[CRL] CR is too hard -- am I missing something?

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I personally really enjoy Castle Ravenloft but I've found that I can only beat the game if I ignore some of the rules (maybe because we're all terrible?). This is making it difficult to get others into it.

Every single round, I'm either getting attacked by a monster or hit with an encounter (or both) so I'm losing 0 to 6 HP more or less -every- single round (barring any healing). The 0 is if the new monster misses, but if it's a gargoyle, I could get hit for 3 plus another possible 3 from an encounter. If there is more than one gargoyle, it gets ridiculous since all of them attack every time a hero with a gargoyle monster card plays a turn. I only have 8HP maximum and as a cleric can only use Healing Word once unless I get a treasure to give it back to me. The only treasure that I can see that I can get is from opening coffins (is this correct?)

In Adventure 2, by the time we reached the Chapel, we were all so wiped out playing the encounters on every turn would have crushed us.

I saw on the forums that each of us should have gotten a treasure at the beginning which is something I'd forgotten about, but we were playing with a rogue, ranger & cleric.  

Does this sound familiar or do I have some gross oversight? Thanks. 
First off you should draw a treasure card whenever you defeat a monster.  The coffins rule is just for one scenario I believe.  Use those treasure cards; there's no point having them sitting around when you've won or lost. 

You also need to remember you can use 5 XP cards to void an encounter.  It's not usually worth keeping extras in case you roll a 20.  If we see a red or blue card it's pretty much going straight to the discard pile.

The odds can be overwhelming and you will usually cut things very close.  We usually have to use one or both healing surges.  You have to keep moving and go through the dungeon quickly. 

A tip for the gargoyles: read their action script carefully.  If you get far enough away they give up.  Too bad that doesn't work for wraiths and blazing skeletons...
First off you should draw a treasure card whenever you defeat a monster.



I don't remember seeing that. Is that a houserule you use, or did I miss it in the rules booklet?
It's on page 13, "The Treasure Deck".  It represents whatever loot the monster was carrying on him I guess.  You can only get one treasure card per turn, so if you clear out a room with a fireball you still only draw one. 
Oh wow. That's...that's a lot of treasure. I don't know that I like that, I liked how difficult the game was without that.
It can get very difficult to beat the game if you have some bad luck.  I was recently playing a game where we uncovered a nasty trap on the first turn.  We failed a disarm check and it continued to pound us for the next 3 or 4 turns until we could get far enough away from it.

But yeah, you should definitely be drawing treasure cards when you defeat monsters, and don't hesitate to use your accumulated XP to avoid nasty encounters (you can decide after you've seen the card).

Another tip:  Make sure you're using your characters' special abilities.  They are on the character cards and are easily overlooked.

Use teamwork and tactical positioning to give yourselves the best possible advantage at all times. One thing that is not really explicit in the rules is that if there's any ambiguity about what square to place a monster on, the active player gets to decide.  So when it says "monster moves to the nearest hero's tile", you get to decide what square in that tile it moves to.
The game is hard, very hard, but its not impossible.  I ran four solo runs when I first got it so I could learn the rules and was two and two when I was done.  Of course one loss was horrific, died like three turns in, the other I almost made it to the end.  Both wins were cutting it close, but thats half the fun.

Just make sure your using all your resources.  Its not a real DnD game, not as much reason to save up attacks, and make sure your collecting your treasure and using those xp points to avoid fights when needed.  Game is a blast even when you lose I think, nice challenging adventure every time.

To the OP, Here are some thoughts that might help:


 


Make sure you are giving yourself enough healing surges

Remember to take treasure when you kill a monster (I can't believe how many time my group forgets to do this)

When a player draws an item treasure card like  the holy avenger or the thieves kit the players can choose which hero actually get the item (so figure out who can best use it even if that is not the hero that just drew the card).

Remember XP is a pool for the whole team not each hero, the players can collectively use the XP whenever they want to cancel and encounter or a hero rolled a 20. As others have said cancel bad encounters when you can it makes a big difference.

Always push on towards the objective; there is rarely any advantage to not exploring every round. If a trap can be avoided just move away from it rather then waste a turn disarming it. If a monster is 2 or more tiles back from you just let them chase you and deal with more immediate problems.

Read the monster cards very carefully and try to move the monsters in legal ways that advantage the party. For instance if the fighter or wizard is going next bunch up the monsters so that they can best use thunderwave or cleave. This is not being cheap or cheating this is what the designers intended the players to do. The game is set up to make the monsters challenging they don’t need any help from the players.

When you choose targets to attack always think in terms of the order the monsters will activate. You generally want to hit monsters before they will get activated again.


 


If none of these suggestions help then maybe you guys are getting some rules wrong that are having a big impact on game play. Post more specifics on recent games and maybe we can spot what the issue may be.

Not liking the new forums.

 

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/18.jpg)

 

 

Wow, we are having the exact opposite problem. The game isn't as hard as we thought it should be so we make it harder.

To address your conserns: One thing to remember is try to explore as much as possible. This gives you a chance of drawing a white arrow tile (i.e. no encounter card) as well as getting you one step closer to the goal tile. The odds of "leveling" are small so use up XP to cancle bad encounter cards when you can. Also, have mobs attack "dead" characters ( assuming it makes sense in game) because unlike "real" D&D there are no negative HP so a dead character cannot lose more HP and it keeps "living" ones from being hurt. We don't do this anymore but we did when we first started the game.

Hope some of these tips help.
Here is my experience. We have played 5 players every time and we've played about 6 or 7 scenarios (repeating ones we completely failed).

The first two games, we beat the game so utterly that it seemed like a kids game. Later, we met up again and we got destroyed quickly.

Much of the game seemed to be determined within the first few rounds. In one game, we encountered a trap that knocked 3 hp off of almost everyone in the first round. We were never able to really come back from that initial blow. Another game, the first monster that popped up caught us all on the beginning tile and again took 3 HP from everyone in the party. Again, we never were able to even get started.

Games where we were able to get a few tiles on the board and spread out a bit were much more successful.

It seems that if you can get a good start, the game is pretty easy. If you get dinged right at the beginning, its really hard to recover. 
We were running through the Howling Hag scenario a few weeks back. We were introducing new players to the game, and we thought it would be a fun scenario to use. We had run through it once before without too much difficulty, so we weren't anticipating having a rough time.

We had five people, so the Fighter and the Wizard started in the same corner. In the -very first- round, they explored and drew a black tile. The monster they got was a Gargoyle. Then the encounter card they got made them draw another monster card. I forget the specifics of how, and I don't have the game with me to check, but both gargoyles ended up in the same tile as the Wizard and Fighter. It was one player controlling both of them, and it was his monster phase. Now if there is more than one of a given type of monster on the board, when you activate one of your cards, you activate all instances of that monster. And he had both monster cards. So each gargoyle got activated twice. That's four AOE attacks on two characters, all four of which do damage on a miss.

The Wizard, of course, got utterly destroyed, and the Fighter got dropped to one HP. In the very first turn of the game. Everything just sorta went downhill from there.
Yup, that sounds about right.
And he had both monster cards.



can't happen.  If you get a monster card that you already have a copy of, you discard it and draw again.  Probably to avoid just this sort of thing.

I actually like the difficulty level.  Besides, you can spend 5xps to negate an encounter anyway.
I actually like the difficulty level.  Besides, you can spend 5xps to negate an encounter anyway.



That just adds to the point about having a bad start. You don't have 5 xp to spend and by the time you do, your party can be just hanging on by a thread and you've barely started.
And he had both monster cards.



can't happen.  If you get a monster card that you already have a copy of, you discard it and draw again.  Probably to avoid just this sort of thing.




Where did you read this?
All I see is on page 7: "If there is more than one Monster with the exact same name in play, activate each of those Monsters on your turn."

And he had both monster cards.



can't happen.  If you get a monster card that you already have a copy of, you discard it and draw again.  Probably to avoid just this sort of thing.




Where did you read this?
All I see is on page 7: "If there is more than one Monster with the exact same name in play, activate each of those Monsters on your turn."



It's right above where you read that on page 7, in the big purple sidebar.

"When you have to “place a Monster,” this is shorthand for draw a Monster Card and place the corresponding Monster figure on the bone pile that’s on the Dungeon Tile you just placed. If you already have the same Monster Card in play in front of you, discard that Monster Card and draw again. Note, however, that it’s okay to draw a Monster Card if another player has the same Monster in play."
Thanks Geer!
I have some problems reading white text on a colored background, I'm going to have to photocopy the rule book in Black & White and see what else I missed!

Cap'n Frank
why does the game give 5 healing surge tokens, but the group can only use 2?

Also, have mobs attack "dead" characters ( assuming it makes sense in game) because unlike "real" D&D there are no negative HP so a dead character cannot lose more HP and it keeps "living" ones from being hurt. We don't do this anymore but we did when we first started the game.



Keep in mins that this is specifically against the rules.

Page 10 under "Defeating Heroes" states that "Monsters ignore the downed hero".
why does the game give 5 healing surge tokens, but the group can only use 2?



There is an option for an easier game by adding more healing surges.
I just played the first adventure with my wife and daughter.  This was supposed to be the great event where I expose them to this gaming hobby of mine; they fall in love with it and blah, blah, blah.

When it was over my wife basically said.  "This game is depressing.  No matter what you do you loose a life point."

And yeah just like the original post that started this thread said.  If you explore a monster gets first strike on you and you take a wound.  If you don't explore then an encounter gets you and you take a wound.

There's no such thing as clearing a room.
So basically it becomes a slow death game of attrition.  It seems like the object of the game is to slow the bleeding down so you don't die fast.

One thing we didn't do was pool the experience to negate an encounter.  We were keeping ours individually to go up a level, but that never happened.

Because I have 25 years of my life invested in this hobby I'm willing to give it another go, but when I shared this game with two new comers they never felt succesful, they never felt the game was winnable because every turn they took a wound no matter which course of action they did.


One thing we didn't do was pool the experience to negate an encounter.  We were keeping ours individually to go up a level, but that never happened.



You should try it again, but keeping the XP pooled.  It does nothing but work against the players to keep it individually.  Otherwise it requires that someone individually has 5 xp to negate encounter cards, or have 5 xp individually to be able to level up, which depending on what character you're playing (I'm looking at you, Cleric) your ability to actually kill a monster can be pretty low.  Plus it makes it more difficult to get exact change in XP when you do need it.

A strategy that we use is we try to avoid spending that last 5 xp, in case someone does happen to roll a 20, but in half the games I've played, no one ever rolled a 20 anyways.  However, if we were looking pretty haggard, we'd still dip into that reserve if a particularly nasty encounter showed up.  (The walls are on fire in Ashardalon....)

Don't give up yet.  The first couple of games are brutal as you figure out the strategies, but I think that makes beating the adventure that much better. 
An update here:

At a family reunion of sorts I played adventures 2 and 3 with my siblings.  We pooled XP and I gave us an extra healing surge so we had three.  I kinda gave them the grim heads up that this is a brutal game and everyone will bleed.  My pep talk was something like "taking a wound doesn't mean you're losing; it means you're adventuring."  I think that set the right tone.  When it was all said and done I had fun playing it and they also said they liked it.
I'm gonna steal that pep talk for our cleric in our 3.5e game.  A lot of us are first or second time adventurers, and he's used to video game healing where if everyone isn't atleast above 75% health, the healer is not performing, and he got upset when in a boss fight a couple of people fell down.
Don't forget that everyone gets a magic item to start with. We kept forgeting to do that until part way through the games somtimes.
I'm gonna steal that pep talk for our cleric in our 3.5e game.  A lot of us are first or second time adventurers, and he's used to video game healing where if everyone isn't atleast above 75% health, the healer is not performing, and he got upset when in a boss fight a couple of people fell down.


My pregame pep talk:  "Bones heal, chicks dig scars, pain is temporary, glory is forever." - Evil Knievel