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Re: (TFT) Gauging difficulty / Encounter level, and player level?

I "start" by summing the average weapon damage for the group each hitting once, then multiply it by three rounds and use that number as the ST total for the enemy encounter.  If there is magic to be gained in the encounter, then at least one member of the enemy group will have a DX equal to or higher than the average DX of the group.  I will typically arm the opponents with option weapons if i can.  For example, I'll have a guy with bastard sword one handed with a shield. This guy can drop the shield and do more damage, or stay as is.  I will normally add in three easily avoidable terrain features that either block vision or cause a DX adjustment and use these to "tone down" the enemy if I have to.  

Beyond that there is just inspiration that comes to you in the shower, mowing the lawn, wherever.  Oh, wouldn't it be cool to add a litch.. or what if I add something that damages weapons?  Or, I wonder how the party would handle a wizard casting giant rope, or clumsiness on them?

There really isn't a perfect formula.  I'd say that the more things you can build into the map to give you tactical delays the easier it is to avoid the "oh that guy forgot to ready last turn" options to give the party a prayer of survival.  

Good Fortune,
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