Call the Exterminator (PvE)

Discussion in 'Custom Scenarios and Boards' started by Flaxative, Nov 20, 2013.

  1. Flaxative

    Flaxative Party Leader Staff Member

    ATTN: NEWER VERSION IN A LATER POST IN THIS THREAD.
    Scroll down to find it.

    This is very much a work in progress...

    I'll do more complete write-ups for the scenario when it's more finalized. For now, though, let's say that some noble's mansion has fallen sick with a terrible disease... zombie disease. A couple servants managed to sneak away and called the exterminator, a priest whose pet hydra is perfectly suited for destroying hordes of zombies.

    [​IMG]

    I'd like to work on making this better. Things I think might be problems right now:

    1. There isn't much urgency, and it seems like a pretty good strategy to sit back, amass cards, heal your hydra, and kill zombies as they come to you. Possible solutions include adding a timer (like for Kalin's Sneak Thief) or making most or all of the mansion into victory terrain, so that the zombies are accruing victory points while you take your sweet time.

    2. The priest isn't the most supporty priest in the world, and often ends up behind the hydra with a bunch of stabs in hand. This isn't a problem for balance, but it is a feel-bad experience for players to be sitting on a bunch of unusable cards. Right now I'm using MP Priest 1, is there a better one I could use who's got fewer attacks and more heals/buffs/card draw? This is my first foray into the editor, so I'm not really familiar with the best monsters.

    3. The hydra often just ends up in the hallway, fighting zombies in a very confined space that does not give the player much opportunity to use positioning. The team shifts often go to waste as anything but extra shuffles for the hydra, and it just feels a bit awkward, like I could make things better. Should I open up the space some more?

    4. Difficulty—I had 4 groups of 6 zombies, and it was kind of easy. Now I have 2 groups of muscular zombies and my hydra almost dies pretty frequently. Giving the enemy team bashes definitely makes the map more interesting. Any recommendations on # and type of zombie to use?

    I'm very interested to hear any suggestions you might have! Part of the idea behind this map was, "wouldn't it be cool to let the players unleash a hydra on a mansion full of chaff?" :)
     

    Attached Files:

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  2. Aldones

    Aldones Ogre

    What would I do to solve 1 and 2....
    Let's say that for the sake of argument, the hydra and priest are so important that either of them dying would mean a loss. If we could simulate that in some way, then the player would feel constant pressure to make every move count. Instead of looking at the situation from the good team's perspective, the player is asked to personally assume the role of the cleric, specifically. She's not going to want to die in this mission, and she's going to be equally devastated if her hydra was killed. to simulate this, I'd probably just get rid of the servants and set the enemy victory condition to 2 points. Then adjust the monster difficulty in such a way that the two servant's Raise the Alarm aren't necessary anymore.
    Then to add some urgency, hide someone in the back of the house who's the "noble" getting rescued? Maybe hide lord Stafford in a wardrobe someplace, since he's also got Raise the Alarm, but also a lot of defensive bashes and more health? Add an alternate route for the priest to take that walks her around the house and in through a back opening. The battle becomes your Hydra holding aggro and killing zombies at the front of the building, and a cleric sneaking Stafford out the back door?
    As a result, I'm not sure you'd need victory points anywhere. I usually try to include them in maps with this many monsters just so the battle doesn't have the potential to drag on for hours. If there were a few less monsters, but they took less stars to win, then victory or loss could occur much more quickly.
    I'm glad doors are enemies, too. Someone might be able to hold a single-width door all by themself if it's an enemy door. Zombies wouldn't be able to move past something immovable like that, so a player could "bar the door" and hold out indefinitely in a back room, until you're ready to escort him and let the potential flood inside. Changing a simple extermination into a rescue might be more than what you really want, though. I'd try and reduce the amount of zombies, though. Watching them all roll against Slowed got really tedious, even just on turn 1. If there were fewer of them, then the Hydra might not need as much backup. Without the need for backup, the cleric can be freed up for use in more roles than just support, fixing your problem with the cleric having too many useless attacks. She can now go on her own mission, either to rescue someone, enter through an alternate entrance, or enter any rooms that were specifically built to be too small for a hydra to fit. With all the double doors, there's no place right now that the hydra currently can't reach.
    For added nerd enjoyment, you could include a tiny part of Stafford's maps from the original adventures, like the kitchen, just so players recognize the reference and can laugh a little at Stafford's new predicament.
     
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  3. Flaxative

    Flaxative Party Leader Staff Member

    Giving Gary a win with one victory point is definitely possible, and in flavor for the scenario. But I think that would make players play even more cautiously with the map as-is, so I'd need to make some other changes as well. Interesting suggestions, thanks so much Aldones!
     
  4. Kalin

    Kalin Begat G'zok

    Note that servants are not worth any points, so you won't lose if they die.
     
  5. Aldones

    Aldones Ogre

    Oh? I forgot about that. bad advice is bad. :( sorry.
     
  6. WhiteSorcerer

    WhiteSorcerer Guild Leader

    Wow, I totally want to play your conception of map, Aldones.
     
  7. Flaxative

    Flaxative Party Leader Staff Member

    Went through a few iterations today. Tuknir spectated a bit and gave me some tips.

    [​IMG]

    Changelog
    • PC: Replaced priest with a more supporty priest. No more plethora of stabs. Losing martyr's blessing is a bit sad, but this feels better overall.
    • PC: Put one of the servants inside the mansion so that team shift is a bit more relevant. This is tentative.
    • Gary: Tweaked # of enemies, and put in a couple festering zombies who resist fire breath, but act as neat little zombie-killing bombs when killed.
    • Gary: The master of the mansion, a famous retired chef, has holed himself up in his 2nd-story study. Your job is to purge the mansion before he succumbs to the illness and becomes a zombie. You have 10 turns to do this.
    • Terrain: Some cosmetic changes to the mansion. Widened the hallway a bit.
    • Terrain: Put some interior windows from the kitchen and quarters overlooking the entryway. These windows make fire breath a little more versatile.

    Definitely still a work in progress, and I'm still open to feedback.

    The main reason I didn't go with the fairly drastic change in mission that Aldones suggested was just that I'm trying to stick to the original concept of the map and see if I can make it better. If it doesn't hold water I'll switch things up a bit more than I have. The game's definitely a bit less draggy with fewer muscular zombies, not sure why I thought it was a good idea to have 12. Anyway, it's all in flux! Looking forward to further improving this thing :)

    EDIT: Worth noting, the idea of the servants isn't to balance difficulty necessarily but to give the hydra more cards/turn on average. I could of course slash enemies and remove the servants but I want the player to get to use a lot of sweet hydra cards. Suggestions on how better to do this are welcome, of course. Can also do just 1 servant *shrug*
     

    Attached Files:

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  8. tuknir

    tuknir #3 in Spring PvP Season

    It was really cool seeing you test the map, later will try it myself :)
     
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  9. Aldones

    Aldones Ogre

    I really hope it didn't look like I was trying to be too pushy with my feedback. It's easy to get swept up in the "what would I do with this mission" question while looking like you're ignoring what would make the actual designer happiest.
    I'd swear that the first priest you used didn't just have Martyr's blessing, but also that upgraded version of consecrate ground. I tried to find her deck in the wiki but it didn't say it was included, but even if I'm just being delusional, consecrate ground sounds like it would help you out. My hydra ended up getting stuck in place in the first version, not really by choice but simply because there was a perpetual wall of enemies melting before me that prevented me from advancing past the first door. terrain with boosting effects would really help out in such a situation, and make things a little more interesting when the heavier zombies start throwing bashes around. I wonder if this would feel any different now that youv'e widened the hallway? It looks like a great change, what you've done to the building's interior.
    Did you ever consider just having two priests? If the first one's stabs felt wasted, then it probably wouldn't feel so bad if there was another cleric. I'm just curious... I guess the story is better with just one? I'm just trying to think of ways you could turn that hydra into a card drawing machine gun now.

    One idea: You're using Human Priest, right? what about using Greenfang Priest instead? His deck is much bigger, but he's got 7 inspiration. Too many other bludgeons and bashes, do you think?

    It's moments like these that I wish the Devs included advanced tactics on more NPCs. they say they want us to use the card and think it holds potential, but I've yet to see an NPC demonstrate for me why it's so awesome. If we had a pre-built human cleric that we could use running around tossing her inspiring armor onto hydras like this then I'd start to see a use for it, at least among NPCs.

    Edit: The two cards I felt like I spent most of my time battling were Zombie Mob and my priest's permanent state of Defensiveness. One little squishy zombie hitting for 16 in my first encounter made me think zombie mob might need some kind of upper limit added to it.. :p
     
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  10. Flaxative

    Flaxative Party Leader Staff Member

    Don't worry I didn't think you were being too pushy :) Just included that note so you wouldn't think I was ignoring your feedback straight up, I'm just being picky right now because I'm trying to accomplish one thing. And if it doesn't work I'll try to accomplish something else :)

    Two priests... interesting... The priest I had before had Bless, yeah, but one copy, and a deck full of stabs. This one feels much better as a real support. Consecrated ground would be sweet, but... man I wish we could edit characters' decks haha! Anyway I'm going to mull this stuff over some more :) Thanks again for all the feedback!!
     
  11. tuknir

    tuknir #3 in Spring PvP Season

    I tryed the map, its prety funny, had a realy bad first round where i draw 0 raise the alarm and 0 atack cards on hydra. manage to go to the middle of the hall-way, but then my hydra bited the dust. I lost but was fun, good job
     
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  12. Flaxative

    Flaxative Party Leader Staff Member

    Thanks, fine-tuning the balance is definitely in the pipeline but probably after I finalize everything else :)
     
  13. Flaxative

    Flaxative Party Leader Staff Member

    So, I gave this version of the scenario a pretty reasonable run through and I'm pretty sure the map is just too hard right now.

    Here's my final position, before losing on time:
    [​IMG]

    The hydra here has retreated, by the way; it did actually make it into the middle of the map, where it promptly got mobbed twice and fell to below 10 hp >_> There are no living enemies offscreen.

    I could win this position if I had a bunch more turns, but I'm not convinced that adding more turns to the clock would make the scenario better. Better, probably, to reduce # of enemies. I'm going to try the map with 1 festering and 2 muscular zombies (so reducing enemy count by 2), and one fewer servant, and just see where that goes.

    EDIT: Another playtest.

    Here's my final position, quite similar:
    [​IMG]

    (I forgot to adjust VP goal, so it's 2 higher than it should be—I'm actually closer to winning than the VP track would have you believe.)

    Again my hydra was forced to beat a retreat (this time to blow fire through the windows and kill more zombies more quickly). I also played very poorly at the beginning of the game, using two Raise the Alarm on turn 1 and discarding three or four unused attacks. Later in the game I drew a bunch of nonattacks and that hurt my ability to push through the zmobs. I think this version is doable, but I'm still looking for ways to improve it.

    Attached is v6.
     

    Attached Files:

  14. I tested the first version couple of days ago and now this newest version. I see you already made most of the suggestions I was going to post :)

    I played the new version only once so maybe I had a good/bad draw, but I'll still post some random comments based on that one match.

    - the idea behind the scenario was good and theme-wise everything was great.

    - I felt that the overall pace was really slow. My hydra was like a slowly advancing snail who mostly of the time fought doors. More cards and/or less doors would be nice.

    - maybe one zombie is wondering outside? Would give the scenario a faster start.

    - I liked the idea of having a human servant trapped inside the house. I wouldn't mind seeing more of them. Then again it might be annoying to micro-manage a bunch of servants.

    - too bad you dropped the priest with Martyr's Blessing. That card was the best part of the first version and I would say that it is crucial in making the scenario as fun as possible.

    - I think it needs a bit more zombies or some other cannon fodder.

    - I liked the festering zombie bomb.

    - Chef upstairs was great.

    - It's probably too difficult. I would say that I did pretty well and had pretty good cards, but I still lost with 2 zombies on the board. Might be a good idea to change the VP's to 12 or something. I don't know..
     
  15. Flaxative

    Flaxative Party Leader Staff Member

    Cool, thanks so much for the feedback. Martyr's Blessing is a big hit, as I think I mentioned in an earlier post. Could possibly go two priests, as Aldones suggested... More normal zombies that are easily fried would be nice, I agree. Alright I'm going to ponder this stuff and keep tweaking! :)
     
  16. Aldones

    Aldones Ogre

    Something that I thought was intentional, but now I'm wondering... Was it you intention to hide so many slowed and shuffling enemies behind doors that are specifically allied to them? I could tell that many of the zombies in this map wanted to come out and die for me, they just couldn't because the allied doors were blocking them. Maybe the hydra meatgrinder would run more efficiently without both of the doors in each opening? It would keep the hydra fighting doors on it's way in, but let the zombies flow outward without trouble?
    It might even be interesting to flip ownership of the doors to the player's side, and enjoy the feeling of zombies clawing their way out to get at you... but I suppose the hydra would then encounter the same problem, immovable allies everywhere preventing movement progression.

    Similarly, as Tuknir and I were noticing with his other map in this thread (post #9 and onward), now that the building has interior windows, one downside to this is that enemies will sometimes be satisfied to snuggle up to them even if they only have range 1 melee attacks because they think that this is the closest that they can get to you. You could probably shave some wasted time off the clock by making the windows funnel enemies toward the doors a bit more? That entryway's east and west indoor windows are both built with little pockets for catching slow-moving aggroed melee enemies and holding them there.

    When the zombies in the northern room seemed satisfied to stand by their new hallway window, ignoring the servant in there with them, and not leaving through the door, I could tell that this was a group that was going to take patience to root out.
     
  17. Flaxative

    Flaxative Party Leader Staff Member

    Alright, finally have another version of this map ready.

    A few changes—
    • Removed two doors, allowing some zombies to advance a bit more. One zombie begins outside, ready for slaughter.
    • Only one servant, beginning outside with the party.
    • Down to 1 festering zombie, but it's a foe to fear.

    Here's a screen of the starting position—

    [​IMG]

    And attached is the scenario itself.

    I'm pretty happy with it at this point—it's very close to what I'd wanted: a slugfest in which you control a hydra beasting through a swarm of lesser foes. I'm happy with the terrain and I'm happy with the look of the thing. The current priest selection is fairly functional as well, even if the lack of martyr's blessing means no machine gun. The map is difficult (I've lost 2 out of 3 times playing it just now), but not too difficult I think. It's a bit up to the draw but so are the maps in Mauve Manticore #1 so we'll see.

    Unless there are any showstoppers, I think I'll be submitting this to Mauve Manticore within the day.

    Thanks again to everyone who tested and gave feedback :)
     

    Attached Files:

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