Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Sword-of a Problem - Kingdom Death Hand and continued Seven Swordsmen campaign

Man, is this guy a jerk.

My group talks about him like your jerk older brother who doesn't particularly care about beating you, he just wants to boss you around. I'm kind of torn about the fight- it's an interesting mechanical choice, but the rewards for actually beating him up aren't really worth the extra risks involved, so it ends up being really passive.

I'd gotten kind of tired of painting orange light on Kingdom Death guys, so decided to switch it up and go with a cold blue on the Hand. I pushed it to a very pale palate, with pretty stark highlights from his one weird hand lantern on his belt.

The Rawhide Dame pinup was a pretty fun model- I like her cape, pose, and hair, and rawhide + sword is a pretty nice early combo (and way better with instant sword mastery  for the below campaign), but, well, I thought a thong was a bit awkward. So, I decided that she was wearing tight-fitting pants instead. It doesn't really do anything about the likely wardrobe malfunction, but, as with a lot of my pinups, I wanted to give her a little more dignity back.


(This is continuing our experiment with 7 effectively immortal survivors, combining the Seven Swordsman and Hero Mode.)

Year 6 cont'd
Immortal survivors gives us some opportunities. We don't have Dash yet and were bored of fighting level 1 lions, so decided to hop up to a level 2 Screaming Antelope since, unlike a Lion, its extra move would not necessarily result in isolating a Survivor.

We had a grueling hunt, in which basically everyone lost a ton of health (one survivor had more heavy injuries than armor points) and unluckily our survivor with all our fragile gear (Wrath) was the one to get hit with shattering rain, losing some nice stuff. Then, at the end, we had some amazing luck, and Sloth ate some stew that instantly earned him weapon specialization with his new club, and we met a nice lady who returned us to full health. The combination of events had given us a lot of courage and some understanding, from none to a decent bit.

We still went into the Antelope fight with -1 speed tokens all around, but were otherwise okay.

We learned (remembered) that a bow is extremely difficult to get any mileage out of without Dash, but managed to scrape by with a lot disorders.

The fight was actually a ton of fun, since we didn't have Dash so we needed to use more strategy.

Year 7
On the way back to town, Wrath found a weird spot on the way back to town, and she came out a he, and Envy found a feather she liked too much.

We made another flail for our now paired flail fighter, and discovered Ammonia while trying to figure out how to run more.

So, we went out out and fought another level 2 Antelope.

Another ridiculously long hunt. This year, we ran across a trail of corpses, leading to yet another knight, who yelled at us so scary that Pride went deaf, but he also gave us a sword (we said "no, thanks" to his gift of an oversized shield no one wanted). Then we found someone who offered to cure Pride's deafness, though Pride did get twitchy after that momentary deafness (that would be "Hyperactive"), which was a great trade.

In the showdown, everyone got their weapon proficiencies, though Pride lost an arm to punching the Antelope in the giant mouth (probably not the smartest of moves).

Year 8
When we got back to town, we held a council, and the oldest of us (all the same age) told the young'uns (ditto) about some crazy lion. So, we got the ability to fight the super-lucrative legendary lion we'd encountered in our second campaign, now that we remembered it exists. Awesome! (Once we got goddamn Dash, that is.)

The Hooded Knight came back, and nearly inevitably, Wrath got the sword. This continues the trend of the same player getting the twilight sword every time: Since we've started playing, my wife's active character has gotten every single twilight sword we've ever gotten in a settlement. In one, her twilight knight died, and she got another one on her new character.

Now, for the most part this is predictable (highest xp is highest), but we've had the veteran killed or hers get random extra xp, too. It's pretty bizarre. In addition, I'm pretty sure she's gotten all but two cursed items we've ever gotten in more than a half-dozen campaigns.

...And we tried for Paint again. Didn't get it, but we weren't going to complain too much about scrap smelting. We decided to roll with it, and got two pickaxes to start mining, since we were only two scrap and a bone away. (Now we're back up to exactly 1/3 chances of hitting Paint each year, c'mon, game, give us some luck...)

We were... kind of out of insanity padding, so decided to go for a level 1 Lion, since we didn't want more insanity attacks, and didn't want to risk a Cunning lion or the Phoenix buffeting us around.

Year 9
...But then we didn't. The expansions came in, and we were getting impatient because our new Dragon campaign didn't allow us to fight new quarries.

So, instead we hunted a Spidicules.

We got some pretty cool hunt rewards due to a series of lucky rolls- we most notably ended up with a really creepy sword. It was a pretty unusual scenario with some new cool mechanics. We'd mostly beat it, but near the end we started to gamble over more rewards, and almost lost a survivor or two, but didn't.

Year 10
We got the plague, but were in an odd position where we didn't really want anyone extra to come on the next hunt, so let our guys "die." We built the new spider location, and innovated Nightmare Training, since none of the other options were very good, and we'd never gotten it before.

We decided to push it so only two survivors fought the king's man. We were kinda' gaming things, but we didn't want someone turning into a king's man, so were going to send them in there to learn King's Step and then, uh, fall unconscious, rather than get cursed.

We got both of them king's step, but both were pretty much crippled due to not rolling low(!) enough on the death table.

Year 11
So... we were down to 3 survivors we could take (1 was afraid of the dark; 1 had been kidnapped; 2 had just died).

We went in with no intent to do anything tricky, just a straight up rescue mission for our kidnapped friend. We slaughtered the spider, but not before it had the chance to knock two weapon proficiency out of our fist and tooth specialist (no longer).

Then we rolled poorly and someone else was taken.

Year 12
We got assaulted by spiders, which we survived, and then got drums, which brought back our least-crippled survivor, but at the end of the day, we decided to call it quits. The experiment had run its course.

The final Tally (in short, roughly in order of usefulness):
Greed: Red Fist fighter, only positive or neutral stats, skip every other hunt.
Pride: Skip every other fight, some nice stats, fist and tooth specialist.
Sloth: Only positive or neutral stats, can't wear stinky stuff.
Wrath: Only positive or neutral stats, can't wear stinky stuff, needs waist armor.
Lust: High strength and luck, -1 evasion and accuracy, deaf, just got past being afraid of the dark.
Envy:  Steals loot, movement 4, no fighting arts.
Gluttony: Some high stats, needs consumable gear and can't consume, can't dash (but we don't have it anyway), movement 3.

Final thoughts:
Hero Mode
The easily-disdained as easy-mode variant is surprisingly interesting. It's unclear if you get a death principle since no one technically dies, but we assumed you don't. Not getting a death principle is actually kind of a big penalty. If you lose, your death principle gets you a consolation prize of some resources or actions, so at least the year isn't completely lost, and it gets you a smattering of bonuses depending on which you picked.  Not having one means you just don't progress at all, that year.

The stat buff is pretty huge, since some of them are hard to get (speed and accuracy in particular), while others take an item or two to get (monster grease for evasion; monster tooth necklace for strength or two, etc.).

What we really enjoyed from it was the lack of survivor consequence- generally not gambling your hard-earned weapon proficiencies or cool fighting arts meant we had a lot more fun taking (often stupid) risks. It made the game more entertaining and much faster.

Seven Swordsmen
Well, starting off with sword mastery was a huge buff, but the rest wasn't actually that much fun. We thought that Hero Mode would have balanced things out for the most part, but what we learned instead was that the game is built around having disposable survivors. Part of it was the aforementioned lack of death principle. A lot of it was just that there are times when survivors just die or are severely messed up. There are times when you need to be able to shrug and say "ah, darn, rolled a 1, someone died" or a few instances, like the King's Man or Spidicules, where someone is automatically lost.

Also, the game kind of breaks down when you have fewer than four survivors able to depart, despite having more in your settlement- there just aren't rules for it, despite there being nominal rules for fewer than four survivors in your settlement.

Like Hero Mode, this variant also denies you some principles.

I'd recommend, if you wanted to play seven swordsmen, to only allow your initial 7 to go to fights, and allow you to get survivors that just add to total population but can't go fight- at least that way you'd have a buffer against random settlement deaths, unless your soul goal is to go down flailing. Also, since it's clearly a Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven reference, those are your peasants you're defending (or having take hits for you).

As built, short of insane luck not killing anyone due to random things (or scheduled things), the settlement will be doomed to fail, so it's kind of a question of whether you believe in just plain old punishingly unfavorable odds- personally, I've never liked that style of play, since I think replay value, if based on difficulty, should be based on skill (in a turn-based game, choices) rather than purely fighting odds.

(So, no, I wouldn't recommend this one.)

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