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Star Realms» Forums » Variants

Subject: Free Pick rss

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Vesa Seppanen
Finland
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Here's a Star Realms rule variant I call "Free Pick".

Change the original game rules like this:
"Draw five cards Pick five cards of your choice, then your turn ends."

So instead of drawing random five cards you get to pick. To do that, take a good look at all the cards in your personal deck and freely pick the cards you want for your next hand. You should do this in secret, not revealing your pick to opponents. Free pick also applies to Abilities that normally instruct you to draw a card or more.

This changes the game flow in many ways.

The game becomes more tactical and less influenced by luck. You can no longer blame bad draws.

Ally Abilities will most likely take place whenever possible. Example: Your early game personal deck includes two Blob faction cards and the normal starting cards. You should probably pick both Blobs to your hand to get the Ally Ability rather than split the cards to different hands. Your later game hand might consist entirely of Blob cards. Or you can choose to include few low value cards in your hand if you think your enemy will play Abilities that make you discard cards. How about cards that let you destroy Bases? Don't pick them into play sooner than they are needed! Have a lonely faction card? Save it for the pick when the personal deck runs out, then try to pair with something from the new discard pile.

Players will get huge ammounts of Combat from the Ally Abilities. You may want to counter this by increasing the starting Authority from 50 to 100 or even more.

Bases a more likely to get destroyed. You may want to increase all Base Defences by +2. The "Destroy a base" Ability you would also need additional +2 Combat to succeed.

You are likely to see long turns full of Abilities and Draw Pick a Card. On the other hand you will also see a lot of short turns where only starting cards are played. Consider carefully how you want these to alternate. Especially keep an eye on what cards you can buy.

Oh and you don't have to shuffle your discard pile when creating a new personal deck as the order of cards in personal deck is irrelevant. Discard pile works as normal.

I have tested this a few times with two players and we have found this quite interesting.

--

EDIT: Added mentions of keeping freely picked cards secret before playing them and the discard pile workings as normal. Just to avoid confusion.
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Ian Taylor
United States
Massachusetts
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Interesting indeed. Makes discard a more viable strategy. First person to get 5 discard cards wins!

Ian Taylor
Director of Organized Play
White Wizard Games
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Dániel Lányi
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VesaSeppanen wrote:
Players will get huge ammounts of Combat from the Ally Abilities. You may want to counter this by increasing the starting Authority from 50 to 100 or even more.


You're essentially playing a game of star realms with very lucky draws, so doubling the starting authority sounds excessive to me, especially since you can also get more healing coming from ally abilities.

VesaSeppanen wrote:

Bases a more likely to get destroyed. You may want to increase all Base Defences by +2. The "Destroy a base" Ability you would also need additional +2 Combat to succeed.


If you think that's because of the added damage, I don't think it's enough to warrant this. You will also get more draws (and scrapping) on ally abilities, so bases will come back faster too. Why I'm thinking something like this might be needed is those times in early game when your opponent has a base and you don't draw your one big damage ship, or you draw the 5 damage ship you have, but no viper, and the base is a 6 outpost. But now
you know your opponent picked that 6 outpost at the end of their turn, so you'll pick at least 6 damage at the end of your turn.

VesaSeppanen wrote:

You are likely to see long turns full of Abilities and Draw Pick a Card. On the other hand you will also see a lot of short turns where only starting cards are played. Consider carefully how you want these to alternate. Especially keep an eye on what cards you can buy.

I have tested this a few times with two players and we have found this quite interesting.


Yes that dynamic certainly sounds interesting but I think you should keep another thing in mind. The card pricings weren't designed with ally abilities basically always triggering. There are also other abilities, like scrapping only from the discard pile, that basically are only trigger (if you have a discard pile) some of the time. Now these abilities will pretty much will be just like primary abilities, so I would adjust pricing. Something like +1 if the card has an ally ability with text or at least 2 coins, 3 damage, 4 healing (less than these are not that significant maybe, I'm not sure, just an idea) and multicolor cards in United and Mech world for example would get another +1.
 
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Dániel Lányi
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IanWWG wrote:

Interesting indeed. Makes discard a more viable strategy. First person to get 5 discard cards wins!

Ian Taylor
Director of Organized Play
White Wizard Games


What? Why? I think you misunderstood something, or maybe it's me. I thought you can't just pick the same 5 cards over and over again, you'd still have to go through your deck like normal, but you can pick the order of going through basically.
 
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Ian Taylor
United States
Massachusetts
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wallwaster wrote:
IanWWG wrote:

Interesting indeed. Makes discard a more viable strategy. First person to get 5 discard cards wins!

Ian Taylor
Director of Organized Play
White Wizard Games


What? Why? I think you misunderstood something, or maybe it's me. I thought you can't just pick the same 5 cards over and over again, you'd still have to go through your deck like normal, but you can pick the order of going through basically.


I may have misunderstood.

That's the danger of getting to the office 3 hours early. Rereading, I think I misread the line about the order of the deck not being important, and added facts that weren't in evidence.

I am flawed, and must self-destruct.

Ian Taylor
Director of Organized Play
White Wizard Games
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Matthew Guillemette
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Very interesting Variant! Don't play it with someone who is AP prone...
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Dániel Lányi
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IanWWG wrote:


I am flawed, and must self-destruct.


You mean use your scrap ability?
I wonder about what's your effect
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Vesa Seppanen
Finland
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Thankyou Dániel for the nice observations. I will try to explain a few issues.

All my observations and experience is limited to the basic set of Star Realms cards.

wallwaster wrote:

You're essentially playing a game of star realms with very lucky draws, so doubling the starting authority sounds excessive to me, especially since you can also get more healing coming from ally abilities.


In my observations the ammount of available Combat greatly exceeds the ammount of available healing. While both increase with Free Pick the Combat grows faster. Based on these two points I would recommend increasing starting Authority to slightly increase game duration. Of couse some might prefer a faster game.

In one of my early Free Pick test games I started from 50 Authority and I was focusing of Trade Federation cards. A bit later I had 41 Authority and two Outpost Bases in play. My Blobish opponent then wiped me out in one turn. I recall my opponent using two Blob Destroyers and two Embassy Yachts amongst other Free Pick cards in one quite long turn. Although not impossible, I have never seen devastation this big using normal rules. This sparked the idea of increasing initial Authority.

wallwaster wrote:

VesaSeppanen wrote:

Bases a more likely to get destroyed. You may want to increase all Base Defences by +2. The "Destroy a base" Ability you would also need additional +2 Combat to succeed.


If you think that's because of the added damage, I don't think it's enough to warrant this.


It may be that +2 is not enough. I think more playtesting should take place to evaluate this.

wallwaster wrote:

The card pricings weren't designed with ally abilities basically always triggering. There are also other abilities, like scrapping only from the discard pile, that basically are only trigger (if you have a discard pile) some of the time. Now these abilities will pretty much will be just like primary abilities, so I would adjust pricing. Something like +1 if the card has an ally ability with text or at least 2 coins, 3 damage, 4 healing (less than these are not that significant maybe, I'm not sure, just an idea) and multicolor cards in United and Mech world for example would get another +1.


In general almost all basic deck faction ships have Abilities. I think ones that don't are Stealth Needle (copy ship) and Survey Ship (+1 trade and draw a card / scrap: opponent discards a card). I think the only real issue here is the Survey Ship. Bases with no Ally Ability are more common. I've tried to compensate this adding +2 Defence for each base when using Free Pick.

Are you perhaps willing to playtest this variant?

PS. I've been testing Free Pick with some other deck building games like Dominion.
 
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Dániel Lányi
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VesaSeppanen wrote:

Of couse some might prefer a faster game.


It's not (only) a matter of preference. When you increase authority, you make some strategies less viable, to the point where if your increase with about 20 I think the game basically is about who gets more cards that can scrap from the trade row. That's not good. The 50 starting authority is very well balanced to allow for multiple strategies.

VesaSeppanen wrote:
In my observations the ammount of available Combat greatly exceeds the ammount of available healing.

VesaSeppanen wrote:

In one of my early Free Pick test games I started from 50 Authority and I was focusing of Trade Federation cards. A bit later I had 41 Authority and two Outpost Bases in play. My Blobish opponent then wiped me out in one turn. I recall my opponent using two Blob Destroyers and two Embassy Yachts amongst other Free Pick cards in one quite long turn. Although not impossible, I have never seen devastation this big using normal rules. This sparked the idea of increasing initial Authority.


My gut feeling with this happens/happened because normally with a blob deck... let's say your deck consists of the 10 starters, and 7 blob cards. Your chances of having the top seven cards those blob cards are practically nothing, but with free pick it's 100% so a damage-heavy rush deck, on it's final shuffle, will always shuffle ultimately to be a deck you scrapped all the junk out of. And that's a problem.

Btw I think an interesting kind of opposite of your variant could be that whenever your opponent would shuffle their deck, instead you put the cards in any order you want, and after that, they can look at it whenever they want, but not reorder it.


VesaSeppanen wrote:

Are you perhaps willing to playtest this variant?


Next time I happen to play an experienced opponent I might suggest it, but honestly, nowadays I'm glad if it hits the table more than a few times a month.


VesaSeppanen wrote:

PS. I've been testing Free Pick with some other deck building games like Dominion.


Holy crap. With dominion because of all that chaining and text on cards I think this is a surefire way to make the game insanely long, except maybe if you know all cards very well. But one thing you have to keep in mind with this variant, while it reduces luck, it also increases the time, and one of the main positives of deckbuilding is sheer speed of play.

In the end if you have fun these don't matter much, so just take these criticisms as ideas for possible ways of refinment.
 
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Alex Klemp
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IanWWG wrote:

Interesting indeed. Makes discard a more viable strategy. First person to get 5 discard cards wins!

Ian Taylor
Director of Organized Play
White Wizard Games

Not quite, because you still have a discard pile. You can't do it every single turn.

Edit: I should read the full thread before commenting... This was already addressed. Ha.
 
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Vesa Seppanen
Finland
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Yes, the Discard Pile works as normal.
 
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