Ken Dilloo
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Bothell
Washington
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Hello Mansions Community.

Now that you have suffered the Side Effects and Traumas of filling out my crappy poll: http://boardgamegeek.com/article/12841273#12841273

and downloaded my horribly misleading Investigator attribute File. I wanted to see if I could drum up a productive discussion to strenthen some of those weaker characters, items, and abilities, so that they see more play. The hope is to make some interesting, although very unofficial variants.

Taking a nod from Nicola Zee's thread, I think it is important to try to keep any changes minimalistic, or, at least easy to implement; without taking more radical changes off the table. It should also be a discussion keeping in mind overall game balance, balance among the investigators, and the variants should also be interesting, if not sexy.

To start the discussion, I would like to look at three cases, that seem to frame some of these weaker components. One would be simply weak characters that just never get picked. The next would be characters that might be very good, except for they have poor starting items and/or abilities (including abilities that have become weaker as the game has evolved). Finally, items or abilities that just don't get selected becuase the alternative is just better.

Sister Mary Sister Mary is just weak-sauce in every way. Looking at her attributes, in a more detailed way, really drives this home. She by far has the lowest average attributes, and her items and abilities are equally weak. What's more, until there is a scenario where investigators are drug through Dante's Inferno and simply tasked with keeping sane, her good bits seem to be redundant. Sure her Sanity is top notch, but with Willpower being her only (apart from luck) saving attribute, does she really need all that sanity?

How to make her better? Well, this woman of the cloth needs a hefty make-over. Let's start with her items: Most would consider the Rosary a weak item, although I personally like the flavor of it. Would it be more appetizing if it cost the keeper 2 threat? Threat can get tight, but a timely mythos or trauma can have a major impact on the game. What if the keeper couldn't play Mythos/Traumas on her at all? Would that be overpowered? Would it just make it tougher on all other investigators?

I love stun effects, in general, but her Holy Water has the major drawback of being a test of luck. So, if you really need to make that stun happen, you cannot use a skill token to make it better than a coin flip. OK, so if we were to make it a Willpower test (keeping the good bit about 1 range), would this be overpowered? Maybe. What about Lore? Her lower stat, but now able to use her relatively high luck, with a skill. Lore may also be a bit more fitting, thematically, than Will. The major issue would be in those escaping monster objectives. What if we juiced the holy water, but disallwed it against named monsters? Too Complex?

Her Warding ability seems fine. Moving a monster that far can be so huge, but her Solice in Prayer is pretty redundant with her strenghts. What if instead of just healing her horror, she could roll the die and heal half that much total horror (rounded up), from all investigators in her room or space? Seems a bit more powerful, and a nice little thematic prayer circle.

Hmm...now we are getting somewhere, but this doesn't solve the problem of her low stats. What if she simply started with more Skill Points? Her luck is high, so that compensates, but would 5 be too many? What about just one more, and start with 4? Would taking all these changes together make her overpowered, in the game, or relative to other investigators? Not sure.

Kate I always relegated Kate to just being plain bad, along with Sister Mary, but her high stats analysis really kind of surprised me. Her problem is that her items are really not so good. Again, I really like the flavor of the Flux Stabilizer, but it is so situational, and even then not real great; that it makes it a very weak item. I am really not sure what to do with this card, but some interesting ideas from Nicola's thread were to make the adjacent spawning optional, for Kate; or, let her chose the adjacent room. I tend to like the latter choice, but I could imagine some instances where this may be overpowered. This shouldn't be too much of an issue, and is an easy to implement change.

I can imagine almost no scenario where the Microscope would be a good item. Sure, you may have turns where you are moving and have nothing else to do with other items or exploring; but even then, the Run action is almost always going to be better. Obviously making it a free action is out, since she would just start with unlimited Skills, but would it be more appealing if she could gain 2, for that action? What if she could either take 2, or give 1 to another investigator in her space or room? Would that action feel wasted then? Not sure if this would even be an appealing item with those changes, but might then be better than Flux.

Her abilities are also suspect. Trial and Error can be nice, especially if the objective is to solve a puzzle, but could also be handy in high pressure in-game puzzles; especially the Alchemy puzzles. Her Test Theories is problematic in some base game scenarios and is almost completely obsolete in CotW scenarios. Not sure what to do with this, but I have always thought it would be cool to be able to trade in movement steps for an action. This might then synergize with her Microscope. So, she could trade in her 2 movement steps to take 2 actions, on her turn, once per game. Compared to Joe and Mandy's efficiency, not great, but might this be a better ability, especially with CotW.

Dynamite I don't necessarily have a problem with Dynamite, but the Tommy Gun is just so much better in almost every situation. How often do you have a pile of monsters in 1 space? Not sure what would make this item more appealing. Make it a 2x per game item? You could track it with a token per use. Or, make it every monster in a room, rather than space? This item would be just huge in Inner Sanctum or Stars Align. Would either of these changes make it over-powered? Would people still take the Tommy Gun?

Anyway, if you have survived my rambling with your sanity in tact, I would love some thoughts, from the community. There are also plenty of other items and abilities that could be relatively improved, but my opening discussion with mice elf is probably getting long enough. Looking forward to any discussion.

Thanks,
Ken







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Roberta Yang
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Ranking investigators by adding up their stats is tricky because not all stats are equal. For example, unless your Lore is high enough that you're going to be a dedicated spellcaster, a point in Lore is much less valuable than a point in Willpower. A point in Intellect is almost always less valuable than a point in Dexterity. Kate may have a high stat total, but she's still weak not only because of her bad items but also because her stats aren't distributed terribly well, so they're worse than the total makes them appear.

I'd be wary of bumping anyone up to 5 skill points, since that's kind of Amanda Sharpe's unique thing. Sister Mary's skill point advantage should be that she has the highest Luck in the game, not that she has the most skill points in the game.

I think I'd like Warding better if using it didn't provoke an evade test from the monster you're using it to move. Warding yourself from a monster should at least protect you from that monster.

The issue with Michael McGlen is less that Dynamite is too weak and more that Tommy Gun is too strong. Being able to affect each monster in a room rather than a space would probably help, though.
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Ken Dilloo
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Thanks for playing, Roberta. Yeah, the stats are misleading, but I have been finding that kind of breakdown helpful, in some situations.

Agree 5 is too many, but sister needs some help.

I really don't have an issue with Warding, at all. It is worth the likely damage. I think I would rather make her weak bits better than her good bit great.

Ugg....Nerfing great items might be another discussion. It always seems he gets those fails that still damage, granting another attack. Guess you could make it only on a pass, or just hinder his Marksmanship. Tommy gun ain't no sniper rifle. If Dynamite were damage all in a room, I would absolutely try it in those two scenarios. If only it didn't drop corpses
 
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Guido Gloor
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Sister Mary singlehandedly won the scenario for the investigators the first time we played, moving the Shoggoth that wanted to leave the house ever further away from its goal. The thought that she could possibly be underpowered never occurred to me after that
 
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Ken Dilloo
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haslo wrote:
Sister Mary singlehandedly won the scenario for the investigators the first time we played, moving the Shoggoth that wanted to leave the house ever further away from its goal. The thought that she could possibly be underpowered never occurred to me after that


Excellent point. The problem is that she is then super situational, then, right? If you knew the objective was a named/boss monster, with a finish line, she is huge. Do you then beef her up, but limit Holy Warding against named monsters? Or, do you just keep her, and other weaker characters situational?
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Tibs
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If you want to add up investigator stats for a single-value comparison, do so this way:

Strength * 1
Marksmanship * 1
Dexterity * 5/4
Intellect * 3/4
Willpower * 6/4
Lore * 2/4
(Luck * Skill tokens)/3

+2 if the investigator's damage and horror are both 10
+1 if the two stats are 11/9 (or 9/11: a slight imbalance)
+0 if the two stats are 12/8
-1 if the two stats are 13/7
-2 if the two stats are 14/6

Then give them between -2 and +2 depending on their starting item strength. (This is somewhat subjective but I generally regard, for example, Camera, Shriveling, and Tommy Gun to be a +2, while Flash Powder, Guitar, and Microscope are -2).

Finally, give them between -1 and +1 depending on their special ability usefulness/power (or even ±2 for particularly notable ones). Again, this is subjective, but for me, Hypnosis is +2, Find Weakness is +1, Jury-Rigging is -1, and Intervention is -2.

I consider "balanced" to be 33±½.

This has worked so well for me that I've re-designed all the official characters without having to change any of their items:
Revised Investigator Stats and 8 Custom Investigators

These revised investigators work well and have made the game more enjoyable for us.
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Ken Dilloo
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Interesting stuff Tibbs, somehow I missed your file. Like your custom investigators, if only I could buy the minis a la carte!

One thing though, do people still avoid the weak characters and items? You have identified Microscope as weak, and I agree, but what is the incentive to take it? Higher luck? I suspect re-configured stats, even luck and skills, wouldn't even make that dog have a day?

Edit: Asking partly because I don't have my game sitting by me to see exactly what you changed.
 
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Tibs
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I was pretty sure you could buy the individual minis. That's what I did!

Well if my re-designs worked out, I'd say that there are no longer "weak" characters. The incentive for a player to pick a weaker item is that the corresponding stat card is higher.

For your example, if a player picks Microscope over Flux Stabilizer, their Marksmanship and Dexterity will be higher. For a more extreme example, if Carolyn chooses Intervention over Hypnosis, her Intellect and Lore are +1 and her Willpower is +2: a significant increase, considering that Hypnosis is quite powerful and Intervention is rarely useful.
 
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