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Runebound (Second Edition)» Forums » Variants

Subject: Seeking easy/hard balance using variants rss

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Matt Shepherd
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We've tried the game "vanilla," and found it frustrating after a couple of plays... we were using Allies wrong, which definitely ratcheted up the difficulty a notch, and found the Market steps immensely unuseful. Our feeling after a couple of initial games was that the game was far too melee-oriented, especially when the "road guardian" Event cards started coming out... there's one yellow event we would up removing (our first "variant!") because it basically killed anyone with low Melee that had to cross a road space.

So we implemented the following, in various permutations...

- The Market Step variant somewhere in these lists, where you divide the deck into artifacts/allies/weapons/armour, and draw three (which you can buy or discard) as well as a random card added to the Market Stack;
- Refreshing the adventure tokens when there are no tokens of that colour left on the board, rather than just the starbursts when an Event is drawn;
- Starting with >$5 in free items;
- Losing only gold equal to double-experience reward when KO'd.

Of all of these, the Market variant and the less-serious KO are appreciated all 'round. The KO thing keeps players from being knocked right the heck out of the game (all too often, one bad roll would leave you broke without your only decent ally/item, starting a "losing spiral" that you could never recover from... never enough weapons or allies to face the same challenges as the other players, so you'd never catch up for the rest of the game). The Market variant eliminates the agony of never ever finding a suitable item for your character.

However... the game now feels a bit easy. The only player who had a rough time of it recently came a cropper because she didn't make sure she had enough gold to cover the risk when she took on a challenge and got into the "losing spiral" mentioned above.

I'm wondering if anyone else has any suggestions for other variants that might up the threat of the game half a notch before we start winging off with other house rules. I'm thinking maybe just a three-card draw for the Market Deck -- top one permanent, the next two bought or discarded -- will create enough Market opportunities to make the Market phase decent without the overpowering "cherry-picking" that the current Market variant we're using provides.

Thoughts?
 
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Michael Denman
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MattShepherd wrote:
Our feeling after a couple of initial games was that the game was far too melee-oriented, especially when the "road guardian" Event cards started coming out... there's one yellow event we would up removing (our first "variant!") because it basically killed anyone with low Melee that had to cross a road space.


Having played mages the last few times, I don't know what you're talking about. Seriously, what are you saying? Are you saying having a low melee stat is going to make you lose all of the time? Then I'd say that's not true at all.

MattShepherd wrote:
- The Market Step variant somewhere in these lists, where you divide the deck into artifacts/allies/weapons/armour, and draw three (which you can buy or discard) as well as a random card added to the Market Stack;


I had considered this, but found it unnecessary. It may depend on the number of players you have. I favor playing with two players and there's plenty of equipment available for us. If you had a lot of players, then you might want to do something about the market.

MattShepherd wrote:
- Refreshing the adventure tokens when there are no tokens of that colour left on the board, rather than just the starbursts when an Event is drawn;


No. If the counters of one color are all gone, this is the game's subtle way to tell you to stop being such a chicken and move up to the next level. Don't forget to modify the refresh rate if you're using the Challenge Decks from the first wave of expansions.

MattShepherd wrote:
- Starting with >$5 in free items;


I'm against this one. If you want to adjust the Market Step based on number of players, then fine, but free equipment makes the game a lot easier.

MattShepherd wrote:
- Losing only gold equal to double-experience reward when KO'd.


I've adopted the idea that all of your gold is a 'purse' and that you simply lose your most valuable item or ally. That seems to soften the Knockouts enough. While true that Knockouts can set you back, I don't fault the game entirely. In fact, I'll bet you that at least 75% of the time I see someone Knocked out it's because they wouldn't attempt Escape. One of my friends will NEVER attempt an escape when we play. If you're going to be so bull-headed and prideful, then you deserve what you get...

 
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Matt Shepherd
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Trump wrote:
MattShepherd wrote:
Our feeling after a couple of initial games was that the game was far too melee-oriented, especially when the "road guardian" Event cards started coming out... there's one yellow event we would up removing (our first "variant!") because it basically killed anyone with low Melee that had to cross a road space.


Having played mages the last few times, I don't know what you're talking about. Seriously, what are you saying? Are you saying having a low melee stat is going to make you lose all of the time? Then I'd say that's not true at all.


In this case, it was a Yellow event that would spawn a creature with a very high Melee score (but low Ranged and Magic) every time any hero entered a Road space. I don't have the stats in front of me, but it would often come up early in the Yellow deck, before the Magic-based characters had much of a chance to build up any decent weapons or allies. So the Melee characters would defeat it no sweat, smacking it down in Melee and defending in the other phases no problem, but the Magic characters would inevitably take wounds, and often get KO'd, before they even completed that combat and got on with their move action. Then they'd wind up in the nearest town without their best items and gold, have to leave the town, inevitably step on a road square eventually, get KO'd again... Spiral of Doom! It thorougly skewed the game towards Melee in the first third, and there was never any balancing Events to do the same for Ranged or Magic. So we dumped it. I've never been happier.
 
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Swood
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Trump wrote:
In fact, I'll bet you that at least 75% of the time I see someone Knocked out it's because they wouldn't attempt Escape. One of my friends will NEVER attempt an escape when we play. If you're going to be so bull-headed and prideful, then you deserve what you get...


So very true, and guilty as charged. I sometimes forget that escape is even an option! Knockouts, as written, are extremely painful. And accordingly, they should be avoided with utmost care. The game is trying to force the player to act more "realistically", which isn't a bad thing at all.

It's like playing a first-person shooter in one-shot-kill mode. Suddenly you realize that you can't run into a room with guns blazing. You actually need to be careful and take your time.

...which is why people like to soften knockouts in Runebound... the time issue. It's hard to apply patience to a game that already take a very long time to play out.

 
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Matt Shepherd
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Trump wrote:

No. If the counters of one color are all gone, this is the game's subtle way to tell you to stop being such a chicken and move up to the next level. Don't forget to modify the refresh rate if you're using the Challenge Decks from the first wave of expansions.


I can definitely tell you're used to playing with two players. There just aren't enough greens to go around when you're playing with four or five, and the people that level up first (and move on to the yellows pronto) start bounding ahead if the Event cards don't come up in the first half of the green deck.

How do you modify the refresh rate? We've added Dark Forest and Terrors of the Tomb to the game...
 
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Wiz Wiz
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Matt

One way to make the game a bit tougher is to use a slightly different market variant than the one you are using. Instead of 4 different categories, place the armor & weapons together in one. So there are just 3 piles. This way you can't be assured of drawing 3 armor cards or 3 weapon cards to view. Also, you can make it harder to get a card in the open market stack from the Arm/Wep category when you have a market step in a town. So instead of 1-3 Arm/Wep .. 4-6 Ally .. 7-10 Relics, use 1-2 Arm/Wep .. 3-6 Ally .. 7-10 Relics.

Wiz
 
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Michael Denman
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MattShepherd wrote:
Trump wrote:

No. If the counters of one color are all gone, this is the game's subtle way to tell you to stop being such a chicken and move up to the next level. Don't forget to modify the refresh rate if you're using the Challenge Decks from the first wave of expansions.


I can definitely tell you're used to playing with two players. There just aren't enough greens to go around when you're playing with four or five, and the people that level up first (and move on to the yellows pronto) start bounding ahead if the Event cards don't come up in the first half of the green deck.

How do you modify the refresh rate? We've added Dark Forest and Terrors of the Tomb to the game...


To be fair, I played four player last month and we didn't have any problems with the refreshes. Sure, the counters were running mighty low, but we had a winner before it became a problem. However, I DO usually play with only two.

Anyway, you DEFINITELY need to fix your refresh rate to account for those two expansions no matter how many players you have. Maybe this alone will make everything fall into place for you. You'll be able to find all kinds of ways that people have made the adjustment, but mine is best. Simply put, consider the following Encounters to ALSO cause a refresh and you'll mathematically have the same refresh rate as the base game :

A Hero of Old Awakens X 3 (there's one in each deck)
Gift of the Druid (green)
Gift of the Fey (yellow)
Transformations X 2 (blue)

You could, of course, choose different cards than I did. My goal was to choose the easiest ones to remember and I think I've done as best can be done there.
 
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Lee Hodgson
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http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/107299

You will find some ideas here . So far the percentile dice we use is working fine . It is much harder to find a ' random ' treasure on a green than a red for obvious reasons . But more items are seen now that we have so many expansions , so many good items to loot !
 
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