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Subject: Problem with Balance rss

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Adam Olejarczyk
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Hello, already played 3 times PnP version of Root on TTS. I have few issues with balance in this game. Sorry is this "issues" are bad written since English is not my native language.

1. If you have good/medicore Eyrie player game is kinda "Over from start". This is constant especialy when they draw GOD hand (2 birds). You can just pick recruit leader and zerg down cats army since nothing prevents you from doing that. If you dont draw well you still have a lot of options where put your cards and on your next turn just reform it. Basicly if cats are not keep pushing from start game is over in 2 turns.

2. Woodland Alliance i NEVER saw a game when this guys could even won. (not using Victory Cards) Their warriors on map don't exist at all and they are cannon fodder for Cats/Birds. Building Strongholds are the worst part of the game in my oppinion. They give you 0 benefits also you have to lost 3 supporters to place them. Also your have to control place to even put Stronghold (good luck with that). When you even place it its like... GOOD JOB now spend more cards to craft for 2 VP YAY. It's not like another faction will score 4 more points do just fight/move. Oh wait there is also conspiracies. You can do cool stuff with conspiracies yes but... they are costly. Like 5 supporters to have 6 VP is cool but then you count number of cards you have to spend to use it is just 1 card = 1 VP and you lock value slot on your player mat. (Value right?) This faction looks like puppy when dogs of war just constantly gets VP.

3. Vagabond is action heavy... if you pick builder you are basicly go around and do 1 action per turn. Oh right you can give cards for free BUT first you have to find income symbol on cards (there is 3 on entire deck of 50 cards). Oh but other players can craft them right? NO. You are dependent on 3 other dudes who try to craft for 1 vp or less stupid card using a lot of resources on board/hand. You just stuck with 1 torch or 2 if you are Roger and try to play. Also Aid is useless action and i dont know why you even wanna do that if you can just battle and have fun using your swords and get more points.

4. Last topic let's talk about Victory Condition Cards. I don't know who made them but dammit they are Sooo Bad. First let's talk about Chaos Victory Condition. Why you want punich someone who play well whole game. Like i will feel cheated if i played my perfect game and then oh guess what you lose. (But Hey Woodland Alliance can win this way BALANCE restored sarcasm) Other card is Coalition Victory. Who wanna play cards and cripple your VP, then play 2 vs 2 scenario. You cannot transfer any VP to other guy and you stuck rely on his drawn cards or plays. Next Econimic Victory such pointless objective since i don't see player rely on card draw could even manage to do it. You have to plan from start and just push Crafting to max. Since crafting is shity and you have to get specify buildings to even try this victory to work. (Still you need hope to find 1 card from 50) Let's talk about Military Victory, this card is great. Like you always be aware of this card and Cats must defend homeland, because of that 1 card.

In current state i will not recommend this game to play or you can play it but give green faction to a guy you don't like in group.
If you add "few" tweaks game could be good, like:

1. Just make Birds Roost VP little more constant. +2,+2,+3,+3,+4,+5,+6 at the end of round this will force them to place more building on board and take risk of Turmoil.

2. Woodland faction need a lot of changes. First give stronghold 1 or 2 warrior to defend when build. Train without using bird card but you must use specify card. Some cards also have to change intrugie cost.

3. Change one of ruins where you have Handsize to Income or Action. Also Aid should just give 1 warrior to Alliance on that location with hideout and for example give shroud/invisibility on this location for Vagabond till next turn, this gives Vaga chance to not take hits but also finnaly Aid Woodlands.

4. Victory Cards should be changed or optional. Maybe just separate scenarios.

Thx for reading this Essay if you dont agree with me thats fine. Just tell me where i'm wrong and we can exchange our opinions about game
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Richard Holman
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I've played two games with the birds wining the first and the cats the second.

I agree the alliance seem a little weak, you spend several turns building your power then you have one big turn and you're tapped out. In the current 4 player game the vagabond should almost exclusively help the alliance and grief the other two. The strongholds should do a little more like let you recruit without a bird card as you suggested.
 
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T.J.
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I think there are more balance tweaks to be done, so I'm not as worried about it at this stage. I can't say that I know where the balance stands because I believe that it's hard to make such conclusion with just a handful of games (which is my experience). My impression is that the alliance takes a lot of skill to play and can make a ton of VPs in one turn. That's a bit of problem even if it is balanced (though you are right that they seem weak) because it means that a new player will always lose with them unless they are told ahead of time what to do, which is no fun. So there's a design challenge here. How to maintain their thematic play (with secret conspiracies that can give you a ton of VP in one turn) while making them interesting for both experienced and new players. It's quite a difficult challenge, actually. I have some thoughts about it but I no easy solution. You have to tweak and test, and I'm sure Leder Games are on it.

The other interesting issue that you bring up is the way victory cards change the victory condition. Personally, I love coalition victory but I expect it'll be hugely controversial and perhaps some people will just take it out of the deck. I agree with you that some tweaks may be in order - currently, the player being allied with have no say in the alliance and also no reason to aid the allied player. So say the alliance decide to ally with the vagabond (as in our PBEM game, where I play the vagabond). Why should the vagabond even care if the alliance does well? Why should he aid them? well, perhaps it's good to help them because they have your best interest at heart and are working to get you to win. But maybe it's more trouble than it's worth, because I have to spend actions on aiding them when I can just spend actions to get the cats fight the birds. So... I'm not sure what has to change there, perhaps other balance changes will solve it, but I'm not sure it currently does what it should.

I don't have as much of a problem with the chaos victory, but I think it's not worded very clearly at the moment. I guess the point is that all other players need to close the gap from 33 to 40 in one turn. The idea is nice because it's not a good card to play when other players are over 33 (because they are likely to earn enough points to win the game) but if can plan beforehand, they might be able to hover over 32 and then leap for the win. The main problem I see with this card is that the birds really have no control over when and how many victory points to gain. They can turmoil voluntarily to avoid crossing 32 but then they're not likely to make a huge gain on the next turn. they can craft or not craft a bit but that's rarely much control. So I think the problem with this card is that it really screws the birds.

Interesting that you like the military victory. I agree it's a great card. Perhaps the other cards could be designed to make the other players worry - a card that the birds can't play which encourages other people to stop their expansion, or something.

 
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Federico Galeotti
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Perrytom wrote:
currently, the player being allied with have no say in the alliance and also no reason to aid the allied player. So say the alliance decide to ally with the vagabond (as in our PBEM game, where I play the vagabond). Why should the vagabond even care if the alliance does well? Why should he aid them? well, perhaps it's good to help them because they have your best interest at heart and are working to get you to win. But maybe it's more trouble than it's worth, because I have to spend actions on aiding them when I can just spend actions to get the cats fight the birds. So... I'm not sure what has to change there, perhaps other balance changes will solve it, but I'm not sure it currently does what it should.


Maybe I misunderstood something, but wouldn't the alternate victory condition completely remove your victory point marker from the board?

In that case, the vagabond is not trying to help the alliance, it is the alliance that pools all of its resources in trying to make the vagabond win. Effectively, both players are working to maximize the vagabond points.

Which I think it's brilliant, since you have to ally with the player which is furthest behind in points.
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Cole Wehrle
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I won't get into a lot of specifics here except to say the following:

The game is getting ready to entering a battery of balance tests. The PNP, certainly, has balance issues, but the interactivity of the game makes them less of a priority at the moment than other items relating to action economy and game flow.

Now, a word should be said here about balance in general. I have no intention of having each game be razor thin in its victory margin. From a design/development perspective, close scores are pretty easy to do. But they also lead to games don't have the dramatic arc that I'm looking for in Root.

By design, the conflict and noise of the deck/dice will usually produce a situation where 1-2 players at the table will be soundly out-of-contention in the early game. The special victory conditions exist precisely for these players. So, if the WA gets beat on early, they get to play spoiler. This is probably my favorite part of the game so far.
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Cole Wehrle
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Also, I should note that the Woodland Alliance is perhaps the most dominate faction at the moment.
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Adam Olejarczyk
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vetinari7878 wrote:

In that case, the vagabond is not trying to help the alliance, it is the alliance that pools all of its resources in trying to make the vagabond win. Effectively, both players are working to maximize the vagabond points.

Did you really consider Woodlands be higher than Vagabond when they draw Alliance? You cannot play Alliance on yourself if i get this "rule " correctly.
vetinari7878 wrote:

Which I think it's brilliant, since you have to ally with the player which is furthest behind in points.

Concept is Okish, but can you tell me how the hell alliance can help Vagabond to win game? Few Scenarios:
-Look you can AID ! Oh 1 VP,
-Look you can fight with armies ! Oh right my ally is non-unit faction,
-Look you can give me cards ! Oh right i cannot use 50% of them since cannot transfer VP since my VP from intrugie don't gives you anything. (despise fact that Vagabond income is bad)

Alliance DON'T WORK, also did you really play 1 faction to just play Special Win Condition Cards? Like where is a point of faction when they just wait to play 1 card and maybe win.
 
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Cole Wehrle
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rodrealm wrote:
...but can you tell me how the hell alliance can help Vagabond to win game?


You are missing the forest for the VPs. The Alliance can help their coalition member win by providing them space to win. Battles, tactical builds, and plenty of conspiracies can be a thorn in the side of a player. Special VP cards give players space to play recklessly.
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Jeff S
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Cole Wehrle wrote:
Also, I should note that the Woodland Alliance is perhaps the most dominate faction at the moment.

You'd know far better than me, but I could see that - the game I played Saturday I handicapped myself by limiting my conspiracies taking place in clearings matching the conspiracy slot (when the cards had no "local" limitation) and nearly won. I think I would have won by a good margin if I'd realized I had more options.
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Adam Olejarczyk
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Thank you Cole for answer. Good to hear that game will be more balanced in future Will looking forward to that. One small issue
Cole Wehrle wrote:
Also, I should note that the Woodland Alliance is perhaps the most dominate faction at the moment.

Not sure where this data come from. I guess you playtest it more than i do but i cannot see HOW.
You see every faction (even Vagabond) got progression. Cats have wood and sawmill to build more and more, Birds got they Decree (yes they can Turmoil and reset it but they still have VP generator), Vagabond is character who can fight every turn and just kill for VP, and Alliance have... intrugie. Some of them are big swing in game but after this big swing you just lost resource and you have to generate from start your followers. I don't even count how unlikly it is to have hideout with 1 protection for 3 turn becuase you have to stockpile followers.
Once again i only played few times and this is my first impression to entire game. Of course will give it a try few more times since i backed it.
 
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Cole Wehrle
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Think about action economy: the Cat gets 3 a turn. With bird cards let's assume that its 3.5.

The woodland alliance gets 3 to start and then, with an outrage that gets +1, they are getting 4 if they convert that card to a supporter. Considering how they can pool cards (finished conspiracies don't get discarded), they can shift their strategies without too much risk, waiting until they get a nice pivot point before making a jump. Their first stronghold pulls their actions to 5 per turn, a huge amount.
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rodrealm wrote:
Cole Wehrle wrote:
Also, I should note that the Woodland Alliance is perhaps the most dominate faction at the moment.

Not sure where this data come from.

Mine is only a single data point, but we played a 4-player game at BGGCon with the Alliance winning handily. In hindsight it was likely because, as first time players all, everyone was working their own agenda and noone interfered with the Alliance engine . . .

The Eyrie player did start well, but once he first stalled he had a hard time getting anything going again. My Cats were plugging along nicely but unable to catch the Alliance, though I did pass the Birds. And the Vagabond never seemed to get going at all.

Again, only a single data point. I always enjoy discussions of unbalanced games where different groups can't agree on which faction is the culprit. Looking forward to trying each faction once so I can offer my opinion!
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Chakroun Karim
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rodrealm wrote:
Hello, already played 3 times PnP version of Root on TTS. I have few issues with balance in this game. Sorry is this "issues" are bad written since English is not my native language.

1. If you have good/medicore Eyrie player game is kinda "Over from start". This is constant especialy when they draw GOD hand (2 birds). You can just pick recruit leader and zerg down cats army since nothing prevents you from doing that. If you dont draw well you still have a lot of options where put your cards and on your next turn just reform it. Basicly if cats are not keep pushing from start game is over in 2 turns.

2. Woodland Alliance i NEVER saw a game when this guys could even won. (not using Victory Cards) Their warriors on map don't exist at all and they are cannon fodder for Cats/Birds. Building Strongholds are the worst part of the game in my oppinion. They give you 0 benefits also you have to lost 3 supporters to place them. Also your have to control place to even put Stronghold (good luck with that). When you even place it its like... GOOD JOB now spend more cards to craft for 2 VP YAY. It's not like another faction will score 4 more points do just fight/move. Oh wait there is also conspiracies. You can do cool stuff with conspiracies yes but... they are costly. Like 5 supporters to have 6 VP is cool but then you count number of cards you have to spend to use it is just 1 card = 1 VP and you lock value slot on your player mat. (Value right?) This faction looks like puppy when dogs of war just constantly gets VP.

3. Vagabond is action heavy... if you pick builder you are basicly go around and do 1 action per turn. Oh right you can give cards for free BUT first you have to find income symbol on cards (there is 3 on entire deck of 50 cards). Oh but other players can craft them right? NO. You are dependent on 3 other dudes who try to craft for 1 vp or less stupid card using a lot of resources on board/hand. You just stuck with 1 torch or 2 if you are Roger and try to play. Also Aid is useless action and i dont know why you even wanna do that if you can just battle and have fun using your swords and get more points.

4. Last topic let's talk about Victory Condition Cards. I don't know who made them but dammit they are Sooo Bad. First let's talk about Chaos Victory Condition. Why you want punich someone who play well whole game. Like i will feel cheated if i played my perfect game and then oh guess what you lose. (But Hey Woodland Alliance can win this way BALANCE restored sarcasm) Other card is Coalition Victory. Who wanna play cards and cripple your VP, then play 2 vs 2 scenario. You cannot transfer any VP to other guy and you stuck rely on his drawn cards or plays. Next Econimic Victory such pointless objective since i don't see player rely on card draw could even manage to do it. You have to plan from start and just push Crafting to max. Since crafting is shity and you have to get specify buildings to even try this victory to work. (Still you need hope to find 1 card from 50) Let's talk about Military Victory, this card is great. Like you always be aware of this card and Cats must defend homeland, because of that 1 card.

In current state i will not recommend this game to play or you can play it but give green faction to a guy you don't like in group.
If you add "few" tweaks game could be good, like:

1. Just make Birds Roost VP little more constant. +2,+2,+3,+3,+4,+5,+6 at the end of round this will force them to place more building on board and take risk of Turmoil.

2. Woodland faction need a lot of changes. First give stronghold 1 or 2 warrior to defend when build. Train without using bird card but you must use specify card. Some cards also have to change intrugie cost.

3. Change one of ruins where you have Handsize to Income or Action. Also Aid should just give 1 warrior to Alliance on that location with hideout and for example give shroud/invisibility on this location for Vagabond till next turn, this gives Vaga chance to not take hits but also finnaly Aid Woodlands.

4. Victory Cards should be changed or optional. Maybe just separate scenarios.

Thx for reading this Essay if you dont agree with me thats fine. Just tell me where i'm wrong and we can exchange our opinions about game :)
 
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adam wilson

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The players must balance the game by preventing runaway leaders. If the weaker factions fail to collaborate early in the game the stronger factions will pull ahead. I don't think this is a sign of imbalance but a failure on the part of the players to employ good strategies. I do see a problem with the starting hands in 2 player games but 3-4 player games should self-balance during gameplay.

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I have only played one game, but as Woodland Alliance, I was sitting at 36 points at game's end with two conspiracies in hand and either would have won it for me had the Birds not gotten there first.

I wonder if you might have been playing wrong (or maybe I was?) because I cannot possibly see how the birds can rush anything. You are limited to doing the actions on the decree so your options are very limited for the first few turns.
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I've only played twice on TTS, but the first time I won handily as the Alliance. The second time I was behind ~15 points, but traded my score in for the military victory condition. I didn't quite make it, but just one more warrior and I would have. I see WA as significantly powerful than most initial players seem to. I like slow burn factions in games, so I'd guess I'm more used to playing them than most people.
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Adam Olejarczyk
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Expalphalog wrote:
I have only played one game, but as Woodland Alliance, I was sitting at 36 points at game's end with two conspiracies in hand and either would have won it for me had the Birds not gotten there first.
I wonder if you might have been playing wrong (or maybe I was?) because I cannot possibly see how the birds can rush anything. You are limited to doing the actions on the decree so your options are very limited for the first few turns.


Todays game got 30 points as Alliance, but played with new players and they go full pacifist on me and themself. Like we fight maybe ~10 times in entire game. Still don't see this powerfull Alliance in action like everyone saying. Maybe i just bad at playing them or maybe i'm out of luck. Also my castles and hideout were burned by mob few times.
adam wilson wrote:
The players must balance the game by preventing runaway leaders. If the weaker factions fail to collaborate early in the game the stronger factions will pull ahead. I don't think this is a sign of imbalance but a failure on the part of the players to employ good strategies. I do see a problem with the starting hands in 2 player games but 3-4 player games should self-balance during gameplay.

It hard to balance game by players since sometimes they JUST wanna do there stuff. Like said so if cats don't prevent influence from birds game is near over from get go. Alliance can't even help cats since they spawn 1 unit or 2 unit(if they are lucky with intrugie)
 
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adam wilson

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rodrealm wrote:
adam wilson wrote:
The players must balance the game by preventing runaway leaders. If the weaker factions fail to collaborate early in the game the stronger factions will pull ahead. I don't think this is a sign of imbalance but a failure on the part of the players to employ good strategies. I do see a problem with the starting hands in 2 player games but 3-4 player games should self-balance during gameplay.

It hard to balance game by players since sometimes they JUST wanna do there stuff. Like said so if cats don't prevent influence from birds game is near over from get go. Alliance can't even help cats since they spawn 1 unit or 2 unit(if they are lucky with intrugie)


You are agreeing with me? The game is designed to force the players to disrupt the other factions. You can't just hunker down and try to score the most points. Instead of focusing on producing an optimal points engine you have to keep an eye out for weakness's in the leading players and exploit them. If you don't like to play that way you won't like the game much.

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Can you walk me through the first two turns with Eyrie where they are dominant? Because, unless I am missing something, the absolute best that an unchecked player could accomplish on the first turn is either a)put everything on Move and Attack, split your force, and end up controlling three clearings but only having one Roost and smaller divided forces vulnerable to Ambushes, or b)spread your cards out, add a warrior, move, battle, and build a second Roost for the points but only rule two clearings which is the safe non-rush option. And with a low income, it is unlikely that you will be reforming more than one card on most turns.
 
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Cole Wehrle wrote:
Also, I should note that the Woodland Alliance is perhaps the most dominate faction at the moment.


Even if it's true that they are dominant - and I take your word for it - they may not be as easy to comprehend. Action economy is somewhat opaque for a couple of games (same as card advantage in games like Magic, it takes a little time to understand that's an advantage). Other commentators suggest that it may not be a problem and they were able to see what are their strategic options with the alliance but a crowd of PnP might be misleading in this way because they literally print their cards and know what they are. If I was an alliance player, playing for the first time, with a hand of cards with things like woodland trap, local recruitment, refugee, intimidate and terrorize cats - it's hard to see what kind of plan I could formulate, not knowing really what kind of VPs I can generate from my conspiracies. Again, I don't know if that's an issue but the point is not just the balance in terms of the actual possibilities of the faction - it's what players can see at different levels of experience of the game (which entails different knowledge of the decks, for example). And I think that the goal is not to balance it on a razor's edge, but to avoid a situation where first-second-third time players are frustrated because they don't feel like they even have a clue of a chance.
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vetinari7878 wrote:
Perrytom wrote:
currently, the player being allied with have no say in the alliance and also no reason to aid the allied player. So say the alliance decide to ally with the vagabond (as in our PBEM game, where I play the vagabond). Why should the vagabond even care if the alliance does well? Why should he aid them? well, perhaps it's good to help them because they have your best interest at heart and are working to get you to win. But maybe it's more trouble than it's worth, because I have to spend actions on aiding them when I can just spend actions to get the cats fight the birds. So... I'm not sure what has to change there, perhaps other balance changes will solve it, but I'm not sure it currently does what it should.


Maybe I misunderstood something, but wouldn't the alternate victory condition completely remove your victory point marker from the board?

In that case, the vagabond is not trying to help the alliance, it is the alliance that pools all of its resources in trying to make the vagabond win. Effectively, both players are working to maximize the vagabond points.

Which I think it's brilliant, since you have to ally with the player which is furthest behind in points.


Yes, my point is that in this case the vagabond player may find it off putting if someone 'hitches a ride' to their victory to claim their own, unless their gameplay is also affected and they can work somehow to incorporate their ally into their gameplay.
 
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Cole Wehrle wrote:
From a design/development perspective, close scores are pretty easy to do. But they also lead to games don't have the dramatic arc that I'm looking for in Root.

Balance doesn't mean close player scores. If the scores are always close regardless of the players, it means that the game doesn't have much skill. Asymmetric balance means that each faction has more or less an equal chance to win. Internal balance means varied gameplay and that every tool has its uses. I'm sorry if this sounded condescending. I just like to talk about game design.
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Cole Wehrle wrote:
Now, a word should be said here about balance in general. I have no intention of having each game be razor thin in its victory margin. From a design/development perspective, close scores are pretty easy to do. But they also lead to games don't have the dramatic arc that I'm looking for in Root.

By design, the conflict and noise of the deck/dice will usually produce a situation where 1-2 players at the table will be soundly out-of-contention in the early game. The special victory conditions exist precisely for these players. So, if the WA gets beat on early, they get to play spoiler. This is probably my favorite part of the game so far.


Your desire for a dramatic arc seems at odds with your contention. A dramatic arc involves tension, but tension in board games is usually derived by being unsure who will win a given fight/game. In any case, there is likely less to no tension in a game where a runaway leader takes place. Of course, the special victory conditions can reintroduce this, and I think that that is one of your most brilliant ideas (also one of the most brilliant ideas in DoaM-style games). Essentially, in regards to your supposition, I believe you're conflating "dramatic arc" with "huge point leads". With the former, a huge victory is not necessary and, as above, is likely counter-productive. Instead, a dramatic arc in a story as applied to board games might look like, "Early game, Player A is losing and Player B is winning. Due to a decisive battle mid-late game, Player A is on the path to a come-from-behind win. At the last moment, Player A comes just ahead."

Also, the following comment is perhaps more at home in another sub-forum, but I wonder if, during Root's development, you ever toyed with non-score-based victory conditions as the primary victory condition. Ever since Inis, I've been a massive fan of victory conditions that don't involve VPs/scores of any kind. There is the option, too, of having these non-VP victory conditions be different between the factions; although, that's clearly at odds with your desire to unite the factions under a common umbrella to mitigate the inherent challenges of asymmetric game teaching and playing. Yet, there remains the option of having the same non-VP victory condition or conditions across the factions, like in Inis. Just curious.

By the way, excited backer here; can't wait to play. Though I wouldn't mind if you had a change of heart regarding the default victory conditions being points-based whistle
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Cole Wehrle
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In Root a players strategy depends both on the faction they are playing and, critically, on the actions of the other players. The game has a huge dramatic space that the players can support. One problem common with some asymmetric designs is that there are really only one or two viable paths for each faction. Root is not like that.

The design of the game is built so that each player has around three core paths through which they might get to 40 points. However, this game is really, really interactive. Players can damage each others positions, dramatically. As a designer, I could have chosen to make it possible for players to only hurt each other marginally. Or, I could have made it so that the factions rubber band back more quickly. I didn't want to do either of these things because they can trivialize the interaction between the players.

Instead, understanding that a player or two might be taken out of contention in the early game is given an alternate path to victory. These conditions are built so that they cannot be counted on. They are desperate tools for desperate situations.

Believe me, this game is plenty tense.
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Taylor Sabbag
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Your response mostly makes sense, thanks.
 
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