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Subject: La Capitan - Piratical Lady-Type rss

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Michael Hunter
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Final version is here


Note: This one is rather more in development than my usual posts, hence among other things the variant name - ideas are welcomed!



Okay, first the problems...

Tempo: This was cast into particular light when I was writing some design notes for another thread, half of my examples of dodgy design were La Capitan.

Firstly, she is a Front Loader. She starts with La Paradoxa Magnifica, a high HP target that you really, really want to get dead fast or she is playing double cards. If you can't deal 15 damage on turn 1 (particularly hard on H=3) then you're already very much on the back foot with this to take down plus all the other junk she will have played in four plays over two turns.

Secondly, really really really swingy. This can be summarized by saying Raiding Party, but in more detail... Her cards have a huge range of power, and given she usually only plays one card a turn (unlike say Omnitron who plays enough cards that it tends to even out more) it is very pronounced. Compare Raiding Party (dropping 30ish HP that are dealing something like 10 damage a turn between them AND destroys a card), Motley Crew (20ish HP, 7ish damage, and another card) to stuff like Walk the Plank (3 damage, someone is slightly inconvenienced for a turn) or Plunder (often destroy 1 card, gain 2 HP) she can sometimes be impossible, sometimes be trivial.

Thirdly, inertia. Some villains are quite random but have ways to make up for it - when they get strong something kicks in to slow them down, when they're are getting beaten they have ways to bounce back. Examples would be Voss who stops hitting you himself when his minions are out, Dendron who becomes much scarier once you've got your act together enough to burn down her front side or Iron Legacy who prioritizes defense over offense when hurt.

La Capitan is the opposite. Plunder is probably the most egregious example of bad design, if she has lots of crew out (i.e you're already getting your butt kicked and don't need extra trouble) this can wipe out half your board as well as heal all those crew you were clearly having trouble killing. If she has no crew (thus is getting hammered and she could use the help) then it does almost nothing. This is NOT good gameplay, tends to make games either one sided pushovers or one sided you-getting-your-butt-kicked.

As an example, I ran a bunch of test games online to gauge her. In one, turn 1 she played 4 crew on turn 1 (a normal crew and raiding party). We JUST managed to take out the ship on our round while the crew beat us up. Her turn she plays Plunder - with all the crew out that destroys all our gear, and heals her crew. Oh, and now she's going to flip and start healing all her guys still more. Oh, and the only way to stop her healing her guys is to hit her, and then that's damage not going to the guys that are beating us up and... Another game, first turn she plays Plunder (does nothing) and Walk the plank. We destroy the boat on our turn, and for the rest of the game she spends a single play each turn either playing a crew we burn down pretty easy or a crappy one-shot, we take her out in about 5 turns with no real problems. Mostly because we didn't get Raiding Party.

Offense/Defense ratio: Spoilers, I rein in the crew output. As most of Capitan's offense comes from the crew, to keep her threatening she needed some more dangerous than her own crummy end of turn damage to make her likely to kill players by methods other than dumping a huge pile of crew on the table. Her flip side is a particular problem here, it just draws things out.

Lowest HP damage: Not huge, but for my taste she does have a bit too much lowest HP target damage - Battle Forged, Last Breath and Captain's Orders mean if you don't have ongoing removal or an environment to take Battle Forged's hits it can mean Parse or Lady of the Wood is going down FAST...



Now my current ideas for fixes...

Front Loading: Firstly, she doesn't start with La Paradoxa, rather a single crew (and if it takes you a turn or two to take out the crew that's annoying, but not catastrophic unlike Paradoxa). This takes care of the front loading. Note La Paradoxa starts in the trash so All Together Now fetches it as normal.

Tempo and consistency: Secondly, raiding party is down to H-2 (you'd be surprised how big a difference that makes, just like Apostate's Profane Summons) but if she has NO crew she plays an extra card, Anathema style. This lowers her high end (massive raiding parties) but raises her low end (she won't spend turn after turn crew-less with bad plays, there's generally going to be one around for her turn. In my experience Trueshot or Chip are good picks to leave alone). Considering making Motley Crew H-3, but while it works fine in H=3 it reads odd, and although it is a very strong card it at least does nothing on turn 1, which earns it points for not causing early game blowouts.

Also, Walking the Plank now takes out a piece of gear, making it a bit stronger (it is still her weakest play and frequent Suggestion fodder, but now it at least ties into her flip). Her end of turn is beefed up giving her a better chance of taking out the heroes without needing tons of crew.

Flip side: It had to tie into cards under her otherwise Temporal Thief would be pointless, and I wanted it to be offense rather than defense (she can be a long fight as is, giving her tons of defense would make it excessively long). Finally, with only two cards getting back La Paradoxa, I wanted her vessel to play a bigger role. Hence, Temporal Broadside.

Basically, if she gets 3+ cards under her (generally this means either Temporal Thief or building up cards from Plunder/Mabel/Raiding Party) she calls out the La Paradoxa (including from the deck if some jerk has removed it from her trash with Wet Work/Brain Burn/No Executions/What have you). It DOESN'T do it's normal end of turn that turn (that got a bit too strong and also confusing if that took more cards) but it begins firing on you. Each card underneath it is H energy damage to that hero, but if you manage to kill it quickly then it deals less damage. Note that even if your second hero knocks it out, the cards still get returned to your trash, just no damage is dealt.

This is a fun little turn with a priority target and pretty significant damage - I like especially how you can choose to have Paradoxa hit your tougher heroes early on, but as the turn goes in has to start hitting more vulnerable targets so you really want to take it out fast. I also like how it shows the ship has teeth, not just extra plays.



Have done a bunch of playtests, five with this version and I quite like it, we are on average winning with 0-10 HP which to my mind is about the sweet spot for challenging but doable. Haven't done any meaningful playtesting with H=3 and H=5 or Advanced mode so the HP scaling, end of turn ability and advanced modes are quite up in the air at the moment, but wanted to get feedback on general mechanics before I did so.

So, with that in mind, any thoughts?
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Bill Stull
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The damage on the flipped side should come from La Capitan instead of the ship just incase the ship is removed (Unforgiving Wasteland) or destroyed rather quickly. I'd also say the damage could be scaled back to H-1. I'd say your card changes should still be listed on the flipped side since there are chances those two cards could be played while flipped. Of the card changes I think Walk the Plank is fine as is because I do feel not being able to us powers is pretty detrimental to a lot of heroes for a round.
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Take Walker
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Those advanced rules are amazing, just gonna say that now. :V

I'm inclined to agree with Adelpho that losing a power isn't the worst thing that can happen. (Compare to the Dreamer, who can nerf card plays and damage for a turn.)

Otherwise, I'm glad the flip side isn't doing what I'm doing with a custom villain, because then I would be mad. :V
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Bill Stull
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There are lots of heroes who do a majority of their work through powers like Argent Adept. I feel losing uses of powers for a round is just as bad as losing the ability to play cards for a round overall. Some heroes are more dependent upon on card plays, some on powers, and some who are dependent on both so it does have an impact.
 
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Joseph Guzman
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While the loss of a power can be hampering and frustrating, what is the point of playing against a villain that always lets you have your way? I think that the removing of power use is just fine as it does add a level of difficulty that is good. When you beat a villain that makes it difficult to play, it is all the more fulfilling.

Also, I do feel that damage coming from the ship is better than from La Capitan is better because it goes well with the theme and gives the players of choice to either focus her or the ship. Focusing the ship gives her more time as it mitigates damage or focus her and allows her to deal more damage via ship. Very well thought out variant. 2 thumbs up Adelphophage.
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Michael Hunter
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Sonvar wrote:
The damage on the flipped side should come from La Capitan instead of the ship just incase the ship is removed (Unforgiving Wasteland) or destroyed rather quickly. I'd also say the damage could be scaled back to H-1. I'd say your card changes should still be listed on the flipped side since there are chances those two cards could be played while flipped. Of the card changes I think Walk the Plank is fine as is because I do feel not being able to us powers is pretty detrimental to a lot of heroes for a round.


The idea of having La Paradoxa deal the damage is indeed that you have a chance to destroy the ship before it finishes its volley, so I'm inclined to keep it on the ship itself for tactical reasons. Also makes it a bit less vulnerable to stun bolts and such incidentally. Damage might wind up being H-1 on balancing (especially on H=5) but it should be noticed the damage isn't as bad as it seems given the ship doesn't always complete the broadside.

Good point on the card changes on the flip side.

As for Walk the Plank... okay, maybe "slightly inconvenience" was a bit harsh, losing a power can be annoying especially for certain heroes, but it's still a weak villain play overall and results in us breathing a sigh of relief. Bear in mind in H=4 the villain play is supposed to be a rough match for the entire hero turn, 4 plays, 4 powers, 4 draws - knocking out 1 power (and dealing a bit of damage) is not really keeping pace.
 
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Bill Stull
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I don't think it enough to warrant another card destruction though. She has plenty already which can accomplish that. If you want to make it more potent then I would suggest to have it hit H-1 or H-2 hero targets and those heroes which take damage can't use powers.
 
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Michael Hunter
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I'll give it a try as H-1 targets getting Planked and see how it feels, but in defense of the original idea I never felt like she has excessive ongoing/equipment destruction.

She effectively has 22 cards (2 x Motley Crew which play another card, 1 x La Paradoxa which tends to spend no time in the actual deck). Of those 22, there are 2 x Plunders (tend to destroy 2 cards with this variant), 2 x Raiding Parties (destroys 1), 1 x Mabel (tends to destroy 1 before she is killed). Thus if La Capitan played her entire deck of 22 cards she'd destroy about 7 ongoings, or one every 3 turns or so. With 3 x Walk the Planks destroying 1 each that becomes 10 destructions in 22, turns or about 1 every 2, which is still hardly unreasonable. Also, it makes it more likely she'll get a temporal Broadside going!
 
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Michael Hunter
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After 4 more games on each of H=3, H=4 and H=5, happy with La Capitan (now the Paradoxical Pirate!)

Tried Walk the Plank being H-1 and H-2 targets, but found it a bit miserable if half your team can't use powers that round - Losing an ongoing on one was easier to bounce back from and made it more likely her flip side would happen.

Was concerned about Motley Crew being a bit too swingy, but didn't like to make another card change, so added a clause on flip that shuffles the villain trash back into the villain deck, meaning it's less likely there will be crew in the trash for Motley Crew to get. Note, Motley crew is never a dead play, as it plays the top card of the deck no matter what, it just occasionally also plays a dead crew.

The Temporal Broadside was a bit too strong, but I liked it having focus. Also, the End of turn: End of turn doesn't happen on La Paradoxa was effective but clunky, now have folded in a "End of turn stuff doesn't happen" clause into the Temporal Broadside, La Capitan and any crew she has out don't attack you directly as they're all on the ship firing. This keeps the ship as a big damage dealer without making that turn do excessive damage, balance thus sorted. Also tweaked the flip trigger to 4 x cards under La Cap, makes it a bit less likely on low H games (who tend to have the most problems with a 15 HP must-kill target)

 
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Jonathan Meltzer
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On the flip side, when you return a card from under La Capitan to a hero, do you CHOOSE which hero gets the card, or is it a random selection? The card wording is not clear.

Looking forward to trying this one out!
 
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Take Walker
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Now I fully understand what's going on here, and I like it. (Also, it's "Paradoja".)

I think, given that standard Capitan has you return a card to its trash as well, the players' choice is implied. At least, that's how it's implemented in the video game.
 
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Michael Hunter
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My interpretation was the same as Takewalker's, you get to choose. I think whenever the game does not specify the heroes get the choice - for example, discard "an" ongoing means one you pick.

Thanks for the typo catch on Paradoxa/Paradoja, believe it's fixed now.
 
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Bill Stull
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So one hero losing a power use isn't strong per your original outline but once it affects two or more it is miserable? Anyways, I still feel that card is fine in its original version and doesn't really need a tweak at all.
 
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Michael Hunter
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At H-1 it was not amazingly strong in terms of making her win the game (although it certainly wasn't weak, either), when I said "miserable" I meant more than it just wasn't that fun for the bulk of your team to have part of their turn taken away fairly often. H-2 wasn't too bad, but it's still an effect I'm not a huge fan of.

In my experience a bit of those kinds of effect are fun for variety, but in quantity they just get oppressive - look at Hour of Reckoning for Progeny or Hostage Situation/Paparazzi in Metropolis. They do make sense, they're mechanically interesting on paper, they make the villain play differently turn to turn but boy are they not fun.

A villain which has a card saying "Heroes may not play cards this turn, this villain does no damage this turn" would be quite a weak card in that it would make the villain likely to lose - the heroes get to do SOMETHING while the villain does NOTHING, but if that's every second play it would cause a long, dull grindy game full of thwarted ambitions, what I would call "Miserable".
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Bill Stull
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If we're going to base it on being "fun" then I would say Ongoing/Equipment destruction is an affect that isn't "fun" especially for some heroes. However, it an item that comes up regularly and La Capitan has a decent amount of that already without adding more. Along with that Walk the Plank isn't a card that comes up every other turn and could curb some huge turn a hero might have had. I can agree with you on Raiding Party as it can be one of the more swingy cards in her deck but not on Walk the Plank. Walk the Plank isn't a swingy card, it's solid damage, and isn't a minor affect in my mind.
 
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Michael Hunter
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We might have to agree to disagree on this one - feel free to play her as Walk the plank just hitting H-2 targets with the normal 3 damage and power-stopping, and the balance should be about right (H-1 would be a bit strong, I'd say). However, in my mind...

Stopping a hero from playing a power and destroying an ongoing are, broadly speaking, about as disruptive. One takes away a power, one effectively takes away a play (the previous turns where you played the card, that is) and a card. Sometimes destroying an ongoing is bad because it was a particularly crucial ongoing that you don't have another copy of, although sometimes it's not that bad as it was some junk you didn't care about and only played as ablative ongoing in the first place (Wrathful Gaze, oh how I don't miss you). Personally I find ongoing destruction a bit more fun, as it presents to the players as "Crap, a thing has happened, what can I do to work around it?" as opposed to "I can't do anything".

Anyway, I would argue that removing powers vs destroying an ongoing are roughly as powerful as one another (maybe ongoing a smidge more as it also takes a card). They're both annoying, but only become strong enough to be a villain play when you're doing a few of them. Destroy one ongoing/equipment would be an awful villain card, destroy H for example is pretty solid (although not something you want too much of). Like I mentioned above, I don't think La Capitan is very overkill on ongoing/equipment destruction, with Walk the Plank doing it she takes about 1 every 2 turns, far below the pace the players will drop them.

I do like your version a fair bit because unlike mine it DOES scale quite well with H, but I like mine because it helps her manage to flip into Temporal Broadside, which I'd like to happen at least once a game.
 
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Michael Hunter
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Now that I write that out in full, an idea occurs. There's probably a way to combine the best of both. Yours has nice scaling, mine helps her flip - but that doesn't NEED ongoing destruction, it needs cards under her. It could be...
Quote:

Walk the Plank: Affects the H-2 highest HP hero targets. Any target dealt damage this way puts the top card of the deck under La Capitan.


Thoughts?
 
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Bill Stull
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I would say that's a better compromise.
 
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