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Subject: A few things I find dissatisfying about the game, and some suggested changes... rss

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Chris J Davis
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Hi all,

Although I love the concept of this game, there are a few things I find dissatisfying about it, and so I come here to throw some ideas about and iron out any possible kinks.

First, my usual disclaimer: if your post is just going to say "I think the game is fine as it is and nothing needs changing," then please move along - there's nothing for you here. The Variants forum is to discuss potential variants for people who might enjoy them, not to tell people that they are wrong in desiring them.

So here are the main issues I have with the game:

Probably my #1 gripe, though it may sound like a small thing, is the rule that you gain 1 Ecu for building in Age 1 (I can't be bothered to write "Age of..." every time), and 2 Ecus for building in Age 2. This just seems to be an incredibly gamey mechanic to incentivise players to build, particularly in the riskier Age 2.

This problem arises due to the second problem I have with the game, which is that Age 1 often becomes immutable; someone gains a Castle in a large domain in Age 1, which then can't really be challenged because the military strength of the domain is so high. If there were some way to "disrupt" Age 1, just as there is to disrupt Age 2, then the monetary incentive to build would be less necessary.

The next problem I have with the game is that there is very little in the way of forward planning; you get dealt a completely fresh hand of cards each turn, cannot retain cards between turns, and there is no way to "craft your hand" in order to try to build towards what you want to achieve. Even the optional "Hold 'em" rule does not help with this.

Problem #4 is the fact that the game feels too restrictive, with too many options cut off from players by unusually highly restrictive rules. So I feel the game needs more options, less restrictions.

Lastly, the game is just too fiddly. It's a game that could have done with some serious editing, as there are just too many rules! The game doesn't get played nearly often enough in my group due to the fact that no one can remember all the fiddly rules from one game to the next!

So here are my proposals for house rules to help alleviate these problems:

Military Coups

Players may build/upgrade a military building to the same level as the largest military building already in that domain, but only if the total military strength of that player's military buildings in the domain is higher than the total military strength of the player who controls the largest building in that domain. Do not count the strength of the newly-built building in regard to this.

If a player builds/upgrades a military building in this way, the conflicting building is downgraded. The player initiating the conflict decides how the downgraded building is positioned.

Players may not do this with religious buildings.

Remove the rule that players gain Ecus for building buildings above size 1. Players begin the game with 10 Ecus instead.

Hand Crafting

At the beginning of the game, deal out a number of cards face up in a row next to the draw deck. The number of cards is equal to the number of players plus 1. Players begin the game with 4 cards in their hand, as normal.

At the beginning of each turn, player may perform the following steps in this order:

- Discard as many cards as they wish from their hand.
- Buy as many cards as they wish from the card row.
- Draw up to 4 random cards from the deck (up to a maximum of 6 cards in their hand).

When buying cards from the card row, a player pays X Ecus to the bank, then may take any number of cards from the first X positions in the card row (from the left). Any remaining cards are moved to the left to take up the empty slots, and replacement cards are drawn from the deck to refill the card row.

For example, in a 4-player game there are 5 cards in the card row. At the beginning of his turn, a player pays 3 Ecus. He may take any of the cards in the first 3 left-most slots in the card row, but not the cards in slots 4 or 5. He decides to take the cards in slots 1 and 3 but leaves the card in slot 2. The 3 remaining cards (2, 4 and 5) are moved to the left to fill slots 1, 2 and 3, and two new cards are drawn to fill slots 4 and 5.

If a player decides not to buy any cards from the card row, the left-most card is discarded and the card row is moved and refilled as above.

After buying cards from the card row, the player draws up to 4 random cards from the deck, up to a maximum of 6 cards in his hand.

Players retain any left over cards between turns.

Rule Culling

Any civic buildings may be built on the river (but not other building types).

Players have only 1 time-traveller figure each. They may play as many cards as they wish in the time period containing their traveller (it still costs 1 Ecu to travel between periods). When scoring, players score all three time periods.

Eliminate the rule allowing players to destroy buildings.

Eliminate the rule allowing players to re-draw their hands for 2 Ecus.

I'm also tempted to eliminate the rule prohibiting players from joining domains using military or religious buildings (I'm trying to figure out why the rule exists anyway, but am drawing a blank).

Anyway, I think that's it. Thoughts?
 
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Lloyd
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bleached_lizard wrote:
you gain 1 Ecu for building in Age 1 and 2 Ecus for building in Age 2. This just seems to be ... incredibly gamey


It's inflation, doofus!
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Tom P
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Hmm. With the cards, you can definitely keep them between rounds - you draw up to four at the end so if you wanted to keep some back just don't use as many. Maybe there's a difference in the edition rules but I play the second edition, which also specifies dealing three face up cards and you have the option to exchange with your hand at the beginning of your turn, before doing anything else.

In terms of Military strength - you can already challenge by building up a separate domain and joining the opposing one. That's key to the game and why the demo online shows clever strategies like destroying a tiny building and rejoining with a larger domain to take control.

It might be interesting to try this but it seems to go against the point of how buildings are attacked and would perhaps weaken the strategy a bit.

I'm intrigued by the card buying idea. I'd like to try it. The rule culling ideas I'm not so sure about.
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Chris J Davis
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crazylegs wrote:
Hmm. With the cards, you can definitely keep them between rounds - you draw up to four at the end so if you wanted to keep some back just don't use as many. Maybe there's a difference in the edition rules but I play the second edition, which also specifies dealing three face up cards and you have the option to exchange with your hand at the beginning of your turn, before doing anything else.


The rules here (which I believe are 2nd Edition rules)..

http://www.matagot.com/docs/khronos_rules_english2.pdf

...say that you discard your remaining hand and draw 4 new cards at the end of each turn.

I find the Hold 'Em variant dissatisfying because it's still essentially random as to whether you get the cards you want or not. Either you drew them in your hand anyway or they're available in the offer for you to just take for free; there's no real thinking or strategy involved in acquiring them.

Quote:
In terms of Military strength - you can already challenge by building up a separate domain and joining the opposing one. That's key to the game and why the demo online shows clever strategies like destroying a tiny building and rejoining with a larger domain to take control.


That only works if there's a tiny building available to destroy, but after a few turns, there often isn't. And building up a stronger domain to try to topple an already-established strong domain can often be impossible.

Quote:
It might be interesting to try this but it seems to go against the point of how buildings are attacked and would perhaps weaken the strategy a bit.


Maybe, though Tigris & Euphrates contains the concept of "internal conflicts", which is similar to this, and that game seems to do quite well.
 
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Tom P
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bleached_lizard wrote:
building up a stronger domain to try to topple an already-established strong domain can often be impossible.


Then don't let that happen!

2nd edition rules are here. The third phase has been tweaked just to say 'fill to four cards' without mention of discarding.
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Chris J Davis
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crazylegs wrote:
bleached_lizard wrote:
building up a stronger domain to try to topple an already-established strong domain can often be impossible.


Then don't let that happen!


That can be easier said than done!

But that's the thing - if it *does* happen, then there's no recourse. I'm not a fan of that kind of thing in games. There should always be options available for the other players; the game shouldn't allow for one player to become "locked" in a domineering position.

Quote:
2nd edition rules are here. The third phase has been tweaked just to say 'fill to four cards' without mention of discarding.


That's weird! These must be rules v2.1 then, as I've got both the 1st edition and 2nd edition rules in my box at home and they both agree with the link I provided earlier!
 
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Chris J Davis
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By the way, any insight into why you can't join domains using military or religious buildings?
 
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Mr Cricket
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crazylegs wrote:
The third phase has been tweaked just to say 'fill to four cards' without mention of discarding.

Under IV - DRAW 4 CONSTRUCTION CARDS on the last page of the rules it says:

Quote:
At the end of his turns, the player may discard (first) any Construction
cards that he did not play and draws cards until he again has 4 in his
hand.

so the player has a choice to keep or discard before refilling his hand to 4 cards.
 
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Lloyd
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bleached_lizard wrote:
By the way, any insight into why you can't join domains using military or religious buildings?


Best guess - having not played in years - to encourage the building of blue buildings.
 
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Chris J Davis
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sweetsweetdoughnuts wrote:
bleached_lizard wrote:
By the way, any insight into why you can't join domains using military or religious buildings?


Best guess - having not played in years - to encourage the building of blue buildings.


I'd have hoped that increasing your score would be enough of an incentive to build blue buildings.
 
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Chris J Davis
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Tried playing with these rules today, and here's what I thought:

Biggest mistake seemed to be removing the "only blue can join domains" rule. Just made joining domains too easy.

The "coup" rule didn't get used as it still seemed too hard to perform one. Next time might try that you only need equal military strength.

The card-buying rule seemed to work fine.

The river still seemed as annoying as ever, mitigated only slightly by allowing level 1 blues to be built on it. The more annoying thing this time though (which was also quite annoying in the original rules, but with some of the restrictions in this variant slackened, this particular annoyance came more to the forefront) was the fact that small size 1 buildings too easily got in the way of upgrading other buildings.
 
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Albin Menant
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My only question is : why would one bother to build in the age of faith? You just have 1 point more but you risk to get your building destroyed... I don't get it...
 
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Chris J Davis
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bbounty wrote:
My only question is : why would one bother to build in the age of faith? You just have 1 point more but you risk to get your building destroyed... I don't get it...


This is from so long ago I now can't remember!
 
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