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Subject: Building Insurance Game Changer - a brief report on playtesting rss

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Désirée Greverud
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Some background: My wife is a total Care bear (non-gamer) player. To get her to play Unfair has required the use of the World Peace card, without exception. We enjoy the game greatly and it will most likely become a staple of family gaming for us for a long time to come.

During a recent discussion here re: potential future Game changers as well as other ways to deal with attacks, Joel took an idea of mine and spun straw into... better straw

"Whenever an event would cause an attraction or upgrade in your park to be demolished, you may forfeit one Park step action in the same round to block the event from affecting you"

I had to coerce my wife into playing my PnP version now in order to test this (you're getting the real game in a week or 2, shouldn't we just wait?") but I said I promised a review so...

[note: we only played 6 rounds, and started with our Superattraction. yes, I fully admit this is horrible methodology for playtesting]

we went with Gangsters & Vampires. I gave my wife the Shakedown and she gave me Vlad's Impaler. Only the Shakedown would differ from how we have previously played.

This was the first time we ever played with the possibility of closing opponents rides. The first round we (once again) got Unexpected Generosity. Since I am still using the older PnP files, this card affects all 4 loans, not just 2, which means we both started the game with lots of cash on hand. We both have found this quite fun in the past, so we were both happy. This of course made me paying her 2 coins for the Shakedown of little consequence. She was able to jump right out with a hotel thanks to the huge cash boost. I grabbed the Exec Assistant with Vlad's power and managed to get a Car Chase attraction down simply to prevent her from getting it (and the gangster theme) forgetting that there are 2 in the deck. She managed to build it a couple of turns later. Even with the GC we didn't play all that differently than usual. I did attempt to close the Shakedown but she blocked it with a card and later I tried demolishing her Gangster Theme upgrade using vandalism but she just dismissed her Cleaner (then used a Dumpster Dive to get him back).

Even though we had a very money heavy game (which is usually the case with Gangster - that's why it's my wife's favorite deck) she was eventually getting 10 coins from me for the last couple of rounds (yes she had 5 gangster themes!) and that does start to hurt. She had an offshore account as well, as was just stomping on me money-wise. I just couldn't get any good combos going and was not getting the building cards I needed and she was.

I tried to counter her Gangster money with staff & quality and even had one good round where she used an anonymous complaint to close 3 of my rides but I responded with a Celebrity Appearance and a giant wad of cash to reopen my best ride (Vlads - my only thrill ride with any upgrades).

We didn't go big on blueprints but she completed one (Stay in Style, with the bonus) and I (barely) managed Fine Dining with a lucky "build a free upgrade" in the last round.

Ultimately, her money machine just crushed me. Fun was had by all.

As far as the Game Changer idea goes, even though it never actually came into play, we discussed it when I tried to demolish an upgrade. Whether losing an action was better than losing her staff but she figured he could get him back and losing the turn would hurt more. Not sure if the math works out as it cost her a turn to play him again but it felt better that way.

I suspect future games will use this GC rather than WP but ultimately, neither of us will ever attack all that much anyway. We were certainly comfortable with it and it felt like a nice middle ground between all out assault and multi player solitaire
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Chuck Hurd
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Nice session report. Thanks for that. We haven't played yet (I'm saving it to give as a birthday present in May) but your report makes me feel a lot better about the game.
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Joel Finch
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Thanks to you and your wife for trying it out (and to you for suggesting that approach!). I am honestly amazed that you got her to play any attacking effects at all, but hopefully she can now see the power of the Dark Side (or ride closures, anyway)

It sounds like its value might be in helping players who are concerned about park destruction to be reassured that they can prevent it, even without it actually being used too often.

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Désirée Greverud
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joelfinch wrote:
Thanks to you and your wife for trying it out (and to you for suggesting that approach!). I am honestly amazed that you got her to play any attacking effects at all, but hopefully she can now see the power of the Dark Side (or ride closures, anyway)

It sounds like its value might be in helping players who are concerned about park destruction to be reassured that they can prevent it, even without it actually being used too often.

Closing rides didn't really bother her because they are still there at the end. What she built remains. And as CareBear-y as she is, she can be brutal playing games. She wants to win! she just doesn't want to destroy in order to do so. And she certainly had a wicked grin on her face every turn as I handed over more and more money for her freakin' stupid gangster themes (grumble grumble).

I thought maybe we were being a little idiosyncratic, being ok with closing, money payments, staff theft but not destruction, however, it sounds like there are some others here who have similar views. I am really happy that the game is possibly able to accommodate all styles.
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Richard A. Edwards
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joelfinch wrote:
It sounds like its value might be in helping players who are concerned about park destruction to be reassured that they can prevent it, even without it actually being used too often.

THIS! Even if its value is simply reassurance, that has great value to players who feel invested in what they are building and want at all costs to keep it.

When the actual moment comes up to decide though, they may decide to lose it due to game considerations. But at least then it's THEIR choice and easier to accept.

I haven't had time to try it yet, but I think this will work really well for us.
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Sounds good to me, nice to know it works out in practice!

I have been wondering if it should really block attraction destruction so easily - shutting down demolition order for a single action seems pretty harsh given the cost.

Would it be reasonable to say something like "if you save an attraction this way, it closes for repair" and possibly "- it cannot be reopened until next turn (pin the demolition order to it as a reminder)"?
 
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Désirée Greverud
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Toeofdoom wrote:
Sounds good to me, nice to know it works out in practice!

I have been wondering if it should really block attraction destruction so easily - shutting down demolition order for a single action seems pretty harsh given the cost.

Would it be reasonable to say something like "if you save an attraction this way, it closes for repair" and possibly "- it cannot be reopened until next turn (pin the demolition order to it as a reminder)"?

I imagine you can tweak this however you wish, but since the goal here is basically a less restrictive version of World Peace (in which a Demolition Order is useless) then if you are using this, it's because you are playing a game where you don't want destruction so it's unlikely anyone is going to attempt a Demolition Order anyway.
 
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Richard A. Edwards
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We played our first 4 player game last night (with two new players) and used the Building Insurance Game Changer being tested. All four are experienced gamers and play testers. We used Jungle, Robot, Pirate, Vampires.

Before we even played, one of the players mentioned that Building Insurance seemed nice to have even if it was just for the psychological benefit of knowing there was a way to prevent such damage.

During the game, the Game Changer was invoked twice. Interestingly, the player who used it was the lowest scorer at the end of the game, even though he saved the upgrade he really wanted.

One question that came up is WHICH Action is lost. The card only says "you may forfeit one Park step action in the same round". The player was puzzled for a moment as to whether it meant his very next step or if he could pick which step if he had several left in the round.

We interpreted it mean he could pick which Park step since the only limitation on the card was "in the same round". But we found ourselves wishing it read "forfeit your next Park step action in the same round" instead, just to make it very clear and remove trying to remember losing future steps.

The question also came up, what if the demolish effect occurred after your last Park step? We quickly realized that if you don't have a Park step to forfeit that you cannot invoke Building Insurance since you cannot "pay" for it. But it was asked.

This might be clarified by "if you have a Park step remaining in the same round, you may forfeit your next Park step to block..."

Sorry, the rules editor in me got loose!

As to the game itself, it was quite fun and one of the new players who doesn't like card games came in second and was actually very happy playing it.

The winner was Kathy, my partner who really dislikes "take that" mechanics. Now that she's half a dozen games in, she's much more okay with such effects. She was attacked once during the game and dealt with it fine.

After our half dozen games, I've come to understand that the "take that" mechanics are really harshest in your first few games, especially when playing two player.

Once you get used to the game, and with higher player counts, the "take that" mechanics are easier to deal with since after a few games you begin to learn what's really necessary and what defenses you can gain. And with more players the effects are spread out more and seem less "in your face" than when playing two player head to head.

The biggest hurdle for introducing new gamers is going to be the 'take that' mechanics for their first game or two when they don't know anything about the game or what cards exist. I'd highly recommend using World Peace when teaching the game.

It's also been recommended to use only certain packs, but I find that one of the attractions for new players is to encourage them to use the Theme that they enjoy.

One of the best things about Unfair is that it is such a great, thematic game! You can hook new players best by encouraging them to use the themes they love. But if you don't nerf the "take that" mechanics with World Peace (or Building Insurance) we run the risk of alienating them just as they're falling in love with their first Park and the game.

So the more Game Changers that allow protective, defensive tweaking, the better, IMHO. They can always be used or not as you prefer. I think Building Insurance is a good addition. How about a Staff Loyalty card that allows you to pay a cost in coins (give them a raise?) to negate any negative effects on Staff cards?
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Désirée Greverud
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wouldn't all destruction happen during the Event stage, so you'll always have a park step to sacrifice (unless you suffer a 4th destructive event in 1 round)
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Joel Finch
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Richard, something that's probably not immediately obvious - there's never any destructive effects in the Park step. About the worst you'll get is a doubling of prices.

This is by design - players need to have a chance to relax, and be able to plan for the remainder of the round, and there's a thematic aspect too where the Events step is about the interaction of competitors and the city, while the Park step is just about the enjoyment of building a park.

So the only step where a demolition can be applied to you is the Events step, meaning that you always have at least 3 Park actions to your name when the bloodbath starts.

The sequence in which they are removed is a good question. I had expected that players would want to play as early as possible, to maximise their chance of getting cards from the Market that they have their eye on, so I expected that forfeited actions would be removed in reverse order and that everyone would want it that way.

The card can make this explicit if necessary.

To address the memory issue, I expect that we'll have a token of some kind that players can use as a reminder of their penalty, discarding it back to the pool as their Park step action instead of doing anything else.

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Désirée Greverud
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my game arrived today, just in time for a family trip this weekend to our summer cabin (first trip of the year). Will be me, my wife, her parents, her little sister and their nephews (16 and 4). Once the little one has fallen asleep and parents are off happily smoking in the other room, I will be setting up a 4 player game. Our first chance to test Building Insurance outside of just me & my wife. Knowing my nephew, he's going to want to try ninjas or vampires, so I was thinking about ways o make sure that even with this game changer, nothing is nerfed too badly.

Demolition Order seems unlikely to come up at all, especially since the top part is so good anyway and knowing it can be blocked at the cost of a single action means it's often not worth even trying. Shadow Dragon (if chosen) and Star Performer can do some damage so I suspect we will see some missed turns (rather than destruction) but given Lost & Found Attendant and Extra Insurance, someone might allow the destruction to go through to get something else.

In Vampires, Renfeld's Stakehouse can be rendered useless. I'm thinking of adding a little addendum that it still gets the coins if the demolition is blocked via Building Insurance*. This is the only card I can think off that directly feeds off of other cards destruction. Is that correct? any reason why this "fix" couldn't work?

*my in game reasoning is that the destruction happens but the Building Insurance rebuilds it.
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A blanket "You still derive any benefit other than demolishing the upgrade" would cover things like Renfeld's Stakehouse, as you'd still get the coins.

Trickier is the event "Corporate Raiders" from the Pirate deck, which allows you to demolish an upgrade then build it in your own park (which you obviously can't do if it isn't destroyed). You could search the deck for a copy, if there was one available, but it's an inelegant solution.

You could add a further penalty to the Game Changer in the ilk of "If another player would derive an extra benefit from the destroyed attraction or upgrade, it costs 2 Park actions to block instead", making Renfelds an action denier rather than a money maker.

Also worth thinking about: How this interacts with multiple demolish events like Annual Insurance (pay 1 coin for each attraction and upgrade or demolish). Would it be multiple actions lost, or just one to cover them all.

I've found a couple of the more vicious "permanent" events (as opposed to ride closing) that also wouldn't be hampered by Building Insurance: Industrial Espionage, which lets you steal Blueprints from your opponents, and Safe Cracking, which steals half their money.
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Désirée Greverud
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we didn't really want to complicate it too much. The basic idea was just to have something not as restrictive as World Peace but that prevented the loss of buildings in your park. we wanted to be able to use Gangsters and Ninjas and Vampires without the superattractions being rendered worthless (comparatively speaking). Keep in mind, this whole concept was invented by me in order to placate my CareBear wife and her little sister, so my goals for it may be idiosyncratically specific.

We treat Building Insurance as if the destruction happens (so any benefits derived from destruction trigger) but that the first Park Step (the one you sacrificed) is used to rebuild. 1 Park Step = 1 Destructive Event.

This isn't Money Insurance or Blueprint Insurance, so Industrial Espionage and Safe Cracking work as always. Corporate Raiders is a tricky one that I need to think about, since its use is usually very specific - you need that specific upgrade for a blue print.

Perhaps we can completely reword Building Insurance to something like "When an event causes an Attraction or Upgrade in your park to be demolished, you may sacrifice a park step to retrieve it from the discard pile and rebuild it" so that it more specifically triggers on demolish effects, and wouldn't work against Corporate Raiders (maybe adding a "or gain coins equal to the marked price if it is no longer available" so it remains balanced in that instance).

In games over the weekend, we actually had occasions where a player allowed destruction to happen because they couldn't afford to lose a park step (and the attacker chose the "wrong" upgrade i.e. not an upgrade the owner was concerned with keeping). Thus, I'm happy with the basic idea, but there will always be edge cases to work out.
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