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Codex Preview RPG Codex Preview: Knights of the Chalice 2 - Augury of Chaos

Infinitron

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Codex Year of the Donut Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth
Tags: Heroic Fantasy Games; Knights of the Chalice 2

Released in 2009 by eccentric Frenchman Pierre Begue, the original Knights of the Chalice was one of the Codex's first indie favorites. It achieved that status not merely because it was a rare turn-based RPG in an age of consolized cinematic popamole, but because it was genuinely well-designed. During most of its decade-long development, the biggest concern about Knights of the Chalice 2 was that its abstract, tabletop-like visual style lacked appeal. But surely whatever the game sacrificed in looks would be compensated with even better gameplay. Well, that's not how things turned out. Since its release in July, the inaugural Augury of Chaos module for Knights of the Chalice 2 has become notorious for its outlandishly high difficulty level and generally poor balance, issues which subsequent patches appear to have only scratched the surface of. Today our very own Darth Roxor is here to tell you all about it. As an added bonus, we also have some details about the game's module editor from the esteemed Dorateen. Here's an excerpt from the review:

The bullshit in this game’s encounter design is all-encompassing and ever-present. I already mentioned the enemy equipment. Now consider that you are always outnumbered and out-levelled, often even very significantly. Then you have the monster spawns out of nowhere, which can include cannon fodder as much as horrible abominations of terrible doom. Then there are the hundred million billion weird-ass abilities like breath weapons, death explosions, arbitrary critical hit immunities (hello, evil cultist fighters) and “spell-like abilities” that everyone packs in large numbers and which are all nothing but bullshit – bonus points if they are spells from spellbooks unavailable to a given caster class, and which just so happen to benefit the owner’s loadout and traits. Of course, there are also plenty of “surprise” encounters where you can’t even avoid the surprise because, to quote, “suddenly enemies appear all around you.”

But that is not all. One of the more insulting aspects of this game and its encounters are the enemy casters. For starters, they always know all the spells that are available at their level, so most of them act in the exact same way (unless scripted to do something specific on their first turn), and they are always ready for everything you can throw at them thanks to this. For reasons more than one, too, because they also always come pre-buffed with every single buff spell there is, even if they materialise out of nowhere. And believe me, the end-game becomes absolute nightmare fuel because of this. In the final chapter, every encounter has at least 4 supercharged mages, sometimes even more, sometimes it even keeps spawning more, all of them are pre-buffed to the point of stupidity, and if you don’t manage to somehow shut them down immediately, you just get nuked to oblivion.

What has to be said about the above is that this is not even particularly “difficult.” It's just depressing. The way all those enemy mages come pre-buffed with a mix of blur, mirror image, mind blank, foresight, good fortune, dispelling buffer, stoneskin and contingent break enchantment is depressing. The way they all know ALL the spells their class has to offer is depressing. The way they just keep spawning new ones is depressing. The way they always open up with accelerated spell into double instakill nuke cast is depressing. Their up-the-ass spell resistance is depressing. The fact they stand on freaking towers and can’t be reached by melee characters is depressing.

It’s like peeling a gigantic rotten onion. You keep stripping the layers one by one, you cry all the way through, your fingers stink, and ultimately it doesn’t do you any good. This is simply not how you make RPG encounters. Though fortunately, it has to be stressed that this madness is nearly exclusive to the endgame. Prior to chapter 4, the enemy casters are not yet high level enough to have access to all those spells, and they aren’t as numerous and omni-present in every fight.

Still, if only the nonsense were contained to the casters. Some of the fights in this game are just beyond the pale when it comes to the numbers, levels and types of enemies thrown against you, as well as the “battlefield conditions.” There’s a sequence of fights that first disables all the magical effects on your equipment. Your reward for defeating the boss in chapter 1 is getting stripped of all your stuff. The final fight has a “damage each turn” effect, which Pierre clearly wasn’t able to implement as a regular “environmental hazard,” so it’s instead a bunch of invisible fire tiles all over the place – which means you can’t use area spells like grease and quicksand and every single enemy (including mummies) is fire immune to mask this… and that’s STILL not all.

The worst thing still is that after some point, Augury of Chaos turns into a quick draw contest. Either you win initiative and can obliterate the enemy first (or at least shut down his most important characters), or you get blown up to hell. You will start noticing this around the middle of chapter 3, and the final chapter 4 has that in every single encounter, and I’m not exaggerating. If there is even a single mage who gets to act before you, he will open with a double cast of Prismatic Void (a cute mass-AoE version of Prismatic Spray, courtesy of Pierre’s unhinged homebrew experiments), and remove at least 75% of your party from the game.

Honestly, the campaign feels like Pierre thought that since everyone liked the optional final battle in KotC1 so much, every single battle here ought to be like that too. It’s a neverending slaughterfest established by a sadistic gamemaster, who would have otherwise been quickly abandoned by his players in a real life situation. If you watched the cartoon Dexter’s Laboratory, you might remember the D&D spoof episode, where Dexter keeps fudging the dice against the players and throwing increasingly impossible odds at them. Augury of Chaos gives you the same experience. Eventually, one of your sole motivations for pushing on will be this morbid curiosity what kind of sadistic punishment the deranged gamemaster prepared for you around the next corner. Because beating those ridiculously overpowered encounters often isn't even satisfying when your only reward is just more forceful violation to come, without even as much as a broken penny in return.

And the funniest thing about this? I can bet my right butt cheek that Pierre never played through the campaign in a legit way, from start to finish, to test how it plays. You can tell by the Kickstarter gameplay preview videos, where he fails to beat each and every single encounter presented. This game was simply designed in a vacuum.​

Read the full article: RPG Codex Review: Knights of the Chalice 2 - Augury of Chaos
 

samuraigaiden

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So let me get this straight. All the characters in this game are balls? Balls with character portraits prancing around on screen? Not trying to out myself as a graphics whore, but Jesus Christ that's some art director you got there, Pierre.
 

Azalin

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It looks like this one is badly and lazily made game, maybe eating all those roots and turnips fucked up his brain even more
 

Dr Schultz

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I'm in the middle of one my "let's beat this old game again and see if it is as good as I remember" phase.
My next game after Grimrock 2 was supposed to be Knights of the Chalice and, gosh, this review doesn't make me even consider to drop my plan and play KotC 2 instead
 

AdolfSatan

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A harsh review and fairly so
:salute:

Let's hope Pierre will listen to the criticism for the design of the next modules.
 

Strange Fellow

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Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag.
Great job Darth Roxor, nailed it as usual. The onion metaphor is extremely apt - granted, I didn't even play past the parts that you found fun, but then I'm not much of a masochist, and besides, the signs are there from the first. The whole thing just feels thoroughly unrewarding, and there are too many hoops you have to jump through to squeeze out what trickles of fun there are to be had.

Great job also Dorateen, hopefully you and others can make better content for this engine than Pierre has managed thus far.
 

Jvegi

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I've got the game, paid real money for it, still haven't seriously played it.

D&D is shit. I've been playing 3E D&D games this whole year, including the first KotC, and I'm sick of it. I'll read the review though.
 

Drowed

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Well, the look was already a decline in relation to the original, but there was still a great expectation about the gameplay. Now, we know that the gameplay is also decline. That's sad.
 

CryptRat

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The review is very on point.

I totally loved the game anyway, the game looks bad, ecosystem is a total mess and basic enemies wearing top equipment is weak but the big party, top notch customization and surprisingly fleshed-out puzzles and race and class checks made up for it to me. Granted unlike the consensus (and the review) I loved the encounters, which are basically varied and hard, and it's an important disagreement in a game which is first and foremost about combat but then I think the game is very good.

Well, the look was already a decline in relation to the original, but there was still a great expectation about the gameplay. Now, we know that the gameplay is also decline. That's sad.
The first game is not a perfect point of comparison though'. It's fine to like the "story" (the enemies more than the plot), gfx and encounters more (although' I don't agree about the encounters, I think they're great in both games) yet it'd be strictly superior only if you discard the party size, number of races and classes especially, the puzzles and the checks, which are quite several things. In particular as someone who's bored of all these recent games with a small party I was very glad to get a game with a big party and occasional very large scale encounters for once.
 
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I don't understand why there are so many people who love the maunty haul style of D&D nowadays, and with pathfinder it even seems to be getting worse and worse. I hate when everything/everyone has +5 magic armor and weapons and rings and you are forced to have 18+ in all abilities and are loaded down with magic trash you sell to some 'poor' shop keeper who must have come upon a magic USA money printer of infinite BRRRRR+5. It simply lacks verisimilitude and just makes me not want to play. My hope for this game is that people can do something cool with the included mod tools.
 

cruelio

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This game or module or whatever was the most disappointing thing I’ve experienced in a long time. I hope for his next module Pierre rips off gamebooks like he did for KotC1 because his doubling down on the terrible encounters in the module indicate he has no idea what he’s doing on that front.
 

Darth Canoli

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Interesting review, i just want to nuke/retardo infinitron for putting the emphasis on the most negative points of the review while he would shill the worst of the worst sometimes...

Good review overall, not that i agree with everything (on the contrary) but Pierre probably needs to hear this again if we want great official modules.

TLDR
Roxxor : :3/5: :bro:
Infinitron : :0/5: :retarded:
 

KeighnMcDeath

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Wait! It was released? Guess i missed that. Ya'll don't like POGS


or old heroquest board games?



or dungeonquest?


or any number of pog-like boardgames without those damn figurines. YOU KNOW YOU WANT IT FLAT.... And ROUND!!
 

Deuce Traveler

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Grab the Codex by the pussy Divinity: Original Sin Torment: Tides of Numenera Shadorwun: Hong Kong Pathfinder: Kingmaker Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag. Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture
I loved the original so much, that I supported the Kickstarter for this. It's a sad state for an indie company when I have to go around hoping that a future patch from Pierre or some modders will fix it.
 

Dayyālu

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I've extensively read the KOTC2 thread and I could still read dozens of paragraphs of Roxor complaining about the basic campaign. As a (bad and lazy) PF DM the combat encounters go beyond the bad and right into the hilarious. I'd love to drop some on a real PnP party and see the reactions.

Great one, Darth Roxor . Now come here and enjoy the brofists.
 
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Roxor states that many encounters can be won only by lucky rolls. I can't understand how can a person create an encounter without noticing that it can be won only by luck. Had Pierre at least once tried to win each encounter he designed?
 

luj1

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Sorry to hear this, as KotC II was the only new RPG I wanted to play. But maybe Dorateen or someone can make a good campaign or two.
 
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Pink Eye

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>Now consider that you are always outnumbered
Most of the DnD games that Chalice takes inspiration from, tend to throw a lot of enemies at you. It's part of the norm. The tactical play from Chalice 2 comes from how you manage multiple enemy targets. For example, one of the tools that you can use to manage multiple enemy combatants, is sorcery; the enchantment school exists to provide you with tons of crowd control spells. Sleep, Confusion, Chaos, and Hold Person/Monster. Not to mention, other schools of magic provide you with reasonably good crowd control spells to deal with large groups of enemies.

>You are always out-levelled, often even very significantly.
In Chalice 1 there were also tons of situations where you were out leveled. This isn't anything new. It sucks to go up against a high level enemy that is ten times your level. Just the other day I lost an iron man run in Chalice 1 to this behemoth of a monster.

Anyways, this is how Pierre designs the encounters. However, Pierre does provide the player with tools to deal with such enemies. If you're not properly using your tools, and just neanderthaling your way around; obviously your going to have a bad time. Dealing with enemies that are a higher level than you, is not "bullshit"; it's you not exploring the different types of options you have at your disposal. The game demands a lot from you, and expects you to make an effort at it. Consider this, I managed to Iron Man the spider queen in Chalice 1. How was that possible? By exploring the area then looting some arrows that can instantly kill animal targets.

In regards to Chalice 2, the best example of this is the tomb challenge. There is a tomb near a goblin fort. Once you go in, you can't get out until you defeat all the enemies. Somewhere in there is a weapon that has the disruption enchantment. Making it the perfect counter against all the undead enemies that dwell in there. After you survive the undead encounter, you are then given scrolls to deal with the salamander fight that occurs afterwards. So, Pierre does provide the player with items to deal with over leveled enemies.

>Then there are the hundred million billion weird-ass abilities like breath weapons, death explosions, arbitrary critical hit immunities (hello, evil cultist fighters) and “spell-like abilities” that everyone packs in large numbers and which are all nothing but bullshit
That's the Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 ruleset for you. This is good, because you have more options to deal with the enemy, and the enemy has more options to deal with you; thus combat becomes engaging. I recently played through Pillars of Eternity on Path of the Damned, and really liked how the enemy got all of these different abilities to use against me. It made combat more fun and stimulating. Combat should be stimulating. Another thing is that Pierre does a *very* good job of documentating everything. If you need help understanding what a certain ability does, use the in game documentation. He covers whatever it is you need help on. I myself used it a bunch when reviewing Flurry of Blow progression and other monk abilities.

>there are also plenty of “surprise” encounters where you can’t even avoid the surprise because, to quote, “suddenly enemies appear all around you.”
Which is awesome! There should be those moments where the game catches you unprepared. How you deal with such encounters; is where the game shines. While Chalice 2 does make use of these mechanics a bit too much - it's still fun trying to survive through them.

>One of the more insulting aspects of this game and its encounters are the enemy casters
Casters are always going to be annoying in whatever Dungeons and Dragons game they're in. I've yet to see a game where they weren't a pain. It *is* a struggle when they can act before you.

>In the final chapter, every encounter has at least 4 supercharged mages
So do you. At this point of the game you should be having a couple of "supercharged" mages at your disposal as well. All with their own strong spells to shut the enemy spellcaster down. Plus you should be crafting some strong equipment to match them.

>It's just depressing.
I didn't really find it depressing. I had fun. Yeah, I raged at the game - didn't we all, god, didn't we all. The damnable Spider Queen still haunts my dreams. However, I really liked that the game was giving me a run for my money. Seeing this after defeating the game:
2x7G3qK.png
Made me jump around excitedly!

>The worst thing still is that after some point, Augury of Chaos turns into a quick draw contest. Either you win initiative and can obliterate the enemy first (or at least shut down his most important characters), or you get blown up to hell.
I agree. Game is like that. But holy shit is it fun. Those moments where you defeat an encounter, are hard earned and well worth it. The game demands a lot from you. To me, the best moments are seeing the party has won screen. Makes me excited. I jump around in my sit knowing I defeated a super difficult encounter. Maybe I'm just weird like that.
ZEwhlt5.png

>I can bet my right butt cheek that Pierre never played through the campaign in a legit way, from start to finish, to test how it plays
I don't know about Pierre, but I played the game. From start to finish. I beat every single encounter in the game. It took me over two hundred hours and close to seven hundred save files. Augury of Choas *is* a brutal module. Yet it was an experience that was the most fulfilling after I managed to beat it.
cwZW0ZV.png
I had a blast with it. If you're looking for a super difficult game, brutal encounters, build making, a faithful implementation of the Dungeons and Dragons rulset. Then look no further. This is the perfect game for you. It'll probably take you weeks to beat. Beating it will be the most fun chemicals you'll ever get in your brain.
 

Pink Eye

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Only *real* issue I had with Chalice 2 was the bugs and crashes - huge reason as to why I haven't gone back and replayed it, nor why I haven't dumped thousands of hours into it. I remember crashing over forty times at the final encounter of the game. Not to mention the other crashes I had as well. It was *not* fun getting close to beating an encounter, then crashing, then being forced to repeat the encounter again.
 

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