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Subject: Scythe: Combata (untested) rss

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Sean McDonald
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A variant I will be trying soon and updating here.

Combata Variant: Increasing the presence and desire for combat in Scythe.

Set-up: Remove Combat Cards and (pow-pow) Power Wheels entirely from the game. Add 20+ (as needed) flat round tokens from another game, ideally the size of a penny or so. You can potentially use the surplus resource tokens.

These new tokens represent smaller Combat Mech Suit pieces that while weaker than larger Mechs can move faster. Workers can potentially occupy these suits.

Large Mechs count as 3 strength each in combat.
Occupied Combat Mech Suits are 1 strength each in combat.

Combat is won by having a larger numeric combat strength overall. You cannot enter a combat you cannot win. If after you've moved all your pieces into the combat and they cannot defeat the enemy, they cannot move into that space.

Winners of combat lose any occupied Combat Mech Suits (CMS) involved in the combat (placed back in the general supply) and workers previously occupying them stay but revert back to a normal worker. Losers keep all pieces involved and as per usual they return to home base. Any workers in CMS do not lower another players popularity when displaced by them.

Whenever you would normally draw a Combat Card, place a CMS token where there is one of your workers; or when drawn via an encounter card, where that encounter took place.

When unoccupied, these tokens are treated as resources in the sense that they can be spent as ore for other means such as towards building a mech, or can be carried or even stolen by an advancing opponent.

For the yellow player an unoccupied CMS can act as any one resource when needed, and two ore when used as such.

For one 'move' action a worker in the same space as a CMS can "suit-up", in which they are placed on the token (only one worker per token). They now move as one for future 'move' actions, or a movement via power (explained later). While they still can produce as normal and move as a worker normally can, they can now engage in combat and move faster.

Riverwalk and other movement abilities still apply based on your faction.

In addition to standard movement, for each 1 bolster/power point used, regardless of what action space is chosen on your player mat, a occupied CMS may move up to one space (this can be done even if they already moved as an action). They can only do this new type of movement once per occupied CMS, per turn. This new type of movement only applies to occupied CMS' and no other piece.
 
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Reverend Uncle Bastard
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This seems unnecessarily complicated for a game that is generally quite simple in its rule set. And I am not sure this will encourage more combat without shifting the exquisite balance that exists between factions. My initial question would be does riverwalk apply to occupied CMS?

Anyway, I am skeptical but subscribed because I am curious to see how your playtesting goes.
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Sean McDonald
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Workers still move according to their standard movement allowances when it comes to Riverwalk.

Much like Scythe itself, it seems complicated but it is actually quite straightforward. It doesn't just add rules but removes previous ones too.

I'm trying to make combat more interesting and desirable without completely offsetting the balance of the other aspects of the game by adding certainty to battle, something lacking that causes people to fear engaging in combat. With the added movement it is also easy to coordinate a larger scale invasion, or defend yourself from one. It is also visually more exciting as you see large armies approaching and preparing defenses yourself.

Resources may be slightly easier to get, specifically ore to make mechs sooner, with intention, because with more combat resources will be taken from you too, so it makes it less frustrating. Resources also can be a good way to get extra coins at the end, the biggest incentive to fight in this variant. Combat also takes time so it will slightly speed up the games engine.

I tried to take many balancing aspects into consideration prior to play testing. It saves much time that way.
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Reverend Uncle Bastard
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MrGlubGlub wrote:
Workers still move according to their standard movement allowances when it comes to Riverwalk.

Much like Scythe itself, it seems complicated but it is actually quite straightforward. It doesn't just add rules but removes previous ones too.


So they can only cross rivers when carried by a mech then?
 
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Sean McDonald
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Correct, with exception to blue, given their ability. Some find blue underpowered so this may give them a little boost.
 
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Ad Astra Per Aspera
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At the end of the day it still only gains one star for a victory. This variant just makes the combat a Rube Goldberg mechanic. If anything, this would make me personally avoid combat.

 
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Sean McDonald
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The problem is combat is that very lack of motivation, which is why I'm making it more prevalent. Combat shouldn't just be for a star, some checklist item to end game, it's (normally) a strategically viable way of changing their outcome of the end game. A giant mech shouldn't be a minivan first and an epic war machine second.

It's about disrupting their engine. It's about taking their vital resources to improve your engine. It's about strategy and timing and location. To say it's a Rube Goldberg machine is to say this entire game is just that. It's a versus game, it's powered by our own cunning. What else can I say but don't knock it until you try it. This variant does not have pacifists in mind, and also it's only in the early stages and changes will likely come. I don't claim it's balanced, but it's a first step towards it.

I'm currently setting up my first game soon.
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Reverend Uncle Bastard
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MrGlubGlub wrote:
What else can I say but don't knock it until you try it.


This is sincerely intended in good humour, so please don't take it wrong, but this line would bear greater impact if you had tried the variant yourself

I am looking forward to hearing what the experience is like when you finally get around to testing it.
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Sean McDonald
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Totally. That's why I'm not knocking it yet. One thing I learned by designing games is no matter how many rules you read you'll never get an idea of how it will actually work until you simply play it.

P.S. I love feedback (when one has actually played it).
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Rick Lorenzon
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I'm intrigued, but it's been a month - no test game for this idea yet?
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Sean McDonald
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My apologies! It's been harder to get to the table lately. Was supposed to do it weeks ago. I don't like forcing my game designs on people, let alone variants of other games, so it might take a little longer than expected.
 
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Rick Lorenzon
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MrGlubGlub wrote:
A giant mech shouldn't be a minivan first and an epic war machine second.



I love this quote! Well no worries I wonder how many combat variant threads there are overall, and which ideas work.

I've only tried the game on Tabletopia, so I'm still green, but I'm well acquainted with the manual. Now I really appreciate how combat must be minimal in this game - it is NOT the focus, only an interference mechanic, and I think that's great.

However, combat boils down to a secret "bid". I bid this many points, you bid that many - ta-da! Done. The game advertizes that combat isn't random it's all about player choices, but you only have a couple basic choices. How much to bid (between power and cards) and how many units to use, if they're close enough. Choosing"when" to attack goes along with that.

But one more choice could make everything feel more like combat and feel like you're using "tactics" instead of a bid. Give each of the 4 mechs a power value! 1-4 points, or maybe 2-5. They would have to be balanced out with whichever bonus/upgrade is uncovered when they're put into play, but if each mech had a power value "decal", you could choose which mech to send into whichever combat situation you see.

If mechs are 2pt, 3pt, 4pt, and 5pt, you can decide if you want to engage a player's 5pt mech with your 3pt mech. Etc, etc. Maybe a bigger point spread like 2, 4, 6, 8, ordered differently for each faction to balance/match the upgrades.

It would still preserve the "deterrent" effect of the original combat mechanic, and nothing really gets any more complicated, only now you are thinking tactically!

I know they did tons of play testing, and maybe they tried this idea and rejected it, but maybe it hadn't been thought of either...

Well, gotta buy a physical copy of the game someday and try it
 
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