Critical Hit: A Major Spoilers D and D podcast

This episode: The party makes its way across a major body of water. Don’t worry it’s not boring, they get attacked pretty quickly…

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The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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Major Spoilers Podcast #207: Previews June 2010

31 Comments

  1. Ricco
    June 5, 2010 at 5:06 pm — Reply

    It seems a certain Eladrin forgot his item that lets him re-roll saving throws once again, then there’s this 3/4 Orc that didn’t summon his dog before starting the boat trip (Rodrigo mentioned the boat had enough room for 6, so the four + Coil and Onix Dog I’m guessing). Then there’s this artificer who could have weapons dancing and what is the team’s strategy? In this type of battle you either kill of the small fries first to reduce the sources of damage and then deal with the big bad, or take out the bigger threat first (the option I would choose). You guys might want to take a minute to choose either one (or you know elaborate any strategy once Rodrigo springs the monsters) when starting a fight rather then swing at random, ‘cuz Rodrigo has his strategy down to a T.

    Maybe just something simple like: Torq up front with Orem by his side, risky but once Torq marks the monsters he’s in a “safe” spot and within striking range of whatever Torq is fighting and can use long range spells to attack whatever brought Smith down 3 turns ago (Murphy’s law and historical trend), attacks of oportunity means Torq smash so Rodrigo might not risk it, and Randus within five of everyone so he can heal them when bloodied.

    • Rodrigo
      June 5, 2010 at 5:40 pm — Reply

      Although I agree that the guys can solidify their strategy (I’m all about focus fire when I’m playing, ask Rob)Your suggested ducks-fly-together-statue-of-liberty formation would never coalesce in a fight, the players would spend a whole turn taking opportunity attacks as they get into position, only to be completely disrupted by the first monster with a push effect to go.

      • Ricco
        June 5, 2010 at 8:43 pm — Reply

        I’m a chess player at heart (always open with the “sicilian defence”), so I look for strategy and optimal position in everything, the guys needs to re-read their powers/gear before every fight ‘cuz us fans love our Torquetes! We want to see them crush their opposition! Sure seen them fail miserably is funny as hell (“I stab the bomb” and all that), but we want our heroes to kill/murder/detroy!!!

    • June 5, 2010 at 8:17 pm — Reply

      It seems a certain Eladrin forgot his item that lets him re-roll saving throws once again, then there’s this 3/4 Orc that didn’t summon his dog before starting the boat trip (Rodrigo mentioned the boat had enough room for 6, so the four + Coil and Onix Dog I’m guessing). Then there’s this artificer who could have weapons dancing and what is the team’s strategy? In this type of battle you either kill of the small fries first to reduce the sources of damage and then deal with the big bad, or take out the bigger threat first (the option I would choose). You guys might want to take a minute to choose either one (or you know elaborate any strategy once Rodrigo springs the monsters) when starting a fight rather then swing at random, ‘cuz Rodrigo has his strategy down to a T.

      I’m not sure we play a strategic game, at least not in terms of the kind of game mechanics you’re working with… I, in particular, have a great hatred for the “Optimal Fighting” concept, and am completely disinterested in moving phalanxes around a series of hexes. No disrespect or snark meant, but if I want to optimize my combat strategy, I can bust out a round of Axis and Allies or perhaps Plants Vs. Zombies.

      Also, with the particular exception of a skeleton who rolled crits to ‘splode in our faces, our general ‘flail about like cheerleaders in a horror film’ motif hasn’t exactly been unsuccessful. :)

      • Ricco
        June 5, 2010 at 8:39 pm — Reply

        LOL, yeah it’s more my way of thinking then what you should really do (forgot to add an “IMHO” at the end). The problem is that Rodrigo has a solid strategy, limit targets by spreading the creeps around then focus on the weak ones with the small onions while the big bad faces Torq. If Torq goes down but once it’s over, if Randus goes down he can swarm the others to prevent healing and it’s likely over.

        Without cheating (throwing you bigger monsters then you can face), Rodrigo could pretty much kill you guys everytime because you guys lack focus, IMHO. That and you guys forget your extremy useful powers/minions/gear half the time :-)

        • June 5, 2010 at 9:19 pm — Reply

          There’s always something to be said about Monday Morning Quarterbacks, and while you may be screaming “I told you LAST week to do that!” we recorded this particular round of episodes about two months ago. So, your suggestions that you post now, will have no bearing on any game activity until months down the road.

          And it should be noted that we do have a strategy that we have talked about before. My personal strategy is to try and deal damage to the big bad (from a distance) or at least try to hinder its performance in some way as previous encounters have found the minions being easier to kill once the controller is down.

          • Ricco
            June 5, 2010 at 10:05 pm — Reply

            D’oh! I keep forgeting about the space time displacement caused by the reverse flow of anti-neutrinos, AKA the fact this is weeks in the past. Sorry about that.

          • Brian
            June 19, 2010 at 7:44 am — Reply

            Apologize for the late post – but there are plenty of “Powergamers” around. Part of the charm is how you guys learn on the fly – like most people do. It reminds us that story is everything, and the game mechanics are simply a way to tell the story and introduce some randomness.

  2. June 5, 2010 at 9:53 pm — Reply

    I can understand Ricco’s frustration. The Torqaltones almost seem like the four stooges sometimes. I agree that they don’t always seem to act the way I would, Or concentrate their focus, Or assist each other, Or utilize the cool items that they have acquired over their adventures, but back to the four stooges concept, these guys fail at everything and should die every combat, but miraculously they end up pulling it off. This Shows that Rodrigo knows the group well enough that he DOES plan accordingly. His attacks are precise and the monsters work together to take down the group (who again seem more like a SNL sketch with Chevy chase as Torq tripping down the stairs EVERY encounter. Randis frantically running around injecting everyone to keep them upright, Smith wolfing out and helping deal some damage, and finally Orem Running away from combat and casting Magic Missile when other things could Easily turn the fight in the teams favor….STOP Attacking the Dark.) But after saying all this I have to say that it might be a boring show if I wasn’t constantly wondering WHY. WHY didn’t they do this or that. Then again I’m sure Rodrigo would find a different way to keep things exciting and each episode would maybe move along a little faster. Cause as it is. This campaign (for us listeners) is going pretty slow. (I don’t consider myself in this group since I am New to the Crittical Hit Casting of pods)
    Now I’m not criticizing the way anyone is playing. Just meandering through some of the thoughts in my head. Mat is the anchor in this team with Torq and Everyone pretty much has to react to what he and the Monsters are doing. So as long as it works keep doing it.

    • June 5, 2010 at 10:03 pm — Reply

      The Torqaltones almost seem like the four stooges sometimes. I agree that they don’t always seem to act the way I would, Or concentrate their focus, Or assist each other, Or utilize the cool items that they have acquired over their adventures, but back to the four stooges concept, these guys fail at everything and should die every combat, but miraculously they end up pulling it off.

      Mmm… Dramatically speaking, isn’t it much more fun that way? :D

      How much fun would it be if we focused solely on optimizing the fight? Would it be the same show if we did?

      • Ricco
        June 5, 2010 at 10:15 pm — Reply

        I doubt it would change anything to the show, Brina would still miss 80% of the time no matter how he picked his target,you’d still make references while “krackadoomimg” throught people’s head, Stephen would ask questions, mention WOW and forget his wand of accuracy, Rob would let Brian to fend for himself and Rodrigo would still tell an excellent story while trying to keep his head for exploding from the refs.

        • June 5, 2010 at 11:09 pm — Reply

          For the record, I haven’t compared D&D to WoW in like forever, and I can only use my Wand of Accuracy once per encounter – not every time.

          • Ricco
            June 5, 2010 at 11:38 pm — Reply

            I said mention, you often said how you could compare “insert situation/power” to WoW but it would annoy us (the listeners) so you wont. The wand of accuracy has been used like 6-7 times in 51 eppisodes…

            • June 6, 2010 at 12:11 am — Reply

              I said mention, you often said how you could compare “insert situation/power” to WoW but it would annoy us (the listeners) so you wont. The wand of accuracy has been used like 6-7 times in 51 episodes…

              As much as I appreciate that you love the show and what we do, we are human, and constantly pointing out the flaws (or, to be frank here, perceived flaws) of the game can be extremely disheartening to those of us who actually create the content for Critical Hit. I don’t presume to speak for anyone other than myself, but there is a vast gulf between “mistakes” and “differences in gameplay.”

              I often choose not to spend a whole action using the dog because I prefer to start combat with as much damage as humanly (or inhumanly) possible, and by the time the combat is in full swing, I don’t want to waste what could be a critical strike bringing into play POTENTIAL damage. To the Torq-in-combat part of my mind, potential damage isn’t the same as knocking the bajeezus out of somebody…

              • Ricco
                June 6, 2010 at 11:26 am — Reply

                Never thought it could hurt you guys feelings (Matthew had feeling, who knew?)… I’m very sorry, it was never my intention, I’ll keep it to a minimum or stop all together. I’m an obsessive compulsive nitpicker who loves continuity, the fact I notice all the details just means I love the podcast that much, heck I listen to it while playing video games, vacuuming, doing homework… I’ve listened to every podcast 4-5 times (the 7 tower eppisodes around 10 each).

        • June 6, 2010 at 12:14 am — Reply

          I doubt it would change anything to the show.

          You would be most sorely incorrect, on any number of levels, sir. :D

  3. andy
    June 5, 2010 at 11:24 pm — Reply

    Just finished the podcast, it was good. It is kind on annoying that it ends in the middle of the fight and the pictures posted show what presumably happens in the latter rounds. I guess Randace goes down and a dog shows up. If the podcast ends before the fight is over, why post the pics of the stuff that happens after the podcast? I guess its a spoiler…

    • June 5, 2010 at 11:27 pm — Reply

      Yup. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell where the image grouping and episodes end since these are edited months after the fact. Consider them previews of coming attractions.

      UPDATE: I’ve removed some of the upcoming images. :D

    • Bryan
      June 6, 2010 at 12:05 am — Reply

      well, this is Major *Spoilers* after all. But as far as spoilers go, that’s a pretty subtle one. Actually, props to you for noticing. I listen to the podcasts hours before the article goes up so I hardly ever follow along with the photographs.

      Actually, since the game is pre-recorded and all, I’ve often wondered why some of the encounters are split up… this ep in particular was very much a ‘wait it’s over?’ moment. Is it because if you included the entire encounter it would be too long an episode? This didn’t seem like a particularly long ep, but I guess the encounter could have a big back-end…. Personally I wouldn’t mind a 3 hour long Critical Hit episode, but maybe I’m crazy.

      • June 6, 2010 at 12:23 am — Reply

        Bryan
        Yes, you are crazy.

        There’s a concept that many people haven’t figured out yet when it comes to podcasting; A show doesn’t need to drag on for hours and hours, no matter how good the content is. Many podcasters are under the assumption that they need to cover everything, as in-depth as they possibly can, time be damned.

        This does a couple of things
        1) It bores the hell out of the audience when you are in hour two of a five hour discussion of JSA #39. Get the points across, then get out.

        2) It prevents listeners from experiencing other podcasts. I know several podcasts out there that intentionally record a three to four hour show because they know it will squeeze the listener for time, thus preventing them from listening to the competition.

        Quite frankly, there are many podcasts that I listen to or watch that are cringe-worthy because the show is 45 minutes long, when it really could have been 15 minutes.

        REMEMBER: Shorter is better!

        For us, a three hour podcast would burn up all of the shows we have in the can. We do not have infinite free time to record weekly, so we have to build a cache of episodes so listeners aren’t waiting weeks or months between episodes.

        Would you rather have a series of short-ish weekly shows, or one really long show that comes out once a month?

        There are some podcasts out there that do that, and that may work for them, but for us, we’d rather release a regular show than something that goes in spurts like some octogenarian at the urinal.

        The average commute time in the U.S. is 30 minutes one way. That means in one day, a listener can hear a complete episode of Critical Hit.

        By keeping it at an hour, and leaving it at a cliffhanger, you’ll need to come back next week to hear what happens next. Is that a ploy on our part? Nope, media has been doing this for 100 years. Daily comic strips, movie serials, and even Lost have been doing this far longer than we have.

        Sorry to go on a rant – it’s not directed at you, but rather all the jackholes who think recording a three hour plus show and forcing it down their listener’s throats is a great idea.

        Thanks so much for listening to the show each week when a new one is released, we have some really shows lined up for months to come! When Season Two ends, I wonder how many will cheer, and how many will cry?

        Cheers
        Stephen Schleicher

        • Bryan
          June 6, 2010 at 10:07 am — Reply

          Thanks for the informative response, Stephen. It didn’t sound ranty at all… well until the jackholes part. I was just trying to get a peek ‘behind the curtain’ so to speak, and that’s pretty much what I got.

          And as for me being crazy, that was always a distinct possibility. I pretty much don’t go anywhere without earphones in my ears, and most of the time its listening to podcasts rather than music, so I guess my tolerance for a longer episode is higher than other people.

          Overall, if it ain’t broke, don’t let Torq near it… err, I mean ‘don’t fix it’… yeah, that’s it. And Critical Hit definitely ain’t broke.

  4. Roosterj
    June 6, 2010 at 11:51 am — Reply

    One of the charming factors about the players/characters is their respective vulnerability. I like the stooge reference above, and think it fits to an extent. The group is the kind of crew that you absolutely would not want saving the world… but it’s the group the world has. In terms of storytelling, this is gold. I honestly wouldn’t be interested in a program that had perfectly optimized characters who were ready for each situation.

    In terms of player limitations, this is one of the reasons I’m drawn to the podcast as well. Stephen’s openness to being a ‘Noob’ in the earlier podcasts serves as a way to introduce new players to D&D (I’ve actually used the podcast to help teach a friend the character creation system.) Matthew’s ‘old fart’ views on THAC0 make me relive my own 2nd edition experiences. And Rodrigo’s reskinning techniques have worked their way into my storytelling. Yes, they make mistakes, but in doing so, they show me that it’s ok to make mistakes (both from a DM and player point of view) and still have a fun time. I’d hate to have players that jumped down my throat telling me that I didn’t use X at Y time.

    In short, I’d suggest that you stop applying that nitpicking view to this podcast, and just enjoy the fun. You want a podcast that focuses on optimization, there are those that focus on that. That’s not what CH has been about. And to the five players, you hip cats keep doing what you’re doing.

  5. Mark
    June 7, 2010 at 7:42 am — Reply

    While it can sometimes be frustrating when the guys forget to use a power or whatever, from a roleplaying perspective it would be absurd for these 4 characters to behave like a well-oiled crack commando unit. And they really haven’t been adventuring together that long, so it’s unrealistic that they’d have naturally developed some sort of excellent teamwork in battle. Unlike the other party they play, this isn’t a bunch of martial characters who would have been trained and experienced fighting in groups. I don’t get the impression that Orem, Smith, and Randis had seen much combat (if any) prior to this adventure, and Torq – while a strong individual fighter – doesn’t seem like he’d be an expert on small group tactics or an effective combat leader. Their current “motif” – Torq as a highly skilled instictive warrior and the casters capable of laying the smack down, but still feeling out how to use their powers in combat – seems highly appropriate.

    Their goal is to tell a compelling story and listeners will want follow, not “win” the game, hopefully they don’t ever start playing like a pack of powergamers. Who wants to hear them just mowing through enemies every week like an experienced WoW guild on a raid? IMO the most interesting fights are where they don’t make optimal decisions (like Torq sticking around to try and finish off the enemy leader in the rooftop fight).

  6. J Michael T
    June 7, 2010 at 7:39 pm — Reply

    In the spirit of “How many people with ADD does it take to change a lightbulb?”

    Torq: What is a foosh?
    Smith: About twelve finches!
    Rodrigo: THAT IS IT!
    Orem: Was that in character? Because I read that …
    Randus: Can I inject myself with something that will deafen me?
    Eddie Murphy: “Ah hah!”

    LOL. Love the episodes and the discussion that comes up. Keep it up. We listen to this podcast for many reasons, and whether it’s so that we can shake our head and go “oh why would you do that!” or “yay for the lucky save”, note that we are still here. As a wise man is known to say, “your mileage may vary”. It’s ok if for some episodes I am driving a Prius, and for some I am driving a Hummer. The fact that sometimes I can question the actions of our band of stooges means that I have learned me some D&D… and I never would have expected that!!

    Enjoy the fact that you have triggered some passion in your listeners, which many have tried and not been able to do. Star Wars had Jar Jar Binks. It’s not always going to be perfect.

    Now go lay some kablammicus on that monster …

  7. June 7, 2010 at 10:53 pm — Reply

    Sorry Mat, I did not intend put ya down Mat. I was thinking of Torq as a character. When Talking to he who shatters the shy, Torq said he wanted a doggy I just figured from a character perspective Torq would want to play with the dog all the time and Would also have the battle mind to want the dog in combat. I mentioned three stooges but I forgot to mention I LIKE the three stooges. And I really like the Show. I believe the fact I listened to all 51 episodes in a week or so may have kept everything up front in my mind. There is a lot of content in those episodes. I in no way meant to bash at you guys. I could have worded my comment a little better.
    You guys are the best and that’s why I keep coming back.

    I DO have to agree with Stephen about the hour or so podcast. I listen to anywhere from 4 to 8 hours of podcasts and music a day (I can listen at work). The length is perfect. I hate the fact that it ends right in the middle of a fight but that’s why its a cliff hanger and DOES keep me checking my RSS feed waiting for the New Episode.

    Not only do I love the show but I’m LEARNING from you guys. From Mat I get “How to Rollplay better”, Stephen gives a great new perspective to PnP Gaming. Rodrigo lays out a great session but seems to be rather fluid to changes but still knows to direct the players with out making it seem forced.

  8. Torontofrog
    June 8, 2010 at 3:43 pm — Reply

    Great episode again guys. I am still adapting to the fact that I have to wait a week between episodes! Regarding the question of the unused powers and poor combat organisation of the Torqueltones, I think that the real purpose of DnD is forgotten here. The goal is to tell a contributive story between the DM and his players.

    Being a DM since many years (I’m getting old… I even understand and laugh at Matthew THACO references), I prefer having a group of players that are not doing the same thing at each encounter because they found the ”optimal” battle tactics!

    Anyway, I think that Matthew should remember that his onyx dog is around for 8 hours unless he is killed. He could be summoned before the battles or even after each extended rest. Then he would not have to waist a standard action and a chance to crit… again!

    My two cents. Keep on the good work.

  9. Nick
    June 9, 2010 at 5:45 am — Reply

    Matthew, try not to be disheartened by those pointing out ‘perceived’ flaws, because as you say, those are ‘perceived,’ or more apparent than real. (Even ‘mistakes’ don’t detract from the experience IMHO.) Maybe look at ‘critical’ comments as a way for people to express their ‘care’ about the show–at least they are putting energy into writing! I think everybody can have their own opinion about ‘woulda coulda shoulda’ and it’s fine to have those ‘critical’ views, but also focus on all those 5 star reviews, mine included!

    I don’t think anybody has to use all their special stuff, like the dog, all the time, personally. Everybody can have a different approach and it’s not always about what is most ‘efficient.’

    I prefer the storytelling and roleplaying aspects of the experience myself, and I confess I sometimes scroll through parts of the long battle sequences. the RPG experience is where the personality is at–and personality, as we know, goes a long way.

    The hour or so is a good length…it IS good for a commute. I also appreciate the technical effort you all put in to make the show sound good. It reminds me of an old timey radio show.

    Keep up the good work!

  10. Rob (aka Smith)
    June 14, 2010 at 8:57 pm — Reply

    Don’t worry about offending them Ricco. Like you suggested, they don’t really have feelings, (I’m kidding guys). Seriously though, keep up the posting, I may not be the most vocal member of the cast on here, but I do try and read the comments when I can and as the group tactician as it were I rather enjoy seeing how someone else may have handled those scenarios. It helps me to have more, and probably better, options for the future.

  11. June 17, 2010 at 6:31 am — Reply

    Hi Fellas,

    Great episode. I’ve never played D&D, but I’ve been looking for a podcast or something that would expose me to this wonderful world of strategy role play. I’m now backlogging all the critical-hit episodes. I look forward to learning how to play the game. I’ve learned so much just from this episode alone. Thanks and keep up the great work!

  12. Venge1155
    January 4, 2014 at 9:37 am — Reply

    All the links seem to have broken, is there no way to listen to the podcast now? I have been listening for the last couple of weeks but after some type of site change the links are broken here and on the RSS feed.

    • January 4, 2014 at 7:11 pm — Reply

      I just checked them, and the direct download links are working.

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