Hey all. Over the past weekend I played two games of solo Pillars of Eternity.
While I not have the experience of having multiple people, I think that the solo game is so similar to the main game (too similar, IMO, but not the point here) that this sort of thing would work for the main game (I thought through it based on my solo experience).
I have not tested this at all, but I hope to eventually. If anybody is willing to give tested or untested feedback I would definitely be willing to listen. Honestly, I thought of most of this as I was opening the box and reading the rules, so I am sure it could use (several) layers of polish.
Market Variant <trumpets />
This variant is really two squashed together: (1) draft your starting hand from a pool of basic cards and (2) have piles of face up cards (similar to Dominion) that you "draw" from (more on that later).
This section allows players to determine what sort of over all game they would like to see. They can add or remove whole sections of cards, or even make specific cards very sparse. This gives that particular game some sort of "feel" and strategy.
1. Form the market.
1.a. All buildings that have a count less than eight cards along with
the heroes should be shuffled into the city deck. This deck
functions just like the normal city deck, just much smaller.
1.b. Separate all the other card types into piles.
1.c. Of all the troops that have more than eight cards, take all cards
in excess of eight and set them aside. This is your starting draft
pool. Do the same with the Farms.
1.d. The market is now formed.
2. Determine your game length/flavor.
2.a. Of all the remaining types of cards (now separated and in piles),
pick which ones you want to play with.
2.ex.a. For instance, if you want a low troop game, remove farms
and a type or two of troops. If you want a low building game,
remove a couple types of buildings.
2.ex.b. Remember, each card stack is eight cards, so you can kind of
convert this to the amount of cards you would remove in the
normal game: 99 for a short game, 66 for a medium game, ~50 for
a long game, 10 for an epic game (this is a little different:
one card from each face up stack, then the remaining cards from
the city deck).
2.ex.c. You can opt to remove cards from the city deck from the game
randomly (there is 80 cards in the deck) but you may not want
to since quests sometimes require that you hire/build
3. Lay out the piles along with the city deck in reach of everybody.
4. Set up the remainder of the game in the normal way (with the exception
of dealing out starting hands to people).
5. You are now ready to draft your starting hands.
In this section you will draft cards for your starting hand. This allows players to have some agency over what they want their early game to look like as well as giving some asymmetry to different factions. This also allows for players to tune their starting hands to the faction they picked.
1. Lay out the cards you set aside in Setup, step 1.c.
2. Starting with the first player, have each player pick one card from
the cards still on the table. This card will be part of your starting
3. When the last player selects their first card, they will select a
second time and the draft order will be reversed.
3.ex. Alice, Bob, and Cal are drafting. Alice is the first player and
Cal is the last player. Alice picks her first card, the Bob, then
Cal. Since Cal is the last player, he picks another card, Bob
picks his second, and then Alice picks her second. Alice then
continues the draft picking her third card. This continues until
Alice, Cal, and Bob have all picked five cards.
3.a. Alternatively, you could also "build packs" for people and do a
traditional Magic-style draft.
4. If Dyrwood is in play, that player gets a sixth card after everyone
has picked their five cards.
5. Put the leftover cards back in the box, they will not be used in the
rest of the game.
6. You are now ready to play the game.
Game play changes
There are only a few changes. They are detailed below:
1. Drawing cards: this is greatly changed. If a card ever has you draw
cards you can pick what market stack you pick up from. If a card or
phase has multiple players draw cards, you must go in turn
2. Game end: the game ends when all the stacks and the city deck run out.
If you need to draw further cards shuffle up the cards you removed at
the start of the game and place them face down on the city deck space.
Variants of this Variant
Obviously, since this is a variant I made up in my head, you are free to modify it. For instance, if you wanted to draft heroes or buildings at the start you certainly can.
Quick related question for the designers: is there any reason you did not do this sort of thing? I am sort of on the agreeing side that this game is incredibly random, but it seems like it was ripe for making it some sort of hand/tableau builder mashup.