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Old 05-26-2019, 08:11 PM   #1
Sinanju
 
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Join Date: Jan 2015
Default Current Play: Portland Debacle

So my regular bi-weekly Saturday game of Champions was canceled on Friday. I emailed a fellow player and suggested getting together to give TFT a try, as I'd talked about to him a couple of times. After some emails back and forth, he eventually roped in most of the rest of our Champions group to give it a try.

They seemed to be under the impression I was going to run a full-on fantasy campaign session, not the "getting your feet wet" test combats I intended.

In any case, we got together and everyone made characters. Two elven wizards, a dwarven fighter with a war axe, a human fighter with a bastard sword, an orc fencer, and a thief. With only one copy of the book (mine) and some handouts I hastily produced the night before with lists of talents and spells and combat options, we had at it.

I had the players fight 3-on-3. The results were...disappointing. Partly, I think, because they were all unfamiliar with the system. More to the point, I think they didn't like how the combat system limited them compared to other games.

They were all 32 point characters, and most wore heavy armor, so their adjDEX scores were pretty low, leading to a lot of turns where nobody hit his opponent, which also frustrated them.

One player found himself engaged by two opponents (briefly by three when a summoned bear joined the combat), and was clearly frustrated by the limits on his ability to disengage. A limitation that I, personally, find perfectly plausible and realistic. In a real fight, your opponent is NOT going to let you get away easily (unless he, too, thinks breaking off is a good idea for HIM), and unless you're lucky, trying to escape combat leaves you vulnerable.

Of the two wizard players, one seemed to enjoy it. He was unclear on a lot of details of course, being a complete newbie to the system, but he seemed to "get" it and made good use of "Summon Bear" to to maul one of his enemies.

The other player concluded that wizards were "useless" and it was pointless to play one, that spending ST to power your spells was an idiot's game, and he created a new fighter character after the first combat. (The existence of the higher-level Staff spells intrigued him, and it also frustrated him that I didn't let him start with a fully charged Mana Staff.)

Overall, they found the combat system "clunky" and didn't particularly enjoy the game. We might have played out a short scenario where they tracked down and fought some bandits, but I was feeling a bit demoralized myself and didn't particularly push to run it.

I think part of the issue is that they're all long-time Champions players (as am I, for that matter), and they're used to a system where hitting your opponent is usually pretty easy and mostly just knocks them out of action without any serious injury, as opposed to the lethality of TFT. Nonetheless, I don't think any of them are likely to be interested in playing the game with me in the future. Which is disappointing.
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Old 05-26-2019, 08:30 PM   #2
larsdangly
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Default Re: Current Play: Portland Debacle

Sounds like a bummer. A good thing to keep in mind when introducing the game is that the combat system was designed to be competitive; i.e., both sides have a serious chance of victory. You can't have a competitive game in which one side generally delivers knock out blows with high chances of success every turn. And, the character design is based on the idea of trade offs, so if you want something cool, you generally have to accept there are other things you don't get. And if you want something really cool, it's going to come with big sacrifices in other areas. If people don't like that, then they don't like it. But people who like the game consider them key features.
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Old 05-26-2019, 10:03 PM   #3
Chris Rice
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
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Default Re: Current Play: Portland Debacle

For a first play, I'd always give the players pre-generated characters. For a start off it saves time, but it also means they wont design characters that aren't going to work well (like the low adj DX characters you mention). The pre-gens from the Legacy Edition are mostly good for that if you have them.
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Old 05-27-2019, 12:38 AM   #4
JLV
 
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Default Re: Current Play: Portland Debacle

I also generally find that for introductory games, it's better to put your players into an arena with NPC enemies instead of each other as enemies. Think in terms of the big arena fight in Gladiator, where the "Romans" fought the "Carthaginians." This is particularly true if they are used to playing as a team. I also probably wouldn't do magic for the first playthrough -- let 'em have fun gutting the bad guys first and then consider introducing the Wizards later.
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Old 05-27-2019, 04:30 AM   #5
Chris Rice
 
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Originally Posted by JLV View Post
I also generally find that for introductory games, it's better to put your players into an arena with NPC enemies instead of each other as enemies. Think in terms of the big arena fight in Gladiator, where the "Romans" fought the "Carthaginians." This is particularly true if they are used to playing as a team. I also probably wouldn't do magic for the first playthrough -- let 'em have fun gutting the bad guys first and then consider introducing the Wizards later.
Good points. I'd agree better to play as a team first time round and I'd definitely leave Wizards till later. The learning route is: Melee, then add Wizard, then add ITL Talents etc.
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Old 05-27-2019, 08:22 AM   #6
larsdangly
 
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Default Re: Current Play: Portland Debacle

I have the opposite view of the best first experience; I think a competitive match between two or more well matched sides is a more interesting and effective way to learn the rules.
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Old 05-27-2019, 11:36 AM   #7
JLV
 
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Originally Posted by larsdangly View Post
I have the opposite view of the best first experience; I think a competitive match between two or more well matched sides is a more interesting and effective way to learn the rules.
Depends very much on the players. If they are highly competitive, then yes; if they tend more toward cooperative, it can be very off-putting for first time players.
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Old 05-27-2019, 11:50 AM   #8
larsdangly
 
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Default Re: Current Play: Portland Debacle

TFT is simply a poor fit for players who expect to win as the 'default' case, or who want to be clearly signaled when they are in a situation that carries a risk of defeat. It is hard to play TFT without a significant risk of defeat, unless you focus on encounters with nuisance creatures. It is also a poor fit for players who expect to have high levels of competence at most or all things, unless you give them highly experienced characters to start with.

Actually, that's probably the best solution if you think your group has these sorts of preferences. If characters are allowed to start with 40 stat points, 5000 XP worth of talents, spells and staff ST, and a minor wish in their back pocket, they will find they can do all sorts of wild things with only modest risk to themselves.

I personally find this sort of play to be mind numbingly dull: encounters with highly predictable outcomes amount to spending 20 minutes to work through the statements: 'you encounter 10 orcs'...'we kill them!'...'cool, on to the next room'.
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Old 05-27-2019, 02:01 PM   #9
RobW
 
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Default Re: Current Play: Portland Debacle

Quote:
Originally Posted by larsdangly View Post
I have the opposite view of the best first experience; I think a competitive match between two or more well matched sides is a more interesting and effective way to learn the rules.
I agree -- another nice thing about this "let's play a boardgame" approach is that there's little investment (time or emotion) in the characters while you learn the rules
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Old 05-30-2019, 01:58 PM   #10
Lord Twig
 
Join Date: Mar 2019
Default Re: Current Play: Portland Debacle

Quote:
Originally Posted by larsdangly View Post
TFT is simply a poor fit for players who expect to win as the 'default' case, or who want to be clearly signaled when they are in a situation that carries a risk of defeat. It is hard to play TFT without a significant risk of defeat, unless you focus on encounters with nuisance creatures. It is also a poor fit for players who expect to have high levels of competence at most or all things, unless you give them highly experienced characters to start with.

Actually, that's probably the best solution if you think your group has these sorts of preferences. If characters are allowed to start with 40 stat points, 5000 XP worth of talents, spells and staff ST, and a minor wish in their back pocket, they will find they can do all sorts of wild things with only modest risk to themselves.

I personally find this sort of play to be mind numbingly dull: encounters with highly predictable outcomes amount to spending 20 minutes to work through the statements: 'you encounter 10 orcs'...'we kill them!'...'cool, on to the next room'.
I think you are overstating this. It's not a case of people just wanting to win, but if every combat is a coin flip then at best you can expect about 3 combats before everyone is making new characters. That's not much of a campaign.

Likewise you don't need to give the new players super overpowered characters. You just need to give them characters that have a decent chance to hit something. No character should have a starting DX of less than 10. Or if they do ( a "tank" character for example), then make it clear up front that this character is expected to miss 75% of the time. His role is not to dish out damage.

So maybe give them 34 point characters, or just make sure they aren't all wearing heavy armor right off the bat. And put them up against weaker creatures to start and ramp up the difficulty as they get better at the game. That's the best way to get new players into the game. In my humble opinion at least.
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