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Mage Knight Board Game» Forums » Variants

Subject: Specialized Characters With Persistent Powers rss

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C F
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One of the biggest problems I have with Mage Knight is the near-identical characters, at least at the start of the game. Their models and back-stories are cool, but they play like virtual clones during the first third of each play-through. I believe they should have some substantial differences right from the start to make each feel unique.

So here's my variant to address this:

At the start of the game before shuffling your starting deck, remove each Mage Knight's unique Basic Action card and place aside. This card will never be shuffled into your Deed deck and will instead be used as an optional power each turn depending on whether it is day or night.

Before drawing your hand each turn, each player may decide to use his unique Action card as 1 slot of his hand limit instead of drawing all new cards. At the end of each turn, the unique card is placed aside once more and the rest of the cards are discarded as usual. The unique card can continue to be chosen as part of your hand every turn, but before the other cards are drawn.

To make sure they're not too overpowered, there's a catch. To fit their theme, Mage Knights can only use their unique card during every other round, either during the day or during the night as indicated:

Arythea & Tovak: Night
Norowas & Goldyx: Day

The unique card is simply placed aside and unused during this round.
-------------

Some great things happen as a result of this variant:

1. During competitive games, forcing the end of the round becomes more important for Mage Knights who want to inhibit their opponents goals, and time certain actions just right.

2. Players now have another difficult choice to make before each hand drawn and will need to plan things out more. For example, if Norowas is near villages and is ready to recruit he will want to use his unique card at this time, but will want to save it when ready to attack a keep or city.

3. More theme. Now Day and Night is even more distinct, and players can come into the game with a character that is far more defined and unique.
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David desJardins
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Way unbalanced, some cards are much better to use over and over and some are more specialized.

The first round is also by far the most important and so an advantage in the first round is worth a lot more than an advantage in the second round.
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Javier Plaza
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I agree with you on the problem, would like to feel more "uniqueness" in the characters. However I find your cure for the illness somewhat shattering the good oiled mechanics of the game, as far as cardplay is concerned. I think this uniqueness doesn´t rely only on the cards, but also (and specially) on the skills set. For example I am not happy with the rule of the common skills pool, and I´d rather have characters growing out of their skills sets only, with a wider range of choices they have now (1 skill to pick out of 2 every two levels). I haven´t come up with an alternative on this yet, tho shake

- Elia
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Brian C
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It was an interesting solution though! And could have merit with some playtesting and modifications where needed.
 
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Erich Schneider
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Note that Lost Legion adds another unique basic action card for each character, further differentiating them.
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David desJardins
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If you want more things that can have an effect every turn, they already exist in the game, lots of skills are of that form. You could give people skills from the start. In practice, though, players try very hard to level up and get a skill in the first couple of turns, and the game is constructed to facilitate that (I don't think it's a coincidence that players start very close to getting their first skill).
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C F
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DaviddesJ wrote:
Way unbalanced, some cards are much better to use over and over and some are more specialized.

The first round is also by far the most important and so an advantage in the first round is worth a lot more than an advantage in the second round.


Fair assessment, but I'll respectfully disagree. All unique character cards have an equal probability of being drawn, if some unique cards were "much better to use over and over" compared to others, as you put it, it would unbalance the game in the long run just as much as it would in the early game. All probabilities being equal, you're saying that the game is already unbalanced for some unique cards. Then again, the back of the manual actually states that Arythea is the strongest Mage Knight, so perhaps it is already intentionally unbalanced.

I see it as a vastly different way to play a character. Arythea is going to want to go to battle as fast as she can, but Norowas is going to want to hit the villages and get a nice army to support him as well as buy up the advanced action cards, spells and healing. I don't see either strategy as more overpowered than another.

That's fine though, take it or leave it, this variant has worked great for me so far. I haven't felt like anyone was overpowered at all. Everything evens out well for me.
 
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David desJardins
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lumin wrote:
All unique character cards have an equal probability of being drawn, if some unique cards were "much better to use over and over" compared to others, as you put it, it would unbalance the game in the long run just as much as it would in the early game.


That's just not right. Compare a card like Instinct, which is useful on virtually every single turn, to a card like Noble Manners, which is useless most turns but more powerful if you set up the best opportunity to use it in the best way. There are some cards that you can use effectively 5 times in one round, and some that you just can't.
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C F
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DaviddesJ wrote:
lumin wrote:
All unique character cards have an equal probability of being drawn, if some unique cards were "much better to use over and over" compared to others, as you put it, it would unbalance the game in the long run just as much as it would in the early game.


That's just not right. Compare a card like Instinct, which is useful on virtually every single turn, to a card like Noble Manners, which is useless most turns but more powerful if you set up the best opportunity to use it in the best way. There are some cards that you can use effectively 5 times in one round, and some that you just can't.


Is Instict a basic unique card? I don't have the expansions...

Noble Manners is awesome, free fame just for visiting a settlement and interacting. You could easily get from settlement to settlement on almost every turn, or even sit in one town and rack up the fame. Sounds great to me.
 
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howl hollow howl
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Instinct: FTMFW. This jumped out at me even before reading DdJ's latest reply.

Mana Pull: I pity the opponent who wants to use the advanced part of spells.

Crystal Joy: What would be the point of the advanced action?

Rejuvenate: You would always take the option, cuz if you cannot use it otherwise, you can always use it to draw the card it replaced!

 
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David desJardins
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lumin wrote:
Is Instict a basic unique card? I don't have the expansions...


Instinct is the unique card for Arythea in the expansion.

http://unofficialmageknighttheboardgame.wikia.com/wiki/Insti...

Looking only at the base game, the cards are maybe more comparably useful. But interacting every turn just doesn't work very well. After you play for a while, generating 1 Fame per turn is going to seem very lame.
 
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C F
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Dave wrote:
Instinct: FTMFW. This jumped out at me even before reading DdJ's latest reply.

Mana Pull: I pity the opponent who wants to use the advanced part of spells.

Crystal Joy: What would be the point of the advanced action?

Rejuvenate: You would always take the option, cuz if you cannot use it otherwise, you can always use it to draw the card it replaced!



I don't know, unbalanced is unbalanced. If it would unbalance the game for 3 turns, it would unbalance the game for 3 rounds too. We're still talking about repeat use of these cards, I'm just saying to use them in a shorter time frame each time. If you're given a d12 and asked to roll a natural 1 and I'm given a d10 and asked to roll a natural 1, the probability of me getting a 1 is better than you whether we roll one time or a thousand.

I think you are over-thinking and giving the game too much credit already in the balance dept anyway. The author states in his own manual in more than one place that one Mage Knight is better than the others, and also states to do an auction draw to mix up characters to achieve better balance.

So, really, it's pretty clear that its a myth that some kind of delicate balance already exists in the game, an admission made by its own author.
 
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that Matt
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lumin wrote:
I think you are over-thinking and giving the game too much credit already in the balance dept anyway. The author states in his own manual in more than one place that one Mage Knight is better than the others, and also states to do an auction draw to mix up characters to achieve better balance.

I generally have a "it's your game, play it how you want" attitude toward variants. If you want to mix it up and play this way, go for it. But I think it's a mistake to reason that since the game is not perfectly balanced, balance is irrelevant.

If one player has a 5% edge over another, I probably won't care (or notice). If there's a 20% edge, I'll be concerned. If there's a 40% edge, I'll wonder why we are playing such a screwy game.

Go on and play with character specialization, it's the Variants forum after all, but if you're just going to throw the value of balance entirely out the window... I'm not sure you're going to get much support.

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Will Reaves
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DaviddesJ wrote:
lumin wrote:
Is Instict a basic unique card? I don't have the expansions...


Instinct is the unique card for Arythea Tovak in the expansion.

http://unofficialmageknighttheboardgame.wikia.com/wiki/Insti...

Looking only at the base game, the cards are maybe more comparably useful. But interacting every turn just doesn't work very well. After you play for a while, generating 1 Fame per turn is going to seem very lame.

Agree on the commentary. If I had the choice between improvisation or diplomacy as an option every turn, I'm taking improvisation, since there are far more turns where improvisation would be useful. It shouldn't be a surprise that an improvisation replacement is more generically useful than a diplomacy replacement.
 
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Tom Rojas
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With all due respect, this would not work and would change a lot the game, for the bad i mean. I think it is ok with LL . Dont like the idea.

-tom
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Phil McDonald
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I like the sentiment of creating a bit of variation, but not the implementation.
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C F
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tumorous wrote:
lumin wrote:
I think you are over-thinking and giving the game too much credit already in the balance dept anyway. The author states in his own manual in more than one place that one Mage Knight is better than the others, and also states to do an auction draw to mix up characters to achieve better balance.

I generally have a "it's your game, play it how you want" attitude toward variants. If you want to mix it up and play this way, go for it. But I think it's a mistake to reason that since the game is not perfectly balanced, balance is irrelevant.

If one player has a 5% edge over another, I probably won't care (or notice). If there's a 20% edge, I'll be concerned. If there's a 40% edge, I'll wonder why we are playing such a screwy game.



Yeah, I really don't see the problem. All characters get an equal chance to use their unique cards just as in the normal rules. During the first round, the assumption is that one character would get an insurmountable head start playing this way. But he is very limited with what he can actually do with that head start. He's going to get his "advantage" visiting one or two villages and killing an orc group or two. At best, he may be able to take the keep.

His slight edge will last up until the last round, when the night characters get to use their unique card with the entire map revealed. That is quite a lot more acreage to farm than what the first round offered.

Secondly, unique cards are really only good for the early game anyway. Is, for example, the +1 fame and 2 influence from Good Intentions really going to be helpful in the late game when players are are gaining 15 or 20 fame each turn conquering cities? Is +1 fame for a couple turns during the first round really so insurmountable by anyone else throughout the rest of the game? I don't think so.

Finally, I've always agreed with the designer that Arythea is more powerful simply because her abilities revolve around combat skill. I think combat power is the best route to focus on during the game, and having cards/skills that give you that more often will give you a better advantage. Therefore giving both Norowas and Goldyx (less combat focused characters) a slight boost during the first round actually evens the field better. I honestly think this variant does a better job at balance than the vanilla game itself because of that.

But to each his own. I don't play these games to win as some do. I play for the theme. I'm not going to go to a convention anytime soon to compete in a Mage Knight tournament. I play the game with my family most of the time and it's about having a good time. If I see that one character is inherently stronger than someone else, I give that character to the worst player in my group to even things up.

This isn't and shouldn't be Magic: The Gathering, we're here to explore a vast fantasy world where, just as in most good fantasy novels, things don't always play fair. I like that, and if there is imbalance in the game, I say: Good! Bring it on, I like the challenge.
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Brian C
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I enjoy your moxie lumin.

And I think there is a place for persistent powers in MK yet, but I think you're catching a lot of flak due to the fact that each of the basic deed cards were created for a specific purpose - making some of them much more effective at gaining the headway you need to beat a given scenario, while others are aimed more at niche-type situations and therefore would be much less useful.

Still I would love to see a variant, or an official expansion, that brings to bear your idea here of giving each Mage Knight a power or set of powers usable at a whim, rather than relying on card draw and skill selection for everything.
 
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lumin wrote:
But to each his own. I don't play these games to win as some do. I play for the theme. I'm not going to go to a convention anytime soon to compete in a Mage Knight tournament. I play the game with my family most of the time and it's about having a good time. If I see that one character is inherently stronger than someone else, I give that character to the worst player in my group to even things up.

This isn't and shouldn't be Magic: The Gathering, we're here to explore a vast fantasy world where, just as in most good fantasy novels, things don't always play fair. I like that, and if there is imbalance in the game, I say: Good! Bring it on, I like the challenge.

Hey, fair enough. I have almost the opposite viewpoint, but to each their own. And now that you've made your position clear, I'd expect fewer people will bug you about balance considerations.
 
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Javier Plaza
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How about playing the character cards (where the inventory and command tokens are located) sideways to obtain an especific effect, as if coming off a card played from hand?

Arythea - activate to use the strong effect of a red action card without using red mana
Goldyx - same as above, but with green action cards
Tovak - same as above, but with blue action cards
Norowas - same as above, but with white action cards

In a similar way to some skills, the ability to use your character card as a once per round unique skill could be cool, and it would be a way to start the game with a character´s unique power, rather than waiting for luck to bring it to you. It is important not to implement something too powerful or to break the balance of game mechanics, though

- Elia
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Sam Carroll
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Eliadann wrote:
How about playing the character cards (where the inventory and command tokens are located) sideways to obtain an especific effect, as if coming off a card played from hand?

Arythea - activate to use the strong effect of a red action card without using red mana
Goldyx - same as above, but with green action cards
Tovak - same as above, but with blue action cards
Norowas - same as above, but with white action cards

In a similar way to some skills, the ability to use your character card as a once per round unique skill could be cool, and it would be a way to start the game with a character´s unique power, rather than waiting for luck to bring it to you. It is important not to implement something too powerful or to break the balance of game mechanics, though

- Elia


Now that sounds interesting! It strengthens the characters slightly (but you could scale up difficulty in response, if you want) and offers slightly more distinction among them.
 
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Mike
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DaviddesJ wrote:
lumin wrote:
Is Instict a basic unique card? I don't have the expansions...


Instinct is the unique card for Arythea in the expansion.

http://unofficialmageknighttheboardgame.wikia.com/wiki/Insti...

Looking only at the base game, the cards are maybe more comparably useful. But interacting every turn just doesn't work very well. After you play for a while, generating 1 Fame per turn is going to seem very lame.


(*Tovak. It's a replacement for the base game's Improvisation. Arythea gets a replacement for the white Mana Draw/Mana Pull, whatever it's called.)
 
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Rahul Chandra
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Now I want to try a variant where I start with every character's unique cards, and draw skills from the whole set. Maybe only start with 12 cards as compensation, or just live with not being able to take skills from the common offer or plan for future skills as enough of a penalty.
 
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C F
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Played with this variant again last night. Love it. Even though I can use the unique card every turn if I wanted, I still only see it played about as often as I did when it was in my deed deck. Balance still feels identical to before. But I'm getting a lot more choices to make every turn to try to take advantage of it.
 
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ed monk
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This thread is interesting... Did you consider maybe being able to use the card just once a round not once a turn... Norowas is my fave knight, and the amount of time noble manners is played sideways is not funny....

But with goldyx & will focus, that seems to really help the dragon, every time there is a green ( or gold ) in the source they get a card at +3, which would be crazy... or even just a green crystal every turn for 3 turns then will focus 3 times... how do you get around this?
 
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