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Artifacts, Inc.» Forums » Variants

Subject: Faster 4 player game variant rss

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Robert F-C
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The downtime between turns in a four player game can sometimes stray to the marginally too long if you have players who like to take their time to consider all their options (especially towards the end game) - at least for impatient types like me. In my experience this hasn't been an issue in 3 player games and not a problem in all 4 player games, i.e., it obviously varies from group to group - it also demonstrates that there are meaningful decisions to make.

The variant is simple: in a 4 player game you simply have two sets of dice and a timer. If a players turn takes more than 2 minutes (or shorter or longer as desired) the next player around the table resets the timer and begins their turn simultaneously (once the second set of dice are available). The first player can continue playing.

Simultaneous players are _not_ competing on placing _dice_ on private or public action cards (including the museum cards) or the dive card - they can both place dice on these - they are only competing to place a cube on the same museum spot, to pick up the same asset card or to pick up the same dive card.

Resolution is simple: the first person to legally place the relevant action die and pick up the desired asset card (and be able to pay the cost) or to pick up the top dive card or to place a cube on a museum spot, gets that card or museum position.

A slower player should also not have too much of an overall penalty - no worse than swapping your turn order around the table by a single place and they aren't forced to finish their turn in a specific time. A 2 minute limit is also quite a generous limit and so players can easily focus on accomplishing any of the (potentially) contended actions they wish to do first.

At the end of each player's turn, the reputation table is updated and the dice are given to the next player who needs them. The game ends as normal.

This variant also adds a real-time element to play without forcing a player to complete their turn in a limited amount of time.

If new players are involved, then you probably should play the first couple of turns normally without any time pressure but that shouldn't be a problem early-on anyway. You could also give the more experienced players a slight handicap, i.e., a shorter time limit such as a 60 or 90 second time limit before allowing the next player to start (which speeds up the game even more).

Also even if you want to make no changes to the game, then even just having a second set of dice can also speed up a game up (as the next player can immediately roll their action dice and then start planning their turn). This makes a big difference in itself.

Love this game.

Thoughts?
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Bob D
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I completely understand the concern of downtime; I've had the same. What we've done to alleviate it is to bring in another 7 dice so the next player can roll and think through their turn while the first player is taking theirs. It speeds things up but doesn't disrupt the shared competition spaces -- only one person takes their turn at a time. Early in the game almost everybody can roll immediately too (although that won't work once people upgrade or obtain adventurers or archaeologists).

With five plays logged, everyone is speeding up too. I think familiarity will help with downtime. But I still think downtime is a potential issue.

However, we've had multiple people pursuing dive or museum majorities, so I think simultaneous adjacent play could get sticky.
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Robert F-C
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Good idea about the second pair of dice speeding things up even without any other changes. I'll mention it in the original post. I've also rewritten the variant to simply stagger plays - that seems simpler.
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Jordan Booth
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You might also try having everyone roll at once and go around performing one action per turn until everyone is out of dice, start player rotates left.
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Marty McFly
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Born-of-Ashes wrote:
You might also try having everyone roll at once and go around performing one action per turn until everyone is out of dice, start player rotates left.

I just happen to have a bunch of 12mm dice in the right (or close enough) colors. I might give something like this a try and see if I can make the common spaces (Private Collector, Guide Work, Museums, and Dive) once player per round, like other worker placement games. It might break some aspects (e.g. Dive artifacts would become less common, so their corresponding points cards would be less desirable; perhaps Dive would be an exception...). But it would also add an element of indirect player interaction that doesn't currently exist in the game.

If I can make it work, I'll report back.
 
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ozzy perez
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martidem wrote:
Born-of-Ashes wrote:
You might also try having everyone roll at once and go around performing one action per turn until everyone is out of dice, start player rotates left.

I just happen to have a bunch of 12mm dice in the right (or close enough) colors. I might give something like this a try and see if I can make the common spaces (Private Collector, Guide Work, Museums, and Dive) once player per round, like other worker placement games. It might break some aspects (e.g. Dive artifacts would become less common, so their corresponding points cards would be less desirable; perhaps Dive would be an exception...). But it would also add an element of indirect player interaction that doesn't currently exist in the game.

If I can make it work, I'll report back.


Hey Marty, did you try it? If so.. Any update on how the flow of the game changed?
 
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Marty McFly
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SapoLJackson wrote:
martidem wrote:
Born-of-Ashes wrote:
You might also try having everyone roll at once and go around performing one action per turn until everyone is out of dice, start player rotates left.

I just happen to have a bunch of 12mm dice in the right (or close enough) colors. I might give something like this a try and see if I can make the common spaces (Private Collector, Guide Work, Museums, and Dive) once player per round, like other worker placement games. It might break some aspects (e.g. Dive artifacts would become less common, so their corresponding points cards would be less desirable; perhaps Dive would be an exception...). But it would also add an element of indirect player interaction that doesn't currently exist in the game.

If I can make it work, I'll report back.


Hey Marty, did you try it? If so.. Any update on how the flow of the game changed?

I tried it once, and it was more trouble for us than it was worth. Not necessarily because of the blocking (although that was part of it; see below), but because it introduced the need for additional rules:

-Once players have a different number of dice, when do the blocking dice get removed? Still when all players have placed dice, or when every player has place a number of dice equal to the lowest amount? Does either option create an advantage/disadvantage for certain players (either with more/fewer dice, or in the turn order)?

-Speaking of turn order, you'd want to have each player have equal opportunity for blocking. So, the First Player marker has to move between "rounds". When a player reaches 20RP, whose turn ends the game? Still the last player of the first round, or did the new turn ordering give a certain player an extra/fewer turn?

Those above items are going to require extensive playtesting, which we decided not to do. There are other issues/frustrations as well because, based on turn order, it could be 2, 3, or 4 rounds before you get the opportunity to sell Artifacts to get the money you need. In the meantime, you're left gaining a bunch more Artifacts that you don't need (and don't have the components to track). All this really accomplished is slowing down the game.

In the end, I'm not sure Artifacts, Inc. is a good fit for worker placement blocking. Well...there might be a decent variant out there in someone's head, but after our (very limited) attempt, we think it's better to just leave it as is.
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Paul Ferguson
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The timer idea is good, had a 4 player game of this on the weekend that took over 90 mins. One of the players was taking close to 5 mins every turn. Placing his dice, then changing his mind at the last second. I ended the game early by getting to 20 points knowing that I would lose the game. I like the game but would avoid playing with an AP player. I played a 3 player game of Queens Architect straight after this game, and taught it and finished the game in 60 mins. Queens Architect only allows each player to take one action per turn, hence why it is quicker overall. So the idea of one action per player for this game does sound interesting if the rules could accommodate it
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