Combat Enjoyment since 2.0

Draven

Count
Seattle Staff
Marshal
Since 2.0 has launched, I'm interested in hearing about

1) whether you feel monsters are less, more, or equally satisfying to fight

2) whether you feel low level combatants (1 - 10) feel less, more, or equally effective in a fight (both scaled and unscaled)

3) whether you feel mid level combatants (11 - 20) feel less, more, or equally effective in a fight (both scaled and unscaled)

4) whether you feel high level combatants (21 - 30) feel less, more, or equally effective in a fight (both scaled and unscaled)

5) whether you feel epic level combatants (31+ ) feel less, more, or equally effective in a fight (both scaled and unscaled)

6) Any other details you feel are important about 2.0 combat but aren't easily to include in 1-5.
 

Muir

Fighter
My own views:

I've found combat less satisfying (at level 24 Adept), although I'm not sure if that's a scaling issue or just my build being inefficient. I do ~1 point less damage per swing, but said damage seems much less effective. The lack of items to provide always-on damage buffs is very noticeable, and the same problems that have -always- existed with getting Terminate/Doom Blow or Assassinates to land still seem to exist in 2.0. The fighters around me seem to still be having the same issue with Eviscerates.

Big damage swings are, from what I've seen, still only good for wiping out crunchies. Anything you'd actually want to kill will have a defense, and the strategy applied by the players seems to be for the higher level characters to wait until the lowbies throw their one big shot, have the defense popped, and then engage to get the kill.
 

Renner

Scout
27th level scout.

I swing far far less than I did before. 4-10 now compared to 10-18 before.

And truthfully, it feels bad. Even if I get behind something to swing 10s I don't feel like it does anything, let alone face to face swinging 4s.

I have a reasonable amount of per day skills, but trying to get them to stick is still a problem. As Muir stated, the things you want to use skills on always have a defence.

These are just my personal experiences, others will vary. But personally have been less satisfied with melee combat in 2.0.
 

Ruki

Scholar
Also as a level 24 Adept, I've personally found combat more satisfying. In 1.3 it was attacks, spells, or one of the few skills that I did have.

Now in 2.0, my damage has stayed the same, I still have my spells, but now I have creative ways of using those spells (United Blow is life) and a larger variety of skills that feel much more unique and exciting. For me, it's about flavor, and I feel like I'm getting plenty of that! But like Renner and Muir, there has been an issue with skills just not landing/sticking. While it's understandable for the big bad to have a boatload of defenses, not every minion or crunch needs 3+ dodges/evades/banes/etc.

I'm also playing a level 9 earth caster in our winter campaign. The monsters in that seem a lot more 'beatable', that my spells actually land and take effect more often than not. Most of the time if it doesn't? I missed or flubbed the incant (I'm used to celestial spells!).

Overall, combat wise, I'm happy with 2.0. I'm fine with the lower damage calls (since it's reduced on both sides... I get the liking throwing out beefy numbers, my 88 Body twice a log is just the best), but think monsters/NPCs need to call less defenses to give PCs more bang for their skill buck.
 
Thoughts as a 10th level fighter:

My experience has been mostly positive, but that was by design. I knew my ultimate goal was a spellsword, so I was taking advantage of the ability to swap classes as long as you have the build. So my build is just swinging 10s with a 2h weapon. The scaling static damage costs have gone a long way to help the bloat that the game has gained over time. It is hard to not have any fun combat tricks, spells, or anything to do other then just swing for damage, but I knew that if I did not get a base I would have had even less fun. I had already posted in a previous post about my overall thoughts on ARB 2.0 so I won't go about it here. My overall goal is celestial spellsword, but I have a feeling with how weak it is, I will end up looking for forge to earth when my fascination with it ends. Overall, unless a full group joins the game at the same time, and all stay within the same levels, being a solo low level player is difficult and the game still does not scale well to them. I feel more useful then previous iterations of the system, but still lacking.
 
Agreed with all Muir wrote above.

My own experience/observations (tried to summarize responses to 1-5):

With the changes in magic items it's definitely more difficult to stay up across the board. I think this is a good thing. At the height of 1.3's access to cloaks, banes and activates we had to literally go toe to toe with a dragon to get killed. Even low level characters on a big team had access to an insane level of "nope" items. I drop all the time now. Seems like everyone does. Even at high levels, definitely need a friend nearby like never before. For context, I've played a 8th-10th level earth spell sword and 50+level scout with the new rules, oathsworn and human, respectively.

Seems like a lot of the issues with one shot kills are the same as before. Still seems like most NPC defenses still run parallel to the number of take outs the PCs have access to. And when you think about it, with the number of one shot offenses, it still kind of needs to be that way, unless anyone wants the fight to end before anyone breaks a sweat.

Static damage has gone down certainly. The one good thing is that there is less of an apparent disparity between the high levels and low/mid levels when side by side. So I imagine scaling is easier? My high level scout swings 10s from the front, but lots of folks swing just as much or near as much. The high levels just usually have way more body and defensives, but again, without banes, cloaks and activates we're all getting the **** kicked out of us more equitably. So that's cool... :)

Still think we need to eventually trim down the number of one shot take outs and focus more on fun RP heavy character development skills. Let that earth caster pull a mask/hood on and transform into a animal on a three count (+1 damage, evades, dodges, can't cast/talk). Wacky little, low power skills like that make the game fun without having to rely so heavily on 15 different ways to throw a "you die now" effect.

Game is just as complicated as it ever was, wish that was not that case. People point out that character building is more complicated but other aspects of the game have been simplified. Character building is an important thing to simplify, especially as far as removing barriers for new players.

Changing the incants. We did it. It's done. People (myself included) are still working on not screwing them up. Please never again.

Again, thanks for fixing the magic items. Can't praise this enough.
 

Tantarus

Knight
Again, thanks for fixing the magic items. Can't praise this enough.
This sums up alot of it for me. I am so happy the game is more about build then MI, for the most part. I still would not mind a MI cap of some kind.

My prospective is going to be a bit hard to judge, I went from being a level 40+ Earth Templar to be a Rogue in 2.0. In 1.3 as a templar I had a good amount of stacked defenses, but I would eventually run out and start getting Yo-Yoed off the ground in big fights. I was hitting for 15s which felt okay, but not great. In 2.0 I swing 4s/20s and 20s feel real strong now. My 4s feel pretty meh most of the time, but 20s drop stuff fast.

Over all I like the combat changes in 2.0. I do think the game is in a transitioning state and will be for a while. I 100% believe that allowing skill store dodge was a huge error, and damaged the game for years to come. Everyone I know at a decent level is walking around with a brick of dodges, that will take years to filter out of the game. Nothing dangerous lands on them. Personally If not a MI cap, I feel there should be a limit to the number of the same ritual you can access, maybe 5 or so. This would help plot with scaling alot as some people would not have 40 dodges or so at any given time. Also it reduces hording of rituals like skill store and spell store. Etc. But I digress.

I feel like PCs have alot more stacked natural build based Defenses, which is an improvement from stacked MI defenses. As now there is a trade off. That said, I do wonder if it is to many as a rogue I can have 18 evades and 12 dodges. Or a fighter with 18 mettles 12 parries(spell parry). Casters with high magic on the fly can have an insane number of cloaks as needed for a fight. I do feel like we maybe a bit too deep in defenses, Esp augmented with skillstore dodges.

Overall 2.0 combat is a much better combat experience I believe, but again I went from a low burst Earth Templar to a High damage rogue. So it is not apples to apples for me.
 

Draven

Count
Seattle Staff
Marshal
Thanks for your input, guys!

Here's been my experience, going from 1.3 Formal Heavy E Caster to Playtest E Spellsword to 2.0 Column Heavy E Caster, and playing one game as a 4th level Polearm fighter:

1) I loved the low-level game. While it didn’t benefit me personally, I know the armor changes benefited a lot of people. However, the entire game was low level, so I’m not sure how I’d have felt in a game with a mixed scaling.

2) I feel like body bloat is as persistent as it ever was. I don’t feel that Natural Armor/Refitting is being utilized as much as it should be, and instead monsters are either loaded with insane amounts of body or defense bloat. The only exception to this appears to be Undead.

3) As an E Scholar (Edit: 37th Level), I am thoroughly convinced that I am playing the most powerful class by far in 2.0, purely because I feel that 2.0 is now a KO game. E Scholars have access to the best shutdown spells in the game, with the versatility of healing. I dipped into Stealth for United Blow, and though I haven’t played a game with it yet, I am convinced that the Alchemy/Counteract/Evade/Dodge purchases were hardly a price to pay for United Blow.

The real power, though, isn’t UB. It’s Powerful Meditation.

In the game of stacked defenses, I can assume that my Dooms/Paralysis spells won’t land. But that’s okay. I can replace them for a mere 2 XP each. That means that if I have eight Dooms in memory and 20 HM, I can potentially have 28 Dooms.

That means I’m confident that Celestial Scholars are right behind Earth Scholars, at least in terms of PVE.

That being said, I think a lot of that is driven by two factors that have little to do with 2.0 and more to do with culture and game running:

1) NPC populations - It’s simple math. The more NPCs you have (particularly veteran NPCs), the better combats you’ll have. You can build combats around Big Bad Squads rather than Super BBGs.

2) Dramatic drawn-out fights, where stacked defenses are needed to provide the story Plot feels they need to tell, rather than rewarding PCs for smart tactics that could result in a shorter fight.

I am so happy about the MI changes, with the exception of how wonky our Armor system has been exposed to be, now that it’s so popular.
 
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Muir

Fighter
I think there is a gap in our new MI rules, in that there's a pretty limited set of interesting rituals for those who don't actually wear armor. Not going to complain too loud though, because if Arcane wasn't a thing I wouldn't be able to play anymore, as my bum knee wouldn't survive a high-speed turn with the weight of my old armor on right now.
 

MaxIrons

Squire
Oregon Staff
Marshal
Here's my PC input:

1.) The low level game is much better due to the armor changes. I could stand up to a few big bad weapon hits designed for epic level characters as a dedicated tanky low level character.

2.) The high level game is a lot more focused on resource management for everyone, for better or worse.

3.) The game is now based on KO effects, and I hate it. I hated the number of "toggle" effects in 1.3 and 2.0 has distributed them to all classes in greater number.
 

Feldor

Adept
Marshal
Two line summary: 2.0 has been a huge improvement for both characters I play. A large portion of that is the magic item changes, but some of the new skill/build options are good fun.

So from the point of my level 7-12 archer fighter in an APL 20-ish game:
Pre-2.0, I felt pretty useless unless someone lent me a big magic bow, because magic items mattered way more than build when playing a low level character in an APL 20+ game. Post 2.0, I felt way more effective in combat since my damage numbers compared to the high level folks I stand behind were not dramatically less. (Damage went from 7v20 in 1.x to 9v12 in 2.0, though some of that was me leveling up.) Also traveling to a well stat'd 2.0 game where I was on APL was amazing, I felt so super effective. Even at Big West where I mostly adventured with folks 2-4x my level, I had some really good fights.

From the point of a level 19-23 spellsword in an APL 25-ish game:
Pre-2.0, I swung for 2's and most of what I did was carry a shield, buff people, and soak prepare-to-die skills while being entirely toothless in combat. In 2.0 I picked up United Blow and swapped to scholar (with wear extra armor+armored shell so I'm beefier than before). I'm still toothless from the front, but opponents who show me their back regret it. I used to always feel so short on healing and now have so much more. (Though I do have to be mindful to save some of my signature spells to actually heal because UB is fun.) United Blow basically completely changed how this character plays in very good ways. I heal as much as I did in the old rules, rely on evade&dodge instead of magic armor to have about the same amount of melee defenses, and do noticeable and relevant amounts of damage from behind.

I do miss "prepare to die" and doing tactical things to take that attack on to my weapon-shield to save others nearby. I could in theory do that now, but to do so I have to spend build on both the weapon-shield and the intercept to make it work, so its twice as expensive as it was. But I guess my entertainment at soaking prepare-to-die has been replaced by other people's entertainment at being able to actually land those.
 

Tantarus

Knight
I did forget one thing. I really liked the idea of the new way undead are build, with 3x to 4x armor to body ratio. After playing it I actually really dislike it. If you dont do healing damage you basically do 1/3rd to 1/4th damage. I think double damage effectively from healing damage was a much better spot. This new dynmatic is too extreme and if you dont have a healing blade, you are hacking on a tree with a sword, where as if you have healing blade, you got a chainsaw. It is too big a gap imo, and it feels real bad for people taht dont have access to healing damage.
 

Darkcrescent

Knight
Chicago Staff
Marshal
To your point above Ive found that when I do have a healing blade its still looped into the total damage pool instead of just the body pool of hp left. That is an NPC learning thing, but as a fighter still frustrating.

If they have 20 body 60armor and I have a healing blade it still feels like im putting 60+ dmg before they go down.
 

Draven

Count
Seattle Staff
Marshal
To your point above Ive found that when I do have a healing blade its still looped into the total damage pool instead of just the body pool of hp left. That is an NPC learning thing, but as a fighter still frustrating.

If they have 20 body 60armor and I have a healing blade it still feels like im putting 60+ dmg before they go down.
Do your local NPCs tend to be newer players over veterans?
 

MaxIrons

Squire
Oregon Staff
Marshal
I did forget one thing. I really liked the idea of the new way undead are build, with 3x to 4x armor to body ratio. After playing it I actually really dislike it. If you dont do healing damage you basically do 1/3rd to 1/4th damage. I think double damage effectively from healing damage was a much better spot. This new dynmatic is too extreme and if you dont have a healing blade, you are hacking on a tree with a sword, where as if you have healing blade, you got a chainsaw. It is too big a gap imo, and it feels real bad for people taht dont have access to healing damage.
I feel this is more a failure of what is "supposed" to be taking out these creatures being circumvented by the various enhanced blades. Undead/Elementals are supposed to be the time for a healer/celestialist to shine with channeling or healing/evocation. Instead, various blade enhancements get thrown around like crazy, and where a 20 body / 40 armor undead would have sufficed, instead you have to put out a 60 body / 120 armor undead for it to have the same thematic impact, because it's not 1/4th of the field that has something that can go straight to body, but rather 3/4ths. It means that it ends up punishing the few who cannot swing to body, instead of benefiting the few who can.
 

ecrath

Artisan
Do your local NPCs tend to be newer players over veterans?
Chicago has a few veteran NPCs but most of our crunchies tend to be newer players. We have another nearby larp that has fielded 15-20 NPCs for the past two events. Which has been awesome, but they are still learning the rules.
 

Draven

Count
Seattle Staff
Marshal
I feel this is more a failure of what is "supposed" to be taking out these creatures being circumvented by the various enhanced blades. Undead/Elementals are supposed to be the time for a healer/celestialist to shine with channeling or healing/evocation. Instead, various blade enhancements get thrown around like crazy, and where a 20 body / 40 armor undead would have sufficed, instead you have to put out a 60 body / 120 armor undead for it to have the same thematic impact, because it's not 1/4th of the field that has something that can go straight to body, but rather 3/4ths. It means that it ends up punishing the few who cannot swing to body, instead of benefiting the few who can.
Like I stated earlier, this is one of the biggest sources of bloat; the need for enemies to have a meaningful presence. Also, to have massively outnumbered NPC combatants feel like they're accomplishing more than just getting up to a frontline and immediately getting destroyed.

Also, take @Muir 's comment regarding the availability of interesting rituals; because PCs converted bunches o' rituals that didn't exist and got to choose what they wanted, they may have gotten highly concentrated amounts of rituals that they wouldn't have organically accumulated IG. Maybe instead of having a few interesting items on them, plus a magic weapon and maybe rendered armor, they had The Sword Of Blade Stuff, or The Armor That Always Gets Refit in 3 Seconds. Super, super concentrated.

As long as PCs continue to accumulate unchecked power growth, NPC cards will be inflated accordingly. Which leads me to my opinion, controversial as it may be...

Alliance needs to implement a level/MI cap and adjust skill costs towards a level/MI capped syste. People need to be willing to support that, because the cycle of back-and-forth bloat will force people into seeking some kind of power reset.

For example:

The Broken Shards campaign in Oregon is wildly fun, and part of the reason for that is because, honestly, it's free of the decades of power bloat that have accumulated in typical Alliance games. There are players who bring in outside coin from other games, but it's frowned upon. Frankly, it mostly results in some extra production items floating around (backup armor/weapons/shields/potions), from what I see, so it's not even that terrible.

But other forms of "power resets" are a little worse for Alliance, because they mean players are going to other LARPs entirely. They go to LARPs that either have a vicious economy (dystopians), LARPs that are relatively new compared to Alliance and thus just haven't experienced that bloat yet, or simply...don't LARP anymore because LARP is expensive and they don't want to shell out the cash to feel insignificant during a game.

Personally, I feel that with a cap, you can scale fights better. If you can scale fights better, you can make your NPCs feel more meaningful while also not overwhelming your PCs. NPCs who feel like pointless crunchies often don't come back to the game. Your Plot team can feel like they can get a better benchmark of what will be a good fight for PCs while also being a satisfying storytelling experience for themselves.

I think everyone wins. Just my .02.
 

Muir

Fighter
I personally wouldn't be against a gear reset, and I'm not sure if it would be a long-term bad thing if it encouraged people with decades old characters with full loot stacks to either make alts or take a little time off. The social strata in most games I've played in solidifies really fast into haves and have nots, and only really changes when people on the upper end of that divide quit... and access to plot attention tends to (intentionally or not) reflect that.
 
It is not easy to run a game in which characters of every level feel valuable, but it has been done. I've seen it many times, and I know others here have seen it too. From what I've seen it requires a consistently high level of energy, creativity, empathy and skill, but it's necessary, because every game worth its weight in salt matures and eventually faces the same problem. The games that fail to effectively address this problem fade away. But I think it says something that some of the longest enduring LARPs in the US still appear to have significant power disparities among their players. Somehow they've found someway to attract enough people to sustain. I doubt it's because they divined the one true rule system, or because they've eradicated disparities.

More likely they somehow continue to care enough, provide enough energy, creativity, empathy and hard-earned skill to consistently put on a damn good show.

Hard resets are seductive but tricky. You might temporarily invigorate the game...or you might blow a hole in your player base and never recover your numbers. Drawing resources from within yourself and your organization to improve your running of the show is harder, but I've never seen it kill a game. Level caps and resets always seem to me to be a temporary fix.

Building a dynamic, interesting, inviting game that accommodates for all player levels and interests seems like a better long term goal.
 

Ruki

Scholar
For example:

The Broken Shards campaign in Oregon is wildly fun, and part of the reason for that is because, honestly, it's free of the decades of power bloat that have accumulated in typical Alliance games. There are players who bring in outside coin from other games, but it's frowned upon. Frankly, it mostly results in some extra production items floating around (backup armor/weapons/shields/potions), from what I see, so it's not even that terrible.
This!

The Haven campaign in Calgary had a level cap of 8 when we started (going up each game), and because of the low level, most characters aren't starting game with any magic items (or if they are, minimal amounts). Heck, the last game (our third session) we just found our first magic item! It's been a breath of fresh air and I love it. I am on board for limiting the number of magic items per person.
 
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