint of heart. I'd hazard the large, if not vast, majority of times you roll for some check other than a basic attack roll, a 1 (on a d10) means the survivor dies. In this case, we rolled two 1's on 4 dice, on a table where each 1 meant the couple killed themselves, which was unlucky but also far from extremely improbable. 
If you don't like this, you probably shouldn't be playing. There's "Hero Mode," i.e. Easy Mode, where survivor death is replaced by a 1-cycle removal as they recover, which I think could be fun if you really wanted to play with eventual super-survivors, but it seems against the spirit of the game, and we're not planning to try KD-Lite until beating the game once on unmodified/standard-difficulty play.
We decided it might be worth another White Lion fight rather than trying something tougher since we were down to 7 survivors.

Lucy (AKA... Lucy, coincidentally) was my favorite, thought I got her lighting and base looking really nice.
Year 3D
We obliterated the third White Lion. Rondo, son of Rando and Ronda, quickly became a group favorite. I played him since everyone agreed I roll terribly on Severe Injury tables, so I should take the one resistant to them.

We lost 1 survivor to a hole we found in the ground, and were forced to try another Intimacy due to a table which, you guessed it, got us another pair of dead Survivors (that's about 1/125 odds, now). This was starting to get a bit discouraging, since we'd run out of non-fighting survivors to have kids, and had been fine barely holding on to a fighting force, meaning losing one of our fairly experienced fighters was a big blow.

We completed our first set of armor (Rondo got the Rawhide set for a lot more survival points flying around), and for the first time we started being able to pick better weapons and start to specialize.
...And a family photo of models from the First Story.

Year 4D
The Butcher came to town to wreck us up- we got him pretty good, though I think a bit of it was luck (for instance, we never made contact a hit location that would have broken one of our many fragile weapons when using one), but we were also playing/planning better by now. We were very happy with the formula of the party tank drawing attacks while the rest played hit & run- it worked pretty well despite the clear game counter of sometimes attacking further threats. He was terrifying, but we killed him.

Then the dreaded event sequence.

Rondo and Chordette (our most- and least-favorite survivors, as the rules dictated) fought each other in a reenactment of a hunt, which got Rondo killed due to another low event roll.

We were now down to 3 survivors, so forced ourselves to use our last Intimacy opportunity to get up to 4 again. Not a 1, but a 3 this time, which was nearly as bad- still lost a Survivor and 2 wasn't something we were ready for. Also, more importantly, of our 13 population, we'd lost 2 to fighting and 9 to bad event rolls.

You know that thing I wrote about "Not for the Faint of Heart"? Well, this was just demoralizing. Having the group tank (who also had the highest remaining survival) effectively have one whiff result in a death was just not fun. It's fine that survivors die. It's different when they go down without a fight. In situations where they weren't even doing anything that was unavoidable (getting mesmerized, getting ambushed, etc.).

We decided it was time for a house rule. There was precedent: A number of events had a "Spend all survival, min 1, to live." We modified this, as
When a Survivor dies during an Event, spend all the Survivor's Survival (min 2) to prevent all consequences of the death.
So, it takes more and you don't get any potential benefits. We did a re-wind to Rondo's death (actually the first, when we thought about it, where a Survivor had had 2 Survival when it died) and went on with another path in the campaign, post-house rule.

We also realized that the Intimacy event requires consenting individuals, which is both progressive and great to include in a game, when entertainment is all about "no means yes," but also a way out of being forced to risk 2 survivors. Our settlement is scared of sex since it apparently makes you wander off to die, so we're not positive if it's the intent, but we're interpreting the event as a "may."

Year 5D
We'd skipped our first Screaming Antelope fight, and now we came back to deal with one. We got some ridiculous luck on the Hunt Phase. We had one survivor fall in love with a rock, which she permanently kept in her inventory; discovered a dying prospector, leaving us his Portcullis Key, then in the same hunt, found the mysterious Portcullus(!) and entered it successfully, with odds of this happening in a sequence of one hunt being about 1/6,000 if I did that correctly. This got us the Perfect Crucible, which, if we had a ton of resources, would get us the Perfect Slayer, which would also cost us d10 population, so despite having access to an epic weapon, we'll probably never get one.

The Antelope was a surprisingly easy fight, so we thought we may have done stuff wrong. We decided to hunt our first level 2 quarry next time.

We realized a couple things we were doing incorrectly, but the big one was that only Hunt Events are supposed to be uninformed decisions: The Hunt is the unknown wilds, etc., while I guess the rest are things where you're allowed to make informed decisions. This would have saved at least one survivor (would have never chosen to roll 4 dice when a double would kill you), and we wouldn't have taken super-bad-time child rearing, even if Rondo is great. I'm not positive any more that the house rule is all that necessary, with the understanding that some decisions are just built as the obvious greater risk.

Year 6D
We decided to fight that level 2 Antelope, and ran into a level 3 Lion instead :/.

So... not knowing what level 2 is, we sure found that level 3 is doom. It basically ran around smearing our Survivors' faces across the ground, besides the embarrassing shoulder punt of death that killed one while it was trying to get at another.

To add insult to injury, once we were down to one survivor with 2 broken legs, it pranced around healing to full health since there was no way he could keep up.

New Detroit is no more... At least we went down fighting?

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