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Subject: "Below and Above" variant for longer games rss

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Alf Seegert
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We love Above and Below, so much so that our 2-player games end too quickly for us. Here's our "Below and Above" variant for longer games:

When setting up the game, choose a cave on the board as the "entry point" and put the round marker (moon token) there to mark it. (We've been putting it on the second cave from the top. For a less lengthy game, choose the third cave.)

Place a pawn (from any other game) on top of this entry point.

At the end of each round, move the pawn one cave downwards.

If the pawn is at the very bottom, move the pawn upwards instead. Keep moving it up towards the surface in subsequent rounds.

The game ends when the pawn moves off the space holding the round marker / entry point (it goes "back to the surface Above").
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Martin Cubberley
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I think I get it Alf - round marker and pawn both start at the second stop (or third for a shorter game), then pawn counts down as a turn marker as usual. When it hits the bottom it changes direction and goes upwards instead. When it then leaves its initial start point (the one with the round marker on it/step 2), the game ends. Right?

Looks to extend the game by several rounds for sure.

I've only played it with 4, but I really feel the first turn of starting with two thirds of your workforce exhausted is a waste of time too. Was thinking of having this mini turn part of setup instead. Perhaps done in reverse turn order.
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Kim Williams
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_Marty_ wrote:

I've only played it with 4, but I really feel the first turn of starting with two thirds of your workforce exhausted is a waste of time too. Was thinking of having this mini turn part of setup instead. Perhaps done in reverse turn order.
We played it with a normal starting round for 4 players - and ended up running out of cave cards in the final round. Admittedly we do explore most rounds, but if you do a lot of exploring you'll probably find the same. We ended up taking cave cards from below outposts to 'reuse' for the final round.

With anything that makes the game longer I worry you'd a) run out of resource tokens and b) run out of meaningful things to do (we end up feeling like our boards are pretty full, the quests are all completed and the best star buildings are all built).

I do love the game though, and would enjoy having an extra round - though maybe it's easiest to just play a second game?
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Kim Williams
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Just to take the opportunity to say: "Alf, your stories are fantastic!" We have a little meta game of identifying all the Alf stories (so when the story reader reads out something extra quirky or extra funny, someone will always say "I bet that's an Alf story".)

There one, that's such a tongue twister, that it took me about four attempts to read it correctly, and had me laughing for much of the rest of the game.
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Alf Seegert
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entwife wrote:
Just to take the opportunity to say: "Alf, your stories are fantastic!" We have a little meta game of identifying all the Alf stories (so when the story reader reads out something extra quirky or extra funny, someone will always say "I bet that's an Alf story".)

There one, that's such a tongue twister, that it took me about four attempts to read it correctly, and had me laughing for much of the rest of the game.
What you say here makes my day! Seriously. Thank you, entwife! modest

And I'm happy you enjoyed that tongue-twister so much! I hadn't had so much fun with language since writing the quests for Fantastiqa....

I'm co-writing encounters for the Desert Labyrinth expansion of Above and Below, too, so I hope you'll enjoy those just as much!
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Joel Hansen
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I'm wondering about the playtest history for the length. Ryan's games always seem so thoroughly playtested, that I'd be surprised if there wasn't a really good reason for the shortness.

Based on my own limited experience of four games, I would say that the short length might be essential because the game doesn't have catch-up mechanics built into it. Games with more randomness need to stay short in order to maintain the fun.

So for now, though it seems short, I'd just rather play again. (which is exactly what any of my friends who have played this game want to do)

Or if I want something longer, I'd play ancient world or even longer and heavier, City of Iron.
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Alf Seegert
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joelddhans wrote:
I'm wondering about the playtest history for the length. Ryan's games always seem so thoroughly playtested, that I'd be surprised if there wasn't a really good reason for the shortness.
I agree! Ryan does test his games very well. I think the various reasons in this thread (yours included) attest to why the rules exist as they are, and for really good reasons. I'm not arguing that the existing game length is "wrong." I'm just proposing a variant (not a "fix") out of personal preference for a longer game (again, esp. for 2 players, my standard mode) because I've encountered others who felt the same way...
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Dave Kudzma
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entwife wrote:
There one, that's such a tongue twister, that it took me about four attempts to read it correctly, and had me laughing for much of the rest of the game.
We had that one the other day. It's one of the best in the game.
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Tom Hill
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Had our first play though last night. A 2-player game. We loved it - my wife is not much of a gamer, but the storytelling aspect really opened this game/genre up to her. The length we played was very good for us. It took about 80 minutes.

I could see the want (as opposed to need) for a slightly longer game. We had some problems getting a variety of goods onto our board. On my board, I only got 2 goods, mainly due to bad luck with exploring, while my wife managed to collect 6-7 items.

I hear the issue with running out of caves or buildings, but this wasn't an issue for us. There was plenty of everything left to invest in.

I doubt I'd want to tweak any of the balances, until we've managed another 5 or 6 plays, it maybe be our start buildings weren't the best for us and we didn't identify a good strategy to begin the game with!
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Logan Wolf
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I know this is a super old thread, but I just bought above and below and after 1 playthrough with a friend I just can't wait to try it again.

I want to ask you about the encounter book and if this method might rush you through them to where you'll already know the majority of the book after a few playthroughs.

It has a lot of encounters, obviously, but in a similar way that I'm worried I'll never see all the outcomes of Tales of the Arabian Nights I worry I might know all the outcomes of Above and Below too soon.

Thank you.
 
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Chris Mikols
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I have about thirty plays of above and below. Certainly it's inevitable that you'll run into the same encounters. What will help you not run into the same encounters is never shuffling the empty cave cards. Just cycle through them. Also just try not remembering them. If you do, you probably taking gaming and winning way too seriously. And a lot of times while you remember that awesome reward for the 8 exploring you rolled with your 4 explorers you might only have two explorers this time and no chance at the 8 explore points again.
 
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Kiran Wagle
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joelddhans wrote:
I'm wondering about the playtest history for the length. Ryan's games always seem so thoroughly playtested, that I'd be surprised if there wasn't a really good reason for the shortness.

Or if I want something longer, I'd play ancient world or even longer and heavier, City of Iron.
I've played all three of those once each, and all three of them feel too short for me. Two other people have concurred with me about A&B, and in that came two of us used rounds 6 & 7 to math out our best choices for victory points, where I would have preferred to be building up my team and exploring instead. I'd like to hear from Ryan why he chose 7 rounds instead of 10.
 
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Peter Cooper
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alfseegert wrote:


I'm co-writing encounters for the Desert Labyrinth expansion of Above and Below, too, so I hope you'll enjoy those just as much!
Will this be available at retail, or only through a Kickstarter?
 
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Linda Wingenbach
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This is an older thread, but we also have been frustrated with a limit of 7 rounds, both as a 2-player and 4-player game. We have tried an "up and back" but immediately found that 12-14 rounds was way too long! We decided that the "first" round, the round marker is off the round track and placed on to the round track at the end of the first round. The last round (#9) is also played off the round track. Adding two rounds seems to be about right.
 
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Bernie Roessler
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I'm thinking however there might be a problem with too many players maxing out on Reputation. Perhaps the Reputation start point should also be lower.
 
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