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Subject: Dark Souls Revised rss

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Adam Daily

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Edit: I've compiled the extended/revised ruleset including the aspects that I and others thought work well into a file hosted on BGG. Feel free to make recommendations or print out the sheet to include in your own games. Enjoy!


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I've now played the game somewhere in the ballpark of 10 times, both on my own and with different numbers of people. I've tried different variants and tweaked various values to make the game easier/faster/more predictable/less predictable/etc, as well as playing the game with just the plain written rules. I've collected here a set of modifications that have resulted in the version of the game I personally find most enjoyable.

Below are explanations of the rule additions/modifications, as well as my reasoning for why I've included them and how I feel it either makes a better board game experience, or is more in line with the spirit of the Dark Souls video game.

In general, the overarching theme of my variant is to give players meaningful decisions to make. While the vanilla rules include choices, they never feel agonizing to make because they don't branch into additional choices. You simply do what is the obvious best decision in the situation and just hope the right numbers happen. I really wanted to promote here the idea that both success and failure situations branch into their own choices to make, really allowing the player to play with a style that suits their own sensibilities and the character they're building and finding a good risk/reward balance just as the video game demands of players. I played using these rules with two players last night and got through the miniboss in under 60 minutes with one spark left and had a hell of a lot more fun than I did with the included rules.

Hope people get some enjoyment from it

Combat

Below are actions that may be taken in addition to the regular actions players may take:

At any time during a player's activation, they may pay 2 stamina to make an attack against an enemy. If that attack costs stamina, they must also pay that cost. Note that this is a single attack action, not an entire attack phase.

One of the things I dislike about the combat system in the game is I feel like I have no real decisions to make in terms of extending myself in combat. It's typically only a question of whether I can afford my strong attack, and if I can I will use it. In the video game, part of the strategy is to combo attacks together to try to do maximum damage, while still having enough stamina to block or get away. Sometimes, you'll even go for broke and just hope that expending your stamina helps you get the killing blow. This rule gives the player a real decision about how conservatively they want to play.

At any time during a player's activation, they may pay 2 stamina to take a move action. Note that this begins a new movement phase (the first movement costs nothing aside from the 2 stamina spent to initiate a new movement phase, additional movement costs 1 stamina per node in this phase).

This also plays into the concept of taking risks, and allowing the player to run in, take a shot, and decide if they want to conserve enough stamina to get away, or be greedy and try to finish off the foe.

When a player fails a dodge roll, they may spend 2 stamina to add a die to the roll.

This allows any player to potentially make a dodge, even fat rollers. This is also more thematic to me because sometimes in the video game, you need to expend all your stamina to just evade a particularly tricky onslaught of attacks.

Stamina management

A player may do nothing on their turn to recover all stamina.

This happens often in the video game. Sometimes you need to use all your stamina to get away so you can just hang for a second and recover.

A player will only die if taking damage would fill or exceed the endurance bar.

It's simply not thematic to have players die if they spend too much stamina. I realize this doesn't happen often in the boardgame, but the rules open the door for you to kill yourself by using stamina. In the video game, you can zero out your endurance bar, but if you're targeted by an enemy when this happens, you're in trouble.

Encounters/dungeon layout

Place the fog gate adjacent to the bonfire tile.

I understand what the developers were going for by putting the fog gate at the end of a dungeon. That's in the spirit of a dungeon crawler to work up to the boss. The problem with this in the Dark Souls universe however is that when you reach a boss in the video game, you almost always have a shortcut between the bonfire and the fog gate. With this setup, it's closer to how the video game feels in terms of retrying bosses, and it plays better into the theme of risk/reward (do we try the boss before we're ready, or do we first go into the dungeon to level up?) This way, the power is up to the player, and they're never forced to replay a large chunk of game just to try the boss again (the video game doesn't ever really force you to do that).

Choose two encounter tiles rather than four to set up the encounter. The party gains 4 souls per player if the encounter is completed.

Simply a time mitigation. Cuts the grind time in half.

When a spark is used, choose new encounter cards for each tile.

This just plain makes the game more fun. I understand the theme of learning from past encounters, which is cool in principle, but in practice it's just dull and boring. If you did learn from your mistakes, you're annoyed that you need to go through the motions again. If you didn't and you die, you're even more annoyed because you have to do it yet again.

Players may choose to not heal stamina or health after an encounter to gain 1 soul each. These souls may be spent before continuing to the next encounter.

Just adding little bit more spice and uncertainty to the game.

Weapon scaling

If a player exceeds the requirements of an item that makes an attack against an enemy using dice by a full tier in at least one of the required stats, add a black die to the attack.

I dislike that there is no reason to upgrade your character other than to use specific weapons. I don't think this completely solves that problem since it is still very weapon-centric, but this at least gives tangible reasons to upgrade stats even if it doesn't mean a new weapon for you. Again, it's also more thematic.
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Bijan Ajamlou
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I like everything in your list except the last. I would suggest giving each hero a skill card when he level ups. But that is an idea for future expansions.

I am going to play whit your suggested rules from now on!
 
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Sounds like a great variant. I'll give this a go on my next run. The part I feel is the most needed is the added variety in decision making. We felt extremely limited to move and attack. There's little thinking involved on your turn, and more thinking on the enemy's turn regarding how to move them. I personally find it more fun playing as the hero than the enemies.
 
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Curtis Delaney
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Chud_Munson wrote:


Stamina management

A player may do nothing on their turn to recover all stamina.

This happens often in the video game. Sometimes you need to use all your stamina to get away so you can just hang for a second and recover.



Can you elaborate on this point? Do Estus Flasks only recover HP in your variant?
 
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Curtis Delaney
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Also, in the combat section where you allow a 2 stamina cost to allow for attacking or moving, is that in addition to the free attack/move - move/attack in the base rules?
 
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Adam Daily

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Curtis - Nah, in my variant Estus Flasks still recover both, you just have to give up your turn to recover stamina. I believe in the official rules you can use a flask at any time on your turn and don't need to give up any other actions. For the 2 stamina to do the actions, yes, that's in addition to the free attack/move you normally get.

Bijan - I agree. I don't love even the way I suggested the scaling, but wanted to give some incentive in a way I hoped wouldn't totally throw off the balance of the game. Skills would be a cool idea.
 
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Alex Russo
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In general very nice HR.

the extra attack for 2 stamina is very thematic... not so sure about the dodge though.

the fog gate close to the bonfire is the only way to go IMO.

I think you can set as many map tiles as you have time to complete. In DS we can generally follow many paths until we fight a boss, we can grind in one zone (easier) and fight the boss from a totally different zone.


Can't wait until the community comes up with some grunt IA card (PnP), so instead of different encounters we will have the same encounter but with different enemy movements /attacks.

I didn't like the extra soul if you choose to not heal, very easy to exploit this extra soul.

An extra black die for over leveling is probably too much. Have you tried a black die - 1 instead?


 
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Adam Daily

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Alex - Yeah, the black die -1 might be a better route. I played with just a black die, but I might have been lucky in that I didn't have a situation where this overpowered me, but now that you mention it, I guess an extra black die is pretty substantial for many weapons.

I personally really like the dodge because in the video game there's no situation where your armor completely prevents you from dodging. I don't like that in the board game there are situations where there's just no way I'm even eligible to dodge an attack, so I don't even have a decision to make. Adding a die for 2 stamina at least lets me try to dodge even if my character isn't all that well suited for it.

In general I didn't have situations where I finished an encounter with enough life/stamina left that it was a no brainer to take the extra soul, but I suppose you could totally clobber an encounter and basically get a free soul per person. I'll say one time I took the risk and ended up getting my ass kicked and it cost me a spark. Probably could have made it through the encounter if I had full endurance bar and netted 4 souls per person rather than 1.
 
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Paul Liolio
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These sound really good. Definitely adding your stamina action suggestions to my housemix.

Does having so many stamina opportunities imbalance the game against the enemies though? Got any ideas to make the grunts more interesting?
 
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Adam Daily

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Paul - What I personally found is I actually died against normal encounters more this way because I'd get overconfident and try to rip through a couple grunts at a time. With the vanilla rules, I very rarely get in trouble in encounters because there's just not all that much stamina you can spend on your turn generally. This may give the players a slight edge on average (haven't played enough to really know for sure), but it's certainly more fun and feels more interesting so I don't really feel any compelling reason to go back. I'll say that you definitely can play non-conservatively and make the game way riskier/harder this way, whereas the level of difficulty in the normal game is kind of just situationally dictated rather than anything you have any control over.

In terms of making grunt behaviors more interesting, I can't really think of a way that wouldn't make the game substantially more complex to play. I'm just kinda waiting for the new expansions for more variety where that's concerned. Ideally, I'd love the grunts to all have small behavior decks, but that might be hoping for too much.
 
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Paul Liolio
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Okay, sounds good.

As for the grunts, I like the simplicity of the effect simply being described on the enemy's single card, that is, might be a pain to shuffle through multiple cards for every enemy. That said, the enemies should have more than a single action, right? What if most enemies had 3 possible actions listed on their card, decided by a die roll on that enemy's activation?

Or what if certain enemies do an automatic dodge attempt using the dodge die during your attack (maybe this will be something the invader will have?)

Or.. If it turns out that advancing the stamina system in the game does weaken the enemies, maybe you can simply bolster the health of each enemy with a +1 cube placed on their card.. something like that?

Hmm.. I need to play with your rules soon and get more time with the game. I haven't brought this game to the table again yet simply because the first experience was so boring.
 
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Curtis Delaney
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My bad. I totally misread your stamina entry.

I read it as "There is nothing a player may do on his turn to recover all stamina." Perhaps tweak the wording?

Perhaps something like,

"A player may spend his turn resting to recover all stamina. If a player rests no other actions may be performed on that turn."
 
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Jeff C
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Adam I really like the sound of this. The encounter setup is very similar to a quick play variant that I have scribbled on a note pad beside me but haven't had the chance to test.

I think your 2 stamina extra attack, move and dodge idea sound good as well. The game needs more player agency, and the 2 stamina spend choices introduce some needed risk and push your luck elements. I can totally see putting down an extra bunch of stamina going for the kill and flubbing the roll and being left in a really tough situation even against something as weak as a crossbow hollow! Thematically I always think of poor rolls as really messing up my timing in the video game (which certainly happened to me a lot!).

I do wonder though about how the loot draws rolls into the variant. I assume your 60 min play time to mini boss meant you burned through 3 sparks and did roughly 6 encounters (mix of lvl 1 & 2s)? How was your luck pulling useable equipment? I had a different idea for a loot/souls reward system then your using here and wanted your thoughts on this.
 
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Paul Liolio
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Any more experience with this yet? Haven't had a chance to try it myself.
 
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Jonneh
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I have tried out this variant. So far it is my favorite, but needs a little bit of tweaking. For the extra attack and movement, is this limited to a single time, or as many as you have stamina? We felt like it was really fluid and a lot of fun to have a bunch of extra attack and moves, and the tussel to avoid death was still there, but found this was quickly broken when a character had a weapon that restored stamina on attacks or provided bleed. The damage with bleed was absolutely unbalanced.

Thinking either the extra attack and move will be limited to once, or stamina restoring weapons should not be allowed to be pushed for more stamina. Maybe additional attack effects are ignored on second attacks?

Bleed probably should be limited to only be used by the next character, although it DOES fit the feel of bleed to apply and break it on the same turn, it can get out of hand when you can continuously apply it.

Another possible change could be making extra attacks and moves 3 stamina instead of two. I'll need to test further to get a feel.
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Paul Liolio
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Report back with your further impressions!

As for bleed and poison, with the ability to attack multiple times in one turn, it acts more like in the video games. You should have to hit more than just twice to get an effect. Possibly 3, 4, or 5 times depending on the enemy. I think each enemy should have a bleed resistance. So you'd have to hit hollows 3 times in a row to get a bleed effect (use chits or cubes to represent the number of successful hits), while the silver knights you might need to hit 5 times in a row to get the bleed effect. Let's say you only hit that knight 4 times in that turn. Like the video game, the effect continues to reduce if you're not currently getting hits in. How about each time that enemy activates, you remove 1 bleed token. Now the silver knight has 3 bleed tokens, so you need to hit him twice more on your next turn to trigger the bleed effect.

Maybe you could use a tiny red D6 for enemies susceptible to bleed. It starts at the highest bleed resistance as noted on their bleed sticker.. Silver knight is 5 in this example. Each time you hit with a bleed weapon, turn the dice over to the lower value. When the enemy activates, turn it back up 1. The bleed dice comes with the blood gem upgrade. For the sake of keeping things simple and not needing a bunch of extra dice, this might only work on one enemy at a time. If you turn you hit another enemy with bleed, the effect on the other enemy diminishes.

I think this would work pretty well. That said, it's a lot of stat tracking and extra consideration that may not be worth the hassle.
 
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Enemies having resistance to bleed doesn't really make sense, since most only have 1 hp.

I do like the suggested changes quite a bit, but I think the flexiblity gained might make characters way overpowered in later encounters. Once a character attacks with 2 blue dice or some equivalent, most 1 hp enemies die after a single attack. Being able to chain multiple attacks can let you clear half an encounter if you plan the enemy movement as well as your own.

Also, while I agree that fat rolling should be a thing, being able to add dodge dice after the fact makes it really easy to dodge most attacks. I think it would make more sense if you had to commit to adding a certain amount of dice before rolling any. Dodging and changing direction mid roll by spending stamina doesn't seem realistic. You expend extra stamina when initiating the dodge, by which you increase your chances.


On a sidenote: I have tinkered on my own variant to enchance the encounters. I feel we had the same idea in using stamina to pressure players into interesting decisions. While your variant puts the player in control of expending extra stamina, thus ginving them more freedom of choice, my variant puts the enemies in control of your stamina and thus making them more threatening. You can find my variant here if you're interested: https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1793369/stability

I really enjoy reading all these interesting takes on how to play the game. This game being what it is may be a letdown for many, but I'm having a blast trying to improve it as well as playing it
 
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Paul Liolio
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Oh yeah, good point, haha. Consider my bleed idea part of the Dark Souls REHAUL.
 
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Adam Daily

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So I did get a chance to play a couple more times with the modifications I suggested. I'm still happy with it for the most part, with a few exceptions.

I really like the suggestion of needing to commit stamina to add dice to a dodge roll before attempting. Agreed that the way I suggested probably makes dodging too easy.

Great point about bleed and attacks that gain stamina. I think a good mitigation to this could be that effects elicited by items or actions taken that do not provide damage to enemies via dice or move a model can only be applied once per turn.

As much as I like the concept of weapon scaling, I'm finding it doesn't really work all that well. I'd love to have players get small benefits based on their stat investments, but I think that warrants a lot of thought and playtesting to do it right.

If you guys are willing to give me a hand playtesting this and help discover what works and doesn't work for you, I'd be happy to make a PDF of the variant rules that would look just like a core rulebook page so people can include it and use as a reference in their own games. I made a mock rules page for a starting gifts variant a while back that I think ended up looking pretty decent (although the variant itself wasn't all that great).
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Adam Daily

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I was thinking a little more about how to do benefits for upgrading stats and came with with a kind of neat idea that I'm curious how people feel about.

Ability bars

The empty spaces to the left of the white cube in the leveling tracks hold spaces used for specific stat-based abilities that may be invoked on a N times per spark where N is the number of spaces available to the left of the white cube. For example, if you've upgraded to tier 3 for Strength, you may use the Strength ability three times per spark. Abilities may only be used on the player's turn who is using the ability. When a spark is used, remove all cubes from ability bars.

Strength
When you would spend a cube of stamina, you may use this ability to ignore that cost. Functionally this means you may place a stamina cube in the Strength ability bar instead.

Dexterity
Use this ability to add a black die to an attack or block.

Intelligence
Use this ability to add/remove the magic attribute to/from an attack or block.

Faith
Use this ability to roll a black die and heal up to that much damage from player characters in the party (the healing points may be split up in any manner, but the total amount of healing is the number reflected on the die).
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David Stanley
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Any thoughts on the treasure deck. Mainly my friends and I found it a pain never getting anything we could equip, without leveling two stats to tier 2 at least.

Also, the improvement on over stats, could be negating the negative -1 on an attack roll, also -1 on a stamina requirement to use a certain attack.
 
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Adam Daily

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Hey all,

I ended up putting this ruleset into a mock rulebook page that you can print out and use if you guys like the revised rules. Let me know what you think if you get a chance to playtest; happy to revise the revision

I'm probably obligated to clarify that I don't own any of the images I've used in the rulesheet. The rule page layout is owned by Steamforged and the image used in the bottom right is owned by Bandai Namco/From Software, and I'm not endorsed by or represent either party in any way and all that jazz.
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Jonneh
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SerManley wrote:
Any thoughts on the treasure deck. Mainly my friends and I found it a pain never getting anything we could equip, without leveling two stats to tier 2 at least.

Also, the improvement on over stats, could be negating the negative -1 on an attack roll, also -1 on a stamina requirement to use a certain attack.


We added a treasure deck varient to our play:

1 deck of card that are ONLY equipment (no upgrade materials) and the equipment only requires one to two upgrades to wear (so no stat above 18 I believe it was) and a second deck of everything else. Deck 1 costs 1 soul, and deck 2 costs 2 souls per card. Chests draw 1 card from deck two or 1 cards from deck one.


Chud_Munson wrote:
Hey all,

I ended up putting this ruleset into a mock rulebook page that you can print out and use if you guys like the revised rules. Let me know what you think if you get a chance to playtest; happy to revise the revision

I'm probably obligated to clarify that I don't own any of the images I've used in the rulesheet. The rule page layout is owned by Steamforged and the image used in the bottom right is owned by Bandai Namco/From Software, and I'm not endorsed by or represent either party in any way and all that jazz.

 


Looks really nice. I'm interesting in making some reference cards for the rules. Going to playtest the update with the one-time effects next play and see how it goes.
 
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Adam Daily

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Thanks Jonneh, glad you liked it. I added the one time abilities as an afterthought and ended up really enjoying it during playtesting. For the first time, I actually had to decide whether to pull treasure or upgrade with souls.

How has the treasure variant turned out? My concern with treasure variants is I'm worried playthroughs would start feeling samey. Has that not been a problem in your group?
 
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So far the treasure variant has worked out really well. By making the first deck essentially "starter equipment" it makes it easy to spec the team for their first upgrades and get everyone into the swing of things. Once you've kinda gotten everyone at least partially equipped, the party can then focus on trying to farm and get that higher end equipment and they're more geared to it.

I'd have to playtest a few more times to see if it causes that samey feel you're worried about, but ideally the first deck should provide some consistency for upgrades, but there are still a good amount of cards/variety to this initial upgrades deck and then its all very random as to what you're able to get from there. I'll have to plan another couple tests soon and get back to you on my next experiences.
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