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Terra Mystica» Forums » Variants

Subject: Faction balance and tuning idea rss

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Mad Dog
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Dear Terra Mysticans,

I have been considered the issue of game balance.

As we know
- Balance varies between maps, so Darkings are overpowered on the original map, Nomads on the new fire and ice map, etc.
- Attempts to rebalance through maps tend to meet problems due to the pairings of factions. Thus, anything which nerfs Darklings hurts the fellow black facion, Alchemists, much harder. Anything designed to assist the poor Fakirs boosts the fellow yellow Nomads.

One way to try and adjust this might be map specific initial power settings for each race. Thus, you reduce the initial power for Darklings on the original map, boost power for Fakirs on pretty much each map, etc.

It strike me that this ought to be a relatively easy change in terms of coding on Snellman or indeed face to face as it's a variation of initial settings.

Curious as to whether this has been tried, apologies if this duplicates another huge thread somewhere...

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Henrik Johansson
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Mad Dog UK wrote:
Curious as to whether this has been tried, apologies if this duplicates another huge thread somewhere...

Threads suggesting rebalance are not new, there has been several, but no "huge" one that more than a few BGGers have agreed upon. I have suggested directly to snellman to implement my suggestions at his site, but he declined. Snellman has been used to rebalance the Fire & Ice races.
Cato the Elder wrote:
Moreover, I consider that Fakirs should be buffed and Darklings nerfed.
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Jordan Lewis
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I appreciate the spirit Mad Dog. Small little tweaks could improve balance.

Since I joined the TM community I have noticed willingness of many parties to make the game even closer to perfect, from the Cultists errata (+pw if leech is declined), to the rebalancing of Riverwalkers through the snellman site (Shapeshifters are still a work in progress), to the developers' release of expansion scoring, the auction variant, a new board and revised old board, and mini-expansions. The BBG community is also currently iterating on a new board design, Loon Lakes . To me, board design has a powerful ability to reset faction balance, including helping weaker factions of a given color (Fakirs/Alchemists/Dwarves) relative to the stronger faction (Nomads/Darklings/Engineers).

Given all this activity, it seems reasonable that neither the game designer nor Juho would prioritize big tweaks to base factions. We want this game to be inviting to more people, and a long list of errata wouldn't be helpful. Additionally, as a credit to this game, even after 30,000+ online games there are rousing discussions as to which factions need a buff (Alchemists and Giants are both enjoying more high level play lately).

I would recommend a very limited, specific discussion aimed at reaching consensus on a simple buff for Fakirs and Auren, the 2 factions universally perceived as weak. Even on F&I board, expansion scoring, mini-expansions, and a moderate buff, I don't expect Fakirs to become a dominant faction. The ideas I've seen floated the most are:

Fakirs:
- Increase carpet flight reward from 4vp to 5vp
- Increase initial power distribution to 5/7/0 or 3/9/0
- Reduce the cost of the SH from 4w10c to 4w8c/4w6c
- Increase the SH power income from 0 to 2/4 (ty James)
- Allow Bon4 and Bon10 to increase carpet flight range (ty Skyswooper)
- Multiple of the preceding 3. Again, simpler is better

Auren:
- Reduce the cost of the SA to 4w6c
- Increase SH Favor reward from 1 to 2 (ty James)
- Add an ability. Possibilities usually involve the cults:
* 4vp for every cult track won, or for every 10 achieved on a cult track
* Increasing the income of the SH from 2pw to 4pw
* The ability to convert cult progress to coins (probably limited to 1x on cult track per round).

If we keep a proposed errata simple, it would easier for Juho to implement testing, and for Helge to consider making it official.
 
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James Wolfpacker
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JordanLewis1 wrote:

Fakirs:
- Increase carpet flight reward from 4vp to 5vp
- Increase initial power distribution to 5/7/0 or 3/9/0
- Reduce the cost of the SH from 4w10c to 4w8c or 4w6c
- Multiple of the preceding 3. Again, simpler is better

Auren:
- Reduce the cost of the SA to 4w6c
- Add an ability. Possibilities usually involve the cults:
* 4vp for every cult track won, or for every 10 achieved on a cult track
* Increasing the income of the SH from 2pw to 4pw
* The ability to convert cult progress to coins (probably limited to 1x on cult track per round).


Fakirs need their SH and starting power changed to
4w8c cost and add +4pw and initial power 3/9/0
OR
4w6c cost and add +2pw and initial power 3/9/0

Auren
+4vp for each cult track on spot 10 is being added to their bonus landscape at +4vp so a different buff might be needed.
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Gambia
Brest
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JordanLewis1 wrote:
The ideas I've seen floated the most are:

Fakirs:
- Increase carpet flight reward from 4vp to 5vp
- Increase initial power distribution to 5/7/0 or 3/9/0
- Reduce the cost of the SH from 4w10c to 4w8c or 4w6c
- Multiple of the preceding 3. Again, simpler is better

Auren:
- Reduce the cost of the SA to 4w6c
- Add an ability. Possibilities usually involve the cults:
* 4vp for every cult track won, or for every 10 achieved on a cult track
* Increasing the income of the SH from 2pw to 4pw
* The ability to convert cult progress to coins (probably limited to 1x on cult track per round).

If we keep a proposed errata simple, it would easier for Juho to implement testing, and for Helge to consider making it official.


For Fakirs you can also add:
- bon4 and bon10 handle flight range as if it were shipping range.

We use this minimal ruling change in our home games and Fakirs feel a lot better.

For Auren, why not simply allowing the SH to give 2 favors instead of 1 ?

 
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James Wolfpacker
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Skyswooper wrote:

For Auren, why not simply allowing the SH to give 2 favors instead of 1 ?


That would be interesting. FAV11 (or 2nd choice of 10) and one of FAV (7,8,9) would be nice. I would say adding priest income is probably overpowered. Though I'd probably also be ok giving Fakirs a FAV with their SH and reducing the cost to 4w8c.
 
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Space Trucker
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Mad Dog UK wrote:
As we know
- Balance varies between maps, so Darkings are overpowered on the original map, Nomads on the new fire and ice map, etc.

Did you have a closerlook at the snellman statistics?
http://terra.snellman.net/stats/

Nomads are picked quite often on the Fire/Ice Map Side 1 (2nd most often after mermaids), but only do about above average and become worse the better players get. I clearly wouldn't call them overpowered (e.g. mermaids are picked more often and have better result, while neither of them has the highest win chances).
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Robert
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JamesWolfpacker wrote:
Fakirs need their SH and starting power changed to
4w8c cost and add +4pw and initial power 3/9/0
Is the +4pw instead of the priest or in addition?
 
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James Wolfpacker
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DocCool wrote:
JamesWolfpacker wrote:
Fakirs need their SH and starting power changed to
4w8c cost and add +4pw and initial power 3/9/0
Is the +4pw instead of the priest or in addition?
In addition, but adding a FAV might work too.
 
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Mad Dog
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@JordanLewis - I agree with your suggested area of focus. I do think there are a couple of maps with overpowered factions (original map Darklings and the revised original map Mermaids), but these are minor compared to the issues of Fakirs and to a lesser extent Auren. High level players are more likely to avoid assisting an overpowered faction, than they are to assist a weakling! As you say, the Cultists were revised a little and are now highly playable.

One of the amazing things about TM is how the factions are surprisingly balanced given the asymmetry, and while there are some which are very flexible under nearly all circumstances, most will do well under some map/race/bonus tile/round tile conditions. Fakirs though always seem to struggle.

The main point I was making is that it's all very well trying to balance maps, but I think that in, for example, the fire and ice variant map, which nerfs Darklings, Alchemists get hit very hard, due to the colour pairings. In the Loon Lakes discussions, it's about how to help Fakirs without making Nomads too strong. The lack of balance within colour pairings make strictly map based balance ever harder than it already is (which is rather hard anyway...).

To keep focus, I like the idea of making this a "try buffing Fakirs" thread with a view to a cultists style rule change.

Not sure of next steps though, I was just throwing a stone into the water and seeing what rippled!
 
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Robert
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Mad Dog UK wrote:
@JordanLewis - I agree with your suggested area of focus. I do think there are a couple of maps with overpowered factions (original map Darklings and the revised original map Mermaids), but these are minor compared to the issues of Fakirs and to a lesser extent Auren.
I beg to differ: If there's an overpowered faction on a map, it's way more game-breaking than if there's an underpowered faction or three. I don't think Darklings on the base map are game-breaking, but Mermaids on F&I side 2 are pretty close, and the original Shapeshifters and Riverwalkers clearly were game-breakingly strong. If the first player can just pick the OP faction and has a 40% win probability in a 4p game, that's game-breaking, whereas NOT picking an underpowered faction is quite easy.

Beefing up some of the underdogs still is a laudable goal, and has been discussed before. The statistics show that Fakirs and Auren are inherently weak, i.e. they are weak independent of the map design, and certainly weaker than their yellow/green counterparts, the Nomads and the Witches: A map which helps Fakirs will help Nomads even more, etc.

So the buff should be directly for the faction, like the cheaper/better SH for Fakirs or some extra ability for the Auren. However, without Juho's support to implement some Fakirs_v2 etc., all such discussion remains theoretical, or limited to anecdotal experiences in FtF games.
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Space Trucker
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DocCool wrote:
So the buff should be directly for the faction, like the cheaper/better SH for Fakirs or some extra ability for the Auren. However, without Juho's support to implement some Fakirs_v2 etc., all such discussion remains theoretical, or limited to anecdotal experiences in FtF games.

First of all changing factions for the original TM (e.g. for a second edition or errata) would require some initiative of Feuerland Spiele and the authors.
I agree with Juho that it's desirable to keep the "real" TM on the site (for me modding an original faction is sth. different than adding an optional fan expansion map).
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Robert
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SpaceTrucker wrote:
DocCool wrote:
So the buff should be directly for the faction, like the cheaper/better SH for Fakirs or some extra ability for the Auren. However, without Juho's support to implement some Fakirs_v2 etc., all such discussion remains theoretical, or limited to anecdotal experiences in FtF games.

First of all changing factions for the original TM (e.g. for a second edition or errata) would require some initiative of Feuerland Spiele and the authors.
I agree with Juho that it's desirable to keep the "real" TM on the site (for me modding an original faction is sth. different than adding an optional fan expansion map).
I seriously doubt that Feuerland or the authors will touch TM again, so if that's the precondition, then "all such discussion remains theoretical". Which doesn't mean it shouldn't be done, but there's no way to prove individual opinions.
 
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James Wolfpacker
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DocCool wrote:
So the buff should be directly for the faction, like the cheaper/better SH for Fakirs or some extra ability for the Auren. However, without Juho's support to implement some Fakirs_v2 etc., all such discussion remains theoretical, or limited to anecdotal experiences in FtF games.


Well you can buff Fakirs and Auren with "option loose-adjust-resource" on the Snellman implementation. It's just not going to be rated. Add +4pw to Fakirs at the start of the game to give them 3/9/0. When the Fakirs build the SH the player can add +2c (or +4c) just before they build it to give them a SH cost of 4w8c (4w6c). Then every income phase add +4pw (or +2pw) to the Fakirs gained power. I'm not sure which level is appropriate for the Fakirs so I mentioned both of them.

For the Auren (since the bonus landscape gives +4vp for cult step 10) something else will have to be done. I'm thinking that giving them +1P income for the SH might be too much, but it's a possibility. Other than that, maybe +1w income, +2pw more (for a total of +4pw) or +2c income might work.

For both Auren and Fakirs the SH is like weird temple because one gives a FAV and the other gives a priest, but they both give some other benefit as well (+2 cult and +1 range) so maybe there is not anything wrong with making it fully like a Stronger but more expensive Temple and both get +1P and +FAV with their faction specific benefit.

The Snellman implementation with "option loose-adjust-resource" allows adjusting: vps, coins, workers, priests, and power tokens in any bowl. It does not allow (but I wish it did allow) adjusting FAVs and cult steps.
 
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Matthias Reitberger
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I think you are overdoing it.
Adding income to an already good fakirs sh isn't necessary. Just give it an reasonable cost of 4w8c and boost their start power, the rest should be up to player skill. Will still be hard on original map but absolutely competitive on F&I.
This leaves options of wether and when to build sh a strategic choice and not a must first round.
Same applies to auren, 2pw boost at start and maybe a specially cheap sa (4w4c) that makes both sh and te start intresting.
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James Wolfpacker
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I agree I might be suggesting too much, but we won't know until we try it. As it stands now, both Auren and Fakirs need a perfect storm to win.
 
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Matthias Reitberger
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The main problem is that there's no reason to ever select them. There are clearly setups where alchemists are better than Darklings and constellations where chaosmagicians can't succeed but giants might be competitive while it's still hard to win with them.
Starting with 9pw in bowl 2 allone can be a reason to pick fakirs or auren and not the counterpart with 7.
Fakirs still might not succeed on original map, because it is bad for yellow. I am rarely competitive with Nomads on the original map while I win most games on F&I with them.
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