Monday, September 7, 2015

SDE2 After-Action Report and Red November

Played another game of SDE2 last night.  We had the Questing Knight, some sort of elfy scout, and a healer princess against a mixed force of turtlemen and fire elementals.  We opted to spawn into the room with the fire elementals, in hopes of knocking the spawner out before it could spawn an enormous beetle of fire.  We achieved this, but this aggressive strategy did not bear fruit.  One of the types of fire elementals, when killed, spawned two smaller and weaker elementals which the Consul could activate for free every turn and which did not provide loot when killed.  We were not aggressive enough in eliminating this disparity in the action economy; individually the small elementals were weak, but there were lots of them and we had little defensive gear this early in the game.  Likewise, killing the spawner on turn 1 resulted in an immediate miniboss spawn.  Matt elected to spawn the succubus.  The succubus seems like very much a support miniboss; she can move players out of position and steal health, and her defense is excellent.  Being pulled into burning terrain doesn't feel like she's doing damage, but it was a substantial contributing factor to one PC kill, and between the high defense and health stealing we barely managed to injure her (spoilers: we lost).  It also allowed individual PCs to be isolated and beaten down by the gang of tiny elementals.  We did try to push towards one of the turtle spawners, but were forced to retreat by bombardment from a turtle cannon.  This, combined with our elimination of the remaining tiny elementals, heralded an advance by turtleman reinforcements which in combination with the succubus pretty well wrecked us.  The turtles, like the tiny elementals, also had extensive loot-denial in play, because turtles killed by being thrown (or by area damage from thrown turtles) provide no loot.  We did have a little bit of bad luck with the loot we drew (no strength items), but at the end of the day we just weren't generating enough of it.

Overall, the conclusion was that our hero selection was OK but not amazing.  Questing Knight's lance ability is good, but it's tricky to set up a line of foes to hit it with.  I think most of the time you'll end up settling for hitting two targets at a bonus to hit for two actions, which is good but not amazing.  His massive damage attack is also kind of swingy and very action-expensive; this would have been more worthwhile with more strength boosters.  The healer princess' Regenerate ability was very swingy; she tried it once, healed none of her three wounds, and promptly died.  The rest of her capabilities were not amazing; perhaps she'd be stronger in a party larger than 3.  The scout's abilities were sort of a mixed bag.  We were trying to build him as a dex character, but his bomb relies on strength, so we had some multi-ability distribution issues (also: no strength items).  His boomerang ability would probbly support aggressive treasure-grabbing tactics, but we were not in a position to do that.  Good (healing) potion, though.

After some discussion, we concluded that a good "core" party is the Ember Mage, the Paladin, and the Sniper, with possible additions or substitutions of the Ranger for the Sniper and the Sorceress for the Ember Mage.  The Ember Mage, Paladin, and Sniper all have healing potions.  As we play, it's been pretty much a necessity to have a healing potion character in the party, and redundancy in this area is good.  The Ember Mage and the Sorceress are the only two heroes with one-action status effect attacks, which means that they can apply status effects without compromising their ability to deal damage (status effects are weaker than they were in SDE1.0 because monsters can heal them off, but still useful).  The Paladin has one of the best raw melee statblocks, as well as one status-effecting special attack, one defensive area buff, and the best healing potion.  The Sniper has some status effect stuff and the healing potion, while the Ranger has an area attack at range (the Ember Mage's area effects are only up-close) and a unique ability to remove all status effects from a nearby friendly as an action, which is situationally very strong.

One alternate party composition we were also looking at is Barbarian, Druid, and Sniper.  The barbarian kills things with strength and the Berserk ability, the druid plays defense/tank and makes area attacks at range with will, and the sniper attacks with dex and potion-heals the barbarian.

After concluding our discussion of SDE party composition, we decided to play a game of Red November, wherein a crew of alcoholic gnomish submariners must try to avoid asphyxiation, crushing pressure, reactor meltdown, unintentional ICBM launch, being devoured by the kraken, and other hazards until they can be rescued from their sinking vessel.  This was sort of like Flashpoint, but with more randomness, many more ways to lose, and more grog.  Matt spent most of the game stuck in an airlock with a jammed hatch, Ethan passed out on the missile controls right after stopping the launch sequence, and ultimately we all suffocated because everything was on fire.  There was much laughter.

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