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RoboRally» Forums » Variants

Subject: Handicapping ideas rss

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Matthew Sanchez
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chaska
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Hi, I'm a huge fan of RoboRally I have all of the items from the 90's plus I got a 2005 edition so I could have better condition cards after years and years of play. Funny thing my old cards and boards are now in better condition than my 2005 edition.


Now for my problem. I have been playing so long and happen to be a programmer by trade so this game comes natural to me. I have always won a good percentage of the game and now that I'm introducing new people to the game it just isn't fair. I'm looking for handicapping ideas to re-balance the game. I want to loose sometimes but still have fun. We have tried giving me no extra lives, everyone else a bio option and I'm on my own. and other similar ideas. People are having a great time they just want a chance to win and throwing a game just isn't in my nature.



We have thought of having me start always with 2 damage so I have less options to work with. Any ideas are welcome. Also if you are in the Minneapolis area and want to beat me let me know. I love a good challenge. I'm not saying I'm the best. I'm just better than everyone else I play.
 
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DomaGB
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When my cards starting wearing out I ordered more, but it was too late, it was OOP, So my friend and I (cause his set was getting worn out too), decided to sleeve our cards.

We sleeve the program cards and the option cards.

here are 2 suggestions I read about but have not played, which can help handicap players...

1. 1st player must shoot down an invisible shield before gaining access to a flag. Determine if it takes 1-4 shots before its open, random, before game, how close others are...

2. The last player warps to the check point 1 turn after everyone else has touched it.


Another recommendation I suggest is make flag progression pass back and forth, that way those behind have opportunity to shoot and destroy the player in the lead as they head back through those behind to get the next flag.
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Sebastian Zarzycki
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Whatever you do, you are still better at programming robots. I don't think these handicaps would help against beginners - and even if you use them, they might feel offended or just plain dumb (we're so bad, that he has to lay all these additional obstacles). If anything, make it as transparent as possible. I wouldn't even start with damage, just establish a hard limit of, say, 5 cards on hand, instead of 9 - but a limit that cannot be "repaired". They may quickly forget about this, being busy with their own programming. This way you reduce your options and increase more randomness, but you still might win, if you're lucky - which might not be fun after all.

But I think they just need to learn. It has little to do with being a programmer - it just asks for basic spatial recognition and being able to think ahead quickly. There are people who are naturally good at this, people who will pick this up fairly quickly and people who will completely fail every time, because of how their brains work. If you want to even chances out, maybe play a different mode, like team PvP, team CTF or something like that. RoboRally is a great sandbox for these.
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DomaGB
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It is true, there are other ways to play. We play racing (circle no flags), and last one standing as well (we call it "cage match", 1 board, no flags), and almost equally.

But there are people who like this game, and may want handicaps,and while we don't do handicaps, I see no problem if others would like to make some balance.

The game is known to have a run away leader problem, even among equal players, so we just make games go back and forth. The interaction then makes it harder for this problem to happen.

Although we usually still have 1-2 players far behind. And usually 1 or 2 give up capturing flags and go after the leader. Sometimes (40%?), they succeed and the 2nd place person takes the lead and wins. We also have games where 2 or 3 players are close all the way.
 
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Luke Stirling
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I prefer using the Scavenger Hunt II mode from Armed and Dangerous. It acts as a dynamic handicapping system for the leader, without being patronising.

In summary, a pile of option cards equal in size to the number of players is dealt to each flag. When a player reaches a flag, they get an opion card from that flag's pile. But it's an option chosen by the person to the left of them. So the later you get to the flag, the more likely it is that you'll get better and more game changing options.
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Sebastian Zarzycki
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Frankly, option cards are rarely game-changers in late game. It's the ability to manouver, that counts. I don't see how that would affect the runaway leader. He wouldn't care, whatever option he gets, it's still cool, but he will probably win without one anyway. By the time others will reach the flag to get option card, leader will be in a different place on the map, and most probably will not care if someone can mess with him using options.
 
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Luke Stirling
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It works for us. Though it may be dependent on course design. We try to never allow the leader to get fully clear of other players without taking long and circuitous routes that can allow others to catch up. If the maps force interactions, then options can make a huge difference.
 
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Ben Kyo
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Having a reduced hand limit is a massive handicap that works well. You can easily tailor the limit to suit your needs, and combine or not combine it with a decreased damage tolerance. Try starting with a hand limit of 7, and increase or decrease it as required.

Merely starting with 2 damage is not enough to make a difference, in my opinion.
 
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Lots of ideas have been proposed. You can search these forums for more.

Here are a few of mine:

Minor boost to players that are behind:

The first player to touch a flag touches it normally - no rules are modified. He can repair a point of damage if he's on the flag at the end of phase 5.
The second player can use the repair site at the end of phase 4 or 5.
The third player to touch a flag can repair at the end of phase 3, 4, or 5.
The fourth player to the flag can repair on phase 2, 3, 4, or 5.
And subsequent players can repair on any phase at that flag.
They can still only repair once per turn. IOW, they can't repair on phase 4 and again on phase 5 at the same flag.

Bigger boost to players that are behind:

Whenever any player touches a checkpoint, all players who haven't yet touched that checkpoint repair one damage immediately.

Even bigger boost to players that are behind:

As above, but players who are already fully repaired gain an option instead of repairing. (You can tone this one down a bit by saying that every *two* unneeded repairs gives an option, instead of one. Keep track with whatever method is handy - tokens from another game, poker chips, pencil and paper, etc.)
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Gregory Wong
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You could use a timer just for you.
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You get less life, or less lives.

Others start off with 1 or 2 options. Some of them are worthless, but others aren't, so let them pick, or set aside some that have more general utility. For example, I've noticed the Crab Legs that let you strafe by putting a forward movement with a turn has been fairly flexible.
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Michi Hostettler
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DomaGB wrote:
1. 1st player must shoot down an invisible shield before gaining access to a flag. Determine if it takes 1-4 shots before its open, random, before game, how close others are...

This is how we use to play, and I can recommend it as a (partial) fix to the infamous RoboRally 'leader break-away syndrome'. We place a six-sided die on the next untouched flag. The initial value is determined by rolling it - or alternatively, e.g. if there are some novice players in play, you always set it to 6.
The die blocks the flag completely and doesn't allow it to be touched or reached, even by means like teleporters, flying or the mechanical arm. Each point damage dealt to the die, by whatever means (shooting, blowing up explosive devices, running into it with ramming gear) decreases it's value by 1, at zero, it is removed.

This was quite fun for two reasons: First, it clearly slows down the leader, especially if the checkpoint is on an 'unhandy' location that prevents hitting it from afar while approaching. Second, the possibility of blowing the die up by explosives opens up a few tactical possibilities and challenges for the leader ... I remember a game where I sent the Big One down a belt to get rid of a 6-valued die on a hard-to-reach checkpoint.



Also, having crossing path between the flags and a fairly small playing area (~2 boards for 6 checkpoints) helps people to quickly recover after dying by mistake.
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