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Subject: Some thoughts about balance rss

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Stephan Beal
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the_demolished_man wrote:
OK so something is wrong somewhere. Too easy, then too hard, then too easy, then too hard. Where's the balance, the sweetspot that means games are challenging but winnable, they actually take around an hour and I have some fun? It seems to be either a cakewalk or an impossible setup with little or no chance of winning.


That's largely been my experience with core+UF. Sometimes we absolutely trounce the Ancient One, and occasionally (but seldom) it trounces us. i don't use the "big expansions" because...

GoA is, IMO, just stupidly difficult. i get no enjoyment whatsoever out of a non-stop gate-spamming session.

OoI i just don't care much for - i don't like the multiple "waves" of progression, partially because there's no way for a new player to know what he's supposed to be doing in each wave (and therefore when he needs to make an effort to advance to the next one).

the_demolished_man wrote:
Surely there must be a balance somewhere. It can't be this swingy on purpose.


Maybe not on purpose, but that's the way it is :/.

the_demolished_man wrote:
I need to find it soon or everything is going to be traded


If you find it, be sure to let us know. i'm happy with ES as it is, but i do wish it was a bit more consistent in terms of challenge (without "consistent" meaning "85%+ loss rate").

the_demolished_man wrote:
Have any of you found the right combination? The mixture of expansions, variants, house rules that hit the right notes?


The expansions, with the exception of individual monsters and Other World cards, can't be mixed as-is (which i find sorely disappointing), so any such combinations would necessarily require house rules and/or custom variants.
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Julia
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We have dragged Reason from her Throne and set in her place the Empress of Dreams [liber Endvra]
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If you check my comments on your previous critique towards the system, you'll find some good suggestions on how to mix components for a different balance.

Gates of Arkham is rather well balanced (but of course, you could say my opinion is biased; it's not, since it's based on the math we did for the game, but I understand people can disagree here), so that you can aim at winning 60-70% of the times. It's not everyone's cup of tea, tho, and it plays really different from core set + UF. So, you can either opt on investing time to improve strategy in Gates, or you can try the solution I suggested you previously, or any of the variants you can find on BGG allowing inetgration of expansions with proper scaling of difficulty (there's a lot of variants, house rules and suggestions posted on this very board)

Omens of Ice: it changes the game again. Difficulty increase is not linear with time advancement, but follows a sort of power law, so that the game is very easy in the beginning and incredibly hard in the end if you didn't optimize time vs actions.

All these expansions were conceived with the idea of granting different game experiences to the Elder Sign players; and they all come with a different challenge level, and require a different strategy to be won. It's always ES in terms of mechanics, but man are they different for all the rest.

EDIT: grammar. Memo to herself: drink coffee first, then post
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Richard Launius
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Julia is absolutely correct in that the game is all about creating different gaming experiences for the players, and the story that comes from each game. That may not be what every player is seeking in their games, but it is what I strive to achieve in the design. So, it is my hope that you are emerging in the story that is unfolding and enjoying memorable moments, win or lose, regardless of which version you are playing.

In any event, thanks for delving into the adventures of Elder Sign.

And Julia, thanks for the many great answers you give the players that post.

Richard
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Matthew Soto
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Richard Launius wrote:

Julia is absolutely correct in that the game is all about creating different gaming experiences for the players, and the story that comes from each game. That may not be what every player is seeking in their games, but it is what I strive to achieve in the design. So, it is my hope that you are emerging in the story that is unfolding and enjoying memorable moments, win or lose, regardless of which version you are playing.

In any event, thanks for delving into the adventures of Elder Sign.

And Julia, thanks for the many great answers you give the players that post.

Richard


She's one of the best people to talk to about Elder Sign, Richard. That and the fact that it hits all the right spots for me (Grew up on more mass market games during the pre-Catan era of games, so I love a good amount of dice chucking. Also, it's kinda person on a map solving problems too, which was a good chunk of games from that era, but it's no randomize and move ) made this one of my favorite modern games. It does feel as swingy as a Leacock Co-op, where you could easily be crushed in those games by how the cards are shuffled, which also affects this game. Last 2 games I played against Azathoth (with different people playing) in the museum and the Night Watchman came up both times. In the first game the card took out 3-4 investigators because of his penalty (it didn't help that the first group kept on only rolling enough to fulfill the Peril-Stamina task with a character with only 4 max Stamina). In the second...Amanda Sharpe took it out with a single roll (Rolled all 3 peril needed to defeat the card and winning the game). And yeah, second game was a curbstomp towards Azathoth (It only had 2 doom tokens on the track!)
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Michael Nerman
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Have a look at my post on what ES variants I use. Most of them make the game more difficult.

For swinginess, I recommend you give yourself a "mulligan" at the beginning of the game. If you have too many locked dice and midnight effects on the starting adventures, you can reshuffle the adventure deck and deal out fresh ones, but you can only do that once.
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Michael Nerman
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Although I made my own deck of Mythos cards, you can have a similar experience by removing many of the "nothing happens" cards and cards that give you positive effects. I believe you can find someone talking about that in depth in the forum. (Check the "variants" section.)

I love this game for the mechanics, but it has brutal positive feedback loops.
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Julia
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lomdr wrote:
She's one of the best people to talk to about Elder Sign, Richard


Ok, guys, stop, or I'll blush until the end of time!

(but I've been microbadged for a reason mb )
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nerman8r wrote:
For swinginess, I recommend you give yourself a "mulligan" at the beginning of the game. If you have too many locked dice and midnight effects on the starting adventures, you can reshuffle the adventure deck and deal out fresh ones, but you can only do that once.


We now play with that. It just isn't fun being doomed from the start.
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