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Firefly: The Game» Forums » Variants

Subject: Cooperative Rules rss

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Bob
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George (gwek) and I have spent the last few weeks brainstorming ideas for a set of cooperative rules for Firefly: The Game. These ideas have not been playtested yet, but we're hoping to foster feedback to help us build a solid (pun intended) foundation to build from going forward. There are still areas needing work, for example: how do we balance the effects of time (countdown), target numbers, and/or amounts for money grabs...

Cooperative Rules:

1) A "cooperative turn" consists of each player taking a sub-turn. A sub-turn consists of each player taking a normal turn (2 actions). Sub-turn order is determined by the players. In the event of an order conflict, the player who acted last during the previous cooperative turn sets the order.

2) All goals, tests and other requirements (unless otherwise specified) are shared across all players and must only be completed once. For example, if a Goal requires being Solid with 4 different Contacts, each player does not individually need to be Solid with all 4, but the team as a whole must get Solid with 4.

    2a. If two or more Crews start and remain (do not leave for any reason) in the "same" sector, they can join (combine) forces for that specific sector to work Jobs, Goals, Misbehaves, Skill Tests, etc. In so doing, they "share" a sub-turn and do not get their own sub-turn. Each combined-player gets a die roll and the "team" uses the highest result.

3) Default Countdown Timer is 20 (2 players). For each player above 2, reduce the starting count by X, where X = 2 or 4?

4) At the end of every cooperative turn, remove a countdown token. When the last token is removed, the game ends immediately. If the victory conditions are not met by the time the last token is removed, the team fails...

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Mudd Grizzly

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Oh man. I can't wait to see what you come up with.

1. Maybe each player taking a turn is a "round"? In any case,

2. Is Working the only action that can be done cooperatively? If so, maybe it makes sense to let each player take their own turns, but "helping" costs an action? That way two players can each take an action to fly somewhere and then co-op a job.

3. Game length calculation seems tough. Are you thinking there's no cap on number of players? So a co-op game could theoretically have 9 players? If so, it might be tough to make game length a linear calculation. If it takes 2 players 20 rounds, it would still take 9 players, I don't know, 6 rounds?

4. This is different from how solo games work by default, right?
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Trueflight Silverwing
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Might want to reduce the time available. As it is, the single player variant of the game has you completing all of the objectives in 20 turns. If you are going to let one player complete half of the stuff and another player completed half, then it is going to be far too easy to walk through most missions with little to no challenge with a full 20 turns to play with.
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Bob
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Good comments, keep them coming. As mentioned, balancing the effects of time (countdown) is certainly on the table. A cooperative turn consists of each player taking their own turn _or_ sharing in a combined turn with one or more other players. In neither case, can a player be involved in more than one turn beit on their own or combined. The aspects of timing are needing some tweaks, but we needed to start somewhere...

To reiterate, taking a combined turn requires the players to start and end their turn in the same sector. As a result you cannot fly into a sector on a turn and use your second action to initiate a combined turn.

(Edits: for spelling)
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Bob
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Correct, only a Work Action may be combined/shared. Are there other actions where you see this potentially occurring?

These rules are different than Solo. It is our intent to keep as much of the overall mechanics intact as possible.
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B Dent
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I love this idea! Absolutely love it. Brilliant!
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B Dent
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Ender02 wrote:
Might want to reduce the time available. As it is, the single player variant of the game has you completing all of the objectives in 20 turns. If you are going to let one player complete half of the stuff and another player completed half, then it is going to be far too easy to walk through most missions with little to no challenge with a full 20 turns to play with.


While I agree your point makes logical sense. I'm not sure that would be good.

Perhaps multiple scenarios are required for co-op so that more than one objective must be met.
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Bob
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Based on discussion here and offline, here are some adjustments:

A cooperative game uses the normal rules with the following adjustments:

1. A new type of action is available - Combined Work Action (CWA)

1a) Players starting the turn and still in the same sector, may combine their efforts
1b) Players that combine their efforts lose their second action for the turn
1c) Can be used for: Jobs, Goals, Misbehaves, Skill Tests, etc.
1d) Each player rolls a die and the Team uses the highest result
1e) Players share all results equally, good or bad. Money is split 50/50, Warrants
go to each player, Crew killed goes to each player, etc.

2. All goals, tests and other requirements (unless otherwise specified) are shared across all players and must only be completed once. For example, if a Goal requires being Solid with 4 different Contacts the team as a whole must get Solid with 4.

3. Default Countdown Timer is 20 (2 players). For each player above 2, reduce the starting count by X. 2 or 4? Needs work...

4. At the end of every turn, remove a countdown token. When the last token is removed, the game ends immediately. If the victory conditions are not met by the time the last token is removed, the Team fails...

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George Krubski
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I was going to check in to add some content, but, yep, that pretty much sums it up.

If we think about three different types of game play (standard, solo, and cooperative), some core basics apply. Unless we're looking to dramatically alter some of the basic tenets of the game, there's only so much that can be done.

* The game is a race. In standard play, you're racing against other players. In solo and coop, it's a timer.

* Each player gets a crew. This is obvious for standard and solo play. Without significantly altering game play, it must also be the standard for coop.

My experience with cooperative play is somewhat limited, but it seems like there are two options:

1) Players are asymmetrical. Each has unique talents and skills that contribute to the ultimate solution.

2) Players are essentially symmetrical. They have the same options and opportunities (in general), but the scope of the goal is so big that no one player can achieve it alone.

Unless we're looking to change some core mechanics, we're really limited to #2, so that means 2 actions per turn, X number of turns in a game, etc.

With that in mind, I think Bob has done a great job of detailing some of the conclusions that we arrived at.

The trick, of course, is in keeping the challenge level appropriate, and also in making the game feel like a coop experience rather than two solo players side by side.

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Bob
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Using my latest compilation of adjustments as our foundation, what does everyone think is the best way to integrate the elements of time (countdown), difficulty (target numbers) and monetary amounts (for money grabs) into a coop game? Not sure we can reach a balance that supports the aforementioned notion of 9 players, but with any luck we can settle on something manageable for 2-5 players?

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Roger BW
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So a combined turn still has to be two different actions - and presumably neither of them is a Fly? (Or can you Fly jointly as well, facing hazards together? What if one captain has a Pilot and the other a Mechanic?)

I think you'll need to scale difficulty with number of players: five starting captains working together might have, oh, Fight 6 Tech 6 Negotiate 3 Grifter Mechanic Pilot and Transport, which would get them through a fair few Misbehaves without ever needing to hire anyone.
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Bob
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Firedrake wrote:
So a combined turn still has to be two different actions - and presumably neither of them is a Fly? (Or can you Fly jointly as well, facing hazards together? What if one captain has a Pilot and the other a Mechanic?)


As mentioned, players starting the turn and still in the same sector may combine their efforts for a "combined work action" - CWA (new type of action). Thus all such players MUST have entered the sector on a "previous" turn using normal actions. Players combining their efforts for the CWA lose their second action for the turn.
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George Krubski
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I've been keeping an eye on this thread and had some time to contemplate while driving around for Thanksgiving.

I think exactly how we modify things depends on what we're looking to accomplish.

For example, in my mind, the Solo Turn from Awful Lonely in the Black can generally be successfully applied to other existing story cards. Is that the intention here? Do we want to create a Cooperative Turn structure that can be applied to existing story cards? Or are we looking for a construct that can be applied only to story cards specifically engineered for Coop Play?

For conversation's sake, I'm going to assume the former - that one (or, more properly, at least two!) could play a coop version of, say, Harken's Folly.

With that in mind, the next question becomes "How much to we want to force Coop Play?" For example, should players still have the same chance of completing Jobs on their own, or should they be required to work together to do so?" I have mixed feeling on this. I sort of think that, in a story card sense, target for GOALS should be increased, but targets for individual Misbehaves, Nav cards, etc, should not be.

Speaking of Nav cards... We've talked about a Cooperative Work Action. I don't see Buy or Deal working well, but what about Fly? Could folks travel "in caravan," pooling their resources for mutual safety? (If so, do Nav Cards need to become more dangerous?)

Another thing to consider: A few folks have raised the idea that any sliding scale is going to break down at some point, and I agree. For simplicity's sake, can we agree that we're talking about 2-4 or perhaps 2-5 players? If we can make that work, we can try to scale it up, but there have to be limits!

Roger correctly points out that a large group of captains working together could really rack up pretty high skills quickly. This is true, but if they work together, they're spending precious actions, so I think there's a balance there. But perhaps not enough of one.

In a side conversation, Bob suggested increasing test targets by twice the number of players (so, in a 2-player game, +4). That seems like a reasonable starting point. But perhaps it only applies to targets for Goals?

So, for example, two players decide to tackle Harken's Folly. For Goal #1, the players must still get Solid with the same 4 Contacts. Any Misbehaves for Jobs remain unchanged. So there are two different tactics: the players spread out, building up their own Crew and working a few Jobs each. Or they stay together, reduce overhead by working in concert (they'll still likely need SOME Crew), but take a slower path because of it.

Now, they get to Goal #2, which requires 3 Misbehaves and a Tech roll of 8 in normal play. For Coop Play, the targets for all Misbehave skill tests are increased +4 (although this has the side effect of making Aces MUCH more valuable). Additionally, the Tech roll requires a 12 (8 + 4). It's possible that a single player might be able to progress through this on their own, but it's not very likely. Same thing applies to the next Goal.

 
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Jon Snow
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Semi-Coop Play: Teams

arrrh When you consider more than 2 Players, you seem to be talking about having everyone on a single team. What about multiplayer teams competing against each other, in say two (or even three) teams of two players each? The rules you are working on now might automatically allow this version!

This might actually allow reducing game time for more players. This is a problem I've not quite encountered, maxing out at five players I think so far (in my games with GWEK added in his two annual Guest Star personal appearances traveling from NJ to Brooklyn; and we're now looking forward to a third for the upcoming holidays). But currently I have a few new player friends who have not had the pleasure of zooming out into the black yet! So I'm faced with limiting my player slots at any one game, an issue that sits on the horizon with regular play, now that I have more people to invite. I could hold a newbie training session just for them, but after that?

Team play might eventually solve the question of how to introduce more players in a single game, without making it an all day event. Teams would also still keep an exciting competitive element. During downtime between turns, teammates can be planning together and advising each other! They could even be negotiating with members of another team to trade crew or items, etc. Or is it a trick to lure the other to the same space sector to be pirated? Firefly The Game in the team version is still a race, but suddenly Teams A and B notice that Team C is in the lead, and...

...I can see games like this replicating the actual feel of people on the same ship crew working together against another crew that you often get in the actual episodes/movie, as FTG does not allow for playing an individual crew member, and Role Playing requires moving to a whole different sandbox.

 
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Bob
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While the group can certainly move in either direction, it was my intent with these rules to create a cooperative mechanc applicable to existing story cards. It is also our desire to retain as much of the existing rules as possible. I do not see Fly Actions working any better/worse than Buy or Deal, though my preference is we do so with work actions only.

George makes a good point about whether or not CWA should apply to Goals only. Previously we were thinking it could work for Jobs and Goals. I'm wondering if taking a CWA (Goals only) should reduce the countdown time based on the number of people involved in the CWA? This would keep the pressure on...

If so:

4. At the end of every turn, remove a countdown token, or a number of tokens equal to the largest Coop CWA for a Goal. When the last token is removed, the game ends immediately. If the victory conditions are not met by the time the last token is removed, the Team fails...

 
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