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Subject: Thoughts on the Endgame? rss

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Ian Kissell
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First off, I love ASiE (the first edition at least). I claim that it is my favorite game, despite how little I get to play it. Even if that is not true (and it depends on the day), it is definitely in the top 3 (good looking games on the street...hopefully someone gets that reference).

However, what first attracted me to the game was the deliciously unpredictable and chaotic endings which contrasted nicely with the Euro mechanics. Someone would assassinate someone and the game would end suddenly, and everyone would flip over loyalties and you would hope that you guessed everyone right.

However, the more that I play the game, I find that the game goes longer with fewer new players, such that by 2/3rds through the game at most, you pretty much know what side everyone belongs to. That means you can calculate who is winning, and the endgame drags much more as the players spiral trying to get the perfect situation where they can end the game and be in the lead (and a teammate not in last).

Now, I know that Wallace is a fan of this system (Cf. Mythotopia), and I'm not claiming to hate it, but I kind of miss the chaotic endings that made me fall in love with the game.

Any thoughts on the end game in general? Are there any house rules that can help keep identities hidden for longer? I've considered adding one where a control disc in a city is worth one influence, just to make it harder to have those stolen from you late game (a lot of the late game can just be trying to steal cities people control).

Thanks.
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Chris Poor
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Occasionally, I will never look at my loyalty card. This makes for an interesting game for everyone, as it is possible to play a fairly decent early and mid game without committing to either faction. Also, I have found that by the mid game I can usually figure out what I am by looking at what everyone else is. However, there is always some uncertainty...

My game group hates it when I do this, which adds to the fun. the first few times I did it, I did it without letting them know, when they figured it out, they were flabbergasted. I have won using this strategy.
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Ian Kissell
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I definetly liked the game better when it ended when you were only 75% sure what everyone was.
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Ash Jones
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crispy66 wrote:
Occasionally, I will never look at my loyalty card. This makes for an interesting game for everyone, as it is possible to play a fairly decent early and mid game without committing to either faction. Also, I have found that by the mid game I can usually figure out what I am by looking at what everyone else is. However, there is always some uncertainty...

My game group hates it when I do this, which adds to the fun. the first few times I did it, I did it without letting them know, when they figured it out, they were flabbergasted. I have won using this strategy.


That is absolutely awesome! thumbsup
 
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Ash Jones
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It is a shame the endgame can drag and sometimes lessen the overall experience. Influence from city disc is a great idea. Here are few ideas I have but never had the chance to try, they may not work but are potentially interesting:

-When you claim a city, always place a blocking disc there for free (delays theft).

-When all cards in a city pile are depleted, reveal permanent effect as usual, but add 4 to the loyalist track (instead of 2) and 2 to restorationist track (push game along).

-Deal out loyalty cards at the start of the 3rd turn etc. Such a delay would be interesting; if someone drafted Zombies etc early, no real inference can be made that they are loyalists.

-At the start of the game, randomly deal 1 game card to everyone. Similar to above, little inference can be made, this can also start the game quicker. However, someone may have just been handed Holmes for free while a restorationist received a hide loyalty. Perhaps deal 2 keep 1, discard the other face down.

-Make influence more scarce, preventing big accumulations and spread across the board. For instance, adopt second edition setup: start with 5 influence in available, place 5 in limbo and put the remaining 10 back in the game box (unavailable). Perhaps 2 coin can still buy influence, but from limbo; you'll only ever have a max of 10. Players placing 1 or 2 influence in many cities will definitely be limited!

How easy (and swingy) city cards can be taken seems to be a problem. It's also not that thematic; you control a city by force, but its then overthrown by one influence and not even an agent.
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birchbeer
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I designed a "Secret Mission" variant that adds a little variety. The intent is not to change the game play (which I wholeheartedly agree with you on!) but to give players motivation to do things that might require them to act in a manner NOT in their alliance's overall best interest. In war there are always subplots where people do things for their own benefit, so why not some secret missions or personal vendettas? Completing your mission will get you X-number of points at game end. But you don't reveal until AFTER the game ends.

The test games I played with my group were well received.

It can be found in the Files section, here.

It's not perfect. Some of the missions need to be edited down, or out, and others implemented. It's open for ideas! I have considered making a base of 12 reasonably difficult generic missions and at the start of the game (after setup) each player is dealt two missions. They then pick one and discard the other, making sure to keep all unpicked cards hidden in the box.
 
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Ash Jones
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bamonson wrote:
I designed a "Secret Mission" variant that adds a little variety.


Although more variety, I believe secret missions worsen the endgame, introducing randomness and a new quagmire. Accordingly, I cannot recommend them. Addressed in the corresponding files thread.
 
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Jack Francisco
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Playing the game with rules as written, I don't think I've ever seen a circumstance where players didn't know who was on what side by the end.
 
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Ian Kissell
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Newer players tend to not protect their main agents with other agents as well, so games can end early with an assassination of a restorationalist main agent. If one player has held their cards close to their chest, it can create some doubts as to who the winner will be.
 
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Mike V
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crispy66 wrote:
Occasionally, I will never look at my loyalty card. This makes for an interesting game for everyone, as it is possible to play a fairly decent early and mid game without committing to either faction. Also, I have found that by the mid game I can usually figure out what I am by looking at what everyone else is. However, there is always some uncertainty...

My game group hates it when I do this, which adds to the fun. the first few times I did it, I did it without letting them know, when they figured it out, they were flabbergasted. I have won using this strategy.


Your group probably hates this because you've subverted the spirit of the game and sucked critical information out of the environment that's a big part of the game play experience. Next time, why don't you all not look at your identity cards, then flip them over at the end to see who's randomly won. Gee, sounds fun.
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Chris Poor
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arcweldx wrote:
crispy66 wrote:
Occasionally, I will never look at my loyalty card. This makes for an interesting game for everyone, as it is possible to play a fairly decent early and mid game without committing to either faction. Also, I have found that by the mid game I can usually figure out what I am by looking at what everyone else is. However, there is always some uncertainty...

My game group hates it when I do this, which adds to the fun. the first few times I did it, I did it without letting them know, when they figured it out, they were flabbergasted. I have won using this strategy.


Your group probably hates this because you've subverted the spirit of the game and sucked critical information out of the environment that's a big part of the game play experience. Next time, why don't you all not look at your identity cards, then flip them over at the end to see who's randomly won. Gee, sounds fun.


What exactly is the spirit of this game? It's a game about secrets and treachery. "Sucking critical information out of the game" is a legitimate part of playing to hide your identity.

We have a friendly game group. When I said they hated it, I meant it disturbed their strategies. I used this because I had some serious tells when I was playing that was giving away my secret identity. We also have one player who was dominating and winning every game, and I was looking for a new strategy. This helped to cover those tells, so I was able to be competitive in the game a bit more. It also helped me to see the cards in a different way. Most of the cards can be purchased by either faction to some advantage.

It also gave me an advantage in future games, because after playing a bit they would wonder if I had looked at my card or not. This allowed me to look at my card, perhaps even have my tells, but still keep my opponents very uncertain. This, in my mind is the core of good strategy: to keep your opponent uncertain of what you're trying to accomplish.

Sorry you didn't approve of my choice, but you don't have to do this in your games. I hope none of your opponents do. I mentioned it as a potential strategy, in the spirit of the original question concerning the certainty of identities in the endgame.

If you really want your head to explode, try my other variant which I have not been able to persuade my group to try. That is to have everybody wear their identity card on their forehead so that everyone knows who they are but them. This is not intended as a serious game of course but I thought it could be a fun Monty Python variant. Then again, that's how I think sometimes. I am thankful for a wife and friends who still will play games with me.
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