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There are quite a few ways to intentionally break the game in your favor, especially post-role. They even printed some boons that directly let you draw your deck if you like (see: WotR AD6).

Now, this may not be the *intent* of this card, in which case clarification would be great. But there are equally strong or stronger things that have been left as-is (see: Sword of Iomedae infinite loops that generate infinite mythic charges AND infinite drawing power).

Also, I have an irrationally-strong love of Mastiff already. So if something's going to be the linchpin of PACG's pun-pun, it might as well be it.


Calthaer wrote:

Lem is inferior to just about any healer that has the "instead of your first exploration in a turn" healing power. Those are the best healers in the game, because it's virtually on-demand. Lem is better than Harsk, and Seelah, and other casters who have the divine skill only on a minor stat, but he's just not as good as a cleric.

Wait, what? Lem's recursion ability makes him a fantastic healer, as long as you intentionally choose not to recharge your first Cure spell, so as to keep it available to get back each turn.

Clerics/etc. can discard a divine card *and* skip an explore to heal someone.
Lem can discard a spell at the start of his turn to get back a cure to heal someone.

Both heal for d4+1. You can add feats to built-in powers, but Lem also gets a big upgrade (without any feat cost) whenever he finds a better healing spell (Mass Cure, Holy Feast, etc. depending on the set).

It's less of your deck that can be used to fuel guaranteed healing (just spells vs. spells + blessings), but sacrificing explores is a significant cost, and Lem generally is going to reliably cycle through more cards (through his buff power) each turn than clerics do.


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Nope, this is one of a number of ways in which you can break the game if you maneuver your remaining deck composition into the right state for 'draw a card' powers (or in this case, combination of two powers) to always give you the right card type to trigger it again.

It seems like the design philosophy (reasonably) is that if an OP loop isn't going to come up through natural/ordinary play, then they would rather minimize errata for regular players, and let the rest of us decide for ourselves that these things aren't fun and we should stop (or: that they are fun, in which case it's not really a problem).

See also: Ezren with only auto-recharge spells (infinite spells), Sword of Iomedae with Hand size 7+ and a thinned out (probably via Miracle/Time Stop/Merchant Lord tricks) 6+ Blessings of Ascension deck (infinite mythic charges + explores), draw-on-craft-check Damiel with only auto-recharge Tot Flasks + 1 potion of flying (infinite explores for anyone).

It's fair enough; once you turn on god mode, the game becomes unfun, so people won't generally keep going through the extensive maneuvers to turn it on (unless *getting there* is what they enjoy). One scenario of infinite-power Sword of Iomedae was enough for me, for instance :).

It's typically only if people stumble too easily into unbalancing their games (see: pre-errata Radillo, Alain for many folks) that things get changed to avoid it.


DreadScarlet wrote:

Siwar's courtier role has "When another character at your location would banish or bury an ally, he may put it in your discard pile instead."

Does this include when that person would banish an ally for failing to acquire them? Or does only apply to ones banish or buried from that character's deck?

Things like dream stone fragment also lead to banishing allies never had in a deck. Love my siwar making dreams real :). Courtier siwar 4eva.


To chime in on the archmage scouting power:
*It's very powerful, but bear in mind that for a normal character it requires running a stack of Blessings of Ascension (probably maxing blessings), and leads to some very different play patterns than straightforward paths/play does (discarding most/all blessings for charges; having turns where you prefer not to explore unscouted cards because you don't have mythic charges to back you up). Also, the payoff mostly comes in later adventures, as boosting up to 5 charges is tough until AD3-4. Things like Restore Mythic Power can help, though.

*Josh cheats by using Corruptor Seoni as his Archmage, so that half his deck can copy blessings of ascension in the discards, without the opportunity cost of not running better blessings. (And don't get me started on the awesomeness of Pit Gladiator being used to return multiple corrupt weapons being played as blessings ;).)

*It's awesome, and if you're ok playing Crowe as a high-utility, minimal-explore character, you should give it a whirl!


To expand on Hawkmoon's answer: if you get lucky and run into an evade-able villain with Merisiel, you've just struck the jackpot in terms of scenario-finishing-speed: now by spreading out the party to be able to temporarily close the other locations, you just need to work back through the villain's location to find them again, and you've won!

Another speed benefit from having an evade in your back pocket: you can afford to push your luck by exploring when you/your teammates aren't set up to beat the villain/other killer banes. So (assuming your party runs sufficient healing) you can be pretty pedal-to-the-metal in terms of exploring, without the downside of hitting a Whammy that other characters have to risk.


Sandwitch wrote:
Our playgroup is about to close out AD3 (things have been a breeze since we got past the base scenarios), and so we'll be picking our roles soon. I saw a couple of Kyra's posted on the midpoint thread, but I thought there might be a few more out there, so I'm curious for the people that have played her into AD4, or beyond, if they've taken Dawnflower's Flare or Everlight's Grace. The flare's impressive, but the extra card of hand size is also very tempting.

Healing allies directly back to a strong exploring character's hand (Everlight's Grace's best power) is incredibly, incredibly good (like, I built a S&S party around maximizing that power, and it was better than I expected). When you heal someone with 2+ allies in their discard, every Cure is an insane hybrid of Cure + Restoration (which is to say, fantastically amazing). If you don't mind building for support, and you have another party member or two who has a decent number of allies to draw, and can avoid filling their discards with too much else, go Everlight's Grace & don't look back.


skizzerz wrote:
Keith Richmond wrote:
Thinking of it from the RPG side instead of card side for a second - let's say that it heals you for _1_ hp, and also makes you feel healthy and full like you ate a full day's worth of food. That definitely makes you feel better, but in card terms that 1 hp is so small it's rounded down in terms of the discard pile. That said, your hand likely improved, so that's feeling a bit healthier :)

So it's basically a sucky goodberry? The card seems mediocre at best to me, and I can't see why it merits a slot in AD2 given that. The best use for it I can think of is a case where you both need the top card of your deck and have a crap card in hand you want to get rid of. The card to me seems like a very situational pick, not applicable in the majority of situations. If I did pick it, I'd likely use it almost immediately just to get it out of my hand so I can hopefully draw something more useful.

It can work well with characters like Ezren or Feiya, who have frequently-triggerable 'draw the top card of your deck if it's an X' powers that stall out when a dud is on top, as it can draw them past it. Other than that, it's minor deck manipulation---not amazing, but helpful for smoothing out people's draws (too many/too few weapons/armors/etc.). The bigger the variance in card-power-level in someone's deck, the better it becomes, so it's probably more useful in AD2 (when people have a few good cards to dig for) than it would be at the start.


Gronk's non-random heal looks awesome: selective healing (& burying) should let him curate his deck as he sees fit, which should enable some choice slim-deck play. Should be excellent for solo play, looking forward to him.

I don't love Maznar's free d4 buff from a design standpoint, as it's always an automatic decision. Even a rider like 'if that player fails the check, discard the ally' would make for more interesting gameplay. but I suppose I have plenty of bard-type characters I can play already, so there's nothing wrong with having a character for the crowd that doesn't enjoy the tension of tradeoffs (although, that's arguably the crux of the game, so I'm not sure how many PACG fans like that exist).

Fruit of Life looks like a 'fixed' restoration. Although, Maznar's animal fetching should make Mastiff an excellent animal companion to get around such limitations in WotR, at least :).


zeroth_hour wrote:


Depends on how many Ally slots she gets. I'm hoping at least 4 initially, since it seems that she won't get weapon card feats at all this incarnation. I always find Divine casters tend to want Attack, Healing _and_ Support which strains their spell slots.

If you can limit the number of Attack spell slots for her to 1 (for bosses) then that's great. I'm not currently convinced that the 1d6 by itself can do that yet - Inflict is kind of weak, even though it is at a +1 compared to the Divine spells.

Hmm, that's fair. How useful the unusual combination of 'reliably fast exploring, reliably mediocre at combat, good utility spells' is will probably be highly party/AP dependent. For S&S, she looks amazing. Or in a party with some bard/fighter/etc. support for combat, she can probably skate by with 0-1 attack spells. In WotR with teammates who don't help in combat? She probably needs to be played more cautiously as a slow-exploring support, ala Meliski/Siwar, or take more attack spells and played as a less-supportive caster-explorer, neither of which fully takes advantage of her potential.


zeroth_hour wrote:

Heals and Explores do need to reliably come up in combat though, and given CD Lini's lack of a "permanent" attack (her power requires her to bury, discard or recharge her Animal) this may pose an issue.

I like the direction they're taking these; RotR Lini is still available in OP if you really want her available (and not in OP if you own RotR).

Well, to put it a different way, she's like a caster with a full extra set of slots for attack spells, with a recursion ability to recover them sometimes, and the option of discarding them to explore if she draws too many, rather than clogging the way casters with a pile of attack spells sometimes do if they go a couple turns without enough fights. She'll sometimes have to stop exploring because she's out of animals for the turn, but she's in a better position than most attack spell based characters in terms of having the right number of attack cards each turn, due to her powers to turn other cards into more attacks via recursion AND her ability to turn excess attacks into explores/etc.


Dave Riley wrote:

Man, I hate being a Debbie Downer, but I'm not digging the look of that Lini. She loses her d4 (that's fine--it's a powerful ability, but a boring one) and most of her deck manipulation for... a really obtuse combat power? Survival+3d6 is real nice... but less nice when you have to recharge a card to do it, especially when it's an Ally that, ideally, you'd be using to explore.

While I agree that most of the role powers aren't especially exciting (with handsize and combat boosts being likely, if familiar, choices), I think her base powers are actually quite exciting for enabling a fast-cycling, flexible support caster. Being able to convert random chaff into discarded animals for explores (or Mastiffs/etc) as long as you reserve an animal or two for exploration is quite powerful (see: Alain), and being able to use those same allies for combat frees you up to run actual good spells (cures/etc) in *all* your slots. While she doesn't have any single power that's super-awesome (like Feiya's spell-recursion, or free d4+x on all checks), she should be a reliably excellent member of the 'heals-and-explores' class of characters.


Gambit001 wrote:

I appreciate the input everyone. Guardian may be a good choice. I guess I'll have to wait and see what the rest of my group goes with. I really was leaning towards Hierophant originally for the wisdom and since Cold iron Warden will allow me to recharge blessings on combat anyway, strength may not be quite as needed; plus I know WotR has a lot of knowledge related checks, which is under wisdom for Imrijka

What are each of your (or any new posters') thoughts on Hierophant?

Now if only using her power to add divine against monsters actually made the check wisdom as well, oh well. :(

Playing Imrijka, you have a natural incentive to seek out and fight as many monsters as possible. And just by the nature of the path (summoned foes for everyone! More summoned foes to close locations!) you'll be fighting a lot. It ends up that you make a *lot* more Strength rolls, therefore, than anything else, so having a path with Strength as one of its attributes is vastly more important than any other feature of the path. It's much easier to cover low stats occasionally with blessings, and be able to auto-pass many combats, than to auto-pass occasional off-stat checks and have to spend resources on every combat.


Gambit001 wrote:

Since I can't get a wisdom/strength path (which irks me a bit, this is a demon campaign, it's all about strength and faith lol), I'd like to get suggestions from the rest of you. Thinking of going Cold iron Warden if that matters.

Thanks in advance!

Echoing others, either Champion or Guardian is good, depending on your party. I went with Guardian (since no one in the party had a decent Con), which ended up being handy both for auto-acquiring armors (there's enough auto-damage thrown around that even random basics are often handy to acquire for one-off use), as well as earning its keep on all the pre-combat Con checks, many of which have pretty nasty side-effects for failing. Rerolling 1s when you spend a charge also works well with Imrijka's tendency to have a bucket of small dice (her built-in-power, Steal Soul, etc.).

Champion is great for trumping a number of really nasty difficulty-increasing monsters (though there are eventually other ways to do the same).


ferris.valyn wrote:

So, having just read this thread, I now have some ideas as to how to play Shadra. I had already indentified that Shadra really wants to be co-located with someone, so I've tried to do that, but it usually hasn't been successful or helpful, but I have some better ideas now.

Anyway, my question - who should I buddy up with for Shadra? We have a 5 person team. Other than Shadra, it includes

Balazar
Kyra
Seelah
Ekkie

My initial thought had been to buddy with Seelah, but that never seemed to produce anything of use. I've tried Kyra, and had a little better luck.

Any strong suggestions

Shardra/Seelah+ whoever's turn it is stack of buffing power. Play it like a large RotR party with Lem & Valeros---you want people to jump into their location whenever you can, to maximize the buffing potential. Reroll buffs like Shardra's have good longevity here, since you only have to pay the card when they fail the initial roll (vs. a bard who has to recharge before the roll to help at all).

You'll have to put up with extra pain from 'everyone at this location' effects, but that's the price stacking-buff parties pay for their synergy the rest of the time :).

Also, if you're teaming up at a location anyway, this is a good time to use a dual-marshal setup (Seelah + Balazar here, probably) and do a lot of charge-passing back and forth.


Happy to be of service! Kudos for updating before I've even finished running Imrijka through WotR :). Making the change before the Inquisitor Class Deck comes out and people start using her in OP seems correct, though.

Here's hoping that optional errata is the first step toward similar official on-release choices for increasing/decreasing difficulty, as it's tough to find a sweet spot for all groups.


Mike Selinker wrote:
nondeskript wrote:
I don't think you can play a Merchant Lord and give away 0 cards. I certainly wouldn't allow that at my table.
Definitely not.

So, 'give any number of cards' actually means 'give one or more cards.' Gotcha. Was assuming 0 was a valid number for purposes of Merchant Lord.

The loop is still possible, but needs handsize 7, then (so you can sit on the merchant lord the whole time).


Vic Wertz wrote:
philosorapt0r wrote:
Mike Selinker wrote:

FYI: Every one of those "dream team" spells is a watered-down version of what the designers first proposed.

No, really.

Well, as long as the party's Sword of Iomedae has hand size 6+, at least 6 blessings of ascension, and a merchant lord, they can use either spell (miracle-->time stop) to draw their deck, use merchant lord to pass off everything except blessings of Ascension (and the merchant lord), and then get infinite mythic charges by using the SoI 5-charge power an arbitrary number of times. So, I wouldn't be too down on their current power-level. Stronger than this might indeed have been excessive :).

(Bonus points for having 2 merchant lords around, so the other guy can give all your stuff back to you afterwards.)

I haven't gone through all that, so don't count this as verificiation... but assuming you *can*, you still have to drop back down to 6 charges at the end of your turn.

It's true that you'll have to lose the charges, but since you still have the same deck makeup, you can go back up to infinite at any time between encounters, even on others' turns (since Blessing of Ascension and Sword of Iomedae don't have any timing restrictions on gaining/spending charges), so that's not too much of a problem.

Really, at that point, all you're afraid of are dex/con/int based banes, and things that bury/steal cards that can't be avoided through str/wis/cha (since if you lose cards, you nearly unavoidably *die*).

For reference/showing that it works:
The deck: 6 blessings of ascension, Merchant lord. Reasonably achievable for most divine characters. (All other cards passed off with Merchant lord after drawing your deck with Miracle/Time Stop). If handsize 8+, keep more cards to not die.

A) Spend 5 mythic charges to reshuffle discards and redraw to full handsize.
B) Play all blessings of ascension you draw to gain mythic charges. If you draw the merchant lord, play it to give 0 cards away. This either:
1) Gains you back 5 charges (handsize 6, and you drew the merchant lord + 5 blessings).
2) Gains you 6 charges (you draw all blessings / your handsize is 7)

C) Repeat until satisfied. Each time 2B happens, you net +1 mythic charge. Each time 2A happens, you're even.

I'm not sure whether this falls under the category of 'stuff only random combo-focused players[me] will do', and so can safely be ignored for practical purposes like Feiya/Kyra healing loops and infinite-cycling Ezren decks, or 'too easy way to break the game' like pre-errata Radillo, and how many people felt Alain was. Josh will probably kill me if I want to do it more than once in our game, so social contract effectively solves it for me :).


Mike Selinker wrote:

FYI: Every one of those "dream team" spells is a watered-down version of what the designers first proposed.

No, really.

Well, as long as the party's Sword of Iomedae has hand size 6+, at least 6 blessings of ascension, and a merchant lord, they can use either spell (miracle-->time stop) to draw their deck, use merchant lord to pass off everything except blessings of Ascension (and the merchant lord), and then get infinite mythic charges by using the SoI 5-charge power an arbitrary number of times. So, I wouldn't be too down on their current power-level. Stronger than this might indeed have been excessive :).

(Bonus points for having 2 merchant lords around, so the other guy can give all your stuff back to you afterwards.)


Frencois wrote:


Say I have a range weapon, a melee weapon, a divine spell and an arcane spell to be encountered (in same or different locations, doesn't matter) and a knight, archer, mage and cleric that will take their turn. Seems to me on average each has 1/4 chances to find their stuff (and there is a 3/4 chance that someone else will encounter their stuff and usually will fail to acquire it). If there is only a fighter and a cleric, each has 1/2 chance to find his stuff (and nobody cares who encounters the range weapon).

If this is your experience, then you should be greedier about throwing resources toward boon acquisition (and possibly select more card-feat: Blessing, with buffing in mind)! In my games, the vast majority of significant upgrades are acquired, even if that means everyone throwing blessings.

Relatedly, this is another way in which scouting-heavy parties have another edge: they're more likely to locate and acquire the most important upgrades, and so are a little higher on the power curve than parties that lose some of those boons to the wrong person encountering them.


Er, I guess the extreme measures aren't necessary for your party, then. Consider them open advice to parties that actually are stuck with making a 23 check with d4s! If anyone actually beats this scenario by having someone 'play dead' so the armies leave them alone, with plans to resurrect later, please let me know ;).


Seeing your actual party:
Brute-force scouting is annoyingly much harder w/o the archmage, but may still be doable. Adding Enora to the party eliminates the problem entirely if she has the 'use-knowledge-for-all-barriers' feat tree, as she can both bypass acrobatics with that, and regardless she can scout a couple locations to supplement (fed charges from the marshals).

For you current party: scout scout scout, and make sure Adowyn has blessings of deskari on hand for the armies. Hope for enough corrupt blessings in the blessing deck to enable that.


(tl;dr: Using Blessing of Deskari/Nocticula with heavy scouting. Or cheat it with Hierophant and killing a character intentionally. Or break the game with Sword of Iomedae infinite loops.)

I don't have AD6 yet, but based on what you've said, I can make some suggestions. I'm assuming that the armies are barriers like in AD2. If that's incorrect, then proceed to the work-around options at the end.

A few options, depending on which mythic paths you have/what your deck composition is. Some of these require a few Blessings of Ascension in the party for regaining mythic charges after using path powers.

* Presumably your Shardra isn't a visionary, or else she could just use Knowledge for the check. Also, I guess the army doesn't have the demon or undead trait, or else Kyra could use her power to use divine for the check.

*Depending on role (and possibly how many abyssal locations are in the scenario), Adowyn could have up to a d4+2, or +2d4, to her check. Balazar should be able to use a monster for another d4. That starts you with a baseline of up to 3d4+2 / 4d4. I'll assume you have Balazar's monster feat, and at least one of Adowyn's feats, to start at 3d4.

*However you do this, you'll want to be more-or-less scouting everything before you hit it for this scenario, as you need to be prepared for the armies. This probably mostly means Adowyn. Hand her additional card from other characters as necessary to keep this going. You *need* Shardra to be backing up Adowyn for the check, and for everyone to have blessings on hand for the armies. If you have a mythic archmage in the party, have them use their 5-charge power to help with this, and use blessings of ascension/etc. to recover. If you have lend mythic path, lend the archmage power to someone else to share the burden. If you have mythic marshal, have them feed the archmage charges as needed.
(I know you said not to assume everyone has a blessing on hand; with 100% scouting, I think it's fair---and necessary for success!---to revise that.)

*So, baseline with no tricks but 6 blessings each time (and a relevant d4 feat from adowyn, and a balazar monster) is 9d4. That's 50% of being 23+, so 75% success rate with Shardra.

*Steal Soul is a spell you could have by now (even rebuilding). Whoever's deck it's in, find it, give it to Adowyn, and have her cast it. That's another d4. That either ups your base odds to 75% (fail only 1/16 with a reroll), or means you can have one character missing a blessing.

*Better blessings: Blessing of Abadar is good, and there should be some in your party. Hoard them for these checks. Each time you have one of these, that's an additional d4 (and as above, getting to 10d4 with a reroll is quite safe).
With scouting, you can control what turn you encounter armies on = you can sometimes wait for a corrupt blessing on top of the blessing discard pile/can make this your first exploration. Make sure Adowyn has a Nocticula/Deskari blessing (pass them off from whoever has them in their deck), for an extra *d4+6* over a regular blessing. Have people play blessings of Baphomet on the check, for another path to 2-dice besides Abadar. With one one Abadar, one Nocticula, and no other blessings, you're up to 8d4+6---with a Shardra reroll, that's over 98% success. And hey, if you're willing to banish the Nocticula (like for the last army or two), you don't even have to scout in advance, just make sure Adowyn has one in hand before you blind-explore.

More exploit-y methods:
Mythic Hierophant: Suicide a character. Defeat the armies with 5 living characters and forget about acrobatics. Resurrect the deceased afterwards.

OR (probably not possible for your group at the moment)

Sword of Iomedae on Kyra with a proper deck (8 blessings of ascension, all possible slots filled with cards you display/bury/banish or which give mythic charges. e.g.:
8 BOA
Mastiff, Beltis Loumis, Celestial Unicorn x2
Pillar of Life x2, Steal Soul, Restore Mythic Power Lend Mythic Path
Chalice, Banner
Weapon
Armor)

Bury/give away the armor (and the weapon, if you don't have handsize 7). Display/bury all the other cards that don't give mythic charges on your first 3-4 turns.
Then:
1. Play all your blessings of ascension/restore mythic power for mythic charges (5-7 on a fresh hand).
2. Spend 5 to reshuffle your discards and reset your hand. You will always draw at least 5 cards that restore mythic charges.
Repeat 1-2 an arbitrary number of times. Now you have +infinite to Str/Wis/Cha, and can power any charge-using powers at-will.

3. Play Lend Mythic Power to grab an archmage in the group to scout everything / Marshal to give other people 5 of your mythic charges on each encounter/etc.
4. Explore an arbitrary number of times, clearing out most non-army cards trivially. If you have room to fit a move-and-explore mount into Kyra's remaining cards (5 charge restorers + Lend Mythic Path + Mount), you can clear out all non-army cards.
5. With those encounters & Mythic Marshal power repeatedly borrowed, everyone else should be back to full++ on mythic charges, for all the non-acrobatics checks.
6. Heal other characters with Sword of Iomedae as needed, so they have blessings on hand for the acrobatics check. If their hands get clogged with cards that don't help, have them pitch their entire hand to redraw on their turn until that's fixed. You can restart the infinite power at any time, regardless of whose turn it is.


That is to say, I probably agree with fixing overpowered exploits :).

I mean, my Courtier-Siwar (banished allies --> her discard), WotR Kyra (heals put allies directly back in hands), Feiya (discard allies to get spells back), WotR Seelah (discard her deck on people's checks to find the key allies) S&S party had a glorious shining moment when the combination of Feiya looping Recast on Kyra's Holy Feast (giving back the animal ally to get back Recast, along with 1-2 other animals) made everything infinite and trivial (Imp --> anyone can draw their deck; Phantasmal minion on Feiya --> pass cards to anyone; Barracuda Aiger --> full-scout every deck; Pteranadon --> move and explore wherever; Master of Gales & Arronax guy ---> auto-pass non-combat checks on a ship, auto-pass henchmen; spyglass-type card---> stack whichever deck you want). But the game isn't actually fun at that point, so I'd rather you patch things :).

Or is your philosophy in part that it doesn't matter if things are broken at AD6, if people find the right loot?


Vic Wertz wrote:
There's a good chance this wants to begin "When you play a non-Basic blessing that matches..."

The next thing you say is probably going to be that Sword of Iomedae needs some sort of 'if it's that player's turn, end the turn'/'1/turn' clause on its 5-charge power to prevent INFINITE POWER for appropriately-slimmed blessing-heavy decks.

Spoilsport :). Just give me a couple weeks to finish off WotR first, kk?


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skizzerz wrote:

We get Miracle but not Wish? Explicit confirmation that Paizo hates Arcane casters! ;)

@Frencois: You already have Permanency and Contingency due to having Miracle; neither of those are above level 7 after all! That said, I disagree with your opinion that Time Stop is better than Wish, I'd take the latter all day every day. Time Stop is incredibly limited as to what you can actually accomplish in those 2-5 rounds, whereas Wish does whatever you want it to do (within reason). I'd even say you'd be able to Wish a Time Stop, but be careful with how you word it lest time gets stopped for you as opposed to everyone else...

Nothing beats the rounds of buffing / delayed-spell-casting during a maximized Time Stop.

Note to self: never play epic 3e again.


claudekennilol wrote:
So my wife and I have been slowly playing through Skull and Shackles since its release and I just got my third or so power feat and filled in the +2 for each revealed weapon/blessing. It's completely broken for a two person party. I can give her +10 on her check (auto success for most checks after factoring in anything else she has) and still act freely on my turn since I can pick up my cards at the start of my turn. So I've since retconned and filled in the [+2] healing box that I barely ever use. That's all.

Characters can be powerful. Oloch is not more powerful than many other characters, but it's true that his power comes in a way that can eliminate risk (and thus excitement).

Balance in 1-2 or 5-6 character games can also be funny, such that you're more likely to encounter particularly easy or particularly hard situations.

If you find this lessens your fun, solutions include playing less effective characters (what you're doing---good for you!), upping the difficulty (some people add additional location decks for small parties, as if playing a larger game, though this also ups how many upgrades you find), or playing two characters each/splitting a 3rd character between you, to lessen the impact of any individual character/make Oloch's decisions harder since he needs to spread his buffing out among more turns between hand resets.


Longshot11 wrote:
w w 379 wrote:
Ranzak seems like 1) a separate issue and 2) a potentially higher degree of an issue. That changes nothing about Alain being a problem.

I wasn't saying otherwise. I was just inquiring if perhaps I'm missing something about Ranzak.

Joshua Birk 898 wrote:
If your Ranzak ever receives healing, those discarded cards make there way back into your deck and will eventually dilute your hand. Unless you can consistently banish the cards you acquire, ranzak ends up holding a bunch of junk.
I'll chalk it up to playstyle then. Our Ranzak hardly ever gets healing...

This. Ranzak with a steady stream of healing is the fastest* exploring character in the game. If you have Ranzak play out all his allies/blessings to explore, and then heal them back into his deck before his random acquisitions hit the discards (and before he resets his hand), he can reliably burn through a location in a single turn more often than not. He is highly dependent on party support when facing lots of banes, but also takes better advantage of turn-long buffs (Potion of Heroism, Speed, Divine Fortune) than anybody else, due to the huge number of encounters he can pack into a single turn.

Lancer Alain has a different, quite arguably better (in WotR, certainly) overall package (much better at combat, can self-heal vs. better at boon acquiring/ships/some barriers, slightly faster exploration, can let others handle banes for him, excessively large hand-size), but if his exploration speed *alone* is problematic, then so is Ranzak's.

*(Leaving aside situations only possible with infinite spell looping such as using 'when you play a card/do x, draw a card' powers with the right deck setup). Imrijka has an analogous free-explore power for high-monster situations, but her smaller handsize and greater difficulty acquiring allies for additional explores (not to mention the lower average # of monsters vs. # of boons) put her in a tier behind Ranzak-speed.


Longshot11 wrote:
philosorapt0r wrote:

4-1: 6 extra turns, scenario ended with 11 blessings in the discard.

4-2: 7 extra turns (again, around half the blessings left)
4-3: 12 extra turns (intentionally using nearly the full clock to shop at the marketplace/have time to hit the villain multiple times)
4-4: only 3 extra turns, as scenario finished in no time with 4 in the discard (good henchmen luck)
4-5: 8 extra turns (about half blessings remaining)

Since I'll assume you yourself used all the tips from the end of your post, these seem like good examples why a player SHOULDN'T waste a feat on this power.

If I'm reading this correctly, all throughout AD4 you would be perfectly fine even without this power, safe maybe for your shopping spree in 4-3, but then that's you trying to farm the location, which you would do even with 30 blessings, but on lesser scale (and there's no need to get into the math of the average chance of getting something you want only from the Imrijka-granted additional clock turns). And, IMO, the need to build your blessings around that power and then to hope for a match (let alone the cases where you'll be tempted to play blessing for it's match, and not because it's really needed for the check)just far outweigh its usefulness.

At any rate, you used the magic phrase "trivializes the blessings deck", so expect the power to be FAQed into "every time the blessing you play...

The fact that PACG is often a game where one succeeds the vast majority of the time doesn't mean that making your party more powerful is a 'waste' of a power. No other power feats would have led to a higher success rate in those scenarios than what we had, so arguing that 'we won anyway without clock pressure, so anything that helped with clock pressure was worthless' is overly results-oriented. If the baseline is that you have enough time to win 90% of the time, then something that pushes that up to 100% may look the same on a given 5-game-sample, but "didn't run out of time" is different from "couldn't possibly have run out of time".

Also, if we would have won anyway without clock pressure with *any* post-role power feats, it doesn't follow that every Wandering Judge option is therefore worthless.

Besides, it's actually not true that the power didn't make a difference to how easily the scenarios played out. With the knowledge that we had the turn freedom to archmage-scout locations on-demand, our party had to run many fewer risks than they did previous to AD4. In every scenario where we were concerned about blind-hitting a villain, we were able to scout until we found it. Could we have aggressively used the archmage power without Imrijka's promise of 10+ extra turns? Sure, but then we would have had to do so without knowing whether we'd actually have enough time to durdle around to get enough mythic charges back.

That's an interesting point on checks-to-acquire outside of an encounter. Imrijka isn't as hindered by it as most, as you note (can roll her d4 melee/base dex die/int instead of knowledge/etc.), but that would indeed mean that many characters won't be able to do this at the armory/will have to choose (in)appropriate types at the marketplace.

And I'm totally uninvested in whether this power gets FAQ'd or not, although I don't think there's a good way to nerf it slightly ('basic blessing' still gives tons of turns, 'non-basic blessing' is sufficiently worse to no longer be worth the cost of a feat and building your blessings around it, instead of just grabbing a stack of Nethys or whatever.)

What I do want to point out is that the fact that a character can, with effort, trivialize the blessing deck, isn't itself necessarily a problem for the game. The extra turns Imrijka grants are fairly shared throughout the party as normal. And from the blessing-reshuffling book in AD5, it seems like the design team is OK with that (absence of blessing pressure) being a possibility. Lancer-Alain isn't the most powerful clock-destroying tool in the game, he's just a particularly obnoxious and obvious one :).


Ok, with AD4 under her belt, Imrijka is here to give an update on how the Wandering Judge is the most powerful tool in the game for trivializing the blessing clock.

Now, you might be thinking, "Imrijka? You mean the second-best ranged-divine hybrid in WotR? The half-orc who can fight a dozen monsters in a row in theory, but whose base combat stats are low enough that part of you thinks it'd be safer just letting Alain lance them one by one? I guess she has the second most exciting hat in WotR, after that summoner guy."
Bear with me.

Even pre-role, Imrijka is highly skilled at burning through dangerous locations before the clock can become a factor. While her base values are just OK, once you tack on her extra d4 (which works against all those nasty pre-combat checks, don't forget!), charges from a mythic path, Flames of the Faithful on some turns(more scaling!), and ideally a Steal Soul (DON'T LISTEN TO THE WIZARD YOU NEED IT MORE TO HUNT EEVVIILLL), and/or some assistance from a succubus, she can cut a mean swath through a long list of monsters, often without needing to roll. Don't forget that you can use melee weapons almost as well as ranged, so don't be afraid to grab your share of the swords and polearms. Every monster you kill is a chance at a free explore, so make your big turns count, and be sure to cycle away your vast armory of weapons so they don't slow you down. Remember, you are the Ranzak of killing. In a good way.

Then comes Wandering Judge, and things get interesting.
(Disclaimer: Cold Iron Warden is a more-than-solid role with a lot of good options---putting barriers on the bottom of locations, recharging blessings, even more effective evil-hunting---but it basically plays fair, and I didn't take it, so I'll be ignoring it after this.)

Specifically, then comes this power:
"[] When you play a blessing that matches the top card of the blessings discard pile, you may shuffle the top card of the blessings discard pile into the blessings deck."

Now, if you're remembering the built-in power of most non-basic blessings to recharge when they match the current blessing, you're probably thinking "oh, that's nice, that should maybe come up a few times a game, I'll grab that after I drop three feats into being a Harsk copycat."

Now realize that this works with Blessings of Ascension. Which are half the blessings in the deck as of AD4 [they would be slightly less, but you should make sure your fellow party members stock up on other kinds, which brings it back up again. In a larger game, the ratio only gets better the more blessings are pulled out of the pool]. If you max Imrijka's blessing slots, carry 3+ Blessings of Ascension, and carry singletons of blessings that others in your party don't carry (preferably the corrupt ones like Shax & Abraxas that you can play whenever [no Deskari for this plan], since they have more copies[6] in the base set than the random non-corrupt ones).

Remember how great the Holy Candle was in RotR? Imrijka is made of Holy Candles.
Running through AD4 my Wandering Judge matched her way to this many extra turns for the party ... (all 3p. More players gives you a better ratio of favorable matches, but fewer chances to refill your hand.)
4-1: 6 extra turns, scenario ended with 11 blessings in the discard.
4-2: 7 extra turns (again, around half the blessings left)
4-3: 12 extra turns (intentionally using nearly the full clock to shop at the marketplace/have time to hit the villain multiple times)
4-4: only 3 extra turns, as scenario finished in no time with 4 in the discard (good henchmen luck)
4-5: 8 extra turns (about half blessings remaining)

In short, if you want a blessing deck that's reliably over 40 deep, Imrijka is the answer.

*How this works:
1) Build a deck that becomes streamlined in play: the more non-blessing cards you draw, the fewer extra turns you'll get. Cards that display, bury, or otherwise don't end up back in your deck are what you want (Steal Soul, Banner of Valor, Mysterious Disk, Javelin of Lightning, etc.). Bring a Mastiff along, and use it to draw cards like you have a problem.

2) If you draw/acquire cards that don't cycle, pitch 'em! Use your base power to cycle away excess ranged weapons if they don't have built in recharge options. If you keep resetting with more non-blessings than a weapon and an armor sitting in your hand, discard more.

3) Proper feats: Max your blessing slots. Max your hand-size. (Take enough spells to support your monster-killing side, but you have enough weapons already.) If other party members can assist (bonus card-draw from Arue's heal; an extra blessing or two handed off on occasion), that's nice, but isn't essential.

4) Hold your Blessings of Ascension until a match comes up whenever possible.

5) Have heavy healing in the party. When your discard pile builds up 3-4 blessings, you need those to be shuffled back in ASAP. Imrijka can carry at least 1 heal herself, but someone like Arueshalae (Redeemed), Oloch, various versions of Kyra/Seelah, or just anyone with a pile of Cures can keep you going. Don't stress about giving up explorations to heal (like with Pillar of Life), as you should have more time to spare than you're used to.

*Why you might want to do this:
1) Security: Avoid losing to the clock running out, and equally avoid losing/dying because you had to run into a dangerous spot not fully prepared. Use extra turns to heal/set up hands more than usual, and reap the rewards.

2) Time for scouting: Any party with an Adowyn, a Lancer Alain (using his move-around-power), an Alahazra, or any form of Mythic Archmage can turn time into knowledge. That 5-charge 'scout a location' becomes much more appealing for frequent use if the party can afford to take off several rounds for recovering charges with Blessings of Ascension and party healing resources.

3) Endless farming: If you hit a henchman while a location is still full of loot, don't worry about closing it now, as you've got plenty of time! Even better are locations with closing requirements involving acquiring a boon (Armory/Marketplace), as you can choose to fail them repeatedly (just one turn each time!) to keep drawing at it until you find something you want.

4) Revenge! Do you remember running out of time during Best Served Cold, Bizarre Love Triangle, or the Toll of the Bell? Never again will the game designers challenge you in that particular way! Not While Imrijka still draws breath(or at least, draws blessings)!

TL;DR: Match Blessings of Ascension with Wandering Judge Imrijka. Laugh. Then laugh some more.


Longshot11 wrote:
Joshua Birk 898 wrote:
It's not that hard to figure out how to get 4 explores a turn. If you have a weapon and an armor (preferably one that lets you reveal to block combat damage), that's four cards that could be additional explores. If you acquire any cards during your turn, those are also additional explores. Even if you have to discard/recharge a card or two to win fights, you should be able t average 3 additional explores a turn fairly regularly.

But that was jduteau' point - if we're only talking about 2-3 extra explores per turn beyond the 'free' one - that doesn't seem especially overpowered, and it doesn't even begin to rival Ranzak, of whom I remember no such high number of complaints.

And if we're talking about more than that - jduteau was asking for an example turn, because - I'm only assuming- all the claims about Alain's 'super-turns' sound as so much conjecture and exaggeration (I'm not saying they don't happen at all, I'm doubting they happen with anywhere near the frequency that would deserve him being nerfed).

Funny, I'm getting the impression all the people complaining about Alain's build, at the end of scenario and rebuilding decks just go "You guys take whatever loot you like, I don't care about anything but mounts. They're all just recharges to me." I'm not saying this isn't a valid way to play, but I usually have my decks pretty specialized, and every card in them matters, and call me weird, but no, in a 2 Barrier location deck, I'm not going to recharge my Masterwork Tools just to get another explore. So maybe that's why I'm not getting the whole 'thing' with the Lancer.

Well, it's *4* extra explores beyond the free one, without any additional work/cards acquired needed. When I ran the math earlier in this thread (making a few back-of-a-napkin fudges about acquisition rates) factoring in acquiring boons, it looked like Ranzak would average .5-1 more explorations a turn than Alain (in large part because of getting two free explores off of many acquired allies/blessings) under pretty average circumstances, but that Alain was netting significant effective self-healing in the process. And, as Josh has pointed out, this also requires junking up Ranzak's deck with a fair number of boons you wouldn't otherwise want, making late-in-the-scenario Ranzak draws....unexceptional. {What you mean? Miss Fairwind take all vendor trash, give Ranzak d6. You no like d6?}

Since people who aren't used to playing with Ranzak aren't used to getting 6-7 explorations a turn, the fact that there's at least one character who explores a little faster than Alain doesn't seem to be much consolation to folks :). (And of course, all the turn-hogging complaints apply equally to a Ranzak who doesn't use his evade power much; perhaps if he had been shipped with the S&S base set instead of being released as a promo, people would complain about him, too.)

While playing more cautiously by holding an extra card or two in reserve for barriers/etc. makes Alain explore a little slower, it equally slows other characters by slowing down their cycling to allies/blessings, so while in absolute terms you're absolutely right that he'll be less of a monster (only 4-5 explores a turn, instead of 6+), if a group takes that approach he'll still be doing a similarly disproportionate share of the exploring.

Clearly, everyone who's annoyed by their party's Alain should switch to Ranzak/Imrijka, and just end scenarios by turn 10 regularly ;). (Actually, Ranzak/Alain is a pretty solid combo, as with a Merchant Lord Ranzak can pass off all his accumulated junk to Alain, generating even more free explores!)


Joshua Birk 898 wrote:
w w 379 wrote:
Joshua Birk 898 wrote:

Which mythic path do you use?

edit: Nevermind, just saw it. Still not sure how you beat non-demon, non-undead since you can't roll d20s against them. But maybe you just get a ton of help from your team mates.

Well, looks like I just learned something. Time to pick up the sword of iomedae :PP

Everyone is maxed on blessings though. Many Shaxes and Baphomets.

Sword of Iomedae is so amazingly sweet. The only down side of it is that Seelah, Kyra and Imrijka all want to have it to themselves.

I'm pretty sure whatever party member is willing to run the most Blessings of Ascension to actually make use of the power should get to have it---the only thing better than Mastiff/Imp/Restoration giving a draw 2 (or Dawnflower's Grace Kyra giving an effective draw d4+1 with a Cure on the right ally/armor-rich discard pile) is a 'draw up to your handsize' power. The heal is just a bonus to keep all the card-draw from killing you :).

Although, if there's someone who can engineer having a big enough hand-size (for a turn, or period), there are some abusive possibilities if you shrink your deck by burying/displaying/giving away enough non-Blessing-of-Ascension cards that you can average (or guarantee) 5+ cards that restore mythic charges per hand reset. As in, you can generate unlimited mythic charges (until they wear off at end of turn), at which point you can use the BoAs to explore as often as you wish (albeit at the edge of death), with arbitrarily-high bonuses to Str/Wis/Cha, with the ability to heal whenever you like barring an 'end-your-turn' trigger or enough hostile 'bury' effects that you just unavoidably die.

Ok...this really calls for running 10-Blessing-of-ascension RotR Sajan through WotR solo, to demonstrate his struggles through the first five ADs culminating in a literal ascension to godhood when he assumes the mantle of Sword of Iomedae! I mean, apart from the likelihood that before-the-check combat damage would murder him long before then :).


Do after-the-encounter card effects still happen if you evade a bane (namely, Lady of Valor)? I'm trying to figure out if Adowyn trivializes this scenario the same way she does other summoning-based ones (like the one with the dragon's lair), or if her anti-summon power instead amounts to "hey guys, I saved you from having to face Iomedae...oh, I guess she's done with us...sooo, might as well loot the joint and try again later?"

As an aside, I have mixed feelings about the giant down-swing in difficulty Adowyn brings to some scenarios. On the one hand, it's cool to have characters that shine in certain situations. On the other hand, when that means that parties with Adowyn never have to face large chunks of the game (basically all summoned henchman/servitor demons/bonus villains), it feels like you're missing out on content/intended difficulty level. As in, I was glad to swap out Adowyn for Arueshalae, so that a subset of scenarios wouldn't feel like I'd just turned on no-clipping mode and sprinted past the big monsters.


nondeskript wrote:
But Guild players will not have the option to change his powers from whatever the final wording is, so that power needs to be more in-line with the average power and not something that takes all of the explores and closes multiple locations in one turn. Radillo was less exploitable than this and she had to be errataed as well.

A quibble: pre-errata Radillo could fully scout, loot, and stack locations with zero risk and zero resource cost, fast enough to guarantee that the blessing clock would never be a problem. Regardless of where one stands on the acceptability of Lancer Alain's power level, it is markedly lower than the 'is-this-even-still-a-game' nature of Radillo (he needs party resources to really go crazy, and has to encounter the banes in a location, rather than just getting all the boons and then putting the henchman/villain on the top).


Joshua Birk 898 wrote:
I'm sure it will slip a lot of people's minds, considering the power sounds useless on paper, but blowing 5 mythic charges to have your archmage scout the blessing deck seems super useful on this one.

It only sounds useless to people who aren't playing Wandering Judge Imrijka, who want to figure out if there's a 7-card or so hand of blessings that if she strips her deck down to that (with reliable every turn healing available ) her party can have infinite turns!


magnitt wrote:

I think it is wrong to mix up the two following problems, which clearly exist, as is apparent from this thread:

1) WotR becomes just too difficult with 6 players compared with 3-4 players.

2) Alain's lancer power (Recharge a card to search your deck or discard pile for a card that has the Mount trait and add it to your hand) is just too good for a single power feat.

I think the right approach would be to try to resolve each of these problems independently rather than think that they just cancel each other and thus all is fine. After all, there could be 6p-parties without Alain and 3-4p parties with him!

Agreed. It's also important to remember that characters are portable across sets, so it would be a mistake to balance character power solely based around the base set that they are printed with. Otherwise we'll end up with OP characters from hard sets that throw off the balance if used in other paths (and/or UP characters in easy sets that aren't up to par in harder ones).

(Of course, it's fine---good design, even---if characters have path-specific strength to make up for path-specific difficulty: Adowyn's "I kill summoned adds without blinking" in WotR, where a large portion of the difficulty comes in the form of brutal barrier, location, or scenario-summoned monsters, means that she's a ridiculous powerhouse in this path, but might merely be great in others where summoned monsters are less of a problem. See also: the survival skill in S&S vs. other paths, etc.)


Myfly wrote:

Use Ally Runelord to permanently close your location. What do you do if the villain is in that location?

Or is it just close after henchmen defeat?

[See correct answers below.]


Keith Richmond wrote:
philosorapt0r wrote:
Out of curiosity, was Book of the Damned created with the possibility of rebuilding with loot cards from the box in mind, or would it likely look a little different if that ruling had been made earlier? Because I see a lot of our party's Arueshalae playing that thing 2+ times a scenario as needed, with all the loot cards already in her deck, available for easy recovery :).
Do you really think you'd play it more than once a scenario? I mean, that's probably a _lot_ of blessings.

Well, yeah, it's probably overkill in terms of *winning* most scenarios , but having the option is nice in terms of allowing extra-cautious play, and lets you do things that ordinarily would take too long, like burning turns farming the closing check on marketplace/armory-type locations (purging basics/elites, and fishing for something you really want), or having your Mythic Archmage use the 5-charge ability to fully scout multiple locations and have enough time to use Blessings of Ascension/Restore Mythic Power (or, in our party's Corruptor-Seoni's case, anything in the corrupt half of her deck) to refuel.

You'll need heavy healing for the latter, but heal-instead-of-explore powers like using Pillar of Life (or cleric/warpriest heals) can help convert extra turns into healing to make the engine go. (Sword of Iomedae's full-heal should get some good use, here, too, once we reach it.)

I've definitely been thinking too much about this (how to make use of excessive numbers of turns) as I've started using Imrijka's 'reshuffle the current blessing discard when you play a blessing that matches it' power in Wandering Judge. I'll give a full report once I'm through AD4 with her, but the first few scenarios she's netted 6-7 extra turns each (with at least half the blessing deck left). Since her power gets better (more chances to match) the larger the blessing deck, you could say I'm excited about combining her with the Book :).


Out of curiosity, was Book of the Damned created with the possibility of rebuilding with loot cards from the box in mind, or would it likely look a little different if that ruling had been made earlier? Because I see a lot of our party's Arueshalae playing that thing 2+ times a scenario as needed, with all the loot cards already in her deck, available for easy recovery :).

Also, my Courtier Siwar approves of her future Runelord buddy in the banish-into-my-discards club once she gets to epic play.


Adowyn can/probably should recharge 90% of her otherwise-unused cards in hand every round for additional scouting, so if she grabs a third spell slot and carries Cures, she'll see them quite often.

In general, you're better off holding onto most of your mythic charges for the static bonus, so I wouldn't take Hierophant anticipating lots of healing from it.

Alain will have some options for self-healing post-role (see: Lancer threads). Adowyn has an option to self-heal one card on her turn (if she's discarded an animal), and can make playing allies heal her, post-role.

Also, in AD2, regardless of your mythic path,

card spoiler:
There is an armor that lets you heal someone whenever you play an Iomedae card, which also synergizes with the Iomedae-cards-heal-an-ally power under Inheritor's Blade later on. And if the many armories fail to turn it up, you can guarantee rebuilding with it once you reach AD4.


Relatedly, while Wrath of the Righteous is certainly more difficult than RotR regardless, this is most pronounced when playing with 5-6 players (due to some challenges that need to be defeated by everyone in the party). So, if you find the game too challenging playing with 5-6, I'd recommend trying it out with 3-4 (which is probably a more manageable number for learning the game, anyway).


One concern people have raised over a character that explores very fast (like Lancer Alain) is that this leads to 'trivializing the blessing deck'.

Now, in my current S&S playthrough, I have a party that has achieved a very high rate of exploration (through a heavy-healing WotR Kyra using piles of cure/holy feast to put tons of allies back into people's hands). As a result, I haven't had to worry at all about losing scenarios due to lack of time. This hasn't made the blessing deck irrelevant, though, because Skull & Shackles has the ship mechanic to turn extra blessing turns into valuable resources, either as additional dice, or (what I've been going with most recently) additional shots at more/better loot (specifically, using the Come What May to get rid of basic/elite plunder while digging for the good stuff, but in earlier ADs I used the Merchantman to fish for whatever card type had the most important upgrades). I'm still encouraged to burn through location decks as quickly as possible, because having turns left over is rewarded.

In other sets, the same situation occurs whenever there is a location that can be farmed, like the armory in WotR, where you can leave it empty, and then spend turns looking at new cards to potentially acquire with its closing method, until you find something suitable (or run too low on turns).

So, 'blessing deck is trivialized' can be avoided as a problem for fun whenever there is something that uses the blessing deck as a resource. Should we hope for new characters/boons that have 'discard the top/top x card(s) from the blessing deck to ____', so that parties that can explore too fast still have a reason to care about the blessing deck?


Having a few mix-and-match cohorts for new cohort-using characters would be delightfully modular, and greatly expand customizability-out-of-the-box in a way that's usually not possible pre-role. If the class deck summoners have the option for any cohort with the 'eidolon' trait, or the class deck hunters have the option for any cohort with an appropriate trait, then it becomes very simple to add new lateral options for the appropriate classes. Would love for there to be (for instance) 3 x 3 ways a starting class deck summoner could look, rather than just 3.

Alternatively, you could make it an upgrade option, e.g. "[]At the start of the scenario, you may start with any cohort with the x trait, instead of Sally". You could even potentially have higher-level options that way (upgrade your wolf companion to a dire bear, etc.), with the higher-level options either in the class box, or adventure-path-specific (for characters printed in those paths), possibly as loot to allow OP characters to play with them.


jduteau wrote:
philosorapt0r wrote:
And yes, there's definitely tension between spreading loot so that everyone feels they're getting their fair share, and putting it where it helps the party most.

Our games haven't had this tension and I'm not sure that it is entirely because it's been my son, my daughter, and I. In all three games, we've just naturally chosen three different characters that need three different things.

In RotR, we had Sajan, Seelah, and Seoni.
In S&S, we had Seltyiel, Damiel, and Lini.
In WotR, we have Balazar, Seelah, and Adowyn.

Each of those three characters has wanted different things - Sajan wants blessings, Seelah wanted good Melee weapons, and Seoni wanted Arcane spells. Seltyiel wanted Arcane spells and Swords, Damiel wanted potions, Lini wanted allies and ranged weapons (at least the way that my daughter made her).

The closest we got was Damiel and Lini arguing over crossbows and guns but theme actually won over as my daughter wanted Lini using crossbows over guns so Damiel got the guns. :)

I can totally see if you had characters that overlapped how that would cause some tension. Put Seltyiel and Jirianne together and you have arguments over swords. Some of the tension then could be alleviated by the initial choice of characters. Having said that, I wouldn't let that concern override my desire to have fun and play a certain character.

I agree that with 3p parties (and some carefully chosen 4p) you can mostly avoid overlap for str/dex/arcane/divine, and to a lesser extent items/allies based on slots (or via specialized items like S&S's stat-gems). Characters like Damiel & Sajan (whose desired cards aren't high priority for others) are especially awesome for this.

Mostly, this comes up in bigger games (where weapon/spell overlap is unavoidable), or with boons that are great for everyone (Besmara's Tricorne!). Moreso for spells than weapons, as there's diminishing utility for upgrading your 2nd/3rd/4th best weapons, compared with having at least one really good one. Picking who gets the shapechange/steal soul/Dreamstone Fragment will have a real effect on whose character has a bigger impact on scenarios. Some people care, others are in a more chill/cooperative mode where power differential isn't a big deal to them.


magnitt wrote:


philosorapt0r wrote:
it's simply incorrect to say that the heavy-exploring character is necessarily *better*

You are right, they are not always better "as is", but note that they tend to become better as a result of exploring more often because they are more likely to acquire boons which are good for them. That's another reason why we like to let every character explore - magic users go to locations with spells and fighters go for weapons. This increases our chances to find (and acquire!) more good boons for everyone.

That's a good point, which I wasn't thinking about due to my own groups' habits regarding loot acquisition and distribution (throw everything at any meaningful upgrades, and pool everything new and divvy it up to whoever can best use it); if a group tends towards letting whoever finds something keep it (if they want to), or having people explore without enough backup to make difficult checks to acquire, then you definitely need to spread the exploring out to make sure everyone gets the fun of getting new stuff.

And yes, there's definitely tension between spreading loot so that everyone feels they're getting their fair share, and putting it where it helps the party most. While it comes up with high-exploring/carry characters (who will encounter more banes, and so benefit more than average from the latest-and-greatest boons), the more general consideration is that you want the most awesome cards to get played as often as possible, which means characters with large hand-size, fast-cycling playstyle (like Alhazra), and/or recursion abilities (like Lem/Feiya/Seoni/Alhazra) get more out of upgrades (other than cards like weapons that sit in your hand, and so are roughly equal for everyone who can use them). On the other hand, characters with strong abilities that use random cards (bard/rogue recharges, etc.), or low-cycling characters (low-hand-size martials, but also anyone with frequently-used put-on-top-of-deck powers) don't suffer as much from having low-power cards, so can afford to be lower priority in the upgrade queue. Player tolerance for this sort of approach to loot distribution, of course, will vary :).


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magnitt wrote:


I feel that it is not normal or fun when one of the characters is much better than others and so he does multiple explores each turn while others mostly explore once a turn and keep playing blessings and cures on that character. Even if such a strategy would be more beneficial to the group as a whole, it is not fun.
...

Each player should feel that he is actively contributing to victory, not just support others. Yes, some characters are more support-oriented, I did Lem and Oloch myself, but it is not normal or nice to exclusively limit some player to supporting others. It is not good if one player says "Guys, I'm better than you, so I'll use my blessing to explore and you will play yours to support me".

This is entirely a player style question. Some players (myself included) enjoy playing 4e d&d warlords, mmo healers, moba supports, and are perfectly happy to 'actively contribute to victory' through means other than exploration (buffing, scouting, healing, card passing, movement powers, etc.). Others don't, and prefer parties with everyone played mid-range. The fact that the game has characters (or builds of characters) that are good at being self-sufficient (Merisiel), characters/builds that are good at supporting, and those acting as fast exploring and/or bane-destroying 'carries' given adequate support (see: Imrijka/Ranzak/Alain) is a *feature*, not a problem. Playing Damiel as a hyper-support for someone else's Ranzak, feeding him Potions of Heroism, Flying, and Speed spells to help the party steamroll is a fun play-style for some of us. There is nothing 'abnormal' about it, it's just a matter of taste, just as some people enjoy playing lazy warlords (who fight by granting attacks to other characters), and others loathe them.

That being said, you're entirely right that no one should feel obligated to simply maximize party efficiency if doing so requires playing in a way they find un-fun. But the only problem is the player who says "you have to do [x] for me", not the fact that characters exist for whom optimal (in terms of party success) play is a style you find un-fun. Since (as your experience shows) it is perfectly possible to win with your preferred playstyle, there's no problem with the game supporting more role-specialization as an option as well.

(As an aside on character power-level---in looking at how explorer/destroyer characters synergize with more support-minded characters enabling them, it's simply incorrect to say that the heavy-exploring character is necessarily *better*. In many cases, it is the character with the healing/scouting/buffing that is the more essential one (the cleric can keep curing any random character's blessings/allies back to achieve fast enough party exploration to win, but Ranzak can only carry with the right comrades backing him up).


Rerednaw wrote:

Other than a healing potion, which are boxed after use, I was wondering if there were other methods available?

I pretty much roll with Meri, but this thought also came up when I was looking at the martial classes. Most arcanes can at least cycle their spells, fighters their weapons, and so on. But other cards once discarded are gone. I can see where this falls under balance and deck management though.

Thanks!

Depending on the set (or what class decks you mix in), things like Staff of Minor Healing, the bury-to-heal ally from Rotr, Surgeon/Haneileus Fitch/Crystal of Healing/Ring of Regeneration from S&S can all help non-divine-casters get a touch of healing. Also note that anyone who can get a card slot for a spell can choose to have a one-shot Cure (or, at the end of an AP, something better), and just rebuild with it from the box after every scenario, so long as you don't acquire any spells during play (not a big sacrifice if you're running only martials).

Also, even if you're playing solo, there's always the option of running multiple characters yourself, which provides a variety of options for at least a smattering of divine casting, though I certainly respect playing on hard-mode with an unbalanced party.


PeachPlumPear wrote:

I really want to like this character, but her base powers seem to be pretty abysmal until you can upgrade them.

Her first power only has a 40% chance of evading a bane during the Base Adventure and it gets worse from there (Can roll 2-12 and difficulty of 8 + 2x Adventure Path number). Her 2nd power is ok for getting spells but not a lot of the base spells are all that great.

Am I missing something about her? What's a good strategy for playing as Melindra?

Play her in WotR. Mythic trickster solves a fair amount of your stealth scaling woes, and there are plenty of things to evade there (and plenty of reasons having weapons on a wizard are useful. Steal soul should help, too.


Looking at the game design question now (when is a character/feat too good), there are a couple different parameters to lay out:

1) What's the problem we're worried about? Are we concerned (a) about the game becoming too easy, (b) just having too large a power differential between characters in the abstract, or (c) players having less fun, perhaps because the character becomes a turn-hog?

2) How frequently/easily does this need to crop up to warrant a change? If a character only becomes OP given a specific (and uncommon) deck(/party) composition and playstyle, is that a problem? Or is it only when straightforward play leads to OP-ness?

For instance, pre-errata Radillo fell afoul of everything, casting infinite auguries/detect magics to loot the entire scenario and stack the villain to the top without needing to face a bane, pre-role-card, no setup needed. We can safely say that that is stronger than is good for the game.
It's not all that hard, however, for someone like Transmogrifier Ezren to hold in hand/bury/give away all his non-spell cards on his first couple turns, then draw up to a 10-card hand, and loop through his deck the exact same way, drawing a new spell for each one he plays, as long as his deck is built with enough low-recharge-check play-anytime spells. He can do something just as powerful as pre-errata Radillo, but only easily post-role, with some deck finagling. If someone isn't specifically shooting for this, it won't happen.

Lancer Alain falls under the 'gets strong through standard play' heading, so he gets the high (Radillo) scrutiny, rather than the lax (yeah yeah, you can work really hard to make the game too easy through setting up infinite Ezren tricks). So, where does he fall on the power-curve? If Damiel, Adowyn, Restoration-looping Lini, and Ranzak are still better, does that make it fine? Or is this a combination of power-level & fun-killing-spotlight-hogging that makes it objectionable?

(For my money, the exploration-speed isn't the problem, as no one's been filling the boards with nerf-Ranzak posts. Infinite self-healing at-will seems like the thing to look at. If it were 'recharge to pull from deck/discard to pull from discard pile', it'd let him keep the explore engine without making him entirely self-sufficient, which is a bit odd at the moment.)


4-Character solo game, everyone focused on sticking together for stacking buffs (allowing for stat-specialization, which I'd ordinarily avoid in S&S), planning on ally recursion synergies from AD4 on with Everlight's Grace Kyra/Courtier Siwar.

Character Name: Seelah (WotR)
Role Card: Wardstone Sentry
Skill Feats: Str +4
Power Feats: +1 hand size, discard top card for d6+1, +2, (+card draw)
Card Feats: Spell +1, Ally +2
Weapons: Brine's Sting, Keen Falcata =1, Falcata +1, Toxic Blunderbuss +1 [for Siwar]
Spells: Find Traps x2
Armors: Besmaran Vestments x2, Buccaneer's Breastplate
Items: Ring of Wave Walking
Allies: Dodo x2, Tessa Fairwind, Ambrose 'Fishguts' Kroop
Blessings: Gorum, Sivanah, Cayden Cailean, Pharasma
Current Party Ship: Kraken

Character Name: Kyra (WotR)
Role Card: Everlight's Grace
Skill Feats: Wis +4
Power Feats: +1 hand size, Weapon Prof, shuffle 1 card back (on your check), Armors healed by healing boons --> hand
Card Feats: Item +1, Blessing +2
Weapons: Icy Boarding Pike +1
Spells: Cure x3, Sphere of Fire x2
Armors: Fortified Shell Armor
Items: Besmara's Tricorne, Pearl of Wisdom
Allies: Rotgut, Rickety Hale
Blessings: Abadar x4, Hshurha x2, Milani

Character Name: Feiya
Role Card: Hexer
Skill Feats: Int +4
Power Feats: +1 hand size, Hex vs, Barrier, add 2, 3+AD#.
Card Feats: Item +1, Ally +2
Weapons:
Spells: Animate Water, Wall of Fire, Skeleton Crew, Safe Harbor, Geyser, Dehydrating Touch
Armors:
Items: Sea Tyrant's Patch, Letter of Marque, Ring of the Iron Skull
Allies: Monkey x2, Haneilius Fitch, Imp, Slip
Blessings: Kelizandri, Achaekek, Pharasma, Pirate's Favor

Character Name: Siwar
Role Card: Courtier
Skill Feats: Cha +4
Power Feats: +2 hand size, recharge for d4(+1), When ally would banish/bury an ally at your location, put it in your discard
Card Feats: Weapon +1, Item +2
Weapons: Navigator Musket +1
Spells: Cure x2, Charm Animal
Armors:
Items: Besmara's Bones, Totem Necklace, Farglass, Jalazhar's Wheel, Masterwork Tools
Allies: Royster Mccleagh, Heartbreak Hinsin, Old Salt, Dindreann, Rosie Cusswell
Blessings: Achaekek x2, Pharasma, Sivanah

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