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Subject: Game 2: Hunt the kobold! (pictorial) rss

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Merric Blackman
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Scenario #3 in Castle Ravenloft is "Klak's Infernal Artifact". The objective of this scenario is to find the Laboratory tile, where Klak and his artifact are, and destroy them both. When I chose this scenario, I was not aware of something: Klak is a kobold! All of us were very amused by this.

This was a five-player game, which saw all the characters being used. I played the Dwarven Cleric this time around.

An interesting ability of the Ranger is to be able to explore a tile he's not adjacent to. That explains why there's a kobold skirmisher looking at us from a little way away. (I've got a feeling that the Ranger should have moved onto the other half of the starting tile, however. Oh well - we were still learning).

Another, unmentioned ability of the Ranger is to always go first in this game. Certainly the Ranger went first in games 2-4! (I can't remember who went first in our first game. Let's call it the ranger, because it's amusing.)

Help! Adventurers!

We quickly explored the tiles around the starting tile to get an idea of how the initial layout of the dungeon was. The way tiles link up it tremendously important to the game: you want to be able to get back to your friends quickly. Running into a dead-end on your own is a really good way of being squashed, especially if you get Slowed or Immobilized there!

We thought we were doing pretty well, defeating a skeleton, kobold and a wraith. Then another skelton and a wolf attacked, and the Wizard discovered a crossbow turret that attacked everyone on the adjacent tile: the Rogue, Fighter and Wizard. Ouch!

Ow! Quarrels!

Sarah showed us the Rogue's ability to disarm traps. Anyone can try, giving up an attack when on the trap's tile and needing a 10+, but the Rogue is successful on a 5+. With the trap disarmed, we could move past the initial chamber and enter the winding, twisting corridors of the dungeon. The Crypt of Artimus was inhabited by a swarm of rats, which ran out to attack Sarah's rogue, whilst the Wizard, caught by an encounter that teleported him a couple of tiles ahead, found himself in hand-to-hand combat with a ghoul. When you're a Wizard, that's not where you want to be!

One thing was certain: my dwarf was very busy healing everyone! If I didn't attack, I could heal one hit point a round. If I attacked with my Healing Strike (and hit), I could also heal a hit point. It's a very nice ability, but it only slows down the loss of HP, it doesn't eliminate it.

The Dungeon takes form, and the Wizard moves ahead.

When a monster is killed, its card is placed in the group XP pile. That XP can be used in two ways: a character can spend 5 XP when they roll a 20 to reach Level 2, which grants them better armour, a new daily, and more hit points, or the group can spend 5 XP to cancel an encounter card. You can see our XP pile of monsters just to the left of the dungeon tiles.

Gaining levels was something that didn't happen very much in the game. We once had two characters gain a level; normally only one character would gain a level. You don't attack *that* often. Either that, or the die is weighted. (Well, it probably is... just ask Lou Zocchi about dice!)

Spending XP to stop Encounter cards proved to be invaluable in the game. Stopping Strahd from turning up and attacking everyone? Yeah, that's good. Stopping everyone on a tile from melting? Even better. I don't think there's actually a card that drops everyone into acid, but there's certainly a crushing wall trap that we were very happy to see discarded, especially with four of us on the tile at once!

Splitting up in Castle Ravenloft is dangerous, but staying together is also dangerous: it allows the area effects to hit you all at once! There's a very nice balance struck here.

An encounter card we didn't cancel led to the placing of an additional dungeon tile, and we were horrified to see two spiders rushing towards us. "Kill them!" we screamed, as they skittered towards us.

Attack of the Giant Spiders

After they'd been dealt with, it was time for Sarah's Rogue to go forward and discover a Gargoyle. Hmm. Gargoyles are nasty, but they're nastier if you're in a group, as they can attack everyone on the same tile with their Whirlwind Claws. So we were quite happy to find Sarah taking it on by herself. Oh, very well... we'd go to help her eventually. But first, a shiny new corridor to explore!

One of the things that distinguished this scenario from the last was that there was a special rule in play: whenever a player revealed a tile with a white arrow, they could discard a treasure card they had in play to gain a new class power. This never actually got used... whoever had the treasure cards alwsys drew black arrow tiles! Or, more correctly, we kept forgetting the special rule.

It should be noted that permanent treasure cards are quite rare. Far more common are instant effects or effects that only last until your next turn. However, an effect that gives everyone in the party +2 to attack is nice to have.

What happens when a tile is drawn with a black arrow? You draw an Encounter card and apply it before the monsters attack.

Sarah finds a gargoyle.

While we left Sarah with the gargoyle, turning right instead of left brought us to our goal: no, not an alternate reality, but instead the Laboratory where Klak and his Infernal Machine waited! The machine itself was rather dull: it's just something with six hit points that we had to destroy. Nothing else was interesting about it. Klak, on the other hand, was a kobold sorcerer, and his monster card was written like a kobold should be.

Quite simply, he didn't stay and fight. No, he ran off and went looking for monsters to do his fighting for him! Our ranger discovered this as Klak teleported away and found a ghoul to do some gnawing!

Meanwhile, an event caused a tile to be placed on the other side of the dungeon, and a blazing skeleton began moving ever-so-slowly towards us.

Klak! You'll not escape us!

Our task was made more difficult by an Encounter card that caused us to take damage whenever we ended our turn on the same tile as another hero. Ow! How do you surround a kobold then? We were extremely pleased when a new environment was drawn, reducing our speed. We don't need speed, we don't need to be dying!

Klak ran about a bit, but the fighter still had his daily and screaming, "Get over here!" pulled Klak back to the centre of our group. Klak screamed and attempted to flee, but he was cut down.

I moved over to the Infernal Machine and pulled the plug. In the distance, I could hear the Blazing Skeleton grumbling to itself as it headed back to central casting. "I couldn't even have my big entrance. It's not my fault I got lost! The map was upside down!"



The countryside was saved from the strange arcane storms that Klak and his machine had created! We'd finished this scenario extremely well: we'd used no healing surges at all! In fact, the warrior had gone down to 0 hp, but I'd healed him before his turn came around again and so he didn't need to spend the surge.

For those interested in my character sheet, I include a picture below:

Thorgrim, Dwarf Cleric
Healing Word, Bless, Healing Strike, Lance of Faith, Beacon of Hope
Holy Water



The game took about an hour to play, once again with mostly inexperienced players. This was looking to be a very good game, right in the best duration for a game of its nature: a lot quicker than Descent, and a lot of fun.

However, I was worried about something: was the game too easy? Both games had seen us win fairly easily. The next game we had would disabuse us of that notion, as Sarah innocently said, "Let's hunt the Dracolich!"...
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CM D
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Thanks for the reports, Merric.
 
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Team Ski
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Once again, awesome session report!

-Ski
 
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Samuel Hinz
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I am so totally pumped for this game.
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Tim Taylor

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You're doing a greast job with these reports.Every time I read another one it just makes me more impatient to get my hands on this game!

T.
 
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Aswin Agastya
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Excellent session report!

Merric, do you think this will stand multiple plays? It's amusing how a game that I thought was rather bland can provide an interesting narrative.
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Mike Mearls
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Sevej wrote:
Excellent session report!

Merric, do you think this will stand multiple plays? It's amusing how a game that I thought was rather bland can provide an interesting narrative.


I'm not Merric, but I'll chime in anyway.

Obviously I'm biased, but I've found that the combination of card draws, die rolling, and so many other random events allows for a narrative of sorts to emerge from the game.

One of my design theories is that if you design your random elements correctly, you can set up a number of potential cascading scenarios. For instance, that's why you activate all copies of a monster when you activate a card. The game where you randomly draw 3 ghouls in a row is much more memorable.

By the same token, the game alternatively punishes you for grouping together and for spreading apart. The random draws within a game might tend to punish one tactic more than the other. That's another area where one session might feel much different from the next.

My experiences playtesting the game and watching others play it have borne out that theory. One of my favorites happened at GenCon. The characters all gathered on one tile to finish a quest. They needed one more turn to win the game.

Of course, the active player drew the Strahd Attacks card and fried half the party. With the group at zero healing surges, it was game over.
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Don Kim
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mearls wrote:
I'm not Merric, but I'll chime in anyway.

Obviously I'm biased, but I've found that the combination of card draws, die rolling, and so many other random events allows for a narrative of sorts to emerge from the game.

One of my design theories is that if you design your random elements correctly, you can set up a number of potential cascading scenarios. For instance, that's why you activate all copies of a monster when you activate a card. The game where you randomly draw 3 ghouls in a row is much more memorable.

By the same token, the game alternatively punishes you for grouping together and for spreading apart. The random draws within a game might tend to punish one tactic more than the other. That's another area where one session might feel much different from the next.

My experiences playtesting the game and watching others play it have borne out that theory. One of my favorites happened at GenCon. The characters all gathered on one tile to finish a quest. They needed one more turn to win the game.

Of course, the active player drew the Strahd Attacks card and fried half the party. With the group at zero healing surges, it was game over.


That's awesome and hilarious, Mike. It was smart to let Merric's group do this as it has been the best promotion for me so far. I'm very excited to get my group into this.

Even if I can't get them to commit to D&D I know they'll have fun playing this. Maybe if this line is successful for long enough we'll see some sort of Dark Sun version
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Tobias Mrosek
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@ mike

could you please tell us, what the Monstertokens (picture under healing in the rulebook) are for?

I don´t really get it, and i haven´t seen any explaination just yet.

Are they for health tracking? Are this tokens, when you ran out of that type of monster? (hope not)

thx in advice and i´m so looking forward to this game! Even my group. They got all so tired of playing descent (it takes ages, is not much fun for the DM to really kill them half way through and call that game etc.)

man, i´m hyped
 
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Merric Blackman
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The monster tokens are used with certain scenarios. (#8, #9 and #12).

They provide a way of adding in random encounters with unique figures, or of varying the number of monsters that appear on a new tile.

Cheers,
Merric
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archi
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cheers for the great reports, looking forward to the next and really looking forward to getting hold of a copy of the game
 
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Tobias Mrosek
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Thx for make that part clearer.

Btw, how is the quality of the cards? Seems to me that they have no finish like Talisman/Dungeonquest. Do they hold up well? Glad that they are normalsized.

Keep up with your reports. i´m jealous but like them a lot
 
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Bobby Passmore
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Nice report.I like the pictures.
 
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seb seb2
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thanks for the report again !

can't wait for the next story.

Damn,this game seems to be the perfect dongeon crawling game (a Descent killer to say the least),although i don't like the components too much (kinda ugly for me).

add some campaing rules,and more of everything (more monsters,more setting,more heroes more treasures etc) and that's it : a dungeon crawler you can really play !


 
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Mr G
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Great job once again Merric.

Regards,

Fentum
 
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Mark Shilling
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Anyone know what the big skulls are for (on the black areas of the tiles)?
 
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Don Kim
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superdupergeek wrote:
Anyone know what the big skulls are for (on the black areas of the tiles)?


Some scenarios reference them for additional effects. For example, in one of the free scenario's they released when a skull tile appears a zombie is automatically spawned.
 
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Curt Ligot
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Meric,
Thanks a ton for posting. Great session report. From what I've read it sounds exactly what I was hoping for.

It is also a good to know that a 4e player enjoys it that much. I was curious about that.

 
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Andres Rueff
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am i wrong or is the game very easy. in 2 games only 1 heroe died, i was expecting a higher difficulty. i know these are the first quests but i really was looking for a challenge like Arkham or Space Hulk.
 
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Scott Arnone
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Rixxar wrote:
am i wrong or is the game very easy. in 2 games only 1 heroe died, i was expecting a higher difficulty. i know these are the first quests but i really was looking for a challenge like Arkham or Space Hulk.


...did you actually read the entire post? He very blatantly ends it with:

MerricB wrote:
However, I was worried about something: was the game too easy? Both games had seen us win fairly easily. The next game we had would disabuse us of that notion, as Sarah innocently said, "Let's hunt the Dracolich!"...


Also, as more of the games are released, you can always increase the amount of hard creatures present. Or just proxy in a bunch of wraiths or gargoyles as it is.

And there will also be new scenarios released, which further allow for the difficulty to be cranked up.
 
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Mattwran
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InkSplat wrote:
Rixxar wrote:
am i wrong or is the game very easy. in 2 games only 1 heroe died, i was expecting a higher difficulty. i know these are the first quests but i really was looking for a challenge like Arkham or Space Hulk.


...did you actually read the entire post? He very blatantly ends it with:

MerricB wrote:
However, I was worried about something: was the game too easy? Both games had seen us win fairly easily. The next game we had would disabuse us of that notion, as Sarah innocently said, "Let's hunt the Dracolich!"...


Also, as more of the games are released, you can always increase the amount of hard creatures present. Or just proxy in a bunch of wraiths or gargoyles as it is.

And there will also be new scenarios released, which further allow for the difficulty to be cranked up.


I dunno I'd say the concern is still valid. I'd prefer it if all the scenarios were challenging, not just the ones with the big creatures. And I'd prefer not to have fiddle with the scenario to make it harder, that's what playtesting is for. I'm pretty excited by what I've read about the game so far, but the ease with which these new players have beaten these two scenarios is a little worrisome. My wife and I really enjoyed the challenge that Ghost Stories provided (and still provides on the higher levels). I was hoping for more of the same here.
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seb seb2
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mattwran wrote:
InkSplat wrote:
Rixxar wrote:
am i wrong or is the game very easy. in 2 games only 1 heroe died, i was expecting a higher difficulty. i know these are the first quests but i really was looking for a challenge like Arkham or Space Hulk.


...did you actually read the entire post? He very blatantly ends it with:

MerricB wrote:
However, I was worried about something: was the game too easy? Both games had seen us win fairly easily. The next game we had would disabuse us of that notion, as Sarah innocently said, "Let's hunt the Dracolich!"...


Also, as more of the games are released, you can always increase the amount of hard creatures present. Or just proxy in a bunch of wraiths or gargoyles as it is.

And there will also be new scenarios released, which further allow for the difficulty to be cranked up.


I dunno I'd say the concern is still valid. I'd prefer it if all the scenarios were challenging, not just the ones with the big creatures. And I'd prefer not to have fiddle with the scenario to make it harder, that's what playtesting is for. I'm pretty excited by what I've read about the game so far, but the ease with which these new players have beaten these two scenarios is a little worrisome. My wife and I really enjoyed the challenge that Ghost Stories provided (and still provides on the higher levels). I was hoping for more of the same here.



Ghost Stories is a game with only one scenario,so it's designed to be challenging "out of the box".
 
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Kevin Outlaw
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mattwran wrote:
InkSplat wrote:
Rixxar wrote:
am i wrong or is the game very easy. in 2 games only 1 heroe died, i was expecting a higher difficulty. i know these are the first quests but i really was looking for a challenge like Arkham or Space Hulk.


...did you actually read the entire post? He very blatantly ends it with:

MerricB wrote:
However, I was worried about something: was the game too easy? Both games had seen us win fairly easily. The next game we had would disabuse us of that notion, as Sarah innocently said, "Let's hunt the Dracolich!"...


Also, as more of the games are released, you can always increase the amount of hard creatures present. Or just proxy in a bunch of wraiths or gargoyles as it is.

And there will also be new scenarios released, which further allow for the difficulty to be cranked up.


I dunno I'd say the concern is still valid. I'd prefer it if all the scenarios were challenging, not just the ones with the big creatures. And I'd prefer not to have fiddle with the scenario to make it harder, that's what playtesting is for. I'm pretty excited by what I've read about the game so far, but the ease with which these new players have beaten these two scenarios is a little worrisome. My wife and I really enjoyed the challenge that Ghost Stories provided (and still provides on the higher levels). I was hoping for more of the same here.


Worth noting, it looks like Merric et al CHOSE their starting powers.

There are some variants in the rules for making the game tougher. One is randomly drawing your powers, so you may not get powers that work together very well with the rest of the team. Another is reducing the number of healing surges you get to one (or, I guess, none at all).

Combine that with tougher creatures in later scenarios, and I think the game will be challening enough.

Great report, by the way. Big thumbs up.
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Andres Rueff
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well, lets wait for the following games. im just really hope you dont need to have dragons and strahd himself in scenario to get a decent difficulty.

and yes great report, really looking forward to the further ones.
 
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Curt Ligot
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I think we all have to remember is...

1) These are new players. They might be forgetting some rules here and there (which may be making it easier).

2) With die rolling and card drawing there is always luck involved. They may just be on a good streak.

3) This is one gaming group. Think of the odds of hundreds of groups playing the same scenerio and all winning just as easily.

4) I would imagine they designed the earlier scenerios to be easier. With 12 in the box I would think they get harder and harder.

Anyway, I could be just trying to justify my pre-order...lol

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