Saturday, April 26, 2014

Infinite Darkness Loop

Played some more Myth last night, and ran into a weird spot where two different instructions from the FAQ resulted in a not technically infinite (but functionally very close) loop, that became a rather painful TPK.

Myth FAQ, Page 7:
What happens if you need to spawn monsters but have no more minis?
Players can use proxies for any additional minis that spawn. Additional Minion Packs will be made available in the future. If players do not want to purchase additional minis or use proxies, they can implement the rule: For every two models that can’t be placed for any reason, increase the Darkness Meter by 1.
Myth FAQ, Page 9:
In the quest Drums of the World, the card text says: “The Heroes must kill the Mucker to stop the drumming. Roll 5 b” When are these Fate Dice rolled? 
This is done at the start of each Darkness Cycle. If any duplicates are rolled, treat them as if they are only 1 of the corresponding result.
We started our Act with a 12x12 board. That size board has a Quest and a Lair. The Quest we drew was Drums of the Wold, which places a large orc hunting pack on the board, plus an orc captain who has a set of magic drums. Since there's already orcs from that card, we made the thematic choice of having an orc lair.

In the first two Hero Cycles we were unable to kill the captain with the drums. He was surrounded by minions, tucked behind a red-bordered terrain feature, and Captains aren't really all that dangerous in the game. So we buffed and positioned and loaded our quivers and hid in shadows and refreshed our hand once. What a mistake.

None of us had snapped to the math of the situation, so we didn't realize that in order to survive we absolutely had to kill him before the first Darkness Cycle could happen.

Every single Darkness Cycle, the orc captain rolls 5 Fate Dice, consulting this little chart. For the benefit of those who haven't played Myth, I'm translating these into normal d6's:
  1. Monsters get stronger.
  2. 4 monsters spawn.
  3. The next darkness cycle happens nearly twice as soon as normal.
  4. Monsters get faster.
  5. 4 other monsters spawn.
  6. The monster-captain who's rolling these dice is harder to kill.
Then the Darkness card itself almost always spawns at least 4 more orcs (3 normal, +1 because there's an orc captain in play) at the end of the Darkness cycle, sometimes more than that.  So if 5d6 turned up at least one "2" and one "5", there would be a minimum of 12 monsters spawning that turn. Of the two monster types the drums could spawn, the base game comes with 15 of one (orc minions), and 9 of the other (specifically the melee-version of the arachnid minion). So if you roll both of those "spawn more monsters" results when all the minis are already in play, the Darkness meter advances by (12/2=) 6... which is exactly what it takes to trigger another Darkness Cycle.

That meant every bad guy on the board took 6 turns in a row, which was enough for them to kill 3 of the 4 Heroes, before finally getting a "bad" roll that left the Darkness Meter on space 5 (of 6). Sadly, the only surviving Hero had 3 cards in her Action slots and nothing else good in her hand. So she had no choice but to refresh her hand, and the Darkness Meter automatically advances one per monster type during the refresh phase. So the bad guys immediately took two more back to back turns, killing the final PC. They technically triggered a third Darkness Cycle before they were done, but it didn't matter since we were all dead.

Curious what would have happened if we'd used proxies instead, we immediately reset the board and got out a bunch of green legos to be proxy-orcs. I wouldn't call it an easy fight, and the Soldier and the Acolyte both nudged up to 9 Threat before it was over, but we triumphed without losing a character.

I'm not yet certain if the fault lies in the alternative-to-proxies rule, or in the Quest we played, but either way something smells rotten in FAQmark.


Markwalt said...

It wasn't an easy fight, to be sure, but it wasn't all that hard either.

The difference between using the "advance darkness when you run out of minis" and "use legos when you run out of minis" is incredible.

I'm not sure your post quite captures the mood of the game. We went from initially being somewhat frustrated that we couldn't do anything at all, except stand there and get attacked, to bemusement that the scenario seemed so broken when it became obvious (at about the third time the bad guys got to go in a row without any actions from players at all) that it was actually a little funny.

I would add a third rule, or a house rule that says, simply, if you run out of minis, then nothing spawns. No extra advancement of darkness. Or perhaps turning the darkness advancement way down.

rbbergstrom said...

Maybe instead of

"AP penalty = (# of missed Spawns in the Darkness Cycle)/2"

it should be:

"AP penalty = 1 per Darkness Cycle, provided at least 1 Spawn was missed in that Darkness Cycle"

Then there'd still be some penalty for failure to curtail the monster count, but no chance of a perpetual monster loop. That should motivate the players to make smart decisions, but not punish them overly for things beyond their control.