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Subject: Very Simple Rule to Counter In-Balance rss

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Al Johnson
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Balance in games with asymmetrical powers is very difficult to accomplish. It would see you would need to play different factions with different players a multitude of times. With so many posts on this site saying the humans are overpowered (or other factions under powered), I can't help but think there has to be some truth to that.

My fix is simple - the same thing that the makers of Terra Mystica did when they release the Fire & Ice expansion. Simply incorporate a new rule where you get to choose the factions by bidding for them. So for example, both players believe the humans are overpowered, bid for them. Then that will require you to make up the difference in points at the end of the game.

I am interested in others opinions as to if this would work, or how it might not work. I don't have the game (it's on order, due next week). It still looked so cool I wanted to give it a chance. Imbalance in games is not necessarily a deal breaker with me but if it's as severe in this game as people say, it could be. We'll see. However, bidding for the factions seems like an easy fix.

Thoughts?

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James Mathias
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The game is not imbalanced. The Human's have a single skill card that makes them OP in 2 and 3 player games. Leave the card "Scouting" out and the game is super balanced, fun and scores are tight.

You can of course do what ever you like with your game, you own it!
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Jason Brown
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We let everyone choose their faction anyway.

Honestly, the best way to "fix" the imbalance in this game is to learn how to play each faction optimally. I got housed by the humans in my first game, but subsequent plays have resulted in much closer games.
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Barry Miller
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Al Johnson wrote:
Balance in games with asymmetrical powers is very difficult to accomplish.

Not to derail the thread, but a game that gets asymmetrical design correct is Washington's War. In that game, neither faction has stats or abilities. Being a card driven game, the asymmetry comes in the form of the cards and the rules. Bottom line is that each faction is played totally different from each other, yet the game is perfectly balanced!

The fact that the game is six years old, and that itself is a remake of a an earlier version which is from the '90s, tells you what a brilliant design it was and still is.

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Paul Ferguson
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I think you mean imbalance as inbalance isn't a word. I digress, the factions aren't imbalanced, its more that people want things handed to them on a plate, and aren't willing to play the game more than once to find how to counter another factions strengths. Sure humans are a bit easier to play than the others, but that is not to say they can't be countered. The good thing about games with asymmetrical elements is that it provides a lot of hidden layers for people to discover for themselves. I wouldn't go adding rules for bidding of factions, just give the newest player the humans and the rest can have a random draw for the others.
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chris thatcher
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I think even without scouting humans are too strong, and the Machines well underpowered in terms of scoring.
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Grant Rodiek
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Tariff wrote:
I think even without scouting humans are too strong, and the Machines well underpowered in terms of scoring.


Maybe you're a really bad Machine player?
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James Mathias
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Tariff wrote:
I think even without scouting humans are too strong, and the Machines well underpowered in terms of scoring.


The Humans are easy mode (not OP), the Machines are hard mode (not UP).

The Humans are obvious and easy to play as, they take very little effort to do well with. The Machines are very difficult, and unforgiving. You cannot waste/misplay a single action with them.

Scouting was/is broken as written when combined with Occupation. And the combo is OP even with Scouting errata. Remove scouting and you no longer have a broken combo.
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chris thatcher
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Quote:
Maybe you're a really bad Machine player?


Me and all my group it seems.

Let's see if a expansion is released..I will chuckle hard if it is claimed it does any rebalancing to this perfectly balanced game.

Once again I really like Cry Havoc.
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Grant Rodiek
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Tariff wrote:
Quote:
Maybe you're a really bad Machine player?


Me and all my group it seems.

Let's see if a expansion is released..I will chuckle hard if it is claimed it does any rebalancing to this perfectly balanced game.

Once again I really like Cry Havoc.


I don't think any game is perfectly balanced. I do believe Cry Havoc is fair.

To my knowledge, we aren't releasing replacements of existing skills. But, in the same way X-Wing constantly adjusts the meta to adjust to swarm, or ordnance, we will fill gaps, provide more counters, and make the game richer.

Something I want to note: folks seem to feel obligated to say "by the way I like Cry Havoc" when critiquing the game or arguing with me. My base assumption is that if you are on these boards, you are passionate and give a shit. You don't need to proclaim a loyalty oath.

But, I will always accept all praise and gifts of pie.
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chris thatcher
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Well some games are unbalanced and crap..
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Scott DeMers
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I have followed a lot of threads about perceived imbalance in this game - usually including some reference to the Machines being under powered or the Trogs or Humans being overpowered. The response from I have seen to these posts tends to follow one of two general paths:

1) Complete dismissal. "No it is not. It is balanced". This is especially concerning given that the empirical evidence and number of threads about this topic would imply that it has some validity.
2) Some version of "You don't know how to play <insert faction>". The Machines need to be played perfectly, The humans must leverage XXX, The Pilgrims must form their triangle, etc.

Can we give some credit to the OPs of these threads please and stop being dismissive? Can we please stop doing that?

Any game of this type will have imbalance - expect that (part of the fun). But, I will also add that any game that requires perfection in your play style to win could use more balance work. The most enjoyable sessions of any game I have played were when I recovered from the unanticipated stab or overcame a catastrophe. To say that perfection must be achieved is worse than unbalanced, it is boring. Since the other factions do not have that same limitation - why would it be valid for the machines? Sadly, despite me loving this game, the desire in my game group has fallen off significantly.

The reality for me is that I love playing the machines - loads of fun - but I highly doubt that I will win any game even following the strategy guide to a 'T'. I have never felt underpowered in capability, just underpowered in scoring. Frankly, have never seen the machines even in the running (About 8 games - all 4 player). I would love to see rules about increasing Machine's ability to score.
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Grant Rodiek
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sdmers wrote:
I have followed a lot of threads about perceived imbalance in this game - usually including some reference to the Machines being under powered or the Trogs or Humans being overpowered. The response from I have seen to these posts tends to follow one of two general paths:

1) Complete dismissal. "No it is not. It is balanced". This is especially concerning given that the empirical evidence and number of threads about this topic would imply that it has some validity.
2) Some version of "You don't know how to play <insert faction>". The Machines need to be played perfectly, The humans must leverage XXX, The Pilgrims must form their triangle, etc.

Can we give some credit to the OPs of these threads please and stop being dismissive? Can we please stop doing that?

Any game of this type will have imbalance - expect that (part of the fun). But, I will also add that any game that requires perfection in your play style to win could use more balance work. The most enjoyable sessions of any game I have played were when I recovered from the unanticipated stab or overcame a catastrophe. To say that perfection must be achieved is worse than unbalanced, it is boring. Since the other factions do not have that same limitation - why would it be valid for the machines? Sadly, despite me loving this game, the desire in my game group has fallen off significantly.

The reality for me is that I love playing the machines - loads of fun - but I highly doubt that I will win any game even following the strategy guide to a 'T'. I have never felt underpowered in capability, just underpowered in scoring. Frankly, have never seen the machines even in the running (About 8 games - all 4 player). I would love to see rules about increasing Machine's ability to score.


Since July, I've been told almost daily that the game is imbalanced, or mostly fine, or perfect, and for the life of me I couldn't resist being snarky. Take that as you will.
 
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Frank Regan
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I love this game! Thank you for making it.
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Al Johnson
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All of these replies and yet not one comment on whether bidding for selection of factions would solve the problem, which was the point of the post. This is what I feel like when I'm talking with my kids... (just my attempt at humor)

To me, it's a given that the game is imbalanced. There are just too many threads that support this. Even the opposition posts which state that it's not imbalanced, follow it up with something to the effect; "You just need to play the (insert faction) a certain way."

But moderate imbalance does not bother me. I love Terra Mystica and it's factions definitely are not all equal. It has become one of my favorite games to play and while I feel good when I win, I feel equally good if I play a weak faction (Giants) very well. My best game with them was within 5 points of winning and it's been one of my favorite gaming experiences.

My point in beginning this thread was simply to ask (or maybe suggest) that you could bid victory points to offset what people perceive (whether true or not) an imbalance amongst the factions. This would seem to be useful for those who swear the game is imbalanced. If you believe it's balanced you obviously would never use it.

Regardless, I ordered the game and can't wait to get a chance to play it. Watching videos of it sure makes it look like a great game. I'm sure, imbalance or not it will prove to be a game I enjoy.
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Alex Banks
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In response to the OP (I was listening! ), I don't think I'd like a bidding system. If say I bid 5 for the Humans and then lose by 4 then it would just mean I'd end up thinking back to that original bid as the reason for my loss, rather than what went on in the game. That's just me though.

Personally I think I'll be trying a combination of two simple variants to help balance:

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1671105/event-tokens-advanc...
- The game always goes to 5 rounds -
This will help the Machines and Pilgrims, and seems to be an official rule now anyway judging by the updated rulebooks

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1659023/house-rule-altering...
- Human's don't gain points for crystals in regions they control with Trog tokens in -
As this rule wouldn't be obvious either way anyway, you can easily teach new players this rule and it doesn't contradict anything on any cards/the board. You'll probably end up denying humans a small number of points over the course of a game with this change anyway (particularly in 2-3 player games with that juicy middle region), so I guess it's like the bidding rule in reverse, just less noticeable
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Calvin Le Huray
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In our games, we would say that pilgrims were the most under powered faction, as they are always twenty points behind. Especially if players don't let them control an area in turn one.
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Kim Fjeld
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sdmers wrote:
I would love to see rules about increasing Machine's ability to score.


I agree. While Machines have powerful abilities, they lack the potential to actually capitalise on their influence in terms of scoring.

All the other factions have a faction specific scoring quality that boosts their game: Humans and Pilgrims can use their special skills, while Trogs get free units and has the potential to win battles just because they more often than not end up as the defender. The only extra scoring Machines have is the card that gives a single point if it is used to boost an Build/Activation-action. I think Machines should have had more of these symbols on their cards, or somehow could gain points from erradication of the opponents units.

I think the biggest gap in terms of scoring comes from the trickle provided by faction specific scoring opportunities - or the lack of this as is the case with Machines.
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Grant Rodiek
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Firepower

My friend earned 10 points in a battle by capturing the territory (2) plus 8 for attrition. He probably earned 15 from attrition alone the other day, comparable to what I earned with Occupation.
 
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Fito R
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eatshootsandleafs wrote:
In our games, we would say that pilgrims were the most under powered faction, as they are always twenty points behind. Especially if players don't let them control an area in turn one.
How do you fail to control an area in turn one? That seems very hard, even in a 4 player game. Pilgrims can even build a Power Orb and force the issue from his safe region. I mean, Trogs can focus Pilgrims down at the cost of everything else, but that doesn't seem wise.
 
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Kim Fjeld
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HerrohGrant wrote:
attrition


It has struck me lately that this might be a viable approach for Machines. The meta is mostly based around control and capture objectives, at least in my group. Hardly anyone place units on attrition.

However, attrition plays well into the strenghts and playstyle of Machines because they usually march slowly from battle to battle as a single cluster. Simply put: Machines usually attack with overwhelming force, a power concentration that they can put to use to grab a huge chunk of points by destroying their enemy instead of conquering them. The added benefit is of course that the enemy will spend the next round rebuilding and repositioning their army.
 
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Grant Rodiek
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pocoloco wrote:
HerrohGrant wrote:
attrition


It has struck me lately that this might be a viable approach for Machines. The meta is mostly based around control and capture objectives, at least in my group. Hardly anyone place units on attrition.

However, attrition plays well into the strenghts and playstyle of Machines because they usually march slowly from battle to battle as a single cluster. Simply put: Machines usually attack with overwhelming force, a power concentration that they can put to use to grab a huge chunk of points by destroying their enemy instead of conquering them. The added benefit is of course that the enemy will spend the next round rebuilding and repositioning their army.


You cannot play shortsightedly. Cry Havoc isn't Risk.

Every Unit you kill via attrition must be recruited, and moved. That is two wasted Actions! In a game of 15. Those are also cards they cannot use in Battle, to build structures.

If your enemy wins the territory (2 points) and you return next turn in force? Guess what...that is the better long term play.

Attrition is so valuable.
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Grant Rodiek
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Hi all: Just wrote a strategy article re: the 3 battle objectives inspired by this thread.

http://boardgamegeek.com/article/24304101#24304101

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