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Subject: Proposed 2 player variants rss

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Damon Asher
United States
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I finally took the plunge and purchased Helios. My plays are mostly two-player, and I am a bit concerned that it is not at its best at this player count because it is relatively unconstrained and there's not a lot to shake things up from game to game. Here's some variants I am considering, and I'd appreciate your thoughts on these. Having not played with more than 2, it is also possible that I am wrong in my assumption that the game is more dynamic with more players.

Option 1: Make things more expensive (simple!)
5 tiles of a color are needed to earn a free action, rather than just 4.
Characters cost 1 mana more than the printed cost.

Option 2: Dice-driven dummy players (1d6 and 1d12 needed)
Use the 4-player rules (4 rounds, discard remaining action tiles at the end of every round). Dummy player “Hal” follows player 1, and dummy player "Sal" follows player 2. The dummies can receive the start player token.

In phase 1, on Hal and Sal’s turn, roll a d6. Start at the first action tile column and count over as many as the die roll. Wrap around to the first column when you reach the end. Skip any empty columns. Hal or Sal takes and discards the bottom tile in the column chosen by the die. If Hal takes a land action tile, roll the d6, count across the land tile stacks, and discard the one you land on.

In phase 2, make sure the characters are sorted in ascending order of mana cost (randomly distributed within each group). On Hal’s first turn, roll a d12. Count across that many characters, wrapping back to the beginning if needed. Discard the character you land on (this gives a greater chance that the cheaper characters will get discarded). Hal and Sal only get one turn in phase 2.

I like the idea of option 2 because it means you can’t count on certain tiles and characters being available to you, maybe better giving the feel of a game with more players.

Option 3: Blocking turns (the nasty, er I mean strategic variant)
Play as a 4 player game (4 rounds, discard remaining action tiles at the end of every round)

In phase 1, after both players have taken their turns, they then, in turn order, select a tile at the bottom of a column and discard it. Discarding a land action tile also requires the discarding of a land tile or Bonus tile.

In phase 3, for each player’s sole action on their second turn, she takes a character and discards it.

I like this one because it introduces strategic blocking techniques, and avoids the possible problem in option 2 of one player getting disproportionately screwed over by the dummy players. Is it too nasty though?
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