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Subject: New Race: Witches rss

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Dan Leonard
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Okay, so a couple of weeks ago I was having a poke around the compilation posted by Smoothsmith, and I noticed that nobody seemed to have yet created a Witches race to go with the existing Wizards and Sorcerors. I had a think about it, and came up with associations of witches meddling in people's affairs, stirring up conflict, and of course putting curses on people.

I'm not wedded to the idea of it being a race of Witches (I've since realised that it would have made a fitting power for Mummies, but if I get started on the wasted themes in Small World Underground then this will be a much longer post than I planned). It might even be better as a special power - something like "Divisive" or "Scheming". Even keeping it as a race, I can imagine there might be a more suitable name out there for a race that spreads conflict among others. Anyway, here's the basic idea.

Witches (6/11 plus 1* Witches' Curse token)

At the end of your turn, you may place one* Curse token on any territory on the board. During other players' turns, if at any point during their conquest phase their active race is adjacent to the "cursed" territory (and they have enough tokens in hand to conquer it, using the reinforcement die if necessary), that player MUST conquer it immediately. The Curse token remains in that territory until the beginning of the witches' next turn, when it is picked up to be replayed at the end of their turn.

To clarify, since this only applies to active races in adjacent territories during their conquest phase, any player can avoid being obliged to attack the cursed territory by a) declining on that turn, or b) abandoning their territories adjacent to the cursed one.

The main effect of this, I imagine, would be (like the Sorcerors) to force other players to play suboptimally, either declining earlier than they'd prefer, abandoning territories, or attacking places they'd rather not. Obviously its effectiveness would depend very much on the board layout, but I think it could produce some interesting situations without unbalancing the game too much.

So, what do people think?

* possible variations for balancing: one per magic source occupied, one but only if at least one magic source occupied, one but at the cost of putting aside one RT until next turn.
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Ido Abelman
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Sounds like a neat idea. Obviously needs playtesting, I'm really not sure one curse is enough (most of the time it'll only mean two players kill one troop from each other) but it gives you a way to weaken players in the lead without expending forces yourself.
I'm not really sold on the theme however.
If a place is cursed, why would people fight over it? It seems to me they would try to stay away from it. Your power seems to me more like a siren luring people in. I think a siren is a great theme for it because you can avoid the lure by either staying away, or tying yourself up (aka going to decline).
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Dan Leonard
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That was why I thought it would have made a neat power for Mummies - the Mummy's Curse is an existing thing, and tends to be tied to treasure, so I imagine some kind of beautiful but cursed object that drives people to go to insane lengths to acquire it.

But yeah, like you I'm not totally convinced I have the right theme. I'm open to suggestions.

Agree that maybe one curse isn't enough, but the number needs to be low or else you could expend players' entire armies by chaining them together. I suppose there could be a restriction in place that you can't place two in adjacent territories.

I like the idea of linking it to magical sources, since they're underused in general and would fit the theme of Witches. Alternatively, there's the other idea I mentioned above, of requiring the Witch player to put aside one Witch token per curse token used for the duration of that turn - that would be the Witch sent to administer the curse, and would make it a trade-off, naturally limiting the number of curse tokens.

Open to suggestions here in general, really. I just like the idea of forcing other players into combat with one another.
 
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J. Riddell
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Since cursed is already something in the Small World universe I'd suggest calling it a bewitched token.

This could be very effective in clearing out a fortified area. Since the token stays put then if you target the next player by putting the token next to them and other players territories then they would be forced to attack or abandon and so on.

What if a player has several adjacent territories? Would one of them have to conquer the space or all of them abandon to avoid going into decline?

If you place the token on an already populated space then what would happen to the occupying player? Would they be forced to abandon or perhaps further fortify that space?
 
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Michael Nerman
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Would the player have to attack that area as their first attack, or could they wait as long as they want, possibly until the end of the turn when they must use the reinforcement die?
 
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Dan Leonard
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Quote:
riddell:
What if a player has several adjacent territories? Would one of them have to conquer the space or all of them abandon to avoid going into decline?


Yes, that player would have to attack or abandon all of those territories. Or decline

Quote:
If you place the token on an already populated space then what would happen to the occupying player? Would they be forced to abandon or perhaps further fortify that space?


Not 100% sure what you mean here. If the token is placed in a territory occupied by a player's active race then it wouldn't require that player to do anything, unless that player (for some mad reason) abandoned the bewitched* territory leaving another of their territories adjacent to it, in which case they would be required to re-take it. However, if you placed the bewitched token on a territory occupied by a declined race, then the owner of that race would be just as obliged as anybody else to conquer it, if their active race is adjacent to it.

By the way, this is implied by the original description, but to be clear: declined Ghouls would not be required to attack bewitched territories.

Quote:
nerman8r:
Would the player have to attack that area as their first attack, or could they wait as long as they want, possibly until the end of the turn when they must use the reinforcement die?


Yes, it would have to be their first conquest (or, if they become adjacent later in their turn as a result of other conquests, their very next conquest). If players were allowed to wait until the time of their choosing, then this power would have virtually no effect on the game.

I can imagine some specific occasions when this could really screw someone over - imagine if somebody has decided to use their active race to shield their declined Priestesses - but most of the time I think it would be used defensively, to redirect a neighbour's troops away from one's Witches.

* I'm not totally sold on this name - I think of "bewitching" as being a spell that puts the victim under the power of the witch, in which case it would be more like the other players that would be bewitched, rather than the territory with the token on it - but you're right, I should avoid using the word "cursed", so I'll use "bewitched" until one of us thinks of something better.
 
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Dan Leonard
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Oh, how about calling it a "hex token"? Then we could refer to "hexed territories" and such. As far as I'm aware, that means basically the same thing as "cursed" but without re-using that word.
 
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J. Riddell
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Leonard_Daniels wrote:
Quote:
If you place the token on an already populated space then what would happen to the occupying player? Would they be forced to abandon or perhaps further fortify that space?


Not 100% sure what you mean here. If the token is placed in a territory occupied by a player's active race then it wouldn't require that player to do anything,...
I meant whether or not there would be any ramifications to an occupying player, so you answered my question.
Leonard_Daniels wrote:
Oh, how about calling it a "hex token"?
Works for me.
 
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Dan Leonard
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Still need to decide how many hex tokens should be available and how to acquire them. I think playtesting is the only way to find out, I'm just wondering where to begin.

I was thinking about having them be a bit like silver hammers, so you get one hex token for each magic source occupied at the end of your conquest phase, but you get to keep the hexes from the previous turn as well. Total number of hex tokens would be capped at the number of other players in the game (i.e. the number of players in the game minus one). What do you think?
 
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Jeffrey Drozek-Fitzwater
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Compelling other players to take a territory they might not want skirts close to annoying.

It would be pretty easy to simply pick up tokens on any adjacent territory, limiting the power of the race.
 
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Michael Nerman
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Couldn't you put the hex tokens in a trail, completely controlling your opponents' turns, and basically waste them?
 
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Proto Persona
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Maybe instead of forcing a players behavior, you incentivise it like with the leprechauns' pots of gold. What if the hex tokens stayed on the board once placed, and gave a -1 to conquer adjacent territories for whatever race holds the hexed territory? Not sure if you'd should still have the ability to redeploy the tokens in that case, but you could simply say they stay there for the rest of the game even if witches go into decline. Could create some interesting strategic decisions similar to places of power from underground.
 
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Dan Leonard
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Quote:
bobcatpoet
It would be pretty easy to simply pick up tokens on any adjacent territory, limiting the power of the race.


I don't see that as limiting the power of the race, I see that as part of the power of the race. Like Sorcerors, the Witches' main power would lie in forcing other players to play sub-optimally.

Quote:
nerman8r
Couldn't you put the hex tokens in a trail, completely controlling your opponents' turns, and basically waste them?


I did think of that, actually, I mentioned it in a post above. Thinking that would be overpowered, I suggested a restriction whereby hex tokens may not be placed in adjacent territories.

Quote:
Proto PersonaWhat if the hex tokens stayed on the board once placed, and gave a -1 to conquer adjacent territories for whatever race holds the hexed territory? [...] Could create some interesting strategic decisions similar to places of power from underground.


It could create interesting decisions, but I don't think it would give any particular advantage to the race who placed it. It would be very similar to the power of the Cultists from SWU, only it would provide an advantage to other races too, if they capture it. In any case, it's a very different idea and I don't know if it particularly fits the theme I'm going for here.
 
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Casey Alcoser
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This would be a fantastic ability to force bordering opponents to lose their units as they fight blindly over a territory. Or if placed correctly, to force an opening for a new race on the witch player's next turn. Brilliant!
 
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Dan Leonard
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Exactly. Also useful when players shield their declined races with their active races - a swift hexing and they have to either leave their declines undefended or conquer them themselves!

Equally, of course, there would be many occasions when the Witches' power would be useless, but the same applies to Sorcerors and Dwarves and others.

[Edited for syntax.]
 
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J
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Question. I'm coming in with a new race and the Hex is on the edge of the board. Am I forced to take that territory or am I not considered adjacent?
 
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Michael Nerman
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Leonard_Daniels wrote:


Quote:
nerman8r
Couldn't you put the hex tokens in a trail, completely controlling your opponents' turns, and basically waste them?


I did think of that, actually, I mentioned it in a post above. Thinking that would be overpowered, I suggested a restriction whereby hex tokens may not be placed in adjacent territories.

Be warned that if you need to make too many restrictions to fix a mechanic that would be otherwise broken, the mechanic is probably too messy to play well.
 
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Dan Leonard
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Quote:
allstar64:
Question. I'm coming in with a new race and the Hex is on the edge of the board. Am I forced to take that territory or am I not considered adjacent?


No. Originally I had just described it as something along the lines of "if you can attack it, you have to", but then I realised that it could be used on incoming races like that, and thought that would make it overpowered, so I included the bit about having to be in an adjacent territory.

Quote:
nerman8r:
Be warned that if you need to make too many restrictions to fix a mechanic that would be otherwise broken, the mechanic is probably too messy to play well.


I am aware, yes - that is what happened to my first two attempts at custom races, after all. *rolls eyes at self* If it turns out to be too hard to balance, then so be it. I plan to try it out next time I play and see how it goes.
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Michael Nerman
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Quote:
I am aware, yes - that is what happened to my first two attempts at custom races, after all. *rolls eyes at self* If it turns out to be too hard to balance, then so be it. I plan to try it out next time I play and see how it goes.

Let us know how it goes.
 
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J
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I’ll be frank with you, I don’t like this power. This is the type of power I’d describe as not really being a positive ability at all and introduces bad mechanics into the game.

First of all I would classify this power as a “no benefit power.” What do I mean? Well all powers should give you some form of direct benefit. The 3 most basic benefits are listed below and all official factions grant at least one of them directly. However as it is written Witches does not directly

1. Help you conquer more/better regions
2. Score you bonus points
3. Defend you

At best you could argue that it gives you an indirect defense by making it harder for an opponent to attack you but does it really? When you plop down a hex you don’t really guarantee yourself anything. If you plop it down near yourself you risk your opponent taking the space and then you have brand new neighbors to deal with. If you plop it down away from you you risk the opponent abandoning to avoid your hex and possibly coming towards you. Hence no benefit power.

The next issue is that it’s effectively a harassment ability. There might be one opponent in particular that you want to slow down so you always play the Hex against him and yes his game would probably be hindered. Hmmmmmmm what does this resemble? Oh yeah it’s a King Making ability. Rather than help yourself you go out of your way to try to drag 1 other specific opponent down. I really don’t want to have the “No your ability isn’t clever cause you can target the leader with it and yes King Making is a terrible mechanic” talk again though if you can ask if you need convincing.

You can basically think about it like this. A power that says "all other players lose a vp at the end of your turn" is effectively identical to one that says "you gain a vp at the end of your turn" so a power that targets only a specific enemy without further bonus really amounts to like a fraction of a real ability.

I’m glad you recognize that forcing someone’s entrance with a new race would be monstrously OP and could literally destroy the game so gg avoiding that pitfall. Also the power is simple which is a huge plus. It’s just that ultimately you want a power that will help you win the game. Not one that doesn’t help you at all but rather tries to drag an opponent down to your level. That just helps everyone you chose not to attack.
 
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Michael Nerman
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allstar64 wrote:
I’ll be frank with you, I don’t like this power. This is the type of power I’d describe as not really being a positive ability at all and introduces bad mechanics into the game.
I agree with Allstar here, sorry to say. SW already has a lot of kingmaking. It doesn't need help in that area.
 
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Casey Alcoser
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allstar64 wrote:

The next issue is that it’s effectively a harassment ability. There might be one opponent in particular that you want to slow down so you always play the Hex against him and yes his game would probably be hindered. Hmmmmmmm what does this resemble? Oh yeah it’s a King Making ability. Rather than help yourself you go out of your way to try to drag 1 other specific opponent down. I really don’t want to have the “No your ability isn’t clever cause you can target the leader with it and yes King Making is a terrible mechanic” talk again though if you can ask if you need convincing.



I beg to differ. Now, I don't know the game quite as well as I'm sure you do, but I do know that you could make that same argument against the Diplomatic ability, and it's in the game.

Now, this power of the Witches is not fruitless. If a hex token is placed where opponents are closely bordered, then they are forced to attack each other. If this happens to save you from their troops, that's great, but it also assures at least one of their troops will be discarded, making their armies smaller.

That being said, I can see your argument over how indirect the power is, though I know that is the whole point of having the witches - sneaky, meddling, manipulating others from afar. So I offer a few solutions.

1. The Hex tokens act as a deterrent, preventing conquest - but are placed 1 tile outside of the Witches' territories to prevent neighbors from coming in. If the token is to be placed on a territory that already has another species, those tokens are returned to their player's hand. Yes, it can buffer a player out of the board, but to do so would leave the witches open for attack on the rear.

2. The Hex tokens (again, placeable anywhere) hypnotize the species in that tile, and whoever owns the tile must pay the Witches a certain fee as tribute. You'd probably be able to determine what's fair, being someone who has knows the game very well.

3. The same power as originally described, but can only be played within Witch territory and/or (I'm not sure which would work best) activated only during decline. When the region with the hex token is conquered, no matter what the species, the territory bonus still goes towards the player with the declining witches. Thus the player gets coins no matter what, until the witches are returned to the stack.

 
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PeacockTalk wrote:
allstar64 wrote:

The next issue is that it’s effectively a harassment ability. There might be one opponent in particular that you want to slow down so you always play the Hex against him and yes his game would probably be hindered. Hmmmmmmm what does this resemble? Oh yeah it’s a King Making ability. Rather than help yourself you go out of your way to try to drag 1 other specific opponent down. I really don’t want to have the “No your ability isn’t clever cause you can target the leader with it and yes King Making is a terrible mechanic” talk again though if you can ask if you need convincing.



I beg to differ. Now, I don't know the game quite as well as I'm sure you do, but I do know that you could make that same argument against the Diplomatic ability, and it's in the game.

If you know you can please do so. I'm not buying a simple assertion that Diplomatic is a harassment ability without something to back it up (for the record I don't agree with you).

Keep in mind that it is well known that in 2 player Diplomatic is such an overpowered ability that the community at large has agreed that it has to be removed from 2 player if you want to have any sort of serious game so keep your arguments to 3+ players.
 
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Casey Alcoser
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allstar64 wrote:

If you know you can please do so. I'm not buying a simple assertion that Diplomatic is a harassment ability without something to back it up (for the record I don't agree with you).

Keep in mind that it is well known that in 2 player Diplomatic is such an overpowered ability that the community at large has agreed that it has to be removed from 2 player if you want to have any sort of serious game so keep your arguments to 3+ players.


The ability to prevent another player from attacking you is incredibly powerful. No matter how many players you have, you have the ability to prevent someone from making any attempt at attacking you. I would call that player harassment as you described it.
 
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Proto Persona
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PeacockTalk wrote:
allstar64 wrote:

If you know you can please do so. I'm not buying a simple assertion that Diplomatic is a harassment ability without something to back it up (for the record I don't agree with you).

Keep in mind that it is well known that in 2 player Diplomatic is such an overpowered ability that the community at large has agreed that it has to be removed from 2 player if you want to have any sort of serious game so keep your arguments to 3+ players.


The ability to prevent another player from attacking you is incredibly powerful. No matter how many players you have, you have the ability to prevent someone from making any attempt at attacking you. I would call that player harassment as you described it.
To me, and possibly allstar64, harassment is directly hindering another players ability to win. Diplomacy doesn't actually hinder your opponents victory though, it just defends yours. The hex token forces other players to attack a player of your choice or abandon territory. This will usually directly hinder the opponent you chose.

It's a nuanced distinction. Diplomacy doesn't directly hurt another player since he always has other options. Your idea severely limits those options and leads to kingmaking. Whether kingmaking is a good or bad thing is a both a matter of opinion and a discussion for another thread.
 
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