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TOPIC: Thanks and Thoughts on True Dungeon GENCON 2018

Thanks and Thoughts on True Dungeon GENCON 2018 1 year 5 days ago #25

I've been wondering about the balance and difficulty as well. This year I felt like things were all over the place.

Last year (Gen Con 2017), we had a group of 10 people outfitted in mostly rares with two 5th levels with a couple URs. We thought we might be able to play hardcore, but took the coaches recommendations and played on normal. We had a few fights that we completed in just one round. Some of the DMs did a great job of making that one round as interesting as possible, but overall it's not super fun waiting around for 7 minutes.

This year, I thought that group might be good enough to play on hardcore (for N3), but I'm really glad we didn't. Four of us did N1 & N2 and we had wildly different experiences. We played N1 with at least one more 5th level with a bunch of URs, some people who had played a bit, and maybe three brand new people. It was great. The fights and puzzles were really fun, thematic, and immersive. The DMs were awesome and helped the new players and made sure the big monsters swung more at the decked out players.

Our N2 run (as mentioned in an earlier post) was awful. Four of us ran with a group of people who had all played a few times, but didn't have much for tokens. We all died in room 5 and had a pretty rough go in the previous rooms. What was with all the damage in this run? It seemed like every room (puzzle and combat) was raining down mostly unavoidable damage the whole time! I don't understand why it was all in that run. The other two runs didn't have anywhere near that level of damage. I think if all of us had been brand new players we would have all been dead by room 4.

After the N2 experience, my mostly rares group of 10 decided to play N3 on normal and that seemed just right for us. Again, the fights and puzzles were really good. Most of the fights we finished just in time. It was challenging, but not disheartening, and overall very satisfying. I thought it seemed crazy that normal seemed just right for us when we thought we'd maybe get to play hardcore this year, but seeing other groups more decked out than us saying they're going to run normal from now on left me even more confused.

Did we just get unlucky with some of the biggest swings possible with the variability in other players, DMs, die rolls, etc. or were there some real balance issues? I would love to play all of my runs with our group of 10, but with the price increase, they only want to do one. I'm not feeling encouraged to play with random people if the difficulty is so high (or so swingy) that we all might die early and/or have a horrible time. I understand this is not the easiest thing to balance with players ranging from brand new to epic.

On a positive note, I wanted to say the the DMs and NPCs we had in N1 and N3 were fantastic. The DMs were great at reading the room and adjusting to make it fun for everyone. The NPC monsters looked exceptional this year and the characters we could chat with were great at ad libbing (in character) and keeping things really fun. Overall, N1 was one of the most immersive runs and had the most cohesive storyline I've seen yet. In N3, I loved how the mechanisms in the first two rooms had us feeling uneasy about getting too close to the walls for the entire rest of the run. I also loved our ghost friend helping us along and the neat effects used to make him look ghostly.

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Last edit: by Michelle.

Thanks and Thoughts on True Dungeon GENCON 2018 1 year 5 days ago #26

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FiannaTiger wrote: N2 Room 7 puzzle had 10 crystals and from what we did (place one then used the reset) we found that one crystal toggled 3 if you waited long enough, all the other 8 toggled 2. We tested it out on our first run that if you placed and then replaced a stone it would turn off both orbs. By luck we placed most of the stones and had 3 out. We placed the 3 toggle stone and got that down to 2. Once there we found out what players had one of those worlds, and placed their stone and did this a few more times until we hit a combo that one person had that turned the last two on. This was a really cool design for a puzzle.

The giants were pretty rough. Never got the clue that ranged could hide in the cage. If you busted the NPC out (which required 2 rounds on nightmare) your party would win initiative. The best we did when our wizards weren't dying in the first round was to maze one and focus the other down then focus down #2. We did do it without deaths the second time, but the third was a bit rougher as no one told the wizards to maze.

For true the puzzles were insidious! Loved it. But the giants in N2... yeah I was on that run 3 times and NEVER got the clue after busting the prisoner out. Last time through was Friday night... just bought a ticket online and along with one other vet (who also just picked up a ticket)... so there were two vets, about two who maybe had played for a a year or two before, and like six new players - run TDA18137504 around 11:00... one of the last runs on day two of GenCon... (like I said busted out the prisoner - no clue). Myself and the one other bet elped as much as we could and did kill the giants off - but not before two party members (two newbies) got perished... we did have about 3 minutes left to burn a couple of PoDDs and get all of the players alive and mostly healed... but I thought this was a bit out of character for a normal level dungeon. And IMHO the DM’s response when the giants were defeated... was actually representative of slight disgust that the giants were possibly defeated too easily... but that’s just opinion. Mostly, the clue would have been huge to the party.
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Last edit: by Grekel!. Reason: Clarity

Thanks and Thoughts on True Dungeon GENCON 2018 1 year 5 days ago #27

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Arnold wrote: Did the Giants lead right into the tree puzzle? I don't recall.


na, arrow puzzle was in between.
Semper Gumby, Always flexible.

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Thanks and Thoughts on True Dungeon GENCON 2018 1 year 5 days ago #28

My Nightmare group lost to the Giants on time. Our Wizard and Druid held back their big damages spells with the thought that there had to be one more big fight left. No way do we finish with two puzzles... Had we unloaded, we would have taken them.

Oh well.
D&D teaches all the important lessons in life - the low blow, the cheap shot, the back stab, the double cross. - Jerry Marsischky

Let them trap us. We have our swords. - Elric of Melnibone.

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I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend - Faramir

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Last edit: by Harlax.

Thanks and Thoughts on True Dungeon GENCON 2018 1 year 5 days ago #29

Phrash wrote: Question for other dungeoneers:

Was the information "dock with the rear" provided by the DM in the navigation puzzle?


In our group (hardcore) yes - although not till we attempted to go in bow first.

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Thanks and Thoughts on True Dungeon GENCON 2018 1 year 5 days ago #30

Harlax wrote: My Nightmare group lost to the Giants on time. Our Wizard and Druid held back their big damages spells with the thought that there had to be one more big fight left. No way do we finish with two puzzles... Had we unloaded, we would have taken them.

Oh well.


Pretty similar experience here - although to me it felt good - it’s been the first Time we failed a combat in the Dungeon since running out of time on nightmare against the astral stalker a few years back.

I did agree that it would have been nice to get some hints that this was the final combat, as people did keep some powder dry that might have been the difference.

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Thanks and Thoughts on True Dungeon GENCON 2018 1 year 5 days ago #31

Matthew Hayward wrote:

Harlax wrote: My Nightmare group lost to the Giants on time. Our Wizard and Druid held back their big damages spells with the thought that there had to be one more big fight left. No way do we finish with two puzzles... Had we unloaded, we would have taken them.

Oh well.


Pretty similar experience here - although to me it felt good - it’s been the first Time we failed a combat in the Dungeon since running out of time on nightmare against the astral stalker a few years back.

I did agree that it would have been nice to get some hints that this was the final combat, as people did keep some powder dry that might have been the difference.


I think this room was an experiment. It may need some tuning, but the only way to make combat at all threatening at the top end is attacks that target multiple or all players. Historically its been hard to seriously threaten more than one player in a 12 minute room. And sometimes not even one.
D&D teaches all the important lessons in life - the low blow, the cheap shot, the back stab, the double cross. - Jerry Marsischky

Let them trap us. We have our swords. - Elric of Melnibone.

You try to get them to play the game, but all they want to do is play the rules. - Ardak Kumerian

I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend - Faramir

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Thanks and Thoughts on True Dungeon GENCON 2018 1 year 5 days ago #32

For my group, the elevated difficulty for Hardcore was present last year as well.
My group was missing one of our regulars who has about 15 URs, so I took that as why we had an issue last year.
The full party was about 15 UR for half of the players and all Rares for the other half.
Normal was about right for the new players, but the experienced players may have been bored.

This year, as was said by others, having 15 URs per PC, 5th level for all PCs, and decent to hit/HP isn't enough to run Hardcore.
A group outfitted like this seems to fit more into the Normal difficulty now.

This isn't much of a concern for my group, as we (or those of us left) will drop to Normal and keep playing TD.
We might get bored in the combats when playing Normal, but it is what it is.

I'm more concerned about players more casual than us--who have one or two URs (or none), but maybe aren't 5th level, and don't have the HP/damage/protection that our group has.

If a group has an all Rare build, it seems like Normal would be a challenge for them. That sound about right.

If a group has more than all Rares (some URs, maybe a few characters are 5th), then they may get bored with the Normal level, but they couldn't do Hardcore.

Where do those players fit in?

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Thanks and Thoughts on True Dungeon GENCON 2018 1 year 5 days ago #33

I may be the in the minority, but I welcome a bit more difficulty in the Hardcore level. But then, my group is outfitted with a ton of URs and some Relics & Eldritch tokens. I definitely think it should be more difficult than "3 10 packs of tokens", as that is pretty close to the starting 10 pack on Normal mode.

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Thanks and Thoughts on True Dungeon GENCON 2018 1 year 5 days ago #34

I now wish I was paying more attention. We did n2 on hardcore and it was my favorite run of doing each dungeon once. I know the party was taking lots of damage, but that just meant breaking out some healing potions to pass around. One of our players even returned one at the end.

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Thanks and Thoughts on True Dungeon GENCON 2018 1 year 4 days ago #35

Mike Steele wrote: I may be the in the minority, but I welcome a bit more difficulty in the Hardcore level. But then, my group is outfitted with a ton of URs and some Relics & Eldritch tokens. I definitely think it should be more difficult than "3 10 packs of tokens", as that is pretty close to the starting 10 pack on Normal mode.


I welcomed the increased difficulty level this year. Seems like the last couple of years there were a lot of posts on how the combats were getting too easy. I did end up using a Potion of Death's Door for another player this year. I don't recall having to do that since I started saving those things. For the most part, the groups I ran with took a lot of damage against the giants, but all managed to move on to the last two rooms.

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Thanks and Thoughts on True Dungeon GENCON 2018 1 year 4 days ago #36

Dave wrote:

Mike Steele wrote: I may be the in the minority, but I welcome a bit more difficulty in the Hardcore level. But then, my group is outfitted with a ton of URs and some Relics & Eldritch tokens. I definitely think it should be more difficult than "3 10 packs of tokens", as that is pretty close to the starting 10 pack on Normal mode.


I welcomed the increased difficulty level this year. Seems like the last couple of years there were a lot of posts on how the combats were getting too easy. I did end up using a Potion of Death's Door for another player this year. I don't recall having to do that since I started saving those things. For the most part, the groups I ran with took a lot of damage against the giants, but all managed to move on to the last two rooms.


I'm curious and worried about this, are we at the point that Normal isn't meant to be played sealed pack anymore? If we can believe that due to challenge where multiple rare build based players and those starting down the UR path are having trouble then this is a valid point.

I'm betting most of us didnt' start out buying UR's when we started playing and its seeming like that's the only way to do anything beyond normal now.
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