Jared Kreft's page

Organized Play Member. 8 posts. No reviews. No lists. No wishlists.


One-scenario demo (includes character decks) for The Amaranth Expedition:


Our organized play group just completed this adventure, and it gave us access to the deck 3 loot (which we already got access to at the end of adventure 3) instead of the deck 4 loot. Shouldn't we be getting the Dreamstone and Swordcane instead?

kysmartman wrote:

Okay, everything you've listed can be broken up into two groups

1: Things that legitimately need/were for the future fixed
2: Things that wouldn't work in this game and/or ports from RPG's which this game doesn't simulate. I know it looks like an RPG and walks like an RPG, but it isn't a true RPG.

Let's do #1 first.
Armor is going to be more useful in S&S as they've addressed the difficulty of the game (Vic and Mike have said this several times). And yes, there are others on here that love or at least like armor.

Great. They can keep it in their decks in an item slot. Myself, I curse getting it every time. Our poor paladin gets incredibly annoyed when he spends half the game digging for a weapon while armor is forced into his opening hand while all the other combat-major characters start with a weapon.

kysmartman wrote:

They did miss on some of the roles, but it's not as bad as you make it out to be. You're not going to get to pick every single power anyway. So, if some of the powers on that role card are great/good, that is plenty good enough anyway.

This is an issue of design philosophy that I disagree with you on, and most modern game designers do as well. If your game has choices between A, B, C, and D, and A&B are generally useful/powerful, C is situationally useful and not that powerful and D is just subpar, then you don't really have a choice between A, B, C, and D. You have a choice between A and B. Choices which aren't actually choices are a poor game design, according to this philosophy.

kysmartman wrote:

The only character that got hosed on powers is Kyra, and that is simply because there aren't that many non-Basic/non-Elite Undead in the game. Combine that with the lack of Outsiders (all this pre-AP6 btw), and she's left with the recharge/put on top her one Blessing (one of the best abilities in the game)

This kind of analysis is exactly what I am doing. The power itself must be evaluated in the context of the game. If you do that same level of analysis, you'll see that there is a wide spread of utility/power amongst the various powers and some of them are just god-awful compared to others. As I said above, they're not really choices.

You said above that I seem to be mistaking this for the RPG. It's exactly the opposite: Many of the design choices that were made here are because the game was trying to maintain the flavor of the RPG it was based on and they lead to serious errors in actual game-balance evaluation.

Characters were given powers that are very flavorful and very very useless.

kysmartman wrote:

2. You misunderstand some of the powers. Getting a weapons or armor feat is a GREAT thing for Lini. Why? Later on as her animal ability picks up...

No, you clearly misunderstood my post. May not be your fault, I hadn't been to sleep yet when I posted it, but some of this looks like sloppy reading as well as sloppy writing. I never claimed it wasn't good to get weapons. I said that you're forced to take it or armor. I also said that building her with weapons was the optimal choice (we've tried it both ways), but it pushes you away from the flavor they were aiming for. It's also clunky since you have to get the card feat to hold a weapon, and then the weapon feat to use the better weapons, and all this leaves you digging for the one weapon in your deck when you start getting to harder adventures (if solo) or relying on a weapon heavy teammate to hand you one at the start of the game.

kysmartman wrote:

Harsk is where you really missed the mark. You're going to boost his Wisdom stat.

Of course I am. I said I was. That leaves me with a 1 in 6 chance to recharge his 10 spells. And no chance at making the DC 12 checks I keep seeing for Survival/Perception. Did you do the math? 1d6+3+2 = max of 11. As I said, a cruel joke.

kysmartman wrote:

Why? That's because he has Survival AND Perception which are highly prized because so few people have either.

Yup, and even with 3 boxes checked, he can't make the dc while the paladin can easily by cycling a card from the top of his deck. Or the druid by just showing an animal.

kysmartman wrote:

He's a deck-cycling machine helping everyone else's combat checks, and that spell slot is going to most likely be a Cure or Augury which won't be terrible to recharge as he's probably going to be a +3,

1d6+3+1 = max of 10. So with 1 box checked, I have a 1 in 6 chance of recycling my cure or Augury. With all 3, I can have a 1 in 6 chance of cycling my DC 10 Major Cure. That's after checking the box for divine, three boxes for wisdom, and at least one box to hold a spell in my deck. The return on investment is poor and I *still* made it because there were no better choices for him. Meanwhile, on other cards, I'm thrilled about my return on checkboxes.

kysmartman wrote:

Again, who cares that Lini's Blessing power is lame?

Anyone who cares about game design or balance. That is literally the last box she should check on either role card. Well, maybe before the stupid animal one.

kysmartman wrote:

You're going to be too busy using her power feats on other things. Plus, she's already the most overpowered character in the game. If you gave her a better Blessing power, she'd be a joke because she'd be sooooo overpowered rendering her a must-have for every party.

Actually, the paladin is slightly more powerful. Once you can cycle her spells, she's more combat capable, more likely to have a weapon in hand, has similar (but slightly weaker) spellcasting capability, and has better chances at nearly every check, thanks to her core ability.

kysmartman wrote:

Not every single thing you stumble upon during the game should be useful 100% of the time.

Hyperbole. I never made such a claim. What I said is that there shouldn't be items which are 100% "don't care" from the first deck onward. There shouldn't be a gigantic spread in utility between powers on a character. Choices should be meaningful.

kysmartman wrote:

Potions can't be granted a special slot because your entire deck is your life, which counter-balances the first statement.

If they sat on your character card, they wouldn't be part of your life, so it wouldn't overbalance them.

Unless you mean that it's a good play to pick them up in case I need to throw them away for damage? Suboptimal choice.

kysmartman wrote:

There are times you'll gladly pick up some useless thing because it could be the difference between living and dying.

We don't. They just wind up clogging your deck after you get a cure. We don't even roll for them. Again, maybe just my group doesn't fail combat tests very often. The only time we come close to having someone die is when they're intentionally playing reckless with the barbarian. It's all self-inflicted.

kysmartman wrote:

Oh, and why in the world wouldn't you just shuffle all of those Major Cure cards at once? There's no functional difference between how it is written on the card and doing it that way.

Read it again.

I have to shuffle my DISCARD pile to find out which random cards I'm getting back and then I shuffle it into MY DECK. The person I'm curing has to do the same thing.

Steps before responding: 1) READ. 2) COMPREHEND. 3) THINK.

Based on your response, you seemed to have missed that I was casting it on someone else at my location. That generates four shuffles. Mandatory.

kysmartman wrote:

Plus, it keeps the game moving faster which is a plus.

That is exactly the opposite of what it does. Healing someone is a delay of game as it works right now. If it didn't involve a double shuffle for the healed (and in the case of Major/Mass, the healer as well), it would be MUCH faster.

ryric wrote:

-That aside, it seems the intention with banish-to-use cards is to use them during the scenario you get them.
-Just in general, not every boon encounter is supposed to be great. My girlfriend and I play Kyra/Seoni, so every ranged weapon is basically trash to us. It's just the way it is.

Yeah, but that's a function of your character composition. Potion of Glibness has always been a discard on sight for every composition we've used.

I got immediately that they were meant to be used during that scenario; but they sit in your hand. A simple "potions go on your belt" setup would have alleviated that and made them actually situationally useful.

ryric wrote:

The neat thing about picking power feats is you don't have to take ones you don't like, unless they are a prereq for things you do like. Also you can still take earlier boxes once you pick a role, if that's what you want to do.

You *have* to pick up armor or weapons proficiency on Lini. You get 3 power feats before you get a role card and those are 2 of her four choices.

My point in general was that I want my choices to be actual choices. The utility value should be much closer together. They shouldn't range from 'Why would you even print that on the card' to 'First through third pick, obviously'.

Re: Kyra: It wasn't that her heal was never useful, just that her character powers weren't well balanced with others and it didn't bring out her flavor well. She doesn't *feel* like a spell-wielding cleric with tons of healing. She's a blessing machine with some backup spells/healing.

Re: Harsk: Harsk's real problem is that he's a one-trick pony. Shoot it in the face? CHECK. Do anything else.... meh. Seelah's ability makes her omnicompetent: She has a chance to do most checks. On top of this, she's a solid spellcaster. Lini is in a similar slot. Most of the other characters are reasonably competent at a couple of things. Harsk is decent at combat. He has d6 or d4 for most stats. d12 con is rarely useful. The reason I went in detail about his spellcasting was to point out that even with a significant investment (3 skill feats, 3 card feats, and a power feat) into his spellcasting, he's still a subpar caster, and that's his secondary role. Most starting characters are better at their secondary role and the one that isn't (the barbarian) is significantly better at their primary role.

Hawkmoon269 wrote:
1) Actually, the henchman worked that one at one point in the game's design. And they didn't like it. I actually am fine with the multiple copies, though I'm also not opposed to having more cards.

Reading the post, they considered doing something slightly different. This was (as pointed out in that thread) just for the generic minions that we're going to have 6-8 of printed for each scenario. The named guys and the villain could remain as they are instead of the "archetype" idea that he's talking about there.

Hawkmoon269 wrote:

2) Most of the things that are banished on use allow you to succeed at something or in the case of allies do something really powerful.

And I don't have a problem with them being banished when you use them for a powerful effect. But if a card only has "banish" uses, it's not something you're going to want to hang on to between games, because you can't rely on it. Which is why I suggested that future cards like that have a Banish option and a reusable option for a lesser effect. Alternatively, some of them (like most of the potions) are not so powerful that they couldn't be "bury". Yeah, it's "Succeed at" but it's for a test (or tests) that you might see once or twice a game, and most likely not on your character. As I said, potions (other than healing) are treated as null junk by our group, because we've literally never seen one be useful.

Consecrate is a great example. Holy candle is an item that gives you back 1d6 turns on the clock and it's buried. Consecrate is banished and you bury blessings to put that many turns back on the clock. And it's a spell, so it goes in fewer people's decks. If it was buried instead, it would still be (on average) worse than the holy candle. It needs to be bury *and* have a redesign to even be balanced to an item.

Second Tier Issues that can only be fixed in a new game (like the new base set announced recently):

1) Armor could be folded into the items as a category. Maybe it's just my group. We don't fail combat tests very often. When we do draw armor, we try to cycle it away so that we can get to the useful stuff (mostly "explore again".) The one character with "Armor" as a favored weapon type (Paladin) can get stuck without a weapon for several turns while bemoaning the armor clogging their hand.

If I had the option to *uncheck* cards from my deck as I leveled up, I'd remove armor, even at the cost of having fewer cards in my deck. It's that suboptimal. The sole exception is my Agility granting armor for the ranger/rogue.

Now, I already know that there are lots of folks who probably love their armor. That's why I'm not recommending removing it from the game. Just fold it into Items. That way, people can decide whether they want armor or a potion or something that is actually useful, like a spyglass.

2) Character design
Some of the character design choices are baffling. Many are not well-balanced to each other. Some of the power feats especially fall on different ends of a scale from "Useless" to "Awesome".

Some role cards get "Blessing of X always adds d12" which is great, as it adds more party-aid capability to the character, and allows the character to build those blessings into their deck. Others get "Blessings you play to your Y check always adds d12" which is terrible. It only works on one type of check. It only works on YOUR check. It only works when YOU play the blessing on YOUR check. (Oh, and Lini says thanks for a checkbox that improves d10 to d12 only on the extra die, only on her wisdom checks, only when she plays the blessing.)

"+1d8 to defeat animals" or "+2 to spell checks (including recharging them" or "+1 to every check I make except in the rare situations I don't have an animal in hand." (Meh, Good, Amazing!)

The role cards usually have for each character, a role with 1 good ability and a role with several. Lini is an excellent example. On one side: An additional checkbox for her general animal bonus on every check, +2/+4 when casting/recharging spells. On the other, +1/+2 when she uses her shapeshift ability. To emphasize the role better, the powers could have been balanced, and the checkboxes for skills/cards could have been different.

The druid is forced to pick armor or weapon proficiency before they get a new role card. This isn't very druid-like. In order to use that armor or weapon proficiency at all well, they also have to burn a card feat to have one in their deck; but they only ever get to have one.

The ranger has a crippled spell capability, thanks to his d6 wisdom, requiring a role card to get divine, and not many bumps available to his wisdom skill. He literally cannot recharge most spells without a blessing or other bump. If you want to be even a minor caster, you have to start spending skill feats on your wisdom and card feats to get spells long before you can even check the "Divine+1" box because it isn't on the base card. I get that the characters are based off a party in the campaign the game is based around, but giving the character a d12 con (which is rarely useful) and a d8 dex as his only good stats is not a well-balanced character. Giving him bonuses to perception and survival and then having those DC's usually be around 12 feels like a cruel joke to the d6 (+3 max) wisdom guy. Spell recharges start at 8 for him, so even if he gets the divine skill, he can't recharge a spell until he gets a +1 in Wisdom, and even then he has a 1 in 6 chance.

The cleric's heal ability is incredibly underwhelming (exploring is important!) and with only a few spells in the deck, she does not feel like a primary spellcaster. The bard runs more spells than the cleric. A much better version would be to give the cleric more spells (remove a few blessings, among other things) and change the ability to the one on the paladin Hospitaler card.

Sometimes the optimal build is very counter-flavor. The druid is best off if they get a weapon quickly to use with their shapeshifting. To use it less often, they want to make it a ranged weapon (so that they have d6 instead of d4 when they don't want to ditch a card). So my druid is best if they are armed with a deathbane light crossbow? Similarly, the bard's "Card of your choice" is usually a weapon assuming you can get a halfway decent one early. Since they only have 1 weapon card slot, they're guaranteed to start with the amazing one. Our turn 1 play with the druid or monk is to start the barbarian or ranger with them so that they can hand off a weapon right away, so that the poor shmuck doesn't have to dig through their deck for their one weapon to be reliably able to pass hard combat tests.

3) Shuffling on Heals. I realize why heals shuffle. It's to avoid all sorts of issues. But think about this: Casting Major cure on an ally:

He shuffles his discard pile and selects 1d4+1 cards.
He shuffles them into his deck.
I shuffle my discard pile and select 1 card.
I shuffle it into my deck.
I (hopefully) recharge the major cure.

Healing should have just recharged the healed cards instead of shuffling them in. It probably would have been ok if they also took the bottom N cards from your discard pile instead of random ones, but that may not bear out with testing.


There are two major issues that I would love to see fixed for future versions of the game or future adventure paths:

1) Generic Henchman cards. Please stop printing 6-8 copies of each generic henchman. It creates a massive stack of cards that are used once and then take space in the box. Instead, print 8 copies of a card "HENCHMAN" ONE TIME and ONE copy of the generic henchman for each scenario.

In other words:
I would have 1 copy each of:
Ancient Skeleton
Stone Head
Poison Trap

Each scenario's henchman would get placed face up next to the scenario for me to reference when I find the "HENCHMAN" card in the location deck.

And I'd have eight copies of "HENCHMAN" (printed in the base set), which will refer me to the scenario's specific henchman. This would get shuffled into the location decks.

The printing costs on your end will go way down. The massive stack of henchmen used once in my box will go WAY down.

2) Banish On Use cards are generally bad. Potions especially. I'm not going to put a card in my deck's item slot just to have it disappear as soon as I use it and wind up stuck with some random junk. Actually useful items are so common that I'd never hold a potion between games. For that matter, I rarely hold a potion between turns. Healing potions get used immediately if possible, other potions we don't even bother to acquire most of the time. This also goes for allies who only have "Banish" options. If they have "Banish for X or bury/discard/recharge for Y", then they're more useful. If they're generically useful immediately on acquiring (like the healing potion is), then they're an acquire an use. Otherwise, they're "Ugh, a bad item".

What compounds this issue is that most of them are so narrow in application: "Pass a stealth check". Great. But the odds of me needing that soon are incredibly low.

What makes these worse than other "Meh" boons is that they never go away either. I will never get to filter out the bad potions or the bad allies or consecrate so that I stop seeing them.

If "Banish Only" items didn't clog your hand, they'd at least be useful to hold until the end of the game next to your character sheet, but as it is, we usually choose to *fail to acquire them* so that they don't get cycled back in when I cure.

Overall, the game is fun. There are lots of minor nits. These are two major nits with the design. The first can be fixed with the next printing. The second will probably have to wait for whatever comes after "Rise of the Runelords", but still needs to be fixed.