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Subject: Reduced-Luck Rules rss

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Adam Starks
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While I personally like chucking lots of dice, and revel in the resulting chaos, I know enough people (both online and in person) who feel like it can be too swingy (e.g. Great Cthulhu rolls 18 dice, and fails to generate any Kills, meaning he doesn't get his 2 Kill spellbook).

There have been a couple variants aimed at reducing or eliminating the luck in battles (and other elements as well), but IMO, a lot of them are either too complicated, or risk creating imbalances. So I've put together a set of alternatives (some of these haven't been filled out yet, but are worth discussing).

The big caveat is I'm only focused on alternatives that we're sure don't change the balance of any given mechanic or ability, as well as those that can't be gamed by equivalents of card counting. This is obviously limiting, so there may be some randomness we can't really do anything about.

Also, it bears repeating: I don't actually think any of this is necessary. This is just to make the randomness a bit more palatable for people who don't like it

Combat
After determining the number of dice you'll roll, but before rolling them, divide by 6 (setting aside the remainder). You get that many Kills, twice as many Pains, thrice as many Blanks, and then roll the remainder.

For instance, if Cthulhu and 1 Deep One attack a Dark Young, a Frenzied Cultist, and a Ghoul, Cthulhu (after devouring presumably the Ghoul) would get 1 Kill and 2 Pains, then roll 1 die (instead of the full 7). Black Goat would then roll 3 dice (since they didn't have 6).

This should be statistically identical to the standard method, but way less swingy. It also maintains a sense of randomness, especially for small skirmishes (< 6 dice).

Points of Clarification:
- Star Vampires would still roll their dice separately, rather than adding them to the pool
- Channel Power should function as normal, in that Opener gets 3 blanks for every group of six, plus whatever he rolls, and then feeds those back through the system. So if he had a combat of 9, he'd get 3 auto-blanks, and then roll the 3 remainder dice. If all 3 of those were also blanks, then he'd get another group of 6 (1 Kill, 2 Pains, and 3 Blanks), otherwise he'd just roll them.

Elder Signs
Keep them face down. Whenever you reveal them (at the End of the Game, for The Stars are Right, etc), receive 5 Doom for every 3, 3 Doom for every 2, and 1 Doom per remainder.

This should be statistically similar to the random method, though slightly undervalues groups of 2 and 1. However, you should only ever have to worry about the fraction of a Doom you lose from having a single group of either 2 or 1.

Examples:
8 ES would be worth 5 + 5 + 3 = 13 Doom
7 ES would be worth 5 + 5 + 1 = 11 Doom
6 ES would be worth 5 + 5 = 10 Doom
5 ES would be worth 5 + 3 = 8 Doom
4 ES would be worth 5 + 1 = 6 Doom

Thousand Forms
IIRC Sandy originally proposed this, but it's worth including in this thread:
Instead of rolling 1D6 for Thousand Forms, roll 3D6 and take the middle result. This will have the exact same average, and still be random, but way less swingy (way fewer 1's/6's, and reduced 2's/5's).

Ghroth
I think this is a lot better with the change when Black Goat places a Cultist on failure, and the fact that the Mi-Go placement changes the dice means both BG and opponents can have a big impact on the roll here, so I don't think this actually needs any modification, but I'm curious if someone can come up with anything, at least for the sake of argument.

Desecration
My first thought was to use a stack of 6 results so that you eventually get even distribution, but players could easily Card-Count, and while that might produce interesting interactions (players making decisions based on an impending success or failure), I fear it might upset the balance in some way. You could mitigate that by re-shuffling the deck after something like 3 have been picked, so you're never certain what will happen, but then you're getting a fair amount of swing back.

My second thought was to do the same thing here as with 1K Forms, which is taking the median of 3 dice, but that would definitely affect the balance, in that the King basically has to build up a posse of 3-4 before he starts trying to desecrate, and doesn't need to worry much about failure after than. It would also give Yellow Sign a big boost at the end of the game, since it's not as big a deal if you scatter the King's army when he can still cobble together a retinue of 2-3 units.

So for this ability, I'm more or less clueless.

Azathoth Cost
Median of 3?

Azathoth Spellbook
???

Dread Curse
No change?

Ubbo-Sathla Growth
Median of 3
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Diversion Architect
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Damnit, now I want to add more of the special dice to my pledge

Those are going to be for sale later right? I like the idea of rolling 3 thousand forms dice as well as the combat dice idea. 3 for Ubbo sounds like a good move too.
 
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Philip Kitching
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I wouldn't make any change to desecration as it can be an auto success from turn 2 onwards if that's what the player desires.
 
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Tiago Gouveia
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Postmark wrote:
I wouldn't make any change to desecration as it can be an auto success from turn 2 onwards if that's what the player desires.


I just loved your (Graham) idea for multiples of 6 combat dice.

The others I would rather live as it is.

I also would make a similar change to ES: every 6 ES would worth 10 doom. When tgr 1st player reaches lets say 20 or maybe 25 doom made the "conversion" and discard the correspondent ES from the bag (1,1,1,2,2,3) and then sort the remaining anf keep sorting till the end of the game... just an idea.
 
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Diversion Architect
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Tiago what if they had less than 6 ES? Or if their ES>10 say: 3,3,2,2,1,1. Do they have to take 10?
 
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Philip Kitching
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diversionArchitect wrote:
Tiago what if they had less than 6 ES? Or if their ES>10 say: 3,3,2,2,1,1. Do they have to take 10?


If the idea is to remove randomness, ignore the numbers on the elder sign.

Every group of 3 ES tokens is worth 5.
If you have two left over you get another 3.
If you have one left over, it is worth 1.
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Tiago Gouveia
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Postmark wrote:
diversionArchitect wrote:
Tiago what if they had less than 6 ES? Or if their ES>10 say: 3,3,2,2,1,1. Do they have to take 10?


If the idea is to remove randomness, ignore the numbers on the elder sign.

Every group of 3 ES tokens is worth 5.
If you have two left over you get another 3.
If you have one left over, it is worth 1.


This would work well.

My original idea was to take notes on the number of ES each player get instead of actually draw the ES. Then draw only those ES left after exchange every 6 ES for 10 doom...
 
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Adam Starks
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Random ES at the end would basically be picking a random winner, whereas getting them throughout the game lets you make interesting decisions (revealing your poor draw to shift focus, noticing that someone with few ES is acting like this is the last turn, etc).
 
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Adam Starks
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Updated with a solution for Elder Signs (gotten from someone else, but I can't remember who)
 
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Kyle Strahm
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This is cool, but Azathoth was designed to cause chaos. Why would you use it if you want to play a low-luck game?
 
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Evan Carroll
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kylestrahm wrote:
This is cool, but Azathoth was designed to cause chaos. Why would you use it if you want to play a low-luck game?


You could always exempt Azathoth from the low-luck rules. You could even make him more chaotic. There's an Azathoth faction somewhere in here that gives him an ability to where any extra Kills or Pains you roll get applied to your own units.
 
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Benjamin
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I'll try combat and elder signs next time.

* Ghroth is taken care of by neutral spellbooks which makes it redundant (if you still go for it your own fault)
* Desecration going to use cards A-5 with random draw going through all 6
* Thousand forms probably "Players must lose player count +1 power or you gain 4 power. If slightly too strong reduce to 3 or remove the +1. This d6 is easily the worst design decision of the base game.
* Azathoth: Too random by design to be worth it.
* Dread curse: Maybe also a dice deck, although getting a kill early or kill and pain would make it inefficient using the power again and maybe deterr too much. Probably ignore it for now.
 
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Adam Starks
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The problem with Dice Decks and that kind of thing is that it can lead to card-counting. For instance, if the Opener player realizes that the next draw will contain a Kill, he can then just spend 2 power to guaranteed-assassinate an isolated GOO, which changes the dynamic of the game. And considering the game is overall really well balanced with the randomness, changing the dynamic is undesired (IMO).

I don't agree that the Thousand Forms 1d6 is a bad design decision. Cthulhu Wars isn't meant to be chess-like at all levels (though it is at many), and a certain amount of spectacle was intended. CC can totally win even if he rolls nothing but 1's, and can lose even if he rolls nothing by 6's.
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Benjamin
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It's very significant power swings. The difference between rolling a 1 and rolling a 6 with 1kF is huge for CC.

It obviously depends on your POV and how much approach games. I think Konami used to have this great design guidelines for their games which included that players should always see losing as a consequence of their actions (instead of random outcomes). The issue with the 1d6 approach is the general huge difference in the outcomes. Especially the ability to throw 13 dice in combat and only get 1-3s doesn't really feel like you lost the game "because you didn't play well".

That being said, I'm hugely opposed to dice/luck heavy games unless they are in the right environment. Among the various random elements, Thousand Forms is easily the worst.
 
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Graham Robinson
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Inconmon wrote:
Especially the ability to throw 13 dice in combat and only get 1-3s doesn't really feel like you lost the game "because you didn't play well".


Well, (a) Throwing all misses on 13 dice is going to happen about one time in eight thousand, and (b) a single combat is unlikely to be decisive in who wins the game or not (except in the closest of games). hardly worth worrying about.

1000 forms is more of an issue for the luck-averse, I agree. It'll get used 2-5 times in the game, so the difference between rolling all 1s and all 6s is more likely to actually happen.

Personally, I find that Cthulhu Wars has sufficient scope for skill that luck is only going to be the difference between players of closely similar ability. And I'm totally fine with that!

Cheers,
Graham
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