Anyone else getting tired of scenarios that are lousy for 3 or fewer characters?

Rules Questions and Gameplay Discussion

I'm talking about scenarios that are great with 4+ characters that just have everything awesome about them neutered when dropping down to 3 or less. We had the one in AP4 that I posted about where you had to have Fire to kill the Henchmen which became irrelevant because there was only one left when constructing the scenario. Now, in AP5, we have Thassalonian Sins.

This scenario is a beast with 5+ characters (4 is kind of iffy) because of the dual combination of the scariest non-Harpy henchmen so far AND the AP5 locations are all 12's to close meaning you're going to be chasing the Villains all over the place because temp closing is really, really hard. So, 3 or fewer characters gets rid of both of those, yippee. You only have one of the awesome henchmen (you have to pass a Wisdom 10 check or recharge all your cards and draw only one card meaning only Seoni feels good in passing that Combat 16 check), and closing locations is completely irrelevant as the Villains will do it for you, rendering the Bury your hand location moot. Pretty soon all of them will be at the one open location. I just won the game in 14 turns having to defeat the villains twice, twice, and three times, and I think the only way this scenario could be challenging is if you had only spell-casters since you can't play spells at that one location. Outside of that, there is no challenge. Really, really lousy scenario Paizo.

And now I feel bad that I didn't take the time to check for that for S&S during Beta.

I haven't noticed this. Both of my 3 character groups are my slowest progression. One of them I play solo and one with some friends that are very difficult to get together. I'll have to pay attention to it when I run them. I enjoyed deck 5 quite a bit with my wife and I's first 4 character group. We should be starting the second group through it soon. Three characters are probably difficult to balance for since it is less likely they will have a certain skill or be able to have a trait. For instance, there are 5 characters that don't have Arcane or Divine. Harsk is one, but he can pick up Divine on his role card. Sajan can take Drunken Master and simulate some spell kind of stuff. You can easily have 3 characters with no spell casters. But once you start having groups of 4 it becomes less likely.

I will say though, that my group with Calthaer is a 6 character group. They just started Skinsaw and I was so excited to do Undead Uprising with 6 characters to see how it felt. The first time we tried 2 guys couldn't make it. So we ran it but said we'd re-run it again with the other guys. Then the next time 2 guys couldn't make it. So we didn't bother re-running it. So I'm still wishing I could see Undead Uprising with 6 characters.

Well, I left 4 off of Thassalonian Sins because that extra location is the Thassalonian Dungeon which for most 4-character parties is really, really beneficial, even if you're just banishing spells there, and the closing requirement is only a 7. The 5th scenario here too is like that where the 4th player doesn't actually make things harder.

The problem is that the more AP's I go through, the more I see where a bunch of people's complaining about the game is founded because too many times the game is just simply easier with my 3-character parties due to the construction of some of the more difficult scenarios. It's one thing to have it be easier because there are fewer cards to search through so time isn't as big an issue, but when I see scenarios that in their design make the game for fewer players a cakewalk, it is really annoying. Beyond that, I love this game, and a lot of people won't get to experience the true joy of some of the game simply because their parties are 2-3 characters. In fact, they'll probably be left with a question of how this scenario got through beta testing because it is too easy.

For the record, saying "Well, you can make the game more difficult with House Rules." means nothing to me because there are a lot of people like myself that hate house rules and won't play with them.

It is my understanding that these scenarios are based of the 'paper and dice' adventure paths. Most of these scenarios are designed more for theme than game balance, so depending on your party configuration, some scenarios are going to challenge you and some will be lame. Very little can really be done about it, as it'd be difficult to base locations on say, what characters specifically you have. There isn't a lot of room on those scenario cards for highly specific details like that plus as more characters are added, it'll be harder to keep that relevant. It's simply a compromise they had to make; if you don't want to modify it yourself, then you'll just have to deal with it.

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

Larger parties struggle more with the clock, whereas smaller parties have a harder time passing checks (and can get hurt more a bane that no one is suited to deal with shows up).

In my experience, neither type really struggle too much with scenarios in AP 4 and 5, if you optimise them a bit. My 6 person group could throw so many blessings/spells/other bonuses that we had Seoni punch a shining child to death. The 3 person party if anything had a slightly harder time of it since no one was well equipped for things like a intelligence/knowledge 12 check and we had less blessings to play around with.

Okay, since the last two people didn't get my point, let me restate it. There are certain scenarios that solely by their design are easier for 2-3 characters than 5-6 because what makes them tough is neutered. Those are the scenarios that annoy me to no end.

I'm fully aware of what you're saying Oroniss that "Larger parties struggle more with the clock, whereas smaller parties have a harder time passing checks (and can get hurt more a bane that no one is suited to deal with shows up)." That is what you have to accept with the game, but you neglected to mention that smaller parties get to hold onto their Blessings and Allies much more than large parties so there is some balance there that I think works pretty well.

The two that caused me to write my OP, one from AP4 and one from AP5, basically said "These scenarios are absolutely amazing because of X" followed up with "And 2-3 character parties will never know because we've removed that X from it. Now enjoy!" I want that X put back in, but there really is no way to do it because it is the basic design of the scenario.

I don't know. Thassalonian Sins with Merisel, Seoni and Seelah has proven to be my most difficult scenario played to date. I played through it with 5 characters (Amiri, Kyra, Sajan, Harsk and Ezren) with little to no difficulty, but a rash of bad rolls, both in closing locations and with a few villain checks, has caused me to lose 3 straight times.

Prior to this run I had never failed a scenario more than once and only a few times at that. I'm thinking my Lini may have to come in and lend a hand to get them through it (Lini is part of my other party with Valeros and Lem).

While I do understand that the Similcrum's are a pretty nasty henchman, the wisdom 10 check isn't so bad that I think they increase the difficulty of the scenario that much... For me it's the wisdom and constitution 12 checks to temp close that are the biggest challenge.

The ap4 scenario with the Tyrant Trolls on the other hand, that I get.

Why in the world are you ever temp closing or even trying to close anything? Just whack the Villains over the head a few times which closes the location automatically (until you get multiple villains there). Seoni and Meri should have no trouble doing that. My 3-character party of Seelah, Sajan, and Ezren closed only 1 of the 5 locations, one of the Wisdom 12's as Seelah can nail those pretty easy with a blessing and her power (2or3d8+2 and d6+1or2).

Mostly been bad luck with this group I think... Not sure what the problem has really been. I'd swear if I hadn't had zero problems till this point that I would think that it was me.

I actually had Seoni get hand wiped twice and killed in the first try... Luckily Seelah had happened to get a raise dead within the scenario.

I guess I'm just saying that your experience may vary... With two parties I housed the scenario with literally no problem... I was dissapointed as you are, but these three play throughs have really made me respect it a lil more.

Eh, I played through these with a group of 2 and a group of 5. Seemed about the same for both. If you're annoyed with the difficulty, just tweak some things.

I'd say that goes to show how awful that scenario is and so is the last one too. However, Sins has to be slightly more difficult with larger parties simply because of this:

# of players/% where villains are aka guaranteed to auto-close 3 locations
2/75% (still not facing the better Henchman)

Since the biggest challenge with 5-6 characters is time, having to chase the villains is really, really hard to get done in 30 turns. You immediately lose that with 3 or less as 60% of the locations are done. Given that all but one of those locations requires a 12 check, that is a massive decrease in difficulty as all 12 checks require at least one blessing to be safe (Lini being the exception of course). So really, the only way I could "tweak some things" would be to drop one of the 3 villains or break the game by having the villains not auto-close their locations, though they'd leave that location and not put a blessing there.

Just the last 2 scenarios are the worst two scenarios in the whole game which is not what anyone should expect from AP5. And the 2nd one has to be in the Top 3 easiest scenarios too. I really hope AP6 is good or else RotR is going to go out with a whimper.

I know this falls under the category of house rules, but it's minor enough that it doesn't bother me, and I hate house rules too. Most of your problems seem to be fixed by simply playing with more locations than is reccomended by your number of players.

I do tend to agree that AP5 had scenarios that were more on theme then they were a ramp in difficulty... Though in Thass Sins you could end up with some slightly uncomfortable situations if you happened to lose to a villain early due to an encounter you hadn't been able to prepare for or that your party had bad draws blessingwise to deal with. With bad luck you could have to beat the three of them from the minimum of 3 times to considerably more than that if they happened to shuffle themselves into a location that has another villain. Once that starts happening then they can slowly jump around. And it can come to a point where ramping up to 25 can become difficult once you've already done it 4 times.

That all being said... with average luck, the scenario is easy.

With scenario 5 running short locations (only 31 cards to encounter for 3 players - right?) and the Sihedron Circle being more thematic than difficult if played correctly, along with the decks that should have been composed to that point in the adventure, there can be some tense encounters, but on the whole it seemed to be a step back in difficulty from AP3 and AP4.

That all being said, I know Mike and Vic et. al., have paid a lot of attention to the feedback and we knew we weren't going to get any major changes to the RotR adventure path, but I would imagine that the difficulty in S&S will be increased to some degree as the "the game is too easy" crowd has been very vocal.

I'm happy with the game regardless... but I must admit that AP5 did have a couple of the easiest scenarios in context.

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

Honestly, I'm not expecting a significant increase in difficulty for Skull and Shackles.

There are a wide variety of play styles, levels of optimisation, experience and desired difficulty and they can't cater to all of them in one set. Because of the progression mechanic, the variance also gets wider as the game goes on. The difficulty needs to be somewhere in the middle. If you are optimising your character, that may mean the game feels like it's getting easier. The alternative though makes the difficulty too hard for a larger and larger group of players.

My hope is that eventually they do what the Lord of the Rings living card game does which is to release an official "Nightmare" pack to increase the difficulty for players that want a serious challenge. Mike and Vic - hint hint :-).

Until then though, the house-rule option is probably the best bet if you want a greater challenge.

Personally, I loved the flavour of AP5 and I thought they did a really nice job of capturing the theme of the RPG scenario. I didn't find the scenarios to be particularly challenging for any of my groups though. If I run it again, I will likely either add in an extra location or two, or remove some more of the easier banes to increase the difficulty.

Just my 2c.

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