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Subject: "Friendly" Variant? rss

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Greg Byrd
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I'd like to play this game with my wife, but I know the combat is not going to go over well. I thought I heard something about a variant that minimizes the conflict a little.

Here are the rule changes that I'm considering, both for minimizing conflict and simplifying things a little:
1. Resources are stored on on the player board as soon as they are produced.
2. Units are not returned "home" after combat, but must simply vacate that hex.
3. (Unrelated to combat) The Building Placement bonus is not used.

I think 1. is a good idea in general. It mitigates the stakes of combat and safely allows for an agrarian strategy.

#2 is probably the worst rule. While it also minimizes the stakes of combat, it could result in constant back and forth warfare, especially over the Factory.

#3 is a rule that I used with my game group anyway. I'm sure the buildings were underused in playtesting and that's why this was added on. But it really just seems like unnecessary complexity with no thematic benefit. An alternative rule could be to give everyone $2 at the end of game for each building build.

Thoughts? Is there a similar variant already out there somewhere?
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Jamey Stegmaier
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Greg: May I make a suggestion? I designed Scythe specifically so that players could decide how much they wanted to interact via combat (as much or as little as they want). I did this particularly for couples--I wanted couples to enjoy playing Scythe without fighting each other if they don't enjoy that type of interaction.

I really don't think you need to change anything to facilitate that. I can assure you it was constantly on my mind throughout the design process, and so the rules as written are there to make friendly games of Scythe just as possible and satisfying as less-friendly games.

I'd ask that you try to play Scythe at least once with the rules as written so you can see what I'm talking about. If I'm wrong, that's on me, and I'll send you and your wife a discount on a copy of Between Two Cities, which has no combat at all (and is on Rahdo's current top-10 list of 2-player games).
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#3 is more about variability between games. Getting out four buildings is one of the easier of the stars to earn. #2 will only increase combat in your games.
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John Huss
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Rule 3 exists so that it actually matters where you place your monument and armory. Otherwise they would only be useful on the board for territory control, but it seems like buildings rarely keep control by themselves. It's a small thing though, so you probably aren't missing a ton if you leave it out. If you want the full strategy though, it is important for that.

I can get behind rule 2 for a friendly variant. It probably won't cause too much back and forth, since you'll all run out of power very quickly. One thing to keep in mind is that the board is very small if you have speed and a factory card, plus a mine in your home area. Retreating all the way to your starting area isn't as far away as it seems.

I'm not sure how I feel about rule 1. It seems like keeping resources on the board is one of the things that makes Scythe different than other games, and it adds a bit of strategy I haven't seen in other places. Changing that gets rid of one of the best features of this game. It does make the game friendlier though. Perhaps make it so that when you produce resources you can place them with any workers you control (not just the ones that produced) instead of off the board entirely?
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Patrick G.
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The best way to play sctyhe the friendly way is play rules as written. It's already too bloody friendly. Combat is often too costly for most people so you will probably not have it very much anyways.
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Phil Campeau
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If this makes the game more enjoyable for you, go for it. I don't really get it though. Combat is such a small part of the game already, and removing it nerfs the special abilities of Saxony and Polania, plus unlockable mech abilities of several factions, and it also eliminates the benefits of the Recruit bonus for Upgrading and Enlisting, and defeats the purpose of upgrading the Bolster abilities.

Also, the buildings were absolutely used in play testing, and can be a big part of many strategies. The Mine gets you out of your starting area when metal is in short supply. The monument goes a long way to helping get players up to the third tier of Popularity. The Mill is fantastic for getting a steady supply of a much needed resource.

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Phil Campeau
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jameystegmaier wrote:
...Between Two Cities, which has no combat at all (and is on Rahdo's current top-10 list of 2-player games).


Hmmm I should try that two-player variant. The game as is fell a little flat for me, but I know the 2-player variant could fix a lot of the problems I had.
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Chris Laudermilk
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What Jamey & others have said. Try the game as designed. Combat is as much of the game as you make it. If you don't want any, then don't pick a fight; the game functions just fine without doing that.

The structure bonus is not all that heavy of a rule load. Pick a tile & put it on he board, Then pay as much attention to it as you want.

You can also look at the Automa vs multiple players variant. There are full- and semi-coop variants included.
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Jason Miller
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"I'm sure the buildings were underused in playtesting".

100% incorrect with zero evidence backing your statement.
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A J
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Agreed to what everyone said. Try it once, maybe? I feel it's really no worse than King of Tokyo.

A lot of the decision-making in the game comes from the threat of combat, and removing that just makes the game a bit soulless, imo. You'd probably be better off playing a game that is designed to have no direct conflict at that point.
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The Mirror
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I played my first try at this game completely without combat. It was an accident, but the game really sings as a double solitaire engine builder. Just don't engage in combat and don't camp out on the factory hex.

You'll probably want to keep the building placement bonus in for fun and variability, you acclimate to the rules very quickly.

This way you can experience the intended game balance. Maybe call combat a taboo rather than a rule.
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Julian Kirk-Elleker
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byrdru wrote:
I'd like to play this game with my wife, but I know the combat is not going to go over well. I thought I heard something about a variant that minimizes the conflict a little.

Here are the rule changes that I'm considering, both for minimizing conflict and simplifying things a little:
1. Resources are stored on on the player board as soon as they are produced.
2. Units are not returned "home" after combat, but must simply vacate that hex.
3. (Unrelated to combat) The Building Placement bonus is not used.

I think 1. is a good idea in general. It mitigates the stakes of combat and safely allows for an agrarian strategy.

#2 is probably the worst rule. While it also minimizes the stakes of combat, it could result in constant back and forth warfare, especially over the Factory.

#3 is a rule that I used with my game group anyway. I'm sure the buildings were underused in playtesting and that's why this was added on. But it really just seems like unnecessary complexity with no thematic benefit. An alternative rule could be to give everyone $2 at the end of game for each building build.

Thoughts? Is there a similar variant already out there somewhere?



I think you could make some fairly minor changes that would reduce the incentives for combat without introducing really game-altering rules like storing resources on the player mat or changing the retreat rules.

1. Cover up one (or both) of the combat star areas on the triumph track (and, unless playing with five players, remove Saxony from the game).
2. Remove some or all objective cards that encourage combat. Can't remember all of them off the top of my head, but I'd take out "despised warmonger" and the one that requires 8 combat cards and a combat star.
3. If you want to make the race for the factory less aggressive, you could put a few extra factory cards into the game (maybe n+3 instead of n+1) so reaching the factory first isn't quite as much of an advantage.

One of my favorite things about Scythe, at least in my first few games, is how careful you have to be when attacking. It's costly to attack (power, combat cards, popularity, movement points) and you often open yourself up to easy counterattacks. I think the game already does a great job of balancing engine-building and combat by putting such a heavy price on aggressive play, but if you want to limit combat even more in your game, reducing some of the incentives might be enough to make the costs outweigh the benefits most of the time.
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R B
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This is only a combat heavy game if the players want it to be. The threat of combat is a much bigger factor to the game than the actual combat (if it even happens.)
 
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Greg
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If you are only playing 2 player, you and your wife, then there is no need for combat unless you choose it. You guys can just build your engines and go after the non-combat stars.

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A J
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Hahma wrote:
If you are only playing 2 player, you and your wife, then there is no need for combat unless you choose it. You guys can just build your engines and go after the non-combat stars.



Actually I find that combat is most useful in a 2 player game because of the zero-sum nature of it. With more players, you have to be more careful about being blindsided by a third player after an attack. That's been my experience, anyways.
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Greg
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ayejae wrote:
Hahma wrote:
If you are only playing 2 player, you and your wife, then there is no need for combat unless you choose it. You guys can just build your engines and go after the non-combat stars.



Actually I find that combat is most useful in a 2 player game because of the zero-sum nature of it. With more players, you have to be more careful about being blindsided by a third player after an attack. That's been my experience, anyways.


True enough, it makes it easier because there are fewer possible negative consequences. But if the OP's wife doesn't want any combat, then in a 2 player game, it's totally avoidable by the rules as written.
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Greg Byrd
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Thank you everyone for the thoughtful replies, especially Jamie.

One thing I want to clarify- my hope is not to discourage combat but actually encourage it by making it less brutal. When I'm playing with my buddies at game night, I know I can feel free to devastate their well-laid plans with a fierce invasion. They've done it to me before and they'll do it again.

But with the Mrs., there's a whole 'nother meta-game happening where the loser sleeps on the couch. My fear is that she'll have spent several turns building up her ore supply to build a needed mech and I will ruin her plans by stealing those resources. In that instance, I would be more likely to just leave her alone. But if the stakes of the combat were lower- if I could attack her and have a good fight and get a star and all that without also ruining her whole strategy, I might be more likely to do it.

That said, I'll take the consensus advice here and teach the game as designed, if we can get it to the table. I'll report back here when and if we do.

Thanks again everyone!
 
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fortheloveofdice
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There's a co-op variant that I would try before making drastic changes to the rules (and yours seem pretty drastic to me).

I've only tried co-op vs the Automas once but it was fun. We had two players, and two Automettas by printing out another deck. Then we added our scores (two of us) and the two Automa scores and compared. It was definitely easier than solo vs an Automa, so we'll up the difficulty when we try again.

You could also just play vs one Automa and then average the human scores.

Finally I'll note that there has not been much combat in my games - I would agree that it is a matter of taste how much you pursue combat.
 
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Greg Byrd
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Update: I taught her the rules last night- standard rules except for #3 above. She seemed a little overwhelmed, but picked it up as we actually started playing a few turns. Then she had to go out and I ended up finishing our teaching game against my 6 year old. His reaction to seeing the game set up: "Cool!"

[I'll now begin an unrelated discussion about playing Scythe with a 6 year old]

He kind of understood moving, producing, and how to build mechs and buildings. I pretty much just let him do whatever he wanted without paying any costs other than raw resources. He would typically just pick two things to do: "I'll produce, then move this mech." "I'll move, then build a building.", etc. And that was fine.

It was cool, when I told him that buildings cost 3 wood, he was like, "No, they don't cost wood, they are made out of wood." And then when he built, he would first stack the wood pieces into the shape of the building (this worked best with the Mine) and then "Transform" it into the actual building.

He understood that he could get stars from building all of his Mechs and Buildings, so he did that, and that was about it. Meanwhile I pretty much played a solo game on my turns, and quite enjoyed it. We played as a team and cheered for each other whenever either of us got a star. He seemed to have a good time as well.

[Back to the original topic]

I think my wife will be willing to give a full game a shot, hopefully we can make it happen this week.
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Greg Byrd
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Update: still haven't gotten the Mrs. back to the table, but my son joined a game between me and Automa this weekend. I added a couple of more rules, including combat. He still enjoyed it. Here's a picture of him mulling over an encounter:

 
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Bernardo Gonzalez
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Jamey,

Question (maybe ask), is there a plan to do a co-op campaign/mode for the game? ala Orleans: Invasion? It would be amazing!!!!, just a small suggestion. If you do count me 1000% in.

BTW Amazing game!!! BAG


jameystegmaier wrote:
Greg: May I make a suggestion? I designed Scythe specifically so that players could decide how much they wanted to interact via combat (as much or as little as they want). I did this particularly for couples--I wanted couples to enjoy playing Scythe without fighting each other if they don't enjoy that type of interaction.

I really don't think you need to change anything to facilitate that. I can assure you it was constantly on my mind throughout the design process, and so the rules as written are there to make friendly games of Scythe just as possible and satisfying as less-friendly games.

I'd ask that you try to play Scythe at least once with the rules as written so you can see what I'm talking about. If I'm wrong, that's on me, and I'll send you and your wife a discount on a copy of Between Two Cities, which has no combat at all (and is on Rahdo's current top-10 list of 2-player games).
 
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Jamey Stegmaier
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1000% is a lot of percents! We currently don't have a plan for that, but I'm certainly open to it.
 
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A J
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jameystegmaier wrote:
1000% is a lot of percents! We currently don't have a plan for that, but I'm certainly open to it.


Maybe there are ten of him? That's important for co-ops.
 
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