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Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition)» Forums » Variants

Subject: Overlord Upgrade Alternative rss

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The Beard
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I came up with an Overlord upgrade alternative designed to counter the problem some players have with a lack of real customization options in the Overlord deck. (Voiced here for example.) Primarily the two main problems being that there is only one effective purchase path (hi, Reinforcement), and once you do buy a new card, you will only use it once or twice a quest vs the constant usability of hero skills and equipment.

The idea is to upgrade monster traits. Once upgraded, all monsters with that trait gain the new skill. All of the skills are active since the goal is to add new toys and strategy. For ease of implementation, I am also using existing monster skills. This means some monsters might not gain two skills as they already have access to one.

How it works:
For a cost of 2xp you can choose to upgrade one of the traits used in the previous quest. For example, if you used Merriods for Fat Goblin 1 and Shadow Dragons for part 2, you could upgrade Wilderness or Cave. (Civilized, Water, Building and Dark would not be eligible for upgrade as they were not the matching traits.)

Upgrading a trait will give all monsters with that trait access to the following skills:
Building Action: Summon
Cave Action: Earth
Civilized Action: Heal
Cold Action: Grab (thematically freezing the hero in place)
Cursed Surge: Subdue (not an action, but there is strategy in choosing which condition to afflict)
Dark Action: Cause Fear
Hot Action: Ignite
Mountain Action: Throw
Water Action: Water
Wilderness Action: Howl


As a side note, this might also encourage more varied monster selection.
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Erik Burigo
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I love this idea!
To be tested, of course, but it has a real potential. Bravo!
 
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Morthai Saichor
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my projects: The Silken Threads Descent Campaign; Dawn of Civilization Mod
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Llenyd wrote:


Civilized Action: Heal
Cursed Surge: Subdue (not an action, but there is strategy in choosing which condition to afflict)
Mountain Action: Throw



abothe are waaay to strong on every minion monster - infinite heal? infinite immobilize? infinite trowing?
 
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Jonathan Neufeld
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Morthai wrote:
infinite trowing?

Trowing?

I agree with Erik, I love where you are going with this, but as Morthal has noted there would have to be some serious testing and rules as to how the upgrades work. You may want to just keep the upgrade specific to the group; for example, instead of only the master ettin having the throw ability now both minion and master do. Instead of every monster with that attribute.

Perhaps the OL could also spend some xp on a particular monster group to make them stronger... gain blast, more hp, better defence dice, etc. The only caution with this is that the xp used may seriously hinder the OL's deck. Perhaps if you had a monster xp separate from the standard one? Maybe for every 5 hero kills a group gets they 'level up'

Definitely interested to hear what other's think about this idea.
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Rafal Areinu
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I don't have quest guide on me right now and I never read finale quest yet, but I believe:
1) there are open groups in finales
2) there are only 4 monster types to utilize in each finale
3) some of the types are the same in both

So... What would the incentive be for players to upgrade guys they won't be using in most important quest of whole game?
 
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Erik Burigo
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A possible answer to the correct observation made by Rafal could be:

Upgrading a monster trait (an ability I'd temporarily dub as Trait Specialization) has 2 effects.

1) If that trait is included into the open group selection (or if an encounter specific monster type has that trait), then it is granted the additional action (temporarily dubbed Trait Action).
2) If an encounter does not contain that trait among its open groups, then Trait Specialization allows access to monsters with that trait, but does not grant them the Trait Action.

This would give additional options in the finale.

Also, if Heal, Subdue, Throw and the immobilize statuses are too frightful, then here are my suggestions.

Civilized: Sacrifice
Cursed: Dark Prayer
Mountain: Bash


Of the Llenyd's idea I especially love the fact that it adds Actions, not static abilities. So a monster has additional options, but not a continuous benefit. It has to choose between attacking OR the new trick.
 
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The Beard
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Yeah, as has been stated, this would require some play testing. Some of the abilities are definitely stronger than others.

I somehow missed Bash looking over the list of skills, but do think it is better than Throw.

I don't think Subdue by itself is too strong; many other monsters can stun or immobilize. However, reviewing the monster list I see that many cursed monsters are ranged. Ranged+Immobilize/Stun probably is too strong. I still resist using Dark Prayer though, because it's identical to Howl.

As for Heal, Civilized monsters are the squishiest and also one of the smallest groups. Most minions will die to one hit so it's not like they'll be able to heal themselves after taking some damage. It would be a problem for the heroes if they ignored the healers and went after the big monster first. It might give you a reason to finally choose Skeleton Archers.

Upgrading just that monster group reinforces just using the same monsters over and over, whereas upgrading the group might incentivize you to try other monsters within that group.

A couple of the reasons I chose XP as the upgrade path are:
* If you win more often, you can upgrade more often, but even if you don't win, you still have upgrade options.
* An attempt to balance the OL growing in power by monster upgrades vs also upgrading the deck. Allowing full upgrades to both might prove too powerful. Of course, this is subject to testing like everything else.

The finales do not have monster traits; any open group of the OL's choosing is allowed. Apart from that, you might want to upgrade the monsters that are often chosen for you (eg zombies and goblins).

Thanks for the feedback, everyone.
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Rafal Areinu
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Being ranged probably isn't that much of a problem, Medusa is already ranged and has immobilize, stun, poison... But doesn't have any better ways to spend surges. Monsters with surges adding damage would be even more formidable, as it would be easier to inflict statuses.

Maybe upgrades could work like OL deck - you take out one monster ability to put in upgrade ability.
 
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David L.
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Areinu wrote:
Maybe upgrades could work like OL deck - you take out one monster ability to put in upgrade ability.

Replacing abilities with others is too fiddly, in my opinion.
When tweaking a game or creating house rules I find it especially challenging not to make it clunky or inelegant.

Like Erik, I like the idea of adding bonuses that have to be activated before being useful (normally actions).

I'm currently fiddling around with an additional upgrade system ("influence points"), leaving the XP-for-deck upgrades idea untouched (apart perhaps from being convertible into XP). The basic idea is to restrain monster availability as open groups for the OL (inspired by a threat in this forum) and in exchange giving the OL other things to do.
I hope it will create more tension and interesting gameplay on two sides (different monsters/monster choices & more upgrade possibilities for the OL).

I will post my ideas more clearly when they are in a more advanced status.
 
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Sphären Wanderer
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I like this idea too, but think, it is too overpowered. You could bind these special abilities to a resource - how about overlord cards? If you discard an overlord card, one monster gets the ability, that you purchased for one turn. This would give you a more flexible use for your overlord cards, though you could either play them the regular way or discard them for giving a monster a special ability for one turn, that could be game changing (throw will be in a lot of times)
 
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Raphael Pigulla
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I like the idea, although I would agree that some serious playtesting needs to be done to ensure it doesn't completely throw the game balance overboard.

A while back I also played around with an idea something like yours. However, I was aiming more towards customizability instead of direct upgrades.
For instance, one could improve a monster via an armored trait which would permanently add a brown die to its defense pool while at the same time giving it Shambling. In other words, there would always be a trade-off, strengthening the monster in one area while at the same time weakening it elsewhere. The idea was to allow the OL to react to what skills and equipments the heroes chose.
 
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Tom H
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I think this is a great germ of an idea.

Much playtesting/designing probably still needs to be done. Nine Kobolds having Immobilize (Earth power via Cave trait) seems like it could be a problem. In fact it seems really tricky to have a balanced and thematic power for all of the monsters with the same trait (eg. Cave: Bane Spider; Blood Ape; Cave Spider; Deep Elf; Ettin; Ferrox; Goblin Archer; Ice Wyrm; Kobold'; Lava Beetle; Naga; Ogre; Razorwing; Shadow Dragon; Troll; Wendigo)

And there is the problem of it encouraging the powering up of overpowered favourite monsters and using them even more often. But I'm sure this could be solved, if not embraced.
 
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Jacob Søgaard
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Terah wrote:
I think this is a great germ of an idea.


Is it cardborne?
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Triu Greykith
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Chubby wrote:
Terah wrote:
I think this is a great germ of an idea.

Is it cardborne?

The CDC hasn't determined yet. Be sure to wash your hands frequently & avoid public gatherings if exposed.
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Rafal Areinu
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I was thinking about it and figured out another way to make this work, probably in more balanced manner.

Let's just make new OL class, say, Beast Master. All cards in that class would be like:
"Put this card on monster card with ranged attack. That monster group can ignore 1 friendly figure while tracing LOS. For each space above 1 that the LOS is traced trough friendly figure this monster needs 1 more range. Discard this card at the end of the encounter."

Thanks to that we could put weak, less interesting skills on 1 point cards, and best abilities on 3 exp card. So the OL could use the best skill only for last few encounters, and only if he dedicated himself towards doing so.

This wouldn't be joined to trait type. If we join this to trait types OL will want to use monsters with that trait only, and if he manages to get quest with correct trait type he will suddenly get very powerful, while not having any effect on other quests.
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Chris J Davis
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n3rd wrote:

For instance, one could improve a monster via an armored trait which would permanently add a brown die to its defense pool while at the same time giving it Shambling. In other words, there would always be a trade-off, strengthening the monster in one area while at the same time weakening it elsewhere. The idea was to allow the OL to react to what skills and equipments the heroes chose.


Although I realise this is only an off-the-cuff example, I just wanted to point out before you pursued it any further that this idea wouldn't be balanced. What you are suggesting is that the OL gains an ability he wants in exchange for a penalty he doesn't care about. Essentially this means there is no downside, so it would only be of benefit to the OL and would make the game necessarily tougher for the heroes.
 
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Raphael Pigulla
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bleached_lizard wrote:
Although I realise this is only an off-the-cuff example, I just wanted to point out before you pursued it any further that this idea wouldn't be balanced.

To be honest, we never got to actually playtesting any of these ideas. While I (as the OL) was initially pretty unhappy with various aspects of the game, that has changed quite substantially ever since I got the CK and we came up with some (very basic) house rules.

Quote:
What you are suggesting is that the OL gains an ability he wants in exchange for a penalty he doesn't care about. Essentially this means there is no downside, so it would only be of benefit to the OL and would make the game necessarily tougher for the heroes.

I realize(d) that. Which is why I tried to make sure that no upgrade (I suppose "sidegrade" would be a better term) was a no-brainer. Also, I had certain restrictions in place, so for instance an armor improvement like the one mentioned above could only be applied to monsters with a 1x1 or 1x2 base so that it couldn't be used to clog hallways with big monsters even easier.

Another way to balance this would be to allow each monster with such a special trait to be looted by the heroes for some gold or even a chance to draw an additional search card.

But yes, you are absolutely right. So if anyone actually decides to actively pursue this idea, please make sure you don't scare away your gaming group ;)
 
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