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Subject: Alternative Non-tradable calamities with lower luck involved rss

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Philipp Matthias
Germany
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Hi again.

Some time ago our group tested a variant where players drawing non-tradable calamities were allowed to reveal them and draw a replacement card from a stack two numbers lower. Our intention was to speed up the game, and limit the "luck effect" of who draws calamities.

While the speed aspect worked very well (too well actually, as there are so many more trading cards and thus so many more advances players can purchase), the luck balancin still is not to my personal satifaction. We had games wherein a single player draw seven non-tradables in three consecutive turns, and/or players drawing more and more non-tradables although they had fallen behind a lot already.

I know there are people who are perfectly fine with this. Event think it is an important part of the game. For them there is no need to read any further.
Being someone who prefers only the smallest amount of luck or chance involved in big strategy games, I don't belong to that group of people. To my mind MegaCivilization would become an even better game if there was less (bad) luck-effect.
So I made up my mind how to change the mainly (bad) luck-driven concept of becoming the primary victim of non-tradable calamities. Still using the calamities to refresh the game board again and again is important I think, so just removing them would make no sense.

The obvious idea I came up with is to change the rule of who is to become the primary victim. At the moment this is always the player holding the non-tradable card. This can be altered to: a player (or several players) fullfilling certain criteria.
Those can be simple things as "the player with the highest AST-Position" or "the player with highest number of cities in play". It could be "player chosen by...".
I put my ideas to a excel sheet and copied it down below. Mostly the effects of the calamities remain more or less unchanged. Sometime I have to deal with the question of ties. Sometime I just added a little more chaos and interaction just because.


I would be happy to hear your ideas about this. Have you tried something to reduce the luck involved? Do you have other ideas to accomplish this idea? Maybe other triggers for becoming the primary victim?
As said, I know many might not feel the need to reduce the luck-effect. That's fine. You really don't need to point this out, because this won't change that I would love to reduce the luck involved. I won't feel worse even I was the only one on the world to feel this need. But I am sure the community has some interestin ideas on how to help me with this need of mine.

Thanks!


Vulcanic Eruption/Earthquake
Primary Victim: The player with the highest number of cities directly adjacent to one another by land or water – counting cities next to vulcanos double.
Benificiary: The player holding the Vulcano card
Effect: The benificiary selects one city (if possible next to a vulcano) belonging to the primary victim and states a numbre of 1 to 3.
All units on the area of the selected city are destroyed.
The primary victim then selects the named 1 to 3 areas adjacent to the first area or to one another by land or water. All citites on these areas are reduced, unless they belong to the benificiary.
Civilization Advance changes: Engineering will always apply.

Famine
Primary Victim: The player with the highest number of areas that contain at least one of the player's units – counting areas with population limit 0 and 1 double. In case of a tie, all players with the same numbre are considered primary victim.
Benificiary: The player with the lowest numbre of areas containing any of the player's units – counting areas with population limit 0 and 1 double. Tie breacker is lowest numbre of cities in play etc.
Secondary victim: Any three players except the benificiary, selected by the primary victim. If there are two primary victims, each of them may select one (different) secondary victim. If there are three or more primary victims, no secondary victims are chosen.
Effect: Primary victims take 10 damage. Secondary victims take 5 damage

Flood
Primary Victim: Players selected by the beneficiary.
Benificiary: The player holding the Flood card.
Secondary victim: All other players with units on a flood plain where any primary victim took damage.
Effect: The beneficiary selects 1 or 2 players to become the primary victims. All primary victims take a total of 10 damage each from the flood plain containing the highest numbre of their unit points (or all unit points on that flood plain if there are less than 10 points). If they have no units on any flood plain, they take 5 damage from coastal areas.
Secondary victims take 5 damage on any of the flood plains involved.

Civil War
Primary Victim: One player elected by majority of votes from all players. In case of a tie, all players with the same numbre of votes on them.
Benificiary: One player elected by majority of votes from all players. In case of a tie in this election or the election of the primary victim, the Barbarians/Pirates become the benificiary.
Election: In AST POSITION order each player may place any numbre of commodity cards face down in front of him. Then, in the same order, each player votes for any player to become the primary victim by placing his AST token in front of the chosen player. At the moment of the vote each player may reveal any numbre of his laid commodity cards and place them openly and face up underneath the AST token. The combined face value of the revealed cards represents the numbre of votes the player's choise accounts for (to a minimum of 1, even if no card is revealed). After all players made their vote, all votes are counted to determine the primary victim(s).
In reversed AST POSITION order each player now votes to choose the benificiary likewise. Primary vicitms cannot be chosen by any player to become the benificiary.
Effect: The primary victim(s) select all but 35 unit points in areas adjacent to each other as much as possile. All selected units are annexed by the benificiary.
The primary victim may choose to gain treasury up to the numbre of cards (not their value) revealed during the election.
All cards that were laid and/or revealed during the election phase are discarded.

Cyclone
Primary Victim: Players with cities adjacent to a specific open sea territory
Benificiary: The player holding the Cyclone card.
Effect: The benificiary selects one Open Sea territory. All players (except the benificiary) with citites adjacent to this open sea territory reduce two of these cities (if possible).

Tyranny
Primary Victim: Player with the highest numbre of citites in play. Ties are broken with highest numbre of civilization tokens, biggest treasury, best AST-POSITION
Benificiary: Player with the lowest numbre of citites in play. Ties are broken with lowest numbre of civilization tokens in play, lowest treasury, worst AST-POSITION
Effect: The benificiary annexes 15 unit points of the primary victim in areas adjacent to each other as much as possible.

Corruption
Primary Victim: Player with the highest numbre of VP in Civilization Advance cards. In case of a tie, all players with this numbre of VP become primary victims.
Benificiary: n.d.
Effect: Primary victims discard commodity cards with a total face value (NOT set value) of at least 10.

Regression
Primary Victim: All players on the furthest right position on the AST, except the benificiary.
Benificiary: The player holding the Regression card
Effect: Primary victims move one step back on the AST. If the benificiary has the single lead on the AST, there is no effect at all as there are no legal primary victims.
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Cheb
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Why not just make them tradable? Then it is up to your trading skill rather than luck. Interesting variant!
 
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Mattias Elfström
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One player drawing seven non tradeables for three turns sounds impossible. Are you sure you are following the rules correctly?
 
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Matt Boehland
United States
Apple Valley
Minnesota
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Mattias wrote:
One player drawing seven non tradeables for three turns sounds impossible. Are you sure you are following the rules correctly?


Pretty sure it was just poor phrasing; they got 3,2,2 or something, not 7,7,7.
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Markus A
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IMHO you could try giving the unlucky a water card for each non-tradable calamity drawn.
Altering the primary victim selection process will change the game in a huge way, possibly game breaking.
Making all calamities tradable works but I never liked this house-rule when we tried it out. I can't recommend it but at least it won't break the game.

As always, when considering house-rules, there is an intent behind the RAW and changing things will move the game away from the author's intent. Minor alterations might fix minor issues in accordance to personal taste but too much and you end up changing the entire game.
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Philipp Matthias
Germany
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Thanks for your ideas and comments!

Matt Boehland wrote:

Pretty sure it was just poor phrasing; they got 3,2,2 or something, not 7,7,7.

Correct, that's what I wanted to say.

Cheb wrote:

Why not just make them tradable? Then it is up to your trading skill rather than luck. Interesting variant!

Also an interesting thought. Might make trade a little desperate for some people though. I try to imagine myself drawing Civil War and longing to trade it off - and then focus on the future trades my poor trading partner has, so I can keep track where the Civil War is going to.
How do you handle this for a 12+ player game, when there are two pieces of each calamity? As for the tradables and just remove the dublicat? There are some calimities that affect only "your world", east or west. What do you do if some East players recieves the Civil War card from the West? Will the benificiary be an East or a West player e.g.?

Markus A wrote:

IMHO you could try giving the unlucky a water card for each non-tradable calamity drawn.

We did this, just with "one trade cards that has a face value of at least two lower than the calamity". Helps a little to even out the bad luck, but only a little - and had side effects. As the number of trade cards increases drastically, there is much more trade going on. Which is nice. But this means that each time we tried this variant, there were several players who managed to always fullfill the AST criteria every single turn. So this sort of excluded strategies with falling behind one step in Mid Game and wait for the rest to struggle later. And it makes Regression even worse. And It still won't help new players that are already behind suffering from one calamity after the other.
So we were not 100% happy yet.

Markus A wrote:

Making all calamities tradable works but I never liked this house-rule when we tried it out.

Can you specify what you did not like? What was changed, what went wrong?

Markus A wrote:

Altering the primary victim selection process will change the game in a huge way, possibly game breaking.

It will be a huge change, yes. Game breaking... I don't know. I tried to pick criteria that make sure calamities are split over several players and not hitting just one person again and again. Do you think this is not the case?
I assume as many calamities will hit the leading player(s), they will have more trouble to make it in a short number of turns. This will give other players time to catch up. And it will slow down the game as likely some additional turns will be required.
I hope that by letting players choose the victims of some strong calamities (Flood, Cyclone, and most of all Civil War) we can add a deeper level of interactions by means of alliances, truces, bribes and so on.
Could be wrong of course. That's why I asekd here if someone has tried something on that line before.

There are some criteria that would break the game for certain civs for sure. E.g. I had the idea to direct Flood to the person with the highest number of unit points on flood plains and coastal areas combined. However, this will always hit Egypt or Minoa in a up to 10 player game Western World I think.
 
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Mattias Elfström
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Here is another (evil) variant:

All calamities are tradeable and may be named in a trade.

The primary victim of any calamity is selected by the holder of the card (take that!).

The card holder may be immune to secondary effects (or not depending on how evil you want your game to be).
 
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Philipp Matthias
Germany
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Mattias wrote:

All calamities are tradeable and may be named in a trade.
The primary victim of any calamity is selected by the holder of the card

Evil indeed devil Have you actually tried this variant? This way holding a calamity becomes a benefit.
How would you dipict the benificiary? Also chosen by the card holder?
 
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Mattias Elfström
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Bonotow wrote:
Mattias wrote:

All calamities are tradeable and may be named in a trade.
The primary victim of any calamity is selected by the holder of the card

Evil indeed devil Have you actually tried this variant? This way holding a calamity becomes a benefit.
How would you dipict the benificiary? Also chosen by the card holder?

I haven't tested it and probably won't. I think the calamities work well as it is.

The beneficiary should probably be selected as written (often the player with most stock - which helps to balance the game).
 
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Linus Vernyns
Belgium
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We played with a house rule like this:
players who draw a non-tradable calamity can declare it in the buy cards phase to get a free new card from the same stack. It doesn't change all that much in most circumstances, but when a player gets a hand full of calamities they at least get some cards in return.

It worked well for us. It does change the calamities a bit because people can predict who will be a beneficiary for what, but you could always count cards to the same effect.

Of course it might not be to everyone's taste.

 
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Robert Bracey
United Kingdom
London
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It sounds like you would be happier playing classic Civ. There the position of the only four red backed calamities is essentially knowable and so getting them or not is a function of player skill (and the intrinsic advantage of nations like Egypt and Babylon). Across the board the luck elements of the game were deliberately increased with the late eighties design of advanced Civ (unsurprising given the likely playtesters and this being a decade before Eurogames).
 
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