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Hunting: Preparation, Preparation, Preparation 2020-05-29T12:00:00+00:00

It's been a long time coming, but with the completion of all the basic hunt event cards I'm now going to move into an analysis and breakdown of the core game hunt phase. To be clear, this series is not going to be a critique of the phase, there have been plenty of those elsewhere, instead we are going to be embracing the hunt phase as an integral and vital part of the game experience. We'll be looking at how to approach preparation, handling the process and even drilling into the game theory of why the hunt phase is the way it is.

As the updates have shown, until (at a minimum) we reach the Abyssal Woods/Inverted Mountain setting, this design is here to stay and its integral to the way that the new encounters are being built. Accept it, embrace it and enjoy it, because it's the best option we have right now (yes, playing with the official rules is the best version here).

Theory of the Hunt

So what is the hunt phase trying to achieve?

It is a somewhat abstract charting of the hunt party's journey through the darkness as they seek out their chosen quarry. It is (to quote) an opportunity to create suspense and surprise and it should be "read aloud without revealing the possible outcomes".

In short, it's a roleplaying experience, built around the old journey tables from Warhammer Quest, but also providing a lite version of the "red line" journey that roleplayers take when they are on an "A to B quest". It's the things that happen along the way.

Mechanically, it has a different function under the hood. The Hunt seeks to wear down the survivors with its combination of damage, survival losses and occasional destruction of gear or survivors. Survivors who arrive at a showdown without any hunt damage tend to succeed more than they fail, and the longer the journey one takes, the more variance involved.

Each hunt is constructed as follows:

  • 1 Starting Survivor Space
  • 1 End 'Starvation' Space
  • 1 Overwhelming Darkness / Forest Gate
  • 1 Monster Space
  • 2-5 Monster Events (which can trigger more basic hunt events)
  • 1-2 Top level Basic Hunt Events (including Object of Desire, Baby & the Sword, Dead Warrior, Sword in the Stone as well as basic hunt events from the table).
  • 0-3 Special Hunt Cards (placed in addition to other cards on the space)

That's right, basic hunt events, as in the ones which appear on the table, make up a tiny portion of the initial deployment. But, because of monster cards, backtracking and any empty space causing a basic hunt event (such as when the monster moves away from the hunt party). The number of basic hunt events can be much higher than initially anticipated. We'll look at this in more detail when we consider each monster's individual hunt.

There is an overwhelming number of variables involved in the hunt phase, it's got one of the most intricate step matrices in the game, with plenty of loops, exceptions and other possibilities. So there is a huge amount to consider when you look at navigating and mitigation. But we will start with the core fundamentals.

Fundamentals of the Hunt

Any settlement can build in support of a good, healthy hunt, if they choose to embrace the hunt phase rather than dismiss it as 'monopoly' or 'the worst part of the game'. Yes the Hunt Phase has some frustrating elements, but one would argue here that it is exactly what it needs to be as long as players understand that they are constantly making choices which influence their hunts.

Because the hunt will attack survivors on a number of different fronts, event damage, event brain damage, archiving of gear, bleeding, survival losses and more, there are a huge amount of options you have towards protecting your survivors and/or leveraging advantages from the hunt phase.

Lets get to the important categories:

Principles

While there are multiple, overt references to principles during the hunt phase, there is one choice which dominates your play style.

Birth Principle

Your birth principle has a very dramatic and sweeping effect on how you should play the game. There is categorically no RIGHT choice between Protect the Young and Survival of the Fittest, they are very close in terms of power, but you have to adapt your playstyle and choices to reflect which one you've chosen.

A Survival of the Fittest (SotF) settlement can be far more reckless and rash than a Protect the Young (PtY) one because they have chosen to invest in individual survivors over the settlement as a whole. They can avoid losing as much on the hunt thanks to their lifetime rerolls, and they are more durable when they reach the showdown; but Protect the Young settlements have invested in an overall more stable and safer population number.

  • SotF are less likely to lose survivors in the showdown and have some mitigation during the hunt, but they suffer hard from setbacks, especially lost hunts.
  • PtY are less likely to lose all their population and are more resistant to accidents and set backs.

In People of the Stars in particular these two Principles are neck and neck in power because of how strong the Intimacy table is in that campaign.

In respect of the hunt, one of the most important things to understand is as a PtY settlement is you need to take the hunt phase more seriously and pack more mitigation. You can't spend a red shirt's reroll to save a favorite hunter. So you need to prepare and think about every situation in more detail and with more consideration of consequences.

One of the biggest things a PtY settlement can do is bring along two whips on every hunt (until they have a Prepared survivor who can avoid being the straggler while carrying a whip). Whips allow for a LOT of mitigation if they are not in the hands of the straggler - but if the straggler is the one with the whip. Then that's not going to work - but if you have two whips, boom.

So I do, really consider the Rawhide Whip to be a useful hunt tool, even if it is a kind of terrible weapon (unless you have a super beefy survivor), so once you have access to ammonia you should be considering if you'll be spending 2x bone and 2x hide to get this protection online.


Other Principles

Of the other principles, they have less of an impact on the hunt phase; but to summarise:

  • Graves is a better choice than Cannibalize always
  • Accept Darkness has more synergy with SotF
  • Collective Toil is more powerful than Accept Darkness and also has more synergy with PtY
  • Romantic is streets ahead of Barbaric


Gear

While one sometimes showcase 9 slot gear grids for unique, individual survivors that can do interesting things. Overall one advocates the design of 7-8 slot builds. Leaving 1-2 spaces for support items on all survivors. While most traditional support items are loaded onto a single character (Cat Eye Circlet, Bandages etc), there is a lot of benefit towards loading one character with many support items, there are also some which should be spread around, in part because they provide other benefits and also to avoid the 'all your eggs in one basket' situation.

The most important pieces of hunt event gear are:

  • Rawhide Whip (*)
  • Bone Pickaxe (*)
  • Bone Sickle
  • Sky Lure & Sky Harpoon
  • Reverberating Lantern
  • Tool Belt
  • Almanac - relatively unimportant

There are sometimes other pieces of gear referenced during the hunt phase, but these are the core tools. You'll typically carry them in singles with the exception of the ones I've marked with a (*)

I've already discussed why the Rawhide Whip is so important (but you can subsitute in a Hunter's Whip or Silk Whip if you're actually using it as an offensive tool. The Silk Whip in particular is very competitively priced and powerful for the early portion of the game - it's 1x large appendage and 1x bone, so double bone with no need for ammonia). Note that Whips stop you getting Crystal Skin.

Pickaxe/sickle/lure & harpoon all function in the same way, they provide additional events that can give out resources, unique abilities (crystal skin) and ways of regaining survival. The Tool Belt helps support this by giving big benefits to a survivor who choose to fight with a tool.

The Reverberating Lantern is one of the single most powerful hunt tools out there, not only is it a lantern, but it also provides a huge boost of either survival or insanity when the hunt party needs it. It, along with the Tool Belt and Deathpact are all amazing items that can't be ignored.

Before we move on, it's time to lament one casualty of the hunt phase.

Instruments

Sadly, because of the existence of the Harvester hunt event:

Instruments are an incredibly high risk piece of gear and should be avoided with the exception of the Gorn (which is not noisy) or if a survivor has coprolalia (aka the most common known form of Tourette's) and is noisy regardless. The way that this card just deletes a single survivor with no mitigation is the single most dominant part of the "gear meta" in the game. There's not a lot you can do about this, the dream of the wandering band with drums, cello, horn and harp is nothing more than a meme because every single time you roll on the basic hunt event table there's a 1% chance that a Shai-hulud will "super-doomed" kill you. This is the only part of the hunt event system I wish would change, hopefully we see something in Campaigns of Death, but it might be we have to wait until the Abyssal Woods / Inverted Mountain hunt events to get something different happen.


Innovations

Innovations provide two different benefits in hunts, the first is the more overt form given in a higher survival limit, survival when departing and the reroll provided by the War Room. The War Room (Manhunter) is in particular very notable, because of the reroll it provides.

Still, there are plenty of other innovations that have an impact on the hunt, and we'll look at those when we drill into various important hunt events, but they tend to boil down to two different categories. Either they're essential/powerful innovations (like Symposium and Drums) or they're niche ones that have a marginal ability but unlock several different things (like Memento Mori or Pictographs).

Now because you have little, to no control over what basic hunt events are going to turn up,


Fighting Arts

There are precious few fighting arts that can be used to mitigate and control the flow of the hunt phase. The most famous of these is Otherworldly Luck (OWL), which gives you an optional +1 bonus to any roll - I can't remember if it's been ruled otherwise, but remember that the hunt event table is a roll.

There is also the Infinite Lives strain fighting art, which provides a massive pool of replenish-able rerolls at the 'cost' of locking your survivors in place and stopping them gaining any new fighting arts.

There is also Seasoned Hunter from the Manhunter (because it is the hunt event expansion), but to be honest the mitigation/benefit it provides is so small it's not worth keeping over other options - so if you have it, fine it might do something for you, but eventually you'll end up replacing it.


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Lantern's Legend Core Game Insert by Laserox
Lantern's Legend Core Game Insert by Laseroxmore_vert
2020-05-22T11:17:01+00:00
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Lantern's Legend Core Game Insert by Laserox 2020-05-22T11:17:01+00:00close

Note: This is absolutely NOT sponsored in any way shape or form. I paid full price for this and received no special treatment.

As a part of the expanding range of articles/content we're going to be bringing to you, today we're taking a look at one of the inserts out there. In specific the Lantern's Legend by Laserox (a Hungarian based company). So this is a very European friendly option.

Laserox are a small company of two people who make some very nice looking inlays. I have the exceptional Gloomhaven one from them (gosh the game was a hassle before getting it) and last week I picked up the Lantern's Legend. Laserox are a green company who use recycled materials and licensed wood, which are both things I have a great deal of appreciation for.

Ordering & Delivery

It took less than a week for the package to reach me, in fact it arrived way before the estimated delivery date. The external box took a bit of a banging and had collapsed on the top, but the actual package for the box was entirely pristine because of the padding between the cargo and the container (so to speak). I have no complaints about the delivery at all. Excellent service.

Packaging

I don't know about you, but I find the clean white recycled cardboard box with a single sticker holding the flap shut to be properly boutique and stylish. This is what understated class looks like.

Contents

I failed to photograph the stuff when it was first opened, but it's about 14-16 sheets of laser cut, engraved plywood, two plastic pivots and clear instructions.

When assembled you end up with:

  • 3x Engraved Bridge Sized Trays
  • 1x Engraved Gear Tray
  • 1x Engraved Settlement Event/Dice Tower Tray
  • 1x Rulebook Tray
  • 1x Terrain Tray
  • 1x Settlement Card Tray
  • 1x Token Tray
  • 1x Blood Box/Tray

Assembly time: 1 hour 50 mins

Which will fit everything (apart from miniatures) from the core game, all expansions and all promo content with space to spare. Here's how it looks in the box. Top row is all the various non-card trays.

Bottom row is for the cards:

All Official stuff: That's two full sets of the gear cards there and the bridge cards include every single monster, all the promo content and still has space for one to two more monsters.

On to the individual trays!

Decks

These are the card trays, which take up most of the space inside the box. They're very nicely engraved and the entire thing can be stained or painted whatever colour you desire.

The combs are for slotting in the wooden dividers, there is a few in the set and then you can order some extra if you want to. I decided to pass on the extras because I have the original 1.31 dividers and I prefer those. I love the lantern halberds on this in particular because of the clever work between form and flair.

All three of them look like this:

Now they don't allow for individual monsters to be transported, but you can easily pack one of these to hold the essential cards + the monster(s) you're taking to a session if you only want to part move things. But lets be honest, if you're taking this game somewhere, you're taking the entire thing. Otherwise you're not a cool kid.

The gear box is also thematically engraved.

As mentioned above, this one looks very full because of the sheer number of cards I own (enough for 6 sets of everything for all players), if you're being more reasonable, you'll find that it has a lot more space in it.


Other Trays

The other trays can all be seen above, they're not engraved with one exception. The Settlement Location/Dice Tower Tray. Every single one is sized so it is easy to access the components inside, but also snug enough that it fits efficiently. About the only element extra I would have liked is 'finger holes' on the bottom, that makes it easier to remove things from the trays when they're quite large.

Here's the settlement location tray. You can see how the side pops up and you get an engraved dice tower!

The white and ivory dice show the difference between the very first kickstarter release dice (quite rare) and the 1.5 version!

This dice tower is a neat addition, but it is important to note that it is a little tight, so the dice sometimes get stuck length ways. This means it's not a suitable replacement for a full separate dice tower, but for those of you who want something that fits in the box along with everything else, boom.

Yeah, I really liked the dice tower in idea, in practice it's not won me over yet. The Hit Location dice are fine, but the d10s are the ones that stick. Also it's not quite firm enough when fully flipped up. It tilts forward occasionally with use and I'm not sure if that's because I didn't assemble it well enough or not.

The rest of the trays are serviceable, they're not flashy, but they do the job, both in the box and on the table. Let us look at the two token trays.


The Token Trays

So there are two token trays, the first is the Blood Tray, which holds all the blood tokens and whatever else you like, it sits inside the event card tray in the box and to be honest, I couldn't find much to fill it up!

It's on the right in this picture. It looks cool and has that handle/cap but I really haven't figured out all the uses for it at this point.

The token tray is nicely labeled and has a huge amount of room, so you can space things out and I'm pretty sure that even in coin capsules they'll fit well. In fact the tokens feel a little swamped in there at the moment, but I have another set of tokens on the mainland and that'll fill these up nicely. It works really well on the table however, keeping it all nice and tidy.


Negatives

Outside of the oddity of the blood tray, the oversize of the token tray and the problems with the dice tray there is one negative to report here and I do consider it a bit concerning. My inlay was obviously damaged before it had been boxed up. There was large chipping on the corner of the engraved large deck box fronts and several of the sheets had their contents held in place via masking tape on the back which left small marks while I removed it. It seemed that this one had been boxed up by someone who knew that it was a little defective. Which I am disappointed about when compared to the sheer amazing quality that the Gloomhaven inlay was.

So, I can't give this one full marks because of the clear damage that the product received before it was shipped to me, that's not a great thing. Also the dice tower isn't as good as a stand alone one would be. But overall, I really like it, it looks good, it's going to look even better when stained and painted and it doesn't add too much weight to the box.

Also, while there's room for a bit more promo content, there's no way that anyone is going to be fitting the Gambler's Chest nonsense into this one along with the core stuff and the expansions, but that's not surprising given that the GC is going to require its own box in the first place and goodness knows how large the Box for the "book" Campaigns of Death is going to be.

So, in all I give it!

8/10

It is available at this link: https://laserox.net/kdm hopefully you'll have more like than I when it comes to getting an undamaged product. I could have reached out to them about sorting this out, but I chose not to because the damage is something I can live with.

If you are someone who makes accessories for KDM or knows someone who does, please feel free to send me a message here or on my business email (fenbatten at gmail dot com) and we can discuss! I am very willing to look at more inlays, dice towers,

Comments (3)
user avatar
User #14725393 - 22 May 20 21:48
I have an insert made by Saim Lab an italian guy who make some pretty works. I have to admit that i found those kind of insert too much heavy on the box and not really helpful. I have already transfered all the gear cards in a binder. I’d love to make some tuckboxes. It will really help gaming easier. I have little room space and i have to move the box every time from the shelf to the couch (yes, you are reading it right). With tuckbox i could just take the one i need for the fight.
user avatar
User #26784908 - 22 May 20 12:24
Thanks for the review, Fen! The +1/-1 tokens look like they're pretty tight in their tray. With capsules on, would they have to sit sideways?
user avatar
FenPaints - 22 May 20 12:37
Not sure, but they are really roomy in there without capsules.
Update 71: One of Them Hot Takes 2020-05-12T06:43:09+00:00

Last time a decent sized update landed I planned to write a hot take on it, but there was too much going on to manage to fit that into my schedule at the time. Things are different now, and we have the time. So I'm going to strip away the hype and take a walk through the more interesting parts of this update. There is a lot to unpack, some good, some bad and some of it quite ugly.

This will be a critical look at the update, with the aim of distilling out pertinent points (to me) from all of the surrounding bumf & hype. There was simultaneously a lot of stuff in this one and also a lack of it. I'll use Adam's own headers for each section I write about.

The update is here.

Wave 3 - Gambler's Chest

"The King showdown needs to move from notes to playtesting."

Out of all the lines in the update, this is the one that concerns me the most, at this stage there really shouldn't be anything that's still in the conceptual/first pass portion. But there really, really should not be a late game quarry monster like The King stuck there. The thing about quarry monsters is, as you move further up the nodes/timeline, they become more complex. Their design, the numbers involved, the gear, everything is a higher power level and that's easier to 'get wrong'.

Now, because we currently don't have any monster that first turns up later than Lantern Year 13 (Lion God), it's difficult to see what the balance numbers on The King are going to be. But I can tell you that constructing decent monsters around just the Lion God's level is a massive undertaking. Even once you have the numbers/moves/gear initially sorted you have a big task of checking everything against existing stuff to make sure that you haven't created any game breaking exploits or made other things obsolete. I tend to err on the side of caution in my designs, but the reason I haven't released too many later game monsters is because of this increase in the workload, testing regime and complexity they represent. APG has more resources than I to deploy, but when you see that one monster is basically not even on the table yet (and also it hasn't had its resculpt, you just know it's getting resculpted). That doesn't inspire confidence.

On top of that, we're also seeing that there's a design bottleneck in Adam himself; Smog Singers, Godhand, Collective Cognition, The Scout System and the Philosophy system are all cited as requiring his personal attention before they can be returned to the testing teams for more playtests. That's a massive amount of work going through one person and you can extrapolate a lot from it to see why everything has been so slow - it's all being feature crept an extraordinary amount - to a level where it's almost overwhelming the team. I could draw parallels to the video game industry here, what we're reading about feels more like Bethesda's design process rather than Obsidian Entertainment's.

Crimson Crocodile

Last time it was released, I said how much I liked the design of the model, I still do. It's a wonderful derpy version of Disney's Madam Mim in her crocodile form and that hasn't changed.

What we have been shown here includes a lot of partial mechanics, but it appears that the Crimson Croc (CC) is going to be a monster that attacks via insanity from vibrations/sound generated by its many, many fingers. We don't know what the Terrified trait does at this stage, but the 21,000 Newton Bite card exists to punish survivors who avoid the effects of Adrenal Adept by being deaf. It's just a 2/3+/1 attack most of the time however.

Adrenal Adept is a very dangerous looking trait for two reasons.

  • The card text with it's pseudo Gorm retch
  • You're not gaining insanity during the fight from the brain trauma table, so you're going to hit more brain traumas.

A lot depends on what level of the monster gets this trait, if its on the L1 monster as standard then lethality is going to be high because ways of gaining insanity during the showdown are limited when the Brain Trauma table is altered in this fashion (Screaming Horns is one of them).

The Tender Hit locations mechanic seems to be 'additional benefits if you are attacking a "certain square" on the monster. By the look of it, the bonus is additional strength, but because the deck is reversed in order through the Enchanted Flesh (Disney!) mechanic, it's hard to tell how this will interact with hit location scouting (if at all).

I think the look of the crocodile armor is pretty great, apart from the Doughnut nipples on the female armor set... Also, somehow it looks worse on the sculpt than the art. That's the kind of thing I'd prefer to see avoided. Or stuck on the male as well.

Looking at this axe (and the resources) we can assume that the CC is a glass creature (which matches the idea of the finger strumming making brain damaging noise - rubbing glass). Honed seems to be the main mechanic surrounding these weapons. From what I am taking - the weapon has strength equal to its honed value, but gradually decreases over time (the edge is ruined). I'd think that the mechanic for ruining the edge and reducing the honed value is each time you hit the monster, but it might be more generous than that.

Savage is a design standard on axes, unless Honed provides some bonus to luck also (it's possible that Honed 5 = +5 luck rather than 5 strength, but I doubt it as that's a bit OP) it's as weak as it is on the bone axe before it. But Guardless is a very interesting mechanic that plays into the strongest way that survivors operate anyway - Guardless stops block and deflect working (plus things like Ripple Pattern/Green Helm. However, it doesn't seem to stop Dodge. So in essence, it's not going to change the way we play currently, only Bruisers (Blood Paint/Gorment Armor) attack and operate shields at the same time, Tanks wouldn't touch a weapon like this and DPS survivors don't want to block. Interesting mechanic for sure, it'll be interesting to see where else it turns up.

Before moving on, I would like to say that I really applaud the addition of the 'high grade resources' that's the kind of thing that should have been in the game from the start. I hope that the existing monsters get some form of similar retro-fit.

On the whole, the Crimson Croc is one of the highlights of this update.

Smog Singers

We're finally going to get to see more of the "Sky Whale"! This creature is the one that I posited is responsible for the awful mess the Plane of Stone Faces is in and is also the physical manifestation of the Ethereal Dreamer. We'll see if that's the case or if the hypothesis doesn't hold up soon as that 'Singing Whale' event (which seems bad news for the survivors) comes into play. The Bard Armor is kind of hilarious looking and I hope that it supports instruments in a way that we can finally use them rather than spend our time ignoring them because of the H A R V E S T E R.

Bone Eaters

If people want a take on the Bone Eaters, I'd be willing to go back and write about the stuff from the previous update on them. That's where most of the information was located.

I do find it interesting that there's a Bone Eater version of everyone apart from Lucy...

Wave 3 - Campaigns of Death

I'll be honest, I really. REALLY hope that Adam doesn't add anything more to any wave again, and does not release any more new vignettes/echoes/white boxes because as he wrote himself:

"Development-wise there is a tremendous amount of testing data on most campaigns, I need to review it again and start to make updates. Then some of the story events need tweaking and a better KD lore pass. Thats the kinda thing that generally only Anna or myself can tackle. "

I'd rather that he focuses on that over creating more content that's going to need a full process from the start, even a variant monster could represent months of time by itself. So fingers crossed that's the kind of thing which turns up as a vignette post wave 4 rather than part of this already unbelievably bloated thing.

The Intimacy Couple - Amanda and Steve

Love the sculpts, love this pair of characters and I'm happy they're getting their campaign specific re-sculpts. I wish they'd release the 3d Photoresin prints in plastic also, so we can have a complete set of them for each campaign (in plastic).

I have to wonder why there is such a dagger focus on the Stars version of Amanda & Steve, perhaps that is hinting at more campaign specific gear?

Wave 3 - Pinups of Death/Inserts/Card Pack

Happy to see that all of this may get released before 2021, and I'm really, really happy that it's being delegated to the team. Disappointed that there's no mention of the previously discussed electronic release ahead of a proper print of the card pack, because it would be better for it to land in the hands of the community before going to the presses because the community as a whole has demonstrated themselves to be very, very good at assessing, using and breaking the stuff that APG put out.

Showdown Board

The design is exactly the one I proposed and sketched out on our Discord, so there's no way I'd have a problem with it. In particular I like how the centerpiece has been inset so it can have three dimensions without sitting above anything else. This is something that was a problem with the unofficial version, it is just too high and curved to be practical.

This board is going to look good and feel good to play with. It's also great that Charlie the Spider Crab is still sculpted on there and the future proofing design for terrain is likewise great.

Not super sold on the LED kits however, that's something I'd avoid using most of the time and it's also a nonsense when you get around to painting and it causes problems overseas when parts wear out. So I hope it's left out or becomes an optional extra in the store later on.

King's Coins

So, there was very nearly a long piece on this patreon about the King's Coins and the absolute mess they represented. But with an almost unprecedented level of celerity Adam withdrew the coins and started sorting out refunds. So I held back because I appreciated that he'd attempted to do something, gotten the details/specifics wrong and created something that upset the community.

The level of upset was honestly a tad extreme, but the sentiment behind it was not. The King's Coins originally represented the appearance of 'premium in-game currency' for a board game. A move towards translating 'micro-transactions' into a new medium, because of how tired and wary the informed portion of the public are of what the video game industry is doing; combined with the way that KDM has artificial scarcity built into it (due to the nature of their production runs and small size in addition to some deliberate choices), FOMO, Scalpers and many, many more issues; so things got very heated. I'm not going to condone everything that was written by people, but I applaud the action and resistance as a whole. The KDM community needs to be more vocal and politely keep the pressure up against unacceptable practices. Well done to Adam for fixing this one so quickly.

The new version, yes. That's what it should have been from the start, a fun physical object you can purchase and PHYSICALLY send back in to get a model that doesn't have any game content. A model that's being 'print on demand' (something that should be standard for KDM's resin store anyway). And they're also being used as ways of rewarding people in contests or offered to people who've shared painted miniatures etc.

This is a way of doing it that I approve of, and I will likely support this new version of the King's Coins with a purchase of two (one to keep, one to send back in for the model if I like the look of it) - depending on the price.

Kingdom Death: Showdown Tracker

Yes yes, a thousand times yes. While this early prototype is very rough and lack a great deal, it represents the first time I've actually liked an electronic rendition of the game. The Tabletop simulator versions are almost all entirely negative experiences for me because the community keeps moving towards scripting (and terrible scripting at that). I've lost count now of the number of times I've had to rollback or rebuild a campaign because the scripting has hit some fatal exceptions, in fact it's gotten so bad that when I start streaming KDM I will probably stick with a fully non-scripted version, even if I have to custom tweak it myself to get it to the level I want.

However, if this item continues to develop, there may be an alternative method here, so I absolutely support what we have seen even though it's super early in its design. Anything that gets me away from TTS versions that plague my existence would be a delight.


Weekly Updates

I think we all know how important it is that Adam communicates with the community, this is a great piece of news, but I write that with full knowledge that this is not the first time we've had that promised. So, as they say, the proof is in the eating. Hopefully it is a way of re-earning the good faith he's burnt through so far.

Because, and we should not lose sight of this. These were the originally pitched wave dates:

Wave 3 is at a minimum 3 years delayed now, and given what we've seen happen to it, Wave 4 is probably not going to see the light of day before 2025. As someone who used to say 'expect Wave 4 in 2121' I am astounded that I have managed to under estimate that. And it's not because of anything outside of control, there is no external reason why Wave 3 shouldn't be in the hands of its investors at this point - yes, that's right, they call you backers, but you're not, you're investors, investors who've had no physical return for a long time now.

If you're angry about not receiving stuff yet, well that's fine because we shouldn't be OK with this, not ever. This kickstarter is now filled with things we didn't ask/back for and they are holding up everything else.

The Soda Pop Miniatures level of delays, the feature creep and the poor communication all need to change, but at this point it seems highly unlikely that the lesson will be learned. Being this way is simply not a good image for the formerly biggest board game kickstarter to have and a terrible example to set for others out there.

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Comments (17)
user avatar
User #24946481 - 14 May 20 17:06
The intimacy couple have individual names?
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FenPaints - 15 May 20 11:18
No, those are the unofficial names the community gave them in reference to Adam and Eve.
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User #5330172 - 12 May 20 23:13
Thank you for the detailed update!
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FenPaints - 12 May 20 09:35
As an additional note, I think it is important to state I like Adam as a person, as a creative director, as a designer and as an innovator. I do not think Adam is a very good CEO, is showing to be very poor at project management, terrible at communications/PR and isn't looking likely to change/delegate on these anytime soon. That's what you buy into when you back this, but that doesn't mean you should say 'it's fine' or even worse, applaud it. My largest issues with APG's handling of this project as a whole are is incessant, not pitched for scope creep which I believe needs to be pushed back on. What this is doing is depriving us of more KD kickstarters, we're not likely to see a new kickstarter from APG for maybe half a decade from now and that's a shame. Adam's not a young man, he's only got so many designing years in him and this pacing is cutting that from us. I seriously advocate smaller projects and more of them in a more consistent stream released via the shop. I know that the next kickstarter he launches has an almost certain chance of being another big success, but I doubt it will be on the scale of the 1.5 one. There is more competition, competition from people who are capable of delivering lean, focused and fast turn around projects and that is only going to increase as time goes on. This is reducing the chances we'll ever see Labyrinth or the Ringtail Fox kickstarter more and more with each passing season. That sucks.
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User #15346453 - 12 May 20 07:21
I look forward to your Update reviews. I get as hype as everyone else, but it's important to look at this all through the lens of a backer/consumer and not just a KDM fanboy to temper expectations. Thanks for your insight on this.
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User #4091305 - 12 May 20 20:32
My problem, through the kickstarter, we have not seen any new content actually come out of this for 5 years now. Update 1.5 was done at the time of the kickstarter, and wave 2 is all old. While outside the kickstarter, he has added patterns and strained. That is outside of kickstarter. 5 years with nothing new in us theninvestoes hand and nothing but empty promises and deadlines, expect just to continue to not get anything.
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User #6933513 - 12 May 20 20:49
Bone Eater Update Comment please. Would be very appreticated. Thx in advance!
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User #13816006 - 14 May 20 03:33
"I'd think that the mechanic for ruining the edge and reducing the honed value is each time you hit the monster, but it might be more generous than that." A weapon with 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0 strength seems like it would barely be worth taking out if each hit decreased it. If it only decreased on a critical hit that would make it more useful, and be interesting as a counter-balance to luck and savage.
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FenPaints - 14 May 20 08:21
It has a way of ignoring the drawback by connecting those affinities. Which means it might be a 'forced red affinity' weapon trying to make players build around it. If that's the case, Honed could well be that harsh (or it might just trigger on successful wounds) Decreasing on a Critical Wound only as a mechanic is going to mean this weapon needs to be on the L2+ monster only, because it's too strong for an L1 monster only. We'll see.
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User #11287652 - 12 May 20 10:38
"This kickstarter is now filled with things we didn't ask/back for and they are holding up everything else. " Perhaps I'm the outlier, but this is exactly why I invested in the Kickstarter at the Satan Pledge level. While I had missed the first KDM KS, I saw that Poots regularly 'under promised and over delivered' and I was counting on that. With the amount of content I have with the 1.5 Core and 12 expansion he already delivered, I am more than content to wait until Poots is satisfied and his vision has been made into reality. Because at the end of the day, I (knowingly) invested in Poots' grandiose vision of the game as he sees it. If I just wanted a widget, I'd have sunk the two grand into Boeing. I really like your insights into the game, as well as your strategies (and REALLY miss hearing you on the Game Hunter's Podcast), but I have to disagree with you on this.
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FenPaints - 12 May 20 12:38
That stuff should be in other releases, not here holding back Adam's ability to keep momentum.
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User #4091305 - 12 May 20 20:29
Glad your happy to wait, but those of us with the game and expansions before this kickstarter not have not had anything new for a really long time.
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User #11287652 - 12 May 20 20:38
I am indeed happy to wait. As I said, I backed/invested in Poots' vision, hoping that the scope creep others complain about would happen so that I would receive a bigger bang for my buck. I have patience and faith in APG to deliver a product beyond most people's expectations, including mine. :-)
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User #2706361 - 12 May 20 08:07
Thanks for your insights, Fen!
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User #5330172 - 12 May 20 23:11
Hey Etienne - nice to see you here ;-)
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User #29495922 - 12 May 20 14:03
You've highlighted everything that makes me sad about this whole process. As someone who didn't know about the game until after the kickstarter closed, and couldn't afford the backing last black Friday, the scope creep is just going to bloat the price to a pretty unreal amount. Luckily I'm saving now to try and get on board for backing this BF but we will see what the price spike is.
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User #12242561 - 12 May 20 16:26
Totally agree with you on poots being a pretty crap ceo. Any other company would be up in flames now
Whipping the Watcher: A Showdown Breakdown 2020-05-15T09:00:02+00:00

I've had a request for a Showdown analysis of the Watcher and as I do enjoy doing these things (despite the amount of time and work involved in each one), I was very happy to oblige as The Watcher is part of the content I've still not fully broken down on this patreon. We've looked at oxidization in the past, but this time we're going to drill into The Watcher as an overall foe on the board.

Spoilers for People of the Lantern and various bits of the lore along with massive spoilers for the Watcher and even Steven King's Dark Tower series. So below this image of the Ultimate White Speaker. She is here to protect you from unwanted spoilering.

As source of all innovations in Lantern, the trigger for the creation of saviors and one of the servants(?*) of the Ethereal Dreamer - The Watcher was the flagship monster for the original Kingdom Death release known as 1.31. In 1.31 The Watcher was the looming menace that protected the settlement and fed them ideas/technology so they would survive and thrive until it was time to awaken and feast!

It is important to remember this, the Watcher used to be the intended final foe of the campaign before it progressed into the (now cancelled) Lantern Festival. The Gold Smoke Knight was added in 1.5, but never integrated well into the story, this creates an odd disconnect that only makes sense when you look at what the game used to be.

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As you can see In 1.31 the campaign turned into a desperate fight for survival once the Watcher was slain, the settlement could no longer innovate and they had to fight a stream of gradually stronger and stronger monsters in a survive or become extinct situation.

I should really at some point go into the 'endings' issue in some detail, but suffice to say that endings in horror (or even in the grubby fantasy genre like KDM) are hard to get right. Especially in the medium of games; in books and in film/tv the consumer is a passive watcher, they may analyse and comment, but they cannot influence the outcome. In games they are an active participant, they make decisions - and in KDM that is oh, so many, many, many decisions. So for a passive watcher a bleak, downer ending that feels inevitable and unavoidable works, but for an active participant, especially one in a pseudo-roleplaying game like Monster - it has a lot of problems.

In 1.31 the endings of the campaign were very interesting, either you died before the Watcher awoke, you were slain by the Watcher or you entered the 'Boss Rush' period and the settlement faded away into darkness. "Wait, that's not interesting!" You say, well the reason it was interesting is because players figured out two other alternative endings; you could reset the campaign via Clinging Mists/Déjà vu - creating a bleak, nihilistic situation where only 4 chosen survivors could carry back to the start of the timeline and erasing everyone else who ever existed in the settlement. Even looping that situation is bleak as heck because the chosen 4 might not be the ones who loop next time - it's like the Dark Tower except there's no indication that any loop will ever result in an improvement.

The other ending that was discovered by a player is equally bleak, dark and wonderful. By employing the original version of Sacrifice, you could ritualistically slay survivors and push back the Watcher's awakening indefinitely. Building a society that can last the ages, but at the cost of essential cultish sacrifice of their own. Talk about nihilistic.

All of this is part of the Picture in understanding the Watcher, it was designed as the ultimate foe for the settlement, it's why the campaign feels like it reaches its culmination when you are at the Watcher and anti-climatic afterwards, because the Watcher is the end of the first story arc and the Gold Smoke Knight is basically an intermission period Boss. Lorewise the GSK is considerably more important than that, it's been horribly mistreated by the game - killing it is slaying the guardian of the very land you stand on . But, well the hope is that things get improved and refined in the upcoming releases, APG are aware of the problems and issues caused by the rushed release.


The Watcher's Themes

The Watcher, like all monsters in this game, is built around a few core themes, and understanding these themes can help solidify your understanding of how the monster is likely to behave. Just like the Dragon King is Godzilla, the Butcher is Jason Voorhees and the King's Man is a blend of a clockwork soldier and Michael Jackson's robot character from the end of his movie.

The Watcher is a Dream/Memory Jellyfish. With minor 'breathing' themes because of how breath links to dreaming and mimics ocean waves.

When you take a look at the monster through this lens, you'll see how every part of it echoes this in a very clever and intelligent fashion (also this is the reason why there is no need for a jellyfish monster to exist elsewhere in the game ever, we already have one).

These are the driving themes of this creature, a nightmare/dreamlike control over things along with the physical characteristics of a Jellyfish (albeit one constructed from cloth and lanterns). We'll explore that more as we move forward.

As before, we're going to look at the strengths and weaknesses of the monster, so you understand how the monster will try to kill you, and be aware of when the monster Power Spikes and the troughs that it has. In particular, with the way that the Watcher ebbs and flows as a part of its Jellyfish design, these are always worth keeping an eye on.

Stats

The Watcher comes in one main flavor of stats. It has infinite movement, 12 AI cards, toughness equal to the lantern year and life points = to the current lantern year -10. This means the earlier you awaken the Watcher, the weaker it is. This is why I advocate waking the Watcher as soon as possible, while there are times where you may need to hunt a few more specific L2 or lower monsters (say to finish a Skleaver), there is no reason to hold back on pulling the band aid, you should be more than capable of handling L3 monsters by LY16-18 anyway, so the change post Watcher into the new "boss rush" is not a large issue.

Also because it is a life points monster (like the Lonely Tree) you cannot disrupt its AI by pruning nasty cards, you can only Rawhide Headband them away.

Attack Vectors

How does the Watcher try and kill? Well, it's prefered attack vectors are:

  • Survival Drains
  • Bleeding
  • Brain Damage
  • Collision (which triggers Bleeding & Brain Damage)
  • Auto Kill vs. Double Trap Draw
  • Normal Damage


Basic Action, Instinct & Status Cards

We start with a look at the persistent cards that are present throughout the fight. As always, because status cards impact repeatedly over the showdown they are your first clue as to how the monster will operate and what attack vectors it is going to employ.


Basic Action

This attack targets the furthest away survivor with an attack a 4 speed and 5 damage. Needless to say, this is a very dangerous attack to be hit by and you want to avoid it going to the wrong target. Which can be done by keeping your tank as the furthest survivor, or ensuring that all survivors are at the same distance. The Knockback 10 means that the survivor who is hit may well end up being the furthest survivor again.


Lantern Vortex

This Bashes all survivors within the 6x6 area surrounding the monster at the start of the monster's turn. This means they will be knocked down and not a threat. It then performs the Basic Action. Meaning that the first thing the Watcher does is knock everyone nearby down and then go after the furthest away survivor.


Absorb

Very simple, very dangerous. The Watcher "ebbs" back to the middle of the board and then heals while dropping -1 strength onto all the survivors. Nasty, because Heal is a dangerous trait on monsters that do not drop rewards for critical wounds. You're looking to end those fights as soon as possible and Heal prolongs the fight. This heal even weakens the survivors to boot.

Also, as you can see, the Watcher can sometimes move back to the middle 4 spaces, don't stand survivors/retinue in them.


Indomitable

Very standard, this trait exists to mitigate the Knockdown dogpile strategy of knocking down the monster and then dealing as much damage as possible while it cannot react. At this point everyone should be aware of how to handle this one, you've got opportunity(s) to surge and attack during the first attack against the knockdown monster, but it depends on when/if you can score survival opportunity triggers.


Vapor of Nothingness

The Watcher likes to collide with things, this is how it deals damage when it does. It's a nastier version of Trample. You're just going to have to deal with it by trying to minimize other damage to the head, because you can't avoid this unless you can avoid the collision in the first place.


Audience

This one is part of the combo that makes the Watcher fight feel epic in a way that the GSK just doesn't. The entire settlement is involved here as they see a fundamental change in their world, the thing they saw as their protector, turned against them.

The main trick here is, you get to keep departing with survivors - with all the benefits of departing. Pay attention to the rules for Survivor Death (all gear returned to the settlement storage) and departing (equip up). This means you can pull tricks like sending out a sacrificial Pleb loaded up with founding stones and maybe a weapon in the first wave, then after they've spent their load they can be killed and replaced with someone more effective.

It also means you can leave your best survivors for later in the showdown, bringing them in to mop up after the plebs have taken most of the damage and dealt most of the wounds. This depends on your builds, I prefer builds that do not rely on specific survivors (most of the time), so the survivors underneath the armor are interchangeable. However, be aware, you NEED to trigger Embolden to get the next survivor in, so swing for the ropes once someone has died.

Also, big populations matter, there's no punishment for having a large population once you're past the Armored Strangers event. So always be breeding.


Retinue

One of the 'silver bullets' for The Watcher, Retinue gives you access to a LOT of extra strength for the damage dealing survivor. You can easily manage to get a +12 for any survivor who wants it.

The cost of this is population, each Retinue that dies is -4 population and they are killed 60% of the time by any kind of damage at all. (Yeah -4 population, but 9 miniatures used... just go with it). They're large, unwieldy and the Watcher tends to slap them about with incidental collision damage a lot.

But if you have a big population, and if there are any rules I've wanted people to take away from this it's that females > males as hunters (except for Harvestman) and big populations matter. So you should, if you've been playing strategically, have enough population of plebs and rejects to absorb these losses and keep respawning the Retinues.


Stolen Dreams

Rarely inflicted, and a survivor is completely immune to this if they have max courage & understanding. But it's pretty nasty, immobilizing a survivor almost entirely with knockdown until 2 survivors/retinues (any combination) can manage to get adjacent to the knocked down survivor. This is handled via a moment by moment monitoring of positioning.

AI Deck (12 Cards - No Variation)

Special note to the AI Deck here, it's unique in the way that few monsters are, because you never remove the AI cards via wounds. It's always going to have those same 12 cards, just the order is switched up. This makes it more predictable than most monsters early on, but less predictable (in comparison) later.

Power Spikes

Inhale - This card is bad news because of how it pulls survival away from survivors, meaning they're more likely to get in trouble with the 'die if you don't have enough survival' cards. This can be limited by sticking far enough away that you do not get pulled in at the start of the monster's turn, but you need reach weapons for that. You can also set Block at a distance, get pulled in and then surge to attack during a flow step. In contrast Exhale isn't much of a problem outside of its positional effects.

Void Warp - good luck with this one. But, if you're wearing the Hours Ring this card is probably going to just get you killed and reset the lantern year. Worth remembering if things have gone horribly wrong, just run and kite until you can embolden out a survivor with the Hours Ring and bam, the Watcher will hand you an extra go at killing it.

Harrow - And there goes your survival... Whee.

Purify - Big oof if you have positive tokens.

As for Targeting, about half the time it's going to involve a threat, the rest of the time it's a bit mixed on what happens. So not being a threat does help protect you. Mmm Poop Makeup.

Troughs

Biophoton Feast - If you are aware that's coming, or even just aware of it in general, you can handle this by not being on the side of the monster where the 'furthest board edge' is. However, you might want to keep one target there because otherwise you'll have to deal with absorb.

Stupefy - Horrible if you're high understanding, irrelevant if you've been performing Insanity abuse or you are wearing a Gorment Mask. Yes, the Watcher's level is 1, so you only need 2+ courage to ignore intimidates. Whoops!


HL Deck (25 Cards - All "Unique", 14 crit locations, 2 traps, 9 non-crit locations)

Trap: Another special note to the Trap, the Watcher has two trap cards and drawing both of them is an automatic kill. So you need to be very careful with valuable attacks during this showdown, slow weapons are fantastic (as they are everywhere), as is HL Scouting and intelligent play. Spears/Blue Charm do not work vs. the double trap draw, Scythe does help however because of the reshuffle (other Reshuffle effects are also good, like Phoenix Crown).

Unique-ness: In truth there are several duplicate cards in the watcher's HL deck, but they have different names to fool you into thinking they are different. Whiteout/Blackout are identical, Void Membran/Void Epidermis are also the same card, same with Tentacle Crown/Tentacle Chains. There are also cards which are functionally almost identical, such as Void Light/Void Gastrodermis.

Power Spikes

Void Membrane/Epidermis

Basically, lose 2 survival or die. Otherwise the Watcher flees after you try and wound it. You generally want to leave this one till the end unless you're attacking with enough Range/Reach that you don't mind it floating backwards. It's also worth mentioning Tentacle Chains/Crown in the same section because they drain your survival and dump Stolen Dreams on you. Not as bad, but you'd still rather avoid it. Remember to stick relatively close to your fellows in case they need help.

Troughs

Inner Robes gives you an embolden on a wound, which is rare and very useful.

Void Nerve Mask gives out Survival for Romantic settlements or Insanity for Barbaric ones. Needless to say the Romantic one is stronger, but I've been recommending Romantic over Barbaric for a long time now. Likewise Hydrostatic Fluids/Skeleton provide +3 survival on crits.

Outside of that, the vast majority of the troughs live on the critical wounds, in fact critically wounding the Watcher is a vital part of success against it because those are the ways that you reduce the attrition it is throwing against your survival and get your Embolden opportunities.

So, on that front, the Watcher is much like most monsters in the game, crits good, really good.


Silver Bullets

I've mentioned Silver Bullets above, the Watcher is greatly weakened by the presence of the Retinues, it's toughness should always effectively be -6 or -12 when you're attacking it. (You can see why the earlier you wake the Watcher, the easier the fight is with this).

But there are also two other major silver bullets, Founding Stones and the Twilight Sword. The TS is an overt and obvious silver bullet, as the Twilight Order slay Watchers (hence their heavily blue affinity nature), they have developed protection from the Watchers and weapons that are very effective against them. A Twilight Sword, developed to the appropriate level will devastate and shred a Watcher. This is the point you have been saving them for, I hope you benched your TS s

Also the second silver bullet, or bullets is Founding Stones (and Deathpact), the Watcher punishes high speed attackers, but reels from critical wounds. Thrown Founding stones are both of these in one, they're a slow automatic critical wound and you can pack all of them onto one survivor who just tosses them until they die, or they have spent them all. It's crazy and I wonder if it this silver stone bullet was intentional or just caused by players being inventive. So you might want to save your founding stones from the start and stockpile them as you find more.


Summary

So to wrap this all up, how do you go about approaching the Watcher fight? As can be seen, the main attack route that survivors should be undertaking is via critical wounds, this is because the Watcher holds a lot of locations with extreme benefits for critical wounds and a significant portion of punishment on the normal reactions. Critical Wounds in particular are vital and you should be running 2 crit builds if you can because that is how you mostly get your embolden triggers.

Where Critical Wounds are not being employed, the combination of high strength weapons plus retinue(s) should cover most circumstances. 1-2 speed is safest to employ and unlike most monsters you cannot get away with high speed spear/blue charm spamming because of how the double traps work.

Other highly useful bonuses one can employ include evasion, Block 2, Fist & Tooth Mastery, Leather Armor (immunity to bash), Tumble (evade collisions), Bandages and a lot of armor. The Watcher hits very hard.

Also Automatic Wounds via the Counter-weighted Axe or Red Ring are as broken here as they are everywhere else in the game. Ignoring the Hit Location deck is ridiculously powerful in a game where it's a core balancing mechanic because you are in essence removing a portion of the monsters' offensive capability and all of its defensive ones.

As for when to undertake this showdown, The Watcher should always be woken up as soon as possible. The increase in toughness over time is very significant, in a game where the strength vs. toughness ratios of weapons to monsters is so tight, pushing up 2 points of toughness is a large plateau in monster durability. The watcher manages to push up 5 points if you delay as long as possible. In addition, you miss out on a lot of the oxidation opportunities if you delay and that will impact on your ability to handle the Gold Smoke Knight afterwards. I would recommend delaying no more than 1-2 years at most except in the most dire of circumstances.

Other preparation for this is the same as you would do for any major nemesis monster, good armor, good block, good evasion, high luck, high strength. Worth mentioning that Kiting strategies are not viable because of the Watcher's infinite movement stat. But by LY20+ you should have the Blacksmith constructed and have several top tier armor sets, otherwise you've been fighting monsters that are too weak for too long.

All of this written, I would like to say that, for as much as I do not rate the Watcher showdown mechanics, I absolutely rate it's thematic and narrative experience. It absolutely sells its Dream Jellyfish theme to a fault and this fight represents the end of the narrative story of People of the Lantern. The stuff which follows feels nowhere near as polished or interesting as the events leading up to the Watcher and it's even more glaring when you compare it to the Gold Smoke Knight, who, unless you happen to hit a couple of hunt events, has zero foreshadowing or involvement beyond 'hey this burny face big man with a hammer wants to fight'. So, at a minimum I have to give thumbs up to Kingdom Death's jellyfish on that front.


*Speculation based on the facts presented in the lore, game text along with analysis of the mechanics. We'll have to wait and see if I'm right on this one but it seems to be the way Ockham's Razor points.

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Comments (9)
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User #755856 - 16 May 20 18:44
I found that devastating weapons are really, really good against the Watcher. 15 life is not much and can melt away pretty quickly. It also means that you have a lower chance of drawing the trap(s) and that you wound without triggering its mean reactions. Both Denticle Axe (on Cycloid Scale) and leveled Twilight Sword trashed the Watcher almost on their own within two turns.
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User #28854074 - 15 May 20 09:25
Exactly right now I was preparing my survivors for the fight. Should I read this first or before the great end? My first watcher btw 😁👌
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FenPaints - 15 May 20 09:27
Afterwards.
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User #16381135 - 15 May 20 23:09
1.5 Watcher always has 15 Life Points, it's no longer dependant on LY as it was a in 1.31.
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User #28854074 - 15 May 20 09:39
Okay! I hope I won't cry too much realizing my mistakes 😅
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FenPaints - 15 May 20 09:45
You'll be fine. But I am an advocate of everyone experiencing each monster 'blind' the first time one plays. Just take it easy, read everything that is given to you as information and have fun.
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User #28854074 - 15 May 20 09:48
Thank you sir! I like go blindly too, but this one is the BBEG, so he's a little bit more intimidating 😅😁 thanks for all the good info!
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User #28854074 - 15 May 20 13:47
I get deleted 😓 I have CWA+Leather set, Lion Spear+SA set, a critter with Rolling Armor set+Speaker Cult Knife+Phoenix Mantle and support with RH HB, CE Circlet and that. Not enough armor I think, some bad positioning from my part and the trap destroying my Gloom Man chest was the key. No Embolden opportunity either. I was prepared for this but... My next settlement will learn from his ancestors!! Thanks for all your advices Old Fen! 😁👌 Cheers and stay safe!
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User #755856 - 16 May 20 18:41
We wiped against the Watcher in our first campaign as well. Going in blind, we did not see its high toughness and mean tricks coming. Also made some positioning mistakes. Used up the Hours Ring, then lost to it again. With fewer positioning mistakes but with more bad luck. :P
Sankokushin: Five Sacrifices
Sankokushin: Five Sacrificesmore_vert
2020-05-02T09:00:02+00:00
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Sankokushin: Five Sacrifices 2020-05-02T09:00:02+00:00close

Today, as a respite from the extreme amount of work last Friday's release took, here's an upcoming game that I'm super interested in. So much so that I reached out to Axis Mundi Games last year and have been in correspondence with them since. Presenting, Sankokushin: Five Sacrifices. A 4 vs. Complex AI Game in the genre we've come to affectionately call CABBAGE (Alongside Aeon Trespass: Odyssey & KD: Monster).

I've long said that as amazing as KD:M is, it's the games that follow on and innovate on the ideas that are going to be really exciting, the way that Risk: Legacy resuled in Gloomhaven, or Warhammer Quest resulted in Darklight Memento: Mori. And while it is still early, what I have seen of Sankokushin has me very exited.

Enough from me, here's some details direct from Axis Mundi themselves!

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A brokenhearted god.
A woman carrying the collective hate of mankind.
How many times will you sacrifice yourself before giving up hope?

Sankokushin: Five Sacrificesis a fully cooperative campaign game set in a fictional version of medieval Japan.

Take control of several heroes arriving to assist the city-state of Yamashiro, a land destroyed by the quest for the Unseen, and help the city survive its grim destiny.

Experience an adventure in which you’re free to decide what activities the heroes pursue, where they explore, who they meet and how they interact with their opponents; all of which organically generates a unique storyline inside of the main plot that moves the destiny of Yamashiro.

Fight monsters and human foes in psycologically-intense encounters where personality and tactical manuevering are paramount. Intimidate or provoke your enemies to scare them or force them to attack carelessly. Use your diplomatic abilities to calm dangerous, psychopathic entities until you are able to backstab them or plead on the behalf of honorable opponents. Manage the stress of battle, seek to understand your opponents’ perverse intelligence and use that knowledge to destroy them or to find a way to save them from destroying themselves and everyone you hold dear.

Welcome to Yamashiro.

Campaign

The city of Yamashiro is an immense micro-universe where the lives of the citizens, heroes and enemies are tightly intertwined. Experience a unique adventure that unfolds over the course of 12 months during which you decide what activities the heroes pursue, where they explore and who they meet. Craft equipment, revel in festivals, expand the city, take advantage of the amenities of its many facilities, and explore personal relationships with the town’s inhabitants as well as its assailants.Sankokushindoes not require a heavy, multi-player commitment to reach the end of a campaign and it will not abruptly end if things go poorly. However, only those who travel across time and memory will gain the knowledge necessary to free Yamashiro from the burden of its tragic fate.

Procedural Narrative

No walls of text. No “Yes/No” choices.Sankokushininstead wraps you in its unique story as you experience Yamashiro without confining you to a guided plotline. Instead of presenting you with only narrative choices, the storyline is organically generated by the heroes’ actions during both the combat encounters and the city phase. The assailants of Yamashiro and its inhabitants are all intimately connected by a dark fate and only the actions of the heroes can alter the course of their destiny. These interrelationships have profound consequences in game and they are the heart of Sankokushin’s narrative and it is impossible to experience them all in a single playthrough as they are a reflection of your unique playstyle so different gaming groups will have different experiences.

Intelligent Enemies

Each of the 10 bosses included in Sankokushin has a unique personality and story arc that is closely linked with the overall narrative. The way you deal with each of them will reverberate throughout the course of the campaign. You will learn to love and hate their twisted personalities and will see that the methods used to fight them will deeply influence their future behavior. They learn from your strategies and change their attitude towards you (and the way they fight!) according to the way you psychologically approach them thanks to Sankokushin’s unique communication system. 'Sankokushin's is designed by a small team whose knowledge in the fields of psychology and psychoanalysis have made possible bosses with realistic, uncanny, and perverse personalities.

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I have had the pleasure of seeing many of their sculpts, including some upcoming ones I can't disclose at this stage. Suffice to say, their 38mm scale includes some of the most beautiful sculpts I have seen in a long time. Here are two of the bosses (I hope I get their names right):

The Karakuri


Katsu - In her test print

So cool, I love the mix of traditional and technological pieces, these models are going to look amazing in bright colours.

You can follow them over at their website and facebook in the links below:

http://www.axismundigames.com/

https://www.facebook.com/AxisMundiGames/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/sankokushin/

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/272175/sankokushin-five-sacrifices

I highly recommend keeping an eye on this one, I'll have more details on it in the coming months, trust me on this, there is some really exciting things in store - I just can't disclose things without permission. :)

KDM Returns Friday, with the Monster introduction Timeline Events!

Comments (13)
user avatar
User #14725393 - 2 May 20 09:01
I knew it 😝
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User #9407059 - 2 May 20 10:18
Wow, that looks and sounds very promising. My wallet is less excited than I am though, but I can’t wait to hear and see more
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User #16381135 - 2 May 20 14:02
Just curious, have you tried any of their other games?
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FenPaints - 4 May 20 07:05
No, haven't had time. Also as this is a CABBAGE game it has to be judged on its own merits. More on that later.
user avatar
User #26784908 - 20 May 20 14:56
I'm new here. Where does "CABBAGE" come from?
user avatar
FenPaints - 20 May 20 15:07
Complex AI Boss Battling Autonomous Game Engine
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User #26784908 - 20 May 20 15:31
So, does it refer to a mechanic (e.g., KD:M's Showdowns) or a type of game?
user avatar
FenPaints - 20 May 20 15:38
It's a slightly comedic community term for the genre.
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User #26784908 - 20 May 20 16:43
👍
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User #6407737 - 2 May 20 09:57
Sounds intriguing, excited for this!
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User #14725393 - 2 May 20 15:57
Creepo: they are really different game. Nothing can be compared with this new project.
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User #20099510 - 2 May 20 11:16
When they start KS?
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FenPaints - 4 May 20 07:05
Sometime this year. You have all the information I can share via those links and what's above.
The Gnasher - A Completely Unofficial Custom Monster for KDM Monster / Dauntless "Crossover"
The Gnasher - A Completely Unofficial Custom Monster for KDM Monster / Dauntless "Crossover"more_vert
2020-05-01T08:22:43+00:00
The Gnasher - A Completely Unofficial Custom Monster for KDM Monster / Dauntless "Crossover" 2020-05-01T08:22:43+00:00close

So, surprise! I know I said there wouldn't be as much custom content while I work on Project Hotdog, but it turns out lowering the pressure on myself further freed up my creativity a bit and I felt inspired to work on some "crossover" monsters. This is the first release and it's a behemoth I adore from a game I find very relaxing because of it's quick, pick up/put down nature. Presenting The Gnasher from Dauntless!

This is a Lantern Year 1 monster with a balance level around the Gorm in difficulty. There are some quirks in Dauntless that I have had to compromise on with respect to the gear. Because Dauntless only has 6 different weapon types (Hammer, Strikers, Chainwhips, Axe, Warpike and Repeaters) these monsters that come out are going to be more limited in what weapon options there are. Typically every monster will supply the following types:

  • Club (Hammers)
  • Sword
  • Axe
  • Spear (Warpike)
  • Whip & Dagger (Chain Blades - aka Kusarigama)
  • Katars (Strikers)

Most of these weapons apart from the Sword and sometimes the Axe are two handed by design. You can think of the Chain Blades & Katars as being 'pre-paired' weapons. I think that is more interesting than having them be used in singles because of the issues Paired has.

I have left repeaters out of the mix because they are essentially two pistol shotguns and balancing them is incredibly difficult - they might make an appearance with the higher level monsters. I will be adding other weapon types to broaden things on the other monsters, but I have to build those in photoshop from scratch parts.

There was also an issue with the armor sets, the Dauntless ones are 4 piece armor sets, so I have designed these the same way as the Gorment Armor set is. You'll find that the armor bonus is missing from the set, but you can get that back by using an additional shield.

The Sentinel's Mask is part of an armor set which will be released over all 4 of the above listed monsters. You'll get each part from either the L2 or L3 monster strange resource, giving you a bit of a journey.

Needless to say, the tone & style of the weapons & armor is not a great match for the Kingdom Death aesthetic, because of Dauntless's more stylized and 'aetherpunk' aesthetic but this may become less of an issue as more of them turn up. The aim eventually would be to create what is known as a 'Maelstrom' mode where you face a series of these monsters one after another in a kind of 'boss rush' experience.

You're on your own for the the monster model, it's a 50mm base and you can see how the monster looks in the art and online elsewhere. There is only one Dauntless mini out there right now and it's the Pangar in the collector's edition (yes, I love the Pangar, it's on the list to do).

I'm aiming to do a LY2, LY5 and LY9 monster as the initial wave, how quickly they get done is honestly up to you guys, while I will be always releasing these as entirely free to download posts.

I absolutely encourage you to give Dauntless a go by the way, it is a free to play monster hunting game over on the Epic store. It's a lot lighter and easier to get into than Monster Hunter ever was or will be, ideal for playing in short bursts rather than having to grind for long, long periods to get what you need. I can't recommend it enough for what it is. It would also show support to the creators of this awesome game by helping increase their player base even further. Can't recommend it enough.

Also, after much consideration, I will be scrapping any .pdf versions of anything I've made or future stuff. The amount of time and effort involved in converting everything across into a .pdf is just too much. If there is someone who wants to take up making/laying out the .pdfs they are welcome to do so, if you post your pdf in the comments I'll review it and add it to the attachements (with credit) if it's up to standard! Sorry about that, but I have to pick basically one or the other to do, its about 40-50% extra time investment to have to make the pdfs as well.

Any typos, please ONLY put them in the comments here, not on the discord.

As always, this is public, so feel free to link non-patrons here.

Comments (8)
user avatar
User #14725393 - 2 May 20 09:16
Shared on the italian KD:M community. Hoping, as always, to bring some supporter.
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User #9744752 - 1 May 20 09:15
Awesome Fen, looking forward to giving this one a try! Bumped my support up to the $5 tier, as I’d love to see more homebrew monsters like this from you. I noticed the following from taking a quick look through. Hit Locations Furious Chop Hit Location - ‘The the attacker’ on reaction. Vestigial Right Forearm - ‘target attacker’ - should be target ‘the’ attacker? Resources Great Rat Bones, Small Ragetooth and Furious Mind look to be using a different template with a different aspect ratio from the others, possibly missing bleed. Story Event Grinding of Teeth: Typo in first intro paragraph: ‘furiously grindind’ - should be grinding? 1/2 roll result: ‘everyone is too far gone to for’ - extra to?
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User #8529536 - 16 May 20 08:13
Mpc links: https://www.makeplayingcards.com/design/dn_temporary_parse.aspx?id=311F87CAFD78A42AAB01D5157D3E15597D187A1DCB8654073AC482C74A96918DDFCBD580F2D2DB6C&edit= https://www.makeplayingcards.com/design/dn_temporary_parse.aspx?id=1DEE8EE5750FCE22E1C2D4EEC9254C3D74FC05E6F8C25F1203D14E501B1C8F0922AE475D9A14946E&edit=
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User #9110977 - 3 May 20 05:34
hunt event: shrowded darkness dice range include result of 1 , twice.
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User #29495922 - 1 May 20 09:12
Well done Fen, this is both a challenging and rewarding node 1 quarry. It's AI cards are very thematic!
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User #755856 - 1 May 20 15:10
I always love to see a new monster with a bunch of corresponding gear! Typos? - Crippling Wounds - Shows an "A" in the corner of the card, but should be an "S". - Raging Bite, Raging Crash & Raging Cruelty - Not sure about these, but I was very surprised after your introduction that these weapons are not "two-handed". Especially the latter two. Edit: Typos? Not sure if a typo or deliberate, but the attack profiles of Double Face Slide switch speed and damage.
user avatar
FenPaints - 14 May 20 08:59
Updated with everything above this line read and fixed if appropriate.
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User #8529536 - 15 May 20 20:07
Both "Furious left foot" and "Furious right foot" are named "Furious left foot"
A Visual Guide to the White Lion
A Visual Guide to the White Lionmore_vert
2020-05-19T11:00:02+00:00
A Visual Guide to the White Lion 2020-05-19T11:00:02+00:00close

As above! Larger image attached below.

Next time it will be Spid-ick-u-los (Spidicules). Which should have a lot of information counter to the stuff you hear out there (plus some obvious stuff, like the armor set s u c k s).


Attachments (1)


A Visual Guide to the White Lion.png (8.1MiB)

Comments (1)
user avatar
User #23214225 - 20 May 20 12:18
Excited for the Spooder Guide next, Thanks! These guides have really helped my wifes understanding of the game in a concise way I am sure they are a PITA to create.
A Visual Guide to the Butcher
A Visual Guide to the Butchermore_vert
2020-04-28T07:00:02+00:00
A Visual Guide to the Butcher 2020-04-28T07:00:02+00:00close

Higher Resolution version attached below.

If there is no post on Friday, it is because there is something big coming next week and I needed the time to finish it off. If there is a post, it's not ready yet.


Attachments (1)


A Visual Guide to the Butcher.png (9.0MiB)

"Optimal" Loadouts for Building Armor Kits 2020-04-14T13:00:03+00:00

We looked at Magnetic builds last time and as my honest conclusion was 'don't do it'; this time, as per requests, we will look at some of the optimal builds you can make with your pieces.

First of all, optimally you should not ever mix up sets, yes it can look cool with the right work, but most of the time you're not going to be running a mixed set, precious few are good - hardly any stand up to the level that the Insanity Green Ring tank or Slambulance provide. So all of these are going to be either pure builds or a hybrid armor set build.

Note on the Hybrid armor sets:

Because the three hybrid armor sets use multiple parts from White Lion, Lantern, Leather, Rawhide, Phoenix and Screaming Armor it can be a bit of a compromise to construct them. However, because of the nature of Lantern, Phoenix & White Lion Armor plus the general excess of arms you can often get away with making less of those sets and building 1-2 of the hybrid armor sets in their stead. The issue however is Dancer Armor because it is constructed from Leather Armor, Screaming Armor & Rawhide, these sets are very, very premium and you always end up compromising when you build them. However, leather has become less important with the release of the 10th Anniversary survivors plus the upcoming options in the gambler's chest. So time will tell on them. I will list them here, but typically you're not going to be building them unless you secure extra sets of each.

I don't really recommend getting extra sets anymore, the change in style for the newer narrative models makes the old ones look shabby in comparison.

Note on Narrative Sculpts:

There are a bunch of Narrative Sculpts that can cover the options listed here, where one is available (or coming in Gambler's Chest) then I have marked the list entry with an * if there is one. Check the GC, Echoes I, Echoes II or the Gigalion to find the particular model.

Axe

The optimal armor sets for Axe are relatively straightforward, you have Rawhide for the early game, Leather and Screaming which combine with the Counterweighted Axe for the mid game and then either CSA or Warlord are your best choices in the end game.

Therefore the recommended builds are:

  • Unarmored + Bone Axe Rawhide + Greater Gaxe
  • One of Leather + CWAxe* or Screaming + CAWxe
  • Warlord Armor + Greater Gaxe if you are going deadly or Denticle Axe/Xmaxe if you have them. Warlord Armor struggles with a lack of strength late game so Lantern Glaive is the other option. CSA
  • Dragon or Phoenix Armor with Lantern Glaive

Bow

Bow is a troublesome entity because it is in essence a Rawhide weapon. There's little need to put a bow on anything other than Rawhide, with the exception of the 'other' rawhide set 'Dancer Armor' - which is better with the cumbersome bows (until you get a master). Don't get fooled by the armor set art for Cycloid Scale, it absolutely should not be used with bows at all.

So your builds are:

  • Rawhide + Catgut Bow with the Cat Eye Circlet*
  • Rawhide + Vespertine
  • Bow Rawhide + Arc Bow
  • Rawhide + Ink Blood Bow
  • Dancer + Arc Bow
  • Dancer + Ink Blood Bow


There is another option, and that is to use Gorment Armor with Ranged weapons, this works because Gorment Armor takes up less slots (means more room for arrows) and it also allows you to backpedal while attacking via Guard. If you do this Finally we have one other Bow that doesn't fit into the normal builds, that's the Sunshark Bow - it's the bow with the highest skill ceiling and highest potential level of damage because of its 'melee' keyword. It works very well in combination with the Sunstalker Quiver and Phoenix/Dragon Armor, that's one of the highest strength builds in the game and has a ton of flexibility because it can carry three arrows).

As a consequence here are three of the strongest offensive builds in the game right now (in order of power):

  • Dragon Armor + Sun Quiver + Sunshark Bow
  • Phoenix Armor + Sun Quiver + Sunshark Bow
  • Gorment Armor + Sun Quiver + Sunshark Bow + Shield

Club

Just like Bows, this is an odd one, it's in essence either Bone Club -> Gloom Hammer or Bone Clubs all the way down unless you manage to score a Riot Mace and can go the Deadly route. This is because of how powerful & efficient the Bone Club is, how effectively it works as a rawhide tank, how strong it is with monster movement armor and how well it combines with the Lantern Armor at the end.

  • Unarmored + Bone Club*
  • Rawhide + Bone Club
  • Rawhide + Riot Mace
  • Screaming Armor + Bone Club or Gloom Hammer
  • Leather Armor + Bone Club or Gloom Hammer
  • Phoenix Armor + Gloom Hammer
  • Lantern Armor + Bone Club or Gloom Hammer or Riot Mace

You can put a Skullcap Hammer on the belt to provide a flex option, but outside of People of the Sun, those are the only clubs that matter, Whistling Mace is too situational and weak to consider and while Scoopy Club is pretty amazing, you're unlikely to own more than one physical copy of those, so choose wisely where you put it.

Note: With smart AI control play you can put just about any armor set on your Bone Club tank, they basically stand where the monster is going to be next and then hit it when it moves to attack them - it's why Bone Club + Rawhide works, you get a pseudo tank/support hybrid class survivor for a bit and that lets the others concentrate on damage more.

Dagger

Dagger is a weapon that needs a lot of assistance, but this situation has changed with the advent of the newer promotional Daggers and the Backstabber SFA. So we should take a look at what works best with Daggers, and the answer is very straightforward. Cycloid Scale Armor numba 1.

Outside of that, the other armor sets that have potential are the usual strength boosting ones, specifically Dragon & Phoenix Armor and to a lesser extent WLA/Screaming Armor. My recommended builds tend towards the following:

  • CSA + Acid-Tooth Daggers
  • White Lion Armor + Hooked Claw Dagger (Gigalion Dagger)
  • Brawler Armor + Speaker Cult Knife (because of how this weapon interacts with the armor)
  • Dragon Armor + Nuclear Dagger/Acid-Tooth Daggers Screaming Armor + Nuclear Dagger
  • The new Halloween knife (DBK/Slenderman resource based) is another very powerful option, it's great on Dancer Armor or any of the above options.

Fist & Tooth

While you do not need to build specific Fist & Tooth users because they tend not to use specific armor sets, there are a few builds which stand out above the others. They are all deadly focused, so the best sets for training F&T are Rawhide and CSA. Sadly Brawler Armor, despite its F&T focus, is not up to the job in comparison to those two (with the below exception). However, if you have access to the Speaker Cult Knife then you can open up what armor sets you want to use a lot more, Dancer Armor for example works well, but so does really any armor with a weapon that powerful (it even works with non on a Leyline Walker/Crystal Skin). The Brawler option tends to be better for Dagger (as above), but you can use it as pure F&T.

Grand

Much like many of the entries above, Grand weapons benefit from the best armor sets possible. While there are multiple options in the field because of how strong Grand is; the most powerful and effective choices are the Rib Blade, Zanbato, Skleaver and Dragon Slayer (if you do not have access to the Skleaver). Outside of the classic meta 'Leather/Zanbato tank' for the mid game, Grand weapons tend to be DPS choices (spears and axes are better for tanks because of their bypass abilities).

It is also worth mentioning that wherever you see the Skleaver in a build, the Juggernaut Blade is almost as effective, the thing about the Skleaver is, it's the only non-slow Grand Weapon (just like the Rib Blade is the only one handed one).

  • Unarmored + Rib Blade/Zanbato
  • Rawhide + Rib Blade/Zanbato
  • Leather + Round Leather Shield + Zanbato* CSA + Skleaver*
  • Dragon/Phoenix + Skleaver/Dragon Slayer

Katar

Make no mistake, once you are out of the early game Katars are the premiere tank weapon alongside shields. There is only two useful offensive Katars in the game right now and that's the LBK & Hooded Scrap Katars, every other powerful Katar is defensive in its orientation and you should be leveraging it for that. This means that once you're outside of the early game, the armor sets that work change rapidly (another reason why WLA is not good, it doesn't work well with Katar design - or daggers for that matter).

  • Rawhide + LBK or Rawhide + 2x Hooded Scrap Katar (rare paired recommendation)
  • Rolling Armor + Shield + Digging Claw
  • Leather + Shield + Digging Claw

You can also substitute in the Replica Lion Knight Claws if you want, the 8 strength one is an excellent tank weapon with support from the Sunspot Lantern.

Katana

There are precious few solid builds for Katana and they all revolve around the Rainbow Katana + Blood Sheath because it is more powerful and easier to make than the Gloom Katana. Because the Blood Sheath hands out Sharp to the Katana, we're just looking for pure strength increases or flexibility. That means the following builds are worthy of consideration:

  • Dragon/Phoenix Armor + Rainbow Katana
  • Screaming Armor + Rainbow Katana

Screaming Armor tends to be the best choice in my opinion because reach weapons are a stronger fit onto Dragon/Phoenix Armor. If you're insanity abusing the Gloom Katana, you can put it on almost any gear, but it works best with Phoenix + Feather Shield.


Scythe

We have exactly one Scythe available right now and that is the Dragon King's Nuclear Scythe. It is a weapon lacking in power until the cores are added to it, so you want to increase its strength through supporting methods. The best armor sets therefore are ones with large strength bonuses that benefit from reach (Phoenix/Dragon) and CSA. Now CSA falls of with the Nuclear Scythe if you are going with the Red Core (as they both give sharp) but it remains relevant if you are looking to do a deadly/luck build with the Blue Core, because you do not need to put a Red Core in the grid as well. This means the female in Dragon Armor in the Gambler's chest is useful, so that's one you do not need to build from the kits.

  • Dragon Armor + Scythe*
  • Screaming Armor + Scythe Phoenix Armor + Scythe
  • CSA + Scythe

Given the stage at which you get the Nuclear Scythe (justifiable btw, that spec/mastery combo is too strong for the early game, I hope we never get an early scythe) and you are in the world of end game armors, so those four there tick the right boxes.

Shield

See other areas for the narrative shield options, shield rarely comes alone. However, for custom builds, early on there are three which stand above the others. These are:

  • Rawhide + Knuckle Shield
  • Rawhide + Leather Shield
  • Leather Armor + Leather Shield + Zanbato/Counterweighted Axe**

Mid to late game you'll see shields on almost any survivor who's near the monster and risks getting attacked or hit by reactions.

Spear

Spears are quite an essential weapon type in KDM as they provide things no other weapon can do. They're a flexible tank, DPS or trapper weapon and you tend to have one in your hunt party almost all the time. Therefore we're going to see a number of recommendations:

  • Unarmored + King's Spear
  • Rawhide + King's Spear/Amber Poleaxe (with Knuckle or Leather Shield)
  • Leather/Screaming Armor + Sky Harpoon/King's Spear
  • Phoenix/Dragon Armor + Sky Harpoon
  • Phoenix/Dragon Armor + Lantern Glaive* (We sort of have Phoenix + Glaive with Echoes II's Gladiator).

In short, pick unarmored, rawhide, leather, phoenix or dragon armor and then choose a spear you like. There are few bad ones.

Sword

Most of what makes Swords strong revolves around one of three things: CSA, Vagabond Armor and the True Blade SFA from the Flower Knight. The only other powerhouse is the Black Sword and that is something you just stick on any survivor without paying attention at all because it's ridiculous. So, if you want to build Vagabond Sets from spare leather that is one option, otherwise you should use the Aya model plus consider the following:

  • 1 or 2 Unarmored Survivors with Bone Swords
  • Scrap Sword + Rawhide Armor (ish, it's not that good)*
  • Phoenix/Vagabond/Dragon Armor + Ink Sword

On the whole Swords tend to be a sideline weapon, though you might want to consider a Rawhide/Leather + Steel Sword option, because steel swords turn up fairly regularly and are top tier.

Thrown

There is no reason to be building any thrown survivor outside of unarmored ones, and because they do not have a specific hand for the darts (only a belt kit) you shouldn't even bother with those unless you have dozens of spare unarmored survivors. No recommended builds.

Twilight Sword

In general terms you are probably best off using one of the two Twilight Knight minis which are available, either Allison from the White Box set or the harder to get Alister from the 1st kickstarter survivor rewards (he's on the same sprue as Paul, Snow & Aya). The other method is to use the Twilight Sword with the 'monster movement' armor sets (WLA, SA, PA, DA) because they can overcome Cumbersome with alternative methods of locomotion. There is a White Lion Armor female coming in the Gambler's Chest, but I think overall it's just easiest to use Allison/Alister for now. This is not a high priority weapon to use as it's almost excluded from 2/3 campaigns and it's not essential in Lantern. No main recommended builds.

Whip

The bottom of the shop weapon, with only 4 choices, two of which are the same weapon in different upgrade stages. Whip more than anything is a weapon that needs help reaching the strength required to be potent, as a consequence the same three candidates turn up. Yup, Dragon, Phoenix and CSA - these are the armor sets that 'fix problems with weapons' constantly. Especially Dragon/Phoenix and their strong synergy with sharp. However, late game there is a build where the Whip shines and it uses a less often recommended (because of how generic it is) armor set. Rolling armor - one of the prime tank armor set choices.

  • Rawhide + Silk Whip
  • Rawhide + Leather Whip
  • Dragon Armor + Silk Whip
  • Phoenix Armor + Leather Whip Dragon/Phoenix Armor + Ring Whip (with the intention of oxidising it)
  • Rolling Armor + Oxidized Ring Whip

Less optimal armor set choices:

White Lion Armor is one armor set that I can't recommend you do much with, the single strongest build you're going to look at is a White Lion with Bone Dagger build for Red Charm nonsense plus one with the LBK(s) because it can be fun and it looks good.

Silk Armor should be kept in the box for the moment, we need to see what changes it gets in Campaigns of Death, at the moment it is like Leather, a very unfocused set that struggles, but you can build an OK Silk/Round Leather Shield/Silk Body Suit/Zanbato tank from it in the mid game... if you ignore the L3 requirement for the head piece. Overall Silk Armor looks nice and has amazing boots/head, but it's best off left alone or used in mixed sets.

That just leaves a main recommended list, well it's a little tough, but here are the options I advise my clients to select from:

Unarmored

1-2x Bone Sword, 1x Bone Axe, 1x Catgut Bow + Circlet head, 1x King's Spear, 1x LBK, 1x Rib Blade Rawhide 1x Catgut Bow + Circlet head, 1x King's Spear, 1x Knuckle Shield, 1x Arc Bow + Circlet Head, 1x Bone Club, 1x Riot Mace, 1x Zanbato + Leather Shield, 1x Paired Hooded Scrap Katars, 1x Vespertine Bow, 1x Scimitar, 1x Greater Gaxe

I think you can see a problem with how ubiquitious Rawhide is, fortunately Leather can kind of substitute for it on the table with a small stretch of the imagination. Echoes of Death II's Ranger has meant that one doesn't need the Catgut Bow + Circlet entry so much anymore.

Leather Armor

1x Counterweighted Axe + Leather Shield, 1x Zanbato + Leather Shield, 1x Vagabond Set with Scrap or Ink Sword, use parts for Dancer/Warlord

White Lion Armor

1x King's Spear, 1x LBK(s), 1x Bone Daggers, 1x Cat Fang/Hooked Claw Knife - Gadrock covers the Beast Knuckle + WLA build.

Screaming Armor

1x spear of some kind (King, Sky Harpoon), 1x Katana, 1x Lantern Glaive, 1x Greater Gaxe. There are few wrong choices with screaming, it's only "bad" with Ranged gear.

Gorment Armor

1x Sunshark Bow + Shield, 1x Sky Harpoon/Spear + Shield, I used to recommend 1x Greater Gaxe + Shield, but Basalt has replaced that need. Likewise a Riot Mace survivor comes with Echoes II now.

Phoenix Armor

1x Lantern Glaive, 1x Sunshark Bow + Quiver, 1x Ring whip and consider turning the last one or two into Warlord/Brawler armor parts.

Dragon Armor

1x Sunshark Bow + Quiver, 1x Lantern Glaive, 1x Nuclear Knife, 1x Nuclear Scythe - but there are so many good reach options here.

Rolling Armor

1x Ring Whip + Oxidised Shield, 1x Digging Claw + Oxidised Shield

Lantern Armor

1x Bone Club + Skullcap Hammer, 1x Gloom Hammer and part the other two off into Warlord Armor.

Dancer Armor

Whatever they desire, there are too many to list. I like the Ink Sword, Arc Bow and sharp weapons, because this armor set cannot help your late game punch without the Momentum Drive fighting art.

Warlord Armor 1x Greater Gaxe and 1x Denticle Axe/Xmaxe or 1x Lantern Glaive

Brawler Armor

1x Fists (female), 1x Speaker Cult Knife + Fist (male)

Cycloid Scale Armor

This one is REALLY hard, because it makes so many melee weapons better. My preference is for the following options, but there are no wrong ones as long as the weapon isn't Sharp and doesn't have Range/Reach. In short, if it would be good in the blind spot and get better with sharp, use this.

1x Paired Acid-Tooth Daggers, 1x Silk/Leather Whip, 1x Skleaver, 1x Denticle Axe But there are so, so, so, so many options here it's not even funny.

Abbreviations used

CSA: Cycloid Scale Armor PA: Phoenix Armor Warlord: Warlord Armor Rawhide: Rawhide Armor WLA: White Lion Armor DA: Dragon Armor RA: Rolling Armor SA: Screaming Armor LBK: Lion Beast Katar

Final note, because of Covid-19 the internet here is suffering from multiple outages, it went down while I was formatting/proofing/editing this article the first time, if there are errors, it's likely because I'm fatigued with having to do the work a second time.

Likewise, if an article doesn't turn up on a Tuesday/Friday, it is because of that outage, I will announce it on the discord if I can (but sometimes the mobile network is also down). I will upload the article as soon as possible and I try to have them pre-queued to avoid this issue, but there have been a LOT of outages over the past two weeks.

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Comments (4)
user avatar
User #4820009 - 15 Apr 20 07:58
Great article!
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User #16381135 - 16 Apr 20 00:20
I've been on the fence with some builds, especially daggers, this helped, thanks!
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User #2706361 - 14 Apr 20 13:06
I don't post enough to tell you how much I appreciate your work. Thanks !
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User #5252006 - 14 Apr 20 18:13
Yeah, he's a river to his people!
Bonus Update: Things to do While Social Distancing: TV Shows! 2020-04-06T10:31:38+00:00

A few years ago, when I was younger, I used to write reviews/synopsis/analysis on TV Shows, or to be more precise, shows that are worth binge watching. It's where I cut my teeth on writing before I moved to reviewing and analyzing board games. So for this part of Social Distancing stuff, I'm going to run through a few shows I believe are worth watching, with a paragraph or three on each. I'm going to try and cover a number of different genres and also aim at some older shows, for the reason that they (sometimes) get recommended less often over the newer stuff.

Because I have limited time in between painting and the two posts a week, I'll stick at around 3-5 shows per genre and some honorable mentions, the honorable mentions are still amazing and worth watching also. I just can't be writing about everything in full here.

Before we start, here is the obligatory watch Tiger King on Netflix comment. That was a heck of a ride and has a lot to discuss, analyse and consider - plus an engaging cast that are almost entirely differing degrees of charismatic assholes.


Crime & Drama

Homicide: Life on the Street (7 seasons and a movie)

Television Cop procedurals can trace their ancestory back to one of two different 1990s shows, NYPD Blue; which took a (somewhat) more glamorous, slick and glitzy style - from which we get the endless CSI and things like Criminal Minds. Then there was Homicide: Life on the Street, based on an excellent book by the esteemed David Simon, this is the show that sat alongside Law & Order and birthed Sons of Anarchy, Breaking Bad, Dexter and the two shows that will follow this one on the recommendations. Shows which either moved into the gritty realism of police life, or followed darker, more unpleasant characters.

Homicide is an ensemble cast show following the members of a fictionalised version of Baltimore Police Department's Homicide Unit. It is the place where the ubiquitous John Munch first came into being (a character who has spanned 20 years, 23 seasons and appeared as the same character in a huge range of different shows). It is an absolutely seminal piece of work and even holds up today on the rewatch despite the dated procedures and technology involved. Many members of this show go on to influence and appear in a huge amount of seminal programs later on.


The Wire - 5 Seasons

I could probably do a 'watch David Simon's stuff' piece all on its own, between the afformentioned Homicide, Generation Kill, The Corner (heartwrenching), The Deuce, Treme and most recently The Plot Against America (all of these are strong recommendations) he is a seminal and groundbreaking part of the way that television evolved from serialized storytelling to the more continuous version that is so popular today.

The Wire is that show which people tell you to watch and you have immense trouble getting into, an old friend of mine nicknamed 'Bunny' (also the nickname of a character on the show) pushed hard to make me watch this show and I struggled. I struggled to connect with this show, abandoning watching it several times before I decided to really give it the shot it deserved. Scenes in the middle and late part of the first season made it clear to me just how special this show actually was and I have become a lifelong admirer of the story this tells.

It is a complex, nuanced, hard hitting and uncompromising look at how the "War on Drugs" fails and how the system holds everyone, from the young dealers in the street all the way to the police officers busting them and even the working class, teachers and politicians in place. It is 5 seasons of highs and lows that all come together, and for the record, I love season 2.


The Shield - 7 Seasons and the two best final episodes in existence ever

Also birthed from Homicide; The Shield went in the opposite direction from the Wire, instead of taking a long, thoughtful look at real life corruption, The Shield took the Rampart scandal from Los Angeles and ramped it up to 11.

This show follows a fictional precinct in LA; dealing with the bureaucracy and politics surrounding police work, while also following shorter, serialised 'case of the week' style plots laced into its episodes; however the main thrust follows the members of an elite Strike Team who supplement their income via illegal activities, justifying their choice to do so as 'the lesser of two evils', the show runs a continuous story over its 7 seasons and everything set up in the first episode, the first season, everything from one moment to the next, all pays off in two of the greatest final episodes to have ever been aired. This one is worth the ride, watch the pilot episode and if that hooks you, just know it gets better and better.


Honorable Mentions in this Genre: The Sopranos (another fantastic final episode), anything by David Simon, The Outsider (HBO miniseries adaptation of a Steven King novel).


Sci-Fi & Fantasy

The Expanse - (Ongoing - 5th Season in Production)

Oh The Expanse, one of the reasons why GRR Martin still hasn't finished writing Game of Thrones.

The Expanse is a space opera set in the nearer future than most, mankind has managed to populate the solar system and over the generations three distinct types of human have emerged, differentiated in part by their physical appearance (caused by the gravity variation) and also by their political identity. You are either from Earth, Mars or you are a 'Belter' (Belters are essentially everyone who grew up on space stations).

The show is a slow burn, it takes its time in setting up the world and the people through two twin leads; a more straight foward action adventure mystery that follows the crew of the Canterbury as they stumble from one problem to the next and a noir mystery that follows Detective Joe Miller, a belter cop who is placed on a 'kidnap job' (where one is paid to find someone and return them back to their family) only to discover a deeper conspiracy.

The show follows multiple viewpoint characters, and ranges from straight action adventure all the way up to high politics, it can be a little tricky to get into, it is notoriously a slow burn and relishes taking its time before delivering a staggering amount of action and punches, but it is absolutely the best show I have watched.

Available on Amazon Prime


Firefly (1 season and a movie)

If you haven't seen Firefly yet, now is your chance. It's a wonderful show that deserves a lot of the praise it receives, at its heart it is Joss Whedon at his most Whedony - which means lots of snappy dialog and sharp characters. If you enjoy that, or you like the idea of blending Westerns with Sci-Fi (because of the many, many similar themes those two genres have) then this one is always a high recommendation.

Cancelled too soon, but given a great send off in the movie Serenity.


Jessica Jones - 3 seasons

For myself the Marvel Defenders series was a bit of an up and down in quality, Daredevil was too much procrastination and dwelling on angst, spiced up with some great fight sequences, and Iron Fist was pretty much "skip", but Jessica Jones was nothing short of phenomenal in its villains, treatment of the lead character and ability to talk about very difficult subjects.

It absolutely proved that super hero stories can be weighty and thoughtful without becoming boring or preachy and it holds up well above the other portions of the Defenders series (but they are all still exceptional shows in their own right, except for Iron Fist).


Love, Death & Robots (1 Season - Ongoing)

A whole bunch of animated short stories that cover a wide range of different sci-fi concepts. This one is a visual treat while also giving you interesting stories that would likely not hold up in a longer form. Sometimes less is more and LD&R understands that. When a story resonates with you, you're left wanting more, when it's not as engaging, the time investment was not too bad.

There's something for everyone who loves Sci-Fi in this collection, I particularly enjoyed Sonnie's Edge and Suits.

Available on Netflix

I've written too much here but I also want to highly recommend "I Am Not Okay With This" on Netflix before moving on, a super hero comic book adaptation that exceeds the original.


Honorable Mentions: Battlestar Galactica (when its good, it's great, but when it's like the boxing match episode, it sucks more than anything out there), Lost in Space, Stranger Things (which I'm sure you've all watched by now), The 4400, The Dead Zone (two amazing shows both cancelled just as they were about to enter their end game, so be warned). Killjoys and Red Dwarf.


Comedy

Arrested Development (Ongoing)

Arrested Development is a masterpiece in comedy at its greatest height, the first three seasons (pre-initial cancellation) are in particular some of the most skillful and clever pieces of comedy, layed with multiple jokes, some of which are set up in the first season and pay off in the third. Rewatching this show almost always results in the discovery of more hidden jokes, signaling of events to come and ridiculously clever puns/gags.

If you have not seen this one, now is the time.


Community (6 Seasons, but still no movie!)

A show that really boils down to finding the humanity in people, smooth talking schmutz Jeff Winger spent years conning people as a Lawyer with a made up degree, now caught out he has to attend the very un-prestigious Greendale Community College. He decides to try and con his way into the pants of an attractive student and his plan to offer "private" tuition via a study group backfires when a chain of disparate individuals are invited to join.

Funny, clever, touching and able to transcend genres, this show is great at treating its characters with both comedic comeuppances and respect. It is a show with an amazing amount of heart and contains one of the two most respectable representations of high functioning autism in media (along with Boston Legal's portrayal of Jerry Espenson). Bless you Abed!

Available on Netflix and Amazon


Brooklyn 99 - Ongoing (7 seasons)

In some way, Brooklyn 99 would never have come to being without the existence of Homicide; while 99 is tonally completely different from Homicide shares some similar DNA, not just with the involvement of the superb Andre Braugher in both shows. But 99 instead takes a lighter view on the whole police procedural experience. I'm sure you've watched by now, if you haven't, well Andy Samberg and Terry Crews are both in this and they're not the best part!

Obligatory link to the best Lonely Island song.

Available on Netflix


Sex Education - Ongoing (2 seasons)

This British comedy/drama is over on Netflix and I cannot recommend it enough, it mixes the classic school drama/coming of age story with a more adult orientation, dealing with the trials, tribulations and difficulties of reaching puberty when your mother is a sex therapist.

Filled with complex characters (even the bully is not one dimensional), and a thoughtful approach to a tricky subject, Sex Education manages to be lighthearted, deep, crass and classy all at the same time.

Available on Netflix


Honorable Mentions: Scrubs (skip the final season), 30 Rock , The Good Place, Spaced, Peter Kay's Phoenix Nights, Fleabag, Russian Doll, Reno 911, Boston Legal and Red Dwarf.



Cartoons

Futurama - 7 Seasons

Ah the Simpsons that never dropped in quality, Futurama is simultaneously a love song to sci-fi, geek culture, science and more. Filled with more visual gags than it has any right to be, this show almost never has a poor episode - in fact, good luck watching episodes like Jurassic Bark or The Luck of the Fryish without choking up at the end.

Futurama is everything a good cartoon show should be, with jokes ranging from the crass and lowbrow up to some truly nerdy mathematical jokes. It is also willing to touch on difficult subjects such as cloning, human/robot relationships and conservation. It's a timeless classic from the world of tomorrow.


Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law (4 seasons)

Gary Cole, Stephen Colbert, John Michael Higgins and Maurice LaMarche. If these names are not enough to bring your attention to this superbly weird and short show I don't know what is.

This fast paced, jammed to the gills Adult Swim cartoon follows the life of Birdman after he retired from the superhero business and became a lawyer for other Hanna Barbara characters. Expect to see appearances from Scooby Doo, the Jetsons, Johnny Quest (speaking of which Venture Bros rocks, go team Venture) and more besides. Each episode tends to be under 10 minutes long, but the story is so fast and the dialog so snappy you'll often be amazed how much occurs in each one.

Witty, sharp, clever and ultimately very, very weird. Classic Adult Swim.


JoJo's Bizzare Adventure - (5 seasons, ongoing)

I am not much of an Anime watcher, but as you may have noticed, I've referenced JoJo quite a few times here in posts. This is because JoJo has had more influence on the world than you could possibly imagine.

This story starts with Jonathan Joestar in the late 19th century and tells the tale of a rivalry between two boys Jonathan and Dio. At this point the show is fixed around the undead made by a stone mask and the use of the sunlight/breathing ability 'hammond' to fight them. The second season follows Joseph Joestar, Jonathan's Grandson and his battle with the creators of the aforementioned stone mask - the Pillar Men.

The JoJo that everyone knows in the popular media however comes to light in the third season with the introduction of Stands and the one of the series' most beloved characters Jotaro Kujo (Joseph's Grandson) and his stand Star Platinum. Stardust Crusaders suffers from a lot of 'villain of the week'; but when it is good it is absolutely endearing and the adventures of Jotaro, Polnareff, Joseph, Kakyoin and Avdol build to a climax that is both epic and completely memeworthy - filled with two of the most powerful characters in the show pulling absurd nonsense out of their ass one after another.

The fourth season takes a tonal shift into a slice of life style. Taking place in a single town and following another one of Joseph's grandsons, this time Josuke Higashikata, it has the single best episode in the entire series and builds into an epic conclusion that is as enjoyable as Stardust Crusaders.

But for me, it is the fifth and most recent series - Golden Wind, which surpassed everything else. While most of Hirohiko Araki work is a love song homage to his adoration of Western culture, Golden Wind brings home how much he adores Italy with its following of Giorno Giovanna, son of Dio and Jonathan (yeah, that's right, but it will make sense). It has some of the greatest characters, the most heart wrenching moments and it just constantly builds with consistent themes and stunning music.

Best of all, it's entirely available for free on Crunchy Roll (you can even do a trial to avoid the adverts). Have at it! I'd recommend watching the Re-Edited versions to start with, they'll give you a good idea about the style and if its your thing, but be aware of that style shift in the third season.


Honorable Mentions: Venture Bros, Final Space, Disenchanted, Rick & Morty (as long as you just avoid the fanatisism in the online community), Frisky Dingo (the predecessor to Archer), Archer, Batman the Animated Adventures and One Punch Man (1st season)


Documentaries

I am just going to rattle off a few here in bullet point. I HIGHLY recommend the first two entries for feel good and an experience of the world before the change, they were phenomenal and James May remains a great British Treasure.

  • Grand Tour - Seamen
  • James May: Our Man in Japan
  • Blue Planet
  • Don't F with Cats (hard watch at times)

Hit up the comments with your own show recommendations!

Until tomorrow, stay safe!

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Bonus Update: Things to Do while Social Distancing - Board Games Part 1 2020-03-23T12:03:43+00:00

This time I thought I would make a few recommendations for board games that you can play if you're social distancing with other people/family living in your home that you can play with (as we have here) or you can play on tabletop simulator (feel free to arrange games via the discord, if there is enough activity I will set up more voice channels!)

I will do a set of Solo games later, but until then here is a bunch of games all from different styles of play. I will include links to the Board Game Geek entry in the title for each and to either online copies or Tabletop Simulator workshop items where appropriate at the end of a section.

Abomination: The Heir of Frankenstein

  • Type: Worker placement (Euro)
  • Playtime: Long (2-3 hours, with a shorter variant available at the PlaidHat website)
  • Players: 2-4

This moderate to heavy worker placement game takes place in the City of Paris, you are one of several scientists who has been offered, bribed, blackmailed or cajoled into building an heir for Frankenstein's Monster before Captain Roberts catches up with the beast and slays it once and for all (having changed his mind after the book).

You will do this by harvesting body parts from cadavers in various states of decay from buried bones all the way up to freshly murdered by your own hands. Gaining the expertise required to understand how to complete the task ahead of you and then stitching it all together before bringing your creation to life. Your wealth, humanity and reputation are all at stake during this game and they can change depending on your actions.

Or you can choose to betray the monster and seek to undermine everyone else's efforts while helping the Captain as much as possible. Just beware, if the monster finds out what you're doing, there will be punishment.

This is a lengthy, absorbing Euro is full of theme, competition and hard choices. It's macabre and grim throughout - something many "horror" board games fail at and it is unusual to see a Euro with so much theme. Just be warned, it is a very long game and your first play through could easily land at 3-4 hours or more.

Tabletop Simulator Workshop File is here.


Root

  • Type: Wargame
  • Playtime: 1 to 2 hours.
  • Players: 2 - 4

Root is something that I believe every board gamer should experience a few times in their life.

At its heart the game is an asymmetric war game with multiple different factions, each with an entirely distinct and unique playstyle. The Marquise de Cat plays most like a traditional Real Time Strategy game, building locations that create troops and using them to conquer locations. In contrast, their rivals the Erie Dynasty is an exercise in pre-programming actions and building a longer and longer chain (until it collapses and you devolve into anarchy for a turn). The Woodland Alliance in contrast has almost no presence on the board to start with, they seek to build sympathy before springing up multiple camps everywhere. And if the experience of playing wargames doesn't interest one of your players then they can play the Vagabond, a wandering adventurer who potters about the place clearing caves and swapping siding with the other factions as it benefits them.

Root is a masterpiece of asymmetric play and is a joy to experience and learn, however once you have mastered a faction the shine can come off the experience, but you can then move on to a new faction and a new combination of factions, which makes the game fresh and deep once again. So it has limited replayability for players who like a novel experience every time (and enjoy being surprised), but if you enjoy the skill involved in what is a very brutal and deep wargame despite the cutesy theme - then there is so much to offer here.

There is a solo/cooperative mode vs. an automated Marquise, which is fine for the occasional game, but it's not varied enough for repeated play.

Tabletop Simulator Workshop File is here. It has the expansion, which massively increases the replayability of the game through the addition of two new factions. Something Root needs a lot is new factions to help refresh the experience after you've 'solved' the previous ones.


Terraforming Mars

  • Type: Engine Building Card Game
  • Players: 2 - 4
  • Playtime: 1-2 hours.

You are probably already aware of this one, but if you are not; Terraforming Mars is the latest in a long line of card engine based games that also includes San Juan, Race for the Galaxy, Saint Petersburg and the absurdly rare Glory to Rome. These are games where you draw and play cards in order to build up an engine and eventually use said engine to generate your victory - in the case of Terraforming Mars however the twist is that you are working together with all the other players to make Mars habitable, you just need to be better at it than anyone else at the table.

The game can feel a little overwhelming to learn, but there are multiple tutorials out there online (including one in the game linked below), and the game flows well when you are used to it. The main issues here are component quality, which require third party solutions to solve. The player boards in particular are frankly awful.

However, all of the above mentioned games are worth a look, each one is a delight in its own kind and you can spend hours and hours playing them. Back in my university days I was known as being a really hard to beat Race for the Galaxy (RtfG) player (in 2 player heads up, not multiplayer) and many an hour was spent facing others who were up to the challenge (I lost to only two people in my Uni time! I am not that good anymore, very out of practice). I adore these games because of the momentum gathering way you construct your engine, it's something I like about Kingdom Death as well and I think the skills I learnt from RtfG translated across into how I approach that game - I am happy to invest in slower stuff early on if it pays off big later (Music innovations).

The Tabletop Simulator Workshop file (English) was taken down, because there is an official online version of the game located on steam here, it's quite good, especially for automated solo runs.

Race for the Galaxy also has an online version, I did like the solo version of that game and this might be a great place to play it.


Galaxy Trucker

  • Type: Timed Puzzle building & Racing Chaos
  • Players: 2 - 5 (with expansion)
  • Playtime: Fast - 30mins to an hour per game.

In this frenetic two phase game, players will build their space ship from a bunch of face down tiles, connecting like parts and setting up rockets, guns and shields in the right orientation in a race against each other to complete their spacecraft first.

Once you have constructed your craft, you pilot it on a simple race track, laughing at the misfortune of others all the way as their ships get torn apart because of shoddy workmanship or bad luck, at least until its your turn to get blindsided by the one event that could actually hurt you, and then your ship is down to nothing but two turntables and a microphone.

This game is just a lot of fun, the combination of competitive puzzle building and then seeing how your creation survives on a track of pain creates some joyous experiences.

The steam version of the game is super cheap, comes with one free expansion and worth a look!


Gremlins Inc.

  • Type: Roll, move and do stuff to gather points.
  • Players: 1 - 5
  • Playtime: Varies, 30 mins to a couple of hours

The first of two wholly computer based games on this list, Gremlins Inc. is best described as 'Monopoly, but with Gremlins and not shit'. You play one of several different Gremlin characters, each with their own special abilities and rules; and you aim to get a certain level of score before anyone else manages it.

Movement is an innovative variation on rolling a dice, you have a hand of cards that can either be played for X movement pips (most are 1-3, with 4+ being more powerful and harder to get cards) or cashed in at a certain location for a bonus. This bonus may give you points, votes, malice or some kind of ability that can be one off or even a lasting buff. The game is fast, it's nasty, mean spirited and filled with the kind of take that you would expect from something that is a thinly veiled jab at capitalism unchecked.

It's not the deepest of the games on this list, but it is easy to play both solo vs. relatively intelligent AI or online (both ranked and unranked) and it also has a lot of challenges to keep one engaged and returning for more and more games. Roll & Move stuff is not my cup of tea, but the way that Gremlins gives you (some) control over how far you move and even where you choose to move - in addition to a bunch of hearty bribes, mayhem, meanness and just plain old fun - keeps me coming back for the occasional bash. Fun solo, more fun with others, amazing fun in a discord call with people you know - as long as you can take being sent to prison for the fifth time 'because it's funny' in your stride.

On Steam at: https://store.steampowered.com/app/369990/Gremlins_Inc/


Armello

Players: 2 - 4

Type: Adventure

Playtime: 2 hours (ish?)

The second purely digital game on this list, in Armello you are one of several animal adventurers, seeking the Sword of Martin in order to save the Abbey from Cluny the Scourge... Wait, no, that's the plot of Redwall.

No, in Armello your aim is to ultimately become the Queen or King, by gathering power through adventures. You will battle monsters, find treasure and level up in a traditional RPG(ish) style. If you've not seem someone like TotalBiscuit (you're still missed) or the Northern Lion Super Show play this game, it is worth checking it out, just the play throughs alone are hugely entertaining.

This game sits in the same genre as games like Talisman, Elder Sign, Arkham Horror and so on, but because of its aim at being digital from the outset it makes a great use of the medium and feels like it could never really be a true board game.

If you like the theme, or enjoy this style of game, it is a gem.


Robinson Crueso: Adventures on the Cursed Island

Type: Cooperative Adventure/Survival

Players: 1 - 4

Playtime: 1 - 2 hours

RC is more of a 'shell' than an actual single game experience, across multiple scenarios you will explore an island, but in each individual scenario the goals and focus are different, the traditional first scenario has you trapped on the island and building shelter plus a big fire to signal for rescue. But other scenarios include exorcising evil from a cursed island, settling down to live for good, hunting treasure in a volcano or even exploring the home of a suspiciously large ape. This variety, in addition to a very harsh and demanding balance of needs creates multiple unique experiences.

The main thrust of the game is in essence a worker placement variant. Each player has X number of actions they can engage on various activities across the island, you may be dealing with whatever random threat turns up, being mauled while hunting a Jaguar (as I was last night), building shelter/useful tools, gathering supplies, exploring or even taking time to organise the camp and bring cheer to everyone. It depends what the pressures and needs the game is placing on you at a given time.

And boy, what pressures this game has, in addition to the need to eat every day, you are also required to manage your health, morale, protect against weather, wandering animals and even deal with bad fortune such as a tree landing on you. This game places a bunch of different critical situations in front of you and then says 'hey solve all of these, but you only have enough time and resources to solve most'.

It's fun, evolving and almost always a challenge, especially when you're dealing with Jenny, ugh. She's such a Karen.

Steam Workshop is here.


Mice & Mystics / Stuffed Fables

Type: Cooperative Adventure

Players: 2 - 4

Length: Multiple sessions 1-2 hours a piece.

Finally, for those of you who have younger children at home, this could be the opportunity to get them into miniature based board gaming, either with Mice and Mystics or Stuffed Fables. These two games have a more child friendly theme than most other dungeon crawl style games and the models are a delight.

In Mice & Mystics you and your little ones take the part of Prince Collin and his band of misfits, shrunk down and turned into mice by the evil Queen this is a classic tail of adventure and revenge. I mentioned Redwall above and it is clear that this game owes a debt to that series for its existence, but it is its own thing.

Stuffed Fables puts the players in the role of stuffed toys looking to save their owner from an evil mastermind. The board in SF is smaller than in M&M resulting a tighter, contained experience per scenario - it has less of the wonder of exploration and potentially branching paths, but a more focused and tight experience.

Younger players may need help understanding where they can move and what is best, but they will enjoy rolling the dice and smashing the baddies a lot. And best of all, for the painters amongst you, both these games have decent quality PVC minis to paint.

For the older player there is a re implementation of this game in Comanauts.

Mice & Mystics is here.

Finally, check out Haggis if you're looking for a sharp 3 player card game.

KD:M update tomorrow as usual.

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Comments (4)
user avatar
User #29495922 - 23 Mar 20 12:14
❤ Stuffed Fables.
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User #19208819 - 27 Mar 20 21:10
And Mice & Mystics :)
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User #29495922 - 27 Mar 20 22:04
That's our next endeavor once my pal gets back! He owns most of it.
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User #12961868 - 23 Mar 20 12:30
You are awesome Fen! Cheers! Robinson Crusoe has been a hit in our casual group of friends since it's release. Currently waiting for all the Root stuff (backed all the Root stuff in last KS) but reading the last update yesterday it will take more weeks or months to see it arrive at my doorsteps. In the meantime I am also curious about Adam's update which is expected to be posted somewhere this week. I do not have any expectations at all at the moment about Wave 3, 4, etc.
Bonus Content: Video Games you Might want to play during Social Distancing 2020-03-19T08:30:21+00:00

First of all, I have been exceedingly ill this week as my own health issues have developed and worsened. It is a struggle to keep food down right now as I constantly feel nauseated - so it is difficult to find periods where I can write (thankfully I do not have to talk/record videos). We are considering if it is time for an emergency trip to the hospital, but given the issues with Covid-19 we are hoping that this is just a temporary thing and we can hold out until I can afford to cover the costs for a private consultation - there is a place in Germany which apparently specializes in the area in which I am having difficulty, but going there at the moment just isn't an option, travelling while Covid-19 is still heating up is very unwise.

That aside, I thought over the next few weeks I would spend a bit of time providing some recommendations of things you can do while social distancing. Just a paragraph or two on each item, enough to give you an idea if its your thing or not, we'll cover video games this week, TV shows next week and then solo board games (and maybe unusual/cultish films and youtube channel series if there is demand, there's plenty I can recommend because I consume a lot of media while painting and writing).


Wildermyth - Steam

https://store.steampowered.com/app/763890/Wildermyth/

I have written my recommendations in full about this one previously, the game continues to engage and hold during its development period. More here.


Journey to the Savage Planet - Epic Store / PS4

https://savageplanetgame.com/

A first person metroidvania with a heavy emphasis on exploration and a cruel, satirical sense of humor. JttSP can be enjoyed solo or with a friend and its combination of bright graphics, sharp dialog, critique of capitalism and constant, steady improvement of your abilities keeps you coming back.

This is not a long game, though if you play it on console you may well play it 2-3 times for all the achievements, but it is one that will stick with you and is great enjoyment for the price.


The Outer Worlds - Epic Store (due on Steam later this year)

https://outerworlds.obsidian.net/en

This RPG from Obsidian Entertainment (a company formed with some of the original Fallout creators, they gave us the only good Bethesda Fallout Game with New Vegas - can recommend you play that one also) is another entry into the "Space Capitalism" satirical critique. With a very open ended set of ways to solve situations, great character development options and hugely endearing NPC party members, this game is a gem from start to finish. If you've played any of the Bethesda style Fallout games, you know what to expect here mechanically (it even has a version of VATS for combat), but the setting is bright and writing is a much higher standard than Fallout 3/4 could manage.


Dauntless - Epic Store / PS4 / XBox / - Free to Play

https://playdauntless.com/

The free monster hunting game, while Monster Hunter: World (can also recommend) is the superior game overall, Dauntless offers a lighter more arcade style experience that is more accessible and significantly faster. There are six different types of of weapons to choose from and the Behemoth (monster) designs are absolutely superb.

The game is free to play, so the usual warning about microtransactions is worth considering, however purchases are typically for cosmetic items, not in game.

In the same vein, if you have the money, Monster Hunter: World offers a deep, long experience with exceptional combat that feels weighty. But sadly the online/multiplayer design of Monster Hunter is complete ass, you have to jump through hoops at times to enjoy playing with others (waiting for cut sequences


Rusty Lake Series - Steam / Flash games

http://www.rustylake.com/

Weird, intriguing, grim and unpleasant without being visually "disgusting", this series revolves around the history and story of Rusty Lake. The first few parts can be found for free online at flash game sites such as Kongregate (another great place to spend time, hundreds of good little flash games there and they even have achievements to give you goals and focus). The rest are on steam.

The entire experience is weird and engaging as heck, dipping into a combination of mystery, magic, murder and multiple generations - all centered around, or involved with this lake. There's also a Van Gogh episode, and it's quite good.


One Finger Death Punch 1 & 2

https://store.steampowered.com/app/264200/One_Finger_Death_Punch/

Available on Steam or as a Phone App. This "two button" rhythm game is the best stick man fighting game I have played. Considering it boils down to 'press the right or left button correctly at the right time) the game has surprising levels of complexity and difficulty. There is a full "story" mode for each game along with survival options that will keep you going for hours and hours.

The animations are the main draw for me, it is some of the most satisfying computer based martial arts I have seen.


Planescape: Torment

https://store.steampowered.com/bundle/3036/Planescape_Torment_Enhanced_Edition_Digital_Deluxe/

This roleplaying game from 1999 remains one of the greatest works of fiction ever made. You awaken on a slab in a morgue, with no memory or knowledge of who you are. Only the tattoos on your back, read to you by a floating skull, give you any indication of your past. You are The Nameless One, you cannot die, and you seek to find out why this is.

This game has more text than most books, it is deep, thoughtful and philosophical in a way that its cousin Baldur's Gate never managed. You will journey through multiple realms, discovering how your past lives affected, impacted and changed many on your quest to discover who you are and were.

A masterpiece of its time, only the slightly clunky combat shows its dated nature.


Vampire: The Masquarade Bloodlines

https://store.steampowered.com/app/2600/Vampire_The_Masquerade__Bloodlines/

With a sequel to this game finally coming out later this year. It is worth taking the time to discover just why the original game is so beloved. Based on the roleplaying game that spawned a thousand wannabe gothick vampires; Bloodlines gives you an engaging story with memorable characters and replayability because of how certain vampire clans change how you experience the game.

There are some rough patches, a portion of the game loses the depth of roleplaying and character interactions that make the experience so good, reducing down to nothing more than running through tunnels and fighting/fleeing. But that is not sufficient to hold against the rest of the game. I wish I had been old enough to play this one in 2004 when it was first released.


Divinity: Original Sin 1 & 2

http://www.divinityoriginalsin.com/

https://divinity.game/

Wonderful worlds, turn based combat, massive freedom of character design along with a story and characters that engage. Both of these days tell separate stories in the same world, the first game is a one or two player experience, but the second game offers room for more players.

These games hold up for multiple plays (especially 2) with their flexible character building, strong stories, multiple endings (in 2) and harder difficulties. They also take many, many hours to complete.


Subnautica & Subnautica: Below Zero

https://unknownworlds.com/subnautica/

Not recommended for anyone with thalassophobia; these two games set in the same world (one after another) offer an experience almost unlike anything any other game offers. At the start of Subnautica you crash land on am aquatic world with nothing more than a survival pod and replicator to help you get going. You will have to hunt, gather and craft everything you need to survive as one tries to find a way off the planet.

I adored this game so much that I based my Dragon King's paint scheme loosely on the Reaper Leviathan (still one of the most awesome and terrifying creature designs out there).


Cultist Simulator

https://store.steampowered.com/app/718670/Cultist_Simulator/

Discovery. The joy of playing Cultist Simulator lays within the discovery of combinations and gradually coming to understand how everything pieces together. This card game from the creator of Fallen London/Sunless Seas is a slow, clunky experience that can be frustrating at times, but if you persist with it long enough to understand how its engines work then it is a very rewarding and absorbing experience.


Sunless Seas & Sunless Skies

https://store.steampowered.com/app/304650/SUNLESS_SEA/

Ever fancied being the captain of a ship in an underground sea, or the driver of a sky train up in amongst the stars? This top down exploration game is slow and methodical in its approach, you will spend long times just travelling around at a somewhat sedate pace in between destinations. Time to paint, contemplate or just immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the world.

This is set in a place of mystery, horror and existential nightmare. A world where insanity and terror is just a thin hull away from you and your crew. But this is just one aspect of the game, the meat lays within the stories, each place you visit has multiple aspects to it that you will unveil over time and exploration. Your presence will chance each place as you travel around, seeking your ultimate goal.


For the King - Epic and Steam

https://ironoakgames.com/

Playing like a mix between a rogue-lite, a Japanese turn based RPG and a board game. In this game for 1-3 players you will take a merry band of three adventurers on a bunch of different quests. With multiple different classes, a huge amount of unlocks, tons of different pieces of gear and a wide selection of difficulties - you can come back to this one again and again.

It has a hex based map movement system where you travel around, either exploring to see what is out there, or heading towards specific quest points. Combat takes place either with all adventurers and monsters within a certain radius or during dungeons (which are room after room) and involves a max of 3v3 combatants. The game is harsh, especially on the higher difficulties, and it can teach one a lot about the important of specializing your characters.

With multiple different stories, this one can keep you going for a long, long time.


Also it is worth noting that the Epic store hands out free games each week, even if you are not willing to support them by purchasing things (which is fair), there is free stuff you can get to try out and keep. Yeah Epic's store front is ass, and they're not a great company. But to be honest, none of the large companies in the video games industry are good - it happens in board games as well, see CMON and Asmodee (for example).

I have more video game recommendations I can make soon if people would like them!

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Comments (2)
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User #14725393 - 19 Mar 20 08:33
Take care Fen. Wish you good luck.
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User #5252006 - 19 Mar 20 10:03
Thanks for these recommendations, I haven't looked at computer games for a while but now is definitely the time. Good luck with the health stuff!! :(
Congratulations to Paddan: The winner of the Octoberfest Giveaway 2020-03-18T08:29:31+00:00

The winner of the last giveaway was Paddan, congratulations. As there has been a change to the way that patreon has their promotional guidelines between announcing the giveaway and now (hence the delay in announcing this one), this is the last giveaway I will be running for a while (until I work out how best to proceed).

All prizes, including the one from the previous giveaway will be posted out once I am able to go outside, as an individual who is vulnerable due to health and respiratory issues I am following the general advice and taking precautions.

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Bonus Post: Marshlight Reviews: Wildermyth - A Video Game Marvel 2020-03-07T10:05:02+00:00

Foreword

On occasion I will put out these bonus reviews on subjects/games that I have a personal interest in, in particular I will do this if they are linked in some fashion to the main thrust of this patreon. While the content is very heavily focused around Kingdom Death: Monster, I remain a variety gamer/streamer at heart and occasionally during my trawling of the internet for inspiration and ideas I come across real gems. Wildermyth is one of these, it's the current front runner for my game of the year and it is going to take something very special to unseat it from that throne.

Steam Page for the Game: https://store.steampowered.com/app/763890/Wildermyth/

Current status of the game is 10/10 with around 600-700 steam reviews.

About this Game from the Publisher:

Wildermyth is a character-driven, procedurally-generated tactical RPG, designed to help you tell your wildest stories. Like the best tabletop roleplaying experiences, Wildermyth gives you choices and answers your every decision with consequences that drive your characters forward.
Lead a band of heroes as they grow from reluctant farmers into unique, legendary fighters. Combat unexpected threats and strange monsters across interactive battlefields. Unravel mysteries and share pensive moments in an ever-new fantasy setting that blends hard truths and sacrifice with humor and personal storytelling.
Where does your myth lead? Come help us uncover it!

Reminiscent of tabletop roleplaying, unique heroes are born in unique settings every game. They age, transform, fall in love, disagree, and make harrowing sacrifices.
Each hero brings their own organic history and personality with them, but your choices and combat skills are what decide their paths and outcomes.
All heroes die someday… but you get to hold on to your favorites. Reintroduce them in the next adventure, and over many lifetimes the myths you make will form your own legendary pantheon.

Wildermyth sort of came out of nowhere, it landed in November of 2019 in Early Access without a huge ceremony or much hype, yet it has proven over the few months it has been out to be an incredible game filled with depth, joy and stories. Oh so many stories. Playing Wildermyth during my off time over the past few days has been nothing short of joyous and I have had to reign myself in to avoid over indulging on it and burning out on the game before it releases in full. This game is close to everything I have been looking for in solo play, both when considering a tabletop and video game campaign style game. Lets delve into it shall we?


What is Wildermyth?

At its heart, Wildermyth is a rogue-lite generational campaign based roleplaying game with tactical "miniatures" style combat. Its designers pitch it as:

"Wildermyth [is] a myth-making tactical RPG. It empowers you to craft iconic characters who grow through deep, rewarding battles and interactive storytelling."

The game it most reminds me of is the 1st Edition Descent Road to Legend experience; at the start of the game, three individuals feel the call to adventure after an attack on their home village makes them realize that something is afoot. Over the next three or five Chapters the story will unfold, with them taking up to arms against the plans of whatever particular threat is encroaching this time.

They will gain new abilities, weapons, injuries, rivalries, friendships and much more during the journey. With their in game "paper standee" representative reflecting these changes while you play. If your hero gains a magical belt, then it will be around their waist. If they lose a leg, then after recovering they will return with a peg in place.

This changing and developing appearance of your heroes (who even age with the passage of time) is a huge part of the charm of the game. I have had individuals become touched by the celestial, or gradually turn into a wolfman, and the game offers opportunities for physical and mental changes. At times your heroes may become friends, rivals or even lovers (depending on how the story unfolds) and these can translate to bonuses in combat as rivals seek to outdo each other.

Here is my current collection of "Legacy characters" and you can see the wealth of variation between their appearances at the end of each campaign.

The game allows you to track and record the heroes who achieved the greatest feats of legend. And not only are these heroes held here in a Hall of Fame, but you can bring them back via the Legacy system.

As an example, here is Danyvien

As you can see, the game has tracked Dany's exploits over two campaigns (she is still currently involved in the second one) while also immortalising her appearance at the end of the first campaign (I am interested to see if it updates after I finish her second journey).

She is a character I've come to greatly enjoy, those two traits in the top left 'Poetic Goofball' combine to create a personality that doesn't take the hardships of the journey too much to heart. She has stolen eggs from giant birds, helped her friends reach the stars and smashed many, many faces. Interestingly, in the second campaign, despite her status as a "Local Legend" she is not even the strongest member of the company. Simply being a solid tank and source of entertainment.

How the Game Plays

So this game takes place over three different mechanics, there is the Overworld Map, where the various parties travel, journeying to different places in order to liberate them, or fortify places that may be attacked. It is also the place where the opposing forces will try and push to take territory back - this mechanic of territory, along with a gradually increasing power level of the combat threats (more on this below) - that allows the game to force you to make decisions based on time, not just dawdle about building everything in sight and taking your sweet time to explore.

The Overworld

In some ways, this section is the weakest part of the game, just like in Road to Legend I get what the game is trying to do here, force you to feel like there is some time pressure and requirement to move forward instead of do everything that could be done. However, I would like a mode where you can just sandbox about and experience things. I'm not a fan of this, it was my least favourite part of Road to Legend 1 also, it felt bad to have to go chase off a lieutenant who was doing awful things far away from your current destination, and it has a similar feel here.

Still, the game does have an inbuilt mitigation system that allows you to deal with this, when an "Incursion" triggers, you can choose to spend Legacy points (your currency for recruiting new heroes and cancelling various bad things) in order to stop it. Because everything takes many days to do, travel, building bridges, carving out passages through mountains, fixing up ravaged places and so on, this is often a great option if you just can't spare the time to go shut down the incursion. Those incursions can also create a great sense of pressure and excitement, I had one climactic chapter where I raced to slay the "big boss" against the pressure of a horde that was ravaging the lands. I made the decision to let them ravage while I pushed in at the source of the problem, it felt epic.


The Combat

The entire combat aesthetic of the game is super cute, it uses a square grid with standees to represent the combatants and they slap at each other, waddle about without moving their legs and fall over when they die.

The heroes are broken into three classes, Warriors who deal melee damage and/or tank, they have a 'guard' ability that lets them reactionary attack opponents who move into an adjacent space, but this can be upgraded/changed in a bunch of different ways. Hunters use bows and stealth to snipe/stab or even lay out traps and the magic users of this setting are unique Mystics who 'infuse' with (cutout standee) scenery and use it to attack, constrict or pin down opponents. Wearing down the scenery as they do so.

Each encounter has the heroes exploring a small "dungeon", opening doors to reveal new areas that may contain monsters, and fighting them, while most objectives are 'kill all the monsters' sometimes you are chasing after spirits, attempting to flee the map or seeking to destroy one particular target before you die to choking fumes. There's already a lot of variation in these scenarios.

The turn based mechanics involve you using a number of actions to do things, depending on the particular heroes abilities you may be able to move and attack; move twice; enter the greyplane (the stealth mode for hunters); move, infuse with a bench, and explode it on a huge bunch of enemies or perhaps even attack multiple times. There are a wide range of abilities and options, with positioning mattering a great deal (being next to a friendly means you both help each other defend), and ranges for attacks varying (spears have a longer reach than swords, bows longer again). You can play at the pace you like, taking time to think hard about each move, or just breezing your way through with a wanton carefree attitude (easier to do on the lower difficulties).

The monsters come in a range of different factions, while there will be one faction that represents the main enemies of that particular story, other groups of factions are also involved at times. Here is a sample of the enemies available:

We have the Deepists, a humanoid bunch of cult like cave dwellers. The Druven, scaly lizard men who aspire to become dragons. The Gorgons, who corrupt the natural world with their presence and use the wildlife of the land against you. The Thrixl a dream like bunch who I have not encountered yet and the Morthagi, clockwork relics from a long gone civilisation. You learn more about these factions and their stories as time passes.

Your enemies have an interesting set of mechanics to determine their strength, variety and numbers, as time passes and each time you defeat members of a faction they 'refine their strategies' and gain more cards which are in their decks (shown above in a game in progress). They will get stronger, more numerous, tougher and more varied as time passes, but each faction upgrades individually. So if you encounter some Deepists in a late chapter for the first time, the encounter can be very easy, honestly this is quite cool, there are a lot of encounters in this game and having that variety makes it all feel organic by providing a light breather, especially when the main faction has gotten very strong.

The control system for combat is a little fiddlily, there is no 'undo' option (that I could find) if you misclick movement and it all feels a little too floaty at times. You are also forced to move the camera to reach certain squares because the standees cover where you are trying to click and all of that took a bit of time to get used to. I would like a more definitive feeling to the system, something more viscous with the ability to wind back actions that have not resulted in dealing damage. But it is an early access game, so we will have to see what happens in the future and these issues have never gotten in the way of my enjoyment of the combat mechanics.

Death in combat is quite an interesting situation also, most of the time a hero isn't automatically killed by losing all their health, typically they are offered a choice. They can retreat, leaving the fight and heading back to civilisation to get their maimed limb fixed up as best as can be (hook hand, peg leg? You can even gouge with the hook). Or they can choose to sacrifice themselves to deal massive damage to the monster that slew them. Or they can even sacrifice themselves to give everyone else armor. It's very much in the hands of the player and depends on what you want from the situation. You can let a hero die in an epic fashion, taking down the big bad of the story, or you can have a vital and important hero retreat, coming back later minus one limb. Or you can even red shirt some newbie to protect the other more valuable members (or sacrifice someone close to retirement). It's a nice mechanic - though I have had the occasional hero die outright, which was a shock when it happened. Rest in Peace Kayn Amble, you were over 50% a tree, but you died saving your wife.


The Stories

Written by a group of different writers, the story portions of the game provide the meat of the narrative, they are either directly linked to the progression of the main plot, or they are side adventures for specific heroes. They are written by some great writers and the dialog varies depending on the personality traits of the heroes involved in the story, a more serious hero will react differently to their friend developing a flaming arm than a goofy one.

I am not sure exactly how many stories they have in the game during this Early Access period, I have encountered a few repeats during my playthroughs, but not an overwhelming amount and the variation in decisions, skills and plain old chance have kept the events feeling fresh even when they are encountered repeatedly. They're also fast, quick to click through if you are a rapid reader and the pictures of the characters in the story reflect all of the gear and changes they have been through.

They're also well written and at times touching, with impact on your character's development and the end of the campaign. One hero encounters their estranged father, who they harbor resentment for, a friend tries to convince them to repair bridges, do they? Or a terrifying machine offers to give a replacement arm for someone who currently has a hook. Do they risk the price? It's fun to explore and experience these and they keep adding to them, enriching the experience. Some stories are short, over in the moment, while others require multiple steps, finding a rare book and then over a decade later someone else deciphers its message while a third person actually goes to the place described in the book.

There's a huge amount of emergent storytelling here in addition to the crafted options presented. If you are a roleplaying type (hello!) then you will find yourself making decisions based on the perceived personality of the hero, not just automatically 'the best option' - the game encourages and rewards this. You can always explore what might have happened next time.

Legacies

There is one more thing I'd like to write about before finishing, and that is the addition of the Legacy system. When a hero dies, or at the end of the campaign they may become a "Legacy" this means that they are added to that little pedestal I showed up near the top, and in later games they can be brought back for another story. It's a wonderful mechanic and makes things feel very special. It also takes the sting out of the death of a treasured hero, making the experience more bittersweet than unpleasant.

Also, as time passes you can promote heroes in this legacy system, having them become stronger, I am new to this mechanic and still just exploring it.


Summary

For story orientated board gamers who enjoy campaign based games like Kingdom Death, Gloomhaven, 7th Continent or video gamers who enjoyed Darkest Dungeon, Divinity/Divinity II Wildermyth is an amazing deal. Its pick up, put down nature, adjustable difficulty (going from C.S Lewis -> JK Rowling -> GRR Martin -> HP Lovecraft), beautiful style, wonderful music (reminds me of Arcanum, anyone remember Arcanum? That was the soundtrack to our WFRP roleplaying for many months) and heart makes this game something really special.

It has exploration, romance, loss, cool gear, interesting foes, stunning music and visuals and the entire thing feels like playing a simple, classic roleplaying game. 10/10.

Check it out here on steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/763890/Wildermyth/

Currently available for: € 16,79 (I picked it up on sale at a 10% discount at the time of this post it has 20% off).

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Comments (4)
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User #768934 - 7 Mar 20 10:20
I super appreciate reviews of other content like this - I just don’t have time to spend looking for new content, so to have someone nudge me and say “if you like this, then try this” is very helpful. Also, it is deal of the day, which is fortuitous and made it an insta-buy.
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User #16597453 - 13 Mar 20 17:26
Thanks for bringing this to my attention. 50+ hours already. Excellent.
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User #2667246 - 7 Mar 20 20:01
Looks interesting, seems like it would be quite at home on the Switch.
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User #5467006 - 7 Mar 20 10:13
ah ah, all birds of one feather flock together! Just got it yesterday as part of the sale :) Looks good, hope to have the chance to play this weekend
Marshlight Reviews: The Halloween Twilight Knight
Marshlight Reviews: The Halloween Twilight Knightmore_vert
2020-03-16T08:00:02+00:00
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For several years now Adam Poots Games (APG) has released the Halloween Twilight Knight (HTK) model, a resin cast of Allison in halloween atire. Last Halloween marked a change to this pattern, with a release of the original gender swapped character in plastic (yeah Allison is a gender swap of the original Twilight Knight character and she took over).

This change in the contents has made the model immediately more accessible for players and painters alike. Resin in the 32mm scale is an awful medium to work with (resin is just best used for 54mm and larger) and that has meant that for years the HTK has been a sub-par product.

Now that we've seen a switch to HIPS plastic (which is the best medium for small models alongside Photoresin) I thought it was worth taking the time to pick it up and review it. Just to get it in the bank ahead of next Halloween's release. So if you don't already have it, now you can decide if it's worth getting.

Spoilers: It's not. Not unless you want to paint the model.

The Model

There have been several changes to the model in her transition from resin to plastic, originally she had two options for her left arm, one with the Twilight Sword and one without. In the plastic version she always has her sword, no choice for you.

Despite that loss, there are several improvements. She is now scaled up to the new size with a fuller, weightier feel to her frame. As mentioned previously elsewhere, the new frame/scale for the Kingdom Death models - a hefty 35mm as opposed to the previous 32mm does a lot for this range, both in giving them character and making them better pieces to use on the table (if you want to play with them). She looks good, the base looks good and being plastic means that she is easier to part paint then assemble (allowing for a higher quality paint job).

In addition, the model now comes with a separate copy of the gear card 'Jack O' Lantern' so you can add this one to a survivor or fix it to a base/mount it/add a magnetic hand to it. I've stated several times previously that it is always a bonus to get the actual gear represented on promo cards as a separate piece and this is no exception.

The Gear

That brings us onto the lone piece of in game content that is included in this box, the Jack O' Lantern. To load this up front, it's not the best piece of gear, far from it, but it does have a moderately useful function in the game.

So to craft this one you need the Memento Mori innovation and 1x Skull, 1x Scrap, 1x Organ. The only hard part of this is the need for Memento Mori, an innovation that doesn't do very much unless you happen to chance upon the hunt events that require it.

What you get for that is this:

A consumable lantern (both useful keywords) with an absolutely terrible ability. It's irreplaceable (so if you're carrying it and die, you lose it) and it has an ability that triggers only if you are insane and another survivor dies during the showdown - and even then you get +10 survival. To reiterate a very important point, if you are going to have an ability that triggers when another survivor dies - it needs to be very strong. +10 survival is solid, but not strong enough, you need something like Last Man Standing level to really be worth the death. Still that much survival can allow a single survivor to surge, dash and dodge their way to victory in tight situations.

If this lantern had some affinities, so it would do more than just its keywords when no-one was in danger of dying, it would be a great little promo item. To match the theme of the Pumpkin I would go as far as suggesting it had 1 green up and then the rest of the directions could be red (orange). That would make the gear very useful and desirable for builds that need affinities (weapons in particular love red affinities).

So this gear is a little short of what it could be, but a lesson to learn here is - you can make marginal abilities that only trigger on rare or awful circumstances if you support that with the item doing something the rest of the time.


The Summary

Nice model and the addition of a second pumpkin is a great move, however the in game impact of this box is virtually nothing (apart from a fun thematic craft). Ultimately I consider this one to be a hard pass for all except miniature painters and the die hard fan(atics).


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Marshlight Reviews: Halloween "White" Speaker
Marshlight Reviews: Halloween "White" Speakermore_vert
2020-02-25T08:46:21+00:00
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Last week we went through Oktoberfest Aya's content, which was a pricey set that holds some so-so content that's not really for anything other than the dedicated player. This time we'll have a dive into the Halloween White Speaker, so you'll know if you want to chase it down on the secondary market or pick it up next halloween.

Contents

This micro-expansion set contains:

  • 1x Specially printed "black" box
  • 1x "White" Speaker Plastic Model, including sculpted base
  • 1x Art Card
  • 1x Pattern Card
  • 1x Gear Card

For the MSRP of $25, pretty standard for this kind of thing.


The Model

The Halloween White Speaker (HWS) first emerged as one of the earliest KDM Photoresin prints seen by the public. It was later released as a resin product with no additional game material. In 2019 it finally came out in plastic with game content. Honestly, I don't think this is the right way to go about releasing these things, if you are going to put game content with a product, it should be the way that it has been done with the Halloween Twilight Knight - it's present in all versions. That method means that people who picked up the older resin version are not "forced" to pick up the newer plastic one in order to get the game content.

Little things like this might not seem like they matter, but they are anti-consumer practices (intentional or not) and should be highlighted for the community to see. Kingdom Death appeals strongly to people with "collector's instinct" and "FOMO" (Fear of Missing Out) through a huge amount of approaches. While I do not believe that these are cynical and calculated practices on the part of APG LLC, this does not lessen the impact they have. As an ex-gottahaveitall myself, I am keenly aware of the financial. mental and emotional damage that experiences like this can have. You might not be affected by them, but that does not mean that they are irrelevant.

This is why I keep critiquing these practices and highlighting them for others, the only way things will change for the better is through pressure from the public (because people are absolutely not going to speak with their wallets, the fever is still too high).

The model itself is, well it's nice enough, it's another White Speaker. They're kind of useless in game at the moment, a Halloween version especially so. It's well sculpted and straightforward to assemble, for ease of painting I recommend that the speaker, the cloak and the base (including the pumpkin sack) are all kept separate for painting access.

It is a fine model, and the final point to critique is that it does not come with any spare Black Ghost Dagger models for your survivors to wield. I firmly believe that we should be getting at least one physical copy of any item/weapon that comes in a promo set, so we can model it if we desire. This is not the case here, but in a perplexing moment, it is the case for the Halloween Twilight Knight. Consistency, a specialty of the Kingdom Death line!


The Game Content

We have exactly one pattern gear here. Again we have a complete lack of rules for how to use this piece of gear. So I will simply cut and paste my comment from the previous article on this.

I consider that to be a serious oversight, if you are going to release promotional content with rules that are not in the core rule book, you absolutely should either be:

a) Warning people that this box requires rules from another promotional box.
b) Providing a copy of the rules online, with a link on the store page to download them
c) Putting the rules in the box.

None of these have been observed here, and I think that is a large mark against this product. It should be able to stand alone for anyone who purchases it, not require another piece of limited edition/seasonal promotional content or asking around online for the rules.

As for the content itself, it's the Black Ghost Dagger.

As always, what you are not warned when purchasing this micro-expansion is that it requires not one, but two other expansions. This card does absolutely nothing unless you own and are using both the Dung Beetle Knight and Slender-man.

I have written this before and I am sure I will have to write it again and again. These products should have the following text on their store page:

"This product requires the following items to be integrated into your Kingdom Death: Monster experience.
1. Kingdom Death: Monster Core Game
2. Dung Beetle Knight Expansion
3. The Slender-man Expansion"

Again I have encountered people who have purchased this item and do not have both of the required expansions, they are now having to secure those separately in order to maybe, one day, experience this pattern.

Overall these elements contribute to my point above about anti-consumer practices. Simple things such as fully informing the customer about obligatory expansion requirements for an item and providing copies of rules electronically (if not in the box) are not hard to implement, but despite push-back, these things still have not yet happened. The Christmas Stan (Satan) has been out for two years and the page still does not warn you that the strain requires the Flower Knight. I consider this to be unacceptable at this point.

Crafting the Dagger

The full requirements to make this dagger are as follows:

  • Crafted on a year where Nightmare Corn (L2 Black Harvest) is collected.
  • A Survivor with 10+ Insanity.
  • Hovel Innovation
  • Survivor with Blotted Out Fighting Art
  • 3x Dark Water Slender-man strange resource
  • 2x Iron Strange Resource

That seems like a lot, but it really isn't. Blotted Out is handed out in spades by the Slender-man, Hovel is a Level 1 innovation (direct from Language), Iron is iron and Dark Water is gained via fighting the Slender-man.

The only real awkward parts are setting up the Level 2 Black Harvest for Nightmare Corn (because you'll have other things you want to craft while that corn is present) and building up to 10+ Insanity (unless you're going to cheese it with the Gorm). Ultimately, this is a mid game recipe that is very achievable through the natural progression of the game and the only real issue is the Dark Water, a resource that is not exactly available in large quantities and wanted for other really powerful items like the Gloomhammer and Slender Ovule. It's a hit on your opportunity costs and creates a hard decision. Great stuff! This weapon needed to be good because the Slender-Man gear that competes for the resources is also good!

Using the Dagger

The Dagger itself comes with two new mechanics and is another powerful dagger that fills the issues and weaknesses that the weapon class has. There has been a huge amount of pushing on dagger designs over the past two years and they have moved from being a low tier choice to a very viable attacking weapon with the right expansions. Whips and Thrown Weapons now just need the same amount of pushing.

It is baseline a 3 speed, 7+ accuracy, 2 strength weapon. Which isn't anything to really write home about. But that extra Black boxed 1 under the strength box has the following rules text on the back. "This gains +10 strength when attacking a monster with 10+ Toughness."

12 strength is nothing to sneeze at, it's an absolutely huge amount. The number of weapons that break 10+ strength is a very short list and having it on a Dagger is incredible. 10 Toughness is also an amount that is reached very quickly. Most early game monsters are 10+ Toughness at level 2 and the Node 3 monsters are the same at L1. So this ability is online pretty much from the moment you make it unless you're being a baby and still farming weaklings (which you shouldn't be, you've just had a Nightmare Corn harvest, so you've been beating up DBKs).

The other abilities are Deflect 1 when the puzzle pieces are connected, that's another massively powerful ability.

Finally the weapon gains Sharp when fighting (Pumpkin) monsters. We do not have any (Pumpkin) monsters at the moment, but I think you should expect to see some, either as an encounter or a legitimate Nemesis monster/Quarries next Halloween.

It is a very good, well designed weapon. A little pushed* (see footnote) and on the strong side, but the high speed, "low" accuracy, high strength design is a good one and while Deflect 1 seems strong, it has been established that Block 1 on a non-shield is undesirable. Deflect works better on a weapon because it allows the survivor to 'set and forget' rather than surge whenever they need to defend.

Summary

Like most promotional content, this one is not exactly a 'must have' but it is a higher cut than normal. It has a relatively well balanced weapon which is a reasonable challenge to craft and appropriate power for the portion of the game you use it in (really it's for attacking L3 monsters, especially when used with Cycloid Scale/Phoenix or Dragon Armor). It must be acknowledged that it has been "pushed"* but if you are pushing an area of the game that was very weak beforehand and you are doing it in an intelligent manner, that is fine.

I think this one is a smidgen expensive because the model isn't usable in game (as of now), but it is a fun sculpt and the game content, despite being very small, is impactful in a good manner the same way that Allison or the Ringtail's content is.

This one gets my approval.


*For those of you who are not familiar with the term, a "pushed" creation is something that has been deliberately upscaled to make it more powerful than the average member of its category or even everything else in the game. An example of this in another game was the Oko debacle in Magic the Gathering last year, this was a pushed card that utterly distorted all the games around it until it was banned in almost every format. This is the ultimate risk when pushing a design.

In the case of daggers we have seen Backstabber to supplement daggers and then the releases of new dagger items in Hooked Claw Knife, Cult Speaker Knife and this new Black Ghost Dagger. All of which represent significant improvements over the daggers that were available previously, where we were in a game world that only had Acid-Tooth Daggers + Monster Strength Armor or Nuclear Knife + Red Core and Monster Strength Armor or Nuclear Knife + Blue Core + Lucky Charm. All of which (apart from the Acid-Tooths required a huge number of pre-requisite actions and supporting gear to make work). So Daggers were not in the meta at all.

This new breed are all stronger and have more utility abilities than the previous ones, so they represent pushed design. There is a clear decision from the design team that daggers are underused and they've strengthened them to the point that they make many weapons in other categories look laughable in comparison.


Media (1)


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Comments (2)
user avatar
User #387901 - 4 Mar 20 09:17
I don't really get that black "1" basically, at the time you can craft this expensive item, every monster is at 10+ toughness, so it has little impact. Why put it on the back instead of with the rest of the abilities ? Why not just give it straight up 12 strength ? It just feels like a very redundant ability.
user avatar
FenPaints - 4 Mar 20 14:06
It future proofs it against Deja Vu and also showcases a mechanism that may be expanded on in future content without risking being broken. It's a very intelligent way of doing it.
Congratulations to Jean-Sebastien Fortin the winner of the Story of Blood giveaway! 2020-02-19T09:00:00+00:00

Jean-Sebastien is the winner from the competition held on the Marshlight Reviews: 10th Anniversary White Speaker!

Jean-Sebastien wins all the game content from the 10th Anniversary White Speaker box, that's the strain, fighting arts and the rules!

Congratulations, we'll be in touch with you later today to get your address for posting! To everyone else, good luck in next week's giveaway.

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Marshlight Reviews: Oktoberfest Aya
Marshlight Reviews: Oktoberfest Ayamore_vert
2020-02-18T12:54:11+00:00
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Pre-Review Note:

I can only apologise for how long it has taken to get the October content reviews put together, with all the delays from the store, and issues with shipping plus customs they only got into my hands last week (I don't understand why the store can't sort out paying customs in advance the way that many other US sources I have now do). So I will be getting these sorted over the next few Mondays along with (finally) releasing an indexed Contents Page for the patreon which I can pin to the front page now. So now you know what's coming on Monday for the next few weeks and Fridays will be about settlement stuff.

Needless to say, I have not had the time to paint these models, I have only just finished the Gold/Glass Smoke Knight and I have a Phoenix, Death High Models, Screaming Antelopes and a very late WH40K commission to prioritize now that I almost have my work space organized.

Lets get to the review.


Oktoberfest Aya was a bit of a welcome surprise release this year, as previously we have seen only Halloween themed observations. Aya herself is the survivor who appears in the manga at the end of the Kingdom Death book, the girl who grows up overnight, runs into the Gold Smoke Knight, stumbles into the Nightmare Ram's garden, eats it to death and then dresses up in what became known as the Vagabond Armor set.

She is also present in the first Kickstarter rewards as Aya the Survivor, in Before the Wall, Beyond the Wall, as Easter Aya (with another harvest themed link, she's often seen around plants), as Sci-Fi Aya and in the Death High range as the (currently) only named member of Death High (again she's shown as eating). She is every bit as iconic as Lucy, the White Speaker or Allison despite not having much in the way of interactions with the game right now.

So it made absolute sense that Aya would be the individual involved in this event and it is a fun tribute to a grand old tradition from around the 1810s. It was originally an agricultural festival, but these days is best known for a prodigious amount of beer drinking, I am not a beer person myself, never have been so going to Oktoberfest has not appealed to me. However it is still wonderful to see something like this tributed here.

As an aside before we move on, Aya is a reference to Āyah; which can mean verse, sign, evidence or miracle and also the name of the Akkadian -> Mesopotamian sun goddess. In akkadian Aya means "dawn". So while her fate is currently unknown and looks somewhat troubled (to put it mildly); there are suggestions that she is destined to perform something huge and significant. We'll see.

Contents

  • Box
  • 54mm Aya
  • 32mm Aya
  • 3 Pattern cards
  • 3 Gear cards
  • 1 Art card

The Models

I have not had a chance to paint these models this time, but I took the time to assemble them and judge them for difficulty of construction plus any potential painting or issues in use. We will start with the 54mm Aya.

There is not much in the way of in game usage for this model, I would go as far as to say that she would be best used in a diorama or as a display piece, so her game content potential is close to nil. I would even go as far as to recommend that you appropriate the base she comes with to use on some other model in the future.

It was a straightforward model to construct, with the only difficult part being the stray strand of hair that sits on the left side (her left) of her head. That piece is small enough that you could damage it while removing it from the sprue, but it is not an important piece.

She is best assembled in two parts initially, Aya and the barrel being separate pieces. Still, for painting purposes I plan to remove her right arm (the one with the tray) and detach the tray. So I will be painting her in 4 separate pieces, maybe 5 because I am also judging if the head needs to be removed in order to access her back properly.

In all I'd call her a 2/5 on the difficulty front.

Small 32+mm Aya is the one that you might use during games. She is in the new proportions which we shall call the 1.5 scale (as opposed to the original 1.31 scale) and she was a simple assembly. You have the option of putting her together with a skirt on, or with just an apron and panties. I'm not saying you'll be judged based on which one you choose, but...

This puts one in the odd position where there is a hips + leg that are just sitting about without anything to finish them. This is an opportunity for some people, but useless plastic for others. You decide what to do with that spare butt based on how much hobby work you do.

The model is solid, durable and suited for play. She is wearing the Brave Dirndl (a traditional Bavarian dress often associated with Oktoberfest) and carrying the Afterdeath Brew on her back. Sadly there is no sign of any additional Brew sculpt for other survivors to use and the Durendal weapon has no sculpt at all. More on that weapon further on.

I can see one using this smaller sculpt in games to represent either a support survivor, an 'endeavor survivor' (where you use models to represent endeavors) or as the survivor wearing the Brave Dirndl when/if you take that out. She's cute, thematic and only the weapon looks off. I like her more than most of the other small seasonal models except for the Baker Twilight Knight.

Onto the gameplay content!


Gameplay Content

We have in this box a total of six gameplay related cards, 3 gear cards and the patterns required to craft each of them. This puts immediately to our first issue, there are no rules for how to use the patterns here, they were located only in the 10th Anniversary Survivor box.

Now I consider that to be a serious oversight, if you are going to release promotional content with rules that are not in the core rulebook, you absolutely should either be:

a) Warning people that this box requires rules from another promotional box.
b) Providing a copy of the rules online, with a link on the store page to download them
c) Putting the rules in the box.

None of these have been observed here, and I think that is a large mark against this product. It should be able to stand alone for anyone who purchases it, not require another piece of limited edition/seasonal promotional content or asking around online for the rules.

In addition to this, the Afterdeath Brew is a Lonely Tree expansion, which should have been again written on the store page, the Lonely Tree is not high on most people's purchase list, so it is very possible that some consumers bought this item without being able to use a whole third of the game content. That's okay, they can solve this problem by spending a meager $75 in the shop! Nice.

I am all for cross expansion interactions, but the consumer should be warned in advance when they are included. This is the third time this has happened now and I am honestly a bit bewildered why the community isn't pushing back on this and asking for reasonable transparency in these products. Look at that picture at the top of this article. Can you see that the Lonely Tree is required? If you can, you're looking at the wrong picture.

Speaking of Pictures, here are the cards themselves:

One small detail you might not notice immediately, the top right has the Afterdeath and Dirndll in the "II" category while the Durendal is in the "III" one. All of the 10th Anniversary patterns are "II" while the Black Ghost Dagger from the Halloween "White" Speaker is a "III". We'll see what that means in the future.

Now onto each item in turn.

Afterdeath Brew

Crafting this item is not an easy feat, you need to encounter the Lonely Tree at Level 2, survive the showdown, triumph over the typos and collect the Blistering Plasma Fruit.

You also have to give up being able to consume this resource, which is a huge ask, because the Nightmare Blood ability is REALLY powerful. It's one of the best ones now that saviors were nerfed to not be able to use ageless in 1.31. So the brew has to be incredible.

It's not. It's a somewhat niche item with an 'avoid death' ability that triggers 20% of the time as long as the survivor had died from bleeding. It also has a "self kill" ability that drops 5 bleeding tokens onto the survivor (they can outlast this with Unconscious Fighter or sometimes Purpose).

Now this means there is a meme/edge use for this item in the Red Ring of Death build, instead of needing to get Story of the Young Hero for your survivors, you can now use Afterdeath Brew + Red Ring + Bandages to activate it for 2 automatic wounds as long as you have a way of surviving the bleeding tokens. Don't ask how this works with Story of Blood please, the timing stuff in Kingdom Death is not defined enough to cope. Just sculpt up Unconscious Fighter instead thank you. Apart from that, this is a way of deafening your own survivors so they can abuse the Screaming Helm (if they don't die).

Still, in practice what this item boils down to is a right green affinity (solid), and a vague passive that can help save survivors who died to bleeding. Perhaps it's something you just take against The Butcher when you're sending in lambs?

It's a D tier item on the whole, but that is fine for a promotional item. I prefer them to be fun, situational and silly over really powerful (stares hard at the Tempered Spear).


Brave Dirndl

Hey look, it's a place to get rid of your Skullcap Hammer! The crafting cost on this one competes with the Vagabond Armor set, so you have to decide how many vagabonds you want (probably 1, and it can just cost 1 cloth so that's fine).

The real tricky part is you need a returning survivor with an instrument, that means you're either using the Gorn, you're crafting this right after a nemesis fight or you're risking deletion via the Harvester. In games with the Gorm or settlements with a Whisker Harp, that's not too bad, but it is quite the limitation.

You'll also need both the Weapon Crafter and the Leather Worker open because of the other requirements. That means the actual crafting cost for this item is: 2x cloth, 1x leather, 2x bone and 1x scrap + needs another 1x bone, 1x leather for the Sickle and whatever you paid for the instrument.

It is quite the journey to make this item indeed!

What do you get when you make this? Well you get a dirndl that is very brave! It is in essence a 1 point body + waist armor that provides a survivor buff when you achieve the triumph of wearing it as your only armor and surviving the hunt & showdown. You can wear accessories to help with this, so the Tabard, Cloth Leggings and various headpieces all help, but on the whole whatever survivor goes out wearing this, they are going to be playing either ranged or support unless they are very brave and have a phenomenal tank and monster controller.

The reward for doing this is +1 courage with an additional bonus of +1 strength if your settlement has Song of the Brave. Song of the Brave is amazing and you should be aiming for it all the time anyway (especially considering that Music tree = best innovation tree) so you should not be departing with this one until you have Song of the Brave sorted.

The bottom line is simple, it's an interesting item with some fun themes and it could be alright for the right kind of survivor - especially if that +1 strength hits in important break point or you are seeking a guaranteed "See the Truth" trigger while carrying dried acanthus (classic trick, it allows you to avoid the loss of an eye). But on the whole it is again a D Tier item and I think that is a fine place for it to be. You're not going to be using this one a lot and it is very expensive.


Durendal

Last of all, we have the infuriating Durendal. This is another one of the "Earth swords of legend" that has made it into the game; alongside the Muramasa, Excalibur and Scarlet, the Golden Sword of Battle (yes I am counting that one).

This time it is the weapon of Roland, the paladin of Charlemagne and I am exceedingly vexed that it has been included in this boxed set. Oktoberfest is a Bavarian tradition. Roland is very, VERY French. Now yes, he was Frankish and yes that is a Germanic people. But this is quite the stretch because of how deeply French the Durendal is considered to be. But, I will cede that the Germanic people do feel a connection to him as well. There is Rolândia in Brazil after all, thanks to certain people.

The weapon itself is just a hot piece of garbage and lets delve into why.

Statistically, this weapon is very impressive, it's a sword packing 2 speed, 6+ accuracy and 9 strength. With a potentially massive armor bonus to all locations (depending on courage).

Crafting it is also an interesting adventure. You need a returning survivor who has been regurgitated by a Screaming Antelope, plus a savior and the blacksmith location - you also need to spend 2x iron, 1x leather and 1x other (keyword) gear to craft this.

Now that you have the sword, you can only take it out on a hunt as long as your savior goes with you, and the moment that savior dies, the sword disappears from reality. (We still don't know if it can be re-crafted, the pattern rules do not cover this). This means in absolutely optimal situations you can use the Durendal for six showdowns (unless you have somehow performed the nutty move of creating an Ageless Apprentice Savior - which currently works, but I believe will be patched in Campaigns of Death).

So, I have to give this one an E tier grade for the most part because Etheral is an obnoxious ability that limits the campaign types that the weapon can be used in and also puts a clock on how long you get to keep it for. But, if you craft this weapon late enough in the campaign, where the savior you have is going to last until the final nemesis showdown, then it can be an S Tier weapon. I am not fond of items like this, that require mental gymnastics and metagaming to make them viable, but the theme is neat.


Summary

So, should you get this one on the secondary market or wait until next Oktoberfest for its re-release? If you can pick it up for MSRP, then it's fine I guess, very good if you want the models. But if you are just after the in game content, this one is a tall ask for anyone other than completionists. There are three items, that you might sometimes see when drawn via the pattern rules (whenever you hit insight, Song of the Brave + Graves helps here as new survivors automatically insight when born) and sometimes you may not. All of them are awkward to construct, with the dirndil being the most straightforward - and you might never be able to make the Afterdeath Brew because of how the tree works. So I would say the main function of these pattern cards is to actually weaken the Pattern pool overall and increase diversity. That means those of you who find the game too easy because of your elite gaming skills, exceptional knowledge and strong showdown play will want these so you're not always drawing the 10th Anniversary patterns, but newer players should avoid.


For modelers and die hards only.


Giveaway!

And as usual (or at least as long as I have stuff I can share), we have a give away as a part of the competition. This time it's for the Echoes of Death I (one) strains, rules and fighting arts (plus the art cards if I can find them) as I have a spare set I am not doing anything with! These are the four with Infinite Lives and Backstabber in them.

As always this is open to anyone who is a $5 or higher patron and the entry phrase is:"Ducks have no echo?"


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Comments (14)
user avatar
User #26004439 - 18 Feb 20 15:27
Ducks have no echo?
user avatar
User #30166253 - 18 Feb 20 15:26
I'm all for thinning out the pattern deck (with hopefully more balanced cards), but it is a shame that right now we either have the majority being either super overpowered options or items that aren't worth it for the effort. Curious to see how this will play out as I feel like it could be one of the best new aspects brought into the game if done right; right now I've got some mixed feelings!
user avatar
User #6378167 - 19 Feb 20 23:32
Thats actually the first I have read about needing the Lonely Tree for it (I didn't buy this promo). Definitely agree that should be mentioned in the sales page! Also never saw where Ethereal special rule was explained. I don't remember if I have any gear with it or not.
user avatar
FenPaints - 21 Feb 20 08:33
It's printed on the back of every card with the Ethereal ability on it. The card can only be taken out on a hunt if there is a savior along in the hunt party and when/if your savior is gone (vanishes/dies/erased from time etc) it is archived. If I recall correctly, currently the Corsair Coat and the Durendal have it.
user avatar
User #6933513 - 18 Feb 20 15:11
Saga (Song of the Brave Consequence) and Graves = 3 Understanding by Birth/Insight. Thx for the write up and Insight. Still laughting about="triumph over the typos ";)
user avatar
User #30511575 - 18 Feb 20 16:52
Ducks have no echo?
user avatar
User #27404835 - 1 Mar 20 05:07
Feel like I'm way too late on this lol but.... Ducks have no echo?
user avatar
User #29752409 - 18 Feb 20 22:57
Ducks have no echo?
user avatar
User #9322754 - 18 Feb 20 14:02
Interesting review. Do folks think the Durendal would break the power curve if it didn't have ethereal? Ducks have no echo?
user avatar
FenPaints - 18 Feb 20 14:29
I think it absolutely would have, which is why I rank it at the top tier once you're in a position where your savior can be present for every single (important) fight left in the game. In the hands of a survivor with high/max courage it is a weapon and full "suit" of armor in one single slot. Having all of that in a single place on your gear grid gives you a lot of room for other support stuff that normally you can't bring along. (You can also still pack 1 armor point gear in your grid as long as you don't hit a set bonus). Also, even if you don't want to use it as a weapon because you have a better one elsewhere (Black Sword say) this is a massive pile of armor in one card. We've already seen how strong the DBK plates are in isolation and they provide a fraction of what this does.
user avatar
FenPaints - 1 Mar 20 05:43
Entries are closed from this post drawing next week
user avatar
User #30166253 - 17 Mar 20 23:29
Any updates on this one by any chance? Have been appreciating your updates during this strange quarantine time!
user avatar
User #30166253 - 18 Feb 20 15:27
oh and Ducks have no echo?
user avatar
User #13994636 - 18 Feb 20 17:04
Ducks have no echo?
Marshlight Reviews: 10th Anniversary White Speaker
Marshlight Reviews: 10th Anniversary White Speakermore_vert
2020-02-10T16:00:00+00:00
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Marshlight Reviews: 10th Anniversary White Speaker 2020-02-10T16:00:00+00:00close

It's time to take a look at the 10th Anniversary White Speaker. 5000 copies of this "white" box (it's a white box in everything but the actual box) micro expansion were released alongside the 10th Anniversary Survivors (review here) and is to celebrate the original White Speaker resin model, while also showcasing the concept of Fighting Arts that can 'level up'

Contents:

  • 1x Remastered Plastic White Speaker
  • 1x Double-sided fold out Rules Sheet
  • 1x Certificate of Authencitity including XXXX of 5000 numberon
  • 1x Strain Unlock for the Fighting Art
  • 4x Story of Blood Fighting Art

We will start with a look at the model. This is a re-imagining of the original White Speaker, who was allegedly going to be one of the "dungeon crawling classes" in Kingdom Death: Labyrinth (along with the Forsaker, Savior, Priest and Twilight Knight). Here one of them is in action, battling the minions of the Golden Entity with her blood magic:

The original model is, hum, well it's fine for its time, but it shows its age as you can see:

This new plastic version goes beyond a meager remaster and into the realms of an entire re-imagining. Coming with two options, with cloak and sans cloak, the model is larger, fuller and more dynamic. This is the store image of her with the feathered collar cloak.

Here is my first one, painted using the 'no cloak' shoulder option.

(More angles to be found at: https://www.instagram.com/p/B8ENXhRHzWu/ )

So before we get onto the game content, now that I've painted one version of the model, what is it like to assemble, look at and paint?

Well, it's good, very good. Almost perfect. The model is dynamic with few easily broken points and she has a heft and grace to her that was lacking from the previous version. I like her as much as I like the White Speaker Boss (The Boss has a very bland pose though) and more than the excellent White Speaker Sword Hunter. The flowing pose, solid lines of movement and tight detail make me excited for the upcoming Red Witches expansion.

I like this one so much that I hope this particular model also finds a home in Labyrinth (if Adam gets to that one before old age or the collapse of the ecosystems claims him).

It is not perfect however, there is a fair risk of breaking the Speaker Cult Knife when removing it from the sprue as it has a very thin handle between the Speaker's hand and the cross hilt and there is no sculpted base - I expect better on the base front, especially when you look at what the Sword Hunter White Speaker and 10th Anniversary Survivors stand on.

When it comes to painting this model, there are some huge access issues that require either compromise due to difficulty of access or sub-assembly painting. The cloak covers a huge area and requires that the head, shoulders and cloak are painted separately from the body. Plus the arms have an encircling, obstructing nature to them and require separate painting from the torso. I painted the non-cloak version and that required being in 3 parts (body + head, left arm, right arm) and I fully expect that when I paint the version with the cloak that she will need to be painted in 4 or 5 parts. I would rate her easier than Young Rachel to assemble, but one of the more challenging pieces to paint for an inexperienced painter.

Good model, not perfect, but close.

The rest of this box contains the exciting certificate of authenticity (oooooo, recycle it asap) and the Story of Blood addition to the strain system.


Story of Blood

The rules come printed on a both sides of a threefold paper sheet. The "Front" page has the updated version of the Strain rules (1.1) which is the same as Echoes of Death II (Review here). In essence, you can have 5 strain fighting arts in your deck at the most (there are 9 currently) and when you unlock a sixth one, it replaces one of the previous 5. At the start of each future campaign you will have 5 random strain fighting arts from the ones you have previously unlocked. This system is here to help avoid too much Fighting Art bloat, but to be honest the expansions have already done most of the damage and I suspect that Campaigns of Death is going to need to introduce a new system for adding in Disorders/Fighting Arts that stops the decks being such disorganised, chaotic messes.

The second side goes into a lot of detail about how the Story of Blood fighting art is operated, as it is an evolving fighting art that potentially changes over the length of a campaign. When it is first unlocked (and at the start of each new campaign) it is included in the deck at its first level 'Story of Blood 1). However, the individual survivor who has gained this fighting art can perform 'observations' when a certain condition is completed, and once all the boxes are ticked for that survivor, the observation has a revelation that either levels up Story of Blood for the current survivor (and the copy in the Fighting Art deck) or has a final revelation that is the terminus for this story.

It seems that the intention of Echoes of Death I, Echoes of Death II, 10th Anniversary Survivors and this micro expansion is to showcase/tease the mechanics which are coming in Wave 3. Either they are custom created for the purpose of this teaser, or they are rejects/early releases - it is hard to tell, because so far the quality of design on these has been very inconsistent. We've had amazing, exciting and well balanced stuff that exemplifies design at it's pinnacle in the very same box as horribly unbalanced lunacy that looks on par with the kind of things that would be dreamed up by a teenager designing his first custom content.

When this stuff is good, it is very, very good. But when it is bad, it is horrid.

So lets take a look at the Story of Blood and see where it lands on this scale.


Strain Unlock

My personal issues with how Strains have been implemented in the first place aside, this particular unlock is very well balanced. You have to max understanding and then successfully experience each of the three stories in that event with survivors from the same settlement. But because you're rolling randomly on the table, 3 triggers is not a guaranteed success - in fact it's not likely because the split on the table is 2/6/2 initially and changes to 2/4/4 (or 4/4/2) after you have picked your conviction (Romantic every time beb).

Doing all of this doesn't even give you the Fighting Art, it just gives you 1x Iron. You have to trigger it one last time in order to actually gain the fighting art on a survivor and add it to the deck. This replaces your roll on the White Secret table btw, big oof if you were looking for Ageless.

That's a heck of a journey, but I think that it is a well designed one in the same way that the Vault Key Earring was. It's thematic, it has benefits along the way (Cult Speaker Knife anyone?) and it isn't too easy to do, which makes the whole unlock special.

So yeah. I am happy with this particular strain unlock. Though I wish the story event White Speaker was involved somehow.


The Fighting Art

Once you have it, what is the fighting art like to use and level up? In order to decide on that we'll wander through each level, looking at what you get and what you need to do to level it up. It is important to remember that the observations have to all be completed by the same survivor, each survivor with the fighting art has their own observation track.

Story of Blood 1 is an underwhelming fighting art; the first time you gain a bleeding token during the showdown, you gain +1 survival. That's a very low power fighting art and as a consequence you are going to be seeking to upgrade it as soon as possible.

The four observations required are linked to endeavors being spent at Bloodletting or Sacrifice during the Settlement Phase. It requires a total of four activations. Bloodletting costs a resource each time it is used, but can be beneficial by healing Warped Pelvis or Intestinal Prolapse (otherwise it gains you +1 understanding at the cost of crippling your survival or +3 insanity). Sacrifice is a bit easier to handle when you have Graves, it causes population loss for either gains of insanity or removal of disorders. If you have a decent enough population (and you should have if you've been learning how to population manage) then you can spam this one out in a single lantern year at the cost of 4 to 8 population and potentially curing some disorders at the same time. However, Sacrifice is a Tier 3 Innovation (Language -> Inner Lantern -> Shrine -> Sacrifice) and it's not usually a high priority pick.

Story of Blood 2 is a more promising development, it allows you to spend an activation to remove a bleeding token. This causes 1 brain damage but gives you one armor to a location of your choice. Having access to this means you don't need to concern yourself with Bandages, because you have your own personal bandage shield with a minor upside (the 1 brain damage is pretty inconsequential). It still isn't as impressive as many of the other baseline fighting arts we already have (and it doesn't hold a candle to most of the other strains).

The four observations here require the survivor to use the fighting art while they have 4+ Bleeding Tokens, difficult to achieve without the help of Surge and/or Unconscious Fighter.

Story of Blood 3 is a straight upgrade from Story of Blood 2, allowing you to use an activation to remove a bleeding token and gain 1 armor point to any hit location. The only improvement here is the removal of the (inconsequential) 1 brain damage. At this point it is basically an okay variant on bandages, but considering that it doesn't help anyone else, you are still going to end up with bandages in your hunt party most of the time. It is possible that you might end up running Story of Blood + Unconscious Fighters along with a Bloodskin (White Speaker Promo) party to avoid the need for bandages, but this is unlikely.

There are three observations here and the requirement is absolutely bananas. You need to be present when another survivor dies from bleeding tokens. I've long stated that anything linked to the death of hunt survivors needs to be very strong in order to justify the cost. This one requires three!

Story of Blood 4 continues the activation mechanic, but now you gain 1 armor point on all locations for that bleeding token. You can also spend bleeding tokens in place of survival (hey look, it's the Rose Knight SFA mechanic! Stop borrowing my mechanics Adam! Kappa**) However, each time you use this FA (it's not clear exactly which part of the FA as it fails to use a definitive article), then it gains an observation. At 7 observations you have a 50% chance of dying each time you use it a future time.

Honestly, this limit of 7 observations is really awkward and unpleasant to use. You're likely binning the fighting art when you get close to 6 and replacing it with something new. Only risking the 7th observation if it was life and death already (it's not explicitly stated in the rules, but loss of the fighting art does not seem to reset the observations on it).

There are some issues in its interactions with Sculpture, but Sculpture is a problematic mess that I hope is removed somewhere in Wave 3 and replaced with a (second) revision. At a minimum Strain Fighting Arts should never be allowed to be Sculpted (Convalescor I am looking at you).


Summary

Story of Blood is very much a humdrum experience of 'almost good enough' all the way through from start to finish. Which makes it a solid and acceptable promotional piece. There are some intriguing lore snippets in this experience and overall there is nothing overpowered or underpowered present here.

The typical experience with Song of Blood is you eventually unlock it (mostly because you're farming Understanding gains) and then eventually you get it and then you push it to Song of Blood 2. After that it sort of haphazardly upgrades itself as and when it happens, and if you do somehow get it to the max level it becomes a temporary Fighting Art that you use 6 times before dropping it for good.

So... Is it worth chasing down now that it's out of stock in the store? Not for an additional price unless you really like the model. This is a fine, okay addition to the game, with a fun adventure involved in getting it and it's a solid emergent story telling experience. But it is more book keeping, more tracking of things and the payoff at the end is somewhat underwhelming to say the least.

That said, I approve of promotional material being like this rather than on the level of Echoes of Death/White Gigalion/Tempered Axe/Tempered Spear, so it does get a thumbs up of approval.

Worth it at the shop price of $25, but not a penny more sir!


*When this card was updated/improved for 1.5, the name of the activation was changed from the Beauty and the Beast/Disney reference 'Tale as Old as Time' to the generic 'Story Time' you see pictured. I often wonder why this change occurred, if it is copyright concerns then one has to wonder why the Slenderman has not been changed. Who knows?

**In case you are not aware, Kappa is from Twitch and is an indication of a satirical/humorous/sarcastic comment. Honestly I couldn't care less.


GIVE AWAY

You got this far down into the article? Well guess what. I have a spare set of the rules, strain and fighting art cards to give away for those of you who missed out. They are from the miscut original printing run as I bought two sets to paint each variation of this White Speaker model. So you will notice the difference if you play without sleeves, but I'm not charging anything for them. You just have to be a $5 or higher Patron and enter in the comments below with the phrase 'My Blood is my Shield!'

Drawing will be undertaken by one of the mod team and we'll announce the winner on the 17th of February!

Good luck to those of you who enter!

Comments (10)
user avatar
User #15141250 - 10 Feb 20 16:20
My Blood is my Shield!
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User #27564981 - 10 Feb 20 16:15
My Blood is my Shield!
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FenPaints - 18 Feb 20 08:51
Entries closed now, winner will be announced on 19th
user avatar
User #301217 - 10 Feb 20 17:41
My Blood is my Shield!
user avatar
User #22307867 - 10 Feb 20 20:29
My Blood is my Shield!
user avatar
User #27127121 - 10 Feb 20 18:04
My Blood is my Shield!
user avatar
User #2931027 - 11 Feb 20 14:48
My Blood is my Shield!
user avatar
User #27404835 - 12 Feb 20 23:18
My Blood is my Shield!
user avatar
User #26004439 - 10 Feb 20 16:35
My Blood is my Shield!
user avatar
User #13264739 - 16 Feb 20 16:03
My Blood is my Shield!
Feedback for Adam 2020-01-29T09:49:53+00:00

I'm compiling another email of feedback on various issues, loopholes, inconsistencies and errors and I intend to send at least one more. With this in mind I wanted to put up a post for you guys to write about the areas where you have found one of the following:

1. Broken loopholes - i.e. Hiccup on the Gorm

2. Overpowered gear that can break the game - such as the Counterweighted axe, Black Sword or Red Ring.

3. Areas of the game that are seriously underpowered -such as the bombs, thrown weapons or whips in general.

4. Inconsistencies in keywords or similar - such as the Knight Badges or Gloom Mehndi missing symbol

5. Things I've mentioned on this patreon in the past and possibly forgotten about.

6. Any issues with innovations/principles/fighting arts/disorders - such as the problems with Clarity of Darkness conflicting with Stark Raving/Husk of Destiny and creating an unintended situation for perma-Gloom Man.

7. Monster/hunt issues.

Put them in the comments below!

We know already that the Sonic Tomahawks and Vespertine Bow are going to be looked at, and the Lonely Tree/DBK cards will get fixed - so no need to mention them!

I'll take a look at everything and compile a list of things I've not already fed back to send on to the design team, cheers!

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Comments (27)
user avatar
User #20291466 - 29 Jan 20 17:58
Armour sets. Could do with a light touch review, would be easy to reprint some of the cards. Rawhide is too powerful and could be nerfed to 7+, underpowered sets could simply have the an extra +1 armour bonus to make them more attractive.
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User #11876852 - 29 Jan 20 14:01
Very minor issue, but, might as well point it out. The Lights in The Sky settlement event has no result for what happens if you roll a 6-7 on the Face Painting category. Based on the other two categories being 6+ on that card, I assume this Face Painting category should have read the same (6+) but instead it is 8+ resulting in no result for a 6-7. We just play it as if it read as 6+ like the other two categories.
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User #755856 - 29 Jan 20 19:57
The inconsistency with the three knight badges is bothering me, too. Boss Mehndi is also lacking the symbol keyword. Eye Patch needs two additional copies, since most of the expansion boxes only come with one.
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FenPaints - 11 Feb 20 10:17
1.5 Boss Mehndi has the symbol keyword. Confirmed this with my own 1.5 game.
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User #755856 - 12 Feb 20 16:16
Uh, I have no idea what kind of Boss Mehndi you have. Neither 1.3 nor 1.5 should have the symbol keyword.
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FenPaints - 12 Feb 20 16:19
3 of mine do, 3 don't. They came from the update pack and a fresh copy of 1.5. not sure which is which.
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User #755856 - 12 Feb 20 16:24
Poooooots!!!
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User #7670218 - 27 Feb 20 13:15
My 1.5 cards do not have symbol.
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User #12961868 - 29 Jan 20 10:39
This might be an entire other topic and out of place in this list, but I think it is noteworthy. When friends and I started our first-ever showdown with The Hand we had a hard time to understand how the mechanics with the lenses exactly work. We had to look stuff up at BGG and Reddit to get the grasp of it resulting in seeing spoilers too. The information on the monster showdown page felt too short, too little for us to understand the essential mechanics. Some sort of example round or a bit more clarifications would have helped us a lot. (and I am not talking about spoiling the fight here.) It might have been just us (even if we are accustomed to complexity in boardgames and RPG's), but I wonder if more people had trouble with this.
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FenPaints - 29 Jan 20 10:41
You are not alone, and I think it is fair to provide feedback that the Hand's mechanics cause problems in understanding and could do with clarity - in particular as we're getting the God Hand this should be reviewed.
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User #387901 - 29 Jan 20 13:20
The hours ring, and the Butcher's mask 1.5 versions that have both bad wording and lack of interesting game feel. The Talon knife that doesn't fulfil its intended purpose. The way the manhunter's hat is both an accessory and a outfit, which makes no sense and allows a survivor to wear both armors. I'd throw the lantern sword into the mix too, but there's no chances it'll get fixed.
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User #8774373 - 4 Feb 20 16:24
First of all, thanks for your work and I hope Adam will take care of your feedback. Additionally I have one rule question which I did not find an answer. It belongs to the ablity of Fetosaurus (monster level). My gaming group is not sure how this rule changes other "monster level" abilities, for example "Grab". Fetosaurus uses an Icon for "monster level" and there are different abilities with this icon (for example the AI cards of Dung Bettle Knight). In the core game you don't find this icon, usually there is only a text description. We play it this way: Fetosaurus only works if the Icon for "monster level" is present. Otherwise it does not work, so for example "Grab" Damage is not reduced. It would be nice if this could be clarified in the FAQ section. Or did I miss a discussion somewhere and the community knows how it works? Thanks!
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FenPaints - 4 Feb 20 16:45
That's already been covered. * and monster level are the same thing. So Grab and similar are affected. * Was introduced in the expansions to mean monster level.
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User #8616174 - 29 Jan 20 17:14
A Warm Virus: If you give a Host a Sleeping Virus Flower and they die they become a Guest. This means that with a little planning, and alternating L3 FK hunts it is trivial to breed incredibly strong survivors. The Host loses fighting arts, disorders, abilities and impairments. They then gain the Guests fighting arts, disorders, weapon proficiency, & positive attributes. So weapon proficiency and positive attributes of the Host and Guest stack & you drop the Guest’s negative attributes. This could be easily fixed with one line: “A survivor who has been nominated as a Host, can not be a Guest.” A general FK gear overhaul and actual printed Sense Memory and Light Forging locations would be appreciated.
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User #18693897 - 29 Jan 20 16:46
The Watcher has infinite movement. What happens when you hit it with the Gloom Hammer?
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User #755856 - 29 Jan 20 20:40
It moves until it reaches the table edge.
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User #18693897 - 29 Jan 20 16:48
Also there is a persistent injury that can lead to a materialize loop in Phoenix showdown if I recall it correctly.
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User #20291466 - 29 Jan 20 17:55
2-handed weapons. Very difficult to explain to long time gamers that it doesn’t actually mean it takes two hands to operate... and now that we have miniatures using 2 handed weapons and a shield (the gorm armour chap from the gigalion) I think this needs a rename or a rethink.
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User #12397227 - 29 Jan 20 10:01
7. monster issue clarification for move away from all threats. Does the monster stay put when it's surrounded with equal spacing etc?
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User #20291466 - 29 Jan 20 18:03
Terrain cards. May not be top of most wish lists but they’re used in every showdown so have quite a big impact. Light touch review to ensure the good rewards are still useful in the late game (debris pile) also that there’s a bit more consistency on the results (bug spot too easy to get a good result).
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User #6912090 - 29 Jan 20 21:09
- Infinite lives that can be written in Sculpture. That generates an infinite pool of re rolls in the settlement at a cost of 1 endeavor (via Drums) - Lion Knight loophole, where you can surge and throw the pants twice and waste every monster turn - Timing of eating Fresh Acantus. Right now, nothing prevents you from eating in the middle of the trap after one hit is applied but before the other
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User #11190855 - 30 Jan 20 18:26
Talked to a playtester who told me despite perma-insanity from Husk/Stark-Raving, Gloom Man still only kicks in at 5+ insanity.
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FenPaints - 30 Jan 20 19:30
I was told the same thing directly also. But, unless they put that in the FAQ or on twitter that doesn't mean anything to the main player base though.
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User #6933513 - 4 Feb 20 21:39
6. Is Innovation Stacking really intended? Like Face Painting/Founders Eye (Population Loop) or Sauna Shrine (+10 Strenght and +5 Armor on all Locations for example after 5 successes)? I houserule all of them by once per Lantern Year.
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User #207327 - 27 Feb 20 09:25
whoa! i never even considered that stacking Face Painting might not be allowed!
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User #6933513 - 27 Feb 20 16:48
It is offical allowed, but it seems not to be intended and makes Intimancy to save. In PotSun after a solid base Surviors just go to the sauna all day and night and are buffed hard, got sometimes +8 Armor and was already Strenght Token prepared. So i scaled it down and its fine.
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User #20291466 - 30 Jan 20 06:01
+1 to the acanthus timing issue, and also all other useables that lack a clear timing. Frozen Star SFA is another, am sure there’s plenty more.
Requesting Backup: Contents Page 2020-02-04T09:11:05+00:00

Support items are an important part of any survivor build, while typically they take up no more than 1 to 3 slots in a gear grid (unless you are a dedicated badass fist and tooth support survivor) they are where the most unique and potent parts of builds can come to life. They provide a host of essential and unusual abilities, ranging from simple buffs to important stats like evasion, through to healing items an all the way to methods of killing the monster without ever attacking them.

While weapons kill and armor protects, support items do all of the rest!

This is the contents page for the series, each link below will take you to a detailed discussion on flagship members of a particular category. I recommend you start with 1. because that has the explanation of how each category was created and themed.


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A Post Mortem of the Lion God 2019-12-13T11:16:18+00:00

I've had a few requests now for some stuff on the Lion God, which is honestly one of the pieces of content I write the least about (others being the Phoenix (that's coming) and the King's Man (probably not doing anything until we see what Campaigns of Death does to improve the engagement level on this one, currently its best use is to create 8x endeavors via graves, whomp whomp). The Lion God however hasn't been explored much here because of a combination of factors; it's late game content, it's proven hard for people to get their hands on, it has little carrot to encourage you to engage with it and it has never managed to shake its rep as 'the hardest monster in the game' even when it's only in 2nd place overall.

So over the next couple of weeks (two or three) I'm going to use Fridays to expand on the Lion God content here, starting with a post mortem on the expansion, looking at what it was pitched as, where it sits in the lore, what it turned out to be and what are seeing in the future along with what we should hopefully see. My aim here is to hold a lantern up to what was meant to be, what is and what will be, so when Adam posts up stuff on the Silver City and Campaigns of Death you are better educated and able to assess the direction things have taken and feed back accordingly. Adam is pretty good at reading through the comments on the Kickstarter and (at times) responds, so the hope is when the Lion God returns to focus on the Kickstarter y'all have the tools available to assess what he's showcasing and express pleasure or dislikes appropriately based on what you want to see.

Before we get into this, I have to drop a little disclaimer out, it is REALLY HARD to find information from APG/Adam these days. This is because Adam blurred the lines between the Kingdom Death kickstarter account and his own personal life, backing things for himself and his family via the official account - people noticed this and eventually he made the Kingdom Death account private. This compounds with his tendency to write things in the comments and then never cannonize them officially anywhere else - even his Twitter is easier to comb through than the mess that is the KS Comments, it would take a team to get everything he's written tracked down and logged these days. I find this frustrating, but Adam's always been finding his way, he's not a business manager by personality, he's a design lead and creative director. So things like this happen, hopefully less now that he is delegating more.

What this means is I can't track down everything, Adam's written throwaway lines like "[The Lion God] likes to collect them! ( the lanterns ) hehe." here and there about so many different things and they're buried in tens of thousands of comments on a site with navigation almost as bad as Patreon's. So you might find other official things, if you do please add them in the comments below and I'll take a look.

AHEAD ARE SPOILERS, BIG SPOILERS. FOR BOTH THE LION GOD, THE TYRANT AND OTHERS.

What was it Pitched as?

We will take the words from the lion's mouth itself here:

" The Lion God is both a monster your survivors can hunt and an upgrade for the White Lion monster that comes in the core game box. This expansion has a few new gameplay features including mixing some of the AI cards from both monsters to create unique challenges and a revenge mechanic, wherein if you kill too many of the God's younger kin ( making all those lion armor sets no doubt ) there is a chance the Lion God may roll up to your settlement to take you out!

Since most encounters with this legendary entity are so "high level" I felt it was important to add a bit more campaign depth and extend the life of the good ole White Lion. That way its not just pure boss content that only enduring campaigns get to mess around with."

So in essence, the Lion God's original pitch was a strain based Gigalion style monster, not a pure creation standing on its own, but a story based "punishment" for overhunting White Lions.

One could imagine it working under the current frameworks we have as a milestone tracker for slaying white lions with various points that might/would trigger the strain unlock, at which point the Lion God would turn up as a pseudo-nemesis monster and slap the settlement around a bit. That's an interesting concept, but it never came to fruition. So what did we get instead?

How the Lion God Manifested

As is often the case with things Adam works on, the Lion God was 'subject to change', in fact it experienced both shifts in its lore and changes in its mechanical design. It has never been publicly admitted, but from various stories about its creation and the final product it is clear that the Lion God was a troubled production.

However, the new lore that the Lion God holds is a significant improvement over the original pitch, I've written about the lore in the past, but I never really delved deeply into the Lion God and the Silver City because the very potential of the upcoming expansion means that the lore is up in the air. There is a tendency for the lore in the game to get shifted and changed when revisions/new expansions land (and the stuff Adam writes in the kickstarter comments might as well be non-cannon at times because it gets lost and forgotten about by almost everyone - kickstarter comments are a deep hole into which only the mad and optimistic scream).

Still, the Lion God's released lore, as contained in its expansion book, is a tantalizing and potentially wonderful look at a lost civilisation and what happens to its god when its people are broken and scattered to the winds.

"There was once a ruler that outlived their kingdom. As their body began to petrify, they were visited by a worm that offered them power in exchange for their memories. Now a mindless beast, silver oozes from its nails and warps its bones as it rages in the ruins of its city, always in pain.

The Lion God was once the ruler of the Silver City. Now, inhabited by a large parasite known as the Knowledge Worm, the ruler has taken on this monstrous form and stalks angrily through the abandoned streets of his city. "

-- Expansion Book opening "pitch"


"There once was a ruler who outlived their kingdom. As their body began to petrify, they were visited by a worm that offered them power in exchange for their memories. Now a mindless beast, silver oozes from its nails and warps its bones as it rages in the ruins of its city, always in pain." -- Showdown Lore

We also got some new terrain, the sinkhole which leads into the Necropolis (during the Lion God showdown, otherwise it is just a hole) and the Lion Statue, a sculpture of the Lion God with hieroglyphics written on them.

And here are the two pages from the various artifacts which can be found during the sinkhole event:

Those entries link to the Wailing Smoke, Lonely Tree, Butcher, Bone Witch and the Lion people themselves.

There are also other bits of lore scattered around in both blurbs and art, but there are gaps.

So what one can piece together about this all is as follows, and this is a combination of hard facts as printed plus educated speculation based on the clues which have been left scattered around.

We know that the Lion God was the ruler of the White Lion civilisation before it fell, the content for both the Lion God and the White Lions makes it very clear that the White Lions were once more than the sad, mindless beasts they have become now. The Lion Statue shows that the Lion God's current appearance is also the one that it held at the point where its civilisation stood tall. A civilisation with a lot of Egyptian influences to boot, they have Sphinxes, undertake embalming and more besides which I am sure we will get to explore when we get the Silver City.

We also know for a fact that the Lion God's civilisation was destroyed before the Knowledge Worm became part of the equation, that it was already sat, lost and mournful in the ruins of its land and it allowed the worm in to help stave off the petrification it was suffering. It traded its entire personality and the memories of its people away in exchange for survival. This is very similar to the Tyrant's goals, the Tyrant ultimately trades his life and the memories of his people in exchange for the survival of his people. While the Tyrant ultimately succeeds in reigniting his people and creating a new line of Dragon Kings, these Dragon Kings are savages, taught that might and strength is what matters and they are a poor echo of the originals. The Lion God's people are everywhere, reduced to predators in the Holy Lands and the Plain of Faces - used as pets by the Holy Land's Manhunters (who make an appearance in the hunt events for the Lion God).

Now where we move into speculation is trying to understand why the civilisation fell, which should be made clear in the Silver City, but there are some hints which we have already. In short, I believe that the culprit for this was no other than the Golden Entity and the Holy Lands. The two places hold a lot of parallels, the Lion God's lands are based around the 'silver' theme while the Golden Entity has taken one step further up and settled on a golden theme. There are clear signs of jealousy or imitation of the Silver City in the Holy Lands, much of the Holy Lands stuff includes strong lion motifs. The Lion Knights, the White Knights, even the mothers and grandmothers hold them - and many of the other creations demonstrate remnants of lion parts - the Forge God has a huge amount of similarities to the Lion God for example, they were both sculpted by the same artist, they have a similar 'hood' into which parts of them can be withdrawn, they have intestinal "leakage" and the Forge God's faces are straight up lion/penis hybrids.

You can see so much of the Lion in these creatures, it's very prominent in the art below:

Either the Golden Entities works were undertaken in jealous mimicry of the Lion God's civilisation or the people of the Silver City were the base material for the initial "cooked" designs - the Golden Entity bakes a large amount of its population from slaves captured by Manhunter "drones".

Personally I speculate that the Golden Entity is a small entity that jealously copied and destroyed the Silver City in order to cement its power and position in the world. It broke the People of the Silver City, humanoid Lions, and devolved them into the savages we see now. That is why they have "humanlike hands, a humanlike curiosity and sad faces". They were once a great people, but they have devolved, broken by the machinations of the Golden Entity and possibly the involvement of the "corrupter" - the entity responsible for polluting the Plain of Faces and harming the Gold Smoke Knight (the "elemental" who protects the lands in the Plain of Faces and has a Lion Motif itself). I still think that the Ethereal Dreamer is the main force responsible for the breaking of the Gold Smoke Knight's lands, but the Golden Entity would have helped if possible.

How the Lion God plays

The creation of the Lion God was almost certainly rushed and underbaked. Now, I am going to go into the specifics of the Lion God's mechanics next week, but I wanted to paraphrase a story that highlights why the Lion God is getting revised AI cards and an entire expansion dedicated to itself. This comes from Zachary Barash, the programmer/designer behind the Gold Smoke Knight, the Dragon King and the Manhunter (amongst others) - this is paraphrased from the stories he told and is a mix of both first and second hand information:

Adam was the lead designer for the Dung Beetle Knight (DBK), but there was a big problem with the expansion. The DBK would toss the dung ball at the start of the fight and then ignore it for the rest of the showdown, slapping the survivors about with normal attacks rather than making the ball important.

Zach B was brought on to take a look at the AI and see what he could do to fix this. He eventually removed a trait from the DBK and that created the space required to get the DBK interacting correctly with the ball, eventually it turned into the monster we all know, respect and love. One that you have to absolutely keep away from its ball at all costs.

The trait he removed? It was Relentless, a core mechanic printed on every single one of the Lion God's basic cards. In short, the Lion God's core mechanic came from a discarded DBK one. While I do applaud the recycling of a good mechanic (and the murdering of that mechanic on the DBK, great humility and insight there from Adam, Zach and the team in general) - it highlights the heart of the problem. The Lion God was built mechanically from a rejected trait, it didn't get its own theme, it is at its heart a DBK without a ball and when you look at it in that light, you can see it. The Lion God tosses all terrain around instead of one specific piece and while its personality is well expressed in the AI cards, it has a choppy, messy way of behaving, that sort of reflects its scattered, mindless nature. But you can see why it is getting new AI cards.

This AI issue, in combination with the lack of reasons to hunt the Lion God in the first place (no monster specific resources, no crafting location, most valuable rewards are with the L1) are at the heart of why we are getting the Silver City and the new "God Cards". While the lore for the Lion God benefited from the changes in the pitch, the mechanics did not.

Which leads us to the final question for this post.

The Silver City: What should we expect and demand for the Lion God's future?

We are currently in the world of 'where the heck is Wave 3' and the Silver City is left off in wave 4. But we are going to (hopefully) see some additions to the Lion God with Campaigns of Death. As information comes out, it is possible for us to shape things a little with feedback on the Kickstarter comments. You should, hopefully, be forming your own opinions on what the Lion God needs to thrive as a piece of Node 4 content, and I do not want to form your position to match my own. But here are some things I think we deserve to see (they may, or may not be coming).

  • A new HL Deck to support the God Cards AI deck

The God Cards deck is a great (if space unfriendly) idea which gives the "God" class monsters more room for flavour and mechanical text. However, I would posit that if the team are redesigning the AI cards they could do with revisiting the HL deck as well, overall the Lion God HL deck is disappointing and doesn't integrate well with the AI. The pitch mentions a HL Godly Disposition, but this is not clear if it is a trait or a full new HL deck. The latter would be the better option.

  • Craftable gear

The various things you find in the Fight and Necropolis are interesting thematically, but on the whole they are either very niche, underpowered or just not worth the effort of getting. If they revisited the HL deck, they could also create a Lion God specific resource deck (given that it is petrified this would be interesting) and instead of having the Circlet/Plate/Statue as automatic rewards they could be crafted from parts - we could also have additional gear that supplemented the themes of the original White Lion set. While we are seeing some narrative armor sculpts in the Silver City the normal experience will remain stagnant without something more on the rewards section; just think of what a Petrified White Lion Armor set or a Silver Lion Armor set would be like!

Now yes, not every monster needs to have craftable gear, but the Flower Knight, Lion Knight, Lonely Tree and Lion God have demonstrated the problems that expansions with little usable crafting gear have. Their engagement levels are a lot lower and the expansion ratings/sales figures suffer as a consequence.

  • Less cards like Woeful Majesty

Those (few) of you who who have played the showdown have encountered the delight that is this card, there is an entire, awful, metagame experience built around this card and it's pretty dumb. I'll write more about this next week, but essentially the trait is poorly worded and also creates this daft situation where the fight is made mostly meaningless. I can't stand the card, not because it's OP, but because it's very reductive in design.

God Slurp (see below) is more the kind of card I think is great, so based on one card the new AI design looks a lot better than the old one. However, it is a Basic card and it may well be for the L4 version of the Lion God (end of campaign)

  • More lore

This one is a guarantee, at the least we are going to get snippets of lore through the Silver City encounters and exploration. Interactions with new kinds of terrain, the encounter monsters and story/hunt/dungeon events will give us a lot of new things to understand. The big things though are more details about what the Lion people were like before they fell, and why they fell in the first place. But the God Card update promised more besides.

Where do we go now?

The future looks hopeful for the Lion God, but things are not going to change until we reach Wave 3's delivery (at a minimum) there is a lot to come before that happens, for European people the inevitable Brexit nonsense continues and that could have an impact with the sole distributor for KDM currently located on the dumbest island in the world. So until we get to see the future stuff we're stuck with the current iteration of the Lion God and next week I'll dish out the stuff I was saving for the Great Game Hunters episode.


Links:

1. Original Kickstarter Page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/poots/kingdom-death-monster/posts/378204

2. Lion God original expansion contents image: Link here

3. Side Options Price List: http://kingdomdeath.com/ks_images/side-options.jpg

4. Lion God Pitch image: Link Here

5. Lion Gods (Material): https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/poots/kingdom-death-monster/posts/1019246

6. Silver City Pitch: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/poots/kingdom-death-monster-15/posts/1776071

7. God Cards: Link here

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Comments (5)
user avatar
User #14725393 - 13 Dec 19 12:09
Love this kind of post 😱 However link to image arent working for me.
user avatar
FenPaints - 13 Dec 19 14:04
I checked on PC and mobile. All links work here.
user avatar
User #6933513 - 20 Dec 19 22:45
Awesome Articel. Great Series. Neat Idea. Like your approach very much. Love your style of writing, keep up the damn good work.
user avatar
User #12961868 - 16 Dec 19 10:20
Great article Fen! You always manage to create new perspectives on monsters and expansions for me so I get to understand everything what comes with it better.
user avatar
User #8762048 - 16 Dec 19 08:23
I rewatched the original kickstarter videos this weekend and saw a bit of the old nemesis system, which looked more like a chance base system, when they showed up. In the old system the pitch for the "Lion nemesis" made more sense than with the timeline based nemesis system.
A Visual Guide to the Screaming Antelope
A Visual Guide to the Screaming Antelopemore_vert
2019-12-06T11:00:00+00:00
A Visual Guide to the Screaming Antelope 2019-12-06T11:00:00+00:00close

Large version as attachment.

I will have to revisit this one when we get the Screaming Antelope updates, I've tried to reach out to Adam Poots Games so I can give them all the info on how the L1 Antelope can be drained of resources a few times, but I've not had much of a response at this point to any of the bug, breaks or meta issues - so we'll have to see if they fix it in the 2020 card pack they've announced.


Comments (1)
user avatar
User #14416508 - 6 Dec 19 11:17
Hi Fen, thank you, useful guide as always! :) [Great gear!] section: screaming brain > Brain Mint ; second heart > Speed Powder or am i wrong?
Strain Template for Photoshop
Strain Template for Photoshopmore_vert
2019-11-29T09:01:50+00:00
Strain Template for Photoshop 2019-11-29T09:01:50+00:00close

As attached, should be self explanatory for people with a reasonable experience with Photoshop to use. The strain icon isn't as clean as I would have liked but they have gone with a stylised custom version of a bacteriophage and rebuilding that image was troublesome.

It only looks rough at the very high resolution used on screen, it's harder to see the roughness at print level. I'm working on adding in the missing pattern icons now I have those cards and I'll write pieces on designing patterns and strains soon.

I don't have the time to do short custom content myself right now, but I can pass on what I know to others!


Media (1)


Strain_Example.png (19.4KiB)


Attachments (1)


Strain Template.psd (418.7KiB)

Marshlight Reviews: 10th Anniversary Survivors 2019-11-29T09:02:25+00:00

I have (finally) had a chance to get my hands on the full material for the 10th Anniversary Survivors and play a bit with the gear and the pattern system. At the point of writing this, they are sold out in the shop but if they come back for Black Friday's inevitable sale then I wanted to give as much information as possible on them while also giving my honest and critical opinion.

This set is what I class as a mini-expansion, it contains the following:

  • 4x "narrative sculpt" Survivor Miniatures representing the starting quartet 10 years on. Now dressed in mostly Leather armor with Lantern gear and the new Tempered Weapons from this mini-expansion
  • 1x Single Sheet Pattern Rules
  • 6x Pattern Cards
  • 8x Gear Cards (6 Unique, 2 Duplicates for Paired weapons)

I am still in the process of painting the models, I have Allister to complete, so I cannot share fully painted pictures at this time, what I have done so far is on my instagram over here.

I am going to look at these in the same way I did my review of Echoes of Death II.

1. The Miniature's Sculpts – For Hobbyists
2. The Miniature's Loadouts – For accurate and useful in game useage
3. The Pattern System - A look at the system as a whole, its concept and potential
4. The Individual Patterns and Gear - A look at how the pattern system has been applied here, assessing each piece of gear on balance, power and usefulness. Taking into account not just what you get, but how challenging it is to get in the first place.

Then we'll wrap it all up with a summary.

The Sculpts

I absolutely love all four of the sculpts for these models, it is fantastic to revisit these survivors a few lantern years down the line and see how they are managing, Lucy has suffered some traumatic experience and Erza has lost an eye, while Zachary has become almost barbaric and Allister is still a twat, but a bit less of one now, more a Draco Malfoy now rather than the Edward Cullen he was before.

Each model has one or two of the weapons from the new line of patterns (apart from Erza, who just has a meme) and the sculpt level on these is stupendous. They have fully sculpted, interesting bases, dynamic poses and Lucy has the best curly hair any model has had ever.

Removing these models from the sprue was relatively easy and it is only Allister's spear that was engineered a little too thin. I suspect it is going to break for many people, it lacks the heft that the King's Spear and similar have. This move towards thin, delicate pieces of plastic is not one that I applaud.

They continue to be in the new scale and that's great, though now it is clear that the original four models need to be revisited and tooled up because they look tired and lacking in detail when compared to the Role Survivors, Strain Survivors, Gigalion Survivors or these new ones.

When it came to painting, I found that everyone apart from Lucy required subassembly for access (where I put the model together, undercoat it and then pull it apart to paint). I recommend that you only lightly glue the following parts of the model if you intend to paint them. Arms, weapons and bases.

I think Lucy is easily the best sculpt, then Zachary, then Erza and finally Allister. Allister lacks a bit in the personality department, but the Plated Shield he carries is phenomenal.

Great sculpts, must have for any hobbyists.


The Loadouts

Each of the survivors is showcasing between one and two of the patterns, along with what APG considers to be a "Lantern Year 10" loadout. I took a long hard look at the gear they had and then built the loadouts in grid to see if they worked and if they were effective. If you are someone who wants to use WYSIWYG in game, this is quite important.

The loadouts are as follows (pattern stuff is in italics):

  • Zachary: Full Leather Armor + 2x Tempered Axes, Lantern Sword
  • Lucy: Full Leather Armor, Vault Key Earrings, 2x Tempered Daggers
  • Allister: Full Leather Armor, Plated Shield, Tempered Spear, Monster Grease
  • Erza: Partial Leather Armor, Lantern Greaves, Lantern Sword, Monster Tooth Necklace, Telcric Eye Tac

Zachary

Tempered Axes have no affinity requirements themselves and they provide and additional down red. In addition leather is a reasonable, if not optimal, armor type for an aggressive type, the use of these axes does not harm the most effective layout for Leather but the lantern sword on his back is quite useless. Also Tempered Axes are best used unpaired, so dual wielding them is not ideal and this means that Zach's model has 2 unwanted weapons sculpted onto it.

This loadout is inefficient, but it can work. It is most likely that this one will be a proxy rather than an accurate representation, you'll normally ignore the Lantern Sword and possibly one of the axes.

B-

Lucy

Full Leather Armor is again not ideal for the style that dual tempered daggers require, and also the Tempered Dagger's down blue is not hyper efficient for activating a Lucky Charm - which would synergize with the ability of the Tempered Daggers. However this is a build that you can make work, but you will likely ignore that she has the Vault Key Earrings equipped because that is one too many pieces of gear. I think that this is not an issue at all and outside of the armor she is wearing (Rawhide, Dancer, Dragon orCycloid Scale are all better choices).

As you can easily get away with pretending that Leather = Rawhide, this one I think is fine. Likewise the Tempered Daggers get better when wielded in a pair, so there is nothing I consider to be too sub-optimal about this one.

A+

Allister

The loadout itself is fine in theory, spear + shield and monster grease in leather armor is one direction you can take your tank in if you desire. However, the Tempered Spear and Plated Shield do not really play well together on the same character, both ask to be used as your main weapon and compete hard. Especially around the time you have Leather in general use.

This becomes stronger when you have Spear and Shield Mastery in the settlement already, but

The other issue here is that Leather Armor is not the most conducive armor set to getting the Tempered Spear active. I'll show you with an example of how Leather Armor would fit into this:

As you can see, we can get the Reds online without much issue, but the Blues are another story. Left blue in particular isn't something that's easily done without either jaming the Lucky Charm or reaching into expansions - Right Blue has more options, but precious few of them are both easy to get and useful. We've also sacrificed the incredible 3x Green lineup of the Bracers -> Boots -> Monster Grease + Leather Skirt -> Leather Shield. So a lot of the strengths of Leather are being forfeited here.

It's usable, but there is a lot of compromise here and in KDM where things can be so powerful, usable often doesn't cut it. Leather would be better with CW-Axe or Zanbato and the Tempered Spear is better on other armor sets.

C-


Erza

Erza has an interesting loadout, but ultimately it doesn't quite cut it because of the weapon choice. She's got Leather on all locations except the legs which are the Lantern Greaves. Now here is the layout.

(Cat's Eye Circlet is actually a flex slot, I have just put it here to demonstrate the mirror nature of the Telcirc meme)

The good stuff here is that we have active Lantern Greaves and an active Monster Tooth Necklace. With also the ability to fit anything we want in the last slot. The bad stuff (apart from the Telcirc itself which we will discuss in the next section) is the choice of weapon - the Lantern Sword without a Rainbow Wing Belt (DBK) to negate Early Iron, is an awful weapon. It has an ~28% chance of completely missing each time you attack. It gets better when oxidized, but it is a low priority target for that process because it's not a Beacon shield, Ring Whip or Lantern Glaive. So, Lantern Swords are luxury weapons for the really rich and hipsters.

This is, of course, in keeping with Erza's personality as an idiot, which is why she has the Telcirc in the first place. So I appreciate the dedication to the meme, even if it does mean that she has the weakest loadout of them all.

D-


The Pattern System

Let us get the negative quality point out of the way first, because most of what I have to write here is very positive. The rule sheet for this system is shoddy, it feels cheap, it is frail and it is easily lost. When you look at the rulebook which comes with the 10th Anniversary White Speaker the difference in quality is noticeable. Shame, but lets move on.

The Pattern System we have here is a prototype of the version which will come in the future, it's a sneak peak and therefore it doesn't represent the full picture. So bare that in mind, but I will be judging it based on its current iteration, just like I did with the strain system.

At the start of the campaign, you generate your pattern deck by eliminating all the pattern cards you have that reference monsters not used in the campaign and then mixing up the remaining cards to create the deck.

There is immediately an issue here, because we get no explanation of what to do if somehow you own more than one set of the same pattern cards. Pattern Cards are not set as unique, and while this might seem like a nitpicky thing, but the fact is that many people who get replacement cards will end up with multiple sets of these pattern cards. The rules make it clear that you are limited to how many gear cards you can craft per pattern card, but not what happens if you own multiples of the same pattern. This is the same problem we have with the Ancient Root and Scoopy Club and it's a typical example of the lack of care and attention that these "promo" items get. They never seem to be quality tested to the level one would expect from a premium, boutique company.

Each pattern card has a lot of information on it, it shows you what the item is, its crafting number (they're negatives in this case to represent the "promo" nature of these gear cards), the required resources to be spent, the list of other things which are used in the process, some flavor text about the process and a Crafting Limit.

This last one creates another rules issue, I'll quote the text:

Crafting Limit: The maximum number of gear that can be made from this pattern.

So the issue here is what happens if that piece of gear gets archived? It seems that the pattern just sits there and you can't make a new one, but that's not clear, usually if something is limited to once per timeline it says so. This is how the system was set in the past with the White Speaker 'Wares for Trade' promo rules. So we're left ??? about what the intention here is. If I trade in my Telcirc for some Blacksmith Gear can I craft a new one or is that pattern going to just sit there? This compounds with the point above, because we don't know if we can have two of the same pattern in the deck, and if so what happens then. It's a bit of a mess that could have been cleaned up with just a sentence or two.

Patterns are gained when a survivor first hits Insight (as per the keywords on the patterns), this in itself has two troublesome spots. First of all, we already have a campaign where survivors never get Insight, specifically People of the Stars, where survivors become Awake instead. This can be fixed with a house rule, but we are again left in the dark if it is intentional that Stars doesn't get patterns or not. This could have been avoided if it said 'When a survivor reaches 3 Understanding, the sudden shift in perspective is accompanied by a new idea.' That not only fixes stars, but it future proofs against all situations unless you end up with a campaign that doesn't have understanding as a mechanic at all.

For the moment you are going to have to decide yourselves if they are allowed in Stars or not. The exact wording we see here says no, which is a shame because there are no 'awake' specific patterns.

Secondly, the other issue is a little more hidden. This is triggering on Insight, which is a nice thematic mechanic. But you're going to deplete the pattern deck far faster than the designers intended. Even with more patterns one can shred every single pattern out fairly fast by making babies. This is because of an innovation and a princple.

These are two premium, high pick cards anyway, you want them regardless. And when you have them with the pattern system they result in insight as soon as the baby is born. Boom, free pattern.

Get yer baby, comes with its own unique crafting recipe!

This could have been limited with a second change to the wording:

'When a survivor reaches 4 Understanding, the sudden shift in perspective is accompanied by a new idea.'

With this, you would have to at least get out and hunt or augury and spend a resource to hit that pattern.

We'll have to see what happens when the full system is released, but I find the system dolling out patterns for babies if you pick one desirable principle and a powerful, desirable innovation (in the best innovation tree no less) to be somewhat problematic.

Outside of these issues I think the Pattern System represents the best way to introduce new gear we've seen in a long time. It allows for cross expansion gear, inbuilt limitations on numbers, variable difficulty in crafting and more besides. As we'll see below, this system if applied correctly can result in amazing thematic journeys and exciting ways of mitigating bad stuff.

Overall the Pattern Rules are a positive addition to this game, they just needed more time in the oven at the play testing stage.


The Individual Patterns

So, as you should all be very aware of a this time, the quality that these cards were released in was laughable. They are printed on worse card stock than usual and cut inconsistently, not just with the other stuff made so far, but with each other. I have cards with only 3 corners cut and not a single card is the same size as the others. In addition the card surfaces were torn when cut, which is caused by the cutter being blunt. In short, makeplayingcards.com makes better cards than these, which is kind of shocking.

Now yes, APG is replacing these items, but that is absolutely the least that they could do, in fact it is what they are obligated to do, so they should get zero credit for this. These items went through their internal stocking before being shipped out; quality should have been checked there and these obvious defects noticed for the manufacturer to correct before being released. This should not have happened in the first place, it feels like either the quality control was not done, was sloppily handled or someone made the decision to just send this stuff out 'as is' and 'maybe they won't complain'. We'll never know, but none of those reasons give a sense of comfort.

You can get replacements if you contact support and get added to the list for them, and hopefully the next project like this does not fall to such a low standard. APG lists themselves as being boutique, they have not achieved that level here, not even close.

That written, lets look at the individual patterns, the process involved in making them and the gear that results from it.

Plated Shield

All of the crafting elements used here are reasonable costs, from both a thematic and a balance point. You're spending an organ and 3x scrap, plus using some Stone Noses and needing Metal Arm Armor to do this. The last point is a big one, the metal arm requirement means that this gear needs Phoenix, Lantern or Dragon arms to get it constructed. That is an excellent gate to lock this shield behind because it is absolutely an improvement over the Leather Shield and it would be too strong for the early portions of the game. You're not just rushing the Leather Worker + Ammonia to make this, you're going to have to stock some iron, get to the Blacksmith or go beat the Phoenix/Dragon king and craft their arm pieces (both of which are not the best parts of the armor and normally you'd leave them till last).

It has Deflect 1 and Sharp (when it has the Deflect token), which makes it both strong offensively and defensively, but it is still low speed and relatively inaccurate. These two negatives combined with the Frail drawback keep this weapon balanced for its cost. It is a great shield, one of the best and it is wonderful that we have a step between the Leather Shield and the Beacon Shield here that is worth taking (Feather Shield is Immortals only and Blast Shield is a sideways option from the Leather one, not an improvement).

I like the Plated Shield a lot, it is a great piece and well designed.

Tempered Axe (2x from one pattern)

One of the only drawbacks of the Bone Axe is the poor return on investment it represents. The cost of 1x bone and 1x organ represented too much for an item that would be discarded back to the settlement storage for eternity, hanging on the wall and reminiscing of times gone by.

With the advent of the Tempered Axe this era has passed, when you draw this pattern your bone axes can have new life as one of the most powerful members of the axe meta since the Counterweighted Axe turned up. This weapon is absurdly powerful and easy to get, requiring just Ammonia and Scrap Smelting as its boundaries, two things which are picked up almost all the time early on by settlements.

The power level of the axe is also very high, in the hands of an axe specialist this weapon essentially has sharp when you need it most along with a great statline for the mid game. This weapon is a late game weapon turning up in the early mid game and that is a problem for the power levels of the survivors in this game. You are going to pick this axe up 100% of the time you can, because it surpasses most other options available at that time and many that come later. You could make an argument that this weapon is better than the Lantern Glaive and I wouldn't say you're wrong.

Finally, this weapon has counter intuitive design on paired, you are punished for using this paired because it is at it's best with lower speed so the "safety" ability doesn't get spread too thin. Having Sharp on a reroll for 1 of 2 attack dice is powerful, having it on 1 of 4 is not so much. So this discourages people to use it paired and instead you will typically find it being used in a single by one survivor or two different survivors.

This weapon is not well designed and I consider it to be a misstep, axes did not need this level of pushing, they were already in the top portion of offensive weapons, especially in the late game.

Tempered Daggers

In contrast to the Tempered Axe, I feel that the Tempered Daggers are great and a welcome addition to the game. The Tempered Daggers move into a space where there was no good options before. Previously in the mid game one was using sub-optimal daggers on Cycloid Scale/Dragon or Phoenix Armor to try and get around the awful levels of strength.

The Tempered Daggers instead give us a luck based dagger to use and they allow for some incredible power. This is what rewarding paired looks like, all those extra locations drawn can potentially become a big pile of luck to help generate that extra resource or cripple that monster location. This weapon rewards thoughtful use and doesn't overly punish a user for high speed. I have used this one with the 6 speed paired on a Dagger specialist and it felt really great.

The crafting recipe is also just right for the weapon's power, it's costly, especially when you are making two of them, but the unlocks are the correct level for the weapon's potency. While you can scale this one into the late game, you're only going to be doing it with the aid of external strength gains.

Also It's probably not the case that I'm being called out, but I did chuckle at the fact that 'A disgruntled aesthete complaining about Scrap Dagger design' was an exact description of myself and my public position on the Scrap Daggers.

Tempered Spear

I am on the fence with this one, the crafting receipt is very simple and the costs are reasonable, which means that this weapon will turn up fairly early. Also the affinity requirements are hard to achieve and the weapon's statline is not overpowered in isolation.

However, on the Cycloid Scale Armor, Blue Charm, Trapper build this item is absolutely insane. Yes, it is only +1 to your chances of reshuffling the trap, but that is a 20% increase in relative power of that ability (5/10 to 6/10 is a 20% increase) and that means 3 in 5 situations you are stopping that trap card instead of 1 in 2.

Also Cycloid Scale gives the spear sharp, which means it scales into the late game and never leaves your hunt party. Dragon or Phoenix armor also have strong impacts with the power level of this weapon, but it is at least harder to activate in their cases and requires some compromises (and no Blue Charm).

Outside of Cycloid, the spear is relatively fair. So this one is going to vary with power depending on monsters and circumstance.

Telcric Eye Tac

Note: This is the only monster specific pattern in the set. It requires the White Lion, a lot.

This item is a meme from start to finish. The name is literally "Cat Eye Circlet" in reverse and the item does exactly that. Instead of scouting the monster's hit location deck it "scouts" your own hit locations and gives you the ability to force the monster to hit one of three locations you have rolled.

This is a bad version of Silk Armor and Crossarm Block, neither of which are the kind of things that people are breaking down the doors for. On top of that the crafting recipe requires a Cat Eye Circlet, Golden Whiskers and a Sinew. All of which are premium resources used to craft amazing gear from the White Lion.

I'm not going to waste much time on this, the item is a meme, the ability is bad (mostly because you have to activate it) and the cost to make this item is too high, no-one is sacrificing their first Cat Eye Circlet to make this, and probably not even their second one.

I hope one day to be proven wrong, but so far I have found no use for this item and always would prefer something else to be in the slot it is taking up. Left blue affinity is rather rare though, so it has one use! 🤣 🤣

Vault Key Earrings

I am not going to beat around the bush here, as I discussed on the Discord before, the Vault Key Earrings represent the very peak of what the Pattern system could and should be doing. This item is perfection itself in representing what it is doing mechanically and as a story.

You cannot make this item without having a survivor who has Fear of the Dark, they are basically useless in the campaign at this point, unable to go out and hunt. However with the addition of some relatively common resources (Plus a Cyclops Fly) you can create an item which allows them to get out there and hunt again, giving them the chance to remove their Fear of the Dark for good, or complete their weapon proficiency journey.

On top of that, once they are done with hunting you have mitigation for one awful disorder in your hunt party whenever you need it, and it comes with a premium right green affinity to boot (great for monster grease or the Phoenix Placart left greens).

Everything about this item is perfect, it is situational, but incredible in that situation and it can help mitigate the early retirement of a survivor, something that often can cause people to lose heart in playing and move on to a different game or campaign.

This, this is what pattern designs should aspire to be.


Summary

The pattern system as a whole is a marvelous addition to the Kingdom Death repertoire, it is a great space for the game to expand on current expansion content without having to make major new releases and it has been done in a way that integrates into the core campaign well. In principle this expansion is phenomenal, however when you get into the individual elements there are concerning lapses in the rules and some of the gear design is either too pushed or laughable. This is a common pattern with the more recent releases, most of them feel like they are being squeezed out between crunch sessions. The delays to wave 3 and 4 are causing these things to not get tested enough and we're getting grey areas in the rules that don't need to be there or items that are either useless or too good.

I wouldn't consider this one to be an essential purchase for the casual gamer because of the $60 price tag, but for a hobbyist or collector there is plenty here to enjoy.


Giveaway

Finally, a giveaway!

I have a spare set of the Pattern Cards, associated gear and rules to give away to someone who missed out on getting this set when it was out. They are miscut (as are all of these originals) and the rules were lightly mangled by the printer, but you can have them just by entering below!

Rules:

  • You must be a patron (any tier)
  • Please enter if you were unable to get/afford the 10th anniversary set, do not enter if you already have it, there is no benefit to having two sets as patterns are limited in construction.
  • I will be sending them in the post in a padded envelope to you, they will not be tracked unless you want to pay extra for that.
  • The miniatures are NOT included.
  • Drawing will be done by one of my mods next Friday so you have a week to enter. We will contact the winner via direct message here to get your address.
  • As noted above, they are not pristine, almost no-one got pristine cards from this.
  • The entry phrase is a comment below that says 'I have a pattern for success!'

Good luck!


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Comments (22)
user avatar
User #14130562 - 29 Nov 19 18:39
I have a pattern for success!
user avatar
User #14790557 - 29 Nov 19 09:40
I have a pattern for success!
user avatar
User #26004439 - 29 Nov 19 15:58
I have a pattern for success!
user avatar
User #26004439 - 29 Nov 19 15:59
Will you be making the pattern card "blank" available for homemade items... I would love to tackle this during the holydays.
user avatar
FenPaints - 29 Nov 19 16:19
Yes.
user avatar
User #14725393 - 29 Nov 19 11:25
Wait a moment. I have both 10th anniversary but I dont have rules for pattern. Are those rules included in octoberfest too? I have yet to receive that one. Edit: found those. Got stuck in the box.
user avatar
FenPaints - 29 Nov 19 11:26
They were included in the 10th anniversary box. You should contact support@kingdomdeath.com about this
user avatar
User #8867674 - 29 Nov 19 14:00
I have a pattern for success!
user avatar
User #12961868 - 29 Nov 19 11:17
Excellent & extensive review again Fen! Cheers! (I received 10th Anniversary Survivors about a month ago.)
user avatar
User #10020678 - 29 Nov 19 09:09
I have a pattern for success!
user avatar
User #8429962 - 29 Nov 19 09:36
I have a pattern for success!
user avatar
User #19208819 - 29 Nov 19 09:49
I have a pattern for success!
user avatar
User #7204196 - 29 Nov 19 18:12
I have a pattern for success!
user avatar
User #2842315 - 29 Nov 19 09:39
I have a pattern for success!
user avatar
User #472004 - 29 Nov 19 12:31
I have a pattern for success!'
user avatar
User #3806001 - 29 Nov 19 18:26
Also, I goddamn love those bird drawings. Use them forever please.
user avatar
User #10074434 - 29 Nov 19 12:20
I have a pattern for success!
user avatar
User #6578168 - 29 Nov 19 12:21
I have a pattern for success!
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User #16411991 - 29 Nov 19 15:23
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Purchasing Priority for the Newer Player - White Boxes 2019-11-08T11:29:50+00:00

Note: Second Half of Designer's Diary on early game weapons to come next friday. I want to be certain this information is all out there with as much time to spare as possible before Black Friday hits.

This section will cover all the various small White Box releases, including Echoes of Death and the 10th Anniversary options, but excluding the Gigalion which we looked at in the previous entry over here. Spoilers, it got last place in the purchase priority order for anyone who is just looking for campaign content (it's higher if you want a solo session KDM game to give people a taste).

White Boxes cover a bunch of mini and micro expansions which tend to cost either $25 or ~$60. Mini-expansions are a single miniature with one single piece of game content (normally around 1-5 cards), while Micro-Expansions have multiple models and slightly more robust game content (but not much more). A lot of the price increase between a mini and a micro expansion is the additional miniatures, not the game content.

When it comes to game content, all White Boxes are very specific and narrow in their focus. They almost always cover one small subset area of the game and while that change can often be small it does sometimes impact on the strategy and your experience of the game.

I will be listing these in no particular order, because some of them are seasonal and/or hard to get. Because these expansions are all small in scope, I am not going to break the entries up into subcategories the way I did with the main expansions, but I will note when an expansion adds a surprising amount of breadth or depth to the game.

I cannot cover the following items because I have not had a chance to see the game content in full: Oktoberfest Aya, Halloween White Speaker, 10th Anniversary White Speaker. If I have missed any of the others, because there is a HUGE amount of them, please let me know and I'll add the entry. Also, apologies for typos or missing lines, it is a nightmare laying this out in the Patreon editor because there is no preview button. :(

Before we start, here are the ones with the most bang for your buck:

  • Ringtail Vixen
  • Fade
  • Before the Wall
  • White Speaker
  • White Speaker Sword Hunter
  • 10th Anniversary Survivors
  • Till Death Do Us Part
  • Percival
  • Allison, Twilight Knight

And while they are more expensive, the following expansions have high quality game content.

  • Pinups of Death I
  • Holiday White Speaker Nico
  • Holiday Pinup Twilight Knight

In no particular order; onto the mini-reviews!


1. White Speaker

Contains: White Speaker model, White Speaker Cult Knife & Bloodskin Gear, "Wares for Trade" Sticker to Modify the White Speaker event from the core game.

The White Speaker Cult Knife is one of the most important Daggers in the entire game alongside the Acid-Tooth Dagger (Gorm) and the Hooked Claw Knife (Gigalion) as it provides decent dagger progression into the late game. It also fuels a number of different powerful strategies. However, the addition of the keyword 'Fist & Tooth' to this weapon means that it is normally used instead as a way of leveling up that mastery. Some people find this to be 'Overpowered' or 'Broken' but personally I welcome any tool that shortens the chore of getting F&T mastered.

The Bloodskin is one of the few alternatives to Bandages for a way of removing bleed tokens and with its up and down green affinities it also has numerous areas where it can help with a build that is trying to get Monster Grease activated.

In both cases these items are not that cheap to get, the cost on the Dagger in particular is somewhat prohibitive for the early game and Storytelling is a weak, high tech level innovation in the core game. So I find this one to be an interesting addition, especially for players who are fans of Daggers.

On the whole, this one is an easy pick up for anyone who wants to expand their options, as it bolsters an innovation, a weapon type anda gives solid support gear that finally provides some other way of handling bleed outside of 'Just Bandages 4Head'.


2. Allison the Twilight Knight

Contains: Allison model, "Tattered Parcel" Sticker for the Hooded Knight Event, Blue Lantern, Dormant Twilight Cloak

This mini-expansion exists only to make the Hooded Knight event from (mostly) People of the Lantern a bit less punishing. I will warn you now that it fails on that due to one key omission, the Hooded Knight still forces the Twilight Sword onto your most experienced survivor, who is (unless you meta game the situation 🤢 🤮) your survivor with your highest weapon proficiency. This is the key reason why the Hooded Knight stinks and it is not addressed here.

What you get instead is a gear item which provides a way for new survivors to get around the Sentient keyword on the Twilight Sword (which does help a bit) and a solid and unique style of Lantern that is held back by being cursed, so you tend to hold onto it in storage until you get into the end game of PotLantern.

This one does help with People of the Lantern and sometimes the other campaigns when they get given a Twilight Sword via a hunt event, also the model can be used to represent the survivor who has the gear (as long as they are female, which they should be, hard pass on male hunters thank you very much).

I have this one, but I don't use it very often. Your mileage may vary.


3. Before the Wall

Contains: Aya model in Vagabond Armor, Tabard gear, White Dragon Gauntlets gear, Vagabond Armor set bonus card.

One of the most powerful entries in this entire list, Vagabond armor holds the most broken, easy to achieve combination in the game with the Vagabond Armor set unlocking the "true potential" of the Black Sword as long as you are not a Barbaric society. Something which is signaled as being 'as intended' by the very weapon that Aya is wielding (a Black Sword).

On top of that, even without the Gorm expansion, this armor set is strong, providing a huge boost in power to every single sword in the game and making training up sword proficiency a lot easier than the norm. The Tabard, when used in multiples for a romantic society (best society even without Vagabond armor anyway) creates situations where encourage gets an immediate survival "refund" chain running.

Currently the White Dragon Gauntlets have no way of being crafted, they are assumed to be involved with a future expansion, but Adam has confessed that he has no idea what that will be, when or even if. It was just a cool idea he made up at the time (something that happens a lot). The Tabard is craftable, it uses starting cloth as part of its recipe.

You get a usable miniature, strong gear and a nice, super powerful armor set that is just a variant leather set. This one is a must have, though you might get tired of seeing it all the time.


4. Beyond the Wall

Contains: Aya vignette miniature (unusable in game without modification), Hard Breastplate gear & Cloth Leggings Gear.

While this is the "other half" of the Vagabond set, you have no obligation to purchase it because Before the Wall contains everything you need to use Vagabond Armor. Beyond the Wall just has a few extra variant options for Vagabond/Leather and an ok accessory.

You don't need this one, it's expensive for two pieces of optional gear and a miniature that is not on a standard base size. Leave it for the fanatics and hobbyists.


5. Pinup Warrior of the Sun

Contains: Warrior of the Sun miniature, Prismatic Lantern Promo Gear.

A small expansion even for mini standards that comes with a very powerful lantern. The ability to sacrifice this Prismatic lantern to gain 1 permanent affinity of an colour cannot be underestimated. This is an affinity that often you can only get via the Swamp and it helps enable a whole bunch of builds that have to use filler affinity gear most of the time.

If you do want to use this, I recommend following the house rules I suggest down in the Sci-Fi Twilight Knight section, in particular make sure that this is a once per timeline craft as it is the archive part of this gear that makes it so strong.

One for hobbyists in particular, but if you love People of the Sun you will get good use out of the model.


6. Pinup Wet Nurse

Contains: Wet Nurse Pinup Model, Nightmare Breast Pump

There is not in game way to add the Nightmare Breast Pump to your game and this one is strictly a blue back promo. I do feel that it is also important to highlight that, while Breast Pumps are not an offensive item at all, and breast feeding is likewise not something that people should take offense at.

The entire affair here in this specific case though does lack some dignity and may not be for everyone. The Nightmare Breast Pump is a poor taste creation, which seems to be doubling down on the controversy that the original Wet Nurse started anyway.

Meh-chanically the NBP is not very good anyway (which is fine for promo gear), it has multiple problematic keywords (fragile, noisy) and abilities (sentient, irreplaceable) while also compounding the 'female hunters are the best hunters' issue even further. But I do think that the mechanical idea of gear that you take out and gain benefit from only when you return to the settlement is a very strong one that needs more exploration.

Hard pass on this one except for the fanatics and hobbyists.


7. Detective Twilight Knight

Contains: Detective Twilight Knight miniature, Detective Cap gear, Twilight Revolver gear.

Another clear entry in the 'promo only, just for fun' line, none of the gear here fits the theme of the game at all. There is no usable game content and I would recommend strongly against integrating these into your games because of numerous balance issues.

The Detective Gap is relatively underpowered, it is not something you would use at all and it has even been incorrectly designed with the 'accessory' ability stuck into the keywords instead of above the rule text which is where it should be. It's also got the armor keyword, which means that it follows armor rules (replacing any head armor), and that runs counter to the addition of the word accessory. It's an example of inconsistency in card design and muddying of mechanics which often creeps into these things. Just don't worry about it.

The Twilight Revolver is the opposite, it is a bananas creation which is hugely overpowered and campaign distorting with ridiculous strength and a crazy 'fan the hammer' ability once per showdown. It is fun to play as McCree, but his gun is too strong for this world.

I would leave this one for some fun future scenario. Hard pass.


8. Pinup Order Knight

Contains: Pinup Order Knight, Twilight Thong

Another 'just for fun' promo, this one is amongst the more balanced options, it is in essence a replacement for the Rawhide Pants as it has rawhide + outfit and mechanically it is on the strong side, but not overpowered. Be warned that, just like the Pinup Wet Nurse gear, this one might raise some eyebrows and be considered not suitable for all, but it doesn't expressly spell out what is happening.

If you wanted to integrate this one, I'd recommend having it be a skinnery location gear that requires Ammonia and uses 1x cloth, 1x rawhide. This is because it has a stronger overall suit of abilities than the Rawhide Pants.

Not essential, bit risque.But more balanced than many of the pure blue back promo options.


9. Halloween Pinup Twilight Knight - Halloween Holiday only

Contains: Halloween Themed Allison, Jack O' Lantern gear card.

So the Jack I' Lantern is a craftable, consumable lantern item for the late game in People of the Lantern. That's about all the positive you can say for it. It lacks affinities and the ability it has triggers on the death of another survivor. Stuff that triggers when another survivor dies in the hunt/showdown are very low in utility and desirability. They need to be obscenely powerful to compensate for an increased chance of a total party wipe happening. Spoilers, the Jack O' Lantern isn't it.

If it had affinities, so it could do other things, we'd be in business.

Pass on this one.


10. 10th Anniversary Survivors - Sold Out currently

Contains: 4 models in various mid game gear, 6 patterns that allow you to craft 6 different gear cards (8 cards total). 2 Paired Axes, 2 Paired Daggers, 1 Spear, 1 Shield and some support gear.

I am going to be writing about this set in full soon, but the short version is that I feel it is a problematic creation that needed more time in the testing lab. The Tempered Daggers, Shield and Vault Key Earrings represent great, balanced design. The Spear and Axes are strong to ridiculously overpowered and the Circlet is a highly situational meme that's almost a joke card (Trust Erza the Idiot to be wearing it, she's always been the settlement idiot of the four starting survivors in the art).

However, this one does represent very solid value for money with four great models that have usable gear equipped and a few pattern cards that add to the game without handing out too much power. I'd get it when you can but be cautious about adding in the Axes in particular, they are O B S C E N E monsters with (current) end game power levels.

Get it, but with great power comes great comes great responsibility.


11. Halloween Satan - Halloween Only

Contains: 1x 54mm Stan on a Pumpkin filled with phalluses, 1x 32mm Stanley with Hope Stealer, 1x extra Hope Stealer plastic, 1x Hope Stealer card.

So while this is one of my absolute favourite miniature pairs, the Stans themselves are the best part of the content. The Hope Stealer is an extremely problematic piece of gear, when it is first collected, it will kill whoever managed to get it (they will be high courage) and replaces the Adventure Sword when it happens. That feels really bad in the first place because losing a great survivor on the hunt sucks and the Adventure Sword is fun content that's hard enough to get as it is.

However, when you have it, the Hope Stealer turns into the ultimate 'red shirt' monster killing weapon. Good settlements in Kingdom Death have a high death count anyway because of how you should turn useless survivors into corpses to generate endeavors via Graves (which can then be used to make better survivors or other benefits). So often this spear climbs up to astronomical levels of strength and all you need to make it really good is Screaming Armor + Spear Mastery in the settlement.

It also causes mechanical issues when the last survivor alive is the one with the Hope Stealer. You get another one of those 'Victory with no living survivor' moments that Spidicules causes via taken or the Dragon King can cause with his Radiant Core. Currently Kingdom Death has no rules to cover this situation, one can hope that the Scout of Death rules covers this area.

As much as I love this incarnation of the Stans, this is a hard pass micro-expansion when it comes to game content considerations. Not only does it partially exclude rare, fun content, in the adventure sword, but it also provides a rather broken piece of gear in exchange.


12. Percival

Contains: Percival 'Old Stumpy' miniature, 1x Hunt Card where you encounter her long dead corpse and the Black Guard Style Secret Fighting Art.

The Percival model is the main reason why people love this so much, there is no argument that Stumpy is one of the most beautiful miniatures in the game, sadly she is wearing and using gear that survivors will never craft, so she's one for display only right now. I am hopeful that she'll become more useful when the Black Knight is released (hopefully the craftable Black Knight gear includes stuff similar to hers at the top level).

The event has the survivors encountering her dead body (we know it's her because of the one hand and other lore information elsewhere), and you can learn the Black Guard SFA if you have Pictographs.

Black Guard is not a very good SFA overall, but it is still one of the better sword based fighting arts out there and it has a very good 'succession' ability that I think should be on more SFAs in general.

Has more hype than she deserves, this is an okay expansion, but no-where near as good as the best ones in this list. Get it if you really love the model, or if you have some spare cash after picking up the best ones.


13. Fade

Contains: Fade miniature, Hunt Card, Newborn & Sword of Silence Gear cards.

This one is the peak of what a good white box should represent. It is a top level hunt event card (one that goes in with the basic hunt event cards) and it represents interesting, difficult choices at almost all times.

When you encounter the Baby and the Sword you will have to decide if you are going to risk one of the most dangerous hunt events in the game in order to get some additional population (if you manage to bring that heavy, fragile child back from the showdown safely) or a very strong sword.

Even if you do take the sword, it has considerable (thematic) downsides to balance its power. Disabling one of the powerful events survivors use for leveling.

One of the best mini-expansions released so far, get it when you can.


14. White Speaker Sword Hunter

Contains: Sword Hunter Settlement Event, Sword Hunter White Speaker miniature, Sword in the Stone Hunt Event, Excalibur sword gear card.

This one is up there amongst some of the best additional content I have experienced from mini-expansions. There are some genuine feelsbad moments that can happen, especially if the forced pull kills a survivor, you have made the "mistake" of having an experienced survivor carrying Excalibur or if the Sword Hunter when she turns up steals an essential sword. However, I forgive all of this (somewhat, death on the hunt mechanics are still ass) because of how well it tells a complete story and encourages the use of a less popular weapon type (swords). More than most mini-expansions, you are going to want to make use of Otherworldly Luck when this Sword Hunter is involved.

Good, almost great. Can cause some upsets because of forced involvement in automatic death without any way to mitigate/avoid it, but it tells a great story and is often nothing but fun.


15. Easter Aya - Spring/Easter Only

Contains: 54mm Aya, Small Easter Aya, 3x plastic Ancient Root armor kit gear pieces, 1x display giant ancient root (like the giant masks in the core game), 1x ancient root gear card.

NOTE: REQUIRES THE DUNG BEETLE KNIGHT EXPANSION TO USE

So you are picking this one up for the Ancient Root if you want game content and to be honest, it is not a very good deal. The Ancient Root is spawned by the Black Harvest timeline event, which is a Dung Beetle Knight only occurrence.

In addition to this pre-requisite (which should be posted on the shop page if it is not), the ancient root is a hugely powerful piece of defensive gear. It's absolutely insane how strong it is.

Also, there is no limit to the number of these you can spawn when you trigger the event except for the number of cards you own. See my comments on the Scoopy Club for more information about why this is not the best design.

Another non-essential item, this one brings a lot of power with little difficulty in getting it. Only for people with the Dung Beetle Knight expansion who also have money to burn.


16. Holiday Santa Stan (Satan) - Winter Holiday Only

Contains: 2 Stan miniatures as pictured, a Cube of Atnas resource card and a Strain Card to unlock it.

THIS REQUIRES THE FLOWER KNIGHT EXPANSION TO WORK.

So when you achieve the strain unlock via the Flower Knight Quarry only Timeline Event Necrotoxic Mistletoe then you will permanently get the Cube of Atnas basic resource shuffled into your basic resource deck.

In addition to having a hard requirement for the Flower Knight, the Cube of Atnas is mechanically a problematic thing. Here is the text in full so you can make an informed decision.

So the wording on this one is pretty awkward, it is clear that this trigger is only intended to occur once, and that is how you should play it (+1 Population each settlement phase). But, the way that the mechanics in KDM are designed; each and every single cube would trigger when you are at 5+ Cubes and strictly speaking this would result in +X Population where X is your total number of cubes. This could have been avoided with the text 'Limit once per lantern year'.

This kind of thing is endemic across the "promo range" they seem to often be rejected or rushed designs that are put out because someone liked them but didn't take the time to quality assurance them fully.

If you don't have the Flower Knight, this one is a hard pass, and even if you do, it is a tall ask to get something that might basically be a sneak peak at the Atnas content in the Gambler's Chest.


17. Holiday White Speaker Nico - Winter Holiday Only

Contains: Holiday Nico Miniature, Story in the Snow Settlement Event

So this settlement event is one of the best in the game in my opinion. Most of the time it gives you a 'do over' on a failed showdown at the cost of losing any saviors. It also sometimes turns your Birth Principle into Survival of the Fittest on a 10+.

There is an odd precedent set with this promo card's 10+ result, it cares about the number of times you cheat in a 4th wall meta game mechanic - the more you cheat, the more likely it is to happen. This seems to be a very self aware nod to the fact that Kingdom Death's harsh, arbitrary randomness is often fudged by players.

Good settlement events are always welcome because they reduce the number of times the obnoxious ones turn up. However, this is an expensive item and you should not stretch your budget for it if you are not very well off.


18. Holiday Pinup Twilight Knight

Contains: Xmaxe craftable gear, 3 axes, present miniature and Large size Twilight Knight.

Xmaxe is a craftable axe that costs, 2x Leather, 2x Bone, 1x Fresh Acanthus and requires the following two innovations: Sculpture, Storytelling. You can see details of the axe here.

This mini-expansion is very expensive due to it containing a "75 mm" Twilight Knight model who has no in game use. The game content is the Xmaxe along with 3 sculpts of it for use with your armor kit survivors (one for each hand and one that with no hands attached).

The Xmaxe is an exceptionally powerful weapon akin to the Gloom Katana, but better because it's easier to craft and has a lot more affinities. If you are not abusing insanity gains via the Butcher, Gorm or Screaming Helm then this gear is reasonable and balanced without being overpowered. So it is up to you how ridiculous this piece of gear is, I recommend using it without excessive Insanity gain abuse.

While it is irreplaceable, the crafting recipe is so reasonable that this downside is not a major issue.

Not good value for money, but if you are a pinup painter or serious collector, the Xmaxe does add options to the game.


19. Ringtail Vixen

Contains: Ringtail Vixen model, Bookmark Rules for Intimacy

An evolution of the sticker model used in the White Speaker/Allison, the bookmark design is one of the most innovative and brilliant designs we have had come out in recent times. It allows for temporary and randomized changes to occur to mix up the core rules without reprinting entire pages of the book.

The changes here give you a large piece of 'death spiral' mitigation, one of the main ways new settlements die is when the first intimacy roll results in death(s). This is an awful experience and one that cannot be mitigated at all by good play, it just happens and you have to live with it (and often watch your settlement die early). Instead, you get a special baby who is the perfect starting Fist & Tooth user, which means that not only does this expansion help mitigate Intimacy blues, but it also reduces the chore involved in getting your obligatory Fist & Tooth master.

Must have! This one is the kind of additional content that is great for the game, its bookmark mechanic a strong evolution on the two 'sticker' modification additions and what it does to the intimacy event here is a worthy addition to the game.


20. Pinups of Death #1

Contains: 8 pinup miniatures, Strange Spot Settlement Event Card & Belt of Gender Swap

This one is not a cheap purchase by any stretch of the imagination.Most of the cost is because this micro-expansion comes with a large pile of pinup models of various categories. At the moment, most of these models are not that useful for in game play, the pinup Twilight Knight and Survivor are the two which have the most relevant gear. The Pinup Savior is the other one which may be of some interest and use.

Game content wise you get a single settlement event, now this event has a 10% chance of killing a returning survivor, and that sucks, but the rest of the results are fun and in my opinion make up for the death result (especially if you play with Survival of the Fittest to reroll on the table).

If you can get the content somewhere, do it. The full set is only worth it for the die hards and hobbyists.


21. Black Friday Ninja - Black Friday Only

Contains: Black Friday Ninja mini, inexplicable 54mm Black Friday Ninja Mini head, Black Friday Lantern Promo Gear.

Like the other non-craftable promo lanterns in this list, this one is quite strong as it provides +1 evasion. The archive ability here is not very good, so that at least balances out quite well and as such I recommend you use it via the house rules I mention in the next entry.

Not worth a lot, get it if you like the miniature.


22. Pinup Sci-Fi Twilight Knight - Gencon only?

Image from Vibrant Lantern, one of the best KDM resources on the net.

Contains: Dying Lantern and Vibrant Lantern Promo Lanterns

There is no direct, official way to insert these two gear lanterns into your games. The Dying Lantern gives you +1 evasion and the Vibrant Lantern gives you +1 Accuracy. They can also be archived to provide a resource and insanity or survival gains.

These two lanterns are very strong if given out to starting survivors (especially the Dying one), so my suggestion to integrate these is to make them each craftable once per timeline via the Post Watcher location (to try and not be too spoileriffic) and use the crafting recipe for the Survivor's Lantern.

On the whole, this is not really something you need to get at all because these two lanterns have no official way to integrate into the campaign.


23. Sci-Fi White Speaker

Contains: Blood Plasma Katana and Blood Plasma Gun

Apart from being completely the wrong genre and style of gear, these two items also have no official way to integrate into the game and they are both exceptionally busted in the level of power - sitting above the level of most end game weapons out there right now.

I do not recommend inserting these two pieces of gear into your game at all as they are distorting in power, but you could design a fun one shot scenario using the various Sci-Fi characters (and the Detective) once we have Sci-Fi Aya from the Gambler's Chest.

You can pass on this unless you want the model.


24. Echoes of Death I

Contains: Strains rules, 4 strains, 4 strain fighting arts, 4 models representing the
"Echoes".

Full review coming on this one soon, but the short version is this is a high variance set of game content and I mostly recommend this for the die hard fanatics and hobbyists.


25. Echoes of Death II

You can read an in depth review of Echoes of Death over here.

Short version is it is a problematic expansion, worth it if you want the models, but be aware that most of the in game content is at a minimum 'best in its category' and at worst 'the most powerfully broken fighting art in the game'. Overall Echoes I, despite its issues, is more balanced.


26. Valentines Day Twilight Knight - Valentines Day only

Contains: 54mm Cake Twilight Knight, Baker Twilight Knight mini, extra Scoopy Club plastic and 1x Scoopy Club gear card.

So, the Scoopy Club is simultaneously an awkward and interesting item. It has no crafting cost, it just turns up when you innovate Scrap Smelting, which means you get access to a club with premium stats at the right time. Clubs always scale into the late game very well because of Lantern Armor.

It is not clear what happens if you own multiple Scoopy Clubs as they are not unique. So it is likely you get as many of these as you own. 🤷🤷🤷🤷

The Scoopy Club's "vomit" mechanic is another awkward area of the game, vomit/retch and so on are mostly placed in the flavor area of the game. An example of one area that causes issues is the Motion Sickness disorder, it states on the card's flavor text 'Moving quickly makes you vomit' but doesn't define that any further. But never before have we had a situation where a non-ability, non-keyword style item like this - so you are going to have to put your best Games Master hat on and work these things out on a case by case basis.

Scoopy Club actually fixes an area of progression in the game that previously was just 'get bone club and use it forever unless you can get a Riot Mace'. However, there are problems with its design that you are going to have to handle with house rules.


27. Easter Twilight Knight - Easter only

Contains: Easter Twilight Knight miniature, Gibbering Hairmite Basic Resource card

Adam himself admitted on Twitter that this one is very much a pure promo card in the way that the blue backed stuff is and it should be added with caution. Personally I wish he would mark these cards with a 'PROMO' logo in one corner and some text to make this clear, because the community interprets his stuff in a very different way to the intention he seems to have.

The Gibbering Hairmite is an additional basic resource that's just added to the deck, it's a very problematic creation filled with unbalanced and exploitable mechanics. You can, with good population management, ensure that all new survivors end up with +1 movement when they start their lives. Doing this involves consuming the hairmites with fresh survivors to ensure that you only have 1 hairmite in the settlement resource.

There is, again, serious problems with understanding how the mechanics of the Hairmite population gains work because of wording. It is not clear if you gain +1 Hairmite each year, or if you gain +X Hairmites (where X Is the starting number you have) because they grow exponentially. They are a Tribble/Rabbit reference, but if they grow exponentially, then the Cube of Atnas, which uses similar text, also grows exponentially.

This is the kind of thing that needs a clear FAQ.

I would pass on this one, I think the Hairmite is just a lot of extra bookkeeping and confusion in exchange for something that has to be abused to make it worthwhile.


28. Till Death Do Us Part - Intimacy Survivors PhotoResin

Contains: 2 Photoresin Intimacy Survivors with starting gear, 1x double sided Partnership "Upgrade" card.

This mini-expansion contains two variations of the Partnership rules, I really love the Enduring Legacy version of this, I think that it is one of the strongest additions to the game we have right now because of how it encourages the style of play that Adam has always wanted.

The Devoted Union side is poorly worded and you'll have to fudge things a lot to make it work correctly, but it is an interesting hunt based ability. I often wish that there were more mechanics that rewarded hunt partner duos (stuff like Synchronised Strike and a Shield Master with a Spear Master). So I forgive the awkward, awful texting and just use this as I can see it was intended to be used.

I consider this one a must have, not only do you get two additional starting survivor miniatures without having to use armor kits, but you also get two great variants of Partnership, both of which encourage you to develop different settlement strategies. There is a lot of re-playability in this one.


29. Swashbuckler

Contains: Swashbuckler Generic Hero miniature and 1x Corsair Coat gear card.

NOTE: Requires either Lonely Tree or People of the Lantern to use

While I love the miniature in this one, the model itself is not very 'lore friendly' and I would have appreciated the release of an armor kit version of this model with the coat over the one which we have right now. This is just part of the disjoint between the Generic line of models (which take place in an alternative 'Heroic' version of the KDM world) and the one Monster is set in.

The Corsair Coat is, to be frank, interesting design, but has some problematic rules cases and is overall not very good. It is spawned by the Strange Dream, but only when the story is 'well told' and you have a "savior" tell it. This means that under official rules it cannot be gained by solo players and it is very hard to gain outside of People of the Lantern (you have to fight the L3 Lonely Tree, spawn the Drifting Dreamer Fruit, win the showdown, eat the fruit and then draw the right Settlement Event in time before the campaign ends. Also you can only take this thing out when there is a savior in the hunt party, because of course..

The problem with the rules is one that will take some gentle work with common sense and/or house rules. The issue is that the Corsair Coat is essentially a Stand, in that while it is attached to the survivor, the coat is the thing that is attacking when it triggers. They covered that this item 'ignores your attribute modifiers", but worded it that the coat is attacking, even though it lacks the weapon and ranged keywords and there is no part of the rules that cover how the reactions would work in this case.

Yeah, it's a promo card, so expect some jank, but come on, a little slip with FAQ/rules to cover this would help a lot. In lieu of that, you'll have to work it out yourself on a case by case basis.

I think this is another one of those 'more hassle than it is worth' creations and you are best off just passing on it unless you want the model to paint.


One final thing before I finish, be VERY careful when picking this stuff up on the secondary market, many people buy these, take the game content out and then resell the models. You should be valuing the game content as 60-80% of the value of the box - the market is flooded with these items minus the game content, but rarely do you see the game content for sale on its own. Anyone who tries to claim that the minis are worth the most is deceiving you about the secondary market values.

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Comments (8)
user avatar
User #29459807 - 19 Jan 20 09:04
Does the Ringtail Vixen “Encore Edition” come with the stickers, or is it just the first edition? The shop makes no mention of any gameplay elements coming with the mini.
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FenPaints - 19 Jan 20 09:51
White box plastic has gameplay, resin aka brown boxes do not.
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User #28233353 - 21 Dec 19 04:23
Love your content! I would love to see your input on the 10th Anniversary White Speaker when you get the chance. I managed to grab one and I think the story of blood evolving fighting art is very interesting.
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User #6912090 - 8 Nov 19 20:10
Nice review! One note, though: 'The Gibbering Hairmite is an additional basic resource...' It is a vermin resource, not a basic
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User #3371496 - 17 Nov 19 03:14
Thank you, as a KD:M newbe this is vary helpful, though it is a shame that a lot of your most highly recommended White Boxes are the out of print ones... but if they ever come back I'll be sure to grab them. Hopefully the Till Death Do Us Part rules will be in one of the two big upcoming rules expansions(Gambler's Chest and Campaigns of Death), and the White Speaker related ones(Fade and the sword hunter) come in the red witches mini-expansion.
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User #29459807 - 19 Jan 20 10:25
That’s an odd choice, considering people buy it either way.
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User #13917749 - 13 Nov 19 10:56
Hello, Did you think that all this white box promo or test content will be obsolete with the wawe 3 and wawe 4 expensions? Sorry for my english, not my native language ^^.
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FenPaints - 13 Nov 19 10:59
Can only speculate, but based on past stuff. I don't think it will go overly obselet
Purchasing Priority for the Newer Player 2019-11-04T10:00:01+00:00

I had a request from WingsOfDaidalos on the Discord about this subject, and because we have Black Friday looming this month I figured that it was just about the best time to put out a public article on my hindsight opinions on what expansions you should be prioritizing if you are on a budget and can't just 'get them all'. I'll be looking at the current Expansions and the Micro-Expansions (White Boxes). Usually I place the medium sized expansions such as the 10th Anniversary Survivors, Gigalion and Echoes of Death into their own category as mini-Expansions because they don't hold enough content to be classed as actual expansions, but for clarity of purpose here I'm putting all of them into mini-expansions except for the Gigalion which I'll class with the big boys for once.


The critera I'm judging these under is straightforward, it's pure, simple value for money. I'll be classing the expansions into several different buckets, this allows me to cover expansions that represent poor value for money at MSRP, but can become worthwhile at a reduced price as well as ones that are simply just low value and should be left as late as possible.

What do I mean by 'value for money'? Well in this case it is down to the following categories:

Breadth of Content (Breadth)

A wide range of different forms of useful content means that the experience when you play can be very different because you have more options available to you. Perhaps the expansion provides an alternative campaign, or it gives you reach into weapon types that the core game doesn't really support well.


The polar opposite of this is expansions that remove or make obsolete elements of the game, a poor breadth of content score means that it actively removes or replaces parts of the game, either by direct elimination or power creep.

Depth of Content (Depth)

Sometimes the content you gain isn't very wide in scope, but what it does give you supplies a wealth of options based on the strategies within. Deep content can provide new gear cards which fuel entire strategies, fighting arts that change the way you play/experience the game or simply monsters that are so different each time you fight them that you have a new experience and have to adapt to it.


An example of a not very deep piece of content is the White Lion, all of the relevant gear can be gained from the L1 White Lion and most of it is discarded by the time you transition to the mid game. In addition the only real behavioural change of note is when you transition from the L1 to the L2 White Lion, the L3 essentially does what the L2 does, but more dangerously. It doesn't feel like a new monster. The Screaming Antelope is another example of a relatively shallow monster for the same reasons, but the Phoenix is deeper than both due to it's L3 version having a compelling reason to hunt it.

Difficulty

Simply put, does this expansion make the game easier or harder? I'm not looking at artificial difficulty via one off 'gotchya' moments, but overall does access to this particular expansion lower the game's skill floor/ceiling or raise them? For example, the Flower Knight's Vespertine Bow lowers the skill floor of the game astronomically while playing Spidicules fully official raises the floor and ceiling.

Frequency of Use (Frequency)

This one is a very much personal one, but I've played through over a thousand settlements by now in various iterations and I've been keeping an eye on which expansions I keep in and which ones just make guest appearances depending on the situations. This score will give you an idea about how well the expansion holds up over time. But to be honest, if it's not a wide or deep expansion (the previous two categories) generally it probably doesn't turn up much in sessions these days unless I'm memeing or testing out content combinations.

Finally, and I am sure many of you are going to say 'no duh' but these are personal opinions, while I do spend a lot of time being critical and logical about my choices when it comes to advising people what to spend their money on, your mileage may differ. I don't care that the Sunstalker is a spurting chode with a penis tentacle attached to it or that the Dragon King has an internet meme asshole for a chest.

These things, are basic attempts to shock rather than true body horror, so they don't bother me, if they bother you (and the Sunstalker really does seem to bother a lot of people) that's fine, some expansions are more mainstream than others and it's OK to prefer those. Likewise, some expansions make the game easier for players, if that's what you want/need that's also fine, I'll note where they exist.

Before we move into the full text, here's the short list of my hindsight purchase:

  • Gorm
  • Sunstalker (#1 if your budget can afford it)
  • Dragon King
  • Dung Beetle Knight
  • Manhunter
  • Slenderman (this is basically interchangable with the Manhunter, it depends what you want from your first nemesis expansion, more content or improvements over the weakest spot of the core game experience)
  • Lonely Tree - When on sale
  • Flower Knight - Higher if you want to reduce the difficulty of the game
  • Lion God - A lot higher if you have Silver City already ordered or you are finding the quarries too easy
  • Spidicules - because of the cost of the expansion, it should have had its own campaign
  • Lion Knight
  • Green Armor - higher if you want it as bonus content for Gorm/DBK/FK over the "campaign"
  • Gigalion - Yup, I'd get even the Lion Knight ahead of this one.

However some of these move up the rankings when they are reduced in cost, the Lonely Tree and Spidicules are in this category.


Bucket #1 – The Cream of the Black Harvest Crop

This bucket contains the premium expansions, these expansions provide a huge amount of additional value to the core experience, which honestly can become very monotonous after a few plays due to the lack of variety in quarries. The core games' three quarries are not sufficient to carry the game for a full People of the Lantern campaign for most players, visually it can devolve into an endless parade of kitties, goats and chickens.

In addition there are problematic gaps in progression choices for some weapon types, these expansions can help with that, either by making rarer made choices more viable though buffs or providing strong options in those paths less trodden.

The Gorm (Green Armor Package)

Most people will recommend The Gorm as one of your first expansion choices, and it was indeed the very first piece of KDM content I got (even ahead of the core game which was delayed in shipping for me). The Gorm is very much the quintessential 'this is how it should be' quarry monster as it fixes a lot of the issues that the early game presents by giving you a third early game quarry to play with and also giving great options for axes, clubs, shields, grand weapons and Daggers. It also provides an 'easier' to craft alternative to the omnipresent Cat Eye Circlet and an armor set that still isn't 'figured out' by the community (because it's a bit underpowered compared to other options and lacks focus).


Additionally each of the Gorm's three different levels expresses a different portion of its life cycle and behaves in a very distinct fashion. You really do feel that you are hunting a different monster each time you face a different level and the strategies involved change.

However, this expansion has some issues; the Black Sword is one of the most problematic and overpowered weapons in the game as it is able to trivialize most monsters in a way that few other things can. The Settlement Event “Gorm Climate” can be obnoxious and frustrating for players who do not like the 'use it now' economy that it forces and many of the weapons can feel a little too 'pushed' in power.

Breadth: With an exceptional amount of expansion to the way the game is played, the Gorm allows a lot of new strategies to be developed. 4/5

Depth: As each version of the Gorm has differences in behaviour and different reasons to hunt them this is a long lasting early game quarry. In addition there are a wide range of strategies that can be created using the gear involved and the Gorment Armor can feel very rewarding if you want to experiment with it. 4/5

Frequency: This one is in every single campaign I play unless I specifically decide 'OK no Gorm this time'. 5/5

Difficulty: While it's not all roses and happiness. The Gorm does without a doubt make the game easier because of its strong early game options and it also holds the single most overpowered individual weapon in the Black Sword.

Final Score: 9.5/10 This represents a huge amount of value for money at $60 and in my opinion it should have been a permanent fixture in the core game from the start. It is one of only 3 expansions that almost always features in my games.

Sunstalker (Has Campaign)

Originally undervalued and overlooked because of its weird appearance, the Sunstalker has risen in stock over time and continues to do so for many good reasons. One of two 'campaign' monsters, the Sunstalker not only boasts a robust and enjoyable alternative campaign, but it also has one of the most robust and tactically deep selections of mid to late game gear in the game.

Breadth: The Sunstalker not only provides a huge amount of different weapons for the mid to late game, all of which feature and support a wide range of different builds; the armor set also allows a whole host of other more situational weapons to become viable options. 5/5

Depth: There's a massive amount of depth in this one, not just because of the prescence of the additional campaign, but also the various pieces of gear give you a huge amount of new choices and options. Things like the Ink Sword require planning both to build and then use. 5/5

Frequency: It turns up in just about every single campaign, of particular note is it's constant presence alongside the Dragon King in the campaigns I play because of how much synergy it has with that quarry. 5/5

Difficulty: While there are some exceptional power spikes caused by the Sunstalker Gear, it is also no slouch at the higher levels; requiring, nay demanding a far more furious and aggressive style to deal with it. Overall I'd say that the Sunstalker makes the campaign somewhat easier if you are not going to be abusive with its gear, but it can make the campaign considerably easier if you use its armor to make powerful stuff even more powerful rather than situational stuff strong.

Final Score: This one is a classic, it gets the same score as it did when I first reviewed it. 11/11

Dragon King (Has Campaign)

As more expensive big box option, the Dragon King offers the single strongest campaign experience released so far, but lags behind when added as a quarry to other campaigns. In particular it requires support from the Sunstalker gear in order to unleash its true potential.

Without People of the Stars, this expansion would land in the second bucket thanks to its fun, but somewhat unrewarding quarry experience. However, the presence of the Tyrant and his story buoys this one up a lot.

Breadth: It is very hard to talk about the Breadth of this expansion without the campaign distorting eveyrthing. The quarry monster is not that wide an experience, it is a great set of armor, a very powerful quiver and some nuclear weapons that come to life if you work hard on making them do so. Most of the gear it has is very sub-optimal and not worth using. Which means that generally once you've crafted a set of the armor, the Dragon King devolves into becoming a Stat and Iron gaining farm. 3/5

Depth: There is a surprising amount of depth to the Dragon King's gear, its armor is deceptively powerful, looking underwhelming to the untrained eye, but continuing to impress more and more with use. One of the largest requirements to 'unlock' its potential is using other expansions that provide powerful weapons that benefit from the Dragon King's set bonus. 4/5

Frequency: Initially the Dragon King wasn't a quarry I used often outside of taking advantage of its campaign, but as time has passed forward the sheer number of synergies it presents when combined with other expansions has meant that he has become a staple. 4/5

Difficulty: The Dragon King as a quarry tends to be something of a wash on the difficulty, it is a moderately hard fight with a punishing hunt phase but it is a premium source of Iron. The campaign is certainly a lot "easier" than Lantern when you know what you are doing, but this is mostly because the final nemesis is understatted, and something that has been promised to be addressed in Campaigns of Death. However, despite the mechanical (and only balance) issues with the final nemesis, Stars is the most complete, intricate, enjoyable and interesting experience you can have right now. It is most certainly 'Kingdom Death as it Should Be'.

Final Score: The higher price and lesser value puts this one behind the other three expansions in this top tier bucket. However it is still worth picking up old sphincter chest when you can so you can experience his nuclear poots all over your face. Also the Tyrant is one of the best boi characters in the game. 7.5/10

Dung Beetle Knight (Part of the Tactics Card Package) (Green Armor)

Breadth: Like the Dragon King above, there's not actually a wide range of options introduced by the Dung Beetle Knight, in truth it's one of the scantiest quarry monsters when it comes to crafting choices. You have an armor set, one weapon, one upgrade to a previous weapon and the rest is rare gear, monster meat or very situational. This is the only place you can get good Katar progression at the moment however (LK and Giggles don't count!)

In addition, a large portion of the content is locked inside the Black Harvest, which is something that you can experience just every 3-4 lantern years. It is not the worst, but it's not as amazing as people would like to make you think. 3/5

Depth: While there is a feeling of not much gear compared to some of the other expansions, what there is has more depth than many other expansions. This is because of how interchangeable and “splashable” the armor pieces are alongside the extra little things that the Black Harvest gives and the QoL improvements little things like the Digging Claws having the pickaxe keyword and the Rainbow Ring Belt providing a form of fixing for Early Iron. 5/5

Frequency: This one is in most campaigns I play, though it has increasingly become a 'splash' monster over something I focus around. 4/5

Difficulty: This one adds a lot of complexity and difficulty to the game, the DBK's fight requires constant vigilance because slipping up can result in massive harm at a moment's notice. This difficulty climbs up to one of the highest peaks in the game when you face the L3 and L4 (TOM) versions of the monster and the fights against those two feel like being on another level compared to most monsters.

Final Score: I consider the DBK to be the third choice for a mid to late game monster these days, it's fine as a splash monster, it's not as good as a main focus. 8/10

Bucket #2 Nice to Have if...

Each of these entries is conditional, it's something that adds to the game if you are looking for a specific element or if a certain criteria is met. I don't consider them to be 'must haves' but sometimes they have exceeded expectations in unusual manners. Most notable in this category are the expansions that have fallen to the wayside because they currently do not always provide a great experience for long term play.

Lonely Tree

Breadth: There is not a lot to the Lonely Tree at the moment, it has a showdown encounter, some varied fruit rewards, a secret fighting art, terrain version and that's kind of it. It is in fact the narrowest selection of content in the game. 1/5

Depth: Despite this narrow selection, the actual potential of the various options is huge and unique. Each fruit can fuel an entirely new strategy for a survivor, and my only complaint is the abilities gained by this survivor cannot be bred onto new survivors which means that they tend to be best utilized on ageless survivors rather than allowing you to take your settlement in a new direction each time. The other depth issue is you have to sort of jump through hoops somewhat to get to fight the Lonely Tree more than once per timeline, it feels a bit weird and 'not as intended' when you do it, but it does happen. 4/5

Frequency: This is the only expansion that never, ever gets removed from my campaigns. It is low impact because it doesn't turn up every time, but I always want the potential to encounter it. 5/5 Difficulty: At first the Tree can feel like an absolute beating because of its level design, unusual showdown, powerful defenses and gotchya. But once you get settled into how and when you should be attacking it then it becomes a solid optional nemesis. It does make the campaign slightly harder when it turns up as terrain, but the nemesis monster, being entirely optional, doesn't directly make things harder as such.

Final Score: A lot better than you'd suspect from most people's opinions. I land this one at a 7/10, but the caveat here is, you should only pick it up at sale prices, it is not worth the full MRSP as it stands unless you're a hobbyist.


Manhunter (Green Armor)

Breadth: There's again not a lot of breadth to this one, there's a couple of fighting arts and disorders that are interesting and some gear cards, but it's not exactly an expansion with a lot too it. There was some potential in the rules for a settlement that becomes cowed by a Manhunter, but the truth is there is little reason to continue to let that happen. It cannot be described as adding a lot of width to a campaign outside of the general improved chances to gain weapon xp and the above mentioned parts. 3/5

Depth: While the expansion is not very broad, it is deep. There are layers to the experience and the L3 and L4 versions even provide fuel for a bunch of interesting and unique builds. While the meta is certainly tired of the Acanthus Doctor/Pickaxe build at this point, it's not the fault of the Tool Belt as such that this has happened. 5/5

Frequency: This one is in many of my campaigns as it is a fun fight with a lot of character and the options do always provide depth. 4/5

Difficulty: There is absolutely no doubt that the Manhunter makes every campaign he is in easier overall. The monster is rarely a challenge (though it can surprise wreck you with the right combination of cards) and the gear is very powerful. The L1 reward is something you'll end up using most (if not all) of the time and the L3/L4 ones can fuel very powerful builds. Also you get additional opportunities to increase weapon proficiency, and that's a huge leg up.

Final Score: This one does make the game a lot easier, but it's just good old fashioned F U N. So it gets a pass a lot of the time. The reason that the Flower Knight (see below) gets slated for making the game too easy and the Manhunter doesn't is that variety of gear/experiences and fun factor. Zach Barash did a heck of a job bringing the Manhunter's character to life and perfectly blended this slaver, witch hunter, bounty hunter, WWE Wrestler from the Holy Lands together and gave him such life and character. 8/10

Slenderman

Breadth: As (currently) the only nemesis monster with craftable gear, the Slenderman is on another level when it comes to increasing width of play options. In addition, Slendy replaces the King's Man and while removing content usually reduces the breadth of the game, the King's Man is significantly shallower content than Slenderman as it represents the most underdeveloped and obnoxious part of the core game experience. 5/5

Depth: There is a huge amount of exploration you can be undertaking with this expansion and its multi-tiered gear. Many combos exist both obvious and less so. Also, because Dark Water is a difficult resource to acquire, you often have to play multiple settlements in order to experience everything the expansion has to offer. 4/5

Frequency: Once you're over the experience of the King's Man, this one becomes a staple of most sessions as it is a more than adequate replacement for the King's Man and it will likely remain that way until we see what the Gambler's Chest has in store for repairing the King/Hand storyline. 5/5

Difficulty: Not for the feint of heart, the Slenderman is elusive, powerful and very dangerous at higher levels. This is one of the hardest monsters in the game and it is never completely tamed.

Final Score: For the experienced player this is a must purchase. If you have the money spare, you should also consider picking it up, but it is not as high a priority as some of the expansions in the category above. Also, considering that Sony own the copyright on Slenderman and there is no indication that this one has been created with their permission, one day the Slenderman might get Cease & Desisted. This is the only expansion where this could, maybe happen. 9/10

Flower Knight (Part of the Tactics Card Package) (Green Armor)

Breadth: There is not very much breadth to this expansion, outside of the (secret) fighting arts and one piece of gear the Flower Knight mostly exists as the Screaming Antelope 2.0 (a resource farming monster). Most of the other gear is either poor or highly situational. 1/5

Depth: The expansion has a little more depth than breadth, there are some interesting strategies that can be undertaken with Acanthus Doctors and the journey to gain True Blade is a fascinating experience. Also the 'People of the Bloom' variant has some unique gear and can be a nice alternative – as long as you do not expect much more than an “easy mode” People of the Skull modifier. 2/5

Frequency: This one rarely appears on my table now, the exceptions being when I want to play with Swords (as I love True Blade) or when I am constructing Green Armor. However, for newer players who want to splash this monster to help get a power boost in order to reduce the difficulty of the game, it is a valid option. 3/5

Difficulty: No other expansion makes the game as easy as the Flower Knight, I've written about its various flaws and issues many times in the past and these days I can only recommend this expansion for Green Armor players and those who find the game too difficult and don't mind a one dimensional strategy to winning.

Final Score: Beautiful miniature, problematic game content. Great as a 'training wheels' monster, but becomes less interesting as time passes and ultimately either spends its days sat on the shelf or as a “limited” hunt (hunting it only a few times for specific things rather than abusing it's design). 4/10

Lion God

Breadth: Not a very wide expansion, it is somewhat designed to be successfully hunted 1-3 times in a campaign or held as a scary challenge monster. Most of the best gear is with the L1 and L2 monsters and for the casual player the coolest stuff is available with just the L1. There is a number of good reasons why this monster is getting its own expansion, the lack of content is one of them. 2/5

Depth: There is more depth to this expansion than you'd first think, mostly because of the Necromancer and Sinkhole gear. The Sinkhole gear in particular is a very interesting and exciting selection of Stuff that mostly does unique things – of the other stuff, it's either an upgraded Cat Eye Circlet or a bunch of stuff that is intended to improve White Lion Armor, but doesn't really pay off well enough for how dangerous it is to get. If the Lion God had been a Node 3 monster with greater variety then the White Lion Armor improvements would have mattered, but as a Node 4 which has WL gear locked behind the L3, you really shouldn't be interested in those elements. Shame. 3/5

Frequency: It is easy to fit into any campaign, but you might not fight it as often as you'd like because there's not much to entice you there. This expansion is kind of more stick than carrot. 3/5

Difficulty: Very hard at all levels, but as a quarry monster you're not forced to fight this one and the rewards are so light that you can make sure you're over equipped before you go in.

Final Score: The Silver City will hopefully bring more life to this interesting part of the Kingdom Death universe. This one is more of an investment for the future while currently existing as a challenge monster for unique stuff. The Necromancer alone is worth a lot of the price of admission. 4/10


Green Armor (Green Armor)

Breadth: It is almost unfair to place the Green Armor within the same category as these other expansions as it is more a micro expansion than an actual full fledged one. However, despite it being “just” a bunch of rare gear cards that require other expansions to be constructed it has a surprising amount of width to its play. You do not just need to use these cards in the Green Armor campaign, any campaign which has some of the pieces can benefit from partial crafts. Of particular note is the sword, shield and helmet. The Helmet is very notable because it is purely DBK resources and events only and it works well with Rolling Armor, which means it is in essence an additional piece of DBK Craftable gear and that helps bulk out that expansion also. 3/5

Depth: Depth is where Green Armor really excels, the journey to constructing this set is a long and challenging one that requires planning, forethought and a slice of good fortune. Getting it built is a staggering achievement in its own right and the only downside to that is once you have it constructed there are precious few monsters who can stand up to the full set. All of the Final Nemesis monsters in particular are as durable as paper plates in the face of a Green Armor survivor.

There is also a lot of neat things you can do with the individual parts of the armor even if you do not construct a full set. 5/5

Frequency: Anything with the constituent expansions (Dung Beetle Knight, Lion Knight, Flower Knight, Gorm, Manhunter & Spidicules) in sufficient quantities can make use of this stuff, either directly or in mixed sets. It doesn't have to just be used in full alone. 4/5

Difficulty: Hard to make, with a lot of challenges along the way, but once it is constructed the game becomes considerably easier.

Final Score: My largest concern with this is how the design of the Green Armor is going to work vs. the Verdant Knight in Campaigns of Death. That final nemesis has to be very strong in order to stand up to the green armor, but if it is then there is the additional issues that other survivors will just be curb stomped and any campaign that fails to build Green Armor because of poor outcomes (some of it is in the hands of chance atm) will also be doomed to failure. Hopefully the campaign addresses these pitfalls.
In the present, this one is really good for the price, it's small, but it holds a lot of options, even if you're not doing the full campaign. But in order to really benefit from it, you want to own at least the DBK, Gorm and FK expansions. 7.5/10

Bucket #3 - Needs Deep Cuts

This category contains the expansions that I feel represent the least value for money and they should be held off unless you want them for very specific purposes, they are on sale for a steal or you want them for miniature painting. These are the expansions I am most hopeful will get improvements in Campaigns of Death.

Lion Knight (Part of the Tactics Card Package) (Green Armor)

Breadth: Depends on what you plan to do with the Hybrid Armors, many players allow them into all campaigns (unlocked from the start) and this does a lot to make at least that part of the expansion's content enjoyable and used. Outside of the Hybrid Armors and a few abusive exploits, the Lion Knight doesn't have much breadth at all because it is very self contained. 2/5

Depth: There is a moderate amount of depth to the Lion Knight expansion which is unfortunately undercut when you figure out how to demolish the LK's AI and leave him virtually “helpless”. More than any other monster in the game (apart from maybe the Flower Knight) I firmly believe that the Lion Knight needs an AI rehaul from the ground up, saving the elements that can be while closing out the sections that trivialize his threat.

Even with that fixed, you're not doing too much in this expansion; unlocking armors, saving for Katar Mastery and possibly trying to get the one good Secret Fighting Art. 2/5

Frequency: I don't put this one in the game unless it's Green Armor time and even then I often want to avoid the showdowns because of how painful they can be to sit through. The Hybrid armors get a lot of use, but that's a lot to pay for 3 cards. 2/5

Difficulty: This one used to be moderately difficult, but it's since become nothing more than a chore and a bore. It all depends on how experienced you are and if you are comfortable with using surge to shut a monster's actions down every single turn. It's not actually hard unless you choose to make it hard, it's just unpleasant, even more unpleasant than the King's Man experience.

Final Score: I love the model and the characters in this expansion, but the gameplay value is nowhere near as strong as the others. 4/10

Spidicules – (Green Armor - barely, it's 1 innovation that's required, which is kinda a dick move on the consumer)

Breadth: So many of the Spidicules weapons/armor are made redundant by the existence of White Lion, Gorm and Core gear and that is quite an issue on the breadth front. When you dig into it, you find that the only relevant weapons are the Silk Whip, sometimes the Scimitar (for a F&T survivor) and sometimes the Amber Poleaxe. The two rare weapons are great!

The armor is in an even worse position, it lacks focus and has some very questionable affinity activations along with just the worst hat unlock in the game (L3 Monster to complete your strictly worse than leather armor set?) So it is generally the non-weapon Spidicules gear you'll be aiming for: the three Rings and the Silk Body Suit in particular. 2/5

Depth: There is a genuine depth to the Spidicules expansion, you have tantalizing gifts that reward you for spending a lot of time hunting Spidicules; there is the Legless Ball, the Grinning Visage, the three rings and the Silk Surgeon all of which are wonderful things to get. Spidicules is a very self intensive expansion. If you are hunting Spidicules, you tend to do it a lot. 4/5

Frequency: Less than I'd like, Spidicules makes your campaign either become a series of meta-gaming actions, house rules or just a miserable experience. Players who want more grim dark and don't mind the bizarre situations that Taken causes. It still doesn't have any covering for the situation where you beat Spidicules with just one survivor alive – a situation that becomes absurd if you have also triggered Spidisisyphus (another moment where KDM references Greek Mythology!) 3/5

Difficulty: Spidicules absolutely makes the game harder by raising the skill floor, but it is very important to note that if you become good at making the various rings, the skill ceiling of the game plummets as even the weakest of the three rings (Blue) is still immensely powerful. When combined with the Slenderman expansion you can also break the game to the point of literal 'is this easy mode?'

Final Score: If this one had some more game content to justify the price, things like the Silk Surgeon were not so difficult to score and it had more respect for the elements of the core game it is removing when you do the 'replacement' then Spidicules would be one of the all-time classics. As it is, the monster is over priced and represents poor value for money.

I am ever hopeful that Campaigns of Death and/or the Abyssal Woods will change this situation with gear upgrades, mastery for scimitars/thrown weapons and general balance/bug fixes, because if there is any monster that has the potential to become a top tier one, it's Spidicules. 5/10

Gigalion

Breadth: The newest expansion on the block contains not just a sort of extra new quarry, but a standalone showdown that is ideal for teaching new players about the game. It gives them a taste of the mid game, with a selection of different abilities, but nothing too slow, sluggish or overly complex. The Vignette portion of this expansion is a welcome, new addition to the roster.


However, the Gigalion's involvement in the actual campaign is not one of increasing options, but decreasing them. Its existence eliminates the L2 and L3 White Lion from the game almost entirely and its gear also has a couple of problematic entries. Of particular note are the arrows, which power creep heavily over the (current) best arrows in the game and the fur cape which powers up Screaming Armor to ridiculous levels and combines with the Silk Body Suit. The Hooked Claw Knife is a welcome and needed part of the game, I recommend putting it in all your games as an alternative to the Cat Fang Knife if you are not having the Gigalion as a quarry because of concerns about the arrows and cape. 2/5

Depth: There's not a lot of depth to this one, it is in essence a modified White Lion, a lot of what works against the L2+ White Lion works here. The gear is all very obvious in design and function, without much use outside of the obvious forced synergies. It seems that things were once again designed to try and push White Lion armor (see the Lion God for more of this), but instead other strategies benefit more and White Lion Armor remains on the 'avoid this' list. 2/5

Frequency: Once unlocked this one is in every single campaign that has the White Lion in it. The Strain Unlock isn't even an in campaign thing, it's a very questionable design that's linked to the completion of the vignette instead. But it is omnipresent, you have no other choice. 4/5

Difficulty: The single largest piece of difficulty this expansion represents is the way that it's vicious trait makes it move. Every. Single. Turn. Regardless. It just feels like broken AI when compared to how Cunning works on the normal White Lions and that is a genuine shame. It is kinda hard to fight because of it's constant running away every turn, but it's not a good kind of difficulty. The gear makes the game significantly easier by pushing strategies that were already used to even higher levels. The Dagger is the best part of this expansion's main game content.

Final Score: I would have preferred this monster to have been released as a 50mm replacement for the original White Lion. The Vignette is good, the Dagger is good, everything else feels rushed and poorly thought out. This is the last expansion I'd recommend anyone buys and it's really only for the absolutely dedicated collectors and hobbyists (because the sculpts are very good) or people who want a solid standalone session to introduce new players to the game. 5/10

I would score this one a lot lower if it was not for the Dagger, miniatures and Standalone scenario. There are serious issues with this expansion that demonstrate a lack of good QA testing.


This has been an exceptionally long piece and I still have to do a look at the White Boxes, so they'll be next Monday.

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Comments (1)
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User #8867674 - 5 Nov 19 22:18
I also got the Gorm first. Picked it up in the BF sale when the 2nd Kickstarter was going on as a try before you buy. Substituted the Black Goat mini from Cthulhu Wars so I didn't need to build anything and played a modified Gorm prologue with my partner using a home made board and a scenario off BGG. I wanted to see how the game felt before chucking a big hunk of money at it and figured worst case I could recoup most of what I'd payed if the cards had been used once. I loved it and my partner seemed keen so I bought in. Sadly she got a bit attached to characters and after the first King's Man fight ended our first settlement she no longer plays :( I'm hoping Flower Witches might tempt her back to the table some time in the future. Not sure on priorities this year. Of the original set of expansions I've now picked up Gorm, Sun Stalker, Dragon King, Slenderman, Spidiculus, Dung Bettle Knight, Lion God, Flower Knight over Black Fridays and Kickstarter deliveries since then. Lion God and Spidy mostly because I also backed Sliver City and Abyssal Woods in the Kickstarter. Was thinking about doing the rest of the Green Armour set this year (Manhunter, Green Armour, Lion Knight). Funds are a little tighter than I'd like though and I've still not played everything I have so maybe I'll just do Manhunter and Green Armour or Green Armour and Tree. The hybrid armours from the Lion Knight are appealing but it feels like a lot of money for some cards that mechanically I could house rule in without the physical objects with nearly zero effort. I guess I'll come unstuck if Cod (I'm also backing this since the updates made it a must have) has any campaigns that require him as a Nemesis, not sure that's a big issue though.
Basic Hunt Event Cards - Final Release
Basic Hunt Event Cards - Final Releasemore_vert
2019-10-11T08:28:02+00:00
Basic Hunt Event Cards - Final Release 2019-10-11T08:28:02+00:00close

Released with a large thank you to Dan and the members of the community who checked for typos and layout issues.

Welcome to the full release of all 100 basic hunt event cards, transcribing the events which are listed in the core rulebook into card form.

These cards are designed for bleed printing, so if you lay them out for home printing on a template you will need to cut off the outside borders. I have also made the images high resolution so you can print them at larger sizes if you want. High quality printing has proven to be legible with the small font on a few of the very dense cards, but it is dependent on eyesight and printer. The extreme dense nature of a few events in 1.5 has necessitated this compromise, these events were not written with cards in mind.

Wherever possible I have kept the art to a minimum, or matched KDM specific pieces, this has the intention of keeping the cards within the style of the game (little art, lots left to the imagination). Though I would like to point out that I was tempted to put The Tyrant on Event 2. Corpse, because it's clear that the dead person here was slain by the Frozen Star SFA. There are a lot of little easter eggs like that in the stuff if you want to look for them.

Typo input is closed now, I have to move onto new projects which are behind already. The 575 Monster and October's 12 in 12 custom content. No typos will be fixed going ahead unless they are absolutely game breaking or part of Campaigns of Death updates. I have released the .psd file for patrons so you can redo that particular card if you need to.

Three events proved to be too dense in text and tables to be put entirely onto cards, these events have story event pages for the second half of their experience, they are the Monolith, Golden Ember and The Finale. It is up to you how you want to handle using these - I've supplied card backs if you want to print them as large pseudo cards.

There are two versions of the Test of Courage, use the Hope Stealer version if you own that Halloween content.

If Adam ever releases official versions of these cards I will be taking these posts down, they exist to fill the gap which we have right now.

Last of all the other stuff, you are welcome to use these cards for your own purposes in any form. But do not sell them, these are released for people in the community to use without charge. If you want to import them into your TTS games or make a phone app with them, feel free to do so as long as you're not charging people for it. I simply require credit and a link back to this patreon.



Attachments (2)


Basic Hunt Events.rar (96.4MiB)
Basic Hunt Events.zip (96.3MiB)

Comments (10)
user avatar
User #14725393 - 12 Oct 19 06:21
I’m really dumb but I have to ask anyway. Those file are not ready to print, right? They are not front/back, right?
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User #2842315 - 11 Oct 19 10:07
Anyone else having trouble opening the .rar?
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User #2931027 - 11 Oct 19 10:19
Nah worked for me. I use 7-zip and it extracted fine.
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User #2842315 - 11 Oct 19 10:42
Thanks Daniel. I was using 7Z Opener and it kept giving me errors.
user avatar
User #14725393 - 15 Jan 20 07:55
I’m trying to print these on tarot size card but text is really on the bleed margin. Should i use another format?
user avatar
FenPaints - 15 Jan 20 09:10
The bleed margin is not the edge of the card. You should be fine. But the people who can answer that is MPC themselves, so I would recommend you contact them if you want to be sure.
user avatar
User #9110977 - 16 Oct 19 22:11
with the KS encounter update, this release wouldnt interact properly with it.
user avatar
FenPaints - 17 Oct 19 02:54
It has no interactions with the encounters at all. You don't put the cards on the hunt board anyway because cards like Object of Desire already exist.
user avatar
User #16903863 - 1 Nov 19 14:53
Do you mean you wouldn't shuffle these printed cards and put them on the hunting track instead of the black cards?
user avatar
FenPaints - 1 Nov 19 15:25
Correct. If you do that, cards like the lonely tree, Percival and fade don't turn up as much as intended.
Updated version of my Echoes of Death II review now on BoardGameGeek!
Updated version of my Echoes of Death II review now on BoardGameGeek!more_vert
2019-10-09T07:32:38+00:00
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Updated version of my Echoes of Death II review now on BoardGameGeek! 2019-10-09T07:32:38+00:00close

As per the link! I'm going to be putting an updated Gigalion review up next, but each review is awaiting painted versions of the minis (which is why I've done Echoes II ahead of Echoes I).


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Marshlight Reviews: Echoes of Death II - Limited Content, Huge Power | Kingdom Death: Monster - Echoes of Death 2

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Official Artwork of the four Echoes characters Kingdom Death: Monster (Monster) expansions come in a wide range of different sizes, you have the large box expansions that come in two different scales ($60 and $100+) and then you have the smaller mini and micro expansions (which retail for under $100 and around $25).

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As Lethal as it Needs to be - Scythe, Katana and Twilight Sword 2019-10-07T10:00:01+00:00

1. Introduction

2. Axe

3. Bow

4. Arrows and Quiver

5. Club

6. Dagger

7. Grand

8. Katar

9. Shield

10. Spear

11. Sword

12. Thrown, Fist & Tooth

13. Whip

14. Twilight, Katana & Scythe

15. The White Gigalion Gear

Overview:

We're near the end of this entire endeavor (outside of the capstone article with visual article) and it's time to mop up the remaining weapons, we have in here Scythe - which is currently the Nuclear Scythe (and discussion on why early game scythes should not exist for you budding designers); the Twilight Sword and an examination of why it's such a disliked part of the Lantern experience and the Katana which demonstrates how to do the "destined weapon" experience the right way (the weapon itself has some issues though, all of its options are not really great at the moment).


Scythe

Scythe is by design a rare, late game weapon, which is why currently we just have the upgrade-able Nuclear Scythe as the only option. Scythe has an absolutely insane combination of weapon specialisation and mastery and as a consequence of this the Nuclear Scythe is hard to build, late game and doesn't really work well without the power stone(s).

People often comment on how the Nuclear Scythe should be buffed, but after a lot of consideration I think it really only needs a small strength buff, everything else about it is absolutely fine because of the insanity of these two weapon proficiency powers.

We've talked about powerful proficiencies here and there before, but these two are pretty much near the top of the tree. The specialization allows you to essentially "dodge" the trap as long as you build for critical hits and play correctly, it's a conditional "Crest Crown" on a stick and that gear card needs an L3 Phoenix, you can get your Scythe from an L1 or L2 Dragon King if you're willing to pay the price.

The mastery is just straight up an extra attack each turn on your scythe, it's pretty basic, but powerful as heck, especially when you remember that it's going to be stacked onto the specialization as well.

This is why there should NEVER be an early game scythe (not from anything earlier than the level of an L2 Dragon King or a rare occurrence like the L1 DK Deathblow which also has an 80% chance of killing a survivor). Scythes are strong, like really, really strong and that's why they are rare and statistically underpowered.


Nuclear Scythe - Dragon King

Power Level: Mid to End Game

Speed: 2 Speed has strong synergy with the Cat's Eye Circlet, given how the Scythe Specialization works, this is extremely strong. 3 speed wouldn't let you bury the trap and shuffle it away 50% of the time on a crit.

Accuracy: Very middle of the road, which is fine I guess, but it wouldn't have hurt to have this weapon on a 5+

Strength: This is the single issue with the Nuclear Scythe, it's been designed with the Dragon Armor and Red Core buffs in mind, which means that by itself it is just a bad weapon for when you can make it. Remember this is in essence a Node 3 L2 weapon that rarely pops out the L1 and has a chance of death when collecting the resource from the Deathblow (it's not clear if it kills when collected via victory rewards because those are not specifically received by any one survivor).

As a consequence this weapon has 2 points of strength less than it should have, even at strength 6 it is still baseline on par with the Zanbato, but its harder to craft.

With the Red Core/Cycloid Scale it climbs up to a mean wounding roll of 14.5, which is very respectable, and that can be buffed further with Phoenix or Dragon Armor, but that's still a lot of work to get the weapon working and the loss of slots is problematic.

The Blue Core requires killing an L3 DK, which is absolutely no mean feat as he hits like a truck at that level, and when you have it, it represents an upgraded Lucky Charm that's stackable with it (or Death Mask) - so you can pivot your Scythe into becoming a crit weapon if you prefer.

The temptation is to go Nuclear with both cores, but I've tried that out and I think you're better off being very flexible with your options and running just one core at a time and specializing hard into what it does. On the whole the Blue Core is stronger.

Affinities: Lots of affinities, all of which need to be connected in order to give you the option of the Activated Scythe. We'll discuss that more in the ability section, but as the ability is optional even when activated, this is all good.

Ability: So as mentioned before with the Nuclear Dagger, this ability - "spending" insanity to gain Devastating 1 for your next attack is a high price to pay. But it is optional and that means that you are in charge of when to use Devastating. I think that's a very powerful choice, it allows you to drop your insanity down when it's too high and it also means you don't have to always be devastating the way that weapons such as the Zanbato force you to be. Feels like a weak ability, but it's better than it looks.

Summary: Missing just a couple of points in strength, the Nuclear Scythe is a lot better than it looks. It is easy to look at the cores and say 'pfft they should have affinities' or 'why would I ever bother with spending these slots. But we're a community who will use the Monster Tooth Necklace or Lucky Charm to help push weapons past break points and the cores are just better versions of those gear cards.

However, as before I do enclose my "upgraded" versions of the two cores for those of you who feel disillusioned that the cores do not include an affinity each. (See attachments).


Twilight Sword

One of my largest issues with the People of the Lantern campaign revolves around the Twilight Sword and the Hooded Knight. Apart from the Twilight Order being a nasty bunch of antagonists posing as 'protectors' (there are a lot of hints that they are controlled by an entity and at best, dupes but at worst, irredeemably evil - hence why they get deserters).

However the problems with the Twilight Sword in game revolve not around its lore, but its mechanics in game, in specific the way that it is given out, its nature, its progression design and most of all, the Hooded Knight's event.

At its heart, the progression design of the Twilight Sword is very cool, it's a bad weapon that gradually gets stronger and stronger as you become more proficient in it. I actually have no complaints about the sword's design in isolation. I even really like the 'destiny weapon' design where the survivor who completes the journey departs the settlement.

Though this 'completion departure' could have been done better if the sword referenced a story event on completion instead of just telling you in advance that 'once you're done, you leave'. Even a legacy style envelope would have worked a lot better here. What can you do about it though? The cat is out of the bag and unless you're using my idea of small weapon proficiency cards that can hide the mastery until you get the job done, you know that completing the mastery removes your survivor from the story.

That's a free custom idea for you next time you play with new people. Give them my small reference Specialization card and put the mastery version in a small black envelope that they get to open once they complete the mastery. Just make sure that they're not going to freak out over the departure though, people do get attached to their survivors.

The largest problem with the design of the Twilight Sword is the Hooded Knight event itself. I'm not going to go into all of the details, but the fact that the sword is forced onto the most experienced returning survivor is an absolutely awful mechanic. Your most experienced survivor typically has the highest level of weapon proficiency and suddenly they're stuck with a cursed weapon that isn't in their chosen weapon category. It sucks to have this inflicted on you and it's resulted in a meta-game of taking out newbies the year that you get your 5th innovation. (Or go get Crystal Skin so you can dodge the curse and slap it into storage).

On top of that, if you have the sword in your grid the Hooded Knight is going to turn up every once in a while and kill/beat the living heck out of you if you've not been training the Sword. It's just a horrible situation, especially for a game that is so sandbox in nature.

Ultimately it's this forced non-choice with punishment for not obeying that makes the Twilight Sword so disliked. As we'll see when we look at Katana, it could have been done in a much better way.

Twilight Sword - Rare (Hooded Knight, Hunt Events)

Power Level: All campaign

Speed: Initially Slow, this weapon picks up to 3 speed at Rank 4. That's a very interesting design element and one that I like a lot.

Accuracy: Accuracy starts at 9 and gradually improves more and more as you rank up. Again that's a very cool design element and I love it a lot.

Strength: 9 Strength is absolutely bananas, this weapon turns up as a 1/9+/9 weapon and that's powerful, but later on it becomes a 3/3+/9 weapon and its ridiculous then. There cannot ever be any complaints about its strength.

Affinities: N/A

Ability: Loads of abilities here to unpack. It's got a huge pile of drawbacks, including being Cursed, Cumbersome, Sentient (need to be Insane to use) and its Irreplaceable (which is how I usually deal with the situation, I get the sword onto some newbie and wait for the Hooded Knight to butcher them - ignoring the entire experience). It also gains Deadly at Rank .

The big issues are the Cumbersome, which disappears at Rank 2 and Sentient. Cumbersome can be worked around with clever use of the various Monster Move/Attack Armors (White Lion, Screaming, Dragon, Phoenix, Membrane) and Sentient. In the core game the best way to handle Sentient is to make sure that one of your survivors has the Screaming Armor (Screaming Horns) - often the Sword wielder themselves is the best choice for that outfit. The other option is to purchase the Allison White Box, which gives you access to this accessory.

This is a nice balanced option that you can add to the game and I think it's a great choice.

Finally we have the Devastating 2 vs. Watchers, this is basically a theme ability because it's providing a silver bullet for a monster that doesn't really need them. Newer players will likely appreciate the crutch that this bonus provides, but they are not going to improve as players by using it. It's an unnecessary bonus that encourages players to stall on waking the Watcher (and therefore miss out on the interesting content that turns up afterwards).

Summary: Good mastery design, interesting weapon. But held back hard by the punishing way that it is inflicted onto your survivors. As we'll see in Katana below, it didn't have to be this way and the Twilight Order can go eat a bag of white lion ding dongs as a result.


Katanas - Core, Slenderman & Sunstalker

In contrast to how the Twilight Sword is designed I really rate the story event that gives out Katana mastery. I wrote about this in the past and I'm not going to retread it here, so pop over to this link and have a read if you're interested.

This is another 'destiny weapon' which will result in your survivor leaving the settlement, essentially jetpacking their way out of the story and becoming one of the only real survivors in Sun/Lantern because high school nihilism is edgy. I think destiny weapons are very cool ways of telling a larger story.

Katana's story is one of the more 'complete' ones, we understand where the Katana masters originally came from (Sun settlements), what their objective is (killing Suns in revenge for their loss) and the rest is left there for you to fill in the blanks. They're also the most weeby of all masteries by miles and miles, bless those of you who dream of being a samurai badass, now you can.

The event that starts this chain is triggered either by 5 innovations in People of the Sun, or by killing a L3 Sunstalker (something not many people do). Then a Katana master turns up and through the Edged Tonometry event, they test to see if anyone has the potential to become one of them. It's a fun spin on Ocular Tonometry, which you can read about here. The entire event oozes character and the only complaint I have is that it gives out 3 Eye Patches and you only get one in the Sunstalker box.

I love the Eye Patch, its one of my favourite pieces of gear.

The aim of the eye patch is to allow your chosen Katana user, (that's right you get to CHOOSE who gets Katana Mastery :O ) to immediately be able to benefit from Katana Spec without needing to blind themselves.

I am on record saying that I think automatic wounds are a problem mechanic and they should be used sparingly. But I consider this version of the process to be fine, it is limited to a single, story driven weapon type that only one survivor in your party can be using at a time and it's only once per attack on a Perfect hit. Automatic wounds with lots of narrow conditions to trigger are fine. Automatic wounds like the kind on the Counterweighted Axe and Red Ring are not.

Ultimately, when you complete the mastery your survivor will leave, all the comments about how this could have been better handled as a story event in the Twilight Sword section still apply here, but ultimately I am on board with this form of bigger picture via mechanics. Enjoy your walk amongst the darkness my now giant collection of wandering ageless katana masters. You all earned it.

Lets look at the Katanas we have, there are not many at the moment, but Adam's promised at least two more in Campaigns of Death.


Rainbow Katana & Blood Sheath - Basically Plumery, but actually in Weapon Crafter

Power Level: Mid to End Game

Speed: The core game Katanas follow a meme design of X/X/X, which is why the Rainbow Katana has 4 speed. This is altogether too much speed if you are fighting a monster that has Super Dense location(s), because losing your Rainbow Katana due to Frail is far too high a price to pay. However, once combined with the sheath, this situation is removed and it just becomes a fun weapon to slash with. Great if you have Warhamster players who like to roll lots of dice.

Accuracy: 4+ accuracy is really good once you've gotten the Sheath sorted.

Strength: 4 strength is where this weapon struggles a bit, but again it gains +1d10 for a mean strength of 9.5 once you have the sheath. If you haven't already figured it out, I do not recommend using this weapon at all without the sheath on its right.

Affinities: One single left red, which is needed to give the Katana Deadly. Fortunately that's the perfect slot to fit it onto many different things, such as the Monster Tooth Necklace!

Ability: I highly recommend using this weapon with Screaming Armor. That armor set is almost perfect for the job and that's how you can have the weapon active with the sheath and deadly.

The Sheath is also super interesting, it's not a shield, but it does provide block on a non-weapon, which helps because if you're using the sheath to activate the katana, you want that slot to do as much as possible. Spoilers, it does.

Summary: My #1 choice for a Katana, I think that the Rainbow Katana is well designed and interesting. It's one of the main reasons why I'd hunt a Phoenix and I think the only frustrating thing about it is that it's on the Weapon Crafter location rather than the Plumery.

Gloom Katana & Gloom Sheath - Slenderman

Power Level: Potentially End Game

Speed: Fixed at 4 speed this time, this weapon can have absolutely massive amounts of strength, so it's not really a downside.

Accuracy: 5+ is good, I never have complaints about a 5+. Though for the memes it should have been 4+ again.

Strength: This one is very difficult to assess, strength could be anything from 0 to millions because of the various insanity exploits that the game contains. So it's going to depend on how good you are at gathering and maintaining insanity. The Sheath helps with this mechanic when its set up right.

Affinities: One up blue on the Katana and One up Red on the Sheath. A pretty basic, and awkward paring designed to try and let you pump up your strength by increasing your insanity each turn. It's worth setting up, but be wary of the L3 Slenderman.

Ability: I am a lot less impressed with the abilities on display here than I am with the Rainbow Katana. Savage is an underwhelming version of Devastating and therefore the only real benefit of the Gloom Katana over the Rainbow one is the choice of monster you are getting it from and the ability to abuse Insanity gains for a ridiculous level of strength. Never forget that Hiccup (Gorm) is an infinity insanity gain loop with the Monster Controller mechanics.

Summary: This one lives in an odd place, it's more the mechanics abusers choice of katana over the Rainbow one and to be honest it is one of the weapons in the game I think is very problematic in design. If you're not looking to abuse it then (again) you're likely using it with the Screaming Armor, but it's never going to surpass the Rainbow Katana without abuse, so why bother? Just make a Gloom Hammer.

Muramasa - Hunt Event Sword & The Statue

Power Level: Suicidal

Speed: 6 speed is absolutely insane on a Katana that is always Frail. But it's downright self-lethal on a weapon with the ability it has.

Accuracy: The meme continues with 6+ accuracy, which is a bit of a god send in some ways, you don't want all 6 attacks to hit most of the time.

Strength: Zanbato tier base strength, but it has sharp so it's actually a mean strength of 11.5 (aka 17 average wounding roll result). Certainly good enough to threaten most monsters you'd typically encounter. Especially with that Deadly 2

Affinities: N/A

Ability: First of all, this one is a PITA to get. Here's the hunt event for it:

So you are NOT getting this one early on, you need at least 4 hunt XP. Which I think is a good way of gating this weapon. It's not clear if this 'statue' is a reference to the Cyclops Knight again, or if it's someone else (Katana users are renowned for having one eye as we learnt above). The CK doesn't have 6 arms, but he tends to be behind the smithing of almost every single rare weapon the survivors encounter.

The weapon itself has a lot of downsides for its power. It is frail, sentient, and unique. But it isn't irreplacable/cursed so unless you break it, you'll have it for a while.

The main drawback however is that 2 Bleeding Tokens when you critically wound. That's a huge problem as it can instantaneously kill most survivors. Even Survivors with Unconscious Fighter or Purpose will struggle to withstand that kind of punishment.

That's where the Last Man Standing 'meme' build came in. The idea is to run away 3 of your survivors and leave the Muramasa Survivor, who has Last Man Standing, to hack the monster down solo.

It's not really the ultimate strategy, because the Muramasa still has Frail (BOOOO), but it is a fun experience until your Katana breaks and you're left trying to punch the monster to death all on your own.

Summary: Hard to use but potentially very powerful. This is the kind of thing that Rare weapons should be. I'm not someone who really gets excited by Katanas as historically they were pretty shoddy weapons (Give me that Milan steel any day over pig iron katanas), but there is no doubt that this weapon is an event and a story all in itself. Especially if you are a huge risk taker who enjoys that.

I just think that Frail on this is a real shame.

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DK Cores .zip (3.0MiB)

Comments (6)
user avatar
User #6933513 - 13 Oct 19 13:52
Playing actually a Scyth Master in PofSun. Pretty neat their. Mastery is like a "Surge" substitute, Affinitie puzzling for the Devasting Ability isnt neede d(Prismatic or just use Overcharge). Childs/Warrior of the Sun are generelly higher on Strenght, so we got an easy compensation for the low Strenght of the Scythe.
user avatar
User #6933513 - 7 Oct 19 16:16
Now i NEED to play with a Scyth:) very interessting. Played once with the Gloom Katana/Sheath in a "light" abuse version (Ghostly Beauty, most of the time 40-55 insanity). Problematic is, one unlucky hunt event and ZERO Insanity. I dislike high speed weapons, played so far only once with the Rainbow Katana/Sheath in Screaming Antilope. Was nice, but not overwheling. I am very excited for the new Katanas in the COD, especially the early Game Version. PS: So much of a pain in the a** the TW is...it is a free high strenght weapon (in the potentially early Game).
user avatar
User #14725393 - 8 Oct 19 05:01
Oh unresolved hl are the hl you have just drawn and still to wound. Ok i get it now.
user avatar
User #16381135 - 7 Oct 19 11:06
One build I was contemplating for Muramasa was having it on a survivor with Hemophobia, that way your attack is interrupted after the first crit and it won't kill you. Then for example add in Sour Death so you could get yourself back up and earn STR tokens. To make it outright stupid add Thrill Seeker and Rawhide or another survivor with Red Fist so you won't run out of survival.
user avatar
User #14725393 - 7 Oct 19 20:56
I do not understand. On a critical hit with a scythe, i have to shuffle the discard hl and put on top of the hl deck?
user avatar
FenPaints - 7 Oct 19 21:45
You shuffle it into the deck (minis drawn HLs). Whenever instructed to shuffle a deck it's the entire deck plus discard unless the instructions say specifically otherwise.
As Lethal as it Needs to be - Whips 2019-10-04T10:00:01+00:00

1. Introduction

2. Axes

3. Bows

4. Arrows and Quivers

5. Clubs

6. Daggers

7. Grand

8. Katar

9. Shield

10. Spear

11. Sword

12. Thrown, Fist & Tooth

13. Whip

14. Twilight, Katana & Scythe

15. The White Gigalion Gear

Overview:

As my favourite weapon that just doesn't get the love theydeserve, Whips are one of three criminally under designed weapons in the game along with Scythes and Daggers. While Daggers got a much needed boost with the release of the White Gigalion, for some reason we still cannot craft a Lion Tail or Sunstalker tendril into a Whip (Custom expansion on this coming next month). This means that Whips suffer from a lack of breadth, depth and progression because there are 4 whips and 1 upgraded whip.

In essence, every single Whip user you play in a campaign is going to use the same whips each time, only changing it up if they have access to the Spidicules expansion. I do think it's straight up a criminal shame that the White Gigalion didn't give us a Lion Tail + Hooked Claw Giga-Whip and I'll be addressing that next month directly.

Also Whips inexplicably do not have Reach 2 as a standard ability, given what Whips are - this is a bizarre choice and one that harms the design of Whips overall.

Now lets look at the Specialization and Mastery, because they're an odd pairing.

The specialization is nothing short of phenomenal, there's nothing else in the game quite like it and this cements one of the themes that the Whip has - AI Control. Make no bones about it, this ability is really powerful, you get to prune the AI deck of troublesome AI cards that it's drawn, there's nothing else that does this and the longer the fight goes on the weaker the monster's offense will become as a consequence.

The Mastery on the other hand, well... Ya' basic! This is nothing more than propping up the weaknesses of the weapon class as a whole (as we'll see going ahead Strength is the main problem with this weapon type. Honestly it's uninspired, underpowered and just not interesting. Maybe it'll get a revision in Campaigns of Death (HAH!)

Outside of that, the identity of Whips is not great. It has solid Mood/AI control abilities coupled with above average speed, average accuracy and low strength. This is not a very good combination for any weapon, in fact it's kind of similar to the issues that plague Daggers.

Let's take a look at this small roster shall we?


Rawhide Whip - Skinnery

Power Level: Low (Early Game)

Speed: 3 Speed isn't a large problem when you have 7+ accuracy, as mentioned here and there I find high speed low(ish) accuracy weapons to be quite acceptable in design as long as they have a decent chance of wounding.

Accuracy: I might have just said 7+ accuracy is okay with 3 speed, but it's not in the case of this weapon. This is because the Rawhide Whip is a Tech Tier 1.5 weapon - it's in the Tier 1 location, but it requires Ammonia to make. So it should be better.

Strength: Now we get to why I'm pretty thumbs down on this weapon. As mentioned above, this is not a starting game weapon, you need ammonia and that's something that rarely turns up before you've managed to build Gorm/Spidicules/White Lion weapons. So having such an awful strength level isn't really justified. But you can see why it has been so heavily nerfed when you look at the ability.

Affinities: N/A

Ability: OK so Provoke is ABSOLUTELY INSANE as an ability. It's one of the strongest pieces of AI control in the entire game right now. Certain monsters just fall apart when they're forced to attack a Whip tank over and over and I suspect this is why the Rawhide Whip has just 1 strength. However, there is a late game option that uses this gear.

Summary: A terrible statline on an awkward to make weapon that has one of the most overpowered abilities in the game. In the hands of a high strength survivor, this weapon can carry you through huge parts of the game, but it is almost useless in the hands of anyone else.

Silk Whip - Silk Mill

Power Level: Early to Mid Game

Speed: 2 Speed is standard, however this weapon could have benefited from 3 speed easily.

Accuracy: One cannot complain about a 6+

Strength: 3 strength is a little light here because this weapon isn't easy to craft, it requires 1x large appendage from the Spidicules (plus 1x bone) and that's not a given when you hunt the Spidicules. So considering all the difficulties (hard showdown for a LY2 monster, awkward resource deck, requires monster specific gear) this weapon could have been strength 4 and been fair.

Affinities: Decent affinities, they connect with the Leather Shield and the Lucky Charm with ease, so there isn't much to complain about here at all. I like this positioning of down green + right blue a lot.

Ability: Another ridiculously strong ability, this one can decimate monsters that put out a lot of moods (hello Gigalion, Butcher and co) because it is in essence another 'auto-wound' ability as long as you Perfect hit the monster when they have a wound. This whip is one of my favourite picks on a Cycloid Scale or Dragon Armor survivor and it's a reason why I recommend the Spicidules/Sunstalker/Dragon King campaign combo.

Summary: Very powerful early game weapon that's overlooked mostly because it sits with a (justifiably) unpopular expansion. When Spidicules and its gear gets some CoD balance revisions and/or Abyssal Woods gets released and Spidicules has to be hunted for progression then we're likely to see a surge in popularity with this weapon amongst the KDM Hipster crowd. You can get there first by using it with Cycloid Scale Armor!

Hunter Whip - Leather Worker

Power Level: Early to Mid Game

Speed: As always, anything between 1-3 speed is very acceptable for a weapon, though with the stat line this gear has, 2 speed might have been more preferable. 3 speed tends to exaggerate the statistical weaknesses of a weapon. However, this is somewhat countered with the presence of a useful Perfect hit ability.

Accuracy: Nothing to write home about here, this is a pretty standard accuracy for a weapon like this. But I think it's worth mentioning that 7+ accuracy would have actually been an improvement on the design because it would cut down the percentage of hit that are not Perfect hits.

Strength: The main issue with the Hunter Whip is the same one that most Weapon Crafter weapons have. It is short 1-2 points of strength because of the design decision to make the Early game monsters have 3+ strength on their weapons. By the time you can make the Hunter Whip you're typically looking at moving onto Toughness 9-10 monsters and 3 strength baseline just isn't good enough at that point.

Affinities: While two blue affinities is fine, and the right blue does mean you can consider a Luck based build to get around the limitations of the low strength. In order to get the weapon's ability online you need both attached. Let's be straight up honest here, you NEED that ability on if you're going to use the Hunter Whip, there's little justification to use it otherwise.

So this makes the weapon a bit demanding to sort out, sadly it's best deployed on a Cycloid Scale Armor survivor - but that's basically the same for almost every single whip here. However it does work with Dragon Armor somewhat and Leather armor. So there are options.

Ability: This ability is the number one reason for using this weapon, nowhere near as powerful as the Silk Whip version which allows you to archive moods directly instead of having to deal with the HL deck, but if you do not have Spidicules available - this is your only option and it at least deals with moods without risking the Harvester the way that the Whisker Harp does.

Summary: The Hunter Whip is 2 strength points short of being a meta weapon, if you have a survivor with the right stats in strength or luck you can certainly make good use of this. But it is hard to justify using it over superior options in the same tier if you are looking to be optimal.

Ring Whip

Power Level: Late Game (Low)

Speed: 2 Speed is something of a boon here because of the awful Early Iron drawback. 3 Speed would have been a death knell, but 2 is managable as it's only ~1 in 5 hits that will entirely miss.

Accuracy: 5+ Accuracy is pretty great for any weapon and it's something I like to see on

Strength: In essence this weapon has a very variable amount of strength as it has nothing other than survivor stats and Sharp to score with. That means your mean wounding roll is going to be 11 + survivor strength. That's just not good enough for the late game - so you're going to be looking at boosting it further with monster charge armor sets.

Affinities: One can't complain about a left blue affinity as it does have uses. But it's nothing to get excited about on a non-deadly weapon.

Ability: As mentioned above, this weapon has Early Iron lumbering it with a 19% chance of all hits missing every attack, plus all it's strength comes from 'Sharp' which means it has zero synergy with Cycloid Scale armor.

However, it does have Reach 2, which as mentioned in the opening is something that ALL whips just should have as a standard part of their design, and that means it's viable on Phoenix and Dragon armor survivors because of how their charge abilities combo strongly with reach. This can help compensate for the weapon's weak stats.

Summary: Overall this weapon is a sad end game option. In the hands of a Whip Master who is using Dragon Armor with a Rainbow Wing Belt (Dung Beetle Knight) that allows her to reroll her first 1 on each dice (reducing the chances of a full miss to 1.9%) then it can really shine, but for everyone else this is just something you make on the way to crafting the Oxidized version.

Oxidized Ring Whip - People of the Lantern Only

Power Level: End Game

Speed: Average/good speed. Could have managed more.

Accuracy: This weapon would certainly have appreciated additional accuracy, but you cannot complain about 5+ and in general terms Oxidizing weapons doesn't always improve their accuracy, so it's fine - especially when you consider that Early Iron is no longer a factor.

Strength: While it's not a huge jump, +3 strength over the normal Ring Whip does matter a great deal as it pushes the weapon to naked 14 mean wounding roll and a naked maximum of 23.

Affinities: That blue left has now become essential to the weapon's design, that means it's not as good as it was before when it was just a bonus. But armor sets like Dragon and Screaming can connect up just fine with this. It has serious demands on its red affinity requirements though without providing any support itself. This limits the armor sets its viable on a lot. Personally I prefer Dragon Armor over all else as that has 2 and a half reds, plus space to activate the Ring Whip and a Monster Tooth Necklace. It works out as a very powerful offensive semi-tank build then.

Ability: This ability is both a blessing and a curse, because of how powerful Provoke is, you can handle monsters with easy if your survivor has a shield and good evasion, but the BRRR affinity requirements of this ability keep it in check somewhat. You can easily activate it with Cycloid and get a shield and evasion gear in, but then you're wasting the Sharp and blind spot bonuses. You can put it on Dragon Armor, but then you have limited evasion (basically Monster Grease's +1) and you can't really fit this on Phoenix where it would work best because Phoenix has garbage affinities.

So as strong on paper as this ability is, and it's absolutely dominating when used by a tactically savvy individual (i.e. Dancer Armor + Whip kiting) it can be really hard to actually do this in practice because of that affinity requirement.

Summary: Powerful, exciting, hard to use correctly. This weapon is close to perfection, the only real shame is how it's tied to Lantern campaigns only. Regardless I hope this represents the template for future Whips.

Conclusion:

Whips demonstrate a lot of potential in the future, however what we need to see is a change in the base statline philosophy. Making Reach a standard part of the weapon would be a good beginning, but also they need an offensive boost - either pushing them into Deadly, adding more strength or changing the mastery to have more panache. As it stands right now, they can be very impressive with the right survivor, but the right survivor tends to either be one stat in Cycloid Scale/Phoenix/Dragon armor or one with Ageless and a load of personal strength. It's not good to have to rely on one single survivor for this kind of thing, so it's probable that you'll mostly see Whip survivors only in Stars where the Storm constellation can allow them to complete mastery within 3-4 hunts and have a good shelf life after that without the need for ageless.

Area that has a lot of potential for growth with new expansions though!

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Comments (1)
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User #6933513 - 7 Oct 19 16:12
The missing of reach by the Whip Design is really iritiating. No Indiana Jones Style for us. Your insightful write up about whips, let me think about some Whip designs and so far, i just played whips for "hunt event migation". Love the weapon specialisation . Plan to inclued a Whip Tank in the next Settlement or so.
Echoes II Strains (Small Reference Cards) 2019-09-25T10:24:15+00:00

A short one today as building work is still going on and it's absolutely horrible to concentrate, so I'll have to take up working in the evening more.

These were on the discord and in the comments of the previous post, but it was requested that I release them on an "official" post. These are all of the small reference cards for Echoes of Death II (and the ones from the first one mini-expansion as well).

I am not including the strain milestones because I want to encourage that people get those via the official source (and additionally I think that there's no need for a square version of a card that is used once and then discarded until you fully reset your game).

For my thoughts on the new Strain fighting arts, see this mini review here.

Normal full posting service resumes on Friday with Whips and next week we'll start a look at the support gear, post the hunt event cards and wrap up the weapons with Scythe, Katana and Twilight Sword (plus cap stone article). I especially love how Katana demonstrates how to do the Twilight Sword 'departs on a great destiny' mechanic without it feeling bad the way that the Twilight one does.

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User #755856 - 25 Sep 19 15:38
Thanks for these! Allows me to customize my FA deck with the right strain FA cards and use it purely as a randomizer, while useing the mini cards as reference for the FAs my survivors have. I agree that the milestone cards don't need mini cards.
Aeon Trespass: Odyssey - Example Battle: First Hekaton Fight 2019-09-11T11:06:34+00:00

This article is for the purposes of demonstrating how a battle flows in AT:O. In the interest of keeping the experience as spoiler light as possible and keeping the length of the article to a reasonable size. I have chosen to cover the first Hekaton fight, which is against a Level 0 Hekaton. If you want to see how the fight flows against a higher level Hekaton, check out One-stop Coop Shop's fight or Marcin & Konrad playing over here.

I also recommend watching TWIST Gaming this evening at 8PM Eastern Time (or the VOD tomorrow) if you want to see the first fight played live! Misplays and death is almost guaranteed!

As always with these kind of things, this isn't a 'this is how the game is played, rules breakdown' it's more about the flow of a fight so you can see a snapshot of the system and understand how it works, get a feel for the way the game escalates, the mounting threat of the Triskellion system and the potential opportunities that occur tactically during the turns.

Here is the set up for the first Primordial fight, which takes place in the Argo itself, between a weakened Hekaton and your newly awakened Argonauts controlling their titans.

The Titans are always set into these four fixed positions, but you can choose which titan goes where. That does actually matter because while the four Dreamwalker Titans are almost identical, they all have a different second ability. Solon deals more damage at high rage, Herodotus can taunt, Ulyssea has the ability to choose what BP they have hit when close to death and Philoctera is great at providing support with her Expose ability.

Here is the breakdown of the Titan sheet:

This is what the Primordial Dashboard currently looks like, it's going to be updated for the full game.

The AI Deck contains all the Level I AI cards and the BP Deck contains all the Level I BP Cards. This will change during the battle. Also included is the Titan's Routine action, which it will do if it cannot find a target and its signature move, which some AI and BP call for it to do.

The Hekaton is an aggressive, simplistic Primordial, so a lot of the time it just looks for the nearest titan and smashes them. However, if it is left to its own devices without a target then it's Idle Hands routine will result in it attacking the Argo. The Argo has only 5 hull points and if it loses all of them, the campaign is a failure. So you absolutely do not want to leave the Hekaton unattended.

The Level 0 Hekaton is the weakest Primordial in the Prelude, being the easiest to hit, slowest and having the least wounds.

At higher ranks you can see that the Hekaton becomes harder to hit, takes more wounds, gains special traits and can even have its AT Field (Toughness) increased. In the full game these tables will climb up to level 9.

Outside of their Titan Sheet, each player will also need to use their Triskellion to track various things.

Note in the printed version, Life is now on the bottom and called Danger while Kratos is on the left and called Rage.

Rage increases each time you attack, and as it rises you gain access to more and more abilities on the Titan sheet, plus you also get to do more and more things on the Kratos table, such as reroll dice, leave openings/breaks or even push the primordial about. These Kratos tables can be changed during the campaign by learning new styles.

Danger directly translates into the Life points of your titan (hence its original name), as it increases you will take heavier and heavier trauma (see the Danger table for the various thresholds). Trauma is not always bad, but you start to risk your Titan dying when you are at Trauma II and it becomes a lot more likely at trauma III.

Fate is a bit different, it's a resource that you can spend to reroll some dice. Increasing your chances of hitting or not being hit; or even as part of the cost of activating your abilities! However, there are costs to doing this, some things that the Primordials do punishes higher Fate Titans a bit extra.

However, the downside of each of these dials is that they only go to 9 and once you are at 9 some terrible things start to happen. At >9 Rage your Titan is lost forever, dead. At Danger >9 you are very close to death and at >9 Fate you have to draw Moiros cards that can do really awful things to you.

Finally, here is the steps of an attack:

In the Primordial's turn they will draw an AI card and perform the actions on it, while during the Titan's turn they will activate in any order they choose and move + activate (usually attack). This part is similar to other games in the genre. I'm not going to go into huge detail here as the rulebook should be released in full soon.

Now you have an idea of how things flow and some basic information, we'll move into the battle! Here's my setup and the first action.

As you can see, the Primordial gets to go first here and it's going to choose the 'Priority target'. Which is represented by this symbol:

The Priority Target is the titan with the highest rage, it also allows you to figure out who is targeted in all other cases (it's the first applicable titan clockwise from the Priority Target). The Priority Target changes when a Titan exceeds the rage of the current Priority Target holder.

Initially Philoctera has the Priority Target.

So the Hekaton barrels forward and delivers a Smash at her.

It's a single dice attack, so Philoctera's player rolls one dice to try and evade it (if they had 3+ Fate it would have been 2 dice). A 7 is not good enough, but at this early stage they decide not to reroll. So they are hit for 2 Danger and draw a Trauma I!

A Counter Push! Philoctera shoves the Primordial back a step and moves with it, then the post trauma text triggers and she is knocked back 4 spaces.

This is her Triskellion after that attack.

Solon takes the first attack of the battle, swinging with his fists:

He (and all the Titans here) get to roll 2 dice when attacking, they hit on a 7+ (Hekaton's To Hit) and each hit will generate 1 Red Dice, which is added to the Red Dice these titans generate on a hit normally.

Unfortunately, Solon misses with both dice, but Ulyssea goes right after him and scores a hit!

In fact, as it's a 0 (10) she's potentially going to get a critical wound, if she can manage to wound the BP.

She hits the Mighty Fist and if she can manage to wound we'll make the Hekaton easier to wound. But sadly she rolls just 1 break and 2x potentials. As this is the first successful attack in the game there's nothing to use with those potentials, so this BP is discarded with no effect.

After the attack, because she is at Rage 1, she gets to perform the first part of the Kratos table. Leaving either 1x opening or 1x break in the Kratos pool.

She leaves a Break.

It's worth noting that because Solon was the first one to attack in this initial round, he hit Rage 1 first and now has the Priority Token, but that's not going to last.

Philoctera goes next, because she is at A2 (Danger 2) she gains a Fate and activates Rush moving back to the Hekaton and getting an extra Red Dice!

That's 3 breaks along with 1 extra in the pool, so she dominates the AT Field and scores the first wound of the battle. When the titan is wounded it reacts with a pushback and signature move. But more importantly the AI and BP decks 'Escalate'. Changing the makeup of both the AI and BP decks by adding tougher cards that contain tougher, more vital locations and more powerful moves.

Herodotus goes last in the turn and manages a mighty critical wound against the 'One of a Hundred' BP. This means he ends up at Rage 3 on the conclusion of the attack and becomes the new Priority target. Again the AI and BP decks escalate, removing another L1 AI card and shuffling in an L2 AI and BP card into their respective decks.

Herodotus is now Rage 3 and as the highest rage gains the Priority token.

The Hektaon's turn comes around and it decides to go with the 'Cold Open' move.

As you can see, despite Herodotus being the Priority Target, it's Philoctera that is going to be targeted here because she matches the first condition. If she had been out of the front zone, then Herodotus would have been the target choice.

Philoctera takes a beating despite spending a reroll on the evasion and draws a Trauma I card.

She's knocked down!

Bit of a rough situation for her here, she will be missing her entire next turn. But this has created an opportunity for Herodotus!

As we can see, once his next attack has concluded he will gain access to the Kratos 4 tier, which includes a pushback. He can potentially shove the Hekaton into the pillar it's next to.

Boom. That's a wound and the pushback is going to happen. Poor Philoctera is going to get crashed into by the Hekaton as well, but that's just going to displace her a space here. Other Primordials may not be so kind.

As you can see, there's a chance to weaken the Hekaton's AT field, or even deal a wound!

WOMP WOMP. A 2. Nothing happens.

This is where the Hekaton's dashboard is after this attack, there's a II BP location, but Herodotus has left 2x breaks for the next Titan, so their odds are better.

And it turns out to really matter. Ulyssea goes next and hits the bone plates with a critical wound.

She even manages the 5 breaks thanks to those two potentials and gains the Shieldblade card!

As you can see, this piece of a Hekaton is more accurate and significantly harder hitting than just fists. It also provides the ability to block. But it's a very slow weapon, it exhausts when you use it (you have to spend your activation to un-exhaust). So it only works every other turn.

The titan Escalates and a III AI card lands on top of the deck, someone is in for a bad time.

It's going to be a Backbreaker onto Herodotus. Nasty

As you can see, if your fate is too high here, you're dead. But even if you don't die you have to draw a Trauma III (Grave Wound). Poor old Herodotus takes a beating.

He ends up in a state of Dread from that crushing blow, reeling and now only able to attack from behind. But now it's time for the Titans to retaliate. Ulyssea is up first with her newfound weapon.

The Hekaton takes its 5th wound and becomes unable to Pushback anymore. It's in a really bad state at this point and it just needs to be put out of its misery. Philoctera moves around to the Rear (no bonuses for doing this, it just helps Herodotus if he needs to attack) and gets stuck in.

That's a III BP location there, Philoctera's going to need a pinch of fortune and those two break tokens if she's going to make it.


There was never a doubt. She smashes the Hekaton's 'One of a Hundred' with a devastating roll and sends it tumbling, lifeless to the floor of the Argo's chamber.

However, Herodotus is still under the effects of Dread and will have to draw a Fated Mnemos card in the aftermath...

And that's it, an entire prelude fight. The later Primordials are a lot more durable than this first Hekaton, it barely gets to start rolling on its more dangerous actions before it runs out of wounds. Also the Hekaton is in essence the 'training primordials' it's more simplistic and basic in its aggression when compared to other Primordials so bare that in mind. Likewise terrain becomes more complex further on, with locations you can search or cities you should try and protect.

Death kills a Titan rather than the Argonaut the player is using, and while that is an issue, you should have more titans in reserve unless you're killing them off recklessly. Also outside of the first fight, you often have a 'retreat' option (usually lose 2x titans). This means you can cut your losses, protect 2 of your titans from dying and just suffer the defeat conditions. There's some great mitigation there.

Likewise gear, alternative Danger/Kratos Tables, Mnemos abilities, training and similar can increase your tactical options a lot more, and as these primordials can reach level 9, you're going to need all of it! Enjoy!

You can check out Aeon Trespass: Odyssey's kickstarter via this referral link! (There's no benefits to me, it just helps the ITU team).

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Comments (4)
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User #24207321 - 11 Sep 19 12:11
Yup, it'll be the Argonaut/Triskelion symbol there!
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User #5330172 - 11 Sep 19 19:20
Thank you for that great write-up!
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User #4820009 - 11 Sep 19 11:14
I was scrolling to see how the 10's are looks like on the dices and I wasn't disappointed :)
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FenPaints - 11 Sep 19 11:21
They're going to be putting actual symbols on the 10 and 1 for the dice in the actual game.
Marshlight Reviews: Aeon Trespass: Odyssey - First Impressions 2019-09-08T09:24:14+00:00

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of the Prelude version of this game for the purposes of reviewing and providing playtesting feedback. This is also a 'first impressions' review, written based on one playthrough of the Prelude version only and I can't guarantee I played every rule 100% correctly on the first try.

For a long time when people have been asked 'what games are like Kingdom Death?' The name Gloomhaven has been brought up, this comparison has never sat well with me because - well Gloomhaven is a clear direct descendant of Fantasy Flight's game Descent. Initially, when I heard about Aeon Trespass: Odyssey, it looked like it was going to be another Descent style game from a small company without much in the way of a history. So I dismissed it.

Why do I write this? Because I want to give you the context that I was in the camp of 'not interested in this game' of KDM players so you can understand the baseline value of what I write going ahead. When AT:O returned onto my radar early this summer I decided to reach out to the guys at Into the Unknown Studios, get over my preconceptions and give the game a fair shake. Judge it on its own merits and give it a chance to win me over. This game has to really shine in order to get me to endorse it.


Let's lay it out there from the start - Aeon Trespass Odyssey is not simply "a Kingdom Death clone", while it shares the same philosophy in that it is a story based game with battles against complex card based AI that has both active and reactive elements, that system is very different. Both the player controlled pieces; 10m tall mysterious Titans that are controlled by the Argonauts that the players represent and the automated Primordials have a lot of very different mechanics and because of how different the battle phase is, I'll be putting up a step by step breakdown of the experience of playing the first fight in the Prelude next Wednesday. I think the battle system is something you should see, because it is incredible how they have mutated the AI/HL system into something new and cohesive. It's thrilling to see that the Action/Reaction AI system can be evolved and it is amazing that the very next game to use it has achieved this so well.


Battling

In fact, the battle phase in ATO is just great; from the very first battle, despite being armed with only fists, you have a wealth of choices and decisions. Do I attack first, increasing my rage and drawing the priority token so that the pressure on my companion's titan is lessened or can they keep the focus a bit longer? What kratos tokens should I leave for the next person to take advantage of, will they need more accuracy or more power?

There are also a whole bunch of interesting attacking mechanics, your Titans can be knocked back through pillars or cities (bad news that one) or they can even be pushed back by the Primordial. Moving backwards while the Primordial follows. There are mechanics for helping create more openings or even getting a small 'backpedal' and the ever present Fate pool for each player gives a whole bunch of rerolls - you can push through a vital action, but there are consequences for doing so, the Primordial sometimes punishes high fate Titans and if you go too high, well there are some bad things that can happen. This mixture of chance and mitigation gives you a lot of decisions to make each turn.

It's fast, it's easy to get into and the way that the Titans and the Primordial become stronger the closer they are to death is thrilling. You're encouraged to push your luck and the limits of your titan's form by being rewarded, and because of how attacking increases rage, and rage eventually results in the loss of your titan - you can't turtle. Every attack feels like it matters, even if you don't manage to wound the Primordial, you still contribute!

We did have some problems with the iconography on the cards, it's a bit small and not very clear except in bright light, I am hopeful that they sort this out - especially the icon for opening (accuracy) which is an eye and the icon for evasion which is a half circle arrow around a dot (it also looks kind of like an eye). Also, there's not much you can do to mitigate being Knocked down, if it happens your just kinda sitting there on your ass for the whole of your next turn. no Encourage here. That can be frustrating.

The trauma/damage system for both the Primordials and the Titans is super cool, the Primordials lose their BP Cards (HL) as they get wounded and gain new ones, these new ones are tougher and more dangerous, but you get to see when they are coming. While the Titans draw Trauma cards from three different decks (depending how high your Danger aka wounds is). These trauma cards can result in injuries, death, temporary conditions or even bonuses. It's very thrilling and the way that these are decks means that they can be changed during the campaign progression. I love it.


Voyaging & Exploring

The rest of the game outside of the battles is also very different; you voyage around a tile/card based map where you pick a direction and reveal a tile. There's a lot of well positioned information on the gorgeous tiles. Here's how the tutorial tiles look once you've laid them all out. They are not a part of the actual game map and serve to just help teach you on a linear path.

Each tile has one or more exit arrows that tell you what numbered tile comes next, the colour of the arrow also matters because it informs you what type of resource is available in the direction you head - I appreciate this because you're not entirely travelling around blind. In addition there are potentially 'adventure hubs' on a tile, here this is the T in a white circle. These adventure hubs are where the aptly named 'Adventure Phase' happens, and that system is far more substantial than the voyage phase.

There are other things that occur on these tiles, you can encounter peril - which is a deck of cards that starts out relatively safe, but can gain more cards as time moves forward depending on your actions/choices. You can end up adding in mutinies or even Primordial ambushes. Or you can find progress, advancing your own goals, or doom - which advances the foes' goals in the cycle. It feels like the 7th Continent and that's a good thing. It could feel really bad when you hit multiple doom tiles if you pick the wrong route, we were fortunate and avoided that.

This phase however contains the first of the mechanics I did not really like, and that's resource generation. The first time you move the Argo onto a tile, if it has a resource icon, you roll a red dice and get that much of the resource. This dice can generate 0, 1 or 2 and while it can be upgraded through technology, rolling a 0 just sucks hard because you never get another chance to generate that resource. On our first playthrough we got a bounty of resources, but every time we rolled that dice, it just didn't feel good and I can see campaigns where you're struggling to craft anything happening.

I like that there is resource generation that's not linked to the 'all or nothing must kill the monster' system that KDM has, but I am not a fan of there being in essence 3 types of resources and that you have to generate them in a single instance per tile and can get nothing at all. Gear is a big part of what makes a campaign/story game like KDM feel so deep and engaging, and resource generation matters on that front. Gathering resources while you travel feels great, but smashing them off monsters when you battle them feels even better. I know I'm not alone in feeling a bit unhappy with this resource system and it's one of a couple of negatives that this game has.

The technology side of this experience on the other hand is wonderful, technology flows in a logical fashion and every step, whether it's gaining a new location on the Argo or some breakthrough in understanding, there's new things to discover and a feeling of replay-ability though different technology routes. The tech system in the Prelude is truncated, but I still loved what they showed us.


Equipment

This brings me to the second negative area of the ATO experience, I don't know if this is just because of the limited form in the Prelude version; but the gear system is in some ways less engaging than the KDM one.

The individual gear mechanics are very interesting and I do not have problems with the theme of the gear (some of it looks so cool and badass) or the use of them. There's a host of sweet things here.

But each Titan is limited to 1-2 hands worth of weapons, armor and 2 support cards. There's no gear grid, no affinities, the system is more like the ones in Descent and Gloomhaven. I feel this is a sad loss of depth, especially when combined with the resource system - and it pushes ATO more towards the story portion of the experience, making the game more accessible, but at the cost of some of the most interesting new gear/equipment mechanics we've seen in this genre. This is one area I wish the game was more close to KDM and I'm hopeful that the full game's equipment mechanics offer more flexibility, diversity and the puzzle like mechanics of layouts. There's a MASSIVE amount of replayability in KDM just because of the grid loadouts, and it would be a shame to miss that here.

It is worth noting that choosing titans, who have different abilities, does give you some elements that KDM doesn't have, but those varied titans are not part of the Prelude, so I can't fully comment on if it's a sufficient balance for what was puzzle solving was lost with the switch to a more traditional gear system.


Art & Theme

The art and style of this game is marvelous, the blend of "science fantasy" with Greek mythology makes things both familiar and alien at the same time and this game is absolutely beautiful to look at. The board is busy with many different pieces of Greek style art, but the clever choice to have it all in muted brown tones means that it doesn't distract you when the battles are flowing. The tiles are also gorgeous, with a map-like style that feeds into the themes of the game and everything is topped off with the relief style art on some cards and the breathtaking full art on other. This game looks good even in the Prelude form.


Adventuring & Mystery

So the adventure phase is where the meat of the game lays outside of the battles and it's a great phase. If you have been lucky enough to play Legacy of Dragonholt from Fantasy Flight Games then you'll know almost exactly what this portion feels like. If you haven't, then it's like a cooperative choose your own adventure story.

This does mean there's a lot of reading and making decisions, sometimes without much information to go on. For example, do you pay attention to a bunch of kids or an old woman on arrival in a city?

These decisions set of a branching set of paths that are followed around each time you reach an adventure hub, you'll encounter mysterious spirals, deserted villages and even the strange pasts of your amnesiac tabula rasa Argonauts. Stories are absolutely everywhere, they're well written and once you get over the fear of making the 'wrong' choice, you'll plunge into a whole bunch of them without repeating things because of the way that the game closes off stories you've already experienced.

Legacy of Dragonholt was one of the best story games I played this year, and I was thrilled to see it be a part of ATO, decisions you make matter and can come back to aid or haunt you later on. When finished you feel like you've missed out on cool stuff and that drives you to go back and play a second time so you can make different decisions and see where things end up. It's well realized, well written and above all else, fun. And though it does lean a lot on the trope of 'mysterious, forgotten pasts', that helps with you making the same journey of discovery that your argonaut(s) do.


Summary

The grips and issues I have with this game are honestly few and far between (it's basically resources and lack of gear grid/affinities as a mechanic), and there is no doubt in my mind that Aeon Trespass: Odyssey is one of the 'must back' kickstarters of this year (alongside Middara, which I couldn't afford) - at the very minimum you should seriously consider getting the Prelude backing option, which is a wonderful, accessible story driven boss battle game that serves as a great introduction to the genre. It's about 2-3 sessions of play and has (apparently) 12 different endings, so if you want to hit all of those and experience all the content you could probably end up playing just the Prelude for over a hundred hours. But the main game is sitting at a really affordable price for something that's mature in style while also being more family friendly (there is some sort of graphic violence). It's different enough to KDM to justify its existence and its price point, easy of access and broader appeal means that this one is likely to be an absolutely massive hit by bringing the boss battle genre to the masses.

Beautiful, mysterious, dripping with theme and unique. With unique mechanics, a strong blend of story and monster battling plus wonderful miniatures that are full of character. This one deserves a slot on your shelf whether you're a solo player, someone who wants to dip your toe into the boss battle genre but can't afford the cost of the other option or a die in the wool KDM player who wants to lure people into their favourite genre. Yeah this one is a good gateway game to swing people across to your chosen hobby.

I will be backing it, all in.

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Comments (14)
user avatar
User #8220613 - 8 Sep 19 16:39
Was great to hear your thoughts! Judging the gear (as with most things) is hard to get a great grasp with how short a time we had with the game. Crafting was introduced so late we only had time to craft a few gear. Looking through it however I did notice *some* groupings that I hope is expounded on in the final game. For instance you can have a shield that you spend an action to add an armor token to it. When you use it to defend it loses a token. So you can use it every other turn, or spend a few outside of combat buffing it up and then jump into the fray for a bit. This combined with some armor that also uses the token, but has no way to actually produce the token needed to use it so it's main use is paired with the shield. Knowing this game there's probably a Kratos card or some other way of gaining the token as well so if you combined a future support item, shield, kratos card and armor (potentially) then you could really tank super well. I didn't have time to do this but I ended up training under someone and got a new Kratos card that allowed for pushbacks. I had planned to get a reach weapon to really help keep Primordials. Ideally long term this meant you focused more on items that added offense over defense. Granted this still isn't like KD:M's stuff, but I was happy with the potential I saw from the prelude even if it was a bit more open-ended. As for art and theme, I for some reason really LOVE how the pictorials work on the various cards. The use of red on them in particular are quite effective. Also, fantastic job with the painting!
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FenPaints - 8 Sep 19 21:45
Thanks man, your second 50min video was fantastic, I watched the whole thing!
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User #14725393 - 8 Sep 19 11:50
Game is already an all-in for me. Too bad it will delivery same time as wave 3 (if nothing goes wrong).
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User #14916535 - 9 Sep 19 13:21
So I'm torn, I can only do one more Kickstarter this year and its between this and Oathsworn, I'm really stuck in a difficult choice both games look fantastic but I only have so much free cash, may I could get my other half to pay for one as my Christmas present but I don't like doing that for KS as its nothing to put under the tree. We are both a big fan of Greek Myths, she's in fact half greek and we named our daughter Ariadne so the pull is stong on this one.
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User #3302018 - 8 Sep 19 13:01
After beeing able to play a short session of Prelude too, i fully understand this review. Same positives and negatives from my perspective. But i am sure there will be work on the negatives. It is also an must have all in kickstarter this year to me.
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User #14725393 - 8 Sep 19 09:47
The equip section is a bit of a let down. I love kdm for the mini puzzle game you have to do every time you craft a new piece of equip.
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FenPaints - 8 Sep 19 11:21
ITU told me that; There are other mini loadout-puzzles in the full game, kratos, danger, titan choices etc. So there should still be meaningful decisions to make.
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User #13785838 - 8 Sep 19 11:27
As for the resources: is there no possibility that battles in the full game might award more resources? And it would be totally wasteful to not be able to somehow customize a titan's kratos table, so I hope that's where some more "gear" customization comes in. Anyway, I pretty much turned around on this one, all the way from "I don't need a KDM clone" to "I want this for what it is all by itself". It sure will feel reminiscent of a lot of recent great games, but both the actual combat as the adventure phase have not that much in common with KDM actually. Looking forward to more content on this one from you.
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User #24207321 - 8 Sep 19 12:10
Hey guys! We're actually doing just that! I'll post what I told Fen: All these gripes are really tied to the ‘early game’ syndrome. There are times were you get specific resources from Primordials (especially in cycle 2), you also get resources for defending cities, towns and so on. There are technologies that make gathering more efficient or produce basic resources. Finally, the basic economy balance is still a work in progress, so if a lot of beta testers report it’s stingy, we’ll modify it accordingly. As for the gear grid – we really didn’t set out to copy KDM! :D But we have our brand of ‘tactical loudouts’: first of all, you’ll try to combine those 5 basic items you can carry with your Danger and Kratos tables (these are modifiable through training) to get the most out of your Gear. Secondly, a lot of the more advanced Titans have more slots available (along with 3-handed weapons ;)). Later on you get transforming weapons/gear (2 items in one) and there is a lot of systems that allow you to change Gear/Weapons during Battle – there’s even a cannon on the Argo that sends weapons flying into the Battlefield; sometimes you’ll need to change the loadout on the fly, because the Primordial will transform or make your current gear unusable. On top of that you have Mnemos Abilities… so there is a lot of customization here, just not the gear grid ;)
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User #7670218 - 10 Sep 19 21:52
Am I the only one that finds the showdown board to be a bit distracting? Feels a bit too abstract to me.
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User #9110977 - 10 Sep 19 01:27
Do Primodial fights are as static as they seems? battle videos so far shown little movement, and low interaction with the environment.
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FenPaints - 10 Sep 19 05:25
Nope. The Labyrinthauros for example moves a lot more and lays maze terrain down every turn.
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User #9406428 - 8 Sep 19 10:58
Do you happen to know how much the main games price is going to be on the kickstarter? I can't find that information anywhere.
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FenPaints - 8 Sep 19 11:10
Current reports are $69 for the polished version of the Prelude campaign I played or $129 for the full core game.
A Visual Guide to the Gorm
A Visual Guide to the Gormmore_vert
2019-09-09T13:00:04+00:00
A Visual Guide to the Gorm 2019-09-09T13:00:04+00:00close

These things take far, far longer than I'd like to admit.

It's not a complete, encyclopedic coverage of everything, more a primer for your expectations along with a few 'watch out for this' and 'this is good' moments.

If someone finally comes up with something better than either an Archer, a Two-Handed Reach Bruiser (Mid Game) or a Grand Weapon DPS Bruiser for Gorment Armor. I'd love to see it. That armor set really falls off hard quickly, it feels like it's got White Lion syndrome and I hope it's revised in Campaigns of Death (especially its interactions with the Regeneration Suit).

(Check attachments for high res version).


Media (1)


A_Visual_Guide_to_the_Gorm.png (16.2MiB)

As Lethal as it Needs to be - Thrown Weapons and Fist & Tooth 2019-09-13T09:23:23+00:00

Contents:

1. Introduction

2. Axes

3. Bows

4. Arrows and Quivers

5. Clubs

6. Daggers

7. Grand

8. Katar

9. Shield

10. Spear

11. Sword

12. Thrown, Fist & Tooth

13. Whip

14. Twilight, Katana & Scythe

Overview:

We're looking at two weapon categories this week because they both represent small sections of the game that have not (to date) been fleshed out properly. One of these is a hugely underdeveloped and bizarrely denied a weapon specialisation/proficiency (even to the point of the glossary very specifically excluding this) and the second has only two 'weapons' and a bunch of upgrades hidden away in various parts of the game.

Thrown Weapons

These weapons start out very strongly; with one of the most powerful and enduring bone smith weapons in the Bone Darts, however once past this there are very few thrown weapons available and they do not really return in any strong form until you get to the LY9 monsters.

The issues with Thrown Weapons are multiple, they have no proficiency, which means that they are at best relegated to something used as a secondary weapon by a shield or fist & tooth user. They tend to have very awkward statlines that hold them back and increase the risk of using them and as a whole they lack a real identity. Bone Darts set them as being the 'high strength, slow, inaccurate ranged weapon'; but they are really the only member of that category. The "high" end thrown weapons tend towards support abilities, and they can be quite good at those, but ultimately the (frankly shameful) lack of a weapon proficiency for Thrown Weapons pretty much eliminates them from the game a lot of the time. One lives in hope that Poots' strong 'anti-thrown' proclivity is toned down in the Wave 4 expansions, but until then they're relegated to the Phantom Zone a lot of the time.

Fist & Tooth

(I've attached the various different combinations of Fist & Tooth abilities to the bottom of this article along with a printable A4 .pdf version)

You start out with access to this weapon and it's one of the most important in the entire game thanks to its weapon specialization.

The Mastery is just a nice stat boost for completing the weapon progression, and for the most part it's absolutely nothing to look down on. It becomes very strong when combined with the Storm Constellation in Stars, but it also helps your Fist & Tooth Master move onto a new weapon. (It's also so amazing

It is important here to note that once you are have added in all the expansion fighting arts, innovations and similar as per the official rules, your fist and tooth survivor should absolutely be female. This is because Females have access to Death Touch via Choriea (remember that thing? I harp on about it a lot). If you get that music (Spidicules) innovation together, you should seriously consider sending your female F&T user to dance with some pleb male whenever you have spare endeavors.

In the Fist & Tooth section we're going to explore the various different bonuses you can get along with how you can get them rather than discuss the weapons themselves. If you want to read about the ultimate Fist and Tooth weapon - the Speaker Cult Knife - it's in the dagger article.

But before that, we'll briefly pour through the Thrown Weapons as there are some legitimately useful pieces of gear here.

Thrown Weapons

Bone Dart - Bone Smith

Power Level: Early to Mid Game

Speed: Very low, in fact it's too low for this weapon, which is one of the reasons why you will stop using it. It could have been 2 speed, but then it would be very strong. Note that it's 1 speed but not slow, so you can make good use of this weapon on a +speed survivor.

Accuracy: 40% accuracy is the other severe negative of this weapon and its combination with 1 speed can be a source of frustration. It never feels good to do 'nothing' with your attack turn after turn and the bone darts are more likely to achieve that than most weapons.

Strength: Really good for the cost and the crafting location. I've mentioned it before, but I rate Bone Darts as being one of the best early game weapons (LY1, LY2 and LY5 - L1 monsters) and their strength is a big part of that. Even when you're onto better weapons, you often still carry around the bone darts in case you get caught out of position.

Affinities: 1 red affinity in the best possible position. Once can't complain about that at all.

Ability: Range 6 is massive on these darts, it's the other reason why they are so powerful, not only does it allow you to get around ground fighting on the White Lion, but it also helps with Spidicules and combos with the Giant Stone face (which you can get via the Tactician fighting art). It's more range than a weapon like this really should have.

Frail becomes an issue later on in the game, but we're all very experienced in avoiding Super Dense locations now and even if you do hit one. Even if you do hit one; it's probably not a loss because you you're likely just using the darts as a back up by that time

Summary: One of the strongest early game weapons out there, the cheap cost combined with decent/acceptable stats and range means this one should be on everyone's shopping list.

Throwing Knives - Spidicules

Power Level: Early Game

Speed: 4 Speed is a risky stat, but it's also one of the few things that makes this weapon feel unique. In particular there's a space for combining this speed with Timeless Eye to ensure that every hit on the first successful attack is a Perfect hit. But even without that, 50% of actual hits this weapon produces under normal attacking conditions will be a Perfect hit.

Accuracy: As we started to discuss above, this weapon is designed to be inaccurate and then gain accuracy as the fight progresses. It is a very cool mechanic and on a different weapon with some actual punch to it (and an actual form of weapon progression) this would be interesting.

Strength: Here's where we hit the second stumbling block of this weapon, the strength is absolutely terrible, even for an early game weapon. Again you could forgive this weapon if Thrown was a class that had progression, but it doesn't and therefore the strength on this one is a massive deal breaker.

Affinities: Strength could have been mitigated here if the weapon had the right affinity, a left red affinity would smoothly bring the Monster Tooth Necklace into play and push it to a quick 4 strength (with Rawhide). That at least would have helped mitigate the strength issue.

Ability: I like the ability, I like the range, this weapon's design space has a lot of potential. Just not with the baseline weapon we have here. You could argue that you use this weapon to build accuracy tokens and then apply that to a different weapon, but you're just spending activation to make low impact attacks.

Summary: Interesting idea, but falls short in so many places. There's few real reason to craft these knives. So just leave them in the box unless you are looking to use them for 'scrubbing' (the act of removing useless hit locations in order to get to the resource related ones back into play).

Dragon Chakram - Dragon King

Power Level: Early Game

Speed: I never have any complaints about a weapon being 2 speed. Though it does feel really weird that a Chakram can hit twice, I guess it's once on the way out and once on the way back?

Accuracy: Standard accuracy.

Strength: This is a HUGE problem, this weapon is ridiculously underpowered on the strength front. As you can see in the ability section, the idea of this weapon is to lead off with it in order to give everyone an effective evasion bonus. But the strength on this weapon is so low that it's hard to justify using this against monsters. -1 evasion isn't that important, it's nice, but it's not worth failing to wound over and over against a monster that can be very problematic if it hits you with reactions.

Affinities: N/A

Ability: Apart from being the coolest sounding weapon in the game. The Chakram is a very short range weapon that suffers from poor stats holding back a decent ability. You can use this with attack spam (multiple attacks a round stack) to give everyone else a lot of accuracy buffs. This means it works as a temporary buff for everyone who attacks afterwards and that increases the amount of hits scored per round, but at the cost of risking being harmed when you have to try and wound with a strength 3 weapon. Just to really stress the point, strength 3 is white lion weapon strength, node 1. That's not good.

It's nice that the ability still triggers even on traps though.

Summary: Not worth it. I'd rather it be this instead.

I don't think I need to explain why this is a weapon almost worth crafting from a LY8 monster unlike the official version.

Sky Harpoon - Sunstalker

An amazing spear with the thrown keyword for no real mechanical benefit (currently) in the official game (It has an interaction with the Black Lion gear though). For more details on this one, check the Spear portion of this series.


Sunspot Dart - Sunstalker

Power Level: End Game

Speed: 4 Speed seems like a scary number, but it is one of the absolute strengths of this weapon, and we'll explore why below. At the moment it is enough to say that this weapon represents one of the ways that you can make high speed an interesting design.

Accuracy: 7+ accuracy is a bummer on this one, it's pretty fair for this weapon if I am honest, but unlike most high speed weapons I would have been a lot happier if this was a 6+ or better.

Strength: 3 strength is in the "not good because it's a LY1 weapon strength level' but that is mitgated somewhat by the addition of Deadly onto this weapon. Deadly is what really matters here, well Deadly and its ability.

Affinities: The right red isn't very useful most of the time, as we've discussed many times before, right red is the worst position for a red affinity.

Ability: This is where we reach the reasons why the Sunspot Darts are one of the most important and powerful weapons in the game. While this weapon has a couple of large downsides (activation limit of 3 times, thrown weapon type). It has Deadly and most importantly it has the single most powerful 'on hit' ability in the game alongside the Hollowpoint Arrow.

Each hit with these darts, which can score up to 4 hits per attack, generates 1 survival for each adjacent survivor. If all 4 survivors are adjacent that could be up to 4 survival each per attack (more likely to be 40-50% of that) and you can do that 3 times.

This means this weapon represents a huge pile of survival. Up to Dart Speed x Adjacent Survivors x Activation limit amounts of survival. (4 x 4 x 3 = 48 point maximum). While the typical amount generated is going to be a lot lower than that, more probably about 12 or so. That is still more survival than any other single gear card can offer you and that means they are unique and incredibly powerful in their own right.

On top of that, the darts have deadly, so they can contribute towards crit farming monsters while doing this.

Summary: One of three genuinely great thrown weapons (Bone darts and Sky Harpoon are the other two), this unique piece of gear has a place in every single hunt.


Fist & Tooth

Acid Palms

There are two relatively reliable ways of gaining Acid Palms, an ability which is arguably the strongest option for any F&T user. The first is via the Gorm L2 hunt, where you can gain it on the Blind Exit from the Gorm den (30% chance), but this comes with the downside of being random and inflicting -1 movement. It's a solid way to try and set up a new F&T survivor, but it's not the easiest.

The other, more direct route, is to have the Dragon King as a huntable quarry, in LY8 he will turn up briefly during his introduction event and "gift" a survivor with Acid Palms and the cursed Husk of Destiny.

It's worth thinking that this gear card here is basically your 'weapon' because it's tied to gaining the Acid Palms. So while you "lose" a slot, you've gained an appropriate level of power. Always being insane is sometimes a downside, there are also some strong positives to it.

In addition, Acid Palms mechanically works like Sharp, but it's not actually Sharp itself, which means that you can combine Acid Palms with things like the Speaker Cult Knife or Iron Jaw (see below). It's an incredibly powerful ability, effectively adding +5.5 average strength to your survivor's fist and tooth attacks for the rest of their existence.


Death Touch

This female only Secret Fighting Art is gained via an innovation dice roll at one of the best innovations you're probably still not using (Choirea from the Spidicules Expansion). It's another of multiple reasons why females make the better hunters in KDM and it also has a nice 'side effect' of often creating useful male hunters (very rare) who have the Harvestman Fighting Art.

It has a small buff to accuracy, and also comes with an inbuilt version of the Beast Knuckles katar (that weapon that's almost good enough to talk about, but not quite). This ability is best utilised by having other survivors surge inside the Death Touch survivor's attack so they can also take advantage of the -1 toughness she generates.


Monster Claw Style

While there are a few direct ways of getting access to Monster Claw Style (Bone Witch for example) the only really reliable way is via the newly released Ringtail Vixen White Box content. (Link here, currently sold out at the time of writing). She's born with it, and she'll be about for slightly more than half of your campaigns (you automatically get her in the first campaign you use the micro-expansion and 50% of the time after that).

It's a decent fighting art and one of the best places where Savage is utilised. While none of the buffs are staggering, they all lean into what helps make F&T strong. I don't think you Sculpture this one, but you do appreciate having it.


Iron Jaw

Gained via the settlement event Dark Dentist (because every medical professional in the world of Kingdom Death is either an edgelord or silky). This one is just a way of getting Sharp on your F&T Survivor for a relatively cheap cost (2x Iron). It's hard to guarantee, so there's not really much advice except where possible having Iron and Scrap laying around in your settlement is a good way to increase the chances of success. Sadly even if you've paid the price, you need to roll on a table to not die and have it succeed. I recommend this one for SotF settlements only as they have the rerolls to spare.


Other Boosts

There are also three pieces of gear which are particularly relevant to F&T users, these are the Lucky Charm, Monster-Tooth Necklace and the Death Mask. The Lucky Charm and MTN are cheap ways of increasing your Luck + Strength in order to make fisting more effective and they combine well with Rawhide Armor + a left red weapon (I recommend the Greater Gaxe because it has Deadly) so they provide a reliable way to have an effective survivor who is training up F&T.

The Death Mask only really becomes an option if you get it via the Mask Maker or you manage to Deathblow the Butcher early enough in the campaign and unlock that location. It's one of the reasons why I really advocate stalling out the L1 and L2 Butchers as much as possible and always going for the Deathblow kill.

Outside of that, ways of gaining more strength (Young Rivals, Giant's Blood) can be options, but those come with their own downsides.


Conclusion

Due to the lack of any kind of thrown weapon, along with only having few options, Thrown weapons barely exist outside of the Bone Darts and the Sunspot Darts. While these two options are very powerful for the portion of the game in which you would use them, there's just no real argument to use any of the others. This is a shame, because it limits diversity of options across the board - but perhaps in future expansions, with Adam reversing his anti-thrown (and anti-bomb) position of no proficiency plus printing more options, this may change. They're a cool weapon type, but they have little place in the game right now outside of Bone and Sun options.

Fist and Tooth on the other hand has a weapon proficiency, and as we've discussed above, it's one of the most powerful ones in the entire game. But because F&T itself has such little in the way of reliable upgrades or variation that it's really just a chore to level up. Gear that would have represented 'brass knuckle' or 'punch glove' type equipment has been rolled into Katars and that's limited your options.

You want a F&T master in every single settlement, that's absolutely not up for debate, but making one is a thankless task. Unless you've gained Acid Palms or similar; invest in an alternative Deadly weapon (LBK, Zanbato, Greater Gaxe) to cover all the attacks after you've inflicted your first wound with your fists.

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Attachments (4)


Fist & Tooth.zip (3.0MiB)
Fist and Tooth Sheet.png (2.1MiB)
Dragon Chakram.png (501.0KiB)
Iron Jaw.png (579.0KiB)

Comments (5)
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User #6933513 - 7 Oct 19 16:06
Fen your take on the Sunspot Dart is an interessting one or should i say, full of Survival gaining. A gear i never played before, consider it now. Thx for the input!
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User #14725393 - 13 Sep 19 11:22
During one of my last campaign, I had a FT master, with base luck+2 and acid palm. Was an insane crit beast until she was killed by my first very liv.2 DBK.
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User #6933513 - 7 Oct 19 16:04
Got in 2 Campaigns the Powerful Combination of FT Master with Iron Jaw and Acid Palms;)...once in a Brawl Armour, just for the meme and try to pimp up the F&T Stuff.
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User #18975536 - 13 Sep 19 11:33
Digging that new chakram! I think I’ll go ahead and use it in my current People of the Skulls campaign.
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User #6933513 - 7 Oct 19 16:04
"New" Chakram is an interessting take, will try it in the far future.
September "Giveaway" incoming! 2019-08-31T18:37:05+00:00

Back before the summer started I asked if people would be interested in exchanging their unpainted miniatures for my painted ones (where I want to repaint the model) - in essence giving away the paint jobs as free pre-painted commissions as way of thanking you for patron support.

Unfortunately the summer move meant that I couldn't set this up because all my painted miniatures were on the mainland. Now I realise that I didn't mention this idea again, but I did not forget.

I'm traveling back now and as such I want to get this sorted for you guys! So watch out for soon, I'll be setting it all up once I've taken inventory, worked out a system and photographed the models!

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Comments (2)
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User #13273947 - 31 Aug 19 23:22
Oh, this would be very exciting! You were living in Sweden now right? I live there myself and got the Satan's Lantern pledge rolling in and there will probably be some of the miniature I can just give straight away or for a small fee
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User #9972687 - 31 Aug 19 18:56
Wow intense! This should be interesting!
Aeon Trespass: Odyssey (Prelude) has arrived!
Aeon Trespass: Odyssey (Prelude) has arrived!more_vert
2019-08-30T11:29:11+00:00
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Aeon Trespass: Odyssey (Prelude) has arrived! 2019-08-30T11:29:11+00:00close

Above is Josh from TWIST Gaming (Great Game Hunters) undertaking a box opening video for those of you who want something like that. Though how you can spend an hour and a half on the box opening is beyond me.

My copy arrived this morning, I'll have some pictures up soon (they're on the discord already for those of you who hang there) and we'll be playing it this evening. So if you prefer a written form of experience with this game, I'll be providing that soon. We'll have a first impressions review up before the Kickstarter goes live on the 9th of September, so that should give you enough information to form an opinion. But I can tell you, if you enjoy Kingdom Death, this game is absolutely in your wheelhaus already.

Then if you're on the fence, I'd recommend doing either a $1 backing or clicking 'Remind me' because I'll be doing some deep dives on the various mechanics once we've played through the campaign a few times (even the Prelude version has things change over time in a pseudo-legacy style). That way you can wait until near the end and go in with as informed an opinion as possible.

Until then; as you can see from the video, this game already looks absolutely gorgeous.


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Comments (5)
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User #6378167 - 2 Sep 19 00:28
I don't really think I have the time or space in my room for another game the size and scope of KDM unfortunately.
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User #14725393 - 30 Aug 19 14:10
I really love the idea behind this game, the lore, mechanics etc. But when it will be delivered? How much that date is realistic? We know that wave3 will be delivered in 2020 (at least). AT will arrive before that?
user avatar
User #13785838 - 30 Aug 19 11:39
Okay, okay, I was somewhat iffy on it at first and have *some* trouble to see it at the side of KDM and having them both played regularly, but everything I've seen so far looks really promising. Only point I'm afraid of is the amount written narrative - I hope they don't go overboard and keep it at the minimum. I know they don't just go for KDM-like emergent storylines spiced up with Souls-like lore backdrops, and that's something I really don't need any more of, so I hope they keep it at a reasonable minimum and let us focus on gameplay. But I guess your previews will shine ample light on that. Looking forward to them.
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User #15859435 - 31 Aug 19 20:06
It makes me really happy you guys are covering ATO. I’ve been following their progress (as much as you can) for the past year. You guys do great work with KDM so I’m excited to see what you guys will think about the game!
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FenPaints - 31 Aug 19 20:08
So far we've had an amazing experience with both the game and the people behind it. I'll be writing some stuff about our experiences in Prelude next week!
As Lethal as it Needs to Be - Swords 2019-09-06T12:00:00+00:00

Contents:

1. Introduction

2. Axes

3. Bows

4. Arrows and Quivers

5. Clubs

6. Daggers

7. Grand

8. Katar

9. Shield

10. Spear

11. Sword

12. Thrown, Fist & Tooth

13. Whip

14. Twilight, Katana & Scythe


Overview:

Let's put this out there right in advance, Swords are my least favourite weapon type in Kingdom Death (apart from the Twilight Sword). This is not an objective opinion that they are bad, but for me, they are uninspiring, awkward and very bland. They're just so basic and I would prefer to pass on them most of the time.

However, Swords do include the most powerful individual weapons in the entire game and they have a somewhat unique design in that a large part of the weapon "mastery" for swords is hidden inside Secret Fighting Arts. In short swords do not just gain mastery, but they also gain SFAs that allow for different styles, that's a cool idea, but somewhat frustrating in practice because SFAs can be awkward to gain, sometimes are very limited in number and cannot be passed on via TDDUP Partnership (or stored on Sculpture).

Swords are also unique in that they can be directly leveled up via the Flower Knight innovation 'Petal Spiral' where as most other weapon types need to use Nightmare Training.

On top of that, Vagabond Armor gives you access to a Sword Master whenever you need it at the 'cost' of wearing that armor set, which gives you those specialisation/master benefits and as such makes it a lot easier to train up swords at the same time. It also has a well documented and "unfortunate" interaction with the Black Sword, which we'll look at when we discuss that weapon below.

The actual specialization and mastery abilities are a big part of why I find Swords to be so basic. The Specialization ability lets you 'pre-roll' your first wound attempt and attach it to whichever hit location you want (really good with True Blade's increasing of Luck for swords), which is a solid ability and would be better if Deadly was more commonplace on the prevalent swords.

The Mastery is just, here, have some more stats. The accuracy gain is great, the strength gain is a little underwhelming and the speed gain ties into the weapon specialization ability to a reasonable degree. It's just, well, so basic and that doesn't personally excite me.

Still, that written, the part of Sword design that does feel exciting is the SFA integration, and despite the limitations of that mechanical style I can't deny that True Blade is my favourite SFA by a long margin - which means that despite the negatives, I'll often have the Flower Knight around in a campaign just for the purpose of hunting the L3 and getting that SFA.

The current SFAs of note for Swords are as follows:

  • Swordsman's Promise (The Hand) - Survival Gains
  • True Blade - Deadly +3 Luck, but at the cost of some troublesome disorders
  • Blackguard Style - Giving Block to all swords, plus stat boosts when you block. Can be passed on to new survivors

Block X

Blackguard Style brings us on to the other minor mechanic that some swords have. The element of parrying is played up by giving them access to Block X (or Deflect X in the case of the OLS); X is usually 1. This is a neat mechanic, and a good idea in theory; but in practice we've seen that the community prefers block to be tied to shields because they have extra benefits. As is often the case, the lack of armor points on these defensive/hybrid weapons means it's not used very often (Same issue with the Calcified Juggernaut Blade).

Having Block X on a sword isn't a detriment, but it's not really a major bonus because it's only going to be useful in edge cases or kooky builds like dual sword blood paint bruisers.

Swords also dabble heavily in Deadly as a keyword, with the Scrap Sword, Ink Sword and Vespertine Foil being examples of this sub-genre.

Weapon Statistics

Swords have the widest range of strength in the entire game. They run from 1 (Vespertine Foil) all the way up to 31 (Activated Black Sword in the Hands of a Weapon Master), so putting together the net graph in order to show a 'typical' sword was a little tricky, I had to eliminate certain swords from the averages to try and flatten the average to something that was meaningful.

If you look just at the net graph, the "typical" sword is decently strong, accurate, slightly faster than normal, with a lot of abilities and a moderate to low amount of affinities. (More than any of the net graphs released so far, this one gives the least accurate picture, it's more of a guideline).

However, the ranges here are pretty wide, a lot wider than most of the other weapon types we've looked at and I think they are worth listing also.

  • Accuracy: From 4+ to 6+
  • Speed: From 1 to 4
  • Strength: From 1 to 20.5 (31 if you want to include the Black Sword when it's active)
  • Affinities: From 0 to 3
  • Abilities: From 1 to 4

That's a lot wider than before, but also considering that there are more swords than any other single category of weapon, that's not entirely surprising.

Because of all of this, swords tend to break down into one of three categories; Deadly, Defensive or Plain. Deadly ones are luck focused, Defensive ones use Block to some degree and the Plain ones just smash face to differing degrees of power.

So in short, Swords is a catch all category for a lot of different weapons and styles, which runs somewhat counter to my original position of calling them basic, but that's still where I land on them. If you enjoy swords, good for you! They're not my cup of tea though.

Because there are so many swords, I'm not going to go through all of them here, that would be just exhausting. As always for these articles, we'll cherry pick the best and the most interesting to discuss, especially when dealing with non-craftable weapons.


Bone Blade - Bone Smith

Power Level: LY1 (Very Early Game)

Speed: Fine for what you want, though this weapon wouldn't be too problematic if it was faster.

Accuracy: 6+ is very good for this portion of the game, it's effectively better than a 50% chance of hitting overall because of the blind spot (same reason the King's Spear is over 50% last article).

Strength: 2 Strength is a problem on this weapon, losing survivors to a quarry monster in early part of the campaign (except in the prologue fight where you benefit from losing one) can result in your settlement hitting a failure to make resources death spiral. Strength is one of the more important aspects of this and we'll discuss below why 2 strength is not good at all.

Affinities: Standard left red, it's actually less useful here than on most weapons because the primary gear you'd use it with is the Monster Tooth Necklace and that requires heat - which means you should be past using it by the time you can make the necklace. irrelevant.

Ability: Frail is something of a non-issue, most of the time you shouldn't even notice its their unless you're struggling and forced to use the bone blade vs a Gorm or the Butcher. In short, Frail on the bone blade is something that compounds losing situations further and is otherwise

Summary: The Bone Blade would be a staple of the early game, and is probably a staple of most people's games, however it is absolutely an inferior choice to the Bone Darts (more on them soon). While many people feel more at home with 2 speed, 6+ accuracy and 2 strength, 1 speed 7+ accuracyand 3 strength at range is just a strictly better choice. I used to use bone blades, but as time has passed I have phased them out entirely for bone darts, which help avoid Ground Fighting, work well against Spidicules and just remain useful for a lot, lot longer than any other bone weapon in the game right now (apart from the Club).

The Weaver - Rare Spidicules

I'm breaking my rule of no-rare gear here because of how common it is to see the Weaver. It's given via the Spidicules hunt event 'Picked Clean' on a 9+, which means if you hunt the Spidicules often it's inevitable it turns up.

Power Level: Early Game

Speed: 3 Speed is at the top end of the 'optimal' range, but here it's supported by the ability.

Accuracy: Same accuracy as many weapons, nothing special to write home about here.

Strength: 2 strength is the largest issue this weapon has, and you are going to spend most of your time mitigating it if you want to take advantage of how the Weaver works.

Affinities: The Weaver has that precious left red affinity and a second up red affinity. This makes it a superb part of a DPS Leather "self healing" build with the Monster Tooth Necklace (MTN) mitigating the low strength.

Ability: The Weaver has a very unique ability in that it is one of a small, select number of weapons that can heal its used. It is not as powerful as the Grinning Visage, but it also doesn't require survival and it doesn't need you to be able to chop all the legs off not one, but two Spidicules monsters in a campaign. This weapon encourages you to build strength and speed in a way that works, you're rewarded for hitting fast and repeatedly.

However, my goodness this weapon has a ton of bookkeeping involved in using it. If you're not using dials or tokens to track your armor, this thing is going to make you consider doing so.

Summary: I think the Weaver is a well designed weapon, it's got a strong drawback (strength) that can be mitigated, and the ability the weapon has encourages you to find a way to do that. Whether you end up using it with Cycloid Scale, Phoenix, Dragon or just the MTN and survivor strength, you're rewarded for doing so and that makes it one of the best designed rare weapons out there.

Vespertine Foil - Sense Memory/Flower Knight

Power Level: Any

Speed: 4 speed is insane when combined with Deadly 2 and a Lucky Charm.

Accuracy: 5+ means that this weapon isn't just fast, its very accurate as well, especially for blind spot attackers, which is what you should be using this one for.

Strength: The strength on this weapon is almost irrelevant, it is entirely a Deadly based weapon because the speed and high critical wound chance require that. The strength exists as the balance for the weapon, you're going to get punished hard by reactions if you can't manage to crit.

Affinities: The affinities on this weapon are perfectly placed. Red is in the optimal position to join with the MTN and Blue fits into the Lucky Charm perfectly. This essentially hands you a simple pre-built survivor who uses MTN, Foil, Lucky Charm, Rawhide Armor and a Satchel as their loadout.

Ability: Deadly 2 is super strong, there are few weapons that climb to this level, let alone this weapon which is available in lantern year 5. However, if you pick it, you are tying yourself to using the build I have written above because you need to be returning with a flower resource every single hunt. This is less of an issue in People of the Bloom, you just take a satchel + a fresh flower via the forest run every time. But for non-bloom campaigns you are committing yourself to hunting the Flower Knight every other lantern year in order to keep it going. This weapon can pay for itself, but you do have to ask yourself if it's worth it outside of Bloom.

Summary: This sword is so nearly 'meta', every time I go back to look at it again I get closer and closer to wanting to really make use of it, however outside of People of the Bloom the need to go back and fight the Flower Knight every other year (or carry a lot of satchels across your hunt party) makes this weapon just too frustrating to use.

In People of the Bloom however I can recommend using it once you have a Satchel, it just requires a Forest Run each year to support and it pays for itself very well with its 6+ critical wound chance (PotBloom survivors have +1 luck baseline).

I also like how it's designed to not combo with the Death Mask, intentional or not, that was a fantastic balance check.

Steel Sword - Rare

I'm breaking my rules to put another Rare weapon on the list, like the Weaver you will see Steel Swords more often than you'd think because they appear in multiple basic hunt events, one of which is 'tutorable' by a Barbaric settlement (Legendcaller). It's also an example of a perfectly designed rare item, so I felt it warranted discussion.

Power Level: Late Game

Speed: Because of its extreme weight (I guess, in KDM steel is super heavy or all the steel weapons are oversized, but who knows, Survivors have no problems with Grand weapons...) the Steel Sword is slow, which is kind of irrelevant because it's also a speed 1 weapon, but it does mean that this weapon never interacts with the Sword Weapon Specialist ability and ignores the speed gain from Mastery. That's pretty interesting.

Accuracy: 4+ is really good for any weapon. You rarely get better than that.

Strength: 5 strength baseline is great, but it also has sharp and +1d10 additional strength on a Perfect hit. This weapon is very powerful - in Perfect Hit situations its rolling 3d10 (average 16.5) + 5 + Survivor Strength for its wound checks (but that's only 10 to 20% of the time).

Affinities: None, which is fair enough.

Ability: So in addition to slow and sharp and the Perfect hit ability all modifying/limiting the strength and speed of this weapon, it is also irreplaceable. This balance consideration means that the Steel sword is a 'use it till you lose it' kind of weapon.

Summary: The Steel Sword is one of the weapons that always tempts me across to using swords for a while, it's great as a primary weapon for a fist and tooth or shield proficiency survivor becauseonce they have scored their one wound for the proficiency tick they have a powerful weapon to use in back up.

Scrap Sword - Weapon Crafter

Power Level: Early/Mid Game

Speed: Very average

Accuracy: 5+ gets no complaints for me.

Strength: This one is a little on the low side, the Perfect hit ability gives you potentially +4 or +8, however that is not a reliable trigger - you can't really build around something like that. It is worth mentioning that when you do hit one of these triggers it often pushes wounding the monster to a 2+ in this part of the game, but that's nowhere near as potent as the Counter-weighted Axe.

Affinities: I am not a fan of the old Up Blue affinity, however I think that it must be acknowledged that it works with Leather Armor to help get the deadly online. But that build is a little rough and hard to make work.

Ability: The Perfect hit ability has been discussed above, the gain of Deadly on this weapon is very interesting and one of the main reasons I've included this sword in the list here. It is hard to activate this and get the Lucky Charm stacked into the build as well.

Summary: This one is just 1 point of strength short of greatness (like a lot of the Weapon Crafter weapons). And while it does get better when used by a Timeless Eye survivor, I personally think that it's better to try and leverage the Deadly portion of this weapon. It becomes very strong when you have access to the Sunstalker because you go Scrap Sword + Lucky Charm + Cycloid Scale Armor before transitioning to the utterly beasty powerhouse that is the Ink Sword.

If you can get the Lucky Charm and the Deadly active in your build this one is worth the effort.


Hollow Sword - Phoenix

Summary: I'm not going into detail on this one, it's just not an interesting weapon at all, but I did want to list it as an example of what a bad sword looks like. The idea of this weapon is an interesting one, it's a high speed high risk weapon because of Frail. You can end up busting your hollow sword over the monster as you spam attacks at it.

But as the mechanics of the game dictate, if you do not have a high level of strength, spamming attacks is just a recipe for disaster. This weapon costs too much (1x Hollow Wing Bone, 2x Bone, 2x Hide) for the stats you get and if it breaks that's too high a price to pay.

Rolling 6+ dice in an attack sounds like amazing fun, but when it's tied to 3 baseline strength on a weapon that comes from the Phoenix, it's a hard pass. This weapon needs a review in Campaigns of Death (along with the Sonic Tomahawk) and I hope it gets that.

Blast Sword - Dragon King

Summary: Here's another sword I'm just going to put on a brief discussion of rather than all the categories. The Blast Sword is actually a fine piece of gear, but it's not a weapon, not really. The stat line on it is awful for when you get it, just awful. You've already graduated to weapons with 6+ strength if you're fighting the DK on the regular, 4 strength doesn't cut it offensively anymore.

However, this weapon is a way of getting free surges as a block turn after turn, or generating survival along with blocks on a bruiser. It's actually very useful as a support item in this fashion, either you always have Block 1 up (at the cost of your surge), you can turtle to regain survival or you can combo this with blood paint and another weapon to build an alternative to the Shield/Blood Paint Bruiser builds.

I like this piece of gear, but for its ability and affinities only, it's not got enough strength to be used as an offensive weapon, it needed 1-2 points more.

Ink Sword - Sunstalker Level 3

Power Level: End Game (except vs. monsters immune to critical wounds)

Speed: 4 Speed is usually too much for a weapon, but when you have this much Deadly that doesn't matter one jot.

Accuracy: As mentioned elsewhere 4+ accuracy is very high for a weapon, and in combination with the high speed this weapon hits often.

Strength: Continuing the meme and making you wonder why this weapon isn't a Katana, the Ink sword has 4 strength, which would be utter garbage, but you are absolutely not aiming to wound with

Affinities: A down blue affinity isn't very valuable, but it might have some potential. It's certainly better than nothing.

Ability: There's so much to unpack here, this is one of the few Reach 3 weapons in the game and even more incredible it has Deadly 3, this can be stacked with a combination using either the Death Mask or the Lucky Charm with True Blade for an absolutely staggering amount of critical wounds. You will shred monsters to tiny pieces very quickly when you do this.

All this power comes with a downside, you need Darkness to be able to attack. Darkness is only generated when the Sunstalker is on the showdown board or when a survivor has a Sunspot Lantern (L1 Sunstalker only support gear). If you have the Sunspot Lantern then another survivor (not the Ink Sword wielder) has to use it and then they cast a shadow behind them (Poots confirmed that the Sunspot Lantern should cause the trait - Light & Shadow to be in play for any showdown fight so it can work).

Additionally this sword is Fragile, that can suck hard on hunt and leave you in a terrible position.

Summary: The best sword that no-one apart from Fen seems to use. I love the high power, but tactical/positional requirements that the Ink Sword brings. Generally it's at its best when used in a 3 man line (Monster -> Tank -> Spear Master with Inkspot Lantern -> Ink Sword), but it can also be a lot of fun when combined with just a spear user or a mobile archer.

This weapon is a great example of how to make high level versions of monsters rewarding to fight and it's absolutely obscene on a survivor with True Blade. Powerful, hard to use, risky and cool. The pinnacle of the Deadly swords.


Sword of Silence - Fade Promo White Box

Power Level: Mid scaling to End Game

Speed: Average, fine, nothing much to see here.

Accuracy: 5+ is great if you get this weapon anywhere in the early to mid game.

Strength: 6 Strength is the threshold for the mid game and this weapon manages that, it also has access to Sharp in the hands of survivors with 5+ understanding, so it can transition into the late game.

Affinities: So many affinities and the blue and green ones are in fantastic positions. It's rare to see a weapon with this many affinities.

Ability: There is a LOT to unpack with this one, first of all it is gained via the Baby & the Sword Fade Basic Hunt Event. (I have less than a dozen basic hunt events left to layout at this point). These 'top level' hunt events sit above the normal table and include the Sword in the Stone, The Lonely Tree, Dead Warrior (aka Percival's fate) and so on. They occur more often than your normal hunt events as a consequence, so you will get the chance to grab this sword a reasonable amount of the time.

It is a sentient, irreplaceable, unique weapon so it has a number of issues when wielding it, generally you want a Screaming Armor survivor in the party because they can top up your insanity when it dips too low.

Out of the showdown this weapon has two drawbacks, one of which is very large indeed. This weapon cuts you off from access to the White Secret event - that's the Max Understanding one and it's very valuable indeed. It also denies you access to the White Speaker event triggered by Storytelling, which can give you the powerful 'Story of the Young Hero'.

So there is a point where you have to decide to dunk the Sword of Silence out of the game by sacrificing a survivor wielding it. There are a few ways you can do this, you can take them out on a nemesis fight that you're going to intentionally lose, or you can bring them on a hunt against something that will cause them to leave the settlement, such as Spidicules. Or you can just deliberately let the monster kill the survivor near the end of the showdown.

Summary: It's interesting that there is a weapon which provides so many benefits and power, but has palpable downsides plus a way of disposing of the weapon for good. I think that the Sword of Silence and the Fade white box in general represents some of the best content that we've seen in this micro-expansions to date.

I am a little sad that there is no bonus interaction between the Sword of Silence and the White Speaker Sword Hunter. Sometimes she just licks it and gives it extra strength before moving on, I guess she doesn't care about the weapon's status the way that other White Speakers do.


Lantern Sword/Oxidized Lantern Sword - Blacksmith

Power Level: Random

Speed: 3 Speed is quite a detriment to this weapon pre-oxidisation.

Accuracy: While the surface accuracy to this weapon is 5+, Early Iron adds in an added complication that 28% of the time you will roll at least 1 one and that will cancel all the hits you've scored. This drawback makes this weapon feel really frustrating and weak to use despite the relatively decent strength it has.

Strength: 3 strength + sharp is okay, it's certainly interesting if you've gotten the sword from the Open Maw hunt event (you need to roll five or six dice and risk a 70 to 85% chance of dying to do this) because it means you can be rocking this weapon early on. But because of Early Iron's massive drawback, it's not as powerful as the Steel Sword.

Affinities: Left Red is fine, it's the best red position. Lantern Weapons in general have an underwhelming number of affinities, so business as usual.

Ability: See Accuracy and Strength discussions above, this weapon hits moderately hard (2.5 points higher than the Zanbato), but misses a lot more than most weapons. It's for the gambler in you.

When Oxidized this weapon loses Early Iron and gains +2 strength along with the very powerful Deflect ability. Deflect is considerably better than Block because of the way you can set it multiple turns in advance and forget about it. However, Oxidizing is an expensive, VERY expensive process and you would be better off prioritizing Beacon Shields, Lion Beast Katars, a Ringwhip and a Lantern Glaive ahead of a Lantern Sword. So this weapon is kind of a luxury item - and if you want a Luxury sword; the Ink Sword, Griswaldo and Black Sword are all superior.

Summary: Lantern Swords just kind of exist. I rarely consider crafting them, I oxidize them an even smaller amount of the time and they live in a world where there's always a better option. You want deflect? Oxidized Beacon Shields. You want high strength Sword? Black Sword. You want to wound the monster a lot without worrying about reactions? Ink Sword.

It just doesn't have a place in the game, even if you go pure core game, with no expansions and have access to oxidizing you're still going to have this one as a low priority choice (I'd often oxidize lantern daggers over the sword in the core game only).



Black Sword - Gormchymist

Power Level: End Game

Speed: The more powerful your weapon, the more acceptable high speed can become. This is a weapon that can be between 3 and 4 speed without breaking a sweat and it has the stats to back it up.

Accuracy: Solid accuracy is what you'd expect to see here and the Black Sword does not disappoint. As always with this weapon you need to consider what it's practical applications are, in the hands of a sword master (which is where this weapon is always going to end up), it's +4/+3 accuracy, massive.

Strength: 10 Strength is huge, but when a sword master gets their hands on this it climbs to a massive 31 base strength, wounding every monster currently in the game on a 2+. It's an admirable destination for the journey of training in swords. At least it would be if there wasn't a shortcut.

Affinities: None, which is fair enough here.

Ability: In addition to having a Perfect hit survival gain ability, the Black Sword's stats climb to utterly astronomical levels when in the hands of a sword master. This weapon isn't easy to make, but every settlement with a Gorm and time will eventually construct one, so it's not rare either.

The largest issue however is how the weapon interacts with Vagabond armor currently.

As you can see from just reading, Vagabond armor gives you the benefits of Sword Mastery (and specialization), which means you unlock the true potential of the Black Sword and give it +20 strength (plus mastery bonuses). It's not even easy to argue that it's not the intention of the armor set because the Aya model who wears vagabond armor in the box which you gain this has a Black Sword herself!

Summary: Hopefully the Black Sword is reviewed and adjusted in Campaigns of Death, because as it stands right now this weapon exists on another level, not even the pure chance Perfect Slayer or the jump through hoops to make it Griswaldo come close to this weapon which is constructed from organs, a handed skull, a collection of Gorm innovations and an above average roll that can be improved via spending of unwanted potions. I'm fine with super powerful weapons, but there has to be a reason for them to exist (the current monsters do not justify the Black Sword's strength) and the interaction with vagabond armor is very problematic balance. It's a shame because in isolation both the Black Sword and the Vagabond Armor are amazing, but not dominant.

I love this weapon, but I don't appreciate just how hard you have to work to avoid the temptation to break it.


Griswaldo - Green Armor/Flower Knight/Dung Beetle Knight

For Griswaldo see the Green Armor article, short version, it's really obscene, which it should be as it is not an easy weapon to make. In fact, it's one of only two pieces in the Green armor which is mostly in the hands of chance (you can tilt the odds hard in your favor) and it will be interesting to see if Campaigns of Death changes the way that green armor is gained because otherwise you will see people hitting the Verdant Lord without having had a chance to complete green armor.


Conclusion:

I would never actively seek to use swords as one of my main masteries to pursue because as a weapon type they do not bring anything specific to a hunt party, they're not the best mastery for tanking, damage or even jack of all trades type builds. However, I would also never, ever rule out swords from being used because with the right mastery and the right sword they can be absolutely dominant.

Outside of the Black Sword in isolation and when combined with the Vagabond Armor swords are a varied and interesting beast that cover a whole bunch of different situations. Often the problem is that whatever they do, a different weapon does better, they're not the best at defense, offense, deadly or anything really. They're a jack of all trades weapon class, and that means that they suffer a little when compared to the focused power house classes.

Swords; You can't expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you!

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Comments (3)
user avatar
User #6933513 - 7 Oct 19 16:02
Love the Vagabond Armor for variety and to "carry" the Trash Crown. Favorite Sword, the sometimes rare, sometimes not so rare "Steel Sword". Played once with the Ink Sword, was a bit clunky, but funny to.
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User #6378167 - 9 Sep 19 03:06
Even if you ignore vagabond armour, petal spiral makes it pretty easy to abuse the black sword without the effort of trying to train someone up through showdowns/nightmare training.
user avatar
User #6933513 - 7 Oct 19 16:00
Damn right. The big difference is vagabond armour cost no extra endeavour and "pimps" ever newbie pleb. Petal Spiral is just a endeavour intens sink hole for one Survivor (ok useful for Mastery/Spec for everyone).
A Visual Guide to the Early Game
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A Visual Guide to the Early Game 2019-08-19T07:30:19+00:00close

Here's a simple cheat sheet I put together a while ago that surmises one of the more direct routes to becoming strong in the Early Game for Kingdom Death. It took a lot longer to put together than it looks. This is just core game only, but a lot of it applies even when you have the expansions in because it's only the Gorm that really changes the early game.

If this one is a hit, I'll make similar sheets for each of the monsters, providing text/visual summaries for the highlights of each, plus their gear!

And just remember, this is not the only route to success, there are others and if you choose to use them good for you! One doesn't have to play 'meta' to have a good time in this game and understanding what makes the meta choices preferred helps you make your personal choices stronger as a result!

Comments (18)
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User #12005836 - 19 Aug 19 07:40
Hey, this is great, helps a lot understanding some things. This Combo with blood paint --> okay you attack with the Katar and the activation of the spield you use for block not for attack?
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FenPaints - 19 Aug 19 09:41
Yup!
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User #9407059 - 19 Aug 19 07:36
This is a really cool visual, Fen. I've been looking through your posts in the past, but having this in one place and one overview really makes stuff easier. I'd love some for the other monsters too!
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User #23172410 - 19 Aug 19 07:46
So cool! Now I have something to show to new players that would clarify a little the overwhelming amount of options you have when you start this game.
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User #13917749 - 19 Aug 19 09:08
^^
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User #6323929 - 19 Aug 19 09:54
This is super helpful thank you! Are there any changes you would make if you make Gorm the Y1 quarry? I usually hunt Gorm first since the rib blade is a workhorse.
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FenPaints - 19 Aug 19 11:51
I'll be doing a Gorm list soon as this seems to be a very well received format. But the changes are to the weapons and support gear, the armor route stays the same as Gorment early on is really an archer set imo.
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User #240517 - 19 Aug 19 07:45
Thanks for your continued work, Fen. :)
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User #14725393 - 19 Aug 19 08:38
Since I’m on app I can’t see if this post is public (so i can share it) or it’s 1$ mark.
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User #4820009 - 19 Aug 19 09:08
It's public.
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FenPaints - 19 Aug 19 09:42
Yes, public, feel free to share this with anyone who might benefit.
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User #9110977 - 19 Aug 19 20:36
this is awesome.
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User #9811134 - 20 Aug 19 09:25
Fen, thank you so much for this. Really like it. I fully understand your first comment upper left corner: do not innovate during LY 2-3 This is how we played it the last 12 months and it was indeed beneficial. However we started PotS a few week ago and now we have some doubts about it. Maybe some innovations would have been helpful earlier ?
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FenPaints - 21 Aug 19 09:31
Depends Which PotS you mean!
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User #9811134 - 22 Aug 19 07:58
oops :-) I was talking about the People of the Stars campaign
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User #13984484 - 19 Aug 19 09:40
This is very cool, definitely like this! Would be cool if the community could collaborate on this and kind of make a flow chart of some sort.
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User #12961868 - 19 Aug 19 09:30
This is sooooooo useful for starters (like myself.) This is basically essential to avoid getting stressed out due all the choices. In our last campaign sometimes a month passed by before we got together around the table again, which resulted in some if not all of us forgetting important lessons we learned in previous sessions. Yes we know the importance of the Cat Eye Circlet, but totally forgot what overwhelming darkness could do to our pool of survival points. The whisker harp and stone noses could mitigate eventual loss of survival points at the start of the showdown. Thanks for creating this Fen! Visually makes it much easier and faster to access this important info.
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User #12961868 - 19 Aug 19 09:32
The combo's are very useful and easily overlooked.
As Lethal as it Needs to Be - Spears 2019-08-23T08:00:01+00:00

Contents:

1. Introduction

2. Axes

3. Bows

4. Arrows and Quivers

5. Clubs

6. Daggers

7. Grand

8. Katar

9. Shield

10. Spear

11. Sword

12. Thrown

13. Whip

14. Twilight, Katana & Scythe


Overview:

Spears are one of the weapon types that have become more and more appreciated as the community became increasingly more familiar with them, they are available at every portion of the game and they have one of the most unique and powerful weapon specializations, it's so strong that Spear is close to being the third 'must have' weapon mastery after Shield and Fist & Tooth. Spears were the place where the original 'trapper' builds came from and they were a key part in early victories against monsters with devastating traps.

Spears these days represent one of the easiest ways to 'refresh' the hit location deck without suffering too much punishment from the trap. As we can see from the text below, the spear has a 40% chance of ignoring the trap and creating a refresh of the HL deck. It is different to the Blue Charm in that you get to draw a new location, which can be the trap again, and you can once again have a chance of cancelling it for a new redraw (this is because it's not limited to once per attack the way that some of the other weapon proficiency abilities are.

Mastery has an incredible level of synergy when combined with your tank, it allows you to almost permanently lock in the monster so they attack your tank and lets you take advantage of any other benefits that the tank might get when they gain the Priority Target token (for example, Headliner).Oxidised Ring Whip is better than this at it, but that is a) campaign specific and b) can be tough to level whip at times

When we look at the average stats for the spears in the game, we can see there's a limited range of stats at which spears operate. They are all very similar to each other, varying only in small amounts, typically on strength or number of abilities.

What this net graph doesn't completely show is the following: All spears have 2 speed, typically between a 5+ and 6+ for accuracy, 0 to 1 affinities, Reach 2 and the only wide range between them all, is their strength and abilities - the design of spears is a very flat one. Likewise, while Spear has good progression from one tier to the next (early to mid to late), there is little breadth in selection, most campaigns are going to have the same spear choices throughout, with the only variations occurring in rare situations, or where the quarry choices limit it. The "optimal" progression is King's Spear -> Sky Harpoon -> Sky Harpoon with Dragon Armor -> Lantern Glaive with Dragon Armor. Sometimes you'll see the Amber Poleaxe instead of the King's Spear, the Finger of God instead of the Sky Harpoon and Phoenix Armor instead of Dragon Armor when the Dragon King is not available.

Dragon Armor is the single best armor for Spears at the moment (yes better than Screaming in my opinion, Screaming has a lot of synergies with a huge range of weapons, but doesn't care that much about Reach stuff), the combination of its set bonus ability along with the way that it interacts with reach means that you're going to pick it wherever possible. Phoenix Armor has a similar interaction, but because of the higher movement Phoenix Armor inflicts on you, it's harder to "Square Dance" around the monster.

"Square Dancing" is where you set yourself up on a "corner" of the monster just in range (easiest with the Sky Harpoon as it has reach 3) and then you will Leap/Charge to another "corner" if the monster doesn't move, or keep pace with it as best you can if it does. Against really big monsters like the Sunstalker or Dragon King you don't even need to Square Dance, you can jump from one side of the monster to the other quite often, but Reach X still helps a massive amount in smoothing out a lot of awkward movement situations. So Dragon Armor is my #1 recommendation for Spear users as it has the highest synergy with them and the Sky Harpoon is my #1 choice for this playstyle because it has the highest reach in the game. Interestingly, with the new 'Captain America' strain fighting style Shielderang, you can also now do this with a good shield.

Gorment Armor is also very good with the right kind of spears, because it allows for a strong kiting pattern that can be combined with Dash to mitigate a lot of damage. It's a little tricky because you find yourself wanting a Reach 3 Spear, but you can't easily help the Sky Harpoon get up to a respectable strength stat when you are using the Spear (Steadfast Potion is one way things can help here, but that takes time and means you're a tank/trapper hybrid).

Speed:

Because Speed is identical for every single spear released so far, I'm going to address the speed of Spears here, rather than go through each individual entry with exactly the same text. 2 Speed is a little on the slow side for Spears, as the one weapon in the game with inbuilt resistance to traps and reach 2+, higher speed is a lot less problematic on a spear than anything else. So creating builds that take advantage of Bone Earrings, Speed Powder or similar works very well with Spears (note: Only Lance of Longinus has the Bone Keyword for the earrings, despite the King's Spear being 100% bone). Frenzy Drink unfortunately doesn't work so well, because it turns off your Weapon Specialisation, which is the whole point in teching for high speed.

In short, people who like to roll a lot of dice and spam attacks, should be doing it with spears. You just might need to help them get their speed stat higher somehow.


King's Spear - White Lion

Power Level: Early Game

Accuracy: 6+ accuracy is strong for a Catarium weapon and ensures that the average attack will hit with at least one dice more often than zero (Because your mean and median rolls on a hit dice is 5.5/5 to 6, you've got slightly better than 50% accuracy here per dice).

Strength: 3 Strength is nothing to sniff at in the early game, it results in wounding most L1 early game monsters more than half the time.

Affinities: The right red is kind of useless on this weapon, it's rare that you'll be able to take advantage of it. Typically you want an up red, down or a left red over anything else.

Ability: Reach 2 is the bog standard minimum that a spear is expected to have. However it is also worth noting that this weapon has the heavy keyword, that matters at times because it can be a disadvantage for the wielder. It is not always bad though, in contrast, that keyword is useful very early on in People of the Stars.

Summary:Baby's first spear is almost everything you want it to be, the stats are perfectly balanced for the portion of the game you use it, and it's capable of being used for a long time if the survivor who has it has sufficient strength to back it up.

Amber Poleaxe - Spidicules

See the Axes entry in this post. It's in essence a better variant of the King's Spear, but from a harder monster. Certainly a great choice if you're playing the Gorm/Spidicules no White Lion challenge.

Lantern Halberd - King's Man

Note: This weapon has been officially issued errata from Poots to give it the Lantern Keyword, that is why I have the CE "version" here because it has the correct keywords.

Power Level: Mid Game, Late Game with the right armor

Accuracy: 4+ is very high for a spear, this is one of only two spears with this level of accuracy. It's an impressive stat.

Strength: 7 strength is the 3rd highest for spears (behind the Lantern Glaives and Lance) and considering that you can gain this weapon quite early on, it is very impressive and can scale well for a long time - especially with support from Dragon/Phoenix.

Affinities: N/A

Ability: Unique and Irreplaceable are the main downsides to this weapon, you have to enjoy it while you have it, because if you lose your spear wielder, then this weapon is going bye-bye as well. But like the Steel Sword, it is worth the time spent with it.

The second ability promotes the dancing theme of the King's Man, by having you moonwalk after you attack. This can be stacked with stuff like Dancer Armor or Gorment Armor to really build a survivor who can dash-cancel many monsters and prevent a lot of damage as an elusive "tank".

Summary: The one part of the King's Man experience that I always have time for and part of the reasons why you always try to rip the guidepost innovation out of the ground, this spear is quietly impressive. Though one has to question why this halberd isn't also an axe the way that the Lantern Glaive is.

Finger of God - Weapon Crafter (Phoenix)

Power Level: Mid Game

Accuracy: Slightly better than standard, and it has the ability to be as accurate as the Lantern Halberd.

Strength: 5 strength climbing to six is very solid, and that is why the Finger of God sits as one of the more popular weapon crafter choices after the Zanbato. 5 strength is a great level of progression up from the previous tier of 3.

Affinities: Up Red is often an awkward affinity to use, left red would (always) have been the optimal choice here, but it's better than nothing.

Ability: Having bonuses tied to your survival level is a great mechanic and one that should be remembered for those of you who are looking to make your own weapon designs. It's space that hasn't been heavily explored yet.

Here it's a marginal bonus, the accuracy gain is great, the strength gain is kind of not as impressive. It makes the Finger of God conditionally as strong as the Zanbato, but it falls off when the fights drag out a long time and your survival reserves dwindle. Has strong synergy with survival regains (Abyssal Sadist) and is by no means anything to sniff at.

Summary: The second best weapon available from the Phoenix (behind the Arc Bow and ahead of the Rainbow Katana), this weapon is thematic, fun, strong and well designed for when you can get it. It is a great mid game spear, and in core games only you will be wanting to craft it. However, when you have the Sunstalker available it is almost completely overshadowed by our next entry.


Sky Harpoon - Sunstalker

Power Level: Mid game, climbing into late game when combined with the right armor set.

Accuracy: 5+ is standard for a spear of this level and power.

Strength: 5 strength puts it behind the Finger of God's 5 to 6 strength, but it is compensated for that well in other areas.

Affinities: Left Red is a great affinity for a weapon like this because of that direct link to the monster tooth necklace. It is not hard to put this weapon to baseline 7 strength in combination with an activated necklace as a consequence.

Ability: Savage is a nice little bonus ability, it's nothing to write home about a lot of the time because it's a weaker version of devastating, but this is the only spear that has any form of critical wound interaction. The other two abilities are huge, reach 3 (because of this weapon's hybrid thrown design) is a massive increase from reach 2. The increase may only be +1, but the total number of extra squares covered is large.

  • Reach 1: 4 squares
  • Reach 2: 12 squares
  • Reach 3: 24 Squares

Being able to hit monsters 3 spaces away is such a huge boost for abilities like Charge and Leap and that's why I highly recommend Dragon Armor with the Sky Harpoon. You essentially have a (2/3+/10/Savage/Reach 3) spear at that point. It is however awkward and survival intensive to attack with Leap/Charge multiple times in a round.

On top of that we have the once per showdown ability, which harpoons the monster and drags it over to you. This can be used at absolutely any time because of how its worded, but even if you limit yourself to using it only during flow steps you can cause it to miss its target while also dealing an auto-wound. The 50% chance of success is fair for such a powerful ability.

Finally we have the "hidden" ability of the Sky Harpoon, which is its interactions with the Sky Fishing even (which is why we have the Sun Lure and Hook shown above). I've written about how powerful and interesting Sky Fishing is in the past (here). So I will not retread it too much except to say it's fun, powerful and worth the risks.

Summary: My personal favourite of all the spears here, the combination of hunt phase utility, automatic wounding and reach 3 means this one is a package that is hard to pass up until you get the Lantern Glaive.

Lance of Longinus - Level 3 Screaming Antelope

Power Level: Late Game

Accuracy: I think 6+ is a bit underwhelming for this weapon, you've got to beat the L3 Screaming Antelope with Legendary Horns in play (16 toughness monster effectively),

Strength: Very solid, with the highest static strength out of any spear.

Affinities: N/A

Ability: Handing out a -1 toughness token and give everyone on the board an effective +1 strength is absolutely massive. It means that this weapon is almost a strength 10 one (more so if you use it in multiples across several survivors). However the irreplaceable ability is a huge problem, you need to be confident that you're not going to lose the survivor wielding it too easily, because it's an expensive buy to just lose on a whim.

Summary: There is no argument that this spear is good on the stats front, but despite its clear use for stabbing messiahs, I tend to avoid this one unless I am looking for a pure bone build and stick with the Lantern Glaive which has a similar strength, the axe keyword and can be oxidized. Irreplaceable is just too much of a risk for a conservative player like myself.

But if you find yourself swimming in legendary horns, this one is fine to craft - outside of my distaste for irreplaceable gear and the weapon being behind the Lantern Glaive in power (but more consistent), there is nothing wrong with this one and it is a great weapon to use with the bone earring build!

Lantern Glaive/Oxidized Lantern Glaive - Blacksmith

See the Axes entry in this post. As an aside, Glaives are considered to have probably originated from the country of Wales. This is why there are no Watchers in the entire place.

This weapon is absolutely the end game destination for spears and it's a wonderful example of how Early Iron can be balanced and fine as long as the weapon is good enough.

Celestial Spear - People of the Stars

Power Level: Mid game, transforming to late game.

Accuracy: High/standard

Strength: 4 Strength is an unusual number for a spear, it's a little awkward as it sits right between the two thresholds (3 and 5 strength). However, this weapon climbs up to 9 strength in the hands of a constellation survivor and that puts it on par with the Lance of Longinus above.

Affinities: The up blue may occasionally be useful for some builds, but it's nothing special.

Ability: Outside of the standard Reach 2 and strength gain on this weapon the main "ability" it has is that you get it for "free" by defeating the L2 Tyrant (which you should manage handily most campaigns). That can make it a lot more desirable and usable than

Summary: Getting this one for free, in combination with its solid stats and high strength in the hands of a constellation does a lot for the Celestial Spear. It's not as impressive as the other options in this list, but it gets the job done.


Hope Stealer - Halloween Stan Promo (via hunt event Test of Courage)

(Excuse the image, I've not sorted out a better one yet)

Power Level: Late Game

Accuracy: Right in the average camp. Nothing to write home about, nothing to complain about.

Strength: Varies, this one can be anything from zero up to dozens or even hundreds if you get very good at 'churning' (where you turn useless survivors into endeavors to make new survivors). Typically it is going to have a higher strength than most weapons though.

Affinities: N/A

Ability: Sentient on this one is a pain in the butt (aka good design), because the objective with this spear is to reach spear mastery with someone else and then take the Hopestealer out on a 'red shirt' each year. You sacrifice gaining weapon proficiency on one of your three survivors in exchange for a getting a single use Trapper DPS who is completely disposable. It's an interesting trade-off and it results in the spear rapidly hitting 2+ to wound vs. anything.

There are also some meme builds you can pull with the Hopestealer, Hunter's Heart and Green Charm (both of which have a chance of bringing you back from death).

Summary: Hopestealer is an interesting weapon, though it absolutely sucks when you get it on a survivor who matters because they are going to die at the end of the showdown, but once you're past that you have a very powerful weapon with a unique playstyle - it's up to you if you use it.


Conclusion:

Despite the very limited range of statistics that spears have, their unique traits of reach and the weapon specialisation, plus dependable speed, accuracy and good vertical progression on strength means that spears are arguably the third most useful and important weapon type for any settlement behind Fist & Tooth and Shield. Being able to complete Spear Mastery means that you can bring out a late game Axe weapon user to train up and have them still be very useful and powerful because of the Lantern Glaive spear/axe hybrid combo (and to a lesser extend the Amber Poleaxe). There are always stronger, faster, slower or more powerful options in other weapon types, but they are never as dependable as the spear and outside of the Blue Charm there is no weapon with an ability like spear specialisation.

Trappers are easily my favourite class of survivor in Kingdom Death (just ahead of debuffers who don't really work right now because of issues with bombs) and they will remain that way until the new expansions shake up the weapon meta.

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Comments (8)
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User #16381135 - 23 Aug 19 11:48
One thing you didn't address with the Sky Harpoon and Celestial Spear, is that they're the only spears that are not "two-handed". Whether it's a typo or intentional, it leaves room for some interesting builds. :)
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User #6933513 - 24 Aug 19 16:27
Beacon Shield+Bloodpaint+Sky Harpoon:)
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FenPaints - 25 Aug 19 06:19
Yup. Missed that. Cheers.
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User #23207388 - 24 Aug 19 22:29
Simply awesome. I admire your work!
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User #4433174 - 23 Aug 19 17:27
You might want to review the numbers on 6+ accuracy being better than 50% per die. Even if the mean is 5.5, there's still only 5 discreet sides that result in a hit without any modifiers (knocked down, blindspot, etc)... With that said, in some reality where you could roll a 5.5, it would still fail with 6+ accuracy. :P
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FenPaints - 25 Aug 19 06:16
You mentioned it yourself. Blind spot.
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User #13816006 - 18 Oct 19 02:56
I'm intrigued by the Tempered Spear from the new 10 year survivors and am trying to figure out good builds that activate it.
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FenPaints - 18 Oct 19 08:25
Because you have to place it in the #5 slot (center) The following armor sets are your base for activating it: 1. Leather - as per the Allister model with Mask at #2 and Cuirass at #8. Filler left and right blue support gear required at #4 and #6. 2. Cycloid Armor - Can be combined with the Blue Charm in this loadout for the best Trapper 3. Dragon Armor - Helm in #2, Chest in #4. Need blue left for #6 and up red for #8 4. Silk Armor - Arms at #2, Chest at #8, Head at #6 - not recommended because it disables all uses of the Silk Armor. Screaming Armor's slots are orientated the wrong way, same with Rawhide and Phoenix doesn't have enough slots. Rolling Armor requires a lot of support gear and mental gymnastics to make it work.
Aeon Trespass: Odyssey Kickstarter Draft up 2019-08-15T08:37:34+00:00

For those of you who are interested. This is your first solid chance to really get a good look at what's going to be on offer, seeing that AI and HL slots on the Primordial Dashboard gets me very excited indeed. This one is certainly going to be part of the same 'boss monster' genre that Kingdom Death is in.

Alternative link here: https://tinyurl.com/yyecf22b

As before, Aeon Trespass: Odyssey is not currently going to replace the Monday/Friday KD:Monster updates, it will be additional content. KDM Post coming tomorrow!

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Comments (3)
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User #9972687 - 15 Aug 19 17:52
Assemble yourself miniatures? Are they going to have a prof reader? Already saw some mistakes. Other than that looking forward to more updates!
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FenPaints - 15 Aug 19 19:29
They are going to be in HIPS plastic afaik, which means they will be like KDM. The resin ones I have required assembly. I don't know if they will employ an editor.
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User #9972687 - 16 Aug 19 00:40
Coolio! Keep up the great work Fen! I’m getting painting envy from seeing all your work on them!
Marshlight Reviews: Vignette of Death - White Gigalion
Marshlight Reviews: Vignette of Death - White Gigalionmore_vert
2019-08-09T08:19:11+00:00
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Marshlight Reviews: Vignette of Death - White Gigalion 2019-08-09T08:19:11+00:00close

For those of you who wish to see the content and form your own opinions, please see the images above, this is a full set of photos of everything included in this new micro-expansion. Naturally, there will be spoilers galore in those images, so if you want a spoiler free review, check out the first section below.

Spoiler Free Review

This $75 micro-expansion is the first Vignette of Death, it contains a standalone scenario with four pre-built survivors fighting against the White Gigalion, a 100mm (3x3) version of the Cunning artwork. There is also rules for unlocking and hunting the White Gigalion in normal campaigns. The miniatures are absolutely gorgeous, and some of them even have useful loadouts that can be used to represent normal survivors in your games.

The monster itself is in essence a Level 2.5 White Lion, modifying the behavior of the monster with a new reference card, new hit location and two traits. Beating it gives you a new strange resource that is used to craft weapons and armor. There are a total of 6 gear cards, representing four craftable pieces of gear, two of which are duplicates used in People of the Lantern only and a card to represent the Lovelorn Rock.

Overall I recommend this one for players who already have the 'big six' (Gorm, Dung Beetle Knight, Sunstalker, Manhunter, Dragon King), miniature painters, those who are tired with the existing White Lion experience where you hunt it for the Circlet + a few weapons and then never go back to it or those with money to burn. However, for players on a budget, the Gorm and Dung Beetle Knight both represent more content for less cost and they should be patient and wait until they can pick this one up at a reduced price - like the Lonely Tree it's really about $30-$40 worth of game content.


Deep Dive Review

Now it's time to get into this mini-expansion in detail and we will start with a look at the components.

You get the following items inside your moderately sized white box.

  • 1x Rules Booklet
  • 4x Narrative Sculpt Survivors, reference cards and printed gear grids
  • 1x 100m base Gigalion
  • 1x White Gigalion Reference Card
  • 1x Hit Location
  • 1x Strain Unlock Milestone
  • 2x AI Traits
  • 2x New Strange Resource
  • 1x Giga-Catarium Settlement Location Expansion Card
  • 6x Gear Cards

I do not have the physical cards with me at this point, I will be returning to this review to update if the card quality is any good, but I think it is very fair to say that the model sculpts are absolutely stunning. The White Gigalion has shed most of the derpy elements it had previously and it's now a brutish, ugly looking beast. The narrative sculpts are also stunning, and some of them even have usable loadouts (especially the Gorment/Leather Shield/Greater Gaxe) for normal survivors.

The booklet is in the new style that Adam's going to be adopting going ahead (it's the same one as the Philosophies from AKDM will be) and it's a really good size (it'll fit inside normal white boxes), this standardisation of sizes is great, it allows us to sort out good storage solutions and I hope that future expansions use it instead of the previous size books which are honestly not good. It also seems to be typo free, which might be a first!

Overall, visually the components seem to be great, but when I get them I will revisit this opinion and discuss what the models are like to assemble and what the card quality is like.

The Vignette

This is initial way in which you will interact with the Gigalion, playing the parts of the four Deadrock survivors as they face off against the first Gigalion. I've proxied up this scenario and played it through a few times, and it's reasonably well balanced. I'm also amused that these guys are named after minerals and rocks the way that my solo settlements always have been, go go Granite, Crystal and Flint.

What is important about this Vignette is it's likely to be one of the ways that new players will get introduced to the game. You can easily bring along to an evening session the Vignette plus the extra White Lion decks required and play it out there and then. The players get a chance to experience some early-mid game builds, see a few nice combos and get slapped about by a fun monster. It's a good taster for what is to come and it's better than playing the prologue against the White Lion because there are more decisions to be made than just, where do I stand, do I punch or stab, when do I throw my rock and when do I dodge?

One thing that is very notable about this showdown is that the survivors do not have any bows or rawhide/hit location manipulation. Which means that the game plays more true to the way that the design team does. There are a few support items here and there, but most of the time the nearest you get to "proper" play is just blocking a bit with Hungry Basalt. This means the showdown feels more tense and more exciting, it's less of the farming exercise that White Lions usually present - which it should be, it's a standalone event.

The loadouts for all four survivors vary in quality, Hungry Basalt's grid is pretty tight, with only the Boss Mhendi and failure to complete that second red affinity being questionable. Gadrock's White Lion loadout is very frustrating, he has the blue affinity for the helm, but the helm itself isn't connected, nor are the White Lion Boots - this was a chance to showcase some of the better parts of the White Lion set and try to win players over on it, but instead we have the Lion Headress choking up a slot. Breccia's grid is mostly great, for a leather/whip user it's close to everything you could want, only missing a Leather Shield (over the Brain Mint) to really be optimal and that's fine because it doesn't always need to be
"meta" - especially in a one off like this. The Rock Knight's grid though, that one is a huge issue. I'm fine with the idea behind this, she's an almost completely lost King's Man in progress lumbered with the Lovelorn Rock. But the shoehorning involved in making this grid all bone has some serious issues. With an extra point of personal accuracy and maybe one more strength she would have been fine with the Skullcap Hammer, but as it stands she's a very frustrating character to play because she whiffs a lot of the time. Also she has a Skull Helm printed on her grid, which is a gear card that can get archived... Except you can't archive it because it's printed on the grid. This could easily have been either the Screaming Horns or the Dragonskull Helm instead, perhaps there's a second version of her grid without the helm on the back, I doubt it, but if there is, I'll retract this point.

We'll talk about the Gigalion itself when I discuss it below, the curated version for the showdown is very well put together, but I expect that when dealing with a variant White Lion - they should know intimately how that monster works by this point, we do.

The White Gigalion

In the spoiler free section I called this a L2.5 White Lion and I think this is the best way to consider this monster initially (as a L2.5 or L3.5 White Lion, you can't hunt it at L1). In comparison to a normal L2 White Lion, this model differs in the following ways:

  • A new, upgraded instinct
  • An additional hit location
  • Two new traits instead of Cunning
  • Drops 1 or 2 Hooked Claw strange resources when killed
  • Always performs Smart Cat as first AI (unless Ambushed and wounded first)
  • 3x3 Base Size rather than 2x2 - very relevant for its new traits
  • Steals head gear rather than jewelry on the Defeat condition

Otherwise the stats are the same (10B 5A AI cards - plus Smart Cat, +1 damage, +1 Speed, 8 movement over 7), and in fact because of Smart Cat, sometimes the White Gigalios on average have less wounds than normal L2 White Lions. They also have more variance in how difficult they can be, flipping Ground Fighting or Alert in the top 10 cards is way less threatening than revealing Enraged/Bloodthirsty or none at all.

Smart Cat's start of the showdown trigger means that if you ambush the monster and wound it, the Gigalion does technically have one more wound than normal, but on the whole what Smart Cat does is increase the variance of how powerful this monster is while simultaneously telling you the contents of up to 10 cards in the AI deck. That information can be very valuable, especially if you see things like Maul in there.

Outside of the Smart Cat trigger, the Gigalion's behavior is changed by its new instinct - an upgraded Sniff that gives +1 accuracy, +1 luck tokens to the monster and sets its new Hit Location ontop of the HL Deck. That HL, the Gigantic Pendulous Paunch is an absolute beast of a card, when the <R> Reaction triggers it "teleports" to in front of the survivor and runs them down; in addition to that the location has +5 toughness. However, it is crittable, with that result knocking the monster down.

The two traits replace Cunning and the first of these Vicious, is essentially 'super cunning' with the monster trying to grab every single survivor adjacent rather than just a random one. Normal White Lions pick 1 target in any of 8 adjacent squares, the Gigalion picks all targets in 12 adjacent squares! Outside of that it works the same as cunning, it can be avoided by Dashing and it even includes the same grab and drag.

The Giga Claws trait enhances the White Lion's Grab mechanic further by having it Grab every time it collides and also have a 20% chance of causing bleed when it does this. That's a decent buff in lethality without being frustrating to play against.

However, even with all of this, the Gigalion is still a White Lion at heart, it still has the mostly same AI, Hit Locations, underpowered Trap and predictable behavior. Don't expect anything really new when facing this monster, it is just a variant of the existing one.


Integration into standard Kingdom Death

In order to hunt Giggles in your normal campaign, there is a Strain Milestone called Somatropin Surge (somatropin is a growth peptide hormone present in humans and animals). I'm absolutely on board with the Gigalion being locked behind a strain unlock, however this strain unlock is almost completely meaningless.

You unlock the Gigalion by completing the vignette once. That's it. Seriously. Now, I get the flavour and lore reasons behind this unlock, but mechanically this is just about the worst strain unlock we've had so far. It's so, completely disconnected from the experience of playing campaign games to the point that you might as well ignore it totally. I feel that they could have done a lot better with this one, it's almost a waste of cardboard if I'm honest.

Once integrated, the Gigalion becomes a standard option you can pick instead of hunting the normal L2 or L3 White Lion, the first time you beat it you get access to the Giga-Catarium and you spend the new strange resources there along with white lion resources to build 3 or 4 of the new gear cards. These pieces of gear are all exceptional and we'll discuss them below, but before doing that I want to highlight the impact of this expansion on the current White Lion.

Once you have the White Gigalion, there is almost no reason to ever go hunting a normal L2 or L3 White Lion. Why such a strong, bold claim? Well it boils down to risk vs. reward. You see the Gigalion is not that much more dangerous than a normal White Lion, you can see from the Deadrock survivors that you don't need to be super tooled to handle one. Just like the L2 White Lion the L2 Gigalion is around the L1 Phoenix/DBK/DK/SS tier in difficulty and it's not any less predictable than the normal White Lions are.

In exchange for hunting this beast, you get access to an L2 Post Overwhelming Darkness hunt spot (aka the sweet spot) which means Mineral Gathering is possible, better resources when you kill it and the ability to craft very strong gear. That's all in exchange for a monster that's a bit more offensively dangerous and steals head gear if you are defeated. A massive deal, one you're just not going to pass up. So in essence, the L2 and L3 normal White Lion's are dead content now (and that's not all that's been killed with this mini-expansion).

The Gear

Rest in piece Cat Fang Knife, we never used thee.

The new pieces of gear are a set of arrows, a new dagger, a fur body accessory cloak, a card to represent the lovelorn rock and two paired oxidised Lion Beast Katars with mirrored artwork. I'm going to work through each one in turn, but the single biggest issue I have here (and I'll revise this if my assessment of the pictures and the contents page is wrong) - there's one copy of each card in the box. These are non-unique pieces of gear but we're only getting one of each. For $75 MSRP. You know that for $60 MSRP you can get the Gorm right? Which has multiple copies of each gear card and full AI/HL Decks...

Why? The miniatures might be boutique, but that move certainly is not.

The gear itself is also, well some of it is very problematic from the perspective of how it will distort the balance of your campaign. I'll walk through each of them in turn here.

Lovelorn Rock

It's great to finally have a card to represent the rock which has taken up a slot in your gear grid. In addition it's also now got keywords: item, heavy, bone, stone. Heavy and Bone are a bit of an eye raiser to me, heavy is a disaster of keyword to get lumbered with on something that didn't have it before, there are some builds that can now be broken by this event because of gear being switched off and also if you have the rock you're now always vulnerable to things like Cracks in the Ground. The bone keyword on the other hand is an amusing surprise, it allowed for the Rock Knight to be able to use the Bone Earrings and it's a welcome addition to the rock's lore.

Dense Bone Arrows

Press F in chat for Sunshark Arrows and bows in general. They just got power crept out of existence. In case you can't remember, Sunshark Arrows are a (1/4+/6) arrow with Sharp and an activation limit of 3 in exchange for 6 resources. Dense Bone Arrows are a (2/5+/6) arrow with Sharp and no activation limit in exchange for 8 resources + the Blacksmith unlocked.

Technically these arrows cost more to build, but the resources are easier to get and you want to unlock the blacksmith anyway. When you have them however, any bow in the game becomes as powerful as the Sunshark Arrows are, and in case you can't remember - they're in the top 10 strongest weapons in the game already, held in check by the fact that they're arrows with a limited number of activations. In contrast the Dense Bone Arrows' only downsides are the building cost/restrictions and the fact that you can't gain proficiency by shooting them exclusively. In exchange your little old Catgut Bow is now able to punch as hard as the Oxidised Lantern Glaive and harder than the Calcified Digging Claw.

Bows have always been one of the most overpowered and potentially problematic parts of Kingdom Death's weapon balance, this tips that situation further.

Hooked Claw Knife

The Hooked Claw Knife also power creeps daggers, however in contrast to the previous entry, daggers were in need of some serious power creep because they're currently not a viable weapon type for the average player. The Hooked Claw Knife has good strength, solid speed and accuracy and an ability that is unique, powerful, balanced and interesting.

It's finally something worth hunting the L3 White Lion/Gigalion for and the only real shame is that the Cat Fang Knife hasn't been tuned at all in 1.5.

Oxidized Beast Katar

This one is Post Watcher only, which limits it to People of the Lantern. There's already a real choke point up at that part of the campaign where you need to Oxidize shields, a glaive and a ringwhip before you go anywhere near anything else (it's pushed swords, daggers and helms into the realm of luxury items) and this weapon puts even more pressure on that valve. There is no argument that the OBKs are worth crafting, they have 10.5 median strength (range 6 to 15) for a median wounding roll of 16 - plus sharp and a Perfect hit ability that adds +4 strength when it's triggered (that's a median 0.8 extra strength over time). That puts it right where it needs to be for an End Game Katar and it's even kept Deadly.

If this one wasn't just restricted to Lantern Campaigns only I'd be super hyped for it, but at least it's going to be viable for punching things in the face in that campaign.

Lion Slayer Cape

Finally we have the Lion Slayer Cape. This accessory is designed to buff White Lion armor by giving you damage reduction against all things as long as you're wearing fur armor (it's not armor itself). Unfortunately, what this Cape actually does is make Screaming Armor stronger - pushing it into the realms of late game tanking because of how strong that damage reduction ability is.

In campaigns which have Spidicules, Screaming Antelope and the White Gigalion this situation can become even more ludicrous because you can combine Screaming Armor with the Silk Body Suit and the Lion Slayer Cape for a total of 3 damage reduction to hits and 1 damage reduction to all other kinds of damage source. While Spidicules replaces the Screaming Antelope in the recommended design, most people do not play that way and this combo might trivialise some of the higher difficulty monsters.

This one reminds me of the Lion God gear which is intended to improve White Lion Armor, but instead accidentally buffs other strategies more. As a player I still love this one as much as I love the knife.


Conclusion

As I wrote in the short review, I don't consider this one to be a must have for anyone outside of those who are in really deep, have a lot of money to burn, love painting minis, want a way to demo the game or are completely burnt out on the normal White Lion. There's just not enough content to justify the price here and if I'm honest, the fact that it was rushed out in a few months (as confirmed by Adam in an interview) shows, this thing had less than six months from conception to release and because the narrative sculpts match the grids so well - we know that design was locked in way before the release date so production could be made.

I think it's a great piece considering the length of time it took the team to construct and the Vignette is very well tuned in particular. But I feel that this one does make portions of the core game redundant and it almost feels like its trying to fix issues with the White Lion gear collection that should have been done in 1.5. The score goes up because of that Vignette, but on the whole for every couple of good things I find about this one, there's an issue that takes a smidge of the sheen off. That Hooked Claw Knife is almost worth the price of admission for Dagger users like myself though, it makes me hopeful for the future of Daggers in KDM.

So, if you don't have that much content already and you're not someone who's afflicted by KDMFOMO then get the big six first and wait for this one to go on sale. It will refresh your White Lion experience, and give Dagger users something to aim for, but in trade it's going to flatten out the development experience for bows, effectively delete certain other items from the game and make the White Lion model used only for L1s and Legendaries. This one both adds and takes away.

7/10



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Comments (17)
user avatar
User #11287652 - 9 Aug 19 14:12
Great review and analysis, as always Fen. Thanks!
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User #6927391 - 9 Aug 19 08:59
Hey Fen, thanks for the review. I think the big six in the article misses someone: "Gorm, Dung Beetle Knight, Sunstalker, Manhunter, Dragon King". Who is the sixth? :)
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User #6933513 - 9 Aug 19 10:52
Slenderman!
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User #7670218 - 7 Oct 19 06:45
Has someone asked Poots what the survival limit is for the survivors in the Vignette?
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User #9811134 - 9 Aug 19 20:39
Nice review Fen, thank you. is there an estimation when this will hit the shop ?
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User #6578168 - 19 Aug 19 10:55
I was weak, I took it : I love the idea of demoing the game with something else than 4 naked random people with stones.
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User #12961868 - 9 Aug 19 09:12
Great review!
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User #13002330 - 25 Aug 19 21:57
Thanks for the awesome write up. Any chance at a Black Gigalion in the future? Tempted to pick up a second model while it is on the shop =P
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FenPaints - 25 Aug 19 22:07
It's already part of the black lion 2.0 in testing atm
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User #13002330 - 25 Aug 19 22:37
Beautiful. Thanks!
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User #16381135 - 10 Aug 19 11:06
Regarding Rock Knight, when you said "she whiffs a lot of the time" did you account for the Bone Earrings +2 speed and +2 strength tokens? Because with those and the perma stats the Skullcap Hammer hits with a profile of 4, 7, 6. It'll be swingy but she should hit most of the time and wound on 4+. Also what does it matter if you can't archive the Bone Helm? I don't think the Lion can inflict severe injuries without reducing armor first. It's also not completing any affinities. The only fringe case I see is losing the helm and then using a random Acanthus to try and heal the head location (in which case it should be remembered that it's actually gone). The choice of Bone Helm was probably due to miniature aesthetics (they are WYSIWYG after all).
user avatar
FenPaints - 10 Aug 19 11:23
1. Yes. Whiffs is accuracy related, per roll. 2. If you're playing with new people and they are instructed to archive something it is going to cause I point against the game as it looks unprofessional.
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User #6933513 - 9 Aug 19 10:54
Perfect Review Fen. Thx for the Insight und Considerations. I see the Issues and Improvments. Super Happy about the "Sweet Spot!". Got the Lion in a "better" Position in combination that Adam announced a Antilope Debuff in the Interview(s).
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FenPaints - 9 Aug 19 11:45
I disagree, that hunt event change is not a good one for the games health long term.
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User #6933513 - 9 Aug 19 13:19
Why? Lion is flawd because of the non existed "Sweet Spot" of the L2....and the existence of the Lootpinata/Antilope. What exactly is "harming" that hunt event changed?
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FenPaints - 9 Aug 19 14:23
No Node 1 or 2 L1 or L2 monster should have access to that spot, it makes the game too easy. They took one of the flaws of the Screaming Antelope and gave it to this monster. The White Lion has a perfect hunt phase layout, this Gigalion does not.
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User #6933513 - 9 Aug 19 15:00
Yes. Absolutely agree. But they all have access to that spot. All eccept the Lion, with the common resultat that a lot of player skip the Lion. Flower Knight, Screaming Antilope or Spidicules are "in advance", Adam puts the Gigalion in the same Spot. Yes, it is not perfect and NO Early Game Quarry should get the Sweet Spot. But all they do. With the Gigalion there is a greater consideration for a Lion and not an automatic "No No".
Announcing Aeon Trespass: Odyssey!
Announcing Aeon Trespass: Odyssey!more_vert
2019-08-07T07:58:46+00:00
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Announcing Aeon Trespass: Odyssey! 2019-08-07T07:58:46+00:00close

I am absolutely thrilled to announce that the wonderful guys over at Into the Unknown Studios are going to be collaborating with me with some Aeon Trespass content! They are sending me a copy of the Prelude demo game in the next week or two and I'll be able to spill the beans on everything about that.

For those of you who are not yet aware of Aeon Trespass: Odyssey (ATO from now on), it is another game in the Boss Monster campaign style that KDM birthed. Here's the pitch for the game:

Aeon Trespass: Odyssey is a 1-4 player campaign game about adventures, exploration and fierce battles with giant monsters. It’s a co-operative, choice-driven boardgame experience played over multiple sessions.

Set in an alternate Antiquity, where a reality-shattering cataclysm killed the Olympian gods and unleashed the otherworldly Primordials, Aeon Trespass: Odyssey places the players in the roles of Argonauts, the only people who can fight off the darkenss and make things right.

Take control of the Argo and its crew, train them and send them on adventures into the dangerous and mysterious lands of Ancient Greece (and beyond...). Learn the world's secrets and create new technologies that will give you an edge in combat - and outside of it. Manage your resources and develop your base of operations. Build new Facilities, craft new Weapons and equipment. Gather allies and forge political alliances with the world’s factions. And, most important of all, tame the Titans, arm them, evolve them and ride them to battle with the kaiju-like Primordials.

Tactical Combat. Narrative-driven gameplay. Strategic campaign.

You win by defeating the main villains or solving a crisis, you lose if your Argonauts die, your crew abandons you, your ship gets destroyed, the villains fulfill their plot or time runs out. There are many ways to lose, but only a handful paths to victory.

During Battles, 1 to 4 players must cooperate to defeat 1 giant Primordial boss-type monster controlled by a sophisticated AI system.

Outside of Battles, Aeon Trespass: Odyssey uses choice chain and choice matrix mechanics to track your decisions throughout the game. Those decisions matter and will have a drastic impact on all future play sessions, campaigns and playthroughs.

Marcin and the other guys at Into the Unknown Studios have been incredible with their communications with me so far and everything they've told me about this game and the setting has me excited for it. I adore the Greek mythologies and this Science Fantasy bent on a post-apocalyptic game set in the Antiquities feels unique and fresh. Also it's my birthday so I can do what I want.

They've sent me the models ahead of the rest of the Prelude release, so I can get them assembled and painted in time for the review of the Prelude game. It's going to be about 6-8 hours of content and should include a mini experience of how the game as a whole will play out.

Until then, here are some images of the game's cards, I'll be providing a lot more stuff once the full Prelude copy is in my hands, expect an unboxing review of components and also a review of how the game plays (both first impressions and one which is very extensive).

Gear cards, you should see some familiar ideas, plus some very new ones. I absolutely love how clear it is that these are huge pieces of machinery being re-purposed for the gigantic (10m tall) Titans.

Trauma Cards, which are the mechanic in which your Titans are wounded, they have neat other effects as well as representing the damage.

Tech cards, which represent the upgrades that you undertake on the Argo, the huge floating ship that you navigate around and use as your "settlement".

Condition cards, which seem to have a link to the Fated Mnemos cards.


OBOL, Moiros (Fates) and Kratos cards., Obol was the currency of the time (and that's a Dark Souls reference on the card, which is ominous). The Moiros card suggests that death might not be the end, and Kratos who was popularised in the God of War series is the personification of strength. For details on how these will work see the video links at the end!

There's loads of neat references to ancient Greeks, the titans include Herodotus (a greek Philosopher), Philocetra (a feminine version of Philoctetes), Solon (a Athenian Statesman) and Uylessa (femnine version of Ulysses/ Odysseus) and the Primordials are also based in the same culture.

However while these gigantic warriors will do the battling; you'll play the Argonauts, the pilots of these giant Titans, and that's a really cool mechanic, Pacific Rim here we come!

You can see more details about the lore and minis at their Aeon Trespass: Eschaton kickstarter which completed last year and at their site here over here. Note there are 2 Titans with in game promo content already released - the Firestarter and Cloudsoarer both come with an additional trauma card.

As long as the game holds up to my standards, we'll be having regular content on the game, especially because the team asked me to provide playtesting feedback at the Great Game Hunters/Patreon level I do for KDM. So hopefully in some small way I can help ensure that ATO is as good as it can possibly be. This game will not at this stage replace KDM content, but if it is as good as it appears to be at this stage, it will eventually become a larger part of this patreon. However, for now, any ATO posts will be Wednesday or Sunday in addition to the regular KDM content - honestly I need something to help keep me going now that Adam's going to delay any new content until past Gencon next year.

The Kickstarter lands 9 September 2019, and I aim to have all the details on the game for you guys before then so you can make an educated decision to back or not!

BGG Link: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/242705/aeon-trespass-odyssey

Subreddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/AeonTrespass/

Videos from the King of Average:

Odyssey Inverted Combat Paradigm Details

King of Average's preview look at Aeon Trespass: Odyssey

Until the prelude review, if you have any questions on ATO, the game or the settings you would like the team to answer that are not covered in those videos, please do ask them here and I'll send them all together in an email for answers! And trust me, they give good answers.

Comments (20)
user avatar
User #20042554 - 14 Aug 19 19:54
I just found out about this game today. Glad to see you are going to be sharing more information about it. I love KDM, but as mentioned by another user above, I may get the ATO before I get any more KDM KS goodies in the mail!
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User #8189658 - 7 Aug 19 08:29
I would like an explanation of the save system used by the game. In particular the extent it is handled by 1-writing down stuff, 2-bagies, 3-carefully designed insert, and the time required for loading the game (set-up), as well how it handles multiple campaigns. It seems the game has a more extensive "village" phase than KDM and i think the save system will be important.
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User #11287652 - 7 Aug 19 22:00
First of all, Happy Birthday, Fen! As for this other game, if it's something you're interested in, then enjoy. This is your Patreon and you should do what you like. Having said that, I'm really not interested in anything other than KDM, as I just don't have the bandwidth for anything else. I'll have to drop if that becomes a major feature of this Patreon, I'm sorry to say.
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User #6933513 - 7 Aug 19 19:03
Fen. Big Thx. I am so lucky that YOU are on Board and Reviewing this Game/the Prelude. Into the Unknown shows so much love for their very ambitiously Project. (Was Part of Nymph&Eschaton and i adore the Style of AT).
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User #14725393 - 7 Aug 19 10:24
I will be satisfied by your post. Have no money and time to get into another monster game.
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User #20238433 - 7 Aug 19 09:50
I’m interested in this - the artwork is lovely, as are the models, and having you contributing, Fen, is definitely a bonus. I am struggling, however, with playing all of my kingdom death monster content (which I love), so I will need to know what differentiates this game from kingdom death. Looking forward to your posts.
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User #9110977 - 7 Aug 19 13:56
I guess theres a KDM drought, and some other board-game is needed to keep the lights on. Godspeed, but not interested tbh.
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User #3792817 - 7 Aug 19 20:27
Looking forward to it!
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User #22690935 - 9 Aug 19 13:55
Happy birthday Fen! Whilst I'm happy to hear of your involvement and enthusiasm for this project, this article seems like quite a jarring volte-face after your unambiguous smackdown in an earlier post... (https://www.patreon.com/posts/board-game-mori-25120668) I'd be very curious to know what materially changed, other than being invited to collaborate?
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FenPaints - 10 Aug 19 16:17
Being invited to collaborate happened after I reached out to them. So that had no point of impact on my decision at all. I watched the King of Average videos on the game, looked further into the setting, the miniatures and so on and realized that I was wrong about this and needed to give it a chance. I'm glad I did and the experience taught me to not judge studios solely on their past games.
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User #12961868 - 7 Aug 19 10:34
Once you were vocal about their track record so far, but seeing they contacted you to collaborate with them on ATO I can only applaud for the fact they are serious making something out of this huge project. Personally I think your knowledge and experience with KDM is invaluable to improve game mechanics in ATO where KDM falls short Fen. Like balance for example. Great news indeed and most of all: have fun! Looking forward to your take and input.
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User #12005836 - 7 Aug 19 16:39
Will the miniatures of the first kickstarter be part of the core game or any expansion? Will the miniatures we can see in their shop with game content be part of the kickstarter?
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User #6933513 - 7 Aug 19 19:01
As far as I know, no Nymph is Part of the AT:Odyssey KS. The Miniature Game Content from the Shop ist Promo and not Part of the KS.
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User #4820009 - 7 Aug 19 10:37
I am personally not interested in this game, but if you are interested, then I'm glad to hear you excitement :)
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User #8857865 - 7 Aug 19 19:29
Im extremely bored with KDM atm and frustrated with the never ending delays to wave 3/4. My group will likely get in on the ATO kickstarter so that we have something to do in the mean time (because I'm sure ATO will deliver before KDM).
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User #15859435 - 7 Aug 19 08:01
I’ve been following this project since their Nymph models. I’m super stoked to hear you’re going to help with it!
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User #13785838 - 7 Aug 19 08:55
Looks neat, Greek mythology is one of my favourite settings, but having received my Mythic Battles pledge last month (to scratch that itch beautifully) and with KDM and oodles of other campaign coop games on the shelf, Gloomhaven (plus upcoming expansions), Tainted Grail, Etherfields etc.pp, I don't see myself getting anywhere close to it. Way too few hours with my gaming group to do so. Still, looks promising, and reason in terms of backing KS is not my strongest suit...
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User #7224842 - 7 Aug 19 11:26
Happy Birthday Fen!
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User #9110977 - 10 Aug 19 14:31
Interesting question raised, i would like more insight on the opinion change. Fen Quote: "As for Aeon Tresspass; I have zero faith in it as the designer has a very lackluster track record of games that I personally dislike and that sentiment continues across the community in general. (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgamedesigner/26482/marcin-welnicki)."
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FenPaints - 10 Aug 19 16:19
People can be wrong with their first impressions, I can and I've changed my opinion on things many times when I've found additional facts. The game and setting drifted back onto my radar, I watched the King of Average videos, read some more, watch the Monkeys with Fire interviews and realised that the game wasn't what I thought it was originally. So I thought I should give them a chance, talk to them direct about things and see what's what from the lions mouth.
TWIST Gaming's Gencon Interview with Adam
TWIST Gaming's Gencon Interview with Adammore_vert
2019-08-05T06:14:06+00:00
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TWIST Gaming's Gencon Interview with Adam 2019-08-05T06:14:06+00:00close

My thoughts on Gencon/Update stuff to come later, but until then, here's the raw footage of the first released interview with Adam this year.


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https://www.twitch.tv/videos/462589721?sr=a&t=228s

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Comments (3)
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FenPaints - 5 Aug 19 10:19
Second part is here: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/462610672
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User #14725393 - 5 Aug 19 06:16
I really dislike video review/interview. I may sound old but a written interview/review is what i like best. So if someone could post the relevant part i would be really thankful :)
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FenPaints - 5 Aug 19 08:23
I'm going to be summarising things from the Gencon Update at the start of the next week, I'll include the keypoints from this interview (there are a lot) as well.
A retrospective on 1.5 and a Look to the future 2019-07-22T12:00:02+00:00

With Gencon around the corner, Adam has emerged from his dusty workshop to once again build up hype and engage with the community, we've had a bunch of answered questions from him a few days ago, which by now I'm sure you're all familiar with and I'm not going to go into a breakdown of those at this time unless you guys want that. But you can read through the comments here.

Instead, I wanted, ahead of Adam's gencon update, which one would assume is going to contain more details about Advanced KDM (which we can discuss in another post if people want to, I know some of you have already discussed things a bit with me on the discord) to look at the current state of the game, talk about the best things that changed in 1.5, the things that didn't and some of the changes that as a player or a critic

Now before we begin, I want to be absolutely clear about something, I have two different hats when it comes to KDM and as a consequence two different sets of opinions, as a player I hold my personal opinions and as a critic I hold a different set of opinions that are based entirely.

My personal (and primary) position on balancing in this game is very simple, Adam knows what is best for his vision and I support the direction he is taking his game, I'll always play the game as officially as possible and I only create homebrew to supply alternatives, whatifs and for fun. To me, Adam's version is the best possible version and the one I enjoy the most.

If anyone ever asks you what Fen thinks is best for the game, the response is "Fen has complete trust in Adam's ability to form and balance the game to the best possible vision." I am as a player 100% in agreement with Adam's choices, balance and methods; they are deep, complex and create fascinating puzzles.

However, people get mixed up between my position and the critical stance I take when analyzing and reviewing things. When I am in my critic/analysis place, I am looking at the optimal routes of playing the game, while personally I'm off swanning around with Daggers, Whips and Swords - they are far from optimal and as a critic/strategist I would be wrong to lead people towards using them as their primary choices.

So what's coming here is a combination of what I like and dislike as a player (personal) and as a critic (impersonal), it's not my definitive position on things as the actual one is more complex and nuanced.

We're going to compliment sandwich this one, starting out with a personal wishlist of what I hope to see between Campaigns of Death and any enhancements to the base game (non-Advanced KDM); following that with a list of areas that critically feel could be reviewed for Campaigns of Death and then ending with a list of all the really top, best things I enjoy about the game and especially its evolution into 1.5.

The Wishes

  • Dragon Armor needs a slight boost in power, fixing the affinity issue on the belt would be nice, but giving some extra ability to the gloves would also be welcome.


  • Dragon weapons are likewise in need of a little love, they're all very much behind the Zanbato in power at the moment, and they shouldn't be.


  • Death High models are the most detailed and gorgeous creations to come out of Kingdom Death period. The photoresin method allows for so much more dynamism, detail and character than anything that has come before. I hope that we get to see optional Photoresin versions of the core game monsters along with versions of the higher level/legendary monsters and resculpted larger versions of the original survivors to bring them in line with the newer stuff (the role survivors for example).


  • Spidicules love. More than anything else, that expansion is so close to greatness.


  • The Counterweighted-Axe to get a revision so it's in line with the Acid-Tooth Dagger. The Bone Witch/Timeless Eye/CW-Axe builds are getting out of hand!


  • Wave 4 stuff being released sooner, honestly I signed up for those new monsters, not AKDM, and having AKDM/Campaigns of Death hold everything I am most excited about back is a bit of a downer. I want to paint some new monsters and more than anything those are what I want to see shipped out next, not the Gamblers Chest and Campaigns of Death, but the stuff in Wave 4.



The Misses

  • The Lion Knight's showdown experience and AI programming is more than a little wonky, there are some great parts to it, but the Fool card in particular needs to be rehauled.


  • The Phoenix's weapons, Hollow Sword and Sonic Tomahawk need some work to make them worthy of the difficulty of that monster.


  • Likewise Phoenix Armor needs 2-3 more affinities on it to bring it more into balance with other armor in the same period of crafting. If we can fix that, it'll be really great.


  • As a player I'm really not enjoying the +2 xp on the higher level monsters, it's discouraging with how it has anti-synergy with weapon proficiency gains and it ends up with you grinding L1 monsters for longer than usual. It's great once you've got your weapon masters up and you're boosting their children however. So I'm not sure what the solution is here, I've learned to live with it and adapted, but it doesn't feel good.


  • Flower Knight needs some number tweaks and deepening of the gear options. It's a beautiful model and it deserves better.


  • Weapon Crafter gear in particular could do with a rebalance, a lot of it isn't an improvement (or even a sideways alternative) over the Gorm/White Lion/Spidicules options, which is a same.


  • The Gold Smoke Knight's inclusion into the Lantern Storyline just isn't gelling right, I'd love to see that worked on and it made to feel more weighty from a lore perspective. It's a super cool fight, a great model, but he just doesn't feel like part of the world.


  • Oxidization of gear is a massive resource sink at the moment, it's so large that you don't have time to get to oxidizing the more funky and cool things such as the helm, sword and daggers, you end up having to rush after Shields, a Ring Whip and a Lantern Glaive. The part of the game you're in does provide enough resources to do it with, but often the payoff outside of the three mentioned above, just isn't enough (and the Lantern Glaive only really makes it in because of how good its baseline version is).


  • There are multiple silly exploits possible that really do force you to 'not use them' in order to keep the game from becoming stale. Massive population spiking (we're talking hitting quadruple digits or higher), unlimited Insanity, killing monsters in a single hit without any chance of counter attacks, dealing wounds to monsters without drawing AI in general (CW-Axe, Red Ring) and so on. I'd like to see them closed off as most of them just need one element fixed.


The Blessed

  • The swift change to the villain role card once the way that Doomed was changed in 1.5 was amazing. Stuff like that, swift, quick fixes released online via the official source are just so good.


  • Confirmed - More expansion integrations is something I've always wanted, we've already had this confirmed and I couldn't be happier about it.


  • Confirmed - Silk Armor needs some love. Apparently it's getting an extensive rehaul. Which is great because it's gorgeous,


  • Everything about the Sunstalker expansion. It's perfection.


  • Adam's talked about capstoning KD:Monster with a Lantern Festival kickstarter. Do that with the Ringtail Swamp and that's all I need from Monster, you can then hand off the project to someone else and move onto Kingdom Death Quest!


  • More calcification! Which has been confirmed.

  • People of the Stars - that campaign is nearly perfect.


  • The Gorm, it's maybe a bit too good, but it does so much work in making weapons in the game more interesting.


  • The updated plastic role models. I have the original resin versions of the role models and I hated painting them so much I gave up halfway through. The new models however are stunning.


So, what are your wishes for Campaigns of Death and base game Gambler's chest (non-AKDM)? What things did you like best about the current batch or the changes to 1.31 and what things do you hope get addressed in the CoD/GC wave of releases? What are you hoping to see at Gencon?

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Comments (9)
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User #6933513 - 22 Jul 19 15:15
Biggest Wish: The completion of KD:Monster with a Lantern Festival Kickstarter. It is a shame that the orginal King Story got lost and never fleshed out in all its glory. The loose ends of The Hand, the Watcher and the slide in of the Golde Smoke Knight, doesn´t feels right. More Incomplete. Lantern Festival REVIVAL, that would be beyound my biggest wish for KDM.
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FenPaints - 22 Jul 19 15:21
Adam's already entertaining that idea as a capstone for Monster. It's somewhere in the comments on the kickstarter and was linked on the subreddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/KingdomDeath/comments/cdnwhc/ooooooooh/
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User #6933513 - 22 Jul 19 16:08
Hi. Yes i knew, read it with pure joy. But, i believe that first when I see it in real. I mean.... Adam canceled the Lantern Festival not just for fun or? I mean, it was to large, to out of scale and to different. Maybe he dares, after all the new ideas and experience he and his team got by working on, all the Wave 3+4 Expansions. Maybe...hope dies last or?:)
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User #2842315 - 26 Jul 19 08:39
Can someone help me - I have been keenly waiting for an update on the completed Hunt Events cards to be posted but it doesn't seem to have happened yet - or did I miss it?? They look awesome.
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FenPaints - 26 Jul 19 09:15
I'm working on them still. I just have a couple of overdue commissions that need to be done first. End of summer is the latest I plan to do them by.
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User #2842315 - 27 Jul 19 07:22
Great news - they look amazing
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User #6933513 - 22 Jul 19 14:56
Campaign of Death: People of the Eclipse? What could it be? I see a reference to Berserk. The Eclipse (aka Feast).
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User #6933513 - 22 Jul 19 20:22
Hopes for Gen Con: Cardpack! THE CARDPACK! The legendary, elusive and rumored Cardpack....will the Dream come (really) true?
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User #6933513 - 22 Jul 19 13:11
Thx Fen for your thoughts and the well structured articel. And yes please break down the KS Comment "Update"&AKDM...and i support your wish list. Flower Knight could be a better/regular and not so easy farm Quarry, Phoenix Gear should more on a equivalent Level than Sunstalker.
As Lethal as it Needs to be - Shields 2019-08-12T11:00:00+00:00

Contents:

1. Introduction

2. Axes

3. Bows

4. Arrows and Quivers

5. Clubs

6. Daggers

7. Grand

8. Katar

9. Shield

10. Spear

11. Sword

12. Thrown

13. Whip

14. Twilight, Katana & Scythe


Overview:

One of two main meta choices for defensive options, training in Shields are a chore that most settlements go through by in order to gain the benefit of the weapon specialisation across all survivors because of the armor bonus it provides.

That specialisation is in essence a mini-armor set bonus for every survivor on top of the natural +X armor that most shields have anyway. The mastery is something that's not used as often by players, because it requires a master and you have to take them to a showdown (many masters cool their heels in the settlement and breed proficient babs). Most of all though, this requires a lot of careful positioning and placing your non-tank survivors next to the shield master (who is likely your main tank). Usually those survivors want to be a long distance away (via range/reach) or they want to be in the blind spot.

There is however a neat combo with Shield Master in front of a Spear Master. Those two form a mini-phalanx that can shut down most monsters with ease. Other times you might use this is if your DPS are using Synchonised Strike (which is so, so powerful) and one is at the front and the other is in the blind spot.

Ultimately however, good positioning, knowledge of monster behaviors and AI control via the Headband tends to mean that Shield Mastery is mostly a back up for when everything else goes wrong.

Shields themselves are statistically an oddity as weapons go. There are a total of 6 "normally" craftable ones, 1 rare shield, 1 campaign specific one (Stars) and then the Beacon Shield has 2 upgrade paths depending on the campaign you're playing - it can either turn into an Oxidised Beacon Shield (Lantern only) or Fetorsaurus (Green Armor).

So, first of all, just to note. This net graph only goes to 4, not 10 like the others. I attempted to normalise it to match the rest, but it was proving very difficult to get it to be accurate (blah). (This graph is as always based on the typical craftable shields, in this case Knuckle, Leather, Blast, Scrap and Beacon).

Anyway, as you can see, everything on shields on average is pretty low apart from abilities. They have low accuracy, low strength, low speed and a small number of affinities in the average case.

Your typical, average shield is:

Speed: 1 to 2

Accuracy: 7+

Strength: 2 to 3

Affinities: 0 to 1

Abilities: Block 1 and one other ability which might be + 1 armor.

However, Shields are an example of how weapons can work despite having terrible stats, they provide a huge amount of defensive utility with their combination of Block X and (normally) extra armor.

But make no mistake, without Block X (Or its upgraded version in Deflect) shields would drop off in usage a great deal and the meta would swing harder towards evasion and cancelling than it already is.

Block

This ability is without a doubt one of the most powerful ones in the entire game. The capability to cancel an entire hit from a monster, regardless of how much damage that hit would have dealt is huge. But on top of that, because of the mechanics of the game, this compounds with evasion hugely. If you can reduce the number of hits the monster can manage to make in the first place, then Block becomes proportionally more powerful.

For example, if the monster hits 4 times, then Block 1 is going to prevent 25% of those hits, but if it hits once then it'll prevent 100% of them. Outside of a few specific situations that deny block happening; for example the Phoenix trap, and methods that deal damage without scoring hits - Block is always going to be an amazing ability and it's descendant Deflect even more so.


There are not many shields in the game, currently we have just six craftable ones plus 3 others. So I'm going to look at each one in detail with the exception of Fetorsarus because I've already discussed that one recently in the article on Green Armor and the People of the Stars specific one I'll put after the Conclusion, because it's spoiler-riffic.


Leather Shield

Power Level: Mid game

Speed: 1 is a very standard amount for a shield, but combined with the accuracy here this weapon can be very vexing to train weapon proficiency with.

Accuracy: Terrible accuracy, the worst possible level for shields (8+), combined with the speed and strength, this weapon is as effective offensively as harsh language.

Strength: The final part of the puzzle in why this weapon is offensive garbage.

Affinities: Most shields have 0-1 affinities, the Leather shield has one of the best with an up green. This affinity combines perfectly with the Gorment Mask and more importantly the Leather Skirt, meaning you can get easy build combos on both sets. The Leather Zanbato Tank is a staple in a big part because of this.

Ability: This is pretty much the baseline you should expect for shields, you get Block 1 and 1 armor to all locations. It's very powerful, if this was an armor set bonus you'd be all over it, but it isn't, instead all it does is cost you 1 leather, 1 bone, 1 hide and a gear slot.

Summary: The first shield that most players will encounter, but not the first shield you can get chronologically (that's the next item in this list), the Leather shield is the foundation of two classes in hunt parties, Tanks and Blood Paint Bruisers. It gives you a massive amount of durability for a very affordable cost and it sets the standard every other shield is compared against.

Knuckle Shield

Power Level: Early Game, usable in mid.

Speed: Very high for a shield, but suited for the way that you use it.

Accuracy: 40% chance to hit is pretty much average for what you'd expect from a shield, so that's solid for an early game weapon.

Strength: 1 strength is basement tier, it's really hard to get lower than this (but some things manage it). This is the main issue that this weapon has and your builds will often look to get around that.

Affinities: Down red is whatever, it's not that great, but it does have some use with the CW-Axe and Gorment armor in an early game bruiser build (4 piece Gorment, Knuckle Shield, Counterweighted-Axe and affinity fillers).

Ability: Standard Block 1, but instead of getting extra armor, you get a pseudo-surge ability on this weapon as long as you can wound. It's a very powerful ability if you can get around the weapon's drawbacks. Wielded by a high strength survivor, this weapon can allow for very easy training of Shield Mastery starting from LY2. And it's not even that hard to make, expensive, but it requires 1 mammoth hand (a relatively common drop from the Gorm) and 2x bone.

Summary: This weapon, when used correctly DOMINATES the early game monsters, most L1s fall apart in the face of Block 1 and as such the right way to use this is either on a high strength survivor who smashes face and gets free blocks, or on a tank survivor who just activates Block 1 + Monster Grease, Tall Grass and Rawhide Armor and aims to attack just once with the shield for the proficiency tick. This weapon is phenomenal against everything up until the L2 late game monsters/nemesis monsters because of how powerful Block 1 is.

It's one of a whole suite of super powerful Gorm weapons and it ensures that the Gorm will remain relevant for years and years.

Feather Shield

Power Level: Mid game

Speed: As mentioned above 3 speed is very high for a shield.

Accuracy: 7+ accuracy is bad, but fine on a shield.

Strength: With basement level strength, you're not going to be attacking with this shield, ever. Even your fists are better.

Affinities: A single up blue contributes towards activating the shield's ability, and because that's what you want here, it's not bad.

Ability: This is the reason you would want to craft this weapon, in combination with the Immortal disorder plus any one of multiple ways to get super high insanity, you can create survivors who are effectively unkillable by damage/brain damage routes. This ability also stacks with stuff like the Silk Body Suit or Lion Skin Cloak/Brawler armor to really provide a LOT of damage mitigation. It's possible to end up soaking three points per hit that gets through and you still have access to Block 1.

Summary: The Feather Shield is either a bad leather shield or one of the most powerful defensive weapons in the game, depending entirely on your build. If you have access to an immortal tank (and there are many ways of tutoring one) then you should be prioritising getting this shield in order to combine it with your natural insanity damage soak. While this ability is not that useful vs. most L1s because they tend to deal 1 damage most of the time (with a few rare cards hitting higher), L2+ monsters always have at least 2 baseline damage.

With this + immortal you get to ignore that +1 damage token. In combination with the Silk Body Suit as well that's 3 points of damage ignored from hits and 1 damage from brain damage ignored as well.

Blast Shield

Power Level: Mid Game

Speed: Decidedly average for a shield, this one could have done with a little more speed because it's an offensive/defensive hybrid shield in design.

Accuracy: Decent accuracy for a shield, but let down by the lack of speed.

Strength: 4 strength is high for a shield and that makes the Blast Shield a decent choice for weaker survivors who want to train Shield Mastery. But if you have access to the Knuckle Shield you should be done on Shield Mastery training by the time you craft this.

Affinities: None. But it honestly should have 1 to 2.

Ability: This has the same abilities as the Leather Shield, with the addition of a one time gaining of the Priority Target (PT) token. Being able to get the PT is a very powerful ability and we'll talk about that in detail when we reach Spears and Whips. Here though, it's just a single turn, which isn't that powerful in my opinion. It's just a small bonus.

Summary: The little shield that wishes it could. If you haven't managed to make a Leather shield for some reason, this one is better and it's kind of cheaper at the cost of 1x King's Tongue and 1x Iron, especially for settlements that are iron rich (which you should be if you are hunting the Dragon King). As a consequence of this, it's better than it looks because in almost all aspects apart from affinities it is superior to the Leather Shield on tank/bruiser types who don't mind the attention for a turn.

If you haven't tried it out, you should.


Scrap Shield

Power Level: Mid game

Speed: 2 speed puts this in the offensive shield category, it's slower than the Knuckle shield (with the same accuracy).

Accuracy: 7+ is in the better portion of accuracy for shields, and it is clear it's intended that you hit with this shield.

Strength: 3 strength is too low for a shield in the Blacksmith category, by the time the typical player has access to this location they're not looking for this to train shield on, they're after a Beacon Shield.

Affinities: The Right Red fits nicely with Lantern Armor, but if you're on Lantern Armor the question really is, why are you not using a Beacon Shield and just subbing in a Monster-Tooth Necklace or other support item to fill that #7 slot?

Ability: Exactly the same abilities as the Leather Shield.

Summary: The benefits of the Scrap Shield are the right red affinity in combination with the extra armor. While this shield is designed to be used as an offensive shield, having similar offensive stats to a White Lion weapon is not the best place for it. Also the crafting cost of 3x bone, 2x scrap, 3x leather doesn't really compare favorably to the beacon shield, which is 4x bone, 2x iron, 3x leather. Yes scrap converts to iron in a 3:1 ratio, but 1x Iron is not harder to get than 1x Scrap.

This one is a pass unless you want that affinity over the options the Leather Shield gives.

🥓 Beacon Shield🥓

Power Level: Late Game

Speed: 1 speed, average, but buoyed up a fair bit by the other two stats.

Accuracy: 6+ is exceptional for a shield, a holy grail in fact.

Strength: 5 strength is one of the reasons why shield training has one of its recommended strats as 'rush blacksmith asap'.

Affinities: None.

Ability: We have a doubling of the amount of armor and Block when compared to the leather shield. This is one of the reasons why the old Beacon Shield aka Bacon Shield aka 🥓🛡️ is such a high priority for players. The increase in passive and active defensive capabilities is absolutely massive. While Block 2 is a 100% increase numerically in the defensive power, it's actually a lot larger than that when you factor in evasion and hit cancelling (both of which come before blocks). The 🥓🛡️ is a true powerhouse.

Summary: The bacon shield 🥓🛡️ is well priced, powerful, statistically useful and is almost everything a shield wishes it could be. It's also one of the few weapons in the game with multiple upgrade paths (or upgrade paths at all), turning into either the 🧀🛡️ (Cheese/Dinosaur Shield aka Fetorsaurus - 'Feta' cheese) or the Oxidised Beacon Shield in People of the Lantern. 🧀🛡️ can be read about in the Green Armor article, we'll look at the Oxidized Beacon Shield here. (And I promise I'll stop using the emojis now).


Oxidised Beacon Shield

Power Level: Lantern Post Watcher Only

Speed: Nothing special here for a shield, but it is backed up by good accuracy and strength.

Accuracy: 6+ is amongst the higher ranges for a shield, but this is exactly the stat you get on the non-oxidized version

Strength: A minor increase of strength from 5 to 6, which isn't enough to help with most breakpoints on monsters, and especially when you consider that this is going to be exclusively facing L3 Quarries and end game nemesis monsters. But you're not making shields for their offensive capabilities no matter what Monty Python might tell you otherwise (Fruit on the other hand is very dangerous).

Affinities: None. Womp Womp.

Ability: See everything written about the Beacon Shield, except now you have Deflect 2 instead of Block 2. Deflect is everything that Block is, but superior.

As a reminder here is the glossary text, which is what really matters:

Deflect X
A gear special rule. When you Deflect X, gain (or lose) deflect tokens until you have X of them. When you are hit, if you have any deflect tokens, you ignore that hit and lose a deflect token. When you Deflect X, you lose the benefits of Block.

One of the slight rules inconsistencies here is what happens when you Block and then Deflect over the top of it. It's not clear what it means by 'you lose the benefits of Block' as in, is it temporary? Can you have Block 2 sat under Deflect 2, or does it wipe out Block 2 when you activate Deflect and if so, what happens when you do it in the other order.

Regardless of these rules issues, Deflect 2 is VERY strong, instead of only working for the next attack (which Block does regardless of hits or misses), and it keeps running from one act to the next. You can set up Deflect at the start of a showdown while you are positioning and unable to attack and those tokens will sit there and wait for the exact moment they're needed (Hits). It's so much more flexible than Block that it's hard to put it into numbers.

Summary: Despite everything written about how strong Deflect is, this one is NOT cheap, you need a Watcher corpse and a bucket load of resources, so you're doing this when you're resource rich. Oxidation costs 3x leather, 3x bone, 3x organ, 1x black lichen, 1x cocoon membrane at a base cost and then the oxidized beacon shield also requires 2x iron and 1x hide to finish the job. You should have this kind of stuff around now that you're fighting L3 monsters, but that's a lot to spend per oxidation.

Something for the rich, but you're well rewarded and this gear helps a lot near the end of the game.

Steel Shield

Power Level: Varies

Speed: 1 Speed puts it at the norm for most shields.

Accuracy: 6+ accuracy is solid and offensively this weapon is very good.

Strength: A big old 6 strength on this one, considering you can get it very early on (potentially, it's down to chance) this represents an opportunity to train shield with ease as a 6 strength weapon is enough to threaten both L1s and L2s. You just have to get around the downside.

Affinities: None.

Ability: We have one heck of a downside on this one. It's a great piece of theme top-down design being used to create a drawback that's interesting and keeps a very strong piece of gear in check. You'll notice that instead of gaining armor, the steel shield reduces your movement and when you see the miniature piece, you'll see why. It's massive.

In fact, just look at it here:

Source: Vibrant Lantern, still one of the best sites out there.

It's like a superior crafted version of the White Knight Shield

See how that second shield is a deformed and twisted version of the first? It's not the only place where we see the Golden Entity/Forge God mimicking the work of the Cyclops Knight or Gold Smoke Knight and I think that's a really cool piece of "show don't tell" story telling there.

So yeah this shield comes from the Cyclops Knight and it's clearly designed for beings a lot larger than survivors, but he's like, tough luck, here you go. As such, survivors are slowed down by using it (a lot) and can't use it for armor protection. But they can hide behind it for one of the more powerful defensive abilities. As long as you have access to survival (or activations) you can ignore hits. Survivors with deep pools of survival, or self survival gaining such as the seriously powerful Abyssal Sadist/Rawhide Armor combo can make a mockery of monster attacks.

The -3 movement is severe and you're often needing a way to mitigate it once you've taken it back home (first survivor to get this shield is often just stuck lugging it about for the showdown), the most effective way is on a survivor with the Arthimophilia disorder:

Usually this disorder sucks, but if you roll 4 or 5, you're a king candidate for using the Steel Shield.

Other methods include Leather Boots, Silk Boots, White Lion Boots, Dancer Armor (sometimes) and my personal favourite, Dragon Armor which includes +2 movement during your act and the ability to move 5 spaces by using Leap. In fact this is another place where Dragon Armor is REALLY powerful and beats out most of the competition because it also has massive survival gains on arrival (max survival).

At least until the survivor using it dies, and then it's gone, so make sure any strategies you're using that revolve around the Steel Shield don't involve too many gear cards that are useless without it. (That's why Dragon Armor is a good choice, it's amazing even without the Shield).

Summary: Difficult to use, very powerful if you manage to mitigate its downside, this is an example of a superbly balanced piece of rare gear. It's one that is often overlooked because of how important movement is (and how powerless you feel when you're movement 2), but for those players who are fine with that and are able to mitigate the issues as much as possible, there's a very strong defensive item waiting for them here.


Conclusion:

Shields are a premium weapon in the current meta of Kingdom Death, they're considered to be one of two 'must have' masteries because of the extra armor they provide when you have access to the specialisation for everyone. It's one of the main ways you can deepen your armor pool enough to survive the nastier stuff that comes at you as a DPS and as such shields can become almost ubiquitous.

In general terms the shields that matter are the Knuckle Shield, the Leather Shield and the Beacon Shield. But as mentioned, the Feather and Steel Shields are incredible for the right build and the Blast Shield is a good alternative for a settlement that's hunting the Dragon King and wants to save hide for other things than making leather. It's really only the sCrap Shield that doesn't have a home because it's in the same crafting tier as the 'best' shield.

So as a whole, Shields are powerful thanks to Block and armor gains, and they're well balanced in this with how slow and frustrating training Shields can be. I like the way that they sit right now and the only change I'd want to see is the Scrap Shield being moved to an earlier tier (perhaps without Block so it can be armor points + offense) and its strength adjusted. I'd also like to see the Leather Shield lose the extra armor it gives and just provide block.

But these are just critic desires, as a player I'm thrilled that it's so simple to get access to Leather and Knuckle Shields!


As promised, here's the last shield and spoilers for People of the Stars follows after Tyrant-chan's stern gaze:



Hazmat Shield

Power Level: End Game only

Speed: 2 speed is a great number for an offensive shield.

Accuracy: 4+ accuracy is obscene, absolutely obscene. There are few weapons that reach this level of accuracy and here is one of them on a shield no less.

Strength: 7 strength is likewise bananas for a shield. If you're not at Shield Mastery already, you should be able to finish it when you get this.

Affinities: None.

Ability: So this one is basically a beacon shield with an additional ability that provides protection against Unseen Agony or Meltdown 90% of the time. Turns out that's really good because you get this one for free.

Summary: We've had the Face Shield (Beacon), Old Man Shield (Fetor), Lion Shield (Steel) and here's the Dragon Shield. It's given to you for free near the end of the campaign and as a free gift, it's very powerful indeed. It gives one member of your children who face the final nemesis almost complete immunity to his radiation (9/10 is almost complete immunity right?) and it also allows a Storm to rapidly complete Shield Mastery if you haven't already gotten there. It's a beautiful sculpt/artwork to boot and it confirms what we've already known, the Tyrant/Dragon King is a living star with radiation based abilities - and that's why his children eat his heart, it's the burst of energy that's needed to jump start their own cores!

I got a little off track, this shield is really good.

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Comments (5)
user avatar
User #6933513 - 13 Aug 19 12:39
Big Fan of the "Grinning Visage - Shield"...and see new stupid Meme Builds with the lunacy of the Strain Fighting Art Convaleser (Sculpture). Thats a lot of Armour....
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User #7519969 - 21 Aug 19 22:02
In fact, am I missing something or is the Grinning Visage missing from the article?
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User #6933513 - 24 Aug 19 16:31
No the Grinning Visage is not covered in this articel. Basically the Visage adds Armour by wounding (and spending Survival). A high strenght Survivor ( for example a WItch from the PotStars) culimates a lot of Armour.
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User #6378167 - 19 Aug 19 05:16
Great to see that I'm not the only one that calls it the bacon shield!
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User #16381135 - 12 Aug 19 11:35
The Steel Shield always reminds me of the wonderful niche build we managed in our first campaign: Partial Screaming Fur (affinities) Lantern Greaves (+2 movement) Steel Shield (defense) God Mask (survival) And then we slapped this on a Thrill Seeker...
Gloomhaven is live on Steam now (Early Access)
Gloomhaven is live on Steam now (Early Access)more_vert
2019-07-17T11:37:05+00:00
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Gloomhaven is live on Steam now (Early Access) 2019-07-17T11:37:05+00:00close

Gloomhaven's Early access is on steam, I picked up a copy. Are people interested in a video mini-review of what it's like at this time?

Would there be interest in more content on Gloomhaven in the future?

Let me know!


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Gloomhaven on Steam

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Whether you are drawn to Gloomhaven by the call of adventure or by an avid desire for gold glimmering in the dark, your fate will surely be the same. Gloomhaven, the digital adaptation of the acclaimed board game, mixes Tactical-RPG and dungeon-crawling.

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https://store.steampowered.com/app/780290/Gloomhaven/

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As Lethal as it Needs to Be: 7. Grand Weapons 2019-07-12T10:00:00+00:00

Contents:

1. Introduction

2. Axes

3. Bows

4. Arrows and Quivers

5. Clubs

6. Daggers

7. Grand

8. Katar

9. Shield

10. Spear

11. Sword

12. Thrown

13. Whip

14. Twilight, Katana & Scythe

Overview:

I think it is absolutely fair to call Grand Weapons one of the most dominant weapon types in the game as it stands right now, the combination of an incredibly powerful design ethos, a weapon specialisation that's so strong the Indomitable trait was created in 1.5 to negate some of its power, great availability and decent progression all come together to give us a roster of weapons that every single settlement makes serious consideration of. I don't think there is a single duff weapon in the Grand Weapon class, from the first one you make (Rib/Zanbato) through to the late game options (Skleaver, CJB, Dragon Slayer) all the way to the game winning Perfect Slayer. These weapons are one of the four staple weapon classes for tanks (club, katar, grand and always shield) while also being powerful options for DPS survivors.

The weapon specialisation gives you so much power, +1 accuracy is a significant boost in this game because of how often weapons cap at 5+ or 6+ to hit and the critical wound ability allows for other survivors to attack without fear of reactions (other than the trap). The master ability is not very powerful overall because most Grand Weapons are slow, which means it cancels just a single reaction, but there is a weapon which can make use of it. However, this makes Grand weapons an oddity, you want to hit the specialisation, but you're not that bothered about the mastery and because of Indomitable allowing L3 monsters to stand up quickly after being hit; Grand weapons fall off in the late game a little (which is where Clubs and Katars start to take over for Tanks).

There is very little to find at fault with the statlines of Grand weapons in general; they are designed to be low speed (often Slow), with solid accuracy, high strength, lots of abilities (some negative) and generally around 2 affinities. They also tend to have common access to Deadly and or Devastating which are two of the most powerful abilities in the game. Deadly is always relevant unless the monster is immune to crits because of how it cancels reactions and Devastating becomes more and more powerful as monster health increases and the need to crit farm decreases.

If anything I think the main criticism for Grand weapons is they are too good, they do too much. It seems that low speed was considered entirely a drawback during the design of Kingdom Death, but the community accurately figured out that in fact low speed is great when it is combined with decent accuracy, high strength and abilities like Deadly/Devastating. As a consquence I'd go as far as saying I think overall only Bows are stronger as a weapon type in general than Grand weapons.

Speed: Slow

To save repeating myself, before starting here's the blanket assessment for all the Grand weapons that are 1 speed + slow. This combination is mostly a positive one for a weapon, an attack that is slow, accurate and likely to wound is better than most other types of weapons for attacking. This is because of the hit location/reaction/trap design built into monsters. The more you hit a monster, the more it hurts you back, so you want those hits to succeed - which cancels Failure reactions (or score crits which cancels everything). Also the more you hit the monster, the more often the trap triggers, which is a full attack cancel + harm for your survivors. So low speed is amazing when it is coupled with good accuracy and high strength.

Tanks also prefer low speed weapons, this means they can contribute to the damage being dealt while also taking less damage in return. This is one of the reasons why I call Clubs and Katars top tier tank weapons, they have ways of scoring high wound rolls and/or cancelling reactions, providing evasion or manipulating AI. All these things help mitigate damage and put less pressure on your shield for tanking.

So, that written, lets take a look at the individual weapons.


Zanbato

Power Level: Mid game

Speed: No additional comments.

Accuracy:A 50% chance of hitting is reasonable for any weapon, and as we have established with the net graph above, it's within the average range of 50% to 60% chance to hit for Grand weapons.

Strength: 6 strength is a HUGE amount for what is basically a White Lion weapon located behind an unlock location. The Zanbato is pretty much the sole reason why you rush the weapon crafter early on and it's a massive spike in power for any hunt team, capable of wounding all the early game monsters on a 2+ and strong enough to threaten things like the Phoenix.

Affinities: These two affinities are amazing, they have an inbuilt synergy with Leather Armor and the helped create one of the cookie cutter mid game tank builds in Zanbato + Leather Armor + Leather Shield + Monster Grease. The game literally forces you into this build with these affinities and it's so powerful. About the only issue with these affinities is a lack of blue affinities, a blue up would have made this weapon almost totally OP in combination with Leather.

Ability: Frail is a strong downside on a weapon, hitting a super dense location is going to break the weapon, which will disadvantage the survivor by weakening their offense for the rest of the fight. However, 1 speed and the current available Hit Location scouting abilities (CECirclet, Wisdom Potion) essentially mitigate this disadvantage almost completely.

Deadly is a really powerful ability, and you can get this weapon online as a crit farming option with the use of Rawhide Armor + Lucky Charm + Fecal salve. This is a ridiculously cheap build (1 great cat bone, 2 organs, 6 hide) with a ton of offense and decent defense.

Finally we have Devastating 1, now I do not rate using this ability when you are farming for resources because it lowers the farming lifespan of monsters by removing wounds without giving a chance to score resources. But, you do not have to always have Devastating 1 on, you can choose to leave it off for farming and turn it on when fighting a nemesis monster or when you have sufficient resources and are looking for the end of fight rewards rather. This flexibility is incredible and part of what makes the weapon so strong.

Summary: The best weapon in the early game, the best weapon in the weapon crafter and the best weapon to let you move towards harder monsters (phoenix tier). The Zanbato is an essential part of weapon progression and you would not be hindered by having a party using nothing but them. The only downside this weapon has is frail.

It's also stupidly cheap at 1x Great Cat Bone, 1x hide.

Calcified Zanbato

Power Level: Mid to Late Game

Speed: No additional comments

Accuracy: At the higher end of accuracy for grand weapons, 60% chance, which essentially should be 70% chance to hit by this stage because of the weapon spec, is all you can really ask for.

Strength: It's "just" a +2 strength increase, but as noted elsewhere this is actually a significant increase. You're going from an 11.5 average wounding roll (before survivor strength) to a 13.5 average wounding roll. That means on the typical survivor at this stage (who should be at least +2 strength) you're threatening to harm stuff like the L2 Dragon King on the regular.

Affinities: Same as Zanbato.

Ability: Same as Zanbato, but there is no Frail downside anymore, so that is one minor downside consideration eliminated.

Summary: As one of two upgrade paths for the Zanbato (the other being the godly Trash Crown), the Calficied Zanbato costs an extra 1x Caustic dung + time (and a Scell resource if you want to make sure it doesn't get turned into a Trash Crown). The price is worth it, absolutely, it's a great price for this upgrade. Generally I recommend jamming 2-3 Zanbatos in the ground at the same time and trying to hit the Trash Crown as well as the Calcified versions.

This isn't one of the most powerful end game Grand weapons, but it is one of the cheapest.

Rib Blade

Power Level: Early to Mid Game

Speed: No additional comments.

Accuracy: 50% chance to hit, great for a weapon that is basically on par with the King's Spear for its crafting cost.

Strength: 5 strength is considerable, but it is very important to note that represents an average wounding roll of 10.5. A whole 2 strength away from reaching the 12 that you want for many of the L1 mid game monsters and it's only just above the average L2 early game monsters. It's just 1 point of strength lower than the Zanbato, but its a significant point drop.

Affinities: Just the one affinity, right blue, but it's a doozy. This combines with the Lucky Charm and a Wisdom Potion to give you a single row of powerhouse gear. This triple threat combo works with any armor set you desire and it's a great DPS loadout.

Ability: As mentioned above, this weapon's affinity + Deadly makes it a great combo with the Lucky Charm and a Wisdom Potion (Gorm also). Having this set up actually allows you to run no support survivor because the Wisdom Potion's scouting ability "replaces" the Cat Eye Circlet's one. It's not as powerful because you can't reorder things or see deeper than one card in the deck, but it is passive and always on.

It is also important to note that this is one of only two grand weapons that are one handed. So if your Grand Weapon trainer loses a hand, the Rib Blade is often where you'll go in order to continue using him. Because of Slow it doesn't work well with Blood Paint, you'd need a way to ignore Slow, such as frenzy. There is a meme build for this though.

It looks cool on a model though!

Summary: I L O V E the Rib Blade just too much, it's my number 3 goal when fighting the Gorm (after Riot Mace and Wisdom potion) and it's always a part of my early hunting parties if I can get my hands on it. I think it's the second best early game farming weapon (behind the hard to get Riot Mace) and if anything I think the weapon has too much strength for what it is.

Dragon Slayer

Power Level: Late Game

Speed: No additional comments.

Accuracy: 50% chance to hit is low for a late game weapon

Strength: 14.5 average strength for a 20 average wounding roll is pretty beastly, and 16's what you should be close to averaging from around LY15 onwards anyway. So it's great for the portion of the game where you get it.

Affinities: Just the one red right affinity and the only thing of note is that it works with Lantern Greaves, but you probably shouldn't be using this with Lantern Armor or Warlord Armor anyway.

Ability: Slow cancels out Early Iron (except when Frenzied) and you can check the Zanbato for the comments on Frail. So this weapon gets Sharp (+1d10 strength, average 5.5) and automatic Devastating 1. Essentially this is a super Zanbato.

Summary: One of the OG late game weapons, despite a bunch of exciting and more powerful options turning up in the expansions the Dragon Slayer still holds its own as an exceptional weapon for the late game.

Skleaver

Power Level: Late Game

Speed: This weapon is speed 1, but it is NOT slow. That's absolutely huge, this is the one place where you have access to a Grand weapon that can really take advantage of the Mastery ability, you just need to get your hands on extra speed without having the mastery cancelled as it is when you are Frenzied. (Speed Powder or Leader anyone?)

Accuracy: 60% is on the top end for Grand weapons. Solid as a rock.

Strength: Massive, this weapon has 10 strength baseline, which puts it at a 15.5 average wound roll before modifiers. But you cannot overlook that this is a Sunstalker weapon, which means that you can have your survivor in Cycloid Scale Armor every time if you want it. Because Kingdom Death isn't a game where things occur in isolation, out on a hunt this weapon is essentially baseline 20.5 average wounding roll.

You're going to get a lot of mileage out of this lady.

Affinities: Nothing particularly special here, mostly you'll be looking to connect them so you can activate the weapon's ability. Easily done with Cycloid Scale Armor.

Ability: The Perfect Hit ability is dope as heck. It has strong synergy with the weapon's lack of Slow and the Grand mastery. As mentioned above, you just need to stack speed and this weapon is ridiculous.

The activated one is a subtle one. The heavy keyword is generally a very negative one. You don't see immediate benefits from it, but you will avoid horrible things occasionally.

Summary: This weapon is expensive as heck (needs 2x L2 Sunstalkers for the strange resource requirements) but it is correctly gated at this price because of its power, versatility and unique nature. This is my top Grand weapon and that's not going to change until new stuff is released.

Calcified Juggernaut Blade

Power Level: Late game.

Speed: No additional comments.

Accuracy: Standard 60% accuracy for a late game weapon.

Strength: 9 base, with an increasing amount depending on tokens. See abilities below.

Affinities: The two affinities work well with Lantern Armor, and have some applications with Rolling. But overall they are not needed for much, they're not even that important for the Monster Tooth Necklace, but they do work with it.

Ability: Insert Standard Slow text here. For tanks Block 1 isn't a massively valuable ability on non-shields, but it is useful for a DPS or Bruiser type who has space concerns and wants occasional access to Block 1 in a pinch.

The other ability is super interesting and is what makes this weapon so powerful, while you have a baseline average wound roll of 14.5 generally this is going to be a lot higher because of how it interacts with any token. Each bleed token is +1 strength, a +1 strength token is +2 strength, a -1 strength token is canceled out (Speed Powder basically reads +1 strength unless you are Frenzied). You can do a lot of things that let you gain tokens (Phoenix Helm), Story of the Young Hero and so on and these boost your power a lot. It's not uncommon for this weapon to be more like 12-15 strength with the right hunt party in support of it.

Summary: Gained either by breaking a DBKs sword and calcifying the Regeneration Blade you get or by beating an L3 DBK (Option 1 is easier, Option 2 is a lot harder, but faster) this end game Grand Weapon packs huge offense alongside some defense to give you a good choice for the space restricted hunter. I feel it's not as good offensively as the Dragon Slayer or Skleaver because of their access to Devastating 1, but it is cheaper on the resource front than either one to make. Sometimes this thing just 'turns up' during the process of getting other stuff from the DBK and it's very welcome when it does.

Also it's the main viable choice for a one handed Grand weapon in the late game. Important for ensuring that a dismembered arm doesn't ruin your Grand weapon user.

Despite being People of the Bloom only, we're going to dip into the Replica Flower Sword next, because it is a) craftable, b) really good and c) is likely to turn up in the Abyssal Woods in some form where it will probably be a big part of the meta.

Replica Flower Sword

Power Level: Mid to late game.

Speed: Straight up has the best speed stat out of any Grand Weapon because it legitimately has 2 speed without slow. It's also one handed so you can Blood Paint/Ambidextrous it. Which is utterly mindboggling when you consider how large this weapon is.

Accuracy: 50% hit rate, better than most other grand weapons because that's actually 2 attacks at 50%.

Strength: 6 strength baseline (Zanbato tier at 11.5 average wounding roll), gaining sharp to climb it to 11.5 baseline (16 average wounding roll) once it's active. Very respectable stats and the self upgrade ability via affinities gives this weapon a huge level of efficiency.

Affinities: OK, so it's very important to note that in People of the Bloom you have +2 Green Affinities and -2 Red affinities (and +1 Luck). That has large impacts on how you're going to get this weapon active. You only need to connect the Green one and it's going to be live. But you need to hit a total of 3 red affinities, which this weapon provides only 2 halves, in order to get that Sharp and +1 evasion active. There are builds that do this, but it is restrictive for sure.

Ability: There is a LOT to unpack here. This weapon is always devastating 1, meaning that it's essentially a Zanbato when you get it. However the 'No Dodge' restriction limits this weapon to a DPS style survivor only, losing Dodge is a high price for a tank to pay because of the power that survival action brings when stacked with Dodge. You can't Surge to Block X and then Dodge to remove another hit - you are also left with nothing but passive defenses (position, evasion, AI control) if you surge to attack a second time.

When you activate the weapon you gain sharp, which is great, and +1 evasion. The evasion gain isn't that powerful here because losing dodge, as noted above, has a big impact on your durability against attacks. You can still stack this with stuff in order to get a Block/Deflect + Evasion build running for a tank, but sometimes you'll really feel hurt because of that missing Dodge.

Summary: This one is a very interesting weapon, honestly the lack of dodging is something that maybe should have been standard for Grand weapons, because it makes for solid design here. You have a very powerful, exciting weapon, but you lose out on one of the strongest abilities in the game if you use it.

It's going to be great fun to see how this one is used when PotBloom comes out, if it makes it without being changed. Or maybe Campaigns of Death will let us craft this weapon when you beat the L3 Flower Knight?

Perfect Slayer

Power Level: EXTREME

Speed: 3 speed with slow means that this weapon 'powers up' when you are frenzied. It's an interesting design and it really adds to the overall OP nature of this blade.

Accuracy: 50% hit rate is on the low end for a late game Grand Weapon. But who cares?

Strength: 14 baseline strength + sharp for an average wound roll of 19.5 (Range is 15 to 24 baseline strength + wounding roll. So in total: Anything from 16 to 34 wound roll with an average of 25). O B S C E N E. There's nothing in the game right now that shrugs this off apart from the L3 Hand. Even Gordon the Gold Smoke Knight is very concerned about this one.

Affinities: One single down red. That's not good, but who cares?

Ability: On top of the aforementioned Slow and Sharp. This weapon also has Devastating 2 - which is utterly disgusting. When it wounds it causes three wounds. It will shred through monsters very safely. The downsides to this weapon are irreplaceable and -2 movement. Irreplaceable is pretty much par for course with a weapon that has this power (but you're also unlikely to lose the survivor wielding this because of how nuts it is). The -2 movement is somewhat problematic, but as monsters usually like to run towards survivors, it's not as much of an issue as you'd think. Careful position play and control from the supporting cast (sorry guys anyone without the Perfect Slayer when it's around is a second string player at best) will mitigate this a lot of the time.

Summary: This thing is just too powerful for the game as it stands right now, it is fortunately very difficult to get, on top of its casting cost it also needs a two 1% hunt events to land in the right order. I still think it's too powerful for something that's given out so randomly, but it is fun when you have it.


Conclusion:

As a weapon suitable for Tanks, Gorment Bruisers (2H), Bruisers (1H) and DPS players alike, Grand Weapons deserve their position at the head of the table alongside Bows. They are a concentrated form of all the most desirable parts of weapons in Kingdom Death with very few downsides outside of crafting and generally being slow. While I think there are better tank specific weapons in Katar and Club, you are never wrong in taking a Grand Weapon onto the battlefield instead.

One of the top 5 weapon styles for sure.

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As Lethal as it Needs to Be: Daggers 2019-07-05T11:00:00+00:00

Contents:

1. Introduction

2. Axes

3. Bows

4. Arrows and Quivers

5. Clubs

6. Daggers

7. Grand

8. Katar

Overview:

So, with the aim to try and be as positive as possible about the applications of Daggers, and explore just how you can use them effectively, I'm going to put most of my issues with them in general in the Overview and the conclusion. Daggers are a very problematic weapon design in KD: Monster.

To start with we'll take a look at the net graph for this class:

As you can see, not a single category in Daggers passes the 5 mark. Daggers are not fast, strong, full of abilities, accurate or heavy on affinities. Now when you consider this in comparison to other weapons, you'll find that Daggers actually trend on the higher side for affinities, but that's not a trait that's front and center of what makes a weapon class good. Weapons are good based on strength, speed, accuracy and abilities like Reach/Range, Deadly, Devastating and unusual things that are triggered on stuff like Perfect Hits.

Speaking of which, that takes us to the other issue with Daggers, their ability design is all over the place. For the most part they are designed to be used paired (which is always a poor ability because of how it eats 11% of your available slots in order to give you +X speed and a really awful duplicate of your original weapon). Except that sometimes they're not paired at all and they sometimes have Perfect hit abilities, except that's not always true either.

Then there is the specialisation and mastery.

So, the specialisation goes some way towards negating the low strength, high speed design that daggers have, you get to dump an unwanted, unresolved hit location to try and score a success on the main location you want to wound. This is a neat ability, but there's an issue, which we'll get to shortly. The mastery ability is unique, cool and can create some really odd rules situations. For 1 survival you get to hit a high priority location and try to wound it again - that is very powerful and fun. However there is this same issue, which is absolutely core to the problem with daggers and lets get to it.

Daggers should be the Deadly weapon class.

Yeah, more than any other weapon in the game, daggers are the class that should have had deadly on them. Their high speed, low strength design is the perfect place for deadly to have existed. In addition, both the specialisation and the mastery are perfectly designed to try and hit critical wound hit locations and score the benefits. In fact, the whole deadly/critical wound/no reaction dynamic is exactly what daggers should have been doing.

In addition, this plays into the exact trope that daggers are the backstabby sneaky assassin style weapon. Something that for an utterly unknown reason has been given to the Denticle axe instead.

So in short, Daggers have an absolute identity crisis, they have a weapon design that doesn't mesh with the mechanics of the game (high speed, low strength gets punished without deadly/luck ti support it) or even it's weapon spec/mastery. Daggers have been given some Perfect hit mechanics, and as we'll see a few of these are decent to excellent, but overall Perfect hits, despite both the existence of the Backstabber strain fighting art and the CE design decision to push towards the Perfect hit as the focus of the weapons is just wrong for the core game. Daggers need an identity rehaul from the start, and other weapons need to have deadly taken away from them (I'm looking at you Grand weapons).

So, I've said my peace. Enough about that, lets get into the daggers themselves!


Bone Dagger - Bone Smith

Power Level: Early Game

Speed: 3 speed is bananas on a weapon like this, it's only got 1 strength and it doesn't even have paired (which everyone, including Adam and his seems to forget example 1 and example 2). In fact they may as well be paired, because that's how they are depicted in the lore.

Accuracy:40% chance of hitting is fine with a 3 speed weapon, its higher variance, but it's something that I consider to be comparable to 2 speed 6+.

Strength: Strength 1 is, in this game, absolutely garbage against almost every single monster. This means your average roll is 6.5, and with the weakest none Flower Knight monsters being toughness 8, well it's a terrible situation for a weapon to be in. You're not even good enough for the first monster encountered outside of the prologue, even with Survival of the Fittest you're still not at a 50% wound rate.

Affinities: The single best part of the Bone Daggers, this is one of the few reasons why the weapon gets used. It tends to be placed to 'fix' issues with the White Lion affinities and get you towards a set of 4 red affinities.

Ability: There are better ways to gain survival, even early on the Perfect hit ability of a cheap weapon. While this is a nice, simple way to introduce the Perfect hit gives you a bonus mechanic, it set the precedent for daggers to be one of (many) perfect hit weapon classes. Useful in the meme Red charm build though (see below).

As an aside, It is worth noting that the bone dagger is one of the cheapest weapon options in the game and it's not frail like the Bone Sword/Axe/Darts, but right now it's very unlikely you'll hit an issue with super dense locations very often regardless because they are not common even on most later game monsters.

Summary: So there is a meme build using Bone Daggers, Red Charm and White Lion armor spam attacks that wound monsters 50% of the time. The Bone Dagger is a core part of that build, but it's not because it's any good, it's because ignoring monster toughness, either for auto wounds or a fixed 50% success rate is very powerful (and cheesy, no credit for winning with that method anyone can do it)

Here's one version..


Cat Fang Knife - Catarium (L3 White Lion)

Power Level: Early Game

Speed: 3 speed is one of the more interesting speed levels for a little risk without too much, though when it's combined with the rest of the stats. Well, same problem that's rotten throughout Daggers.

Accuracy:6+ is not what you'd expect from a monster locked weapon, honestly this one could be doing a lot better.

Strength: This is an absolute joke, the design of this weapon is scoring perfect hits to boost up its strength, but you'll notice that first of all, it's not got paired, so you can't easily increase its speed without relying on White Lion armor. Secondly you don't even get to always keep those tokens if you do get the ball rolling because a knockdown will ruin your day. Honestly this weapon only works if it has a high base strength, and you can get there with the meme Lion God build. But it's not worth the effort and difficulty at all.

Affinities: Affinities are absolutely great if you want to get the Red Charm activated, otherwise they're kind of who cares outside of Lion God stuff? I can't really complain about them, but they are the one aspect of this weapon that IS good.

Ability: OK, so I've trash talked the ability a bit already, so I'm going to look at the positives with this, if you can leverage it.

The idea behind this weapon is to scale your perfect hits so they boost your strength before you get into the portion of the attack where you will be using it. So in order to properly use this weapon you want to have access to Timeless Eye, Backstabber and a way of negating knockdowns. Tumble is an option, but honestly you're already relying on two fighting arts, so Dancer Armor is probably the better choice. However if you take Dancer armor you're missing out on the extra speed and strength that other sets offer. So you can just risk getting knocked over and instead go with Phoenix, White Lion, Cycloid or Dragon which will give you a boost in stats so you can get the ball rolling.

The ultimate aim is to go with the meme-supreme build of White Lion Armor + Cat Fang Knife + the Lion God trilogy:

Spoiler, the statue is super important for this build and it's locked behind the L3 Lion God. Suffice to say if you can get the statue, you don't need the statue.

Summary: This one was an ambitious bit of design from the team, it just falls short because of how hard it is to build in comparison to its baseline stats. If you can consistently start snowballing strength with this weapon and keep building on that, you've got something that can potentially handle anything in the game, but the situations where that happens are rare and there are many other easier things to activate.

Scrap Dagger - Weapon Crafter

Power Level: Early

Speed: In the higher bracket for daggers, it's fine and actually plays into one of the weapons (limited) strengths.

Accuracy: As mentioned elsewhere, I'm good with 3 speed weapons that hit on a 7+, I think they are comparable to 2 speed 6+ weapons.

Strength: Ugh

Affinities: Not bad.But there are few builds that are clamoring for this combination at the moment. If the weapon was more useful overall you'd be valuing this more highly. As it stands, you just want to remember it exists for the Red Ring.

Ability: Each dice you attack with has a chance of triggering this perfect hit ability, so this weapon is idea for use with the Timeless Eye/Backstabber combo and it fuels gaining additional speed quite well also. In this, its a reflection of the Scrap Sword.

Still, can you feel that but coming?

But. But, this is an unreliable gain in strength, you can't be sure how likely you are to score a wound before you start your attack, especially if you are planning on gaining strength to do so. Which means you want a decent baseline strength before you even start attacking. Which therefore means that you don'tneed this ability.

The odds of getting strength bonuses from Perfect hits (without any modifers) are as follows:

  • +2 strength = 271/1000
  • +4 strength = 27/1000
  • +6 strength = 1/1000

Those are pretty crazy fractions, so if you want to see them in % form they're:

  • 27.1%
  • 2.7%
  • 0.1%

And that's the issue with this ability, it's a plus to your strength in less than a third of attacks. It gets better when you have Timeless Eye and/or Backstabber, but relying on non-tutorable fighting arts (and both of those are not really tutor able for most players) means that this is the kind of weapon that can be used rarely by most players.

It's a low payoff for a hard to trigger ability that doesn't do enough when you do get it, this isn't the CW-Axe or ATD.

Summary: For 1x bone and 1x scrap this weapon is not half bad, however being not half bad when you're in the same crafting location as the Zanbato/CW-Axe and your stats are worse than the White Lion and Gorm gear just isn't good enough. Like most Weapon Crafter weapons, this one is a victim of too much power being concentrated in the early monster specific weapons and overall dagger design troubles.

With better baseline stats this ability would have been fantastic, Daggers just aren't the right place for it.

Acid-Tooth Dagger - Gormery

Power Level: Any

Speed: 2 or 4 and often you're going to want to run this one as a 4.

Accuracy:7+ is fine, in truth you're going to consider weakening your accuracy as much as possible with this weapon and combining it with Timeless Eye. If this weapon hit on a 10+ I'd still rate it's accuracy as being fine.

Strength:On a normal hit, this weapon has 2 strength, but on a Perfect hit it's infinite. That's quite a range to jump from. So, yeah this weapon is very powerful.

Affinities: Solid affinities, they are usable by the White Lion set, which is one of the best places to use these daggers. They're also fine with Cycloid Scale or Phoenix/Dragon, which are the other places.

Ability: Another super sweet Perfect hit ability here and one of my favourite ones in the game, while this is similar to the Counterweighted Axe/Red Ring/Sunring Bow it's not as powerful and honestly more balanced. While you get to hit an automatic wound on a perfect hit, you have to draw that hit location and you will suffer the trap or any Reflexes that trigger on a Reaction or a Wound. This is powerful, but it's not busted or abuse able the way that the other three abilities are above. I wish that all of the above items used the Acid-Tooth Dagger ability as their auto wound ability because it's powerful, well balanced and makes for a better game experience. This ability also encourages and rewards using the daggers paired, I like it.

Summary: My favourite daggers and one of my favourite things to pair with Backstabber + Timeless Eye. These daggers are somewhat costly, but I think they are one of the few designs in the line up that actually work. It's not Deadly, but it's a great alternative because it's hard to look down at "infinite" strength on a weapon. Which is what this offers.

Nuclear Knife - Dragon Armory

Power Level: Early - Late with support from Cores

Speed: Speed 3 is not ideal for a weapon of this type.

Accuracy: 6+ is not what you should expect from a weapon of this caliber and difficulty in making. It should be a 5+.

Strength: The strength on this weapon is straight up terrible, this is a weapon that requires a Radiant Heart strange resource to make, which is a seriously dangerous resource to get your hands on, killing someone who gets it via the death blow 80% of the time (woo).

Affinities: This is one of the few places where there is an up and left blue pairing, which is something that the Dragon Armor set loves to have in order to complete the waist and body gear piece affinities. It's got a bucket load of affinities.

Ability: I will not call this one useless, it's not great because it's an ability that requires you to deal 3 brain damage to yourself at the cost of an activation and all you get is devastating 1 with your next attack. That's a bucket load of negatives in exchange for making your speed 3, strength 3 weapon devastating 1.

However, there are certain monsters who punish you hard for high insanity (Slenderman, Screaming Antelope) and this is a place where this weapon can be used as a safety valve. Also survivors with natural insanity gains, such as Abyssal Sadists can also use this weapon on occasion. So the ability isn't completely bad.

Summary: Interesting weapon, great affinities, lousy stats, very situational ability with poor payoff. This is one of the common thread that occur with Dragon King weapons, unlike the armor which has an excellent place in the meta, the DK weapons are universally terrible.

Now, it is absolutely vital before we finish to note that you can make the Nuclear Knife into a very effective weapon if you combine it with Dragon/Phoenix armor and the Red Core or whatever you like and the Blue Core. These two cores, which are not easy to get, are designed to power up nuclear weapons a great deal.

I actually believe that they are worth the slot you assign to them, however it's galling and difficult to use both with the same weapon, so if you can take down an L3 Dragon King, I would recommend the Blue Core over the Red every time.

As many of my patreons have pointed out, it's dumb that these two cards don't have a single affinity of their respective colour fitted to them. I've attached to this post custom versions of these two cards with an affinity color on them, so next time you are printing custom cards you can also add these to the mix.

Bonus mini homebrew expansion!

Lantern Dagger

Power Level: Mid (Intended to be late)

Speed: This one is either 2 speed or 4 speed.

Accuracy: 7+ accuracy is unacceptable for a weapon with a base of 2 speed, it's clear that this dagger has been designed for Paired use without considering how it works unpaired.

Strength: Technically the strength here is 6.5 on average (because that's how much extra strength Sharp gives - 1d10 = 5.5 average roll). So its average wounding roll is 12.

Affinities: Well, the left red half affinity is technically in the right place for it to connect with the monster-tooth necklace (which it actually needs because every point of strength matters for this weapon). But it's nothing to write home about.

Ability: Early Iron on 2d10 is an ~19% chance of having all your attacks cancelled (or essentially a 1/5 if you don't mind inaccurate shorthand), paired it jumps up to a ~35% chance of missing when you go with 4d10. Having the odd dice miss, or getting punished with unwieldy isn't so bad, but having between 1 in 5 and 1 in 3 of your attacks do nothing at all is a massive problem in the showdown where time has proven that consistency is king.

This is one of the reasons why the Rainbow Wing Belt is highy recommended for use with weapons that have Early Iron.

Summary: Not worth the resources and while the oxidised version gains a little strength, loses Early Iron and regains the Bone Dagger survival gain ability it's so expensive and so low down on the Oxidisation totem pole that honestly this weapon is pretty much a pass in all forms. If you want Sharp daggers, you can do better with Cycloid Scale + Nuclear Knife/Acid-Tooth Daggers.


Finally, lets look at the somewhat tricky to unlock Promo dagger from the White Speaker boxed set. This one exemplifies what daggers should have been about from the start and because it's the only truly non-garbage dagger in the game it often gets called "broken" and "overpowered" without justification, statistically it's a fine weapon - only the fact that it makes leveling fist & tooth have a lower skill floor (and if you can't level F&T without help by now, you're playing the wrong game) is remotely on the strong side.


Speaker Cult Knife

Power Level: End game

Speed: 3 speed is the higher end choice and it's rather good on this weapon because it has the offensive power to back it up.

Accuracy: 50% accuracy is absolutely fine for a weapon like this, heck 40% would have been fine also, but 50%? I'll take it.

Strength: 9.5 base strength is great, honestly not enough end game weapons reach this level of strength and it's going to be an issue when stronger monsters turn up.

Affinities: The affinities are oooookay, up and down are not the optimal positions for Red affinities, there's not a lot that works well with them, especially because you need to have this gear sat in the middle row in order to activate it, but for a crystal skin or leyline walker this ability can be nuts (especially if you have the gear to stack it with other evasion stuff).

Ability: So once activated, if you're insane and naked, you get +2 evasion (pretty powerful) and +2 strength (reasonable). You have to remain insane when using this in order to get the benefit, you also don't have any armor to protect you (but you can pack shields).

Very importantly this weapon has Deadly, as I mentioned at the beginning of the article, in order to make the Dagger spec/mastery you need access to an increased range of critical hits. This weapon helps a great deal with that, and sharp has great interactions with the weapon spec as well.

In addition to the listed abilities this gear card has a weird form of 'irreplaceable' in the event, you can only craft it once per timeline. So if you lose this because of some strange event, it's gone without a reset of some kind.

Summary: As the template for what daggers should have been, the only real shame with the Speaker Cult Knife is that it makes all the rest of the daggers in the game look garbage in comparison. If you are playing official rules only and not using my upcoming homebrew on the matter (link here when its live) the cult speaker knife should be your aim in every campaign.

Conclusion:

Daggers are held back by a lot of design issues, they're a complete mess, with an excellent mastery/spec combo that's counter to the design of most Daggers in the game.

If you want to be a dagger user, at the moment the only real sensible choice is to get your hands on Timeless Eye and/or Backstabber (strain fighting art), Cycloid Scale armor and either the Nuclear Knife or Acid-Tooth Daggers. The only other serious options are the Speaker Cult Knife (Dancer armor is great for that one, or go nude) or memes with Red Charm + Bone Knife. However, if you are brave and want to really do something few people manage, aim for a Nuclear Knife + Blue Core.

I've always rated this as one of the three worst weapon classes (along with Whip and Thrown) and a deep dive into the options has just cemented that opinion. But I'm not going to stop using them in my campaigns!

Also, I'm so unhappy with Daggers that there's something coming out soon for them from me. It's a small part of a larger project, but I think I can release it as a single, self-contained entity in advance. Link will be here when it's released.

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DK Cores .zip (3.0MiB)

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User #27564981 - 2 Dec 19 20:31
What if the Dagger specialization said: Your chance to score a perfect hit is increased by your accuracy. And mastery said: After failing to wound a Hit Location, you may spend another of your perfect hits to wound that location again. Once per hit location.
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