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TOPIC: Shadows of Malice MEGATHREAD

Shadows of Malice MEGATHREAD 20 Jul 2015 07:20 #206551

I just got a copy of this and finished the rules. I kind of assumed we had a thread besides the barnestorming but we don't.

Any thoughts on favorite setups? Will be solo for now. I was going to go two heroes---do you start with any of the optional starting equipment?

First impressions are that the game looks great but there is an insane amount of wristage and certain mechanics really needed another streamlining. Banding looks like a serious winner in terms of cool new implementations. Definitely getting an outsider designer vibe, feels like a 1980 AH game to me.

Game begs for a VASSAL module.
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Shadows of Malice MEGATHREAD 20 Jul 2015 09:11 #206552

You really want to do at least three Avatars, four once you get the hang of managing them. This is so you can really use the banding and form one, two or three bands.

I just pick random masteries but I like them to be different colors. I also like to use the
"steward of the city" variant where everyone starts with a piece of equipment.

Four tiles, but it is kind of long.

If you like it after your first game, definitely get the expansion- it adds quite a bit of dimension without piling on a bunch of needless stuff.
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Shadows of Malice MEGATHREAD 20 Jul 2015 09:35 #206553

I like the designer proposed variant where you cancel out opposing modifiers. For example, if an enemy has you rolling -1d* and you have +1d*, you just don't roll d* dice and instead cancel the two. This reduces the number of dice rolled and streamlines the game a bit.
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Shadows of Malice MEGATHREAD 20 Jul 2015 10:08 #206555

Read this -- How Long Do Most Combats Last?

My first game with friends struggled mightily, as they're an impatient lot. I had missed some of the rules and they aren't well described in a just-in-time fashion in the rule book. But there are player aids that help, and you'll want to make sure you have that lined up ahead of time.

If you stumble into combat, you'll get nuked. The game is about going in prepared, with your chosen player (avatar) warriored up with potions and weapons and armor. Other players are in support with shards.

With a "bigger" graphic design this would be a Mage Knight level game in the market. But it's not. That's ok too.

S.
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Shadows of Malice MEGATHREAD 20 Jul 2015 10:15 #206558

Wow, thanks for the tips... glad I started the thread.
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Shadows of Malice MEGATHREAD 20 Jul 2015 10:19 #206560

I'm glad you did too, because I think this game would do well with a small focused group of players talking out the details.
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Shadows of Malice MEGATHREAD 20 Jul 2015 19:10 #206622

I played solo today on 2 map tiles, made it about 3/4 of the way through and stopped when it was clear I would lose. Good and bad... I see why your group was pretty sour on first play, Sag. The wristage is pretty extreme, and at least for solo there are lots of things you need to keep in your short term memory which is a minus in these types of game for me. I have Robison Crusoe fresh in my mind because I was playing it solo last week and it has almost none of that, but then that's a high bar since I consider it probably the best coop out there.

But there's some really good stuff in here. The teamwork aspect is central but not forced on you, which I like. My favorite thing about the game thus far, though, and this is a BIG one, is that your treasure and expendables all really mean something. So they're worth working for because they give rather big (if sometimes situational) bonuses which have be leveraged correctly. It does an especially good job forcing you to get out of the hoarder's mentality that most coops put you into---you have to be throwing potions, casting spells, and using the shards constantly to beat even regular enemies. I think it's a high compliment to say that almost no combats in the game are autopilot where you just use your "constant" equipment.

Definitely going to solo it more. Have a headache right now so I don't want to try to store stuff like "you must make a luck roll difficulty 5 to have a non-lair encounter" in the brain. Which the game has some of. That front/back 2 page BGG supplement by a user is absolutely vital, I would be annoyed constantly playing the game if I didn't have it.
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Shadows of Malice MEGATHREAD 20 Jul 2015 19:15 #206623

Yeah, that is one of the weird dichotomies about this game...it plays REALLY well solo, but that kind of group figuring-it-out is pretty important. The first game I played with live bodies was one of those "hand me the rulebook" sessions. Once you get acclimated to it, it's not that bad. But it is tough going early on because it's so different. That whole 1D* was just fucking me up. I did the coin flip thing until I sorted it out mentally.

That is a really good observation about equipment. Throw the damn potions, don't hold them. And that's right, you can't really fall back on a couple of "ol' reliable" pieces of gear.

The game really is ALL ABOUT being prepared. That's a major theme, actually.
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Shadows of Malice MEGATHREAD 21 Jul 2015 00:26 #206636

Played a second time, revealed a light well but lost my combat badass and his equipment while the shadow was about to usurp a well. Called it there. Considerably better impressions. I think your review is almost perfect on this game, Barnes, probably your best review IMHO. it's hard for me to say too much more. It's a bit of a flawed masterpiece, and certainly not to modern tastes in games (gawd the amount of dice rolling!).

Obviously I have Bloodborne on the mind, but the only comparison I can add that might be helpful for Shadows of Malice is that the game is close kin with the Souls series videogames. Bear with me. Basically, the Souls series is known for making almost all fights and rooms "boss fights," even those with regular enemies, that you need to approach cautiously and strategically. You even need to use consumables against regular enemies sometimes. Furthermore, you can retreat at the start of any battle, so it has that Souls characteristic of being able to engage on your own terms, equipped as you choose to be. What it means is that coming into a battle you need to be prepared with the right items and potions---since the table for rolling up enemy types is quite deterministic you can prepare pretty well and know which lairs to raid. It also yields excitement when you've planned properly, executed the right masteries and equipped the right items and finish off something---even if it's just a lair that rolled up powerfully---which is great. The game has a build to it but I think its strengths are in the turn to turn small victories. Another characteristic of Souls is that dying isn't that big a deal (esp. if you're in a band) and in fact it's not a bad idea to just die sometimes to get some resources back.

Early thoughts are that I do wonder if the blue combat masteries are not just better than the other support ones (particularly the gold). So something like the 4d* more crystals when you kill an enemy is great but only on a red shirt that basically squires for some sort of blue mastery badass. Which makes solid sense, actually, but it does mean that I would suggest playing with two heroes at least. If you draw a gold mastery it's mainly useful as an errand boy, which would be a pretty fucking boring way to spend 2-3 hours. The game is quite long.

You're spot on about the theme being preparedness. This is the type of game I feel like the eurogamers might diss with some nonsense about being "luck based" which is absolutely not true. In fact, there's enough rolling in the game to reduce the luck and many of the critical rolls are close to known ahead of time.

FWIW, I preordered the expansion. 25$ with free shipping is nuts.
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Shadows of Malice MEGATHREAD 21 Jul 2015 02:31 #206644

I picked this game based on Barnes recommendation/review. This reminds me so much of Magic Realm in a lot of ways.
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Shadows of Malice MEGATHREAD 21 Jul 2015 22:43 #206702

^Agreed, Spaceghost. How are you liking the game?

Solo game w/2 heroes #3. On a single map tile. Lasted about 20 minutes. Scythed through two lairs, got a scroll and a piece of armor so I was seriously outclassed against a stronghold monster and their brutal +3 CR. I went and stocked up potions and got a grenade, then saw that my scroll was for Avian or Insect. One of the strongholds was on Mountains which gives a pretty good probability of avian and insect, so I went there and torched him with the scroll (4d2 damage) and a lightning grenade potion. Wouldn't have been able to touch him otherwise, since it had ferocity. Turned out to be a light well, game won. A big shadow was 2 spaces away from another stronghold which I wouldn't have gotten to.

I wouldn't play on one tile again but I do love the brevity of the experience.

Also, I printed these out and I really liked them: www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/108324/sh...s-malice-player-mats
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Shadows of Malice MEGATHREAD 22 Jul 2015 13:13 #206727

I've been sick and out of commission for awhile (pneumonia of all things) but I'm glad to see this thread. Personally, I wouldn't solo this with less than three Avatars and preferably four on a two-map tile. It makes for a far less frustrating experience when you can get synergies going amongst your guys.

Great, great story on your single map experience. Where else can you get a full-on adventure in just 20 minutes?! I've never played it that way. I always worried that it's just too flukey, (Shadow flukes on to a light well early, or you do ... game over ... and there's no tension) although your experience suggests it can also produce a pretty epic experience.

I ordered the expansion too. A lot of games are flash-in-the-pans, but this one feels like it's got staying power, particularly given the designer's stated intention to keep on building it out.
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Shadows of Malice MEGATHREAD 22 Jul 2015 13:45 #206733

There isn't much tension, definitely right. But it doesn't grind on at all so the luckiness is ok in my book. In some ways, I'd like an experience on two tiles that had a little more of the decisiveness of this experience.

I've been thinking about the game today, so that's a good sign. Going out to a bar tonight so I won't get another shot at it until tomorrow.
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Shadows of Malice MEGATHREAD 22 Jul 2015 19:19 #206747

I think y'all are really going to like the expansion...what it adds doesn't upend the design as it is, but it adds more to do and gives you some other avenues to pursue in terms of getting ready for the big battles. He has some other expansions in the works...not sure what they are at this point but there's all kinds of ways it could go.

The game makes me think of Magic Realm too...but WAY stripped down and MUCH less emphasis on minutiae.

I've done one tile games...they are short, but they are useful to sort of mess around with the system and try some things out. The four/two or four/three setup is usually pretty good.
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Shadows of Malice MEGATHREAD 22 Jul 2015 22:37 #206755

I have a weird thing with expansions sometimes where I put the game away until the expansion comes. Here I played the game I think 3 times right when I got it, put it away for a break, and then heard about the expansion and there it sits.
At least I'll get it soon so I can play the game again...

Of all the goofy things I like about the game I keep thinking about the little pawprint counters that indicate where the artifacts are.
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