Thursday, May 10, 2012

Consul-ation Prize

Tomorrow's big deal.
Tomorrow we're (and by we I mean Demitra, my fiance', her brother, and possibly two or three more) going to be getting together to play Super Dungeon Explore. If you haven't noticed, I've been doing a bit of painting for that game recently, and I'm really hyped up to pull it out. I have a very firm grasp of the rules, and along with that comes the responsibility of being the "game master" if you will. It would be difficult to instruct the players as to how the game is played from the Heroes' side of the table, which means its pretty much up to me to play as the Dark Consul. This is a bit of a sticky spot for a few reasons.

Firstly, it'll be a bit counter-productive instructing the heroes as to how to work in concert with one another while I'm trying to kill them. I'd like to try to win the game, and I have as much experience playing the game as my fiance'. What I have over her is time here at work to peruse forums and analyze tactics. I know what characters are vital to the heroes' survival, and which ones can be ignored. I know how to make combos and how to break combos. I know that, when used correctly, a swarm of Kobolds can down any hero in a single well executed turn.

Secondly, I'm honestly sick of being the "Bad Guy". I was the Evil Overlord throughout a Descent campaign not too long ago, and I had a blast annihilating the heroes in that game, but after a while it got tiring being the odd man out. It becomes mentally exhausting trying to outwit a group of people, and it's a bit isolating being everybody's opponent. It really would be nice if somebody put out a game where there was a team of good guys and a team of bad guys. Hear that aspiring game designers?
Overlord to be?

Thirdly, this is sort of an intro game. As such, I sort of feel bad beating the snot out of the newbies. Yeah, I'm the Dark Consul, and yeah I'm supposed to want to smear the heroes all over the pavement (or is it cobblestones in a dungeon?), but if I crush them too severely and/or too quickly (which you want to do before the heroes get too much good stuff) it'll put people off of the game, and that's not what I want. I also don't feel right playing to lose. It's no fun for me, and I honestly feel it's insulting to the other players. What I really ought to do is point out some stuff here and there while keeping the game on a "lower difficulty setting" until the players have their feet under them, and then go for the throat. This is a very fine balancing act, though, as I could either end up rushing them before they're on equal footing, or I could end up waiting too long and having them roll over me in short order.

I guess what tomorrow is is an attempt at making the game fun and challenging enough for all of the players to have fun and be challenged, while keeping anybody from becoming bored (which could happen if I kill a hero early) and avoiding having the game become bogged down in rules explanations and analysis paralysis. The game rests upon the edge of a knife. Stray too far in either direction and it will become a chore for somebody.

Maybe next time I'll be able to pass the mantle of Dark Consul on to somebody else. Until then, the teaching/opponent/outcast job lays firmly upon my shoulders.

1 comment:

  1. Never thought you'd want out of the evil side considering your love for the villain/undead/just plain evil factions.

    Doing glorified demo games is always a fine balance. I've been catching quite a few baby seals in Warmahordes lately who are playing their second or third game overall. I definitely tone it down a couple notches in those situations in terms of army selection. While I don't let people win, I will make a lot of poor decisions and neglect basic defensive principles (like camping Focus or blocking charge lanes) to leave the door open for victory. I don't drag people through that portal, but I try to leave bread crumbs for them. As you note having a bad first experience can color your overall impression of a game (see: Malifaux), which is counter-productive to fostering interest.

    Obviously I'm biased here, but if you found some super broken combo of doom that lets you spawn all the mobs at once on the first turn through some draconic rules interaction that then lets you stomp all the heroes before they get to move, maybe you want to leave that on the shelf for the first round. Ditto for sniping the healer or the only one that can do some essential task. Satisfaction comes from winning a tightly contested fight, where both sides are operating at their best, not clubbing the seals into bloody goo as they slide out of the womb.