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The Oregon Trail Card Game» Forums » Variants

Subject: Balancing instant-death Calamity cards rss

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Jon Slaven
United States
Michigan
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I played a couple 3 players game at lunch today with some co-workers, and realized it's almost impossible to win a game with 2-3 players and some balancing was needed...

You have to draw 24 of the 32 calamity cards (75% of them) on your way through the trail deck. 4 of the calamity cards are instant-death (snake bite, dysentery, etc). Odds are on every game you are going to draw 3 instant death cards (4 * 75% = 3). This gives a severe disadvantage to smaller groups.

We can cap the number of instant-death calamity cards in the deck to the number of people playing. It still means every player has (roughly) a 75% chance of instant death, which still seems a little high. If we use the 6 player game as the standard (since you always had 6 on the computer game), it should really be 2/3 instant-death cards per player, or closer to players - 1.
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Geof f

Maryland
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There are several rules Id change including REMOVING instant death cards. Who wants player elimination anyway, right? Youre going to struggle anyway. Instant death is no fun. Since its just a bad card draw.

If you do want to keep the death cards, say you die on a roll of 1,2,3, or 4.
 
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Zach Smith
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I haven't actually played the game yet, but what about something like this being added? "Before revealing a calamity, you may discard one supply card. If you do so and the calamity is an instant death, the calamity is negated."
 
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CP Face
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Instant death isn't the only problem -- everything about the game is harder with smaller numbers of people. The larger parties not only have more members (and can thus absorb more deaths, instant or otherwise); they also start the game with more supplies (and thus can prevent more deaths in the first place). A two-player party is expected to cross the same distance, and face the same number of calamities, as a five-player party, but with half the supplies and less than half the "hit points".

I'd have to play around with it, but I have a few ideas:

1) Multiple "hit points". Say players on a two-player team can die three times each before actually getting eliminated from play, and players on a three-player team can die two times each before being eliminated. This will give the smaller teams the same sort of death buffer as the larger teams without having to do a lot of re-balancing.

You could even say that the party as a whole has a pool of six "hit points", and only start eliminating players when you have fewer hit points than players; this would keep everyone in the game and playing for as long as possible.

2) More supplies. If two-player teams received ten supplies each and three-player teams received seven supplies each, they'd have the same sort of basic chance of dealing with calamities as the larger teams. If you don't combine this option with #1, you might want to have a greater allowance for supplies that you can "will" to another player on death -- say, four for two players and three for three players.

3) Shorter trail. If you don't go with #2, the fairest thing all around would be to give the smaller teams a shorter road to walk. I'm not as keen on this one because it suggests you're not following the "real" Oregon Trail, and I'd really have to look at the numbers to figure out what would be a fair distance to travel, but it is an option.
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