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Subject: Balance with an odd number of players. rss

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Scott Seifert
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Problem(?): A group with an odd number of players is arbitrarily disadvantaged compared to a group with an even number of players. Not only are the reference cards set up such that an odd-group has to deal with just as much stuff as a group one person larger (less threats per investigator), the rule of always rounding up always works against an odd-group. To be more clear, a group with 2 investigators has an easier game than a group with 1, a group with 4 has an easier game than a group with 3, etc.

Challenge: Design a house rule that smoothens the difficulty between player counts in the most straight-forward way.

You could adjust the ratio of difficult and easy mythos cards, but that involves more experimenting than I'd like. I suggest this:
Quote:
"When playing with an odd number of investigators, if the omen marker is on the blue omen (the constellation) at the start of the mythos phase, use the reference card for the next smaller group of players when spawning gates, monsters, and clues (ie, 7->6, 5->4, 3->2), otherwise use the normal reference card. When playing with 1 investigator, the 0-investigator reference card has a 0 in each category."
So, for example, in a 3 player game you use the 2-investigator card roughly half the time and the 3-investigator card (which is the same as the 4-investigator) roughly half the time. This doesn't do anything about the rounding problem, but should make solo-investigator games a little easier.
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Gamer D

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Yeah, the game is a little weirdly balanced for odd numbers of people versus even numbers. I think the best solution is just to have the players run an extra character, either with one player running two characters or the group collectively running the extra by committee, whatever works best. Either way it solves the problem pretty simply, and it has the added bonus of having a spare character in the mix should an unexpected player arrive at the session and want to join in the fun.

If you really have your heart set on an odd number of characters, though, the simplest solution is probably to just add a point or two to the initial doom clock. That way you have a little extra time to get everything done to compensate for being a character "short".

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Cameron McKenzie
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I think the most discontinuous jump in difficulty occurs when moving from 4 to 5. Moving from one gate spawning to 2 is an enormous difference. Changing the number of monsters on a monster surge (which is all you get from 2 to 3 or from 6 to 7) is pretty trivial.

It might be better for us to keep the number of portals at 1, and find some other way to scale the difficulty. To be honest, the fact that all of the mysteries scale in some way with the number of investigators is probably enough as it is.

We played a 5-player game and decided to spawn single gates instead of doubles, and barely had any monster surges, and it still felt a lot harder than playing with 2.
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Keith Collins
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You could consider a house rule of alternating the rounding up and down for things impacted by player count to try to balance it a hair.
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Chris J Davis
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I think the easiest way might be to just play the game as if the player count were 1 lower (so use the 2-player reference card for a 3-player game etc), and make the 1-player game easier by allowing the investigator to take two Action phases and two Encounter phases before each Mythos card.
 
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Chris J Davis
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Ignore my previous post - the numbers on the reference cards don't progress the way I thought they did. These are the actual numbers I had in mind:

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Gamer D

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There might be a problem with the above where the odd number of investigators needs to collect as many clues as usual to solve mysteries and rumors but the number of clues that appear per mythos card is reduced. For instance three investigators still need to turn in two clues per mystery but under the above variant only one clue per mythos card with a clue icon appears. That actually might make the game even harder than normal which is the opposite of what you're trying to achieve.

If you're trying the above approach maybe keep the clues the same as normal but use the monster surge value of the lower even number. So three investigators would get two clues per mythos and need to turn in two clues per mystery but only one monster appears per surge.
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Chris J Davis
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dugman wrote:
There might be a problem with the above where the odd number of investigators needs to collect as many clues as usual to solve mysteries and rumors but the number of clues that appear per mythos card is reduced. For instance three investigators still need to turn in two clues per mystery but under the above variant only one clue per mythos card with a clue icon appears. That actually might make the game even harder than normal which is the opposite of what you're trying to achieve.

If you're trying the above approach maybe keep the clues the same as normal but use the monster surge value of the lower even number. So three investigators would get two clues per mythos and need to turn in two clues per mystery but only one monster appears per surge.


Good point. So basically you mean the Clue number should always be equal to the Mystery Challenge number?
 
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Cameron McKenzie
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Having the extra mystery challenge without the extra clue doesn't seem like that big of a deal to me. Nothing else about the game got harder with the extra investigator, and you should be able to use the extra actions to come up with some alternative clue sources if needed (an investigator can park on London, or you can do some shenanigans with Trish, Jacqueline, and/or Norman)
 
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Chris J Davis
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MasterDinadan wrote:
Having the extra mystery challenge without the extra clue doesn't seem like that big of a deal to me. Nothing else about the game got harder with the extra investigator, and you should be able to use the extra actions to come up with some alternative clue sources if needed (an investigator can park on London, or you can do some shenanigans with Trish, Jacqueline, and/or Norman)


So would you go with keeping it as I've got it in the spreadsheet above?
 
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Cameron McKenzie
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The biggest challenge I think would be the "Solve N research encounters and put the clues obtained on this mystery." At three players, you need to go through three green/blue mythos cards to spawn enough clues for this mystery, although wise players will leave clues on the board in case this mystery comes up (I think every GOO has one). I don't think the extra challenge is that bad. If you want a happy medium, you can spawn an extra clue on blue cards but not on green ones. It results in just a few extra clues, but they will come with some of the earlier mythos cards, and maybe removes some of the sting from those rumors.

For other mysteries that just require you to spend clues, the extra investigator brings in enough opportunities to get clues from other sources that I don't think its a problem, as long as nothing else about the game got harder.

 
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Chris J Davis
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MasterDinadan wrote:
The biggest challenge I think would be the "Solve N research encounters and put the clues obtained on this mystery." At three players, you need to go through three green/blue mythos cards to spawn enough clues for this mystery, although wise players will leave clues on the board in case this mystery comes up (I think every GOO has one). I don't think the extra challenge is that bad. If you want a happy medium, you can spawn an extra clue on blue cards but not on green ones. It results in just a few extra clues, but they will come with some of the earlier mythos cards, and maybe removes some of the sting from those rumors.

For other mysteries that just require you to spend clues, the extra investigator brings in enough opportunities to get clues from other sources that I don't think its a problem, as long as nothing else about the game got harder.



I think I agree. Most London encounters spawn 2 extra clues, so one visit to London makes up the deficit easily.
 
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Gamer D

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bleached_lizard wrote:
dugman wrote:
There might be a problem with the above where the odd number of investigators needs to collect as many clues as usual to solve mysteries and rumors but the number of clues that appear per mythos card is reduced. For instance three investigators still need to turn in two clues per mystery but under the above variant only one clue per mythos card with a clue icon appears. That actually might make the game even harder than normal which is the opposite of what you're trying to achieve.

If you're trying the above approach maybe keep the clues the same as normal but use the monster surge value of the lower even number. So three investigators would get two clues per mythos and need to turn in two clues per mystery but only one monster appears per surge.


Good point. So basically you mean the Clue number should always be equal to the Mystery Challenge number?


Yeah, try that.

And if that doesn't work try just playing as normal on the card but add +1 Doom if there is an odd number of players. (It's kind of like getting back the Doom you lose if an investigator is devoured.)
 
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Gamer D

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bleached_lizard wrote:
MasterDinadan wrote:
The biggest challenge I think would be the "Solve N research encounters and put the clues obtained on this mystery." At three players, you need to go through three green/blue mythos cards to spawn enough clues for this mystery, although wise players will leave clues on the board in case this mystery comes up (I think every GOO has one). I don't think the extra challenge is that bad. If you want a happy medium, you can spawn an extra clue on blue cards but not on green ones. It results in just a few extra clues, but they will come with some of the earlier mythos cards, and maybe removes some of the sting from those rumors.

For other mysteries that just require you to spend clues, the extra investigator brings in enough opportunities to get clues from other sources that I don't think its a problem, as long as nothing else about the game got harder.



I think I agree. Most London encounters spawn 2 extra clues, so one visit to London makes up the deficit easily.


It doesn't make up the deficit because four players can visit London just as easily (if not more easily) than three players. So three players will still be getting less clues on average than four but will need to spend just as many clues as four to win.

Basically if you consider the four player game "balanced" taking into account that they can visit London or anywhere else, then three players in the normal rules is like playing that balanced game but missing one investigator.
 
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Chris J Davis
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dugman wrote:
bleached_lizard wrote:
MasterDinadan wrote:
The biggest challenge I think would be the "Solve N research encounters and put the clues obtained on this mystery." At three players, you need to go through three green/blue mythos cards to spawn enough clues for this mystery, although wise players will leave clues on the board in case this mystery comes up (I think every GOO has one). I don't think the extra challenge is that bad. If you want a happy medium, you can spawn an extra clue on blue cards but not on green ones. It results in just a few extra clues, but they will come with some of the earlier mythos cards, and maybe removes some of the sting from those rumors.

For other mysteries that just require you to spend clues, the extra investigator brings in enough opportunities to get clues from other sources that I don't think its a problem, as long as nothing else about the game got harder.



I think I agree. Most London encounters spawn 2 extra clues, so one visit to London makes up the deficit easily.


It doesn't make up the deficit because four players can visit London just as easily (if not more easily) than three players. So three players will still be getting less clues on average than four but will need to spend just as many clues as four to win.

Basically if you consider the four player game "balanced" taking into account that they can visit London or anywhere else, then three players in the normal rules is like playing that balanced game but missing one investigator.


Argh!!! Now I'm torn! cry
 
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Cameron McKenzie
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Well, those three investigators will also face a lower monster surge value than four investigators will, but I guess that barely matters.

The mythos challenge and especially the gate count are the biggest contributors to the difficulty. Monster surge is very small.

I think we need a way to more smoothly transition from 1 portals to 2 rather than the sudden jump at 5 players. We also don't want to add as much extra burden at odd numbers compared to even, since the odd numbers face a higher burden from mysteries that are halved.

What if we associate the portal count with the omen track?
At green/red/blue omen:
2-3 investigators get 1/1/1 portal
4-5 investigators get 2/2/1 portals
6-7 investigators get 2/2/2 portals
8 investigators get 3/2/2 portals or maybe 3/3/2 portals (I have no idea how well the game plays at 8 or if it is remotely fair to give more than two portals a turn considering how fast they might run out)

I didn't increase the portal count at odd numbers since the mysteries get disproportionately harder at those numbers.

I don't know what to do about monster surges - I feel like it should just be a constant 2. The number of monsters is generally proportional to the number of portals, so no need to tweak it if the portal count is already smooth.
 
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Chris J Davis
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MasterDinadan wrote:
Well, those three investigators will also face a lower monster surge value than four investigators will, but I guess that barely matters.

The mythos challenge and especially the gate count are the biggest contributors to the difficulty. Monster surge is very small.

I think we need a way to more smoothly transition from 1 portals to 2 rather than the sudden jump at 5 players.


I think once you get to 6 players, though, the fact that two gates spawn isn't such a big issue, as you have more than enough people to be on gate duty.
 
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Cameron McKenzie
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Two gates is probably okay for 6 players, but it seems too much for 5.
And one gate is probably too few for 4 people.

That is the need for the adjusted gate number, I think. 4-player is easier than it should be, and 5-player is much harder than it should be.
 
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Chris J Davis
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MasterDinadan wrote:
Two gates is probably okay for 6 players, but it seems too much for 5.
And one gate is probably too few for 4 people.


But 1 gate with a gate surge of 2? That seems more reasonable to me. I'm starting to think my numbers above might be about right!

Quote:
That is the need for the adjusted gate number, I think. 4-player is easier than it should be, and 5-player is much harder than it should be.


I think maybe you're focussing too much on just the gate number and not considering everything else.
 
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Cameron McKenzie
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bleached_lizard wrote:

I think maybe you're focussing too much on just the gate number and not considering everything else.


Like I said, I consider the Monster Surge change at 3 and 7 players to be very, very minor. If you are playing well, then more than half of your monsters probably come from placing gates and not from surges.

In your numbers so far, 4-player looks a lot easier than 3-player (A whole extra clue and all we have to deal with are a few extra monsters on gates we might not bother to close anyway.

And to me, a monster surge of 2 just feels right. We played a 2-player game, and the monster surges just made me want to laugh.
 
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Chris J Davis
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What if the monster surge number also determined how many monsters you placed on a gate when it first opened?
 
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Chris J Davis
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So what's it going to be? I have the Reference Card templates ready and raring to go!
 
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Chris J Davis
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Well, here they are!



The more I think about it, the more I think these numbers are correct, especially if you use the Monster Surge value as the number of monsters you spawn at a gate when it first opens.
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Cameron McKenzie
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Ok, I like it.
Monster Surge value on the initial gate placement makes sense, and I like reducing the Monster Surge value when you move to 2 gates.

Much better than the original reference cards for sure!
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Gamer D

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bleached_lizard wrote:
...

The more I think about it, the more I think these numbers are correct, especially if you use the Monster Surge value as the number of monsters you spawn at a gate when it first opens.


Normally only one monster spawns at a gate when it first opens. You only use the surge value when there is a surge effect. If you spawn two monsters per gate opening with four players for instance then the game is gong to be more difficult then normal with four

Personally I still think either the number of clues should equal half the number of players rounded up or you should use the normal cards but if there is an odd number of players add one to the initial doom count. Just my opinion.
 
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