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Glorantha: The Gods War» Forums » Variants

Subject: Chaos robot rss

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Bruce Mason
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So here's a thing, I've been drafting an idea for how to run Chaos automatically if you don't have enough players. Kind of inspired by the automa from Scythe.

Chaos looks like it will work for both thematic and mechanical reasons. Mechanically Chaos has relatively few actions and none of them are cooperative. Thematically, Chaos is the odd one out in that it's trying to destroy the world rather than save it and it's easier to justify random selection.

Before I go too far down the rabbit hole I was wondering if anyone else had tried/done this?
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Sandy Petersen
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I'm keen to see where this goes.
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Peter Bowie
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Seems like a great idea! Definitely one approach to a 2 player variant.
 
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Andrew Hall
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I posted about this very thing in the comments of the campaign laugh

I think it is a great idea, and would help make a 2 player variant more viable.

Originally I was thinking about having the AI choas for any number of players. If I understand the lore correctly, 5 of the gods went on to the great compromise to defeat choas and stabilize the realm. I heard that the Moon empire became chaotic too so maybe there is a cool mechanism we could add for that effect as well.
 
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Bruce Mason
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Thanks for the interest. I'm just about to upload a file to the files section but if this causes any issue with copyright I'll take it right down. I've not uploaded to BGG before so I'm a little wary.
 
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Bernard Gourion
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deleriad wrote:
So here's a thing, I've been drafting an idea for how to run Chaos automatically if you don't have enough players. Kind of inspired by the automa from Scythe.

Chaos looks like it will work for both thematic and mechanical reasons. Mechanically Chaos has relatively few actions and none of them are cooperative. Thematically, Chaos is the odd one out in that it's trying to destroy the world rather than save it and it's easier to justify random selection.

Before I go too far down the rabbit hole I was wondering if anyone else had tried/done this?


I have developed a semi-random robot for Great Cthulhu, Black Goat, it seems to work well and i think it could be adapted to Chaos quite easily because effectively Chaos is quite agressive... The problem is the time needed to test all this stuff...
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Ray
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use advanced civ's barbarian hoard rules.
 
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Michael Off The Shelf Board Game Reviews
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C3Gaming wrote:
Seems like a great idea! Definitely one approach to a 2 player variant.



Now you've done it!

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Bruce Mason
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Right, having got the file uploaded here's the idea broken apart for discussion. I'm going to use spoiler boxes to reduce the amount of text on screen.

Aim: to emulate the effect of having a Chaos player through a robot. It uses most of the normal rules at a slightly higher level of abstraction than a player.

General
Spoiler (click to reveal)
1) Chaos does not track Power; Chaos always has enough Power to take its preferred action. This is an abstraction to balance what would otherwise be inefficiencies in the robot's decision making.
2) Chaos always goes last. Providing at least one player has taken an action this cycle, Chaos has an action. An abstraction that gives the robot a boost because the robot will always have as many actions as the player with the most actions.
3) Chaos generates its actions randomly using the tables below.
4) Chaos gains Victory Points in all the usual ways. Chaos can win.
5) Chaos can gain runes but never uses them. An abstraction to keep complexity manageable.


Runes
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Whenever Chaos gains a rune it goes face-down in a pile unseen by all players. No one gets to see what runes Chaos has.
Chaos cannot reveal its runes to use them.
At the end of the game, Chaos gains 1 Victory Point per rune it has.


Gaining gifts
Spoiler (click to reveal)
1) Chaos always takes Imbed as its first Gift. This is a simplifier.
2) When Thed is summoned for the first time, Chaos gains the Irruption gift. If Chaos does not yet have the Imbed gift it gains both gifts at the same time. Again a simplifier.
3) Chaos only takes the Catastrophe gift when the Spike shatters and not at any other time. Stated for completeness.
4) Any other time Chaos completes a Heroquest it chooses a gift randomly from those left.

Specific gift notes
Some gifts need some decision making.
Blood Sacrifice. If there are multiple options for which empires can be chosen, Chaos chooses randomly. If there are multiple greater Chaos gods in play then they choose in the following order: Malia, Thed and then Ragnaglar. This means that occasionally Chaos may be inefficient and be unable to use Blood Sacrifice on as many enemies as it would if it wasn’t a robot. Sometimes it’s not good to be a Chaos robot.
I Fought We Won. If the vote is a draw or the players cannot decide, Chaos chooses randomly. If the Choice is “Chaos gains 3 Power” then Chaos gains 1 Rune instead. Because Chaos doesn't track Power the gain 3 power option would be pointless.
The Unholy Trio. At the end of any battle roll 1D6. If the number rolled is less than the number of rout results then all rout results are converted to Kills, this card is flipped faced down and Chaos gains a rune. This allows the robot to decide when to use it.
The Catastrophe, Imbed and Oblivion gifts work exactly as written.


Chaos actions
This spells out how the robot chooses actions and how it makes decisions. As it is Chaos, it often chooses randomly. This may make it very inefficient at times. The bulk of testing it will be, I suspect, around this area. I would be very tempted to use cards but dice will do for now.

There are four tables. The first three tables cover the first three turns of the game. Once the game reaches turn 4, the turn 4 table is used for each turn thereafter. To use the table, roll a six-sided die and consult the result. There will be one or more actions listed. First, see if Chaos meets the requirements for the leftmost action. If it does, then take that action. Chaos’s action is now complete. If it doesn’t meet the requirement then it tries the next action along and so on. In the case that it cannot take any of the actions then it does nothing and the action phase continues.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Turn 1
Roll 1D6 Action choices
1-2 Build Nest |
3 Imbed Nest | Build nest |
4-5 Summon Malia | Summon Broo | Build nest |
6 Summon Broo | Build nest |

Turn 2
Roll 1D6
1-2 Imbed Nest | Build Nest |
3 Battle | Move |
4-5 Summon Thed | Irruption | Rune Burn
6 Summon Broo | Build Nest | Rune Burn

Turn 3
Roll 1D6 Actions
1 Imbed Nest | Build Nest | Rune Burn
2 Summon Thed | Irruption | Rune Burn
3 Battle | Move |
4-5 Summon Ragnaglar | Battle Ragnalar | Move Ragnaglar
6 Summon Broo | Move Broo | Battle Broo

Turn 4 onwards
Roll 1D6
1 Imbed Nest | Build Nest | Rune burn
2 Irruption | Summon Thed | Rune burn
3-4 Battle | Move | Rune burn
5 Summon Greater God | Move Greater God | Battle Greater God
6 Summon Ragnaglar | Battle Ragnaglar | Move Ragnaglar



Action descriptions
This is the bulk of the wording for the robot. It looks a lot at first but there is deliberately a lot of repetition.
Spoiler (click to reveal)

Build nest. Requires at least one nest in your pool. Place the nest in an area that would be shared with another empire’s building that doesn’t already have a nest. If there is more than one option, choose randomly. If there are no options then a randomly selected player chooses where to place it subject to the usual rules.

Imbed nest. Requires at least one un-imbedded nest and the Imbed Gift. Randomly choose one unimbedded nest that currently shares a location with another building and Imbed it. If there are no qualifying nests, then randomly choose one of the remaining nests to imbed.

Irruption. Requires at least 1 broo in your pool, and the Irruption gift and Thed to be in play. All broos in your pool are placed in Thed’s territory. Unlike the normal rules this can be used if Thed is in a territory shared with a ziggurat of a Greater God. If there is a chaos nest in that territory it is turned over or destroyed as normal but there is not a requirement for there to be a chaos nest in Thed’s territory.

Battle. Requires one or more Chaos units that are sharing a territory with one or more enemy units or an undefended enemy building. If there are several territories, then the territory with the greatest number of Chaos units is selected. Choose randomly if necessary. If there is more than one enemy empire in the chosen territory, then Chaos chooses which one to fight randomly.

Battle Ragnaglar. Requires Ragnaglar to be in play. If enemy units and/or an enemy building are present in Ragnaglar’s territory then Chaos starts a battle in that territory.

Move. Requires a territory containing at least one Chaos unit and no enemy units and no enemy buildings. Move all Chaos units to a legal space. Consult the Chaos Movement description below for full details.

Move Ragnaglar. As per move except that Ragnaglar’s territory is chosen.

Rune burn. This is a brand new action that only a Chaos Robot can use. It requires Chaos to have at least one rune. Chaos removes one of its runes from the game. The players then have one minute to choose which of them will remove one rune from the game. If they cannot choose the player and rune are chosen randomly. All runes removed from the game this way are kept secret.

Summon Malia. Requires Malia to be in your pool and at least one Chaos Nest in Play. Malia appears at the territory which contains a nest with the greatest number of Chaos units already present. Choose randomly if there are multiple options. If there are no Chaos units in any territories containing nests, Malia appears at one nest chosen randomly.

Summon Thed. Requires Thed to be in your pool and at least one Chaos Nest in Play. Thed appears at the territory which contains a nest with the greatest number of Chaos units already present. Choose randomly if there are multiple options. If there are no Chaos units in any territories containing nests, Thed appears at one nest chosen randomly. (Note, Malia does NOT need to be in play to take this action.)

Summon Ragnaglar. Requires Ragnaglar to be in your pool and at least one Chaos Nest in Play. Ragnaglar appears at the territory which contains a nest with the greatest number of Chaos units already present. Choose randomly if there are multiple options. If there are no Chaos units in any territories containing nests, Ragnaglar appears at one nest chosen randomly. (Note, Thed does NOT need to be in play to take this action.)

Summon Greater God. Requires at least one Greater God in your pool and at least one Chaos Nest in play. The Greater God with the lowest cost appears at the chaos nest with the greatest number of Chaos units already present. Choose randomly if there are multiple options. If there are no Chaos units in any territories containing nests, the God appears at one nest chosen randomly.

Summon Broo. Requires at least one broo in your pool and Thed or a chaos nest in play. If Thed is in play, the broo is summoned to her territory, even if she is not at a nest. If Thed is not in play, the broo appears at a chaos nest with the greatest number of Chaos units present. Choose randomly if needed. If none of the chaos nests have any chaos units, the broo appears at a randomly chosen nest.


Moving Chaos
One of the hardest things is creating a simple but effective system for moving Chaos hordes. This is probably not it.
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Chaos hungers to fight and feed. Units will never move out of a territory containing an enemy building or enemy units. If there is more than one territory that can move then use the following flow chart to decide which one moves.
1. If Ragnaglar’s territory can move, it moves.
2. Determine if any of the territories can enter enemy territory by moving. If at least one can then it is the one that moves. If more than one can move, the territory with the greatest number of units moves. As always, break ties randomly.
3. If none of the territories can enter an enemy territory by moving then the territory with the greatest combat value will move in the direction of the nearest enemy territory. Determine the nearest enemy territory by counting the number of moves it would take to get there by the shortest route. If there is more than option, choose randomly.
There are some specific rules. Chaos units will never move into Hell from outside Hell this way. Chaos cannot uses Kylerela’s movement but can move across Kylerela normally. Chaos will frequently abandon chaos nests due to this movement.


Resolving Battles
This happens as per normal. Chaos will use its Oblivion gift if it can.
Assigning Kills. Chaos assigns kills to broos first, then Malia, Thed and Ragnaglar in that order.

Routing: the non-Chaos player always assigns routs first. Chaos assigns routs in the same order as kills. The non-Chaos player then routs all routed Chaos units to a territory of the player’s choice as per normal. Chaos then tries to rout all the enemy’s routed units to the same location if possible. If that is not possible (or no Chaos units were routed) then the Chaos Robot will try to rout the enemy’s figures to any adjacent territory containing Chaos units. If that is not possible it will randomly choose any viable adjacent territory.
Destruction. Chaos will of course destroy unguarded buildings if it can.

Chaos Rift Struggle
After all players have revealed commitment roll 2 dice and take the highest result. Subtract that number from the commitment.
Chaos chooses units to be placed in the rift in the following order: unimbedded chaos nests, broos, embedded chaos nests.

Great Compromise.
If all other players have refused, Chaos becomes judge. Chaos gains 5 Victory Points then other players get Victory Points chosen randomly.

Victory?
If Chaos wins, the world is destroyed.

Thoughts, comments and other animals.






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Bruce Mason
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After some simulations of the first three turns (any more than that becomes meaningless), the random action tables are too weak. Chaos grows on average at roughly the same pace as the other factions but without being able to act intelligently it is usually no more than a minor nuisance. Sometimes it even hands heroquests on a plate to the actual players.

The basic structure seems to work and it's not overly complicated to translate the table results into actions.

At this point, I need to tweak the action generator to produce slightly more useful results. (Sometimes all it does is create nests.)

I'm also going to add a specific council phase action after each of the first three turns to make Chaos more of a threat.
 
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Bruce Mason
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Ok, I've been tweaking and refining it. Currently I'm shadowing the excellent PBF over on: PBF #4 - Dawn Over Genertela

Because BGG is rather slow to to update files I've created a link to a google doc which will act as a living document. Once I'm happy with the results I'll post it as a file BGG.

The google doc can be found at: http://bit.ly/ChaosRobot

Since the last version I've been tightening up the wording and had a pass over all the runes to deal with any weirdness. So far so good. I've also added a standard what to do if Chaos gains Power rule so that gifts like I Fought We Won can play as written.

I'm pretty happy at the moment. My plan is to have a basic "dumb" robot with various upgrades that make it more effective.
Smart: makes smarter choices rather than random ones
Vengeful: targets one enemy preferentially
Virulent: gets the Council Phase goodies.

To give you a taste of how its looking so far. The Virulent Robot shadowing Dawn Over Genertela managed to slaughter Orlanth before he freed Yelm. In the second shadowed version, a basic dumb robot attacked the Darkness Ziggurat at the gates of dawn with Thed and 6 broos, was repelled and has just sacked the Storm temple on Kylerela.

Would love to get feedback and see how it works for others.
 
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Bruce Mason
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Chaos robot updated
Hi there, I've updated and uploaded the file for the Chaos Robot to the files section: Chaos robot variant

I'm pretty happy with this in initial testing. The goal is not to make something that is as good as a good player. Rather it is meant to take up board space while offering a mix of threats and opportunities. If the robot is too strong it tends to randomly pick one player and destroy them which is not a lot of fun for the player involved.

That said, even toned down it tends to generate a couple of epic battles each game.

Hope you enjoy playing with it. Let me know if you do and how it acts. Plus if you come across an edge cases do say so.
 
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