Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Harbinger is OP, no matter the game system

I kind of dislike writing these things down not in chronological order, but I happened to lose my camera during Warmachine tournament in Turku. I'm trying to ask around if there has been any sightings of it.

So instead of Warmachine games here are two Talisman games that were played in Salo.

And they were rather... different.

First game we played with City and Dungeon and the Deep Realms expansions - as well as Harbinger.

Harbinger is a real game changer. We randomised Shattered World to be the prophecy during this game.

Characters we got were the Warlord, Dragon Rider and Chivalric Knight. When the game ended, none of these characters were on board any longer.

We did have quite a bit of bad luck, as well as being completely unprepared for the Harbinger.

The Warlord was the first character to draw Harbinger cards. And she drew Gates of Hell, or whatever the event is that spawns three additional Harbinger cards. One of the three additional Harbinger cards was another Gates of Hell. So she had to, in essence, draw five lethal Harbinger cards on one of the first three or four turns. One of them was no other than Strength/Craft 18 The Beast.

She was left reeling with one life point remaining. In the end she decided to suicide herself and pick a fresh character, as it was very early game.

New character was Spider Queen.

Dragon Rider and Chivalric Knight also died rather early in the game and were replaced with the Possessed and Gypsy.

Spider Queen got one of the new cursed items, Keys of Hades or something like that. The item gives +2 Life value for each other player. Every time another player loses a life, the keybearer also loses a life. Every time another player heals or gains a life, well, you get the picture.

Possessed was kind of a nice combination with that item because of the constant healing.

Harbinger, however, was a major pain for all of the characters. Gypsy was relatively safe from the many effects of Harbinger events, but even she had to suffer from different Omens. Nobody wanted to lose characters any more and everyone wanted to see the game progress somehow, and this caused something to happen that was never heard of in the world of Talisman: players kind of actively helped each other if it wasn't too big of a sacrifice of resources. Though of course Spider Queen had a pretty big incentive on not getting other characters to suffer damage.

Bad luck caused Possessed and Spider Queen to limp with just a few lives for a long time, and eventually their characters expired once more.

This happened quite late in the game, so Magus and Spy really didn't have that much of a chance at winning. Gypsy was a clear winner, who now boasts impressive track record of 100% victories. Out of four games, though. But 100% is 100%

Ending was Battle Royale, but nobody else had a Talisman when Gypsy revealed the ending.

From now on I will be marking down to the statistics if some character has been a last draw with no real chance of winning any more.

Game 2:

First game had taught us that the more regions there are for Harbinger, the easier he is to navigate. So we got all of the expansion boards into play. Prophecy was The Rising Dead.

Characters were Ancient Oak, Dragon Hunter and Tinkerer. All of them pretty good.

And all of the first few omens were almost more a boon to the player than a penalty! This time beginning of the game was far more merciful. But I guess that served only to lower our guards...

Tinkerer and Dragon Hunter got a really strong start. Tinkerer got the Everfull Purse and Bow, for example. Dragon Hunter started grinding through the Dungeon right from the start and scored a lot of lucky Deathblows. His stats began to soar, and once he found Banesword and Book of Diablerie even the Craft monsters weren't that big of a problem.

Ancient Oak suffered most from the Harbinger this time around, and was the first character to die. Oak was replaced with the Grave Robber.

I fail to remember how it happened, but bad luck eventually caught the Dragon Hunter when he slowly lost lives and was unable to heal them back easily. Dragon Hunter was the second character to die, and this death lengthened the game approximately by one and a half hours, as he had looked like the best candidate for winning at that point. Oh, now I remember what began the downfall - Vengeance Hex that turned Dragon Hunter into a toad. Dragon Hunter began anew as Rogue.

Grave Robber had a decent enough start, but omens were slowly stacking. And when the Tinkerer died, and Grave Robber soon after and also the Rogue, the game looked hopeless. The board was littered with too strong enemies for us to fight, and zombie apocalypse had already began - due to the omen, all Strangers and Followers were Strength 3 (effectively 5) undead zombies instead.

So everybody had died twice during this game. Final players were Totem Warrior, Knight and Philosopher. Philosopher might have had the best chance of winning here as he had the ability to switch face up adventure cards... but there was no time.

But the final omen somehow was sticking around excruciatingly long. Eventually Knight used the Altar of Wrath to put every character out of their misery - last Omen was discarded. Every character lost the game.

First time ever when this has happened. Though, to be honest, there has been only a couple of alternate endings where that was even possible.

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the Harbinger expansion. It does change the game a lot, which can be a good thing. But if there is a dedicated party pooper in the game, making everybody to suffer and eventually lose seems relatively easy with this expansion. But otherwise it can also be a lot of fun - especially in the first game it was a refreshing change of pace when players, while trying to win the game, also had to make amends and help other players at least a little.


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