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The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31» Forums » General

Subject: Maybe some serious balance issues? rss

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Gary Laporte
France
Limeil-Brevannes
Val de Marne
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First, some info:

- Being a rabid fan of the Thing, I'm a big fan of games with traitor mechanics and played a lot of them (but not all of them). My favorite ones are Battlestar Galactica, Nosferatu and Don't Mess with Cthulhu.

- I'm part of a gaming club and we have both players who are beginners as well as very experienced players who immediately spot flaws in mechanics.

We had two games of The Thing for now, one with 5 players and one with 8 players. In both games, players had fun being immersed in the game and looking for who's the Thing but both games were heavily unbalanced.

- In the 5 player game, it ended in 20 minutes. We had a fire in a room and no player had a fire extinguisher. So the room was destroyed and there was one of the two Things from sector 1 in it. Next, the Thing-player sabotaged a mission making it automatically fail with the result from the infection tracker of destroying the room. There was the other Thing from sector 1 in it. Hence, an immediate defeat for the humans, before the game really had a chance to start (I think one player didn't have the opportunity to play).

In this 5 player game, it was tough getting the right equipment for the missions as well as having fire extinguisher for the fires. Maybe it was bad luck.

- It was very different in the 8 player game. The humans steamrolled the mission as they had so many cards that they just completed mission after mission without any problem.

1 player was suspected and was never chosen to go to any mission and was tied up when it was her turn. Turned out that she was human at the end, and did not have any opportunity to prove it to the rest of the players. It was very frustrating for her.

At the end, the humans won very easily and it turned out that there were only 2 Things, as both draw an imitation card during the assmilation phase, so there wasn't a third Thing. The Things also draw few sabotage cards and as such were not able to fail missions while humans, being 6 against 2 Things, kept adding right cards to pools and completing all the missions.

Fires were not an issue either as humans were so numerous that dispatching 1 to extinguish the fire wasn't a problem.

Power Outs are actually an advantage for the humans, allowing them to discard a pretty weak card (the torch only gives +1 die) in the hope of getting a better card.

Also, as you add the "6 players or more" cards to the mission decks, there are less chance to draw a smoke or power out event, so it is actually easier in 6+ player games to deal with the fire and power outage.

That's only two games so maybe we were very unlucky but both games were frustrating and quite unbalanced. And I have the feeling those balance issues are heavily linked to the number of players, maybe 6-7 players being the right number.

So, what do you guys think? And how do your games turn out according to the number of players?

PS: not giving up on the game anyway, I'll try and play it again with 6 players and we're also thinking about doing some variants that Thing-fans should really like if they feel like testing them out.
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Simon Elliott
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Post your variants! Our group will test!
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Gary Laporte
France
Limeil-Brevannes
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We still have some stuff to tweak but as soon as we think it's ok, we will.
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Bryan K
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I played with 5 and we lost in sector 2 without getting the needed item, nor beating the Thing once. It felt nearly impossible to win, since we often had to bring the full team on a mission.

I would not play with 5 players again.

I then played with 6 players and we made it all the way to sector 3 and just needed to beat the Thing a second time, but we drew a second flame thrower. We knew one Imitation and found the second with the first flame thrower. It was close, but still hard to stop the Imitations.
The hardest part is passing the missions even without an imitation... there isn't much strategy for the Humans for deciding which cards they will need for future missions. One mission you'll need powerful, +3 dice cards, another you will need petry dishes, +0, then you'll need Fire Extinguishers and Knifes. best bet, have a variety and worry less about cards you've used in past missions.
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Eddie
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Belmont
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Our first complete 6-p game was just right. It felt VERY close to impossible at the start, so I can understand what happened to you guys in the over-in-20m game. But we got past that, and the rest went all the way through, and humans lost due to an imitation on helicopter.

One thing, the game needs to be taken a bit lighter than BSG - shorter and thus perhaps a bit more prone to moments like described. Look forward to variants and tweaks though... to me BSG is incomplete without Daybreak (and ONLY daybreak).
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Gary Laporte
France
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Ok, interesting, and it seems that 6 players games work well, unlike 4-5 (and 8) player games.
 
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clay Willoughby
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We played with 8 players and felt the game was pretty well balanced, at least in our playthroughs. Obviously there is luck of the draw with the mission cards and with rolls of the dice but nothing that seemed too lopsided or that broke the game. There was a ton of discussion, laughing and finger pointing throughout the game.

In our last game we got to the third sector and found a flame thrower used it to test someone and found an imitation, when the second flame thrower was found we burned the discovered imitation, at my urging since I was just turned when we went to the final sector, I didn't want them testing me.

It came down to the Final Captain having to pick who boarded the chopper and I wasn't on the short list because one of the fully trusted humans was all over me, he knew I wasn't right. I did some fast talking and convinced the captain I was the man to take. I was the last to show my card and was the only imitation on board the chopper.

We had a great time with it. I will say in my opinion your game group really determines if these types of games are fun. If your group enjoys the hidden traitor mechanic and the theme of the game I think you'll really like this game with 6 or more. 4 and 5 player I feel takes a little tweaking of rules.

The couple of things we are looking at changing is when you send someone alone to go put out a fire they must draw a card from the blood sample deck and risk infection. We felt this would add to the tension of the game and it won't change anything as far as moving from one sector to the next.

For a 4 or 5 player we are looking at scaling the mission requirements by reducing the players needed and items needed so that you have the option of sending someone to put out fires. Too many times humans will lose because you are forced to take everyone in back to back missions and the outpost just burns down. at least in our 4 and 5 player run throughs.

We are going to test that out and see how it goes.

It's not a perfect game but really no game is. we enjoyed it a lot, when we got done everyone rated it from 7.5 to 9 and looks forward to playing again.
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Gary Laporte
France
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claycw wrote:

The couple of things we are looking at changing is when you send someone alone to go put out a fire they must draw a card from the blood sample deck and risk infection. We felt this would add to the tension of the game and it won't change anything as far as moving from one sector to the next.


Funny, we had similar ideas for our game variant! And thanks for the feedback, btw how many games did you play with your 8 player group?
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Paul Liolio
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claycw wrote:


The couple of things we are looking at changing is when you send someone alone to go put out a fire they must draw a card from the blood sample deck and risk infection. We felt this would add to the tension of the game and it won't change anything as far as moving from one sector to the next.


Ooh, that sounds cool. Thematic!

Looking forward to all the variants!
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Tom Swift
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Played for the first time last night, 8 of us. Felt like a close game, very tense particularly at the end.

Fire and power outages never seemed to be a problem, the only rooms that were destroyed were from the infection tracker. The infected were fairly subtle, for the most part the only sabotage cards that were played were the ones that immediately fail the mission.

We made it to the 3rd sector with the infection tracker about halfway up. We found the 2 flamethrowers which were used to test 2 people, with both flamethrower users claiming their target was infected.

By the time we came to escape in the helicopter the infection tracker had moved to the first square with no blood tests. We had effectively outed 2 of the infected (assuming you could trust the 2 people with the flamethrowers) and we had to pick 5 people from the remaining 6.

A lot of discussion followed, we considered the possibility that all 6 of us were human, although the odds of that happening are very low. In the end the Captain made his choice and it turned out to be wrong.

I need to get a few more games in, but my feeling is that it's easier for the infected to win but the game isn't massively unbalanced.
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Mark Chaplin
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Quote:
The couple of things we are looking at changing is when you send someone alone to go put out a fire they must draw a card from the blood sample deck and risk infection


At all player counts, or just 6-8?


 
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clay Willoughby
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Yugblad wrote:
Quote:
The couple of things we are looking at changing is when you send someone alone to go put out a fire they must draw a card from the blood sample deck and risk infection


At all player counts, or just 6-8?



were are going to add into all versions, if it doesn't work out for lower number groups probably leave it off.
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Bryan K
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Won my first victory as the humans last night with 8 players. The Imitations only failed 2 or 3 missions. Two things helped, the Imitations were newer players and there were only two of them due to some unlucky/lucky assimilation draw. We got a group of 4 or 5 of us that seemed Imitation free and passed many missions in a row. Turned out we were Imitation free.
 
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Gary Laporte
France
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I think the situation where an imitation card has not been distributed has to go. It seems like it's almost impossible for 2 Things to win against 6 human players. Our 2 Things were experienced players and they couldn't do anything to win. Granted they were also unlucky in drawing cards.

Are there reports of 8 player games with only 2 Things where the Things won?
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Dean Kay
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Jacksonville
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I just read the rules and it says that the players can discuss the cards they are playing, face down. no where does it say they have to say what card they are playing and even if they have to speak at all. So I am confused as to where this idea came from?
 
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Gary Laporte
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Well, the issue here Dean is this: let's say you play with 5 other players. One of them starts saying "Well to find the imitations easily, let's all say what are all our cards and always say what cards we are playing face down".

You'll agree that from the rule book, this is allowed.

The game then turns out in a very tedious affair with everyone always having to tell which cards they have and the Imitations being immediately discovered as soon as they do not play the card corresponding to what they said, or having to lie very precisely every time, as the smallest mistake will reveal them.

Now you could say "Ok, everybody can say what he/she wants, so even if 1 player wants to say all his cards, I'm not forced to do the same". The truth is that you're going to have to do it at some point because otherwise you'll look like you're not helping as the ones announcing all the cards they have and they play are.

In Battlestar Galactica, which is a direct inspiration for the game mechanics of The Thing, an official FAQ released soon after its release had cleared out that players could only say "I can help a little/a lot" (kinda simplifying it here) when playing a card face down to avoid this issue. I really don't understand why such a rule was not used for the Thing where it was obvious that, as it's inspired a lot from Battlestar Galactica, it would encounter the same problem.
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Damien
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LNAGary wrote:
Well, the issue here Dean is this: let's say you play with 5 other players. One of them starts saying "Well to find the imitations easily, let's all say what are all our cards and always say what cards we are playing face down".

You'll agree that from the rule book, this is allowed.

The game then turns out in a very tedious affair with everyone always having to tell which cards they have and the Imitations being immediately discovered as soon as they do not play the card corresponding to what they said, or having to lie very precisely every time, as the smallest mistake will reveal them.

Now you could say "Ok, everybody can say what he/she wants, so even if 1 player wants to say all his cards, I'm not forced to do the same". The truth is that you're going to have to do it at some point because otherwise you'll look like you're not helping as the ones announcing all the cards they have and they play are.

In Battlestar Galactica, which is a direct inspiration for the game mechanics of The Thing, an official FAQ released soon after its release had cleared out that players could only say "I can help a little/a lot" (kinda simplifying it here) when playing a card face down to avoid this issue. I really don't understand why such a rule was not used for the Thing where it was obvious that, as it's inspired a lot from Battlestar Galactica, it would encounter the same problem.


The first time a player does that is the last time I play a game like this with them. just played with Dean tonight and it was fun. The thing is you can still play even if you are outed, we had players saying that they were playing Specific cards and there was still a lot of tension.

 
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Bryan K
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We played two matches at 7 and 8 players. Both times the humans won, both times we had one less Imitation than expected because of the way the cards came out. Both times we had two extra blood tests at the end. Both times it came down to choosing between two people we were unsure about. 2 games at 5-6 players, Imitations won. Three games at 7-8 players humans won all. But those 7-8 were very close and could’ve fell the other way.
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