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Shadows of Brimstone: City of the Ancients» Forums » Variants

Subject: Suggestions for faster game-halving spawns rss

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Aaron Lambert
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I only have City of the Ancients so I don't know much about the other expansions. I've played 3 or so two player games, a four player game and a five player game. Already I can tell one of the major problems is the game length. I really enjoy SoB but it's hard for me to dive into anything much more than a 3 hour commitment. Now, maybe that means just avoiding anything over 4 players, and I could handle that, but even so the 2 and 4 player games were almost too long and they were some of the shorter missions.

I've heard using collective gold and XP instead of individual is a good way to cut some time down and I'm going to give that a go, but the main problem I find is every time a battle happens, the game seems to grind to a crawl. I find this unfortunate because a battle should be interesting and intense, when most the time it feels like a very drawn out slugfest. Ugh, another battle, we just finished one and that took forever! We had one mission where we only got two tiles in and just decided to call next battle the finale because it was taking too long, so much for exploration.

The one idea I've had to speed up battles is based on a rule already in the game. If you have more of the same enemy come out than you have figures for, you just add an elite ability. Essentially, you could have a situation where you'd need to double the amount of creatures, but all you'd do is add one elite to the pre-existing figures. So, in essence, you are halving what should be on the board and adding an elite ability instead. In that case, couldn't you just do that any time enemies come up, halve the total and add an elite ability? Maybe at some point even flip them to brutal?
My goal is to keep the difficulty the same but make the battle go much quicker.
The tricky part is what to do with odd numbers of spawns: should I round up or down?
And I imagine there would be certain ideal parameters, like how many figures I should allow based on how many players are on the board. And this could changed based on the size of the creature spawning. 6 spiders for example isn't that big of a deal by themselves. And large creatures might not need to be reduced as there are very few to begin with.
I would also think if there was an ambush then the halving rules would only apply to the new ambush monsters coming out, not to the new total of all monsters to be placed on the board.

Thoughts?
Have you tried something similar?
Do you see pitfalls with this method?
Do you have a better idea of how to make battles go faster?

Thanks!
~A
 
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ScottL
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That may work, will have to give it a few tries. I also find the the sheer number of nasties on the board at (random) times can be frustrating, and just slows things down in administrivia. But then again thats usually when sticks of dynamite start flying!
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David Griffin
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This is something I think about too. Regular RPGs wear the players down with monsters who are not expected to really defeat the Heros, only wear them out a bit. Miniature games typically have fairly even sides and a continuous battle going on for the length of the game. SoB is kind of unique in that there are massive (seemingly) one-sided battles with a few Heros facing off against staggering numbers of enemies again and again. It's a weird thing to see.

Some of the battles (even the incidental ones generated by encounters or hold back the darkness fails) can go on forever. Then I start forgetting some of the cards I have to play and I also tend to sometimes forget the elite talents of the monsters or the abilities (fear rolls and the like). There is just too much to keep track of.

I'd kind of rather have a fixed battle to fight instead of a constantly changing one with more threats, but I guess that isn't the kind of game SoB is.
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Brian C
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carbon_dragon wrote:
I'd kind of rather have a fixed battle to fight instead of a constantly changing one with more threats, but I guess that isn't the kind of game SoB is.

Much easier to make a game like this. Having to worry about balance must be such a drag anyways.

And that would be the issue with building this kind of variant too, IMO: you're depending on the enemies being so very balanced, that you can halve this number and double that one and come out with something manageable.

I just don't think you can do that with the numbers in this game. The overwhelming feeling I get is that things were just tossed on top of eachother. In the end it's a fun game.. but I would probably keep mathematics, or any of the exact sciences, away from it.
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Aaron Lambert
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ScooterNH wrote:
That may work, will have to give it a few tries. I also find the the sheer number of nasties on the board at (random) times can be frustrating, and just slows things down in administrivia. But then again thats usually when sticks of dynamite start flying!


Agreed. It makes the fight final (at least in missions that have a finale) a little less dramatic. It just feels like more of the same. But with a ramp up of little skirmishes I think I'd like it more and it'd be less of a time sink. Dynamite is clutch, it's come in very handy every game so far.

carbon_dragon wrote:
Some of the battles (even the incidental ones generated by encounters or hold back the darkness fails) can go on forever. Then I start forgetting some of the cards I have to play and I also tend to sometimes forget the elite talents of the monsters or the abilities (fear rolls and the like). There is just too much to keep track of.

I'd kind of rather have a fixed battle to fight instead of a constantly changing one with more threats, but I guess that isn't the kind of game SoB is.


Yeah, I'm in the same boat. Since I own the game I end up doing the DM bits, and it is a lot to keep track of, so much that I wonder if I should just commit to running the game and not playing it myself. I often will forget about an elite on a monster type or one of the darkness effect cards taking place. But in the end I just think, oh well, it was hard enough already and no one would have cared. Maybe fixed battles would be a better way to go, rather than allowing so much chance.

Exo Desta wrote:
And that would be the issue with building this kind of variant too, IMO: you're depending on the enemies being so very balanced, that you can halve this number and double that one and come out with something manageable.

I just don't think you can do that with the numbers in this game. The overwhelming feeling I get is that things were just tossed on top of eachother. In the end it's a fun game.. but I would probably keep mathematics, or any of the exact sciences, away from it.


You have a point. The game feels very "swingy" where you really don't know what to expect and it's hardly balanced. I guess that's the mindset you need: things could quickly go to either extreme. The odd part to me is they seem to have attempted at balancing it because there are quite a few conditional rules to remember, but in the end it's still very chaotic.

My hope with this variant is to allow for the same level of unexpected challenge but not have the results take so long and thus become so frustrating. Then again, I wouldn't mind clamping down the chaos a little as well, not necessarily to make it easier, but I think it'd be more fun with a ramp-up as the mission progresses rather than crazy long battle after crazy long battle.
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ScottL
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Appologies up front, as this is a side-track from your original post (halving the numbers of enemies, but increasing their elites)

I keep looking at the Depth tracker and thinking that there might be some way to use it to help scale the number of enemy groups accordingly. Less when you start on your path down into the mines and more as you get deeper.

Simplest idea might be just to take a look at which of the major 3 segments the posse is on the depth track. The first tier (Rooms 1-5) maybe could be limited to 1 (or maybe 2) spawn groups max (after that add elite abilities instead of higher enemy count). In the middle tier (rooms 6-10) it would be 3 enemy groups max. In the deeper 3rd tier, perhaps make it 5 spawn groups max.

Anyway - I'm not sure on the actual numbers of spawn groups that would make sense, but just tossing the general idea out for groupthink. It might help make things lighter at the start and crazier as you work your way down in a more natural progression.

I suppose we also could look at the "Darkness" working it's way up the depth chart (levels 1-15) as well for some sort of modifier (The masses of enemies are working their way up the mine over time). Hadn't really thought that through much.
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Aaron Lambert
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ScooterNH wrote:
Appologies up front, as this is a side-track from your original post (halving the numbers of enemies, but increasing their elites)

I keep looking at the Depth tracker and thinking that there might be some way to use it to help scale the number of enemy groups accordingly. Less when you start on your path down into the mines and more as you get deeper.


ScooterNH wrote:
I suppose we also could look at the "Darkness" working it's way up the depth chart (levels 1-15) as well for some sort of modifier (The masses of enemies are working their way up the mine over time). Hadn't really thought that through much.


No need to apologize, I'm looking for any way to speed the game up and make it run a little smoother.

I think that's a great suggestion and one which makes more sense thematically, the further you go the worse threats should become, possibly the same with the closeness of the darkness to the mine exit. Having a giant confrontation right out of the gate, on the other hand, doesn't really make a lot of sense. (What, we just got here and there was a whole hoard of nasties waiting for us even though the "darkness" is still deep down within the mine.)

Would have to play around with the numbers on this to see how it works, but I think you may have something there.
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