Combat Enjoyment since 2.0

A.mungo

Artisan
Alliance Rules
Marshal
It takes all types :)

2.0 thoughts-
I have played pretty much every solo class except artisan with dips into other trees (my fighter has 90ish points into rogue for example) ranging in ability from level 25-45

In the chapters I have played in it is not irregular for me to soak up a major amount of healing/get dropped by NPC skills and abilities over time. It may not be immediate, and working with a team makes it that much harder, but it is a semi regular occurrence.

2.0 combat can be fun, but what I keep hearing in my travels is the same thing, effectivity/efficiency of build. From my talks with players, the biggest complaints come from stacked defenses on monsters, or outright ability to negate interactions (immune to all nonX). From an efficiency standpoint a high level scout with stacked back attacks and crit attacks is a monster on the field, but it is due to the fact that other characters build is being ignored by what is, again in my opinion, unnecessarily overly stacked defensive cards. There are so many tools out there now to make the fights better in the side of the NPCs, and some of them are going to get churned through, but instead of 3-5 instant negation defenses, alternating those to things like resolute, or mettle, intercepts on nameless crunchies, using the reduced and alternate calls where appropriate, swarm, massive, minimal, extra lives, timed waves, etc. You can create a better environment for the players who have invested into purchasing skills and spells outside of raw repetitive damage. It is hard though, and it takes work keeping the NPCs spirits up, making sure they have the energy to go, and finding ways to actually reward your players who NPC in a meaningful manner (which the log boost helped, but we can honestly probably do more if NPC numbers are still dragging). That being said, we could probably also use a national Education/Analyst whose purpose is to gather and analyze then unbiasedly report what would help us turn those corners via surveys, newsletters, educational forums, etc.

I remember in some of my earliest games looking at the most powerful characters around and seeing that as a goal/challenge for me to get to that "level" of play. The mods I went on at lower level were generally scaled to what we could handle, and really only once or twice did we get steamrolled or feel useless. It created a sense of community and mentorship that I sought out to be better. My other friends that I started with saw that gap as too much of a challenge to ever close in on and so they left for other games where they found other challenging phenomena. For me if there was a top tier and then just grind to kit like in a MMO, I would have probably left the game too. Alliance has, again in my opinion, always been about community and social engagement. I dont think resets, or caps solve any of the actual issues of knowledge, education, accountability, or personnel gaps.

I believe we could achieve a better result for moving 2.0 forward through easing back some of the cards (less build negation effects), increasing NPC numbers, and creating a community based around education/mentorship for both IG and OOG Knowledge/skills.

That being said, all of these opinions are still relatively localized for me as every game I have been to is run wildly different from every other game I have been to. Outside of common language it is very important to understand that each chapter is it's very own an unique puzzle box, and it honestly is amazing in the amount of freedom and control each chapter has to run content towards its individual playership. I once heard someone say "Scope determines solutions", and that has always stuck with me especially in regards to Alliance.
 

Chad Schaffer

Newbie
South Michigan Staff
A little late to the party:p.

I've had the opportunities to both plot and play in 2.0. I've played with a variety of plot teams with vastly different styles.

First off: We at SoMI plot jumped right in FULLY to try and adjust cards to the 2.0 rules, and it was a pain to get a hold of them. Stating is so different, and it encompasses much more than just ink on cards; how many pops and how fast to pop matters A LOT more in 2.0, waves of 20 body swinging 2 popping quickly and endlessly will destroy high level players like the same situation in 1.3 never could. We are still learning, but as we get better we are finding combat to be much more satisfying on both sides; 2.0 has more "hero moments" which I believe comes from less optimal PC builds.

Playing I've found some teams haven't adjusted to 2.0, and 1.3 style cards with multiple stacked blanket defenses and high body can just wreck an encounter. A lot of these encounters are frustrating, because they eat up tricks for no benefit.

As for 2.0 stating: seems a few people aren't super happy with one of the main tenants of 2.0 stating, flavored damage vulnerability. I'd like to defend it briefly. 1.3 was a game of "swing the most damage" and "get the most stuff"; it had a handful of optimal builds that NPC cards had to adjust to. It got old, that's why the game changed.

Its easy in 2.0 to make a two handed fighter who swings 15s, and expect to wreck house like 1.3, the adjustment to that is the lack of tricks to handle the card that is unaffected by normal; you hit like a truck, but some things are immune to trucks. Celestial spell sword on the other hand can be largely effective in all situations, the trade off is that you won't be swinging 15s. There are trade offs, and that's the point; the existence of an optimal build makes the game boring. In my experience, 2.0 is a game best played with a balanced build, focused on a bunch of tricks to make those hero moments pop.

This is a different game, it can be really satisfying if you lean into it.
 

Draven

Count
Seattle Staff
Marshal
A little late to the party:p.

I've had the opportunities to both plot and play in 2.0. I've played with a variety of plot teams with vastly different styles.

First off: We at SoMI plot jumped right in FULLY to try and adjust cards to the 2.0 rules, and it was a pain to get a hold of them. Stating is so different, and it encompasses much more than just ink on cards; how many pops and how fast to pop matters A LOT more in 2.0, waves of 20 body swinging 2 popping quickly and endlessly will destroy high level players like the same situation in 1.3 never could. We are still learning, but as we get better we are finding combat to be much more satisfying on both sides; 2.0 has more "hero moments" which I believe comes from less optimal PC builds.

Playing I've found some teams haven't adjusted to 2.0, and 1.3 style cards with multiple stacked blanket defenses and high body can just wreck an encounter. A lot of these encounters are frustrating, because they eat up tricks for no benefit.

As for 2.0 stating: seems a few people aren't super happy with one of the main tenants of 2.0 stating, flavored damage vulnerability. I'd like to defend it briefly. 1.3 was a game of "swing the most damage" and "get the most stuff"; it had a handful of optimal builds that NPC cards had to adjust to. It got old, that's why the game changed.

Its easy in 2.0 to make a two handed fighter who swings 15s, and expect to wreck house like 1.3, the adjustment to that is the lack of tricks to handle the card that is unaffected by normal; you hit like a truck, but some things are immune to trucks. Celestial spell sword on the other hand can be largely effective in all situations, the trade off is that you won't be swinging 15s. There are trade offs, and that's the point; the existence of an optimal build makes the game boring. In my experience, 2.0 is a game best played with a balanced build, focused on a bunch of tricks to make those hero moments pop.

This is a different game, it can be really satisfying if you lean into it.
I love this post. I think it identifies two of the problems that people primary experience with 2.0 (other than the increased starting complexity via the CMA).

1) People trying to play the 1.3 static damage style in 2.0 are going to have a bad time unless they're willing to track 10 minute timers and dump heavy amounts of XP into that experience. That's going to lower their access to defenses and burst offense, and creates a "feels bad."

2) The bolded is relevant to this comment. The issue isn't optimal builds IMO, the issue is that optimal builds at high level absolutely make it a nightmare to make a challenge that isn't ridiculous to try and chew through. We need a level cap and a re-pricing of skills to allow a variety of possible, effective builds, whether incredibly versatile or hyper-specialized.
 

Tantarus

Knight
1) People trying to play the 1.3 static damage style in 2.0 are going to have a bad time unless they're willing to track 10 minute timers and dump heavy amounts of XP into that experience. That's going to lower their access to defenses and burst offense, and creates a "feels bad."
There is this class called rogue....
 

Draven

Count
Seattle Staff
Marshal
There is this class called rogue....
Dude, the only reason you get 20s from the back and feel burly is cuz you're playing a character that can afford 9 Backstabs or 8 Backstabs/2 Profs. Sure, that's constant static damage (when you're in position to benefit from it), but you have to dump a LOT of XP to get there. You're not playing the average PC card.
 

Draven

Count
Seattle Staff
Marshal
Zero burst damage. Pretty sure that was one of the points I made. :p
 

Chad Schaffer

Newbie
South Michigan Staff
I love this post. I think it identifies two of the problems that people primary experience with 2.0 (other than the increased starting complexity via the CMA).

1) People trying to play the 1.3 static damage style in 2.0 are going to have a bad time unless they're willing to track 10 minute timers and dump heavy amounts of XP into that experience. That's going to lower their access to defenses and burst offense, and creates a "feels bad."

2) The bolded is relevant to this comment. The issue isn't optimal builds IMO, the issue is that optimal builds at high level absolutely make it a nightmare to make a challenge that isn't ridiculous to try and chew through. We need a level cap and a re-pricing of skills to allow a variety of possible, effective builds, whether incredibly versatile or hyper-specialized.
Thank you for loving my post!

One of the main problems that the design of 2.0 endeavored to solve was the obvious optimal static damage build. I’m really happy to see that it has been solved so thoroughly, as having to scale NPC cards up to a handful of players also caused a, much more widespread, “feel bad”.

Good eye seeing another major issue with the 1.3 rules, in that they didn’t scale well at high level. A level cap was discussed quite a bit during the early stages of 2.0 development, but it turned out that the people who developed 2.0, a group with literally hundreds of years of collective experience in LARP and a few degrees in game design, decided that issues of scaling couldn’t be solved by something so simple.

I assert that optimal tactics are inherently a problem in any given game.

Consider “Paper, Rock, Scissors, Gun”; standard rules except Gun beats everything except itself. How does the game go? Moments to master, and not much fun. Not only is there nothing to think about, but everyone winds up having to make the same choices or lose.

The rules aren’t the game, the rules are there to foster the game; the game is about making meaningful choices, 2.0 does a superior job of this.

As for the CMA:

Firstly: At SoMI, we’ve seen a huge uptick in retention of recruits based entirely on having a stable and approachable online platform. I’ve gotten new players started with a character on a night out at the bar, which is miles beyond how we had to approach new players before the CMA existed.

I’m sorry to hear that you are having trouble recruiting, I'd love to help. If you send me an email with the things you have found difficult for new players I'd be happy to create a tutorial so guide them through it. Its been on my mind to make the game more approachable in general.

Secondly: the CMA is the product of hard, volunteer, work by professional software developers. It’s a largely thankless job that has revolutionized how every single player around the country interacts with the game and has made logistics (the worst job in the game IMO) much easier. They get paid in Goblin Stamps and Dragon Stamps for sure, but that’s not what drives them. They deserve metals and birthday cake. Best part is: The team that works on it is constantly making updates and adding big bold features, so whatever your issue with the design of the CMA, it will surely be fixed soon.
 

Draven

Count
Seattle Staff
Marshal
I don’t believe I expressed a difficulty in recruiting, only that it’s an additional complexity for new players compared to 1.3. It’s a complexity we overcome, certainly, but it absolutely costs more energy to do so.

I’m not sure I ever expressed that the CMA is a bad thing, to be sure.

Edit: Nah, not worth it.
 
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Muir

Fighter
I'd take those backstabs over burst damage any day.

At least in the games I've played in under 2.0, burst damage just doesn't land on anything you'd want to actually use it on.
 

Feldor

Adept
Marshal
At least in the games I've played in under 2.0, burst damage just doesn't land on anything you'd want to actually use it on.
This is pretty much exactly what Chad was referencing when we has talking about the importance of getting the 2.0 style stat cards. If that is true, then your plot team is probably using 1.3 style cards.
 

Draven

Count
Seattle Staff
Marshal
This is pretty much exactly what Chad was referencing when we has talking about the importance of getting the 2.0 style stat cards. If that is true, then your plot team is probably using 1.3 style cards.
I don’t think it’s much relevant which style they’re using.

Monster cards aren’t that hard to make. They either have negation defenses or they don’t. They either have bloated body or they don’t.

The issue is mindset. Not card style.
 

Alkalin3

Administrator
Chief Technology Officer
South Michigan Staff
Marshal
I'd be curious how many mods you've run?
Did you find that your stat cards were easy to make and that it was just a matter of not putting defenses on things?
Did you add more monsters to the mod to increase challenge?
Did the pcs enjoy being able to expend a skill and have a monster die?
Was it a cake walk?
What levers do you pull when adjusting for different characters?


To me, 2.0 is absolutely a style, and it's one that requires a bit more finesse from card writers.
The base monster manual is chalked to the brim with a bunch of lesson on how to make interesting 2.0 cards.

In 1.3 players were approaching unlimited resources, so phase was a really great defense to make cards be able to last.

Monster card statting is about pulling levers, too many of one lever and things are bad.
But, Negation and large body pools aren't necessarily bad things.

Large body pools encourage take outs vs static and burst damage.
Monster defense negation encourages static damage, or the use of signature spells.
I am especially fond of spell block, as it lets folks learn cards, count defenses, and use signature spells to great effect to land a defeat.

The base card "Howlbear" is a really cool example of seeing this play out. It's got a higher threshold, and some spell blocks.
None of it's defenses are smart. Learning the card well, let's 3 kinds of characters affect it. Rogues (or I guess 2 hander fighters), Channelers, and signature spell casters.

I find as I grow, there being a lot less smart defenses and a lot more blocks, resolute, mettles. So when a npc with dodges or phases comes out, the players kind of know they've hit big time.

Even when building playable race characters, I've stuck to resolutes and mettles as better alternatives then straight parries.

When you mix a few of cards like howlbear together in an encounter, suddenly everyone has a part to play. Big static folks need to be moving around, casters need to be switching positions to address all the threads with out it being painful. Some of my most successful 2.0 encounters have involved situations like that.

Crafting these encounters is whoa harder then it was (also more fulfilling), and it's is INCREDIBLY easy to fall back to the idea that monsters going out all need 10 phases. Because you want consequences, and you want combat to be a risk at times.

It seems like folks struggle with monsters going down quick because folks with good counters for that type expend their resources but, to me that's exactly what you want. Folks using finite resources to get those hero moments, and everyone getting a shake at it.
 

Tolib

Newbie
In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that we (Me, my wife, our son) came into Alliance just after 2.0 was started, in that time we have realized that the system is amazing!
We feel the options and paths open to us will never leave us wanting, we will always be excited about the game.
Change can be very hard, especially for people who keep looking back --- we have nothing to look back on --- looking forward we're just itching for that one more XP that will get us that skill we crave.
Cheers to all,
John, Diane & Jayden of Norvell, Michigan
 

Draven

Count
Seattle Staff
Marshal
I’ve run a few during my guild times, in 1.3, and I’ve only done NPC work for one 2.0 event.

In every single mod that was run successfully, the cards were less important than the players using them and the people running the mods.

Mods (in my experience and with our style) are typically best run with creatures with low defense counts to allow hits to land, and the defenses present should be primarily for thematic purposes and easily overcome with minimal skill expenditure. If the person running the mod feels it’s too easy, they throw in an extra spawn or two. Salt to taste, if you would.

Theme, excitement, and immersion is -enabled- by a well-balanced card, but it’s not delivered by one. A good game runner with good NPCs can take crappy cards and make alterations on the fly for a great game. A poor game runner with poor NPCs will make poor times, no matter how statistically balanced those cards are.

Your questions imply a tone that I clearly don’t know what I’m talking about. I would ask you consider editing your statements to avoid unintended confrontation.
 

Chad Schaffer

Newbie
South Michigan Staff
Your questions imply a tone that I clearly don’t know what I’m talking about. I would ask you consider editing your statements to avoid unintended confrontation.
I couldn't agree more! We are first and foremost a community and we should watch how we second guess and criticize each other and each others works.



A good game runner with good NPCs can take crappy cards and make alterations on the fly for a great game. A poor game runner with poor NPCs will make poor times, no matter how statistically balanced those cards are.
I think this is spot on as well. It takes a good game runner to statistically balance cards on the fly. What other qualities do you find make up a good game runner?
 

Draven

Count
Seattle Staff
Marshal
I couldn't agree more! We are first and foremost a community and we should watch how we second guess and criticize each other and each others works.




I think this is spot on as well. It takes a good game runner to statistically balance cards on the fly. What other qualities do you find make up a good game runner?
The ability to let other people share the burden and not take too much on yourself. It’s not just about avoiding burnout, but also about letting them get invested through their own efforts.

The ability to keep your promises and have strong communication skills are needed for the people who are willing to experience your story and for those willing to help deliver it.

The ability to keep objective when under stress, and to recognize which hills are worth dying on and which aren’t.

Organizational skills or, barring that, the ability to recruit people to help you stay organized.
 

Muir

Fighter
If the person running the mod feels it’s too easy, they throw in an extra spawn or two. Salt to taste, if you would.
This has always been my philosophy of the game, and something I use in writing for tabletop RPGs. It is a lot easier to scale the enemies a little low and just add more spawns if the players are going through them easier than you thought than to recover the players' interest and good attitude if you wipe them by overscaling.

One of the scariest, most challenging mods I ever played was a double-hook town mod back in Alliance Kzoo: Town split half and half. The high-level half went and got into a scrap with the Graveyard of the Four Winds. The lower level half got ~15 players as 10 body, dual short claws, swinging one dumb zombies. Only targeting on sound or movement.

Infinite respawns, 30 minute timer.

It got very Dawn of the Dead up in there.
 
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