Monday, December 18, 2017

The Ghost of Kingdom Death 1.3 - The Watcher and campaign years 21-25

Remember when the Watcher was the Big Bad?

Well, he never was all that big and bad, but at least he was the boss. I really wish they'd made him worthy of the title in 1.5 rather than putting in a new boss goal.

Either way, I think the model is a ton of fun, and always enjoy a little mental gymnastics when it comes to trying to essentially invert the colors for a model (bright recesses; dark edges).

Also, I always enjoy playing with seeing how close I came to correct with my inverted aesthetic. I think I hit pretty close to the mark.

(continued from part 1 (including its modifications), part 2part 3part 4)

Year 21
We then went back home to meet a silk storm and the hooded knight, who merrily fought our Twilighter and got him up to 6 proficiency.

We did make the Skleaver and finished the Sunstalker armor, and were just shy of a long-shot Beacon Shield we'd intended to make, and that, plus being down 4 gear slots due to the event meant we were risking one more hunt before the Watcher, which also meant we'd need to face a level 4 Manhunter before taking on the Watcher.

One gear down, we decided to try hunting a Level 2 Spidicules, with the intent to get a bunch of silk and an iron. Well, things didn't go as planned. We got 5 silk, but also somehow managed to get 5 iron with one pick, due to a magical confluence of IIRC 3 different events and some nice rolling. I think the only notably bad thing that happened the whole time was we rolled a 1 for the Forest Gate so needed to take some disorders.

Year 22
A hole opened up in the ground, but we ignored it because another cranky guy with a pistol had shown up... and because the odds of anything good are terrible.

This is also when we officially switched to 1.5 rules, which made us regret not innovating more often earlier, since some new ones were nice. Also, huzzah! New stuff!

Actually describing incorporation: we added everything, fixed the timeline, made sure the Watcher events didn't do anything contradictory, updated our Saviors. And, y'know, tried to be sure we read things correctly. We thought the best thing to do with Saviors, since that caused some conflicts, is to only allow one Savior on a fight, until we run out and then play them normally as updated.

We got a Beacon Shield, a Silk Bodysuit, and Forbidden Dance. A pretty good haul for one year.

Then we fought that Manhunter, and luckily our Transcended masochist took all three traps, but unfortunately she was also our Savior so it the buffs won't last. Also, we really liked our Skleaver (on an almost-master).

Year 22.1
Then, we decided it was time to fight the Watcher, because otherwise we'd need to fight it in year 24.

As is my tradition, commemorating our crew, but only because it's tradition, since :

Heron, Fist and Tooth master, Twilight Swordsman, with a slew of disorders and fighting arts that bizarrely mostly cancel out or do nothing. On a pretty basic rawhide build (there were reasons for this, that take too long to explain, no we don't normally stick deck fixer with our best weapon), plus our beacon shield.

Toucan, grand weapon specialist with a Skleaver, Timeless Eye, and Combo Master, in a Leather build with the Silk Body Suit.

Kestrel, a pretty young survivor whose only real asset was crossarm block, on the Vagabond/Black Sword build.

Grouse, a blue savior with the Cycloid armor, to see how abusable prismatic and their special rules are.

Honestly, this wasn't the most exciting finale crew. I wasn't very satisfied with our armor averaging around 5-6, but it was what we had.

We... well. The Black Swordswoman basically immediately frenzied, making her close to crippled other than decent odds at damage if she could get a retinue buff. But then the Twilight Knight did the rest of the damage, before our powering up Blue Savior could unleash his auto-damage (we checked, and it would have been 3 wounds, meaning the Twilight Sword could have missed one more time than he did). We clobbered the Watcher, again in two survivor rounds. We were a little low strength to deal with him, but the Retinue buff was enough to get us up to around 2+'s instead of around 6+'s.

And... that was that. It was one of our worse Watcher fights, mostly because we've never gotten great survivors in this campaign, but we still chumped him in two rounds, which is still disappointing, because it's still not epic like either of the other bosses were.

We got new events and set up the post game mechanics, and then I swore a lot, because the bonus gear required core monsters. We decided to house rule them in instead of the special level 3 resources, but then found out there was not-yet-incorporated errata that non-white lion level 3's gave the resource that we found out about before our hunt in year 24, so, even better.

Also, I wasn't in love with the new structuring of the game.

In short, I don't think the Watcher was fixed meaningfully. Having a few more heath isn't very amazing. We like a number of the Innovation changes, but that serious dude on the cover of the box and book is still unimpressive. I was actually ready for the fight to be a struggle since...

Year 23
Our first postgame fight was against the Butcher, who seemed slightly less obnoxious.

Our only survivor who was able to spend survival was the last standing because, well, you need to be able to spend survival. She spent her second to last when the Butcher was down to just his basic attack. She hit twice and wounded, then grabbed one of his axes and tore off her own face. Gross.

The worst thing was, we lost our almost- spear master. I don't remember why we made that gamble, I think he had the best stats or something?

Okay, so, I really don't like that level 3 Butcher, but that fight was way more intense than our Watcher fight. I don't get why that one is so easy. I dunno, maybe it's because the Watcher is ultimately too standard, so you can actually prepare for his mechanics?

This returns to a running discussion my group has had: basically, most tough things in Kingdom Death are tough because they circumvent regular game mechanics. I fundamentally disagree with this choice, because I think that breaking the rules should be done very sparingly, and a robust system should be able to represent a lot of stuff. Basically, what makes the monsters hard is, you can't prepare well for them by following the rules (FWIW, the only time my group ever soundly smashed a level 3 Butcher was to do focus on wounds that didn't involve drawing hit locations).

Also, despite this year's loss of some guys who actually had some value that we could have avoided risking, we came to realize that basically everything any good in our settlement was due to some early masteries we hit, our gear, or our innovations. We have some just-barely good survivors, with no one great, and almost anyone better than a newb has gotten messed up or killed due to something random happening.

Year 24
We had Taken on the calendar, so went off to hunt a level 3 Spidicules. We had just an awful hunt: I think we ended up with 8 bleeding between us, some damage, our Gloom Hammer (Sentient)-er lost all her insanity, our Rawhide survivor (who also had our bandages) became Apathetic, we started with 3 spiderlings in play, and one survivor started knocked down. Also, we didn't get good terrain.

Considering all that, no one died, though the first few rounds were pretty tough until one of us got a lucky (natural 10) crit that nuked the spiderlings early.

Then, we botched our rescue, meaning our axe training guy (we only have one non-2-handed axe) was returned to us missing an arm, and someone else was taken...

Year 25
...And then we got Plague.

...Also, I got the plague. (Going behind the scenes, I don't always post things immediately: This was why, for any particularly astute readers, there's a month-ish in my blog with nothing going on, a little while back.)

That theme of pretty rough luck with survivors and pretty good everything else? Yep. That's still a thing.

One dude died and we didn't get rid of the plague, but we did get the third level of Lantern Research (and the final one we cared about). We decided we didn't care about the spider armor, so are putting those resources towards a lantern set. (Turns out, after shooting for it this whole time and, for the first time, having access to it, we had better things we wanted to do with our resources. Yeah, I think this was the last straw for that stupid armor set.)

We hunted another spider, with a tumultuous hunt phase in which our Gloom Mehndi guy got crystal skin, two people got the Immortal disorder, and our savior we were intending to burn out got hamstrung, which made him not magical (of course?).

In the showdown, we got a Gloom Man (said crystal skin guy), and gamed its disorder output really hard to cycle (gamble) them.

We ended up with a pretty good sustained fight... and no one died! Didn't get the legless ball, but we got a nicely even haul otherwise.

This is my first wholly 1.5 session report.

I'll be writing in more depth in the future (after more playing), but, basically, my initial feelings are that Innovations and the broad settlement changes (Saviors, weapon specializations, timeline, etc.) are the only place that saw marked improvement. I think that the Watcher didn't go nearly far enough; I'm not very impressed with the post-game; the gear improvements seemed haphazard and unnecessary.