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Hunting has been a major system in Chult and Ravenloft. The way Cryptic plans their content it’s safe to assume that having it in three consecutive mods wasn’t by accident. Tomb of Annihilation and the Lost City of Omu featured a very grind-heavy variant in which players need to work through several layers of RNG to get to a so-called capstone target. Ravenloft then significantly altered the approach and switched to a more group-based system with different bottlenecks.
Many immediately would take the Mod 14 version over its predecessor. But is that justified? In this article I’d like to evaluate pros and cons of both systems and then look which one actually comes out on top.
The Hunting system in Chult was grindy as heck. We complained about it, everybody complained about it. The structure of going through multiple layers of RNG was just so frustrating. It however was also different. I eventually burned out on doing Hunts in Mod 13, but can’t say my time doing them was 100% miserable. I liked figuring out routes, and the drops rates were clever enough to always throw you a piece of loot when you were just about to rage quit. This by the way is a very ugly way to mess with our brain, but that’s a different topic…
Anyway, Hunts were grindy, but there were also sort of innovative. Overall I liked to do them more than previous systems. Also more time spent directly transferred to more loot. The system was at least uncapped. That shouldn’t mask the fact however that it took too damn long to even get to even one capstone target.
Mod 14 of course changed the approach. Hunts became more of a complementary mechanic. You pick up posters as you campaign through Barovia (or buy them on the AH) and then run Hunts whenever you also have the Tarokka Cards. It’s basically designed to make the most out of the few Hunts you run. There’s also a target pyramid involved, but it’s nowhere near as stressful to climb to the top. But it also means that you can no longer do Hunts as you please, because you need the Tarokka Cards to make them count. So contrary to Chult, we’re talking about a capped system. I still think there’s no question Ravenloft gets the nod here.
Module 14 also has superior rewards from Hunts. But it’s too easy to just say “item level” and move on. You have to judge the rewards in the context of the gear progression at that time. Which, for me, actually puts Chult slightly ahead. If you think about the pieces of loot that actually improved builds, then you might probably agree that Chult overall did more for your account. There are definitely interesting pieces in Ravenloft as well, but not to such a big extent.
Although in terms of the numbers that’s not really the case, Chult’s item level 480 felt like more of a jump compared to what you already had than Ravenloft’s 540. I know that suddenly all my alts ran around with Hunting gear shortly after the release of Tomb of Annihilation, and that it was a major improvement. Module 14 makes up some ground with the sheer amount of different pieces available, but I would still rate Chult slightly higher.
Boy, the jokes about hunting as social feature aren’t going anywhere, are they? In case you haven’t been around or can’t recall: During Mod 12, when complaints about the grind of the feature reached their peak, the devs surprised everyone by labeling Hunts a “social feature”. It was kind of hilarious because for many reasons it was much better grinding alone. I won’t get into all specifics, but you can check out our article that covered the story back in the day. One aspect of the claim was the different functionality of Hunt items. The devs felt that making them only directly trade-able (not through the Auction House) would lead to more trade channel interaction. That was certainly the case, but at the same time gunning for Trophies, which was the major part of the grind, was a boring solo activity.
Some guilds organizing T-Rex farms pretty much is and was the only other social aspect tied to the system. Maybe the devs thought players would behave differently, but in the end dealing with Hunt Trophies was more annoying than anything.
This changed in Ravenloft. In Barovia Hunts are indeed a group activity, because everyone gets almost full rewards for participating. That’s not the case in Chult, where usually only the one that places the Trophy is eligible for loot. Making Hunts more inclusive through the reward structure led to more open recruitment in zone. Participants get way more than just campaign currency and the leader doesn’t have to worry that sharing might cost some loot. Overall Module 14 takes the social trophy by a mile.
Sense of Accomplishment
The last bullet might sound strange, but sense of accomplishment is actually something that I’d like to include. Because my own perception of the Hunt feature in Module 14 is pretty… Whatever! It’s really nothing special! Yes you can go in with groups now, which is a major improvement. The rewards are there and it’s no longer too grindy.
On the other hand though getting to a King of Spines or Tyrant in Module 12 and 13 meant something. It was a special achievement even getting to one of these baddies. Whoever sported the gear deserves a ton of respect. It’s weird because I really wanted the chest piece from KoS and never got it in two tries. It was surely annoying, but in hindsight I’m still proud that I even made it that far. Especially the second one was cruel since I literally farmed for weeks for the last remaining Trophy. Once I got it, it wasn’t even as much about the loot any longer. The journey was my reward.
The Ravenloft systems is completely lacking such a sense of accomplishment, which makes the whole thing a lot more generic. Yay you’ve defeated a Tier 3 Hunt! Congrats for being the 100th in your guild today! I’m sure not everyone feels the same though. I totally get that slaying a KoS and then not getting what you wanted is frustrating. It might mean weeks of work just went down the drain. But the intrinsic rewards, because it was that hard getting to a capstone target, still made Hunting somewhat meaningful in my opinion. That shouldn’t be overlooked.
Although I still slightly favor the Ravenloft system over the Chult one, it’s a lot closer than I originally anticipated. The personal preference probably largely depends on what type of player you are anyway. In the end both systems might be so fundamentally different that it’s hard to find too many similarities other than the name and the type of rewards. Chult definitely was more of a hardcore version in which more time spent linearly scaled with more rewards. Ravenloft in the meantime features a casual and social approach. Groups can gather and take on a Hunt or two whenever they’ve collected enough Tarokka Cards from their dailies.
It’s certainly intriguing that the very same feature can differ so much from one module to another. I’d be very interested if that was the design choice right from the start or whether the devs adjusted after they saw how Hunting developed during Mod 12. I guess many players were relieved to see Hunts getting a rework in Ravenloft after burning out on those Trophy farm routes in Soshenstar River and Omu. But I personally still like the sense of accomplishment that came with getting to one of the capstone targets in Chult. That’s something nobody can take away from you while Module 14 Hunts probably will be forgotten rather soon.
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