Thursday, January 14, 2016

Exploring the Darkness, Adam & Anna, response to Kingdom Death Beta scenarios

I had a ton of fun with the freehand on Adam's shield, felt like if any place had the Phoenix design on it, it should be the game designer's overt reference (to the point where it's closer to a personal avatar).



Anna didn't have anywhere for a similar sort of freehand, though I kept the pair in a very similar palate.

Something I found interesting when the beta rules were released for the various one-shot characters is how loosely they were with their WYSIWYG gaming- for instance, Adam doesn't actually have his shield or spear, Anna doesn't have her sword, and I certainly wouldn't say either of those look like masks they're wearing.


Open Beta Scenarios
Well, also in here, I've played quite a few of the beta one-shot scenarios for Kingdom Death, and since there's no official place for them, this seemed as good as any.

These all assume that survivors have departed so get regular things like armor and armor set bonuses that trigger when you depart.

The beta scenarios are on KD's site, here.


One shot fights
Paul
setup: got tall grass

very early: lost dash (and got 1 frenzy), got king's step (in place of clutch fighter), got a -1 speed critical

Then... not much happened. Kept rolling poorly and usually the trap was in the top 5 cards. The survival tricks were enough to keep me at 4+ survival. If I ever hit 3 or fewer, I'd start using the bone dagger until I had 4+ then switch back to damage. With extra sense and speed -1, this meant taking some fairly low damage except for a period when I had 0 survival.

So, a bit of mostly good early luck, then a lot of bad.

The big question: the trap is based on cards in the wound stack. There's nothing I could find that said this was equivalent to wounds dealt, etc., so played the trap as interruption only and not damage. If life is supposed to be fully equivalent to wounds taken, I'd have taken like 15 traps, and presumably would have died pretty easily.

Either way, without the grass, the fight would have been almost nothing but standing there hitting each other. There's strategy in attack choice, and I guess whether or not to spend survival to avoid trauma rolls (never did) but the fight was very flat feeling. With the grass, there were some interesting enough choices on where to stand to herd the king's man into the grass and follow him, whether to push the advantage or stay in the grass, etc.

Balance: probably balanced if my trap reading was correct, very punishing otherwise (that much damage not spread over multiple attackers (over the course of the game) and without being able to prepare with a shield would have been rough.

Fun: not particularly. Paul is a nice build, but it felt like it lost a lot of depth with so little movement and only one survivor vs. one monster.

Second time through
setup: tall grass again

This one went faster, was better at gaming the king's steps for the right number of hits, but also took more damage.

Kept track of the traps this time around, by playing it without wounds, I avoided 3 heavy damages/knock downs and 2 severes that wouldn't have been too rough- other than the speed penalty, luckier than the last one.

This fight was much faster, but still not very exciting.

Third fight:
Paul got hit with the auto-knockdown move then coup de graced dead without doing anything.

Fourth fight: tall grass again, got the king's man down to 4-ish health, but also didn't watch out for Perfect Strike, which probably cost us the game.

Final thoughts: tall grass made the fight more interesting and more doable (in both cases, since positioning and following the king's man into or out of the grass due to reactions gets/loses a buff. A tough, decent fight. Otherwise, pretty balanced/okay taking into consideration the problem with 1-on-1's. I like the difficulty vs. reward (both high). The petal lantern being Other is pretty rough since the King's Man has enough knockdown without the automatic one, don't think I played that either time I won.

Messenger of Humanity
The first fight (taking advantage of the chest bonus armor, with helmet penalty) had the messenger go down after 5 kills and without moving.

The second fight (avoiding the extra armor for better accuracy/defense) had the messenger go down after 14 kills and slowly moving towards a short edge to fight fewer baddies

The third fight, I realized that I could keep it down to 1 mob able to attack/two the other half the time.With some lucky severe rolls, was able to win.

Balance: seems swingy? IDK, other than gambling defenses and if you want to fight more or fewer at a time, and the helmet which seems like a bad idea, it seems like it's mostly about luck, though obviously some skill since I got progressively better kill counts, though I think one could figure it out sooner and then see almost no strategy past the opening decisions.

Fun: without multiple survivors, hit locations, AI flows, with little movement, and mostly just a bunch of rolling dice and deciding when to block, this neither felt like kingdom death nor was it much fun. Felt like the strategy was mostly gambling, as above. An okay representation of increasing frenzy on the messenger's part, but not a dynamic fight.

Final Thoughts: I thought it was boring, and thought that the rewards (okay) and penalties (kinda' bad) weren't proportional to the chances of winning (pretty rough).

Messenger of the First Story
I got stone columns, which did nothing. It was a pretty close fight, two severe hits (one negated by the acanthus) before I got the kill. Felt a little like Guts, where once I figured out I needed the evasion, the rest was pretty easy. I liked the intimidate interactions and the tiny deck.

More fun & balanced and generally faster than the other vs. 1 scenarios, still not the most exciting.

Second fight: lost at around 4 lion health left due to more difficult rolling and gambling survivor on offense more. Our survivors (year 6) scraped by with no deaths.

Final thoughts: I like this one pretty well. The rewards are nice, and the loss got us a free, decently hard fight w/ risks/rewards associated.

Aya
Ran behind the tree. The first time it rolled a 1, I ran aya to its blind spot. After it went, I dashed to get to the objective. Then, I threw my spear next to the hollow and ran around it, from cover to a position it would end up not seeing me from. Then I ran and doused my lantern. Then I ran again and ended the game.

Didn't end up using my sword.

It was a pretty fun little puzzle. I expect the intent was to run around the outside, but there wasn't much of a gamble dashing past the first, wide opening.

The antelope doesn't have a speed, assumed level 1 for when it noticed me at a distance, though I don't think it mattered.

Second fight: I did it again later with a group, we similarly dashed across the open close gap, using different moves and not the blind spot. Again, seemed pretty easy and again assumed level 1 movement.

Final thoughts:
The rewards are pretty strong on this for having no timing restriction or penalty, and it's pretty easy.

Messenger of Courage
in order
antelope: it never landed a hit (roll), just ran around with diabolical (did some damage but nothing notable)
phoenix: hit with two levels of dreaded decade, did some nasty damage
lion: did a surprising amount of damage, probably because I kept hitting the trap. I expect I would have taken some serious hurt if I'd done it earlier

Not particularly challenging, but enjoyable enough. I think it was largely because of the large damage output on both sides, which made it faster and not feel like standing and punching. The reward's pretty neat and seems reasonable for a long though not particularly challenging fight. Didn't need the fairy, don't think I used the acanthus.

Adam & Anna
I stood in the grass with both of them (whole game except when they needed to chase down Lick Wounds), every turn had one defend for total +4 defense, and one auto-damage (more reliable, no crits but also no chance of retaliation). So, effectively it was whether I could take around 15 hits spread between two +4 defense Survivors. I didn't use the Priority target action, since I was always equidistant.

It was a pretty close fight, with most armor down and starting to take heavy hits (no severes).

Thoughts: again, issues with positioning not being relevant (due to wanting to stand base to base) though I guess if I'd been attacking normally that would have mattered more. In retrospect, I guess I could have gambled on hiding behind the Lion.

Allied Hunts
Candy
We did this year 2, just after getting aya's weapons. It's a fun little slight variant fight. Nothing spectacular, but it's basically just a lightly modified L1 lion, so not much we expected.

We did it in another settlement around year 8 since we were low on population and clobbered it as much as a regular level 1 lion.

Thoughts: Very low risk (less than a normal hunt since you're taking fewer survivors) for some decent rewards (decent item and survivor). Is that +1 pop a new survivor or candy (i.e. with her stats) specifically? I liked it as a basic alternative.

Kara
We did this around year 7 with a fairly poorly equipped settlement. Nothing crazy happened other than Kara losing her rock before making contact once, just fought it around the same as a regular one.

Thoughts: The fight was a lot of fun, and I liked the change the butcher trap added, along with the harder hunt without needing to fight an actual level 2 monster. I liked kara well enough. I thought the whole thing was balanced nicely.

However, I don't like Kara's rock. It disappeared the first time we used it. Then we got it back after winning. Then it's gone forever next time we see a 1. I get grand weapons generally having a weakness, but a 1/10 chance every time you roll of permanently losing an item is not enjoyable. Having its use expire in a game; needing to spend actions to retrieve it (like vs. some antelope reactions); having a decent stat line but the choice to spend it (like a souped-up founding stone), etc. would be preferable. Even being able to re-buy it and a unique status would be better than nothing. No one wanted to use her rock after the fight since it was so unreliable.

Nemesis fights
A placeholder/acknowledgement- Haven't played either of these yet, very impressed by the concept of hybrid decks, but we haven't gotten our settlement in the window yet...