Oloch is completely broken.


Rules Questions and Gameplay Discussion

Grand Lodge

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.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, PF Special Edition, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
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.

Well, the good news is you're playing it wrong. The bad news is that it's still very powerful even when played correctly.

The cards are displayed, not revealed, meaning that they stay out in front of you until you can pick them back up again. As such, each individual card can only be used for a single check. So sure, you can give someone a +10 assuming your entire hand consisted of nothing but weapons and blessings (and you bumped your hand size to 5), but then you have 0 cards in hand to help out with future checks on the same turn (and also your turn until you check the feat to get them back at the start).

With a 2-player game, you have 30 turns on the blessings deck to explore 4 10-card locations. Additionally, many cards have multiple checks on them. It is unrealistic to expect that every single turn will only encompass a single check, and you should be accounting for that when using your power. Any blessing you display for the +2 cannot be later discarded to give extra dice. Any card you display for a +2 on an earlier check means that is one less +2 you can give on a future check. What if your wife encounters the villain on the 2nd exploration on her turn and you already blew your hand on some random monster or barrier instead?

Grand Lodge

The good news is I'm playing it correctly. As you said (and as I said, hence my complaint) is that I can give someone +10 on a single check. If we have plenty of time and have no current worry about the blessings deck, or if the check is very important, we can succeed without even rolling. Most of the time it's a sure thing, but with +10 it's pretty much guaranteed.

So assuming there are 40 cards to encounter in a two player game (for the scenarios following the standard format there are four locations), without failing, you don't need to worry about the blessings deck at all as there are plenty of ways to encounter more cards either from boons already in our deck, boons we acquire in our decks, or just from the effects of banes, we still don't need to worry about the blessings deck. Then there's also that it's highly improbable that the villains/henchmen will be at the bottom of every deck means we've got even more time to do whatever we want.

Also, there are only four powers on Oloch's card (hand size to 5, pick revealed cards* up at the start of your turn, +2 for revealed cards* instead of +1, and +2 instead of +1 for the d4 roll for healing). This is from memory so hopefully I'm not missing any. But since I said I got my third power feat, and I was forced to retcon my +2 for cards* to +2 for healing since +2 for cards* destroyed the fun of the game, it's pretty likely that I have the other two with my two remaining powers since they're the only other two available.
*where cards are the aforementioned weapons/blessings

And my original post with some extra bolding..

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.

Yes, I used the wrong word "reveal" instead of "display". But the rest of my post makes it obvious that I'm playing correctly.


I don't think the fact that a character with the right hand (all weapons and/or blessings) and power feats can sometimes make a single check per round a gimme is "completely broken". If you want to see completely broken, go look at pre-errata Radillo, who could take never-ending turns. Or pre-errata Damiel who could could recharge potions that he failed to acquire. This is just a useful power and is offset by requiring multiple checks during a single encounter.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, PF Special Edition, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Ah yes, I focused on the word "revealed" and based my post on that. Mea culpa.

Moving on, I still don't think this is omgwtfbbq overpowered, rather just a powerful ability. You'll find similar powerful abilities on pretty much every other character as well, just filling different niches. Jirelle has a very powerful reroll ability where she gets to hand-pick up to 2 dice to reroll on a given check. Feiya can do something similar to Oloch except in a more limited fashion, but the bonus can go all the way up to 8 from a single card. Other characters shine in other areas.

Based on power feats, it sounds to me like you're currently in the process of playing through AD3, where difficulty is still on the low end of things. Once you start hitting AD4, the dial gets turned up to moderate, and manages to crank way up towards the end of AD5 with some incredibly brutal banes combined with incredibly brutal locations. With a 2-player party, you'll need all the help you can get with those.

Playing the blessing as a blessing gives you for more benefit than displaying it for a static +2, especially if the blessing gives 2 dice (as you're guaranteed a minimum of +2 with that blessing then anyway, but a maximum and average of much higher than 2). Sure, by actually playing the blessing you lose out on it for good until such a time that it cycles back into your hand (unlike displaying it and grabbing it up again), but oftentimes you need to do that to reasonably accomplish the required checks.


But if you're playing 2-player, and especially if you only use Oloch's assistance against banes, you could easily beat the blessing deck while only encountering 1 bane per turn. This means, when Oloch has the right hand, for the non-Oloch player every check to defeat is near-automatic (until he/she encounters banes with multiple checks).

I can see why that might not be fun.

I agree this would be less of an issue as the party reaches higher adventures.

Grand Lodge

nondeskript wrote:
I don't think the fact that a character with the right hand (all weapons and/or blessings) and power feats can sometimes make a single check per round a gimme is "completely broken". If you want to see completely broken, go look at pre-errata Radillo, who could take never-ending turns. Or pre-errata Damiel who could could recharge potions that he failed to acquire. This is just a useful power and is offset by requiring multiple checks during a single encounter.

So encountering a villain (or probably some monsters after scenario 3 that may have more than one check) is the solution to being able to automatically succeed vs every other card my wife encounters? Also, if a card has multiple checks, I could attempt the first, then give her whatever bonus I have remaining.

Yes, there may be other things that were broken and are now fixed, or there may be existing things that are still more broken. But that in and of itself does not mean this isn't broken.

Grand Lodge

elcoderdude wrote:

But if you're playing 2-player, and especially if you only use Oloch's assistance against banes, you could easily beat the blessing deck while only encountering 1 bane per turn. This means, when Oloch has the right hand, for the non-Oloch player every check to defeat is near-automatic (until he/she encounters banes with multiple checks).

I can see why that might not be fun.

Yeah, this is my point. Thanks.


He is nowhere near broken. He is a blast to play with a big party where you really have to be careful with the displayed cards.


This isn't broken because it, at best, makes succeeded at a single check per round easy. This is not a game shattering thing. It doesn't help with cards with multiple checks or checks before you act, or the closing check once you defeat a henchman.

Oloch is a strong support character and, in my experience, a two character game with a strong support character is generally not very difficult. This is because the lack of pressure to explore from the blessing deck allows the support character to use all of her resources to make sure the other character never or nearly never fails. Oloch, Lem, Alahazra, Feiya are good examples of these types of characters. In fact, if you think Oloch makes a two character game easy, try it with Alahazra. With only 4 locations, you'll always know exactly what cards you're going to hit and never have to worry about any resources being wasted. This isn't a broken power, it's just a very good power.


nondeskript wrote:
... the lack of pressure to explore from the blessing deck allows the support character to use all of her resources to make sure the other character never or nearly never fails. Oloch, Lem, Alahazra, Feiya are good examples of these types of characters...

I'm currently running a 2-player RotR game, with Ranzak and Sajan, where Sajan is also a very weird example of such character. He often does nothing but reset his hand on his turn, but then support the ever-living crap out of any monster Ranzak encounters on his shopping sprees.

My point being, given a particular number of characters and composition, almost any character may seem "completely broken".


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.


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Oloch is not broken, Skull and Shackles is just really easy. We had to implement all kind of house rules to increase the difficulty.

House rules:

+1 additional location

Remove 5 blessings from the blessings deck and replace with monsters. These are wondering monsters. If evaded they go back to the box.

All monsters get + to the check to defeat = to the difference between its adeventure deck and the current adventure deck.

If you take more damage than you have cards to discard you have to discard the top card of your deck.

These rules made the game more challenging and fun for us.


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Oloch is quite powerful, and fun. I played him in a 4 character group. I can see how, in a 2 character group, he can be really powerful. People have said the same sort of thing about Kyra solo in RotR.

I know in my 4 character group, he was often able to make someone pass a check that was crucial or would have otherwise been a problem. But where he ran into problems was with any of the "mass summon" banes. In a two character group, I can see how those would be less of a problem. But, they do at least present the problem of deciding whether to use your cards for your own encounter or for the other character's. (By the way, who is your wife's character?)

The other thing that occasionally presented him problems were things where the other character needed help with both a BYA check and the check to defeat (all the worse if it is one of those everyone does the BYA check and then the other character does the check to defeat).

You'll note, the power can't go to +3, even on a role. While you can add to your hand size to scale it, doing so means you aren't taking any of those super awesome role powers. So, I think you'll eventually get to the place where it won't be as common a possibility, i.e. the +10 won't be enough.

In a 2 character group, you'll definitely find some other tricks with Oloch (like the "no cost" or "healing" blessings). He might be the best 2 player character out there.

One thing you might want to consider, if you and your wife are both comfortable with the game, is each playing 2 characters. 2 characters works, but 4 characters is so, so, so much fun. It avoids some of these "small party" issues and also lets you experience twice the characters, more locations, additional henchmen, and all kinds of good stuff.


Not only can Oloch give +10, he can decide that he won't be taking any damage due to all of his cards being on display. He was an invulnerable source of bonuses (particularly to the previous character in turn order) when I played. The downside was that he tended to have short turns.

I believe there is already a thread about Damiel being completely broken.

Alahazra was able to pre-scout everything and get rid of the unwanted boons, revealing dangerous surprises. Her combat abilities were sufficient to clean up the banes left on tops of decks (I used Pteranodons to take them out). I don't think that her scouting is reasonable when there are no banes with reveal powers; it is fun to play effectively but unfun to always be prepared.

Jirelle was really strong on water, but was relatively fragile until she got the Ring of Regeneration so that she didn't need to worry about healing. All of her weak cards were being cycled through the deck using Tessa. I do love my rerolls.

End result, every scenario completed the first time and only one came close. No character deaths. There may have been some challenge in figuring out how to make the best use of the characters, but once that was done the scenarios didn't provide real challenges.


How are you guarantee-ing +10's every turn?

It only works for weapons and blessings.

I'm playing Oloch currently and try to keep some items and equipment in my hand as well to handle barriers on my own turn.

Having +10 worth of blessings and weapons should be a 100% of the time kind of thing.


claudekennilol's able to do this because in a two player game, with an upgraded power feat, Oloch will get all his displayed cards back at the start of his turn. So he doesn't have to hold anything back. +10 will only work if you have all blessings and weapons, but I think claudekennilol's point was more that there was no reason not to throw everything at the other character's check, more than that it was always +10. Here is what he does:

1. Other character explores.
2. Other character must attempt a check that is difficult.
3. Oloch displays all blessings and weapons in hand.
4. Other character has a much improved chance of succeeding.
5. Other character ends their turn.
6. Oloch gets all displayed cards back.
7. Oloch takes turn.
8. Other character takes turn.
9. Other character explores.
10. Other character must attempt a check that is difficult.
11. Oloch displays all blessings and weapons in hand.
12. Other character has a much improved chance of succeeding.
13. Other character ends their turn.
14. Oloch gets all displayed cards back.

The fact that it is two players means there is less pressure on turns. So Oloch can throw everything at the other character as long as they are willing to end their turn after that check. Which shouldn't be a problem conserving turns for 2 characters.


I've finding even just Lem's ability to add 1d4+2 to any check (also playing 2 player) to be good enough that it's hard to lose. I don't think Oloch is that far out of line with the other characters, but I do kind of agree that the game generally gets too easy after a while.

What I would love to see is an official way to up the difficulty level, done in the maximally fun way. Suggestions like Slacker2010s above are good, but I find it hard to commit to any particular set of house rules when they're all just arbitrary. I feel like other than when you're starting out, the overall difficulty is set for fairly casual players. Experienced players, playing close to optimally, rarely fail, which is fine maybe but they also rarely feel even close to failing.


Irgy wrote:
What I would love to see is an official way to up the difficulty level, done in the maximally fun way. Suggestions like Slacker2010s above are good, but I find it hard to commit to any particular set of house rules when they're all just arbitrary

I agree. There is also a chance that official difficulty adjustment options will be eventually implemented into the digital version - I would love to see that.


the final point being made here is that the game is optimized for 3-4 players. so people shouldn't be going into this game expecting outlier setups to be perfectly balanced. this is to be expected. 2-player games find wombo combos and 6-player games can be(apparently) quite the drag. it's like how video games are designed for Normal, so Easy and Hard sometimes produce weird results/experiences.

(chrome doesn't know the word "outlier" for some reason O_o)


Gwyns Firstborn wrote:
the final point being made here is that the game is optimized for 3-4 players.

Dispute that to be the intention.


Gwyns Firstborn wrote:
2-player games find wombo combos and 6-player games can be(apparently) quite the drag.

I think part of the point though is that Oloch's ability is hardly a wombo-combo, it's just doing exactly what it says it does with all the cards you have in the deck already.

I wouldn't even say it's more effective in 2-player than in 6, it's just that its effectiveness is more concentrated among fewer players. If all the characters were that good it would be the same for 2 as 6 (except of course 6 is harder in the first place).

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