The Sword of Valor is over. We won. We…allow me to say that for us, the last two scenarios were easier than the Siege of Drezen, but felt harder. Wrath of the Righteous is different from Rise of the Runelords and what bit we played of Skulls and Shackles in one important way, character choice matters. Party composition is very important.
In Rise of the Runelords we took whatever character we wanted. There weren’t too many challenges that required a specific character and in those few occasions there were other ways around the challenge or the penalty was not so severe to cause players to groan out loud. Skulls and Shackles was a similar experience for us.
Wrath has been an exercise in, “Who has what skill?” and “Nobody has that? Who has a blessing?” We have been lacking in one or two skills every scenario and the lack of skills has been hard at times. The penalty for failure in Wrath is harder than previous games. Combat damage is preventable with armor. Having the top card of your deck discarded, loss of cards in your hand, and damage that is not combat damage is not so preventable. Many challenges affect characters in ways that are not preventable or avoidable. Thus having the right mix of characters and skills is vital.
We learned early on having a healer is huge. So many cards end up in discard piles that having some way to put them back into decks was mandatory. Cleric, Paladin, and Hunter with Cure Spells would have been overboard in Rise has proven to be not only useful, but at times not enough healing. This does not include the healing items we have picked up along the way either.
Our group’s only fighter is the paladin, a combination of melee fighter, diplomat, and healer. This is a great combo, except when the paladin has to do something dexterous or intelligent. The dexterous member of our group, the hunter, works well alone and even if traveling with someone else is only good at avoiding summoned encounters. Plus, if the hunter is at the same location with another character, that character cannot benefit from the hunter’s ranged weapons-reinforcing the idea of the hunter working alone.
On her own the hunter rocks, unless asked to convince an ally to join. Unless that ally is an animal. The hunter is the Doctor Doolittle of Wrath. If the ally is anything other than an animal or the carbuncle (yes, carbuncle is an ally) the hunter cannot do it. At combat, the hunter rocks. Assisting other characters, great especially if they are at a different location. Another high-point for the hunter, the cohort that allows her to look at the top card of a location deck, returnable to hand, and useable to get a bonus to ranged combat.
Darago, the necromancer, is our primary mage and great against undead. Unfortunately, he is horrible without a spell and due to player choice, has almost as many blessings as he has spells. This means that several times during a game he will be without a spell to attack with and with a weapon is worse off. On the plus side, he has several blessing to buff spells and other players.
I can’t say if there is an optimal four player group, I can say ours is not optimal. Outside of combat checks we have plenty of problems.
We finished the second Adventure Path and are waiting for Adventure Path 3, which should lead to roles for our characters.