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Subject: Variable turn order rss

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Chris Warr
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So, the mechanism for revealing Season events mid-season feels a little odd. A variant I'm going to be play-testing is that at the start of each season player-order is determined by Fitness, lowest to highest. The season event is then revealed at the *start* of each season, for the player with the lowest Fitness. Any thoughts?
 
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Fnorbl Fnorblobson
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What I like about your version:
- It's more intuitive, in so far, as the season event is always revealed at the start of a season.

What I'm neutral about:
- Is it really an advantage to go first?

What I like more about the original version:
- The turn order always stays the same, which again seems more intuitive.
- Sometimes, season events are revealed right after another. This makes the game more dynamic in my opinion.
- Sometimes, it might take a long time for a player to have a turn again, or a player might have two turns in a row.
- It might be a bit confusing to have the turn order depend on the fitness score, as that might change within a single round. Like, player 1 hast the lowest score, goes first, gains fitness. Maybe his attacks then modify another players fitness, causing the turn order to change again. So, this seems somewhat confusing to me. A solution might be, to have numbered chips or dice for the turn order. So if a round starts, the turn order is then defined, each player gains their dice or numbered token to show when they take a turn, and that is then not changed anymore, regardless what happens. Another solution might be that the lowest fitness player is having their first turn, but the other turns are then taken it clockwise order, as that might be less confusing.

Example 1 for the last point:
Five players, player 1 has the highest score. Turn order might be: Player 3, 2, 4, 5, 1. Now, the other players might have had great turns, while player 1 didn't, and he gained no fitness, or even lost some. So, if he is having the lowest score now, he will go first on the next turn. That means he has two turns in a row. Or, if he gets the Oasis, the other players have no change to steal it from him.

Example 2, the other way round:
A player has a very low score, so he goes first. He has a great turn, and at the end of that round he has the highest score, which means he goes last. That means that, in a five player game, all other players have two turns before it's his again. Or, in other words, that player might have to wait until players have taken eight turns before it's his again.


In short, I like your idea, and since you bought the game, you can play it any way you like. However, I think that it would add more confusion in the end, than it clears things up. I'm curious on how it worked out for you, if you played it several times that way.
 
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Chris Warr
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Thanks for the response with your thoughts

I've tried it out twice now.

- I very much like revealing the event at the start of each season. As you say, it's far more intuitive. It feels really odd under the standard rules to be playing in a season without that season's event visible. Particularly if the event has an ongoing negative effect for the round. If only some players experience the negative effect, and the deciding factor on whether you are hit by it or not is simply how far around the table you are from the start player in a randomly determined player order, it feels rather unsatisfying. In my version, everybody is hit by the negative effects equally.

- I assume that the reason for the standard rules is so that the same player doesn't get to see the event first all the time, because whoever sees it first has the first opportunity to complete it - i.e. first player advantage. So my solution is to let the person on the lowest fitness see it first, giving them first chance to complete it and catch up.

- Regarding the difficulty of the player order changing each season, this is no different to many other games. Terra Mystica (with the Fire & Ice expansion) has a variable turn order based on the order you pass; you simply use a token to represent each player and change the order of the tokens so that the turn order is clearly visible throughout the round; Dominant Species has variable turn order based on taking the initiative action, again with tokens displaying the order for the round; Mage Knight even uses the same "lowest score goes first" mechanic, with tokens to show the turn order for the round.

We simply used an animal of each species next to the fitness board to indicate the player order for the season, rearranging them at the start of each season based on fitness; when there's a tie, simply reverse the order of the tied players from that of the previous round.

- Yes, a player *could* have 2 turns in a row, but only if they dropped from first to last. If they are in last place, having a 2nd turn is a helpful way to catch up.

- Yes, in a 5 player game there could be rather a long wait between turns. However, having tried a 5-player game under the standard rules, the overwhelming consensus was "never again" precisely because of the length of time between turns. I'm only ever likely to play with 3 players (4 at a stretch) now, and this doesn't seem so big a deal then. Again, it's no different to many other variable turn order games where this can happen, and it's not a big deal in those.

- There is one potential downside we identified however. For the events which require majorities by the end of the year, it's actually an advantage to go *later* in the turn order to achieve those, so with my variant it's the player already in the lead who has more chance at getting them.

My proposed solution for this is simply to remove those 3 events from the event decks. This actually leads into another issue with the game that one of my players identified: there is no end-game scoring. We frequently felt that, once a certain point was reached, the result was pretty well established and there was little we could do to come back. With end-game scoring, you would always have something to play for right to the end as there would be a bunch of end-game points available, so you wouldn't know who had won until the last moment.
So my (untested) proposal is to remove those 3 events from the event decks, then add some kind of end-game scoring based on majority control of the 6 terrain types. This would have to be tested carefully, as clearly certain species are going to be better at spreading out and controlling different terrain than others. But to me and my gaming group, this really feels like it would lead to an improved experience.

Any thoughts about that from you or anyone else? Hearing the designer's thoughts would be interesting, to hear if he considered either variable turn order or end-game scoring, and why he decided against them
 
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G C

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I do like this idea, and I'm considering trying it out.

Like you, I also see some potential unbalance based on turn order, particularly in some of the 'season-long' events. Since I'm often teaching the game, I often go first to handle season changes and show how things work, and I've noticed that I almost never get hit by events like, "All movement this season costs 1 more energy", since that will ONLY hit me if I'm the one that draws it.

Similarly, I think rolling all of the 'end of the year' events into end-game scoring could make the end of the game more dynamic and less, "Well, so-and-so is going to win regardless so we can just skip my last turn." Like you, I'm not sure how well that balances of course.

Any thoughts from the designer on this? If nothing else, I think there needs to be a solution to the issue where the first player definitely has a distinct advantage in avoiding the negative effects that last for exactly one season -- even if the text is essentially changed to, "Until the start of this event revealer's next turn."
 
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G C

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Having tried this out, I think the one major unforeseen problem is that there is an unexpected benefit to the person to the LEFT of the loser.

In the game I played, I was one of the leaders, and was partially able to pull out a win because the person to my right was consistently losing. This always let me go second in the round, and since the first person in the round often couldn't complete the new seasonal events, I got second crack on them, before the other more competitive people.

I think the ideal house rule would be to just change the events that last 'for the rest of the season' to 'until the start of the event revealer's next turn'.
 
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Chris Warr
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Chronomodra wrote:
Having tried this out, I think the one major unforeseen problem is that there is an unexpected benefit to the person to the LEFT of the loser.


Why would where you're sitting affect it? The play order is based on your Fitness Points, lowest to highest, so if you were doing best you would be last to play, not 2nd. Where you are sitting would be irrelevant.
 
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poptasticboy wrote:
Chronomodra wrote:
Having tried this out, I think the one major unforeseen problem is that there is an unexpected benefit to the person to the LEFT of the loser.


Why would where you're sitting affect it? The play order is based on your Fitness Points, lowest to highest, so if you were doing best you would be last to play, not 2nd. Where you are sitting would be irrelevant.


Ah, I see. We were playing where the person lowest went first, and then clockwise around the table.
 
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