Recommend
 
 Thumb up
 Hide
5 Posts

Endure the Stars» Forums » Variants

Subject: Trying out timer variants rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Jonathan Rowe
United Kingdom
Spalding
Lincolnshire
flag msg tools
designer
badge
In order to make time for writing I must give up working or gaming...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Clock/countdown/timer variants have been discussed on the Rulebook 1.2 thread bit I thought another thread could share people's experiences and reflections on this particular variant.

I tried out Close The Door Behind You (its the best short mission with few extra complications) using the Search Array and Infinite Spawn variants:

Search Array involves having a row if Items to choose from when you search. You always draw a Noise Card and the Noise you make dictates how far along the row you can shop from.

Infinite Spawn involves reshuffling Spawn Events back into the Event Deck (except for irrelevant Spawn cards - Exo-Spawns - which are discarded and you draw another card).

The timer is based on the size of the discard pile for Event Cards. I was working on the formula

Time = 10 + T - S

where T is the number of tiles that make up the board and S is the number of Survivors in play. We had the Captain, Medic and Marine - so 14 turns which is no great hurry.

Some observations:

Search Array works fine. You don't always get the Items you need. First game had no Med Packs for ages and second had no Armour. Because you discard Items to the left of the one you purchased, you have some difficult decisions to make.

Nonetheless, Search Array does let you equip yourself with powerful weapons (and other needfull things like, in this mission, Power Cells) very quickly. It also makes a lot of Noise. In a normal game you'd consider yourself unlucky if you made 4-Noise searching on turn 1, but with Search Array you're lucky not to and the monsters come running.

In the normal rules there's some potential for stealth and creeping around before the inevitable bloodbath. Less so with Search Array: you'll make too much noise and you'll have shotguns and assault rifles quite early on. It makes for a much more violent game.

The timer was too slow. 14 Turns is no big deal anyway and with Infinite Spawn your discard pile isn't growing when monsters are spawning - which they do a lot.

Frankly 5 + T - S would have been a suitable formula. However if you don't use Infinite Spawn then perhaps 8 + T - S would be right.

Infinite Spawn produced problems. There were a lot of spawns - often in locations that had already spawned. Nothing wrong with that! However, this particular mission demands that you clear the board of GEPs. With Infinite Spawn that's not easy. I had to tweak things, ruling that, in this mission, once the doors to both cells were sealed, Infinite Spawn ceased and Radar Spawn cards went into the discard pile same as anything else.

These house rules certainly made EtS into a more direct, bloody sort of skirmish. I'm not convinced the timer added anything greatly to the experience - but if time had been shorter out strategies might have shifted.

I lost the first game because all the Survivors died. That rarely happens. The second game was problematic because hunting down and killing the remaining GEPS loose on the board is time consuming and in EtS there's no way to speed up your movement or make far distant Enemies cross the board to engage with you. We won, but the end game was a scrappy bug hunt. It often is with this scenario but you're normally not in any hurry.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jonathan Rowe
United Kingdom
Spalding
Lincolnshire
flag msg tools
designer
badge
In order to make time for writing I must give up working or gaming...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Another game with Sukria's preferred timer variant - no Infinite Spawn, create an Event Deck based on the size of the mission. When the Event Deck is exhausted, you have one more turn to complete it, otherwise you lose.

This time I chose the formula

Time = 6 + T - S

I'm going with the constant '6' because it means that, even in a 6-player game, you'll have an Event Deck equal to the number of tiles in the map. Why's that important? Well, in Sukria's variant, you take out all the Exo-Spawns (Radar Spawn Events that refer to rooms not in play) but leave in all the relevant Radar Spawns. And your Event Deck must be big enough to include all the relevant Radar Spawns.

Immediately, a consequence of this becomes apparent. In Close The Door Behind You, with 3 Survivors, we've got a 7 tile map with 6 types of room in it (Life Support, Medical, Engineering, Armour, Crew Quarters and 2 Primus Cells). So the Event Deck will be 6+7-3 = 10 cards. Of which, 6 will be relevant Radar Spawns and the others the usual mix of Blackouts, Gravity Failures, Lockdowns, etc.

The high proportion of Spawns in this Event Deck makes itself felt at once. The board fills up like crazy. For the first time, I end up using EVERY SINGLE SPAWN DISK and I nearly run out of miniatures. It's a warzone!

Once again, the high amount of Noise created by Search Array rules draws the Survivors into an early conflict. We handle this one a bit more gracefully, sneaking out the back of Life Support while the gribblies trash the place. Then we end up barricading ourselves in Engineering with every GEP in existence banging on the door. I use the Void Cannon - twice! - but it hardly dents a horde like this and more are coming.

(You see, this mission has random spawning as well as Radar Spawn Events, so when the Event deck is spitting out monsters at a high rate it mingles with the monster production the mission is doing of its own accord to create the perfect storm).

The Captain wades out in the Exo-Loader to seal up the Primus Cells (a timely Gravity Failure lets her do this on a single Power Cell) but there's no hope of completion within the time limit: the Mission Objective is to rid the map of GEPs and I suspect that's impossible when the Event Deck is loaded with Spawns like this - well, not impossible but just very improbable.

Arguably, this is just a mission very ill-suited to a timer/clock, what with its nebulous objective ("Close the doors to the Primus cells and kill any remaining enemies"). You could just rule that it's only the Primus Cells that have to be sealed to complete the mission - in which case we won (just! and only because of the Gravity Failure).

I'm not sure if mass slaughter like this is what we really want for a timer-variant . Or maybe it's just this mission, with its own dice-based spawns, that is exacerbating the tendency of a skimmed-down Event Deck to throw more monsters at you.

Still, it was definitely different from a typical game of EtS. And almost all the minis saw some use!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dice Roller
France
Paris
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmb
I tested twice the mission CG04 (Prescription Pickup) with Search Array and Finite Event deck.

Well, the first game was very intense in the beginning because I did so much noise searching many radar jumped at my survivors. It was very epic! I lost many health point, but managed to get to the medical supply by turn #5.

I had to use the Medic special ability to restore health to the party, so I was feeling this was really bringing tension to the game.

In my second try, I paid more attention to the noise I was making with searching and this resulted in ... a very easy game.

I finished the mission in 6 turns... It really felt too easy. The search array gave me the opportunity to get very well armed in 3 turns.

I'm going to try the same mission without the Search Array, to see. I'll add another post here when done.

I have the feeling the Search Array can bring a lot of power to the party, if you have a bit of luck on the cards you have in the row.


1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jonathan Rowe
United Kingdom
Spalding
Lincolnshire
flag msg tools
designer
badge
In order to make time for writing I must give up working or gaming...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
sukria wrote:
I have the feeling the Search Array can bring a lot of power to the party, if you have a bit of luck on the cards you have in the row.


Absolutely. If there are big guns or good armour in the Array in the starting turns, it's worth making Noise to acquire. If you don't see those things, the game starts similarly to normal play, but with more Noise. And more Noise leads to more bloody confrontations.

Now that's OK if the timer rules are appropriately challenging. Prescription Pickup is a mission that could be done in 6 turns (if you went straight for the objective then straight for an exit and GEPs fail to interdict you) but probably takes 7-10. Getting a timer callibrated to make this a challenge using Search Array is tricky.

My current thinking is

Easy mission: 10 turns - Survivors/2 (round down) - 1/previous mission
Medium mission: 12 turns - Survivors/2 (round down) - 1/previous mission
Difficult mission: 15 turns - Survivors/2 (round down) - 1/previous mission

This would give you 11 turns to do Prescription Pickup with 3 Survivors, 10 with 4 or 5 and 9 with 6. That's not very challenging.

Personally, I think Pickup ought to be classified as an Easy mission - small map, only one objective, it's only the 5 Radar tokens that make it challenging but you don't have to kill them all to complete the mission. As an Easy mission, it would be 9, 8 or 7 turns, which is probably about right.

But - as you say - the luck of the Search Array makes a MASSIVE difference to how easy this feels. I don't think there's a way round that aspect.

Fundamentally, EtS has not been built to be a timer game, so whether you can complete it in time is always going to be a bit luck-based. But the main value of a timer is simply to deter players from fortifying a single room and making all the GEPs come to them, slaying them in a bloody firefight then wandering an empty complex, picking up objectives at their leisure. And I think it does this well enough.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dice Roller
France
Paris
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmb
I've just finished a second game of #CG04, with only the Finite Event deck variant (no Search Array). I used our last formula, which - for 3 survivors gave me 9 cards (I considered the mission Easy instead of Medium).

That was tense and fun ! I actually enjoyed it more than with Search Array.
It was very, very close. I managed to get my 3 survivors out of the map during the 9th turn. The tension was really heavy and the spawns... Wow, too many spawns!

Indeed, with 9 cards and 4 tiles, you have 44% chances of drawing a Radar Spawn. That means you'll have a spawn roughly every 2 or 3 turns. This makes the game super fast: you really don't have much time to get your gear, and you feel you're under the clock everytime.

I really counted my actions, movements and tried to avoid getting more GEPs to me.

It was really good.

I'm going to do more playtesting this way, with other scenarios, but I feel we have a good balance here for the Finite Event deck variant.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.