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Dead of Winter: The Long Night» Forums » Variants

Subject: In the Land of Modules rss

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Mathew G Somers
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Um, well, no… I have not yet played the game with the rules as written. There has been a lot of talk about balance, though, and the sandbox nature of this standalone expansion, and loving the original much as I do, loving the look of all the new and exciting content here, coupled with the limited amount of time I’ll actually be able to get it to the table, I’d prefer to not waste my time on something somehow flawed -- Assuming there is a flaw, right? Therefore, here I am, come to throw everything against the wall and gather some semblance of an idea as to what’s going to stick and what’s not. If it turns out there’s no real use in anything I‘ve thought, then great, I will assume my fears are misbegotten and be more than happy to play, needing nothing house ruled.

Now, the way this is going to work, is that I’m going to put out a number of ideas/tweaks, each of which may or may not have the potential to fix what I have perceived to be possible issues in each of the modules, yeah? In return, I would just like to know whether or not they’re good or bad ideas. And that’s all. Simple enough, I’m here to collect opinions and bounce my thoughts around a bit -- Nothing too serious, folks.

IMPROVEMENTS:

Word on here’s that these really make the game easier, which is not something I’m partial to per se, but they’re too amazing to do without, so I thought…

1) Instead of having four cards face up, only have three. Reason being that this would limit the players’ options, and keep certain cards from maybe appearing too frequently (is that an issue?), thereby keeping the ten card deck a little fresher over multiple plays.

2) Going a bit further, I wondered what if players could spend an advancement token to discard one of the improvements and draw a new one? Not sure I care for the idea, but I’d rather lay all my thoughts on the table and be done with it now.

3) When combining this with the original, either use all of the starter cards from the base set, i.e. those without their secondary effects, so that the starter junk would not be able to be used on the improvements and players would instead have to seek out those cards, or combine the two in some sort of half and half manner, where half these basic cards are from both sets, whether they are starter cards or from a specific location. Yes, this would include the fuel and food effects, which I’ll come back to next module.

4) What about making each improvement vulnerable to destruction in some way? Say, at the end of each round, players roll a die for each improvement, and on the result of X, or X - X, then that improvement is removed from the game, or shuffled back in the deck, or considered out-of-use and will require another advancement token in order to be fixed and put back into use? Is that a tad too much? Haha… This kind of stems from the fact that the rulebook mentions you’re to add the crisis cards that contain the symbol for this module when playing with it, but I didn’t see any such cards. I mean, it wouldn’t surprise me if this was wrong, considering the number of wrong things scattered everywhere when there were four editors…

BANDITS:

I’ve not heard too much one way or the other here, but most of what I’ve heard is that they’re not really a threat, so…

1) Returning to using some of the basic cards from the original set, it turns out that the bandits are only willing to trade for Bloody Munchies, so by taking some of those cards out and adding the plain Food 1’s without the trade option, maybe they‘d be a little more difficult to remove?

2) What if failing to successfully attack a bandit, resulted in the attacking survivor receiving a wound?

3) I’m curious about how balanced being exiled becomes when you’re the bandit leader and can now take any one card from their stockpile every round in addition to determining where they're placed… Seems a little too easy, and cool as it sounds to be the leader of the bandits, I’m considering dropping the thing altogether.

4) Also, I wonder how the game plays with two bandits being added every round for each of the player counts -- Oughtn’t there be some sort of scale in place?

RAXXON:

Much has been on this one said already, so to reiterate: Blah, blah, blah…

1) Any thoughts on randomly removing X amount of cards from Raxxon, be it randomly, or more systematic, such as randomly removing X tools/weapons/pills? Now, I ask because despite all the chatter, I feel there’s at least ten super items there which are solid, that’s half the time you may obtain something worthwhile, then a little more than another quarter of the time you might obtain pills, which more often than not seem to give some sort of positive benefit, then you’ve got fuel, which is always good, though maybe not always worth the risk. So, really it seems like a good majority of the time you’ll receive something worth your effort, which is to say, that you‘ll not have too hard a time obtaining incredible gear and god-moding the remainder of the game.

2) Any thoughts on possibly adding in extra starter cards to further dilute the location deck? This could probably only be done with the addition of the original game and card sleeves, since there is apparently a bit of difference in the card backs, right? Well, unless it turns out to be okay to toss in some of the original starter cards as stated above, in which case, there’d be a surplus of TLN starter cards to add here.

3) Should one house rule that Raxxon items cannot be used at Raxxon?

4) To make the special zombies more threatening, it’s been said that some folks will ensure their placement via replacing pre-existing zombies, or placing them irrespective of whether or not there’s a barricade or explosive trap. In conjunction with this, some say these special zombies get ignored and are passed over, so what if they moved at the end of each round in which there was no survivor present at their location? Sounds decent.

5) One thing I’ve not heard mentioned is that this module gives me the impression it might hijack the entire game, and make it all about Raxxon. I think the weapons are great, though some could maybe have been less great, haha… And the special zombies are, too. So I don’t necessarily want to lose the location and those zombies if I don’t want a Raxxon-centric game, you know? Is this at all possible? Again, I’ve not played it yet, but to me, part of the issue may lie in having to go there every round and place dice, this sort of detracts from whatever vibe the objective may have been trying to give off, and make the game more about stopping the zombies from breaking out and thereby obtaining cool gear. So, could anyone tell me if it be too easy of a game to only have zombies potentially break out when players are performing searches there? Say, after spending the die to search, and rolling for exposure, or whatever the order, that somewhere in there you roll a die two times, one for each containment number on the topmost card, and if you ever roll that number then that zombie breaks free and the search is a fail? Or what about a game without the location, but still incorporating the special zombies from time to time, would this become too difficult do you guys think?

In all reality, chances are that I’ll be playing the two module objectives straight up, but I wanted to get this out there beforehand, to have a better idea and understanding of things if I do feel the need to house rule something here or there. I want to say there’s more I wanted to add, but I cannot recall it at the moment. Anyway, thank you for your time!
 
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Glen Lamb
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I have been a bit concerned by all the same things from seeing this forum, but here's the thing. This always happens with expansions.I haven't tried the modules yet but I do know people that have and none of them claim anything is too easy now. The negative Raxxon pill effects are dire and can happen even after you roll and get frostbitten while searching for them. You can see the inherent balance built in to all these things, to contain the super zombies you need to sacrifice actions and be at a location that could kill you for searching. Spending junk on improvements can mean you fail a significant crisis at a key time etc. etc.

The thing is that you can have games of DoW, even the base game, where everything comes up millhouse and you don't really struggle, and the regular main objectives are designed to be winnable relatively easily anyway (there's a hardcore mode after all) and we've all played it a fair bit now I imagine, and we know how to play to win so some people are going to have an easy time of it for sure, but the ones that had a regular time of it, or a hard time of it aren't on here complaining about it, it's only the ones that have seen it going too easy and are concerned that we are seeing. The same "Sky is falling" effect you see on the X-wing (etc) forums whenever there's an expansion.

I literally spoke to a friend yesterday that said they used Raxxon and only had one round of the game where they even rolled the required action dice to enter the containment code, people died searching the lab and when they didn't they took crazy pills, so they stopped searching becasue dying is scary!

Anyway, what i'm saying is it was probably just an acorn.

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Ryan M
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Regina
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When I first got TLN I planned on playing a bunch before trying to mix the two sets, but I also agree this really has that sandbox feel and really encourages you to play around and get the experience you want. So after only 2 games I started playing around with ways to mix things. Honestly, I'm not too worried about balance as I think over time, balance will be found. For example, people complain right now about Raxxon making the game too easy, and maybe over the long run that will hold true, but I'm curious how it impacts the different missions, how having a betrayor in the game changes that (or not), or maybe Raxxon will be a good way to get people trying the hard side of the objective cards. There is enough choices here and customization options that I think people can balance it themselves how they like.

IMPROVEMENTS: These definitely make the game easier. That is the point. It's fairly easy to get at least one or two per game and they only give you positive benefits. Having choices of which to build also means you can basically shoot for the improvements that will help you the most that game. We've literally won one of our games because of the DVD player. However, I personally am going to use them less in games because TLN so far feel easier overall compared to DoW.

1)There are only 10 improvements so if you use them every game, you are going to see repeats quickly and often. I don't think changing from 4 to 3 will really make that much of a difference. I think if easiness and repeats is something you want to prevent, use only 2 at a time.

2)I don't know how often this would happen. The improvements are so good and offer you enough choices that you would be better off just using those tokens to build something. Some improvements only need 1 token anyway and there is no down side to just building those and seeing the next card anyway.

3)I haven't played around yet with the starter items yet, but using the DoW junk cards at the start would make improvements much harder to build. It's for sure an interesting idea for keeping improvements in the game but minimizing their impact. I may try this in the future. Either only DoW junk starters or, as you say, a mix. Maybe even a random mix each game?

4)I can say there are crossroad cards associated with the improvement module. I won't say what they do (as I haven't read any so as not to spoil anything), but it wouldn't surprise me if there is some sort of backfire involved. It would just seem excessive if the improvement crossroads gave you even more positive benefits. However, I personally think it would be simpler and less fiddly to just limit how many come out in the first place.

BANDITS: Only used this one once so far and felt it didn't really have much impact. My initial impression is the bandit module will have the most impact on missions involving searching or long term survival. Missions that already have a lot of demands placed on players from the start. Missions involving a lot of zombie killing will mean you are equipped to deal with bandits already anyway.

1)I agree, altering the starting items by using the DoW cards will mean its more likely you have to fight bandits to get rid of them. This adds a bit more luck but also mean bandits will be more of a threat and possibly harder to get rid of.

2)I think that failing to attack a bandit is bad enough as you've wasted a die and the bandit is still there to steal items. My initial impression with bandits is more that only 2 come out per round (which isn't much in a 5p game), they are only a threat if they spawn in locations you need to go to, and if you don't need much food then they can be a little too easy to get rid of. If you are easily getting rid of bandits they aren't stealing items and not attracting extra zombies, which is the whole "threat" of playing with them in the first place.

3) I actually think it makes thoughtless exiling more dangerous which is a good thing. There were times in DoW where it is actually good to just exiling someone, even if you know they aren't a betrayor, because it will make the game easier. This changes that and means exiling a loyal player could put the colony at much greater risk. I actually wouldn't change this.

4) Maybe. I already mentioned only adding 2 per round may not mean much depending on how many players you have and where they go. However, I would probably not play around with this until I've seen how bandits affect different main objectives. They may be best brought out with certain objectives to get the most impact. If you want MORE bandits in your game, I think the simplest thing would be to just start with the crises card that adds a bandit to every location. Or randomly shuffle that card into the top of the crises deck based on how many rounds your game will be.

RAXXON: Played a few times with Raxxon. My impression is not necessarily that it makes the game easier so much as it makes the game more random and swingy. In one game you may have bad luck and Raxxon ends up being very bad, in another game it has no real impact, and in yet another game it makes your game a cakewalk. I played one game where we just didn't have the dice and the zombies got out but it wasn't too bad. Another game no zombies got out but the players had bad luck searching and didn't really find anything that was super useful and helped us. Also, the thing to remember is that just beating the main objective isn't "winning". Raxxon may make beating that main objective easier, but I'd be curious how many individual players are actually winning or losing. The game isn't really "easier" if you coast through the main objective but only 1 player actually competes their secret objective. So I'm cautious about all the early cries of Raxxon making the game too easy.

1 & 2) This could work, although I would think if you want to make the game riskier and more challenging, rather than randomly remove any cards, you randomly remove a couple of the super weapons that are there. And then replace those cards with something else from the DoW set. Or if you play with less than 5p, maybe shuffle in any remaining starter items to change the odds a bit? Or maybe just replace a couple random super weapons with the sniper rifles from DoW which are still real good? Or maybe even replace them with the grenade launcher that is in the police station and then put the sniper rifles in the police station?

The issue would be finding the right balance of risk vs reward. If you don't have the super items coming out, then the location is going to suck because you will just be camping there trying to stop zombie outbreaks. That will be less fun than camping your "search" characters in DoW. At least in DoW, camping had some benefit in getting more items. So you WANT those good cards you just want to make sure they aren't all farmed right away.

3) I think this would be pretty simple to implement and would stop Raxxon farming if you get the drone right away.

4) So far this is the issue I have with Raxxon. Definitely moreso than whether it makes the game too easy or not. The special zombies are all really cool and I like what they add to the game. BUT, if the die are in your favour they won't ever come out and needing 2 dice per round sometimes has no impact on the rest of the game. I've played DoW a lot and there are plenty of times where you have dice you don't really need so you place an extra barricade somewhere, or clean waste even though waste isn't a problem. Because why not. And the random placement of special zombies means they could end up in locations that you can easily ignore all game anyway. Plus, the number of items and character abilities that give you free kills means that you can often pick off regular zombies and then just ignore the specials completely.

So the best change, for me, would be one that makes the special zombies more of a threat when they do come out. I like the idea of starting with at least one on the board right away. I also like the idea of placing them whether there is a barricade/trap or not. Maybe break the barricade and place the zombie there anyway. Or trigger the trap, kill any regular zombies, and place the special. I actually really like that idea.

I also really like the idea of moving them if they are at an empty location. It fits with the theme of them being more dangerous and almost hunting/stalking the players. I think another good idea is, instead of random placement, special zombies will always go to the location with the most players or with the most noise tokens (or both?). If there is a tie, then you roll a die to determine randomly which location will get hit.

These are all great ideas I think that I will probably try out at some point. It makes the special zombies much more of a thread and harder to just ignore. And even if you never have to directly fight them in a game, it could still be a risk because of added chance of over run and the need to better manage how many zombies are at your location at all times.

5) I'm sure it's possible, but in reality, the focus of ANY game is always going to be the main objective and trying to complete your secret objectives in time. So in that sense, Raxxon is definitely a scene stealer because of all the cool stuff it adds, but ultimately, the game is still going to be about the main objective, the secret objective and the dynamic between players as they balance the two.

You mention having to go there each round to place dice. Yes it does distract you from the rest of the game. That's the point of having it. It's like another mini-crisis you have to deal with each round. So I like that aspect. Personally, I don't like the idea of rolling dice to enter the code. However, it would certainly possible to implement the special zombies in the regular game, without the Raxxon location, in any number of ways. You could just add them during set-up replacing any number of regular zombies with special. You could maybe shuffle a special zombie card into the location decks and if that card is ever revealed it immediately activates (random placement or at that specific location). Or maybe if you ever have to add a zombie because of noise, you use special zombies instead of regular? You may, however, want to read through the "raxxon" crossroad cards though, before adding them without the location, as I don't know if they refer to the special zombies or the location itself.


My only final comments are that you should try the location-specific objective straight as they are very much story driven. You likely won't play them more than once though. I would probably also recommend you just play the other missions straight a couple times with only 1 location at a time. While there are some good ideas and suggestions here you can definitely use, I'd still like to see how the different locations interact with the different mix of characters, different main objectives, etc. It may be that the simplest way to make Raxxon a bit harder (or bandits) is to just play with the betrayor variant. That may be all you need. Or use the "hard" side of the objective cards. That may literally be enough. And you could save yourself a lot of time ad fiddliness trying to always mix and customize decks every game.

But I do think there are some fun ideas here as well that would just be neat to try out. Like the ideas for giving the special zombies more of a role in the game, whether you play with Raxxon or not. I think those could be a lot of fun and add a new dynamic to games without too much messing around or extra work/maintenance.

So honestly, I say don't worry too much about what others are saying just yet. The game is awesome - especially if you are already a fan of DoW - and a lot of fun in its own right. But if you are a fan of the original, you will probably be like me and looking for ways to mix the sets anyway sooner than later.
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Craig Rios
United States
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Is the easiness of using the Improvements curtailed when someone used the "hard mode" (sorry forgot the name)
 
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Orlando D
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Improvements
1) Good idea. I would also agree with Ryan that making two would increase the difficulty a bit more.
2) Bad Idea. I agree with Ryan where it would just be more beneficial to spend the advancement token on an improvement. Valid Idea if you only show two improvements.
3) Bad Idea. Would make the improvements harder to get in the beginning, thus limiting effectiveness. I have always treated DoW Junk as being able to advance improvements.
4) Bad Idea. Would make investing in improvements much less desirable.

Bandit
1) Bad Idea. It would add some difficulty but I don’t really see it as a major impact. I find it is rare to use the food ability in that way unless paying with a large group.
2) Bad Idea. Same as above but would add a huge disincentive to attack a bandit.
3) Agree with Ryan, adds a needed repercussion to exiling just to make easier.
4) Bad Idea. With that many bandits it would be easier to just squat at the bandit camp and get more options when attacking/searching. The chance for a wound would be offset by the items gained.

Raxxon
1) Bad Idea. Feel like second idea is preferred. Only subtracting would make the Raxxon deck smaller and changing the odds at getting each card left. Better Idea is to subtract 10-5 Raxxon cards and replace with starter.
2) Good Idea. Adding starter items to Raxxon would take out some of the power, as long as added cards are not excessive.
3) Good Idea. I do feel like it’s not thematic for the items to not work but would make it harder to camp at Raxxon.
4) Good Idea. Having the special zombies follow the player would add difficulty. Usually play with the special zombies needing to be placed. Having a special zombie killed by a Barricade or simply just being removed because that location Is full goes against the theme.
5) Multiple Ideas. Removing the Raxxon deck completely but having the special zombies could be a good idea. Would have to tweak where you would have to go to place containment die.
Adding the chance to release a special zombie with a specific dice rolls seems like it would be two easy to overlook or would slow the game.

Thoughts
Having played with Raxxon a few times I feel like it adds difficulty based on the number of rounds in the objective. In the longer games, special zombies are a bigger threat as they will choke up the locations if not dealt with. In short games they are a non-issue as locations can be contained with character abilities, barricades and other equipment that flat out kills normal zombies without attacking them. Adding the bandits mod with Raxxon reduces the effectiveness of special zombies as spaces where they can get placed are taken up by regular zombies. Raxxon balances some of its great cards by adding difficulty when there are many players who are competing for Raxxon loot. Multiple searchers means more chances for the bite effect to spread.
Other Ideas
Bandits- Have stockpile face down at all times instead of being face up. Small change but it does add uncertainty to what’s in the stockpile and helps the betrayer slightly as he/she is able to lie.
Raxxon- Special zombies attack each survivor in their location at the end of the round. At the start of the colony phase, before more special zombies come out, each survivor has to roll the exposure die for each special zombie at their location. If a blank is rolled then nothing happens, the special zombie did not attack that survivor. If a non-blank is rolled and the survivor is not killed then that survivor’s owner rolls a die and consults the special zombie reference card as if he attacked the special zombie. The player also subtracts 1 from the dice roll to a minimum of one. This subtraction gives players more incentive to attack instead of waiting to get attacked. How you determine the order of who gets attacked should be random but each survivor should be attacked even if the special zombie was killed by a pervious survivor. If the special zombie is at the colony then normal rules apply. It is possible to add the new rule but if there are no survivors, only helpless survivors, then if a non-blank is rolled kill a helpless survivor. If there is multiple survivors then the one with the lowest influence is the only one who rolls the exposure die. “Sic em Sparky! Sic em!” This change makes the special zombies a huge threat and increases the utility of the Raxxon’s portable barricade and pulse gun.

Should be obvious but these are my OPINIONS and even the "bad idea"'s have merit.
 
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Orlando D
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Last Raxxon Ideas:

Blue cant be a staring character. Blue getting an extra card in the start of the game for one action gives a huge advantage. Somone else came up with this house rule but dont know where I saw it.

When searching at Raxxon roll the expouser die before looking at cards.
 
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