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War of the Ring (First Edition)» Forums » Variants

Subject: *Simple* Rebalancing Variants rss

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Matt Thrower
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Hi,

I've just got this game (so from my point of view, let's hope a revised edition doesn't appear anytime soon ) and planning to play it face to face for the first time fairly shortly.

I'm interesting in adopting a simple variant that doesn't fiddle with the base rules too much to help rebalance the game - it doesn't have to be a 50/50 job, just so the DEW north and Corruption strategies are less obvious choices. I'm curious as to why a number of the variants suggested in this thread:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/159243
Seem to make fairly major changes to the game when it looks to me like simpler approaches might do the job. It's probably my inexperience with the game showing but I feel there might be easier and less drastic variations to use to rebalance the game.

Four ideas suggest themselves to me. I'd be curious to know which, if any, would work best.

*****

Pre-printing Changes

I understand that two last minute changes were made which make the game a bit easier on the Shadow - there was a Shadow city in South Rhun and an extra Elite in Erebor. I can see how this - especially the city - would make both the popular shadow strategies a bit easier to pursue. It'd be fairly easy to make up a "city" counter to put on the board.

Reduce DEW-Line Points

This wouldn't have any effect on the Corruption strategy, but I'm given to understand that's a much more hit-and-miss affair anyway, much like the ring dash so I'm less concerned about it. It seems to me that all the points on the DEW line aren't entirely thematically correct. While it's hard to argue against Erebor being a stronghold, Dale could be reduced to a settlement and the Woodland Realm to a city. Adopting one or both (again with on-board counters) would shave 1 or 2 points off the value of the DEW-line and make it less appealing. Probably just reducing the value of Dale would be sufficient, as Strongholds are useful defensive positions as well as being worth 2vp.

Increase DEW-Line Armies

If you don't fancy making new counters for different city-sizes on DEW why not just drop some more armies in there? Say 2/2/2 in both Erebor and Woodland Realm and 1/1/1 in Dale?

This would probably be the hardest one to balance (you'd have to fiddle with the army numbers), but would affect both Shadow strategies as it would enable the FP player to potentially go on the offensive against Dol Guldur.

*****

Failing any of these, why not just pinch Galadriel from the expansion? Is there any reason she can't be used in isolation from other elements of the expansion?

Thoughts?
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Jeff Mecom
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Matt,

My humble suggestion is to play the game as is without any variants. If, after 10 or 20 plays, you truly feel that DEW North is unbeatable, then add in whatever variants you deem appropriate. I wouldn't be too quick to blindly follow current BGG "consensus".

Jeff
 
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David desJardins
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You're never going to get everyone to agree on a particular set of balancing changes. So, imho, any balancing adjustments have to be based on bidding so they are "self-balancing".
 
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Thomas Eager
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sauron DEW North is far from unbeatable. I've played about fifteen games now, and found the game remarkably well-balanced as is. We've had every possible victory result. The "invincibility" of DEW is pure myth. sauron
 
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Sean McCarthy
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I also suggest you don't bother with variants until you start having problems. The game can hold up as is for quite a few plays.

But to review your suggestions nonetheless:

Pre-printing Changes: This will have almost no effect on the game.

Reduce DEW-Line Points: Making Dale a town would help a very small amount.

Increasing DEW-Line Armies: This would make any of those locations, by themselves, the best-defended places in the game. With those changes to all three, DEW would simply never be attacked. You have to understand that the map is very big, and the Shadow has 20 points to choose from. Any boost to a specific area, such as DEW, will not have a very big effect on balance because it just means the Shadow will attack elsewhere instead.

My suggestion, should you insist on using a variant sometime, is to not focus on DEW at all. That is not the imbalanced part of the game. The imbalance is in the amount of resources (cards and especially dice) that the Shadow gets compared to the Free Peoples.
 
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Andy Daglish
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MattDP wrote:
I'm curious as to why a number of the variants suggested in this thread:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/159243
Seem to make fairly major changes to the game when it looks to me like simpler approaches might do the job.


thats inexperience...

Quote:
It's probably my inexperience with the game showing but I feel there might be easier and less drastic variations to use to rebalance the game.


...but not this.

Quote:
Pre-printing Changes

I understand that two last minute changes were made which make the game a bit easier on the Shadow - there was a Shadow city in South Rhun and an extra Elite in Erebor. I can see how this - especially the city - would make both the popular shadow strategies a bit easier to pursue. It'd be fairly easy to make up a "city" counter to put on the board.


The Dwarves were often ignored by both players, and this was a way of lending them some significance. The elite in Erebor was also there as it was never used. The Rhun city [Dorwinion] lends Angmar's 1VP some meaning, which otherwise it lacks completely. This becomes significant late in a long game where an FP military win emerges as a possibility.

Quote:
Reduce DEW-Line Points


this is probably the best idea.

Quote:
This wouldn't have any effect on the Corruption strategy, but I'm given to understand that's a much more hit-and-miss affair anyway, much like the ring dash so I'm less concerned about it. It seems to me that all the points on the DEW line aren't entirely thematically correct. While it's hard to argue against Erebor being a stronghold, Dale could be reduced to a settlement


there's Laketown to consider

Quote:
and the Woodland Realm to a city. Adopting one or both (again with on-board counters) would shave 1 or 2 points off the value of the DEW-line and make it less appealing. Probably just reducing the value of Dale would be sufficient, as Strongholds are useful defensive positions as well as being worth 2vp.


I think it would be better to reduce Erebor and Woodland Realm to 1VP [but leave them as strongholds]. This was discarded at the test stage on the grounds of inconsistency.

Quote:
Increase DEW-Line Armies


doesn't work, as there are problems on both sides. They could absorb excess hits. Too much FP strength on the Dewline becomes self-supporting, as you can retreat from one location to concentrate strength prior to counter-attacking.
 
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Dave J McWeasely
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The best "variant" is to stop reading Boardgame Geek for strategies until you've played the game a few times!

Concentrate on learning the rules. You will play some rules wrong.
 
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Dave J McWeasely
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Also, most of the variants you cited really aren't that complex. Most boil down to 3 sentances, in a game with a 24 page rulebook and 300+ question FAQ this is the picture of elegance.

The most complex variant is also the most popular: Twilight of the Third Age.
 
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Matt Thrower
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magic gecko wrote:
Not only does he want to rebalance a game he has not played, but he is also willing to summarise and judge variants.


Word of advice.

Before jumping down someone's throat, pause a moment and make sure you've read their original post properly.

Here's a clue for you - the original text contains the words face to face.
 
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Russ Fade
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Wow. Just . . . . Wow.


Yeah . . . this place is SOOOO much nicer since Barnes and his ilk left.


So, Matt . . . HAVE you ever made a Nazgul in Mt. Gundabad just to annoy the Free? This is completely relevent to your original post, believe me. Somehow. You've got to TOUCH the cards, man, and spill beer on 'em, before you can come here and talk like that.




EDIT: If this post of mine doesn't make any sense . . . it's because the 2 posts I am replying to have been deleted by the author, Magic Gecko. Probably a good idea. Too bad his other posts have remained. Matt, where do you dig these people up?
 
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Allan Cybulskie
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magic gecko wrote:


Looking forward to when I dont see this stupid question again.
Just buy the expansion.
Or the Base Game, when it gets made. devil


I really wish you'd stop saying that. Some people, myself among them, aren't willing to shell out the price of a FULL game (in my area, Marvel Heroes, Vampire: Prince of the City Betrayal at House on the Hill, and Shadows over Camelot were all the same price or cheaper than what the expansion costs) to get an expansion, or buy a new game that's basically the old game with some additions and extra prettiness. Thus, the interest in ensuring that the original War of the Ring base game can provide an interesting experience.

Since you seem to be the expert on one of the strategies that seems to be the most unbalanced, it would seem that you'd be a prime candidate to suggest simple changes that could at least make it less beneficial and so might lead to balanced, fun games. Instead, you seem more interested in basking in the idea of having found an unbeatable strategy ...

magic gecko wrote:


Dear MattDP, Have you played this board game ?

Is it the same answer as
"Yes, I like role playing games.
I play them on the computer. . ."

Tell me, what can the card "We are the Swifter" Do?


This is meaningless. I've played the game 5 or 6 times (solo, actually, which is how I play ALL my games). I've played that card, or at least had it in my hand at least once. I don't remember what it does. What does that mean -- that I haven't played the game 5 times? Sheesh.
 
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Allan Cybulskie
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Um, who the heck are you talking to here? You seem to be referencing points from at least three different posts here, one of them seemingly mine, but most of them not.

magic gecko wrote:
I play this board game against an opponent.
Playing this game solo is not playing this game.


Well, you're entitled to your opinion. Playing any game solo is different, of course, than playing against other people and yet I fail to see why it is necessarily significantly different to make anyone who plays the game solo's points automatically invalid.

magic gecko wrote:

Playing WotR on Computer is also not playing the same game.


And yet, no one ever mentioned that. _I_ certainly didn't. You might be deriving that from the other person's comments about not playing it "face-to-face", but that could be PBeM, which wouldn't be "On Computer" in any interesting sense.

magic gecko wrote:

"We are the Sexier" is the prime example.
The computer game gets it right.
The Board game gets it wrong.


I have no idea what that is or why you think I would know that.

magic gecko wrote:

If my words offend you, Why dont you delete them out of your Post?


If you're talking to me, it's because I like to quote what other people say so that they know what I'm talking about and why I'm saying what I'm saying. You could stand to do the same, since this post is VERY hard to follow since your next statement hints that at that point you have stopped talking to me, which may mean that you aren't talking to me HERE either. Or not.

magic gecko wrote:

Editing to say you are even more offended by a post that doesn't exist is special.


Since my response was never edited, you can't be talking about me here. Nor did I talk about being offended by a post that doesn't exist. And the person who did didn't seem to be referring to you, but to the original poster. And since this seems to follow from the above statement, that seems to apply to that poster and not to me. But he didn't seem to even reference you in his post. So at this point I have to wonder if even YOU know what you're trying to say here.

magic gecko wrote:

If you wish to rebalance the original game.
Go ahead.


Well, thank you for your permission, but some hints on HOW to do that would be more appreciated [grin] ...

magic gecko wrote:

Others tried that for a couple of years.
That is how they made the expansion.


... without shelling out the price of a FULL GAME for an expansion. I mean, I like this game and all, but I'm not willing to pay the price of two games to get one [grin].

magic gecko wrote:

Yes, I am an expert on one of the two broken strategies from the base game.
I say the way to fix it is accept the expansion is part of the base game.


Which forces us to buy it, doesn't it?

What rules IN PARTICULAR would fix or almost fix that strategy? That don't require actually BUYING the expansion?

That being said, I floated an idea in the "Variant Designer's Notes" thread that I think kills DEW N: active recruitment (recruiting troops while a nation is active, not just at war). It takes too long for the SA to get to and take DEW N if the FP can recruit while they're moving towards the area, and making three nations to be at war who all could be recruiting before that point risks a savvy player suckering the SA into attacking someone that they've built up elsewhere to strike at SA strongholds. And the delay in taking DEW N due to the build-up is enough to make a Strider Sprint work at least enough of the time to make DEW N risky. I never try DEW N anymore.

That being said, the Corruption strategy still seems to work. This set-up encourages taking Gondor first (only Gondor goes to war manually, and it takes out the last stopping point before Mordor) and so far I haven't had Gondor hold out long enough for anyone else to make a difference. Cards really do matter as well.
 
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David desJardins
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Can people please stop arguing with the Magic Goofball? It only encourages him.
 
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David desJardins
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Daimbert wrote:
Since you seem to be the expert on one of the strategies that seems to be the most unbalanced, it would seem that you'd be a prime candidate to suggest simple changes that could at least make it less beneficial and so might lead to balanced, fun games.


Can't you just add the Galadriel rules from the expansion? That's a simple and free change.
 
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Allan Cybulskie
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DaviddesJ wrote:
Daimbert wrote:
Since you seem to be the expert on one of the strategies that seems to be the most unbalanced, it would seem that you'd be a prime candidate to suggest simple changes that could at least make it less beneficial and so might lead to balanced, fun games.


Can't you just add the Galadriel rules from the expansion? That's a simple and free change.


They might be something to try. What are they? I don't have the expansion and so don't have them handy [grin].
 
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Russ Fade
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I dont' have the expansion myself, but most FFG games have downloadable rules at their website. I'm fairly certain these will be there somewhere though I dont' have time to look myself right now.
 
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David desJardins
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Expansion rules are on the FFG website as well as on BGG.
 
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Roberto Di Meglio
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Before going on the subject of variants, I would just want to emphasize that the purpose of the Expansion to WotR is *NOT* balancing the game.

I personally find the game is balanced, overall, in the basic version (other people may think differently, of course), and we would never have designed the expansion to that purpose.

The goal of the expansion (apart from making money for the company of course )is:
- to give more detail to important components of the story which we could not portray completely, to avoid too many rules and too many miniatures: the Ents, the Corsairs, Galadriel, Gollum...
- to add new strategies and break old strategies, for people who've played the basic game until it was worn with usage;
- and to provide a COMPLETE new game (actually, TWO new games) to re-enact very interesting episodes from the book.

You definitely do NOT need to buy Battles of the Third Age to make WotR "complete" or "balanced" even if people with many, many games of WotR on their shoulders may find the game "improving" with BotTA(I think they find it is improving just because it has CHANGED!).

Personally, I think that the best way of balancing WotR - if you think that either side has an advantage - is to bid on Corruption for choosing sides. This is easy to do, it has no disadvantage, it is self-balancing on the perceived imbalance and does not imply any change to the game - changes which are often to the detriment of fun, diversity and so on.

If I really, really felt the need to add a little touch of balancing for a group who finds the "DEW" strategy too strong, I would possibly do one or more of the following:
- add 1 (one) region of distance between Morannon and the North (difficult to do unless you want to spoil your map with a marker!)
- make Dale/Laketown a settlement instead than a City (so you need a push into a different direction to get that one point)

For people who find that the "Corruption" strategy is too strong, I would somehow limit the card-cycling power of the WK. A few (untested, because I never had a problem with the balance of the game!) ideas;
- use the Siege Engine rules from the Expansion (which makes activation more useful- I think that allowing recruitment to active armies is too much)
- limit the usage of the WK power to certain dice/actions (e.g. the power only works once per turn, or only if the Shadow player is using a Character die or Event card to start the battle)
- force the WK to always play a card if he decides to draw one card;

Another (simple) variant on activation: when all FP Nations become active, the FP player may choose one Nation to go to war (probably the Nation which is closest to "At War" status).

But to be honest--- I would play the game as is (or we would have designed it differently!). Apparently there are some people who just because they partecipated in the playtesting feels like they know what should have been done, while we did not know what we were doing, but I honestly think that we designed the game we wanted to design. I am not saying WotR is perfect, but it just as we wished it to be, and better than we dared to hope it would have been.
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Dave J McWeasely
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Have you actually tried DEW north?

For players that feel the luck of rolling a die-giving Will of the West is too random, what would you do?
 
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David desJardins
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cybernex wrote:
I personally find the game is balanced, overall, in the basic version (other people may think differently, of course), and we would never have designed the expansion to that purpose.


If the base game is balanced, then the expansion game must favor the Free People quite a bit. Since the expansion features themselves are quite tilted that way. That seems a weird way to design it, if you really think the base game is balanced.
 
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Dave J McWeasely
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Quote:
- add 1 (one) region of distance between Morannon and the North (difficult to do unless you want to spoil your map with a marker!)

Sauron likes this idea, since this adds 1 to the length of the High Pass ring route, at the cost of half an army die of his own. sauron
 
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Roberto Di Meglio
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Well...

The Will of the West: it is random *on purpose* - if this were not the case, we would go back, between other things, to some of the problems of the old SPI War of the Ring game, where killing the Grey to get the White was a no-brainer.
So I would not change that. You can't just call the Valar on the phone when you need them.
You still really really want to change this? Use all three Elven rings (if you still have them!) to change one die into a WoW. If you feel that's too harsh, make it TWO rings.

The High Pass route: thematically, I think it would actually be better that the shortest route is the one going from the High Pass through Dol Guldur, and would not be much upset if the other route becomes oen step more instead. The FP player still has available routes with 10 or 11 steps, while the distance from Morannon to the North increases by 1, no matter what... If this in the end provides more of an advantage to the FP or to Shadow - I don't really know, these differences are so tiny we could go on debating them for a loooooooong time!

Designing the Expansion: first, I must re-state that my personal view does not necessarily match that of the other designers and playtesters. Many of the playtesters shared the view of other BGG users that there was an imbalance in favor of the Shadow, which we should try to balance. That said, every small change to the game will swing the balance slightly back and forth between the two factions, so of course we avoided swinging the pendulum more in favor of the Shadow. But what I was saying is that the PURPOSE of designing the Expansion is not fixing a problem in the basic game. I am not denying that the Expansion swings the balance a little in the direction of the FP. I am saying that this is not the reason why we designed the Expansion, and I don't think that everybody need the expansion to enjoy the basic game.

Last, let me clarify that the variants I exposed are not anything like "official". As I said they are completely un-tested, I just applied my knowledge of the game and my desire of making changes which are as small as possible to think of ideas which could help some users. I would not use any of them in my own games!
Personally, I don't care so much about perfect "balance", rather to have fun when I play. Sometime you have MORE fun if you win against difficult odds. And as this fits well with the theme, I am not really worried about this particular aspect of the game.
I think that if, to portray appropriately the theme, we should have been giving 1% chance of winning to the FP, that would not have been a problem. WotR is not Chess, it's not Go. It's about a story, and re-enacting that story on a gaming table, having fun in the meantime.
That said, If you can't have fun without playing a perfectly balanced game, then of course you are free to change the game in any direction you want! After all, since the moment you buy a copy, it becomes YOUR game - not ours anymore.
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Matthew M
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Off-topic tangent split off and moved to the general forum.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/172940

-MMM
 
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Dave J McWeasely
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cybernex wrote:
Well...

The Will of the West: it is random *on purpose* - if this were not the case, we would go back, between other things, to some of the problems of the old SPI War of the Ring game, where killing the Grey to get the White was a no-brainer.
So I would not change that. You can't just call the Valar on the phone when you need them.
You still really really want to change this?


I don't object to the delayed entry of Gandalf the White. As you say, his appearance should be random. Its the delayed entry of the 5th action die that turns the game into a luckfest. A drunken monkey will always win against a FP player who never rolls WoWs.
 
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MrWeasely wrote:
I don't object to the delayed entry of Gandalf the White. As you say, his appearance should be random. Its the delayed entry of the 5th action die that turns the game into a luckfest. A drunken monkey will always win against a FP player who never rolls WoWs.


Even if you give the Free Player 6 dice, the Shadow will always win if the Free never roll any WOW or Character dice. The whole point of dice is that they are random.

But I don't strongly object to the use of Galadriel etc. to cause the entry of extra dice to be more predictable. I just disagree that just because sometimes one player or the other will get an untenable position from bad luck, that makes the game a "luckfest".
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