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Subject: Which regular civilians to use? rss

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So I'm working my way towards my first game (this level system looks immeasurably cool) and I've been directed to setup. So far so good, all makes sense. Except the setup for The Basic Game, and indeed all the setups, say to use six regular civilians. But there are seven regular civilian tokens. Given they have different numbers I assume they're not all equal, but I can't find anything on whether you remove one at random, or should use specific ones. Did I miss something?
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Jacob Schoberg
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just roll over, please. i'm so tired. just roll over, please. i'm so tired.
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Almost positive you just randomly select 6 of the 7 available.
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CycyX
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Use 6 random civilians, so one will be back in the box.
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Kevin M
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As the others stated, pick the civilians to place on the board randomly from the ones available. Then cross your fingers that the strength 4 civilians aren't the ones that go back into the box.
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Tom Chick
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This is an odd bit of extra randomness I don't understand. It used to be plenty random in terms of where that four civilian started the game. Would he be stuck way down on East Irek? Would he be available in the town center? Would he show up on an active track or a relatively quiet track where he'd sit defiantly for far too long? It mattered where he ended up because he was a big deal! The difference between a three and a four is nothing to sneeze at!

But I don't get why Victory Point pushed it even further into randomness so that sometimes the four civilian sits out the game entirely. In second edition, you got all seven civilians, five on village spaces and two in the town center. That four was always part of the game and you certainly grew to love him. My theory is that Victory Point decided to remove one of the two civilians in the town center to offset the new heroic civilians. Which is fine, but I don't understand why they made it random so that sometimes you'd miss out on that important four civilian. Why not just remove one of the middling civilians? Why introduce such a potentially painful limitation before the game has even started?

Whatever the case, I've modded my third edition so that one of the middling civilians has taken up permanent residence inside the game box. :)

-Tom
 
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Raph Moimoi
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TomChick wrote:
This is an odd bit of extra randomness I don't understand. It used to be plenty random in terms of where that four civilian started the game. Would he be stuck way down on East Irek? Would he be available in the town center? Would he show up on an active track or a relatively quiet track where he'd sit defiantly for far too long? It mattered where he ended up because he was a big deal! The difference between a three and a four is nothing to sneeze at!

But I don't get why Victory Point pushed it even further into randomness so that sometimes the four civilian sits out the game entirely. In second edition, you got all seven civilians, five on village spaces and two in the town center. That four was always part of the game and you certainly grew to love him. My theory is that Victory Point decided to remove one of the two civilians in the town center to offset the new heroic civilians. Which is fine, but I don't understand why they made it random so that sometimes you'd miss out on that important four civilian. Why not just remove one of the middling civilians? Why introduce such a potentially painful limitation before the game has even started?

Whatever the case, I've modded my third edition so that one of the middling civilians has taken up permanent residence inside the game box.

-Tom


The last Civilians that sleep out of the board will probably make it to the board thanks to an Event or Fate card at some time.
The randomness is here to force you to change the way you manage your Civilians (2-strength ones will be harder to preserve).
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Wes Erni
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I admit to being very fond of my "heavy" Civilian as well (often the only Civilian to avoid Xeno's "research") -- it can stabilize a Track with just a little support. But the random nature of the Civilian set-up pales in importance to the random hero draw -- some Hero combos are virtually invincible, others are rather vulnerable to defeat.

I find it hard to accuse VPG of inflicting "painful limitations", when they converted the pro-player optional rule "draw random heroes BEFORE choosing your personal Hero" into a "sanctioned" standard option. That late player friendly change to the set-up more than compensates for the one in seven chance of not starting with the "4" -- ensuring an early Super-Weapon with a strong and "balanced" Hero team is a recipe for Zed futility.
 
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Alan Emrich
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But I don't get why Victory Point pushed it even further into randomness so that sometimes the four civilian sits out the game entirely.


No one has questioned more design decisions than you, Tom!

Think about it -- instead of 1 Regular Civilians unit, you begin with 1 Heroic Civilians unit. So, the player is "trading up," even when losing the 4-strength unit, I would say.

Also, there is Fate card, I believe, that brings in the set-aside Regular Civilians unit.

Alan Emrich
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I think it as some degree of real life scenario, so it's a randomness that I can live with
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Tom Chick
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Raph, that's a good point, but I have to say after five games, I don't think I've ever had to bring in that seventh civilian token. I'm tempted to go through the cards and see how commonly that happens (Alan's post implies it's a single Fate card), but I've got a game set up now and don't want to mess it up. Still, don't the VIP Civilians serve the function of being the post-set-up Johnny-come-lately civilians?

GameBreaker wrote:
I find it hard to accuse VPG of inflicting "painful limitations", when they converted the pro-player optional rule "draw random heroes BEFORE choosing your personal Hero" into a "sanctioned" standard option. That late player friendly change to the set-up more than compensates for the one in seven chance of not starting with the "4" -- ensuring an early Super-Weapon with a strong and "balanced" Hero team is a recipe for Zed futility.


Wes, I'm not sure what one has to do with the other, but this raises another pet peeve of mine (I know, I know, how many can one man have?).

It's a pretty odd "option" that carries such an obvious benefit and that arguably undermines the entire point of randomly selected heroes. If Victory Point wanted that to be the official rule, they should have made it the official rule. If they wanted to offer that as a variant, they should have made it a variant. But clumsily sticking a "hey, do it however you want to do it!" option in the middle of the rules is poor form. Rules are rules, and variants are variants. Part of a game designer's job is to tune that stuff for me and not expect me to figure it out on the fly.

Okay, I'm getting down off my soapbox now. I hope you guys understand that, well, to address Alan's point...

Alan Emrich wrote:
No one has questioned more design decisions than you, Tom! :D


...I only do it because I adore the game so much. If I didn't care about Dawn of the Zeds in particular and the state of siege engine in general, I'd be, all, pfft, whatever. Or it wouldn't ever occur to me to raise the issue! But with Zeds third edition, you guys did such a fantastic job on integral systems like the infection track, research, and super zeds, addressing some significant flaws in second edition. I mean, seriously, I don't think I can go back to second edition and that's quite the accomplishment considering how much I love that game. So it makes it all the more noticeable to me when some of the changes feel haphazard or poorly thought out. Not that they are haphazard or poorly thought out! Just that they feel that way because I don't understand the rationale behind them. Which is markedly different from the changes where my reaction is "Of course, what a brilliant idea and it totally makes sense why they'd do that!"

Plus, you know, questioning design decisions is kind of my job. :)

Anyway, the bottom line is that -- ironically -- I'm more critical of games I love. I appreciate that sometimes it can't be easy for you guys to be as good-natured about it as you are.

-Tom
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Alan Emrich
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Still, don't the VIP Civilians serve the function of being the post-set-up Johnny-come-lately civilians?

No, Tom, those are VIP REFUGEES, not Civilians. Big difference.

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Wes, I'm not sure what one has to do with the other, but this raises another pet peeve of mine (I know, I know, how many can one man have?).

A fair question...

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If Victory Point wanted that to be the official rule, they should have made it the official rule. If they wanted to offer that as a variant, they should have made it a variant. But clumsily sticking a "hey, do it however you want to do it!" option in the middle of the rules is poor form. Rules are rules, and variants are variants. Part of a game designer's job is to tune that stuff for me and not expect me to figure it out on the fly.

Brace yourself... Are you sitting down? Here's the answer: it doesn't matter. Not to the designer, not to the publisher. The game and your play experience with it with be great no matter what you do here, so we don't need to direct you. This is something where the referee is fine "just letting the players play."

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Anyway, the bottom line is that -- ironically -- I'm more critical of games I love. I appreciate that sometimes it can't be easy for you guys to be as good-natured about it as you are.


Okay. I'm glad you're having fun with ZEDS. Look, if you want to call me at the office and gab about the design/development decisions, I'll be happy to talk to you.

Best,

Alan Emrich
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Tom Chick
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Alan Emrich wrote:

Brace yourself... Are you sitting down? Here's the answer: it doesn't matter. Not to the designer, not to the publisher. The game and your play experience with it with be great no matter what you do here, so we don't need to direct you. This is something where the referee is fine "just letting the players play."


It doesn't matter? Yikes. I really hope you guys don't let this approach bleed into your game designs. I'm more than happy to make up house rules if I need to. I'm even okay with considering the kinds of variants you guys put in the back of your rulebooks. But I'm not okay with the designer saying an important rule doesn't matter. I'm not okay with a designer saying he doesn't need to direct me. Yes, he does! That's what game design is. A directed player experience. Otherwise, it's just me sitting around the table telling stories, so why do I need your boardgame?

Furthermore, "just letting the players play" is something that already exists in every single boardgame ever. With all due respect, we don't need your or anyone's permission, blessings, or "official sanction" to do that. We'll do whatever we want with a game once we own it. But your job prior to us owning the game is to design, test, balance, tune, and document it. When you handwaive away the significance of something as significant as that rule, you're doing a disservice to your game's design and its fans, because you've failed to answer an important question:

Is Dawn of the Zeds intended to be the kind of experience where I have to make do with the randomness after I choose a hero, or is the kind of experience where I can make my choice based on that randomness? Herman Luttmann answered the question very clearly! It's the former. If you wanted to change that in third edition, that's fine. Change it. Lord knows, I'll get higher scores on the sheet of Dawn of the Zeds game scores I keep in my box! But instead of change it, you just told me to figure it out myself.

Which doesn't make much sense. If I get to pick who I want after seeing my three draws, I will of course be able to offset any weakness, or even multiply any strength. Right off the bat, I have a huge advantage that I didn't have when I was playing the second edition rules. Is this how the game is supposed to work or not? Sticking the word "optionally" in front of something that has a dramatic effect on gameplay is frustrating to those of us who care enough about the game to learn it, to track the rules, to stop and look up something during a game, to post a question on BGG, or to have a conversation with the folks who make the games.

Because I can ignore variants when they're firewalled behind a separate section of the manual. But a variant cavalierly tossed into the very premise of the game? I can't ignore that. I have to do your job for you and decide what kind of experience is intended. And I'm not the game designer here. Trust me! Of the people involved in this conversation who have made a living designing games, I see one person, and that's not me. :)

-Tom
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Raph Moimoi
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TomChick wrote:
Alan Emrich wrote:

Brace yourself... Are you sitting down? Here's the answer: it doesn't matter. Not to the designer, not to the publisher. The game and your play experience with it with be great no matter what you do here, so we don't need to direct you. This is something where the referee is fine "just letting the players play."


It doesn't matter? Yikes. I really hope you guys don't let this approach bleed into your game designs. I'm more than happy to make up house rules if I need to. I'm even okay with considering the kinds of variants you guys put in the back of your rulebooks. But I'm not okay with the designer saying an important rule doesn't matter. I'm not okay with a designer saying he doesn't need to direct me. Yes, he does! That's what game design is. A directed player experience. Otherwise, it's just me sitting around the table telling stories, so why do I need your boardgame?

Furthermore, "just letting the players play" is something that already exists in every single boardgame ever. With all due respect, we don't need your or anyone's permission, blessings, or "official sanction" to do that. We'll do whatever we want with a game once we own it. But your job prior to us owning the game is to design, test, balance, tune, and document it. When you handwaive away the significance of something as significant as that rule, you're doing a disservice to your game's design and its fans, because you've failed to answer an important question:

Is Dawn of the Zeds intended to be the kind of experience where I have to make do with the randomness after I choose a hero, or is the kind of experience where I can make my choice based on that randomness? Herman Luttmann answered the question very clearly! It's the former. If you wanted to change that in third edition, that's fine. Change it. Lord knows, I'll get higher scores on the sheet of Dawn of the Zeds game scores I keep in my box! But instead of change it, you just told me to figure it out myself.

Which doesn't make much sense. If I get to pick who I want after seeing my three draws, I will of course be able to offset any weakness, or even multiply any strength. Right off the bat, I have a huge advantage that I didn't have when I was playing the second edition rules. Is this how the game is supposed to work or not? Sticking the word "optionally" in front of something that has a dramatic effect on gameplay is frustrating to those of us who care enough about the game to learn it, to track the rules, to stop and look up something during a game, to post a question on BGG, or to have a conversation with the folks who make the games.

Because I can ignore variants when they're firewalled behind a separate section of the manual. But a variant cavalierly tossed into the very premise of the game? I can't ignore that. I have to do your job for you and decide what kind of experience is intended. And I'm not the game designer here. Trust me! Of the people involved in this conversation who have made a living designing games, I see one person, and that's not me.

-Tom


I really love the game and kinda agree with this post : players need solid playtested rules (it seems to be the case here) and if there is a grey area the designer/publisher should have the last word to provide the correct way to play this or that. Then, if it doesn't fit to somebody he can houserule, but basically I hate to houserule a good game furthermore when you have involved people that can answer and make official statments to help people play the way it is intended to be.

I'm writing a rules synthesis to get the complete thing in one file and I will need official help to get some official answers ^^
 
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Alan Emrich
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But I'm not okay with the designer saying an important rule doesn't matter.

If it were an important rule, like a core system or mechanic, it would matter. Whether you pick your Hero before or after making your random selections is not that important to the experience we're trying to create for you. Really, no matter how many kittens are in this litter, this set up twist that you have your knickers in is not, at the END of the game, that important.

My wife always picks them after, which is fine. I always pick mine before, but then I like to roll with stories as they unfold.

The game will pummel you no matter how you make this pick, so it really doesn't matter.

Quote:
your job prior to us owning the game is to design, test, balance, tune, and document it.

I poured mine and innumerable Zeds' guts into this new edition, and know everything that went into it. I can't believe you are accusing me of doing otherwise. Regarding this flapdoodle, allow me to quote Yoda here, "My own council will I keep" on what requires more rules -- and it seems to me that this tiny setup element does not.

Look, I love our customers, but this is SO not worth issuing an official errata over, which is tantamount to what you're seeking. Just do as you've said below:

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We'll do whatever we want with a game once we own it.

And that's exactly what you should do in this case.

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you just told me to figure it out myself.

No, I said that you can play your preference; it doesn't matter. The game is going kick you hard no matter, so playing this how you like is not the end of the world -- it's only the beginning of the game; a lot is about to happen no matter how you choose.

Geeze, do I also have to write a bunch of rules that state a die roll only counts if it is: A) on the table, and B) flat?; or that when you roll "dependent" dice (i.e., those that are added or used together), if one is faulted (see above), then BOTH must be re-rolled? I certainly hope not; but that is no less decisive an element as playing your preference order for Hero setup, is it? And both of these rules are not "hard wired" in the documentation because, to go go back to your observation: "We'll do whatever we want with a game once we own it."

Okay, so do it.

Alan Emrich
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Oliver Koenig
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I pick ALL my heroes at random. Period.

I generally agree with a needed fixed base rule set, usually. I also hate when people try to house-rule and "fix" games that they have played once (including rules-MISTAKES they made the first time). Terrible threads all around on BGG.

HOWEVER, Dawn of the Zeds I have found is a big exception here for me.

It is the easiest game to customize without having the feeling there was something wrong with the experience or balance. (Because there are so many little things that happen. Not one single crucial event that breaks it all.). This game lends itself to try stuff out. (Whole page in rule book. The general difficulty level is set way above average games!)

If you get kicked, try to make it easier. Easy walkthrough, ramp it up!
I did that so much with 2ed Edition to a point I disagreed even with the "GameBreaker".
Pretty simple: Agee owerpowered must pick, hm .. I dont NEED no stinkin' Agee! Give me random characters, I'll see what I can do.
Must get Super-Weapon quick.. I dont care. I made it so expensive (needs 1 supply + 1 ammo. Zeds will only retreat after an above average roll!), I tried it without. And one day Isurvived
I made the game longer, shorter etc.

I don't do this at the moment with 3rd Ed, because I'm still getting kicked.. So I'm thinking about maybe making it easier for a change, so maybe Outbreaks-Zeds go to the start spaces etc..

DotZ simply is the ONE game for me, I went easy on the with rules. No lawyering required. If you missed one when learning, big deal! Look to survive, enjoy the story.

Oh, and Alan: A Die always has to land flat in my round-die-arena. Very strict. Everything else is a re-roll. No cheating here

Have fun all!
 
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Alan Emrich
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Oh, and Alan: A Die always has to land flat in my round-die-arena. Very strict. Everything else is a re-roll. No cheating here


Well, we try to hit the dice box, but even if it bounces out, as long as it's on the table and flat, we'll count it. There's enough wristage in most games that any chance to reduce it is often welcome.

Alan
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Tom Chick
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Alan Emrich wrote:
Really, no matter how many kittens are in this litter, this set up twist that you have your knickers in is not, at the END of the game, that important.


I'm sorry you feel that way, because it's important to me that a game's rules are fixed and not just suggested, and my feeling is that rules that affect the beginning of a game also affect the end of the game. It sounds like you and I have a fundamental difference of opinion on the art of game design. But, as I said, you're the guy doing this for a living and I'm just one of your fans. I'm happy to defer to what you feel is best for your game.

However, I'm disappointed you're going to dismiss someone interested in having a discussion about design as "having [his] knickers in a knot" (?). If you really don't care about this issue, and if you're going to ridicule someone who does care about the issue, it's not going to be much of a discussion. But I do appreciate you carrying it along this far. It's been very informative, Alan.

-Tom
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TomChick wrote:
I'm sorry you feel that way, because it's important to me that a game's rules are fixed and not just suggested, and my feeling is that rules that affect the beginning of a game also affect the end of the game.

I do not want to interfere, but the rules state that you use 6 civilians out of 7. So the rules are clear on this point. they are not suggested, so I think Alan (and others, including me have answered the OP).

Discussion about design is another subject though...
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Tom Chick
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cycyx wrote:
TomChick wrote:
I'm sorry you feel that way, because it's important to me that a game's rules are fixed and not just suggested, and my feeling is that rules that affect the beginning of a game also affect the end of the game.

I do not want to interfere, but the rules state that you use 6 civilians out of 7. So the rules are clear on this point. they are not suggested, so I think Alan (and others, including me have answered the OP).


Cycyx, what you're quoting isn't in reference to the starting civilians. We're talking about the rules for picking your starting heroes. In second edition, Herman Luttmann stipulated that you chose any hero and then you draw three random heroes to fill out your team. In third edition, Alan Emrich changed the rule so that you can choose your hero after you've seen which three random heroes you get. Except that he didn't really change the rule. Instead, he included as a variant in the main rules. He says the change doesn't matter and the rule isn't important, but I feel it makes a big difference by mitigating the randomness of your starting team. It certainly makes the game easier.

And joining a conversation is not "interfering". :)

-Tom
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Wes Erni
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I have been pondering this raging debate over the variable method of initial Hero selection, and I am reminded of a scene from the movie "A Few Good Men" -- "I want the truth!"..."You can't handle the truth!". Well, my "truth" here is just my opinion, and is not at all necessarily Alan or Petra's view.

I am completely with Tom in not caring for the Hero selection process being a "casual choice" -- it does affect game balance and that is near and dear to my heart. The "choose your hero first version" (ala Zeds 2) was the version used throughout at least my playtesting -- I can see the appeal of the "pick after" approach, but then that should have been the playtest basis. Of course, if I was into "grinding axes", those now pro-Zed optional rules that were painstakingly playtested as STANDARD rules would be bothering me more. The truth of game balancing is that the "easy" levels of games get much less playtesting than the "Advanced" rules set (the designer's preferred version), and variants often get little or no playtesting (the game buyers are the playtesters there). Well, with some companies (not VPG), the game buyers might be the ONLY real playtesters -- but that sad state is a topic for another thread. I don't really care for some variants being REALLY recommended (make them standard) and most...not. That refined ZEDS 3 design that I playtested (circa 14 months ago) was tuned nearly perfect for balance (both externally and internally) -- although I may have been able to win over half the time, I really had to earn it, and "gamey" elements were reduced to an acceptable level.

However it was not really a surprise that the game evolved considerably from that "perfect for me" condition -- experienced playtesters were having trouble winning the game, and VPG was anticipating a LOT of newbies attracted by the glitzy components, Kickstarter hype, and the mantle of "BEST ZOMBIE GAME EVER!". State of Siege games in general have had to deal with this issue -- they are very easy to learn (at least from my viewpoint, coming from a hardcore wargamer background), and seem to have limited options. Well, some of them are pretty much "what you see is what you get" but others are considerably deeper, sometimes enormously so (often far deeper then even the designer had any idea). As such the "balance" is all over the place -- some people quit on an SoS game ("all luck", "few meaningful decisions", "need hot dice to even stand a chance"), while some people playing THE SAME SoS game tire of it due to it being too easy (not enough randomness to disrupt the skilled player's strategies).

Zeds 2 was the epitome of this conundrum -- terrifyingly difficult to most, but with enormous scope for player skills and experience to utterly dominate the game...IF...they were playing to "win". WHAT? Everybody plays to win, don't they? No, actual they don't, most people play to win while having what they define as fun. Zeds 2 lended itself to extreme "thematic immersion", which turned out to be a great recipe for getting everyone killed. However there were awesome tools one could use for just "playing the game", that improve victory chances from "single digit" to 95% plus. The "Director's Cut expansion with vital optional rules did a great job of regaining balance, but also "blew away" many thematic players to other zombie games.

Zeds 3 was an incredibly ambitious attempt to make a HUGE number of players (at least for VPG) interested in the project -- no stone was left unturned, all concepts were on the table. The amount of time spent was staggering, my hundred hours or so I spent was dwarfed by Alan, Petra, and at least Lines among the playtesters. I may have my quibbles over the final result, but I will never question the effort (or vision). The project is unquestioningly a great success (8.7 rating and glowing testimonials), but that "balance issue" was never completely resolved -- and I don't think it COULD ever be "resolved" (which is why I never wrote those "pointed" e-mails to Alan that I composed in my head). Even with all the effort to introduce the game slowly to newbies, all the "balance-changing" variants, and yes even that Hero selection "sanctioned option" -- the game "balance" remains anything but. Hidden among the "glowing testimonials" (often by players enjoying themselves immensely while being slaughtered), there are many: "just too hard", "too long", "too fiddly", "too random" comments. The "glitz" attracted many that were never going to find it enjoyable.

So what version of Hero Selection SHOULD have been chosen? Maybe there should be a test first -- Are you a "gamer", or are you into theme? Actually that decision has FAR more affect on the game balance than the Hero selection process. One reason I have hesitated to respond to this thread is what I am about to say is going to sound incredibly condescending. But I really don't consider my "gaming ethos" superior -- I have spent many hours debated the themetic vs gamer argument with Morten Pederson (both on his blog and privately). During Zeds 3 playtesting, Alan "out of the blue" asked me whether I have ever actually enjoyed playing a boardgame. My answer that I had, but very, VERY rarely did not surprise him -- I get a great deal of satisfaction from breaking down games, but not nearly as much fun as the many "thematic" players routinely enjoy. Most solo players emphasize thematic elements, and I not only respect that view, I am a little envious of those I now am going to insult.

Most Zeds players do not know HOW to win (at least consistently, not at the harder levels). A Zed 2 playing BGG member recently complained that he had never ever come close to winning, and was reaching to the community for help before giving up on the game. I responded with some links to what I had written about Zeds 2 -- after working on the DC expansion and knowing Zeds 3 was in the queue, I had been a little too "gabby" about Zeds 2 vulnerabilities (violating my gamebreaker "oath of public silence"). He did a good job of disseminating the material, and what I feared most occurred -- he won rather easily, found the necessary gameplay rather boring and decided to quit the game (for a completely different reason than he originally envisioned). He "skipped to the end of the book" and found the "destination" not nearly as rewarding as the "journey" he skipped. Zeds 3 does not have a "gamebreak", but players are a heavy favorite to win if they just "embrace the dark side".

But they don't -- they play thematically and insist on having fun. I am not just speaking about newbies. There is no more dedicated playtester than Lines Hutter, but he struggled mightily with the game (winning that is, he knows every rule better than anyone). Tom, Tom, I am striving to be objective and block out your "shot" at Mound Builders in your play thru, but wow -- from MY personal gamer viewpoint your decision-making was very, um, "thematic". I am not speaking of the rules glitches (though there were a LOT more than you caught), that was a very impressive production to do a whole Zeds 3 game seemingly straight-thru (I watched about half). But in my mind you were "dealt a 99% win". With Wright able to Research, my "chosen Hero" would have been Wilson, allowing for the ultimate Schmidt/Wilson combo that will lock down the Mountain path and provide enormous ammo for free. Clarion Courier and VFW AND then WZED (excellent choice there), plus MORE Heroes -- invincible.

I could go on "spoiling" away, but the point really is that an experienced gamer, previously fluent in both State of Siege and Zeds could "miss" a winning line, imagine the throngs of newbies. Because of course Tom's play was very rational looking -- kind of like the Town got together and said "We are one, either we all survive this trial or none of us will" (very stirring in a movie, everybody is probably going to die in the game). Just one "twisted" tidbit from that playthru -- when 4 Hits had to be applied to player units I would rejoice and put all 4 Hits fatally on that hopeless Civilian about to be lunch (and "Brains" lunch at that) rather than hitting Heroes/resources. I know all thematic players in the world are now recoiling like Alderaan just blew-up at my appalling idea, but that is just a taste of the "darkness" needed to fight greater darkness. Placing a barricade whose true cost was 4 AP to "help" those poor souls is the kind of viscerally satisfying, but inefficient "knee-jerk" reaction thematic players do. Efficient play is the absolute cornerstone of successful Zeds play. Get that Super-Weapon as FAST as possible, gather resources, let the weak die, and "DON"T MOVE" as much.

The epiphany that sparked this long, winding post -- was that watching Tom play was interesting if nothing else. Watching me play that same game would have been a lot less interesting. Moving hither and yon to threats real and imagined is always inefficient in a game where you have to PAY for it. I dictate the game and "post" my forces", I do little reaction -- which is kind of boring, I only derive satisfaction in the heavy win rate due to it being MY strategy. I would never use someone else's boring strategy, not to mention the sometimes obscene manipulations I use can be off-putting as well (which get largely "fixed" by the key variants). Really, I do think I have a legitimate thematic argument to my "heartless" play style (choosing my Hero first means I always choose "Xeno") -- saving ANYONE in this town with the tools and knowledge to defeat the Zeds is worth losing all the rest (at least so says the rest of the world). But I can't argue with the "fun factor".

James Dunnigan once said "There must be movement!" when describing a successful game design. Hermann Luttmann certainly envisioned a dynamic game when he designed it. But designers are not always the best at seeing the vulnerabilities to their own game (Hermann cheerfully admits to not playing his own game very well). Tom certainly enjoyed himself, reveling in the challenge, constantly adjusting forces, changing priorities, reacting to the drama. I can see how much fun it is, edge of the seat movie like drama with plenty of action -- I just can't play that way, pathologically I must strive to win above all else.

So full circle to that raging debate -- I really think Alan wants you to choose the "hard" or "easy" Hero selection method, simply based on whether you find the game "hard" or "easy" (without the stigma of an "variant rule", which has the unspoken "unplaytested, not recommended" cache). He probably would have liked to have stuck a couple of more of these type of fluid rules into Zeds 3 -- but feared he would get "called" on it (sadly, even one was too much to evade scrutiny). I would REALLY give Alan and Petra a pass on this issue -- the balance problem is a nightmare with the vast gulf between the "gamer pros" and the "thematic newbies" (and again, this has been MY opinion alone posted, not Alan and Petra's).

One final thought (in this frightening long "stream of consciousness" post) -- what about adding efficient movement to the game. How about:

Players can Move ANY (released) player unit in the RRRR phase if the RRRR is 1 or higher. Any units moved could conduct no other actions that turn.

Call it a panic move, a forced march, or a leisurely unsupervised saunter -- this allows for the "refinements" players would like to do without paying precious AP for every step. Players could usually dodge an incoming Zed attack, but that actually seems fairly "realistic" given the traditionally "torpid" zombie pace. Of course you can't retreat forever -- those Civilians that you can thematically save will have a day of reckoning. You can choose between a "slow shift" of forces in non-emergent situations, or an a expensive "quick, vigorous reaction.

The "price" for this wonderful option -- how about no Player Action token (or one less if Co-op style). OR, how about no "knock-back" option to the Super-Weapon -- THAT will really take the "wind out of the sails" of the "gamer" types (although it might upset the internal balance of player options -- a subject even dearer to my heart than play balance).

Just an idea. It will take longer to play with these new options, and I actually like the "tightness" of Hermann's pay-to-move design -- it just sadly creates a "balance chasm" between the various schools of play.
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Wes, as usual, your post has made this thread infinitely more valuable. I can't think of a game that wouldn't benefit from your playing it and applying your insight. And I sincerely mean it when I say I'm honored to have some of that insight applied to my playthrough video. As I think you could tell from the video, I love systems, but I ultimately play games for the narrative. I suspect you and I are probably polar opposites in that regard. I suspect you love narratives, but you ultimately play games for the systems.

But it's my love of systems that "gets my panties in a wad", as Alan Emrich put it, when Victory Point claims the starting hero set-up doesn't matter. Like you, I think of it as the difference between hard mode and easy mode. I'm astonished that a game designer would dismiss its significance, that he wouldn't appreciate the impact it has on the systems, and that he would ridicule someone who cares about which way to play. But I guess I'm just easily astonished. For instance, when that fellow upthread casually mentioned he might start playing by putting outbreak zombies in the start space, I think my heart skipped a beat. Egad, who would do that to these lovely lovely systems?

And speaking of that video I made, I am constantly amazed at how easy it is to miss rules. I must have played 95% of my 2nd edition games thinking villages were towns and therefore got a two-column shift (the 3rd edition board helpfully makes its clear that's NOT the case). In every 3rd edition game I've played, including that video playthrough, I've failed to move the infection track up whenever someone is hospitalized. I have no idea how I missed that rule. Moving the infection down when healing suddenly makes a lot more sense!

A good friend of mine has a theory that 95% of all boardgame sessions get at least one rule wrong. Then he drives the point home by pointing out some rule I've been getting wrong. He's the guy who caught my mistakes about village column shifts and hospitalization moving the infection track. But I feel that if you love systems like we do, you have to do everything you can to get your game sessions into that rare 5%. That's partly why I personally dislike variants. If certain rules aren't established -- eh, just pick heroes however you want... -- then that 5% doesn't even exist!

-Tom
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Quote:
But it's my love of systems that "gets my panties in a wad", as Alan Emrich put it,

..."in a twist," I said. Your wad is your own business, of course.

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...when Victory Point claims the starting hero set-up doesn't matter.

You keep saying that like I just peed in a jar and put a crucifix in it. My job is to speak for the integrity of the game. Choose you Hero before or after the random ones appear, the integrity of the game is fine.

Exasperated, I feel this is one of those "you can't handle the truth" moments.

Quote:
I'm astonished that a game designer would dismiss its significance

Hold it; I did not dismiss its significance; I'm very aware of its significance, thank you very much. Having played and seen it played each way multiple times, this is something I knew first hand before the rule that offends you so was finally drafted.

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that he wouldn't appreciate the impact it has on the systems

See above. That rule was written based on practice, not theory. I've developed over 100 games, and some I've really screwed up a thing or two in the process. No one is less forgiving of my mistakes than I am. This teapot's tempest, however, is not one of them.

I'm just saying that the integrity of the design and the player experience is valid however you want to set up. I hope that finally sets in.

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and that he would ridicule someone who cares about which way to play.

Like most people, I don't like explaining the same thing, over and over again, to no avail. My ridicule is for this bizarre situation, not to you personally. I actually like you and your work, and am a big fan of Quarter to Three; always have been.

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Egad, who would do that to these lovely lovely systems?

You know, good systems should fit a player comfortably, like clothes that are not too tight in the shoulders, for example. The fact that this particular game system is actually a BELT that you can ADJUST shouldn't cause a freak-out. I mean, who would buy a belt with only one buckle-hole?

Trust me; it's a belt. You can adjust it without ruining the dressing / gameplay experience.

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A good friend of mine has a theory that 95% of all boardgame sessions get at least one rule wrong. But I feel that if you love systems like we do, you have to do everything you can to get your game sessions into that rare 5%. That's partly why I personally dislike variants. If certain rules aren't established -- eh, just pick heroes however you want... -- then that 5% doesn't even exist!

The Hero selection is a bad example; no matter which hole you buckle that belt on, you're dressed properly. Thus, that 5% is not a concern.

Alan Emrich
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