Dungeon Lies

Time to opine.  Deep delve on True Dungeon.  My take on tokens (and, maybe, whatever).

On the one hand, I’m a 4th level player.  On the other, I went eight years without playing and have never done more than two runs in a year.

Then, I’ve never transmuted a token as the recipes always sounded way too hard to accomplish, though this should change in the next six months due to transmutes moving down to rarities I exist in; I didn’t even know trade items were a thing until this year’s Gen Con.

Is it analogous to my Shadowfist situation where I know about things but lack practical experience, putting me in a rather odd class?

I have rather biased biases.  I’m a Wizard (assuming Andy is around to suck up Druid, the only other class I would really enjoy, though Bard is my fourth thought … I hate weapon combat, Samhain I amhain … fifth thought is Paladin who just Guards and heals).  I don’t care about nuking monsters, as I prefer shuffleboarders to feel victorious in their smiting.

Casual Calculus

What do casual players want?  You know, the “I sign up for puzzle at normal level and don’t bother learning anything about shuffleboard even when I’m a fighty dude” types.

.1  Surviving

I don’t actually rate surviving the 7th room, anymore, from an analytical standpoint.  Still get the same number of XP, either way, and 7th rooms are vastly more deadly than other rooms, so characters bite it.  Though, I still prefer surviving to not by some degree.

Some folks vastly prefer surviving to get the Survivor badge.

But, let’s not dwell too much on that – it’s just notable that people want to survive the 7th room as a tack on to what really matters.

Nothing matters more than surviving to the 7th room, in my experience.  Dying is boring.  Dying is embarrassing.  Less than 1000 XP is sad panda.  Just all around antifun.

What’s the best way not to die?  Unlike how it may be for Grinders or Nightmarers or whatever who need to murder monsters before they murder characters, for us normal puzzle types, the greatest boons are more HP and more healing.  Even a few HP is huge, potentially large.  There were truedungeon.com forum posts about how people didn’t realize how popular Charms of Health was going to be.  Charm of Health is actually pretty solid in my uneducated opinion, as it’s puzzle damage and push damage that is going to produce Casual-ties (TM, R, P).  The amount of damage is low, but, then, so are the HP for we wizards.

.2  Treasuring

Everyone wants to feel like they get more stuff.  TD is superexpensive.  Everyone feels less good about themselves when other people are more plentiful, richer, avaricefuller.

TD is crazy with how much money there is in it from the playerbase.  It’s model is perhaps not so much CCG (except outlier models like original Star Wars, Dragonball Z, and even Wheel of Time after a certain point) as it is videogames of the MMO sort.  I don’t do MMOs, so I’m speaking only truths here, but the grinding for elite drops is totally something I see more as MMO than as CCG.

TD doesn’t even try to pretend tokens are balanced.  Many a CCG where there were obvious imbalances still pretended that rares weren’t just strictly better than less rares.  The whole nature of TD is that an incremental, one might say linear, gain is accompanied by an astronomical uplift in secondary market value.  I can have a rare that gives +1 to stuff you care about for a few bucks become an ultrarare +2 that goes for more than $100 that becomes a transmuted +3 for $300+, etc.

I’m not trying to scare people off.  What makes TD so weird is that the power gains are only relevant to certain types of players that may comprise a significant amount of the people doing runs but also are rare in my runs.  I can play a Wizard or Elf Wizard with exactly zero tokens and expect to get through a puzzle normal.  What’s likely to kill me is a group being bad at puzzles or the healers not getting enough opportunities to mend me.

But, everyone likes more treasure.  I had dreams of Roguery.  I have no interest anymore, even though it’s more loot.

What’s disturbing is the variance in treasure draws.  I believe the current cap is 17 draws, with that about to go up.  This year made a casual player friendly decision to ensure everyone got … 3 draws.

Yeah, I’m one of those newbites who got 3 draws when one (and only one) player in one of our groups had 12.  This is obviously tolerable, in that TD is doing fine, but, mathematically, this is nuts.  If I were setting a range, the range would be between 100% and 200% because I believe in these United States, Superman 1, and pistachio pie.  Yup, it would not have occurred to me that someone should get five times as many draws as the starting point.  Plus one would have been a huge deal and +2 the wasp’s elbows.

There are plenty of discussions of the potential problems of constantly upping the limit.  I’m only entering into taking TD seriously and I wonder about a bubble bursting, not because I’m anti one-percenter but because of the ability to farm treasure and the potential economic value a farmer gains from buying up event tickets and crowding out newbites, who just want to recite palindromes.

Obviously, treasure that helps keep a newbite alive is a thing.  But, what other treasures are newbite friendly?  Not uncommons.  Nothing makes 99%ers feel more 99%ed than playing the lottery.  Wait, that’s not remotely true.  Anyway, uncommons are sigh worthy.  GP rares, which, notably are worth more than other rares in many cases, are not newbite friendly.  Newbites like magic weapons and armor.  How do I know?  My entire take on combat is “show me where Ethereal is” and I’ve been excited by the idea of having magic arms/armor, though less so once I realized I was going to Wizardize almost all of the time.

Everyone wants “you know, you can sell that for $250 on eBay” treasures, so that’s not very exciting as a newbite decision.  It’s these sorts of upper tier draws that make the race for ultimate draw power appealing.

That Lenses of Fortune and the 2017 rare cap someone at 4 draws just seems so wrong.  I get it because rares actually have very little value most of the time.  But, when you can start lending out treasure enhancers to farm off of other people’s runs, is it necessary to be so blatant about the class structure?

Anyway, have to move on at some point.  The discussion around treasure is a difficult one that many are agonizing about.

.3  Beatdown

Casual players want to feel useful or have the blackjack moment.  We had a group where the Paladin didn’t have a ranged weapon, so he had nothing to do but Guard somebody.  Having someone come in and eviscerate all enemies while everyone else knouts around is not particularly fun for many, either.  Sure, if it’s a matter of winning or losing, I’m in the win camp, but it’s far cooler when a one-packer kills something.

Powerful but subtle effects aren’t that great for the newbite.  Does a newbite care at all about changing fire damage to shock damage?  I’m all about the burn and don’t remotely care.

Note that beatdown just means contributing usefully.  Of course, I have a passive, defensive personality, but, for instance, I only plan on having one token that increases my spell damage by one.  I’m far more interested in ultrarares or whatever that give Constitution bonuses.  Contrast this with how many posts on the forums are about maxing out damage for different classes.  I’m not going to turn down Boots of the Four Winds, but I’m also not PYPing (Pick Your Purple) the Winds Boots to transmute.

.4  Relevancy

Besides not dying and being able to weaponize something, any effects that eliminate the character as relevant to the challenge are fun inhibiting.  I looked up how wands work and they require command words, so Silence effects stop that, as well.  As a Wizard whose tokens were barely better than none at all, I’m both bored and feeling like I’m letting team newbite down while Silenced.  Sure, it makes other people’s builds more relevant and the combats more interesting.  For us, where the shuffleboarders were not mediumcore, it just made it that much more likely we were going to lose while some people waited to be relevant.

Given how much saves are a concern to posters, there are likely all sorts of other effects that just make you useless.  I know I’ve always carried both a mirror and a Stone to Flesh scroll because of one year’s Medusa.  From watching the video on what the rooms were for the combat runs this year at GC, seems like certain effects could make the unprepared unproductive.  I get that a straightforward slidefest is repetitive.  I’m just saying that newbites seem quite vulnerable to any sort of control effects.


Note that the casual player is not prioritizing being a 5th level character.  Though, that’s possibly due to ignorance.  As soon as I understood how to be a 5th level character, that became one of two priorities along with getting more than 3 treasure draws.

Pick Your Poison (Damage Booster)

TD is not healthy for me.  I like collecting.  I like chasing.  I like having things other people don’t.  I also like having some sort of retirement plan and the ability to go to European Championships for V:TES if they don’t schedule them close to my brother’s wedding.  TD is so far beyond any money madness I saw in CCGs.  Sure, Magic had cards that went for $100+, $400, then $1,000, or whatever.  TD has people advertise $1,000+ tokens that are just something people will include in their posts about their character builds.

I have a tendency to get into things much deeper than any sort of original concept.  I’m worried that even considering how to allay the cost of $8,000 bundles crosses my mind.

To play something twice a year.

That’s incroyable.

Nevermind that the fun isn’t in kicking ass, that the fun of not dying before the 7th room is not terribly difficult to achieve with some healing management, that I would humiliate myself if I ever got a planar skill test wrong with the new, dumbed down Wizard board so I’m consistently doing 6 or 11 damage.

Oh, and that’s if I can even play twice a year.  What if Gen Con sells out slots I can play in because I’m busy with Heroes of Rokugan or screw up registering for events in the first second they open or am too lazy to wait list on a run or look for refunded tickets on my phone?

Since Gen Con, the thing I’ve been thinking of the most gamingwise is TD.  Yikes!

What Else?

Variance of information is huge even though the economy is mature enough that killer eBay deals don’t seem all that common.

Lot of the forum threads are meaningless to me as I don’t debate whether latest ultrarare is BiS (I assume this means best in slot).  That so many spend so much time arguing that something new won’t see play because it’s not as good as something else is … … … you know, kind of like a lot of arguments about CCG cards, so, as crazy as I think it is to constantly run down some ultrarare that a lot of people would love to own (without sinking $150 into owning it), I guess it is rational to worry about the “tournament” level of the game.

Would I go to the other two cons to play?  That’s hard.  After Gen Con, I currently rate Origins as the other US con I’d fly to.  There’s a reason HoR is far less meaningful to me than a bunch of people in the middle of the country.

I talked about things related to it, but I wonder if a middle class of TD actually exists.  Oh, I’m sure there are other people at my level.  I just don’t know that it’s a significant enough part of the population to matter.  Seems like TD lives off of a not tiny group who sink thousands into the game and a bunch of people who barely have any sort of collection who just want to play a different sort of game.

Well, I’m sure I’ll have more to talk about later.  Hopefully, get those two runs in next Gen Con without screwing up my RPG schedule.


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