Recommend
3 
 Thumb up
 Hide
17 Posts

Nations» Forums » Variants

Subject: Strategic Planning Variant to reduce luck rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Alex Fiedler
Australia
Colebee
NSW
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
I really enjoy Nations, but for a game that runs for 3+ hours, it is very random. The progress cards and event cards are all random and have no way to plan for what comes out, so it's so easy to get smashed by the unknown.
This of course means there is no real "strategy" in the game as you cannot plan anything, only guess what's coming and make tactical decisions on what is current and hope for the right cards in the future.
So, here a simple variant that helps slightly.

1. After refilling the progress board, place the next row of cards above the progress board. (these are the 1st row of cards for the next round and are for preview only)
2. The top card of each event deck should always be visible and available to all players.


3. (Optional) The new 4th row as outlined in 1. can actually be purchsed for 4 Coins, adding an extra row of available cards for purchase.


This small variant means players can see the half of the next rounds progress cards (or have more cards available) and see the 1st event card for each age. This gives you the opporunity to do some real planning with events to aim for or avoid, rather than the luck based system it is now.

Let me know what you think.

[edited] Added part 3, and updated part 2 to reveal top card of each event deck to allow forward planning.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jason Walker
msg tools
mbmb
Re: Preview Planning Variant
Hi,

This reminds me of Spyrium, where you can see the next round's event. Mind you, Spyrium's events are nothing like Nations, but the idea of seeing a glimpse of the future is interesting.

Not sure one row of "preview cards" would do the trick in terms of building a mid term (even long-term) strategy.

Another variant I have been juggling with my group is, during setup, each player gets a random 2 cards from Age II, 2 cards from Age III and 2 cards from IV. Each player has to pick one for each age and keep them secret until they play them (if they choose to).

When we get to Age II, at any time during the Age (not necessarily the first move), players can "build" the secret card for the corresponding age they kept at the cost of one gold. In Age III, the cost will be 2 gold and Age IV 3 gold. Of course, building the card is optional. Meaning if my first 'secret' card I choose to build is the Age IV one, it will cost me one gold. The cost is determined by if it's the first, second of third 'secret' card you build, not determined by the Age. So far, we like it. I can't say it's the absolute best idea ever, but it does add a layer of mystery and minor planning for the players. It flows well.

Of course, if you get secret cards that do not inspire you or are not your style, this variant won't add much except that you might prevent this card from helping another player.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alex Fiedler
Australia
Colebee
NSW
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: Preview Planning Variant
Yes, unfortunately, this small a change doesnt allow medium or long term strategies, as you only get to see 1 turn ahead.

I though of maybe some kind of 7-wonders-ish draft for progress cards, but then you have the problem of gold costs.

Perhaps, since the event decks of all 4 ages are sitting next to the board, you could always display the top card face up.
This way, you can see the 1st event card of each age, and you can still see the 2nd event card of the current age. This allows a lot more forward planning and strategy.
You are still subject to the whims of the random progress board though.

I'm not really sure how to resolve this issue otherwise.
I'd hate to find after more plays that this game really is as random as it seems, and that a 3+ hour game can easily devolve into a few lucky or unlucky event/card draws. (this happened to me in our last game)

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
You can't handle the truth?
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: Preview Planning Variant
ReqMan wrote:
Yes, unfortunately, this small a change doesnt allow medium or long term strategies, as you only get to see 1 turn ahead.

I though of maybe some kind of 7-wonders-ish draft for progress cards, but then you have the problem of gold costs.

Perhaps, since the event decks of all 4 ages are sitting next to the board, you could always display the top card face up.
This way, you can see the 1st event card of each age, and you can still see the 2nd event card of the current age. This allows a lot more forward planning and strategy.
You are still subject to the whims of the random progress board though.

I'm not really sure how to resolve this issue otherwise.
I'd hate to find after more plays that this game really is as random as it seems, and that a 3+ hour game can easily devolve into a few lucky or unlucky event/card draws. (this happened to me in our last game)


Ooh, a 7-Wonders-ish draft sounds kind of neat.

Make some rule, like the first 2 passes, you can take 1 card, for a price of 3 gold each. For the next 3 passes, you can take 1 card, for a price of 2 gold each, then any other card only costs 1 gold.

You can choose to not take a card from a stack.

I wonder if something like that would work.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alex Fiedler
Australia
Colebee
NSW
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: Preview Planning Variant
I'm not sure a draft like that would really work. You have to make decisions on even fewer cards than now.
Besides, a 7-wonders draft doesnt really solve the future planning issue.

A 4th row available, costing 4 coins, gives more options at the start, and more tactical decisions. It also means more card types can come up. But then, this is solving a different issue (card draw balance).

The biggest issue for me is the events.
They are completely random, and no way to plan for them or protect yourself from every +/- aspect. And since they are such a huge part of the game, that they can kingmake or anhilate a player, it's just too random.

If we knew what was coming, we could plan and hope to reap the benefits or suffer the penalties. At least then if we succeed or fail, it's based on our actual gameplay and decisions not luck.

My current vote would be to display the top card of each of the 4 event decks. Now I have something to plan for and try to win/avoid.

I'd also like to see a future expansion have some kind of "objective" cards. Secret cards that give me my own personal objectives for bonus points at the end of the game. That would be cool.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rustan Håkansson
Sweden
Norrköping
flag msg tools
designer
bgdev.club is really a site address, no www or .com needed :)
badge
Rise and fall of Anvalor, designed by me!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
ReqMan wrote:

The biggest issue for me is the events.
They are completely random, and no way to plan for them or protect yourself from every +/- aspect. And since they are such a huge part of the game, that they can kingmake or anhilate a player, it's just too random.

If we knew what was coming, we could plan and hope to reap the benefits or suffer the penalties. At least then if we succeed or fail, it's based on our actual gameplay and decisions not luck.


How close to the edge are you playing? You have the full round to prepare, how can anyone be annihilated by an event? Can you describe any game where you can plan more than this for events?

I think it would be fine for how you want it to work to draw all events at the start, place them face up, only randomize the order for the age at the start of the age.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alex Fiedler
Australia
Colebee
NSW
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
Interesting idea Rustan.
That way you get to see all the events.
I'm not sure which is better though. Will have to discuss with our gaming group.

The issue is that this is a purely tactical game. Yes, you might be able to focus on the event card for that 1 round, but even then, you may not.
The progress cards have to be available for you to mitigate/target events. If they are not there that round, or previous rounds, when the event comes out there's little you can do at that point unless you are already in a good position (luckily).

In my case, I cant remember the exact event card, but it was towards the end of the game. I dont think I was in 1st place but I was close, and then an event came out that I just couldnt get my stabilty higher than others (due to no stability buildings available to me for the previous 4 rounds).
I had everything else covered, but the event caused me to lose my food, and thus also couldnt then pay the famine. So I got hit multiple times. Then the next event was another massive food hit, so I got hit twice.
I went through the rest of the unused event cards after the game and I could have survived all the rest (possibly even got a benefit instead of penalty).
So I was just terribly unlucky to get those 2 in that specific order at that specific time. Anything else, and I might have been in with a shot to win.

Previous games had similar situations, but because they didnt happen to me, I don't remember the specifics.
Infact, in previous games it was the opposite. I was the lucky recipient of getting bonuses just because I was ahead on something, but not by my excellent gameplay or strategy. It was just luck. Had different events come out, I might not have won.

And that is the problem with these events. They are so random and they have so much impact on the game. It's like rolling dice each round and giving or taking stuff away from players based on the roll. And that stuff can have a flow on effects to future rounds so it's pretty huge.
Now, that's fine in a 1-1.5hr game, but not in a 3hr game where we all spend so much time building and planning.


I'm not sure about other games, but most other games I've played with random events that have such a huge impact are not complex 3+hr civ building games. As I said, I'm fine with them in lighter games that dont have as much investment. This game is just too big and "grand" for me to include such luck and randomness.

[edit]
There are only 2 things stopping this game from being one my favorites of all time.
1. Progress Board card distribution: so many card types in so few spaces means players can get shafted (as I was). More cards for purchase would help
2. Event card randomness: they are so powerful they can make/break a game for players with no way to plan for them. Perhaps show some, or all, at the start of the game, or some mechanism to peek at future cards.

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rustan Håkansson
Sweden
Norrköping
flag msg tools
designer
bgdev.club is really a site address, no www or .com needed :)
badge
Rise and fall of Anvalor, designed by me!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
What you call luck I call risk When you know the game you know the areas you need to balance against each other. You cannot be best in all at all times, but you want to have flexibility to take care of all eventualities. Yes, you can be lucky and get exactly the events you need, but the chance for that is small. This is not an abstract game, there is randomness in distribution and other players to deal with. But you can be prepared and get a small hit when the worst card comes, or be unprepared, play on hardest, and die.

You will have to prepare in advance, not wait until next round and look at what cards everyone want at that time. Do that better and you win.

Remove the events you think are too powerful, but them back after 10 games more and see if you still think they are too powerful

I hope this helps a bit. We might be working on something that I think will appeal to your tastes as well
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alex Fiedler
Australia
Colebee
NSW
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
Awesome! Really looking forward to future expansions. You have a really great framework to work with here.

I know a lot of gamers enjoy games based on risk, but ultimately, that still means luck. I guess the issue for me is how much luck and can I mitigate it some way.
The event cards here are "blind" risk (or blind luck), because you have no way of knowing which event will come up, and no way to prepare for all eventualities. So that's not really my kind of "risk" or luck, and in such a long game, I don't think it belongs. That's just me though.
We can always house-rule until an official expansion/variant comes along to help mitigate the blind luck aspect.

Did you see my suggestion for personal "objective" or goal cards?
Please?

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rustan Håkansson
Sweden
Norrköping
flag msg tools
designer
bgdev.club is really a site address, no www or .com needed :)
badge
Rise and fall of Anvalor, designed by me!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I disagree, blind draw would be to draw the event at the end of the round without having time to prepare for it. As it is, you can prepare on earlier rounds by expanding in ways that give you flexibility in areas where the others are weak. When the events are drawn you can decide on priorities now compared to later. Switching from only looking at the current round to this means you have reached the next level as a nations player

We have worked on many variations of personal objectives but so far have not found a system we are entirely happy with.

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alex Fiedler
Australia
Colebee
NSW
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
Cool. I hope you can figure something out regarding objectives. I'm sure it isn't easy. I put forward my suggestion in the other thread

The current round is still blind.
You have to select your growth before you see the event, so you have no idea what to prepare for. That's blind. Then, yes, you can play that 1 round knowing what that 1 event is, but you've already selected your growth not knowing what to expect. Did you get lucky?
Plus, future rounds are also blind. There is nothing I can do in Round-1 to prepare me for the blind event in Round-5 or Round-6, etc. I have no idea what they will be, what they require or who will get a benefit/penalty. It is very random, and with the diversity of events, you can't prepare for them all.

Anyway, it's still a great game. I dont want to ramble on about the negatives of randomness and annoy people (especially the developer!).
I'll see if I can give this variant a try and report back on its outcome.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rustan Håkansson
Sweden
Norrköping
flag msg tools
designer
bgdev.club is really a site address, no www or .com needed :)
badge
Rise and fall of Anvalor, designed by me!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Ok, down to semantics, aborting I see what you mean and why it makes the game less appealing to you. Yes, growth is blind, we tested around with orders and variants a lot, concluded that growth like this was more fun and faster for most players.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Raphael G.
Japan
Tokyo
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Maybe, just save time by directly playing 7 Wonders or Through the Ages ?

Nations IS a tactical game that does not focus on long-term planning but on reaction & flexibility. Uncertainity about progress & events cards is a key part of the fun & challenge.

IMHO, the architecture of the game is delicately balanced and might suffer rather than benefit from "brutal" variants.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alex Fiedler
Australia
Colebee
NSW
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
Through the ages is too long, and 7-wonders is too light.

Yes, this is a tactical game only. There is no strategy here, which is a shame. It doesn't have to be this way though.
I don't think this particular variant is "brutal". The event part in particular is mechanically very simple and really doesn't change anything in terms of actual gameplay. It just gives players future information they wouldn't normally have, allowing a longer term strategy.

I do understand the nature of the base game; a light-ish 3+hr tactical game of who can best navigate random cards and random events. I think that is selling this game short though. It could be so much more.

If this was a more serious stratgey game, this would be the #1 game in this genre, easy.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Raphael G.
Japan
Tokyo
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
ReqMan wrote:
(...)
Yes, this is a tactical game only. There is no strategy here, which is a shame. It doesn't have to be this way though.

ReqMan wrote:
(...)a light-ish 3+hr tactical game of who can best navigate random cards and random events. I think that is selling this game short though. It could be so much more.

Wow, really ???
It's rather a matter of personal taste, isn't it ?

ReqMan wrote:
(...) just gives players future information they wouldn't normally have, allowing a longer term strategy.

No civ nor country has ever had such a long term strategy over centuries. Ruling or leading is mostly reacting to new circunstances (technologies, discoveries, alliances, beliefs, etc...), only fuelling limited period projects. (yes, Nations is not a simulation at all anyway)

ReqMan wrote:
If this was a more serious stratgey game, this would be the #1 game in this genre, easy.

Now, I agree that the *ultimate* civ-game has still to be designed, but it would be more appropriate to modernized/improve TTA, for example, rather than changing the nature of Nations.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Brands
United States
Redondo Beach
CA
flag msg tools
Nations – Variant: Strategic Plans

My best-impression ideas, inspired by BGG discussions…
Note: This is an advanced / expert game variant.

Start
--Deal each 2 Progress cards from each age, and 1 Event from each age.
--Then draft Nations in turn order, to use B-sides.
--Finally, each discards 1 Progress card from each age, and any 2 Events, for a hand of 6 – see below on how to use these cards from Hand throughout the game…

Each Round start – Progress: Display a next / fourth row of Progress cards atop the Progress chart, from the Age that would fill that row when needed by normal rules – for advance notice only.
--Seeding option: Instead, deal each player 3 Progress cards from the Age that will form the next / fourth row atop the Progress chart; in reverse turn order, each places 1 of his 3 cards onto the fourth / top row (and discards the other 2); finally, fill the row as needed from the deck – with this row still being for advance notice only.

Each Round start – Events: Display the top card of each Age’s Event deck face-up (turn it face-up if it is not already so).

Buy Golden Age card action – option: Use the card as usual, OR instead, play/use the progress card of this age from your hand.

Age End: In turn order, after the normal Event, each may play the Event card of this Age from your Hand (if you have one), to enact one of its beneficial effects (top or bottom), which applies to you alone.
--Breakthrough option: Double this beneficial effect.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Brands
United States
Redondo Beach
CA
flag msg tools
I posted the "Private Objectives" variant I use, which includes provisions for advance planning and strategizing, at the BGG Thread – Private Objectives: https://boardgamegeek.com/article/30278773#30278773
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.