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Subject: PARTNERS rss

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Saar Shai
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So, I've received some feedback about the Partners expansion and I'm considering a drastic change to their rules. It's nothing to do with the function of each card, but rather the way you play them.

The main issue was that they are typically overpowered as Agent cards. I.e. players who play with them shuffled into the main deck find sometimes that they prefer just getting a normal Agent because that would be more effective.
This, in addition to the issue of dilution of the base deck with cards from multiple expansions has led me to think that it might be best to use the partners as a separate deck, from which players draw randomly 3 Partners that are going to serve them throughout the game.

I have not tested it myself yet but I'm wondering what your thoughts are before I go down this path.

And... go!

Saar
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Adrian Koester
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Interesting idea. Perhaps an increased cost to buy a partner agent from the side deck?
 
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JT Schiavo
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I understand why this change would be appealing, but I would have to question the implementation.

If Partners are less useful than getting a standard agent with a normal command, would anyone ever buy a partner given the choice? And if partners are given out freely, are they worth the additional setup and table space for a separate deck?

May give Partners a numbered data token like Free Agents and allow you to play a partner to either side of a faction? They'd be sort of like a persistent free agent with a one time payoff. For example, let's say the sidekick offers 2 IP. I can play it on my side to give you 2 IP but now I can reactivate that agent regardless of orientation, or I give you access to that agent's command while banking the quick 2 IP for myself.


Another vague idea would be to move the Partners from the agent deck to the mission deck, since they are played more like missions and several have IP generating abilities. This might require some rebalancing of the abilities though to make them worth the same as a mission in a player's eyes.
 
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/|\ Roland /|\
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The first thing I thought of when you mentioned the separate partner deck was to make them optional rewards for completing missions. This would require no changes to the cards themselves, only in how you acquire them.
 
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Kraig Elsdon
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Of course, you could shuffle all the partners and secret agents together into one 'reward' deck, and every time you complete a mission, you could draw a card from that deck instead of getting the IPs for that mission.

So say you complete 2 missions at the end of your turn. You could:

1) Score the IPs for both missions OR
2) Score the IPs for one mission and draw a card from the 'reward' deck OR
3) Draw 2 cards from the reward deck and score no IPs that turn.

Of course, you could always put the 'Mavericks' in the reward deck with the partners and secret agents. Just a thought.
 
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Saar Shai
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Thanks for the feedback, guys. And your ideas.

I'll playtest several variations and see what works best.

S

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Nathaniel Hobbes
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Corwin1971 wrote:
Of course, you could shuffle all the partners and secret agents together into one 'reward' deck, and every time you complete a mission, you could draw a card from that deck instead of getting the IPs for that mission.
Very very cool idea. It would solve the dilution problem and make players excited about these agents. What do you think about just a flat, 1 card per mission, draw instead of making players give up IP? The idea is to a) encourage players to complete a lot of missions and b) get these cards into players hands.

For myself, it's hard to comment on this, as we played Partners wrong for a while (We said it took an action to play a partner, and while it's better that it doesn't it is confusing as everything else from the Agents deck takes an action to play). Now that I'm playing it right, I've slimmed out duplicates, so I only have 1 of each partner and 2 Escorts. This keeps the proportion of agents pretty well (I also take out one of each free agent), and the game moves along quickly.
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JT Schiavo
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hobbesvii wrote:
Corwin1971 wrote:
Of course, you could shuffle all the partners and secret agents together into one 'reward' deck, and every time you complete a mission, you could draw a card from that deck instead of getting the IPs for that mission.
Very very cool idea. It would solve the dilution problem and make players excited about these agents. What do you think about just a flat, 1 card per mission, draw instead of making players give up IP? The idea is to a) encourage players to complete a lot of missions and b) get these cards into players hands.

For myself, it's hard to comment on this, as we played Partners wrong for a while (We said it took an action to play a partner, and while it's better that it doesn't it is confusing as everything else from the Agents deck takes an action to play). Now that I'm playing it right, I've slimmed out duplicates, so I only have 1 of each partner and 2 Escorts. This keeps the proportion of agents pretty well (I also take out one of each free agent), and the game moves along quickly.


With the new rules, free agents aren't going to be such a clog since you can play a free agent when the other player can't take the action. This should make a hand full of free agents less of a liability.

However, Partners need similar treatment so that they don't clog your hand either.
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Nathaniel Hobbes
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I had a thought today, and I thought I'd run it past you guys. If it turns out that the changes to Partners still don't make them at least as valuable as free or faction agents, what about allowing them to be played off turn?

Example: Player 3 places The Abductor (black) in my left faction with the command facing me. This gives him 4 points in that faction (Black Abductor, Black Decoy, Safehouse), so after performing the EXTRACT command, I decide to drop The Censor on his Decoy.

This would not be helpful for The Sidekick or The Quartermaster (and probably not The Case Officer or The Counterfitter either, as they would only score on your turn), but for the other 5, you could get some benefit off your turn, increasing the utility of Partners.
 
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Saar Shai
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Interesting!
 
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/|\ Roland /|\
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The only thing about off turn events in any game, is they only tend to work well if you have a very clearly defined turn structure, ala netrunner.

There is even a new thread today from a guy setting out to simplify the two existing off turn cards, as to when exactly they can be played.

Part of the beauty of The Agents is it's simplicity of play, but depth of strategy. I'd hate to see it spiral into a complexity vortex that so many other games do after one expansion.

My 2 cents.
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C B
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TheAgents wrote:
The main issue was that they are typically overpowered as Agent cards. I.e. players who play with them shuffled into the main deck find sometimes that they prefer just getting a normal Agent because that would be more effective.

I'm not understanding this... If a Partner is overpowered, why prefer playing normal agents?

TheAgents wrote:
This, in addition to the issue of dilution of the base deck with cards from multiple expansions has led me to think that it might be best to use the partners as a separate deck, from which players draw randomly 3 Partners that are going to serve them throughout the game.

With regards to how to handle them, with the Mk II rules re: card-draw and the fact that they do not take an action to play, is it even necessary to tweak them at all?

I'm not keen on any of the "reward deck" suggestions in this thread.
* If you get one reward per completed mission, that gets to be a lot.
* If you have to choose IP or reward, that's a no brainer, take a reward with the low-IP missions - not balanced.
* If the reward deck is a deck you have to buy into, obviously the Mavericks, Partners, etc are of different power. Not a fair buy. Also it would take a re-do of the card backs so they all say "Reward" and are the same color.

 
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Nathaniel Hobbes
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ath3ist wrote:
The only thing about off turn events in any game, is they only tend to work well if you have a very clearly defined turn structure, ala netrunner.

Agreed. Agents Mark II made a big step in this regard by turning a "fuzzy" turn structure into 1) actions 2) missions 3) points, but it's still not granular enough to be clear how the two existing off-turn cards work.

ath3ist wrote:
There is even a new thread today from a guy setting out to simplify the two existing off turn cards, as to when exactly they can be played.

Part of the beauty of The Agents is it's simplicity of play, but depth of strategy. I'd hate to see it spiral into a complexity vortex that so many other games do after one expansion.

Right. The point of that thread is to keep the timing as simple as possible. It's hard because, as specific cards interact, more and more goofy situations come up. I'd like to have an off-turn structure made official early, precisely to avoid that spiral you mention.

ampoliros wrote:
I'm not understanding this... If a Partner is overpowered, why prefer playing normal agents?

I'm pretty sure he meant to say "underpowered." In my gaming experiences, it is almost never worthwhile to play a Partner, so they become swap fodder.

ampoliros wrote:
With regards to how to handle them, with the Mk II rules re: card-draw and the fact that they do not take an action to play, is it even necessary to tweak them at all?

If a card is so limited in its use that the only thing players do with it is re-draw, then it probably needs a tweak.

ampoliros wrote:
If you get one reward per completed mission, that gets to be a lot.

I totally agree on this. I've been playing with house rules in which you can only play one mission per turn per faction, for a max of 2 rewards per turn. 2 rewards per turn is the max I would ever want. You can get 2 agents from buy, 2 agents from rewards.

ampoliros wrote:
If you have to choose IP or reward, that's a no brainer, take a reward with the low-IP missions - not balanced.

Again, I agree. There is a more refined version of the rewards deck somewhere where the costs are consistent. You don't get a reward instead of IP, but you reduce your IP for the mission to get a reward (e.g. I earn 4 IP for Poor Man's Game, but choose to take 3 IP and a reward instead).

ampoliros wrote:
If the reward deck is a deck you have to buy into, obviously the Mavericks, Partners, etc are of different power. Not a fair buy.

I don't see this as a real problem as it's the same situation when they are shuffled into the main Agents deck. It's always kind of a crap shoot, and the value of each card is determined by the state of the table.

ampoliros wrote:
Also it would take a re-do of the card backs so they all say "Reward" and are the same color.

Here I disagree. I liked having the rewards the same as agents so that it was clear certain commands that let you STEAL from someone's hand also allowed STEALING reward agents, especially if playing with Secret Agents in the rewards deck. Also, having the same backs makes it clear that players can swap rewards on a "trade in" action (though I do use a separate discard pile to keep them from being reshuffled if we cycle the deck). Expansions are easy to sort out from the set marks on the fronts of the cards.
 
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