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Subject: Ideas to Open Up Gameplay/Eliminate Redundancy rss

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Ladd Everitt
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I've thinking through some of the issues with Intruder gameplay with the goal of really capturing the game's potential. As you read this, please note that I use most of the Living Rules posted at this page when I play. You'll see I mentioned some suggested new rules here which I then define below. Would love folks thoughts on this stuff...

Issue #1: Play becomes incredibly repetitive after Intruder reaches Life Stage 3 because players at that point will band together and attack as a single unit. This is in large part because variant rules reward players for outnumbering the Intruder’s Life Stage. If they do not, they are more likely to Panic and not be able to fight. You get an endless cycle of the entire crew moving together, fighting battles that result in Panic Phases, then starting the whole Wash/Rinse cycle again by finding hidden units, engaging in battle, etc. This continues indefinitely until either the players get lucky with rolls or all the Intruders are dead. There is little incentive to to pursue any other strategy.

Potential fixes:
• Set some type of limit on the number of crewman that can be in a given space outside the command module. Maybe 3 or 4.

• Implement a rule that allows individual crew members to Hide from an Intruder when they encounter one. Maybe a role of 4 or higher. This will enable individual crew members to take risks and carry out certain tasks alone. Only allow this rule when a crew member is alone in a given space with the Intruder.

• Eliminate the variant rule that forces crew members to roll 4 or higher to leave a space containing an Intruder. Allow players to flee a space as they wish.

• Consider revising and/or eliminating the current variant rules regarding Panic before a battle. They make little sense because another rule only allows three players to engage an Intruder at one time. Either let players choose which crew members will attack or randomly select. Panic can also lock players onto a square, limiting options for movement.

• Consider revising the current combat system to provide a bit more variety. Implement variants that allow for wounding of crew members and utilize the Infirmary for healing. Use combat dice (i.e., Battle Masters, Heroquest) in combat, granting dice by power of weapon, Life Stage of Intruder, type of crew member, etc. Consider giving Intruders hit points that crew members must exceed in a given round of combat in order to kill it (meaning it can heal if it is able to leave that area or if players leave). Challenge here is to create a system that will give small groups of crew members some type of chance of killing an Intruder in the higher Life States. Or maybe not; maybe this would create more impetus to attempt escapes via shuttle. [Would love some input here in terms of what other games might offer some good ideas.]

Issue #2:
The rich potential of the game in terms of all the ways you theoretically can kill Intruders/engage self-destruct sequence/escape from the station is often washed out by the need to follow the Group Everyone Together and Hunt the Intruder Strategy outlined above. The ideal here would be for every game of Intruder to look totally different, telling a different "story" of how the crew overcame, or didn't overcome, the Intruder(s).

Potential fixes:

• Implement new rules to enable airlock kills, like Remote Viewing.

• Implement new rules to allow Science Officers to help eliminate Intruders who are threatening to wipe out the entire crew, like Synthesize Toxin.

• Implement rules to allow new ways to kill the Intruder, like Security Droid.

Issue #3: Science Officers feel useless in the game. They can’t kill an Intruder and cleaning up lab animals feels less important when you’re constantly reintroducing Dummy counters into the game after Panic Phases.

Potential fixes:

• Implement new rules to make Science Officers relevant, like the Synthesize Toxin rule.

• Limit number of Panic Phases. Introduce new clones to random space during Intruder and Hidden Counter Movement Phase without resorting all counters. This way permanently caging lab animals will feel more significant.

• Grant some other type of small bonus/buff when players permanently cage lab animals.

OPTIONAL RULES FOR INTRUDER

Remote Viewing
Remote Viewing allows a Command Officer in the Computer Room to discover the identity of hidden counters in the Main Airlock, Shuttle Dock 1 and Shuttle Dock 2. If present in the Computer Room on the Second Interaction Phase, a Command Officer can use an action to turn over hidden counters in these areas. The counters remain revealed until they leave these rooms during an Intruder and Hidden Counter Movement Phase. This action can help facilitate expelling Intruders from airlocks.

Security Droid
The Security Droid (players must provide their own token/miniature) can be deployed once the Intruder reaches Life Stage 5. It is housed in the Maintenance Room but must be activated by an Engineer in the Power Room on either Interaction Phase. The Security Droid has 1 MP, all the weapons that are available to players, and must be attacked successfully twice by the Intruder in order to be destroyed. The Droid must move with either a Command Officer or an Engineer. If one is not present, the Droid will remain stationary and fight only if attacked. It does not suffer from Panic during encounters with the Intruder. It does not return to the Command Module with players during a Panic Phase.

Synthesize Toxin
Once an Intruder has been killed by the crew, Science Officers may analyze that specimen in the Lab in the hope of developing biological agents to reduce the powers of its clone(s). A Science Officer can spend the Second Interaction Phase in the Lab and attempt to develop an agent. Roll one die. If the result is a 6, the toxin has been successfully created. It can then be administered through a successful attack with a Sleep Dart Pistol. Such an attack randomly removes one of the Intruder’s existing Powers (save Clones, which can never be negated). Only one toxin may be created per scientist.

Nervous Commander
If the crew has lost five or more of its members, any Command Officer present in the Command Module at the end of a Second Interaction Phase must roll one die. If the result is a 6, that Commander panics and engages the station’s Self-Destruct Sequence.
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Ray
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Thunderfoot wrote:
This is in large part because variant rules...



Just don't use the variant rules.

whistle
 
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Ladd Everitt
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That won't do it. My issue with the game is not really how challenging it is, which is what the variant rules were designed to address. My issue is the redundancy in gameplay. The game should be more exciting and diverse from one play to the next.
 
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Martin Gallo
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I have found that I cannot play this game more than a couple of times before I have to put it up for a while. Not just this game, but most of these "types" of solo games. It is a fun game, but it is repetitive and does not hold my interest over multiple plays. Note that I am NOT interested in selling my copy (I recently got the PnP version).

Lucky me I have more than one solitaire game.
 
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Kris Vezner
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I am flattered that people use the living rules that I wrote.

Ladd, I feel that the repetitiveness problem you have is a bit larger than a few rules changes. Intruder presents players with a puzzle. After enough play you will come up with an optimal strategy for solving that puzzle and so the repetition sets in. As you noted, my living rules create a harder puzzle that gives a different optimal strategy and you still have repetitiveness.

When modifying this game, I offer a few goals which you may or may not share:

1) make the modifications realistic, so the game remains a good simulation.
2) make the modifications as simple and elegant as possible, to avoid turning this elegant game into a burdensome pile of chrome.

Along these lines the only one of your changes to address repetitiveness that I don't like is the first one, limiting the number of crewpersons in an area. Given the size of the ship this seems unrealistic.

My overall impression of your changes to address repetition is that they won't solve your problem. The changes are all too small. The most you could hope for is a different puzzle with a different optimal solution and therefore still repetitiveness.

I suggest that you take a page out of Last Frontier: The Vesuvius Incident and have random events occur in the game. Maybe a random event check each turn, say before the hidden movement phase. On a certain roll (4-6?) something happens, roll to find out exactly what happens. For example:

1) a large fire breaks out (1-2 mess, 3-4 lab, 5-6 living quarters) due to animal or intruder activity and must be put out before it uses up too much oxygen. Place the nearest movement counter to the fire location on that location, which may trigger an encounter with a crewperson. Maybe if the fire isn't put out in a generous number of turns the station will have to be abandoned immediately, resulting in game end and minus a lot of points. Make some simple and elegant rules for fire fighting. Maybe putting out fire is a 2 MP action, put out on a roll of 5-6, and given the small number of fire extinguishers only two crewpersons can attempt to put out the fire each turn. If you roll a 1 to put out the fire then you are overcome with smoke and are moved to the nearest hallway and treated as panicked. Your movement to the hallway may trigger an encounter with a movement counter.

2) An animal or the intruder cuts the power. Place the nearest movement counter to the "power" area in that area, which may trigger an encounter with a crewperson. Emergency power comes on, but until an engineer makes repairs in the power area everyone is at reduced movement of 1 MP due to poor lighting. Maybe repair is a 2 MP action by an engineer, repair on a 6.

3) An animal or the intruder damages life support, causing critical systems to begin failing. Place the nearest movement counter to the maintenance area in the maintenance area, which may trigger an encounter with a crewperson. Maybe if life support isn't repaired in a generous number of turns the station will have to be abandoned immediately, resulting in game end and minus a lot of points. Maybe repair is a 2 MP action by an engineer, repair on a 5-6.

4) An animal or the intruder gets into a wiring conduit and makes a mess of the relays necessary to maintain the station's gravity. Pick a random location occupied by a movement counter and put a face-down counter there to indicate damage. Until an engineer makes repairs in the damaged area, everyone is at reduced movement of 1 MP due to zero G. Maybe repair is a 2 MP action by an engineer, repair on a 6.

5) Some jumpy fool hits an alarm button and klaxons start blaring all over the station. Move each movement counter twice this turn. This would be a good event to have more than once in your event table.

6) The crew is panicking, or is arguing over the correct course of action and thus dangerously distracted. Roll panic for each crew member, ignoring modifiers relating to intruder life stage. Anyone "panicking" does not drop what he is holding, but is otherwise treated as panicked.

7) One crewperson mutinies and flees in a shuttle! Only if the intruder is at life stage 4+, otherwise reroll. Pick the crewperson closest to a shuttle dock, randomly choosing if there are ties among crewpersons. Remove this crewperson and his carried equipment from the game and count him as a casualty. The shuttle in that shuttle bay is now gone, minus some additional points for that but not a crippling amount. And have a panic interval.

8) One crewperson believes that the intruder is about to corner him and commits suicide, or suffers a fatal accident. Only if the intruder is at life stage 4+, otherwise reroll. Kill a random crewperson and have a panic interval.

9) One crewperson suffers a nonlethal accident. Have a panic interval and place a random crewperson in the infirmary, as well as a random science officer if any are still alive. For the remainder of the game, the injured crewperson is treated as panicked. The crewperson and science officer must remain in the infirmary, even during panic intervals.

And so on.

Last Frontier: The Vesuvius Incident has a lot of random events that may inspire you and I'm sure you can come up with creative things on your own. Random events will build a different narrative each time. Whatever you end up doing, good luck!
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Kris Vezner
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Ladd,

that was a long reply, so here are my thoughts on your other issues. I feel that if you have something like random events to provide variety, then you don't need to make even more rules for different ways to kill intruders. Whatever you do, I suggest that for each new rule you think about adding, ask yourself how often it would come up and how much it would add, then weigh that benefit against the burden of longer rules.

Regarding useless science officers, they certainly are a liability since they won't do what needs to be done. But, think of them as a liability that you have to carry on your back. Maybe that is their role, to be an additional complication for you in the game. If you pick random events, then maybe you can have some random events targeting science officers or requiring them to solve some problem.


--Kris
 
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