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Subject: some minor fixes rss

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Veljko Dobrijevic
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Before I bought this game I read several reviews which although generally positive mentioned some flaws in the game, some of which I've noticed personally and some others I've discovered...


For one thing, many of the reviews I've read claim the giantslayers are nothing but a minor nuissance to pester other players with. In practice (in the couple of games I've played so far) they have shown themselves to be unexpectedly formiddable, slaying a giant champion on several occasions, and generally doing damage decently. As long as they are used properly, at least 2 or preferably 3 at a time, preferably against a single giant or small army (so you don't get them killed and hand out free resource cards to your enemy), and if you can use their special powers (meaning at least some aren't wounded).

Also, the reviews claimed that a shower of lucky free points from public events was a problem (for those who don't like luck, like myself), as you only need to be in the right place and have the right rune.
In my games not having the runes you need turned out to be the bigger problem, especially because of racial events requiring a rune to advance your story ! Most races (4 out of 6 I think) need a green rune for their first racial quest, so the green runes are in HIGH demand in the early part of the game. Now some races (like the Fire Giants) can easily get around this simply by getting a certain unit to a certain place (and then the event is free), but the Storm Giants for example can't do this.
So in my last two games the Storm Giants completely failed to take off the ground because they couldn't get their hands on some green runes, and they ended up last in both games (I played them in one and ended up in last place, played the Fire Giants in the other and ended up in first place by doing all my racial quests plus a lot of slaughter and public quests).
In theory there's lots of ways to get your hands on a green rune, but in practice all of them can easily fail.
Using Plunder - the random shuffling can cause most of the green runes to be in the bottom half of the deck, and even if a couple of them show up the fact so many people need a green rune in the early game means you can easily get stuck.
Using Trade - you can take 1 resource card from the discard pile, but if there's no green rune card early on there that's impossible (happened both games so this was no salvation for the Storm Giants), and if you take the green rune from another player he'll likely immediately take it back again, and no one wants to give runes willingly (even those they don't need immediately).
Using Spells - I think there's one spell that allows you search the Resource deck and take one card of your choice, but that's just one spell in a large pile, so again the problem of chance.

So if your resource draws don't provide a green rune, and you can't steal it from anyone, and there's none in the discard, what to do !? Especially if you're a Storm Giant and can't get your second champion without it ?
I was thinking of adding this houserule as a fix for that problem :

When solving racial events only, you can use a rune of any color instead of the rune shown on the card.
(so you use a yellow rune if you don't have a green one)

or maybe this (a more expensive alternative) :

When solving racial events only, you can use two runes of any color instead of the rune shown on the card.
(so you use two red ones if you don't have a green one)

Please tell me what you think of this fix ?


Also, some of the reviews claim the game is too short, not in the sense of time it takes to finish the game, but in the sense you don't have enough time to finish what needs to be done (like finish your racial quest storyline). It seems to me that this indeed is the case. The default is 20 VP per player for the first phase + 5 VP per player for the final phase, and it looks like that's not enough time (not enough actions) for most of the players to finish their storyline.
So I'm thinking I might increase the point limit (except for games with first-timers, who are much slower than experienced players) to :

30 VP per player for the first phase + 10 VP per player for the final phase
(which would mean for 6 players all the OP tokens go in the first pile, then when those are spent you write down the scores and give some back to make up the second pile and the endgame reserve)

What do you think of this fix ?
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Matt Roberts
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Without actually trying it, I think the 2 runes of a different colour (e.g. 2 reds, or 2 green) would work well. This also cycles the runes back into the deck quicker. Any other rune removes the need for rune colours.

Like you, we found the Giantslayers decent - particularly if played at the end of your hand so you get a lot of action points for them. I think it's a good balance, cycle your hand quickly but miss out on using the GS well, or build more slowly to the point you can take out a couple of the oppositions champions.

30+10 feel like a big jump. I might try 25+5 (or 8) as a half point next time we play.


Have you tried adding extra units to the Hill and Stone Giants, as suggested by the designer in another thread?
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Veljko Dobrijevic
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cagedbee wrote:
Without actually trying it, I think the 2 runes of a different colour (e.g. 2 reds, or 2 green) would work well. This also cycles the runes back into the deck quicker. Any other rune removes the need for rune colours.

I actually meant two runes of any color, not neccessarily two of the same color, as having to find two runes of the same color wouldn't be of much help to those who are stuck without the right rune for their racial quests. And demanding 2 runes still makes it a pricier alternative. In fact I think I might try this houserule for all quests, not just racial ones, to decrease the "points from the sky" luck factor somewhat. If you don't have the right rune for the quest spend two, so there will be more people able to fulfill a certain random quest, meaning less luck and more competition.


cagedbee wrote:
Like you, we found the Giantslayers decent - particularly if played at the end of your hand so you get a lot of action points for them. I think it's a good balance, cycle your hand quickly but miss out on using the GS well, or build more slowly to the point you can take out a couple of the oppositions champions.

I found people almost always go for the long cycle instead of the short cycle, using most (though not all) of their order cards.
Because you almost always want to use your magic card and plunder card each cycle (to get spells and resources), if you're planning on fighting (and in this game you almost always are) you need your leader card (also good for other things), your magic card and your attack card, then you likely want to use your special command card each cycle for VP, and finally there's the rest command to get your cards back, heal one unit, and make a damaging attack on one of your opponents with the giantslayers.


cagedbee wrote:
30+10 feel like a big jump. I might try 25+5 (or 8) as a half point next time we play.

The thing is 10 point increments are easy to count out. I figured out that if I keep the 1/2/3/4 point tokens separated (I keep all the tokens in a plastic box with lots of small compartments with movable dividers) I just need to put 2 of each type (1+2+3+4=10) of token per player in the main pile (for the standard 20 points per player), which is simpler than counting out from 1 to 120...
So I could just do 3 of each type per player. The only problem is not enough tokens for the second pile if playing with 6 players.
In any case, if you try the game with an increased point limit, let me know how it went, did the players feel they finally had enough time to finish what they needed to do, or did the game drag on uncomofortably. Though of course since VPs are the timer, and they are gained in battle, it might depend on the style of the players, if the players are very agressive and fight with each other more, then the VPs go quickly and they have less time (actions) to do their quests.


cagedbee wrote:
Have you tried adding extra units to the Hill and Stone Giants, as suggested by the designer in another thread?

I have, but I haven't really played enough games to know for sure if that was neccessary in the first place.
The Hill Giants were never used (haven't played with 6 players yet), and the Stone Giants completely rocked (pun intended ) in one game, as the map was largely empty (2 out of 5 players had to leave early so we removed their units from the game and continued) and their "teleportation through the ground" ability in conjuction with their "ravage for VP" ability proved an amazing way to score VP (get to as many empty places as quickly as possible and then plant your Ravage tokens). Also, they're pretty tough defensively for not many points, so they don't seem underpowered to me.
And as for the Hill Giants, they may be the weakest, but they are cheap and disposable, and they get FAR MORE agressive power per recruit point than the Storm Giants for example (1 recruit point will get you 1+1 attack power if you have the queen out, that's a great ratio).
As long as you can get your hands on A LOT of food cards (which you need for your VP generating command card, as well as to power your otherwise weak recruit card) I think they would be pretty powerful.
If any race does seem problematic to me it's the Storm Giants, who are surrounded by the frost and hill giants (no other race starts with 2 other races so close by), and depend on finding a green rune to start their racial quest storyline (which failed to happen two times in a row).


Like I said I haven't played enough games yet to figure out all the flaws and find ways to fix them, but from the little I've played so far these seem to be the main problems for me :

1. PROBLEM OF NOT BEING ABLE TO DRAW/TRADE THE RIGHT RUNE - could be partially alleviated by the 2 for 1 rule proposed above

2. PROBLEM OF NOT ENOUGH TIME TO PERFORM THE STORYLINE QUESTS - not sure if there's enough time (available actions) to allow most of the people to finish their quests, this can be easily solved by increasing the point limit (if your players can handle the increased playing time)

3. PROBLEM OF LUCK IN COMBAT - this is an inherent problem of any game that uses randomly drawn cards or dice to resolve combat, sometimes you fail and get a disaster even though you prepared and planned carefully. Once I attacked an inferior NPC Hill Giant army with a stronger Storm Giant army (first champion + leader + elite unit) and failed miserably because of bad dice rolls. I had prepared carefully (used a Leader and Magic card before the Attack card, though I didn't have any Ore or Weaponry) but I rolled horribly (got only 8 hits and 3 blocks) while they rolled superbly (11 hits, just enough to kill my champion even with my blocks, and the hill giant queen soaked up all the damage without dying, and then someone else knocked her off on the next turn), so I got 0 points and lost a champion.
So you can prepare for battle and lessen the luck factor, but sometimes luck can still screw you over.
As for this problem I see no easy fix, no simple solution with a small rule tweak...
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Matt Roberts
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I think you're right about the runes, 2 of any kind would probably work better

Definitely trying your more points suggestion

I don't mind the randomness of combat, there wouldn't be any point in fighting if there was no randomness to it
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Andrew Parks
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Thanks for your feedback, Veljko! Just be careful about making sure everyone has enough time to complete their storylines. Some players reap more benefits from their storylines than others, so you may be giving them an unfair advantage.

Also, keep in mind that part of the game's strategy is deciding when and if you should go all the way to the end of your storyline, or if circumstances present alternate paths to victory. If every faction completes its storyline every game, this will start to seem monotonous and it won't be as exciting when someone accomplishes their story.

I do really like your 2 runes for any 1 rune variant, and I think it's a great way to help out players who are having trouble grabbing a particular rune.

Andrew
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Veljko Dobrijevic
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cagedbee wrote:
I think you're right about the runes, 2 of any kind would probably work better

Definitely trying your more points suggestion

I don't mind the randomness of combat, there wouldn't be any point in fighting if there was no randomness to it

I prefer wargames where there's no randomness in battle except for not knowing the exact state and intentions of your opponent.
For example in Game of Thrones there's absolutely no random element, but battles are still somewhat uncertain due to 2 things :
-your enemy chooses a general out of a small fixed (but recyclable) deck of cards for each battle, so unless you know all the generals by heart and are able to perfectly remember which ones he's used up so far, you can't be sure which generals he's got left and what they can do
-the other adjacent players may promise to support you in the battle, but when the time comes they may turn against against you and support your enemy instead
 
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Veljko Dobrijevic
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Andrew Parks wrote:
Thanks for your feedback, Veljko! Just be careful about making sure everyone has enough time to complete their storylines. Some players reap more benefits from their storylines than others, so you may be giving them an unfair advantage.

You're right, I hadn't thought of that !
Like I said I haven't played enough games to really determine the optimum point limit. The feeling of the game being too short may have only been due to the players being overly agressive...


Andrew Parks wrote:
Also, keep in mind that part of the game's strategy is deciding when and if you should go all the way to the end of your storyline, or if circumstances present alternate paths to victory. If every faction completes its storyline every game, this will start to seem monotonous and it won't be as exciting when someone accomplishes their story.

You got a point there, again. But I didn't really think EVERYONE should finish their storyline EVERY time, just most of the people most of the time.
It does keep it more interesting if you win by pure slaughter once and by going after quests another time...


Andrew Parks wrote:
I do really like your 2 runes for any 1 rune variant, and I think it's a great way to help out players who are having trouble grabbing a particular rune.

Thanks, I'm really glad. Maybe you can suggest it to other players so they can playtest it, and improve their gaming experience as well...
 
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Francesco Valvo
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Andrew Parks wrote:
I do really like your 2 runes for any 1 rune variant, and I think it's a great way to help out players who are having trouble grabbing a particular rune.


I have used this variant today (for the races' Special Events only, not for the Universal ones), and I definitely recommend it.
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Jason Gagnon

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Enkidu_of_Abydos wrote:
cagedbee wrote:
I think you're right about the runes, 2 of any kind would probably work better

Definitely trying your more points suggestion

I don't mind the randomness of combat, there wouldn't be any point in fighting if there was no randomness to it

I prefer wargames where there's no randomness in battle except for not knowing the exact state and intentions of your opponent.
For example in Game of Thrones there's absolutely no random element, but battles are still somewhat uncertain due to 2 things :
-your enemy chooses a general out of a small fixed (but recyclable) deck of cards for each battle, so unless you know all the generals by heart and are able to perfectly remember which ones he's used up so far, you can't be sure which generals he's got left and what they can do
-the other adjacent players may promise to support you in the battle, but when the time comes they may turn against against you and support your enemy instead


Have you tried Small World? No randomness in combat except one die roll in your last (optional) attack. And it's a great game to turn casual players into grognards!
 
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Jason Gagnon

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I just want to add a bump to the 'game's too short' comment. 2 games, 3-player, and only the Hill Giants have finished their storyline in either... or even came close. My Fire Giants were 1 turn away from getting enough forge counters, but I had to break off my quest because we hit the endgame before I could play my special action card. 2 of us played all the way through our action cards and the other player played all but 1. Then 4 rounds into the 2nd set of cards and we were done (36-30-20 was the final score). I'm going to try the higher OP limits in our next game.

I'm looking forward to getting more of my boys involved so we can test out the 5-6 player game. And we're definitely going to play the other 3 races in the near future.
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Veljko Dobrijevic
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Icarus91 wrote:
Have you tried Small World? No randomness in combat except one die roll in your last (optional) attack. And it's a great game to turn casual players into grognards!

I have, and I like it very much, or rather I WANT TO LIKE IT, but the 5-6 times I've played have surprisingly turned out mostly frustrating and not very fun.
I love the art, I love the setting and theme, and I like the mechanics - mostly.
But in practice for me the game turned out to be swingy and nearly impossible to create a strategy and follow through with it.
The 2 biggest flaws with it are I think :
-player order is very important and creates significant advantage
-some race/power combinations are very overpowered compared to others (like Skeletons with Diplomat or some other powers), so the person who chooses that can run away with the victory far ahead of the other players without much deep strategy
I'm still thinking about buying that game...


Icarus91 wrote:
I just want to add a bump to the 'game's too short' comment. 2 games, 3-player, and only the Hill Giants have finished their storyline in either... or even came close. My Fire Giants were 1 turn away from getting enough forge counters, but I had to break off my quest because we hit the endgame before I could play my special action card. 2 of us played all the way through our action cards and the other player played all but 1. Then 4 rounds into the 2nd set of cards and we were done (36-30-20 was the final score). I'm going to try the higher OP limits in our next game.

I'm looking forward to getting more of my boys involved so we can test out the 5-6 player game. And we're definitely going to play the other 3 races in the near future.

In one of my games I finished the Fire Giant story all the way and went on a rampage with my giant golem... Boy that was fun... Though no one would fight it because they were too scared of it, so I just rampaged through small folk regions laying down those slain dragon tokens...

Please report back how you fare with the higher OP limits, and with more players in more games...

P.S.
Wouldn't it be cool if you had a 20cm tall figurine of an iron golem to stomp around the map with ?
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