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Subject: Comments on the alpha rules rss

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Chris J Davis
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Was very glad to see at least an outline of what the rules are likely to be like before the KS ended. This is the first KS game I've ever backed (I normally avoid them like the plague), mostly due to the fact that I've been looking for the grail "XCOM-esque" board game for a long, long time and never found it.

So in the interests of helping to make this the best game it cam possibly be, here are my comments and feedback on the alpha rules. Maybe the designer will read them and take some of this into account while refining the game further. If it means anything, I'm also a regular playtester for one of the big player board game publishers, so I guess you could say I do this sort of thing "professionally". Or maybe I'm just a big XCOM fan. Or maybe I'm just a guy on the internet trying to be helpful. But whatever I am, just take these comments with the good intentions with which they are intended.

And of course, these comments are without seeing the actual game components or ever having played it, so obviously the people who have will know better!

The order I've listed these points in is just the order they appear in the rulebook and don't denote any order of priority (in fact, some of the more important feedback is more towards the end).

Always 6 heroes

Always having six heroes regardless of the number of players is a bit odd (though not unheard of), though I can see the wisdom of it for balancing reasons. However, it might make the game feel more like it's really just a 2-player game, but one side's responsibilities are shared between multiple players (why couldn't you do exactly the same with the alien player, for example?).

I'm certainly not saying that just scaling the difficulty of the scenarios with the number of heroes would be better (I actually think that clever combo-ing of different heroes' abilities should be an important factor in the game, and you can't have that without many heroes), but the avoidance of having the hero side be "played by committee" should be a consideration.

"In Use" slot

Just a relatively minor thing, but it's *very* thematically strange that you can't use a weapon and armour at the same time. Maybe each hero could have two slots? Or some kind of upgrade could allow for two slots?

Choosing alien units

The fact that the alien player can choose absolutely any units he wants could very easily lead players to decide on what their "go to" aliens are and just choose those every mission, which becomes boring and repetitive. It could also be that the aliens end up being not completely balanced in terms of their strength and cost, and so some aliens end up simply stronger than others and again become the "go to" choice.

I think this is an area where restricting a player's choices somewhat actually helps to open up more variety. Maybe each mission card (for both the human and alien cards) could list which alien figures are available to choose from and the maximum number of each the alien player is allowed to purchase? Or it could be a separate deck of cards, with entries corresponding to the different threat levels? Just something extra that might make the alien player choose different and interesting combinations of aliens each time.

No alien upgrades

From what I can see in the rules, although there are ways for the human player to develop and grow through the game, there's nothing similar for the alien player. This could make the alien player's role feel a little flat. Maybe the alien player could also have things that he can upgrade...? The alien cards could be double-sided with upgraded versions on the reverse side, or some alien figures could be "locked" at the start of the game and unlocked as the game goes on (this would also be more like XCOM where you encounter increasingly more difficult aliens as the game progresses). Or the alien could have their own base cards that endow them with different abilities. Or conquering different regions of the Earth could grant special abilities to the alien player (see my comments on the World Map).

Additionally (and probably much more of an issue), if there's no way for the alien player to upgrade as the campaign goes on, then the game will just keep getting easier and easier for the human player(s) over time. The initial missions will be the most difficult and the later missions will be the easiest. This is the opposite way around to what is usually desirable in campaign-based board games (or any games, really); the game should be easiest at the beginning and increase in difficulty as it progresses.

Overwatch

One of the most interesting and tactical aspects of the XCOM video game is missing: overwatch! It may be outside the scope of this game, but it may add some interesting tactical choices. Maybe it can be denoted with a token that allows a shot out-of-turn but with a small penalty to the attack?

Movement

I often find that allowing diagonal movement on a grid-based map often reduces the tactical options in a game rather than increasing them. For example, if you allow diagonal movement, then placing a figure in the path of another figure acts as no obstruction at all, as it can be avoided using the same number of movement points as if the blocking figure wasn't even there. A similar thing can be said for doors and other interesting terrain. For example, there are areas of the board that are considered "open" and cause a penalty to defence if a figure stands in them. But why would a figure ever stand in these areas if they can be avoided just as easily as walking through them?

Allowing only orthogonal movement causes players to consider whether it is worth spending the extra movement points to walk around an obstruction or alternatively have to deal with the obstruction itself. Though it's possible the "close combat" rules will mitigate this to a degree, for enemy figures at least.

Extraction

Having extraction take a player's entire turn seems a little extreme and potentially un-fun. Wouldn't this mean that a player has to reach the access point one turn, spend the next turn just moving to the space station, the following turn doing something on the space station, and the next turn coming back into the action? That's four turns out of the game.

Why not just have extraction as a normal action like any other? And using a space station ability an action like any other?

Combat

Combat seems a reasonably simple and straightforward roll-to-hit affair. My main concern (though it's only a small one) would be that it's *too* simple, but I would hope that the various combinations of special abilities will be what will make it tactically interesting. I can also see the wisdom in keeping it relatively simple so that the game remains fast-paced. However, a simple and fast-paced tactical combat side of the game might warrant a slightly meatier base management side to the game, otherwise the game as a whole might be a little *too* light! Though this is all without me playing it yet, of course.

Leaving combat

Not being able to make a defence roll when leaving combat almost seems far too penalising. Surely just one free (normal) melee attack is enough to discourage people? Again, haven't played, but that's my gut feeling based on the rules and average damage from the distributions on the dice.

Swapping items

Spending your whole action for a turn just to swap an item out of your backpack seems expensive, though again this is just a gut feeling. Maybe one free swap per turn, or some other lesser expenditure (1-2 movement points, for example)?

Junk

Would strongly recommend against including this kind of thing in a game. It effectively amounts to a wasted action - the modern board gaming equivalent of "miss a turn", which engenders bad feeling in players. If a player decides to dedicate resources (i.e, actions) to gaining an item instead of attacking an enemy then they should always gain something for that expenditure of resources. The value of it can vary, but it should never be "nothing".

Player roles

It almost seems as if the Rebels are better off than the players that have "real" roles (who get no tangible in-game bonus that I can see, with the possible exception of the Quartermaster). The "real" roles should also convey some kind of inherent in-game advantage to the players who hold those roles to even this discrepancy out. Maybe the Field Marshal can access and move around the space station more easily, the Quartermaster can distribute materials found on the battlefield to those that need them, etc...? Would also be good to just have six "real" roles so that the Rebel roles don't feel like runner-up prizes. Commander? Intelligence Officer? Scientist?

Choosing missions

This could be made a little more interesting simply by making it "draw 2, pick 1" (or even "draw 3, pick 1"). If the missions also contained some other kind of information apart from just an objective (for example, a special reward for winning, maximum number of alien figures allowed, map tiles used, and/or a part of the world it was associated with (see my comments on the World Map below), then it would become a more interesting part of the gameplay rather than just a random draw.

World Map

This is possibly the area that could gain the most from just a few small changes. Currently, the world map is just a fancy-looking VP track. The actual regions and topology don't matter at all; you could easily just have it as a track with 10 spaces and you place tokens on it to show how many missions have been won and lost and how many missions of the different colours are available.

It would be much more interesting if the topology of the map actually mattered. Maybe the alien player has a hand of mission cards (rather than just drawing them randomly) and each one corresponds to a specific region? So when the human players choose which mission to attempt, it determines what the alien player's objective is and/or rewards gained, etc? And/or maybe controlling all regions in one continent grants some bonus? Or each region has it's own special ability that goes to whichever side controls it? Combining these ideas would make the choice of where to attempt the next mission much more interesting beyond just the level of difficulty. The players would have to take many factors into account to best determine where to go next and the decision would be much more situational based on the game state rather than just "easy" and "hard".

Best strategy

It seems that the best strategy would be to always go for the green missions. Sure, the alien player will gain the initial two regions that you ignore, but after that the human player will continue to get stronger while always attempting the easiest missions. Am I missing something that would force the humans to go for higher difficulty missions? I don't think a higher reward is a real incentive; with the rules as they are, a higher reward at a higher risk does not really outweigh a slow and steady strategy. But (once again) I haven't played, so maybe I really am just basing this all on theory.

Possibly it would be better not to have a tiered mission system (i.e, no green-yellow-red system) but instead just increase the difficulty of the missions steadily as the game goes on (and as the humans grow in power). This also wouldn't be as much of an issue if the alien player also had a way to grow in power.

Expanded base management

This is probably more of a personal thing, and may just be outside the scope of the game, but I would love to see more added to the base management/between missions phase of the game. There have been two expansions announced that add to the tactical combat side of the game, but I would love to see one that adds things such as technology research, aerial combat on the world map, intelligence gathering, etc, to balance out the two different aspects of the game (which, after all, is what made XCOM so great).

Anyway, I think that's all the feedback I have based on the alpha rules as they are at the moment. I hope they are of some use (and that the designer even reads this)! Happy gaming!
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Kerry Saunders
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Choosing alien units

Archon has said this
Quote:
yes, there are some missions with restriction in type of alien models that can be selected by overmind.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1915792245/chronicle-x-...


Player roles

These were prob design to avoid the hero side to be "played by committee"
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Nimrod Breger
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Awesome thread, we should make this a main thread with suggestions.

I do have a question about damage.
I saw in the video that whenever a hero takes damage he loses part of their stats (turning that counter).

But what about aliens? How do you track their damage? I really hope its not one of those games that you just need to do enough damage in a single hit (to pass armor) and then the alien die in 1 shot.
If they do go with each alien has HP (as I hope), its better not be tracked on the board, putting a bunch of HP tokens next to each alien is annoying, it would be much better to track it off the board.
You can do this "Imperial Assault" style and just have each alien have a different number on their base and have token numbers off the board.
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Sebastian Elliker
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Just a short note:
1. I am bit concerned about the roll for defense. Obviously, it depends on the number of dice rolled, but this could feel like an unnecessary dice fest and, even more problematic, could be very swingy. In most systems I encountered that do this (i.e. attacker rolls damage and defender rolls shields), there have been very swingy and very unpredictable turn of events which really took away from the strategy/tactics.

2. I am wondering if the Overmind player has a resource system in terms of the activation of units. Is there something like Level 7's adrenaline mechanism or Conan's fatigue tokens?
 
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Nimrod Breger
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LovingAngel wrote:
Just a short note:
1. I am bit concerned about the roll for defense. Obviously, it depends on the number of dice rolled, but this could feel like an unnecessary dice fest and, even more problematic, could be very swingy. In most systems I encountered that do this (i.e. attacker rolls damage and defender rolls shields), there have been very swingy and very unpredictable turn of events which really took away from the strategy/tactics.


Seems like you haven't played XCOM the video game.
I believe they wanted to capture the same essence of the game, which means randomness as well.
In XCOM when you take a shot you have a percentage of success (just like with rolling dice).
So many times I had a shot with 90% chance of success only to see it fail, its just something you need to take into consideration when advancing forward and attacking.
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Sebastian Elliker
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Mogron272 wrote:
Seems like you haven't played XCOM the video game.
I believe they wanted to capture the same essence of the game, which means randomness as well.
In XCOM when you take a shot you have a percentage of success (just like with rolling dice).
So many times I had a shot with 90% chance of success only to see it fail, its just something you need to take into consideration when advancing forward and attacking.
Any other wild assumptions you want to make?
Firstly, I have played X-COM, but this does not matter.
Secondly, just because something works (well) in a computer game does not imply that it works well in a board game or that it has to included in the board game.
Thirdly, most combat systems that involve randomness have situations where a player has a high probability for success and still fails. If a system including randomness does not have these situations, most of us would probably ask why there is randomness in the first place if the outcome ain't random (very broadly speaking).
Fourthly, as a matter of fact, the problem with this kind of system is not so much having a high probability of success and then fail, but characters being designed to resist a lot of damage (i.e. high defense value) failing to do so.
 
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Konstantinos Koutsoumpas
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Is there a link to the alpha rules? I checked the KS and I couldn't find any. Did I miss it?
 
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Sebastian Elliker
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Narkon wrote:
Is there a link to the alpha rules? I checked the KS and I couldn't find any. Did I miss it?
I took the one from the other thread on here.
Here you go: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1LQpFmgfOJ24-MqOHm_NW4aoS...
 
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Nimrod Breger
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LovingAngel wrote:
Any other wild assumptions you want to make?
Firstly, I have played X-COM, but this does not matter.
Secondly, just because something works (well) in a computer game does not imply that it works well in a board game or that it has to included in the board game.
Thirdly, most combat systems that involve randomness have situations where a player has a high probability for success and still fails. If a system including randomness does not have these situations, most of us would probably ask why there is randomness in the first place if the outcome ain't random (very broadly speaking).
Fourthly, as a matter of fact, the problem with this kind of system is not so much having a high probability of success and then fail, but characters being designed to resist a lot of damage (i.e. high defense value) failing to do so.


Yes please, I assume you are from Switzerland! Joking aside, sorry for just assuming stuff

But I'll have to disagree with you, maybe its because I'm an "Ameritrash" type of guy when it comes to board games, part of the thrill is rolling those dice.

You can still balance randomness by providing gear that can manipulate dice roll and dice results.

 
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Iron Jack Tirey
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Mogron272 wrote:
LovingAngel wrote:
Any other wild assumptions you want to make?
Firstly, I have played X-COM, but this does not matter.
Secondly, just because something works (well) in a computer game does not imply that it works well in a board game or that it has to included in the board game.
Thirdly, most combat systems that involve randomness have situations where a player has a high probability for success and still fails. If a system including randomness does not have these situations, most of us would probably ask why there is randomness in the first place if the outcome ain't random (very broadly speaking).
Fourthly, as a matter of fact, the problem with this kind of system is not so much having a high probability of success and then fail, but characters being designed to resist a lot of damage (i.e. high defense value) failing to do so.


Yes please, I assume you are from Switzerland! Joking aside, sorry for just assuming stuff

But I'll have to disagree with you, maybe its because I'm an "Ameritrash" type of guy when it comes to board games, part of the thrill is rolling those dice.

You can still balance randomness by providing gear that can manipulate dice roll and dice results.



I agree, I think the randomness introduces tension, even when there is a high probability of success. The strategy comes in mitigating the risk as much as possible, which is what I enjoy about those games.
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Chris J Davis
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zombiestitches wrote:

Choosing alien units

Archon has said this
Quote:
yes, there are some missions with restriction in type of alien models that can be selected by overmind.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1915792245/chronicle-x-...


This is good to hear, though IMO opinion this should apply to the majority of missions, not just to "some". If it's only some, then you still just get the same problem of players always picking their "go to" aliens for most missions and only mix it up for those rare ones where there's restrictions.

IMO, at least 80% of the missions should have such restrictions, and at most 20% should be "special" by allowing a free choice.

Quote:

Player roles

These were prob design to avoid the hero side to be "played by committee"


Except that it doesn't really solve that problem. All it does is do what the rest of the game does in terms of splitting what would normally be done by one player among multiple players. They would still make the decisions "by committee" as it is a team game with no hidden info.

I'm not saying it's a massive problem, though. There are plenty of co-op games that are played by committee but are still enjoyable. But I think Shut Up & Sit Down put it well in their recent review of Gloomhaven that (paraphrasing) "in order for a cooperative game to work well, you have to give players the opportunity and incentive to not cooperate". Again, it may be outside the scope of this game, and would work perfectly fine as a full co-op, perfect information game, but it does make it easier for alpha gamers to take control. Many other games try to alleviate this problem by having either some form of hidden information between the players or by having differing objectives for players on the same team. But again, may be outside the scope of this game.
 
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Kerry Saunders
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Good point. I hope this game does create situations where a player can choose to benefit solely themselves over the rest of the team
 
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I agree most of the points with opening post and have shared some similar feedback on Kickstarter comments. Good point on alien upgrades. As an Overmind player, I also want to have interesting choices when developing my troops.

It's been a few days I previously glanced alpha rules, but I wonder if playing with 6 players and one hero needs to stay on sickbay, is the mission played with 5 heroes and what that player can do in the meantime? Is it possible to unlock more heroes to join team when playing? I hope so. It would be more interesting than to have all heroes in collection available on after choosing initial 6. Personally I do prefer when game is balanced around the idea each player controls just one hero. Minimum limit could be 4 if needed, though.

The gameplay seems very standard except the blips mechanics is new to me. My personal preference would be more complex, dynamic combat mechanics where it's not just MOVE + ACTION or ACTION. This is very similar to Dungeon Saga and Star Saga. For example, I like Imperial Assault where one can interrupt movement to take an action and then continue movement. Strain tokens also allows make an extra movement or have strain requirements to trigger special abilities. I do hope that abilities of weapons Chronicle X are interesting at least, not just more dice.

I would also like to see mid/end-story events. There are XXL monsters so these could be great story missions with a mini and main boss. It would be more interesting to have an ending mission to finish the game and not just end when 51% of planet is conquered by one side. If at this point heroes have done so, they would have a slight advantage in the final mission. If not, Overmind would have a slight advantage in a battle to decide the fate of Earth. This could be optional rule, though, if playing the game multiple times and not always wishing to repeat the same mission.
 
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Chris J Davis
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batanen wrote:


It's been a few days I previously glanced alpha rules, but I wonder if playing with 6 players and one hero needs to stay on sickbay, is the mission played with 5 heroes and what that player can do in the meantime?


My understanding is that the player doesn't stay on the medbay for the entire mission. It is just for the base management phase.

Quote:
Is it possible to unlock more heroes to join team when playing?


I too would like this. I think unlocking new heroes should be a potential reward for some of the missions.

Quote:
I hope so. It would be more interesting than to have all heroes in collection available on after choosing initial 6. Personally I do prefer when game is balanced around the idea each player controls just one hero. Minimum limit could be 4 if needed, though.

The gameplay seems very standard except the blips mechanics is new to me.


It certainly exists in other games. The original one I can think of is Space Crusade from over 20 years ago!

Quote:
My personal preference would be more complex, dynamic combat mechanics where it's not just MOVE + ACTION or ACTION. This is very similar to Dungeon Saga and Star Saga. For example, I like Imperial Assault where one can interrupt movement to take an action and then continue movement. Strain tokens also allows make an extra movement or have strain requirements to trigger special abilities. I do hope that abilities of weapons Chronicle X are interesting at least, not just more dice.


Agree that I would prefer more interesting combat mechanics, such as interlaced action/movement as you describe, overwatch, among other things.

Quote:
I would also like to see mid/end-story events. There are XXL monsters so these could be great story missions with a mini and main boss. It would be more interesting to have an ending mission to finish the game and not just end when 51% of planet is conquered by one side. If at this point heroes have done so, they would have a slight advantage in the final mission. If not, Overmind would have a slight advantage in a battle to decide the fate of Earth. This could be optional rule, though, if playing the game multiple times and not always wishing to repeat the same mission.


Agree that there should be a final showdown for the end of the game. The ending could feel quite anti-climactic otherwise!
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John Buitelaar
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Quote:
I'm not saying it's a massive problem, though.


I think the roles as stated at the moment are a problem.
Not in any gamegroup I have ever participated has one player been able to make such decesions on their own and a role does not change this.
They will ( should) still be a discussion and it will always end up as a group decission.

So not having any real power vs a real advantage in the game.

Yeah, I suggest refine it a lot or drop all together.


As for the rest of the rules, they look servicable.
Nothing really revolutionary, but this might be in the character design and abilities.

I'd love to hear more of that.
 
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I want to just talk about world map at the moment, since I think this adds a lot of potential and strategy to the game.

The conclusion reached that the heroes should sacrifice two territories and always attack green was exactly the conclusion I reached and posted in the kickstarter. It seems that the winner of the previous battle may get to pick the next, which seems like it might solve some of is, but it's just an illusion, because as soon as the heroes pick up 2 victories in a row, there will only ever be a single green location, no matter who is picking.

I think adding complexity to the world map is going to be a big key to how this game goes over. Making specific territories matter more would make a big difference here. Some of these are above, some might be new:
1) Special Battle Rules for battles fought in each territory.
-Unit Restrictions for aliens? (Only certain units? I'm interested to see how units will be selected in co-op mode anyway)
-Bonus or penalty for aliens? (Extra points or reduced points? Maybe extra points only usable on certain types?)
-Special Rules - When will light and breathing rules come into play? Who selects that? Is it purely based on drawing a mission?
2) Rewards/Penalties based on who wins territory
-Item Producing Territories - Reduce/Remove the 4/6/8 items found for winning missions (1/2 for defeat) and replace some of that with territories producing items. This would scale up the items received with their victories over time, not with what the last battle was.
-Aliens locking/unlocking unit types? (This is actually a concern area for me. We can't tie anything other than base game box aliens to the territories for aftermarket purposes. Best solution I can come up with is having a deck of available aliens, and have alien types added/removed from the deck based on mission results. (I'll go into further detail below separate from this post.)
-Permanent bonus/penalty for alien points. (Could be as simple as +/- 1 or 2 points, or a bonus of a category of alien.)
3) Instead of drawing missions and assigning them at the start of the battle, draw the missions and assign them when a green token is placed. That way players are looking between mission types instead of just the color of the mission. If this direction was taken, it would be possible to simply embed special rules and penalties/rewards into the missions. Missions have the potential to make the game much more complex. (I'll run some more ideas separate from this as well.)
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James W
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I concern I have with attack and defend rolls is how out of balance things can get. For example if a hero rolls 2 attack dice and a tough enemy can roll 3 or 4 Defense dice - battles become a slog. Mice and Mystics is like this and the combat wasn’t fun.

Sword and Sorcery had a good twist on his where defenders rolled 1 die per hit up to their max number of dice. Armor also removed hits. It helped things flow better.

I’d also like to see more gameplay videos before backing. The theme looks great but the game play also needs to be solid.

I’m a little worried about solo play with managing 6 characters and the enemy AI. However making it 6 vs 1 should solve the balance issues some other games have with variable player counts (I’m looking at you Folklore).
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Leif Stensson
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Regarding equipment and slots on the character boards:

Each character has an "IN USE" slot and a "BACKPACK" slot for equipment, which is kind of standard, except that there's only a single slot for each, and it would seem to make sense to be able to use both a weapon and an armour at the same time. OK, the characters seem to have a built-in weapon from the start, but without seeing the list of equipment that will be available in the game, it's hard to say whether that makes up for it or not.

But the rules make it more odd by saying you can have multiple items in the BACKPACK slot, even though it's just one square on the player board, so apparently you're expected to stack equipment tiles there, which seems a bit fiddly. I would have thought the point of having one square for it was to mark that only one item could be there; if there can be multiple stacked on the same square, it feels to me like it would make more sense to keep the backpack off the player board.

The rules also say backpack items don't give bonuses unless they are assigned to the Additional Gear slot. But where is this Additional Gear slot? It's not marked on the player boards, and the rules don't mention it anywhere else.

It looks like there's some room for improvement here. Maybe make room for the Additional Gear slot by removing the BACKPACK square on the player board, and instead put "BACKPACK" vertically down the right edge of the board, to indicate the player should line up the backpack items next to the board instead. Perhaps also put some graphic notches/brackets along the board edge to show where and how many backpack items can be placed.

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Thrawn 007
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They need to clean up the language (as in many areas) but the "additional gear slot" IS the "In Use" slot. Hopefully terminology is consistent after additional passes through the rules. I've certainly been guilty of switching terms in early drafts of stuff when I write anything, so I'm not going to get too upset about others doing the same.
 
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Leif Stensson
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Regarding language cleanups, they should also fix the confusion about damage and wounds. As it is now, the rules use the terminology that you "lose a wound" when you received damage, and when an alien "loses a wound" this is marked by adding a wound token, while a player "losing a wound" is marked by decrementing a health dial. (I think they had this confusion in AvP as well, but I'm not at home right now, so I have no easy way of checking...)

I wrote a comment at KS about it, but there hasn't been any response to it yet from Archon.

Another detail that worries me slightly is the blip tokens. These were used in AvP (although they were called "ping tokens" there) as well, and had pale monochrome pictures on them, making it really difficult to tell which token belonged to which mini, even for the Predator player who only had three minis to choose from. I mentioned this also on the KS forum, and got a reply from the rules guy (Glenn Allen) that his prototype used blip tokens with just text, and that he wasn't involved in the graphic design. That sounded a little like there isn't any communication between game design and graphic design after handing over rules and prototypes...
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Thrawn 007
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I wouldn't expect a response about specific rules changes that are needed. They know they need fixes. Hopefully they are noting everything down though so we get a clean set of rules in later editions.

I found far greater issues than terminology/language issues. We can at least interpret those. There are a couple loopholes in the mechanics, and a couple cases where rules are in the wrong sections or in the wrong order, which could actually affect how the rule is played.
 
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Leif Stensson
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Sure, there are various problems. My concern about the blip tokens was that the answer that did come hinted at some possible organizational issues in the project. If graphic design and game design aren't communicating regularly at this stage in the project, there could be all kinds of unnecessary mess-ups.
 
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Thrawn 007
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How about miniature design vs hero rules...Mudslide mini obviously has a machine gun (with a huge ammo magazine and exposed bullets) but his hero mechanics have changed it to a flamethrower. There are definitely things that need to get coordinated in the next 9 months, although my bet on that one is it will get handwaived as artistic license.
 
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Kerry Saunders
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I suggested in the comments that heroes/aliens can have melee, short range, and long range and his weapon could be both. His ability to increase the flame gun range only affect his short range attack. The weapon does have two barrels/nozzles.
Also they both appear perpendicular to each other.

Tho one thing that bothers me is Minerva's stance. Holding swords with your arms behind your waist doesn't seem that realistically comfortable nor a stance that you would take in mid combat. Maybe the swords are just really heavy and she's about move forward and drag them . .

I also wanna know what's the story with the 1947 Rosewell grey that has a tommy gun in a 80s theme setting.
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Thrawn 007
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When the original post here went up, I didn't feel I had enough grasp of the rules. Now I feel good about giving my thoughts on all the points from the OP.

Always 6 heroes
I recommend that always 6 heroes is kept. Balancing the number of aliens to the number of heroes "sounds like" a simple solution to scaling, but I don't think things are near that simple. Because of the variable missions, and the fact that the overmind side of things is a skirmish game while the hero side is a dungeon crawler, I think the scaling can add more issues and break things in the game. If you get a "kill em all" type mission for both sides, scaling should be straight forward. As soon as you start getting objective interaction type of missions, board coverage is a big factor, and scaling down the number of heroes and enemies can have a huge impact on how that kind of scenario balances out. I'd recommend keeping the 6 hero default, and relegating games with fewer heroes to special rules in a future campaign pack or other delivery model. Trying to balance for it in the main game, is asking for issues.

"In Use" Slot
I'm really mixed on this. On one hand, items can make a big difference on balance. On the other hand, I think expendables will quickly become a non-factor much of the time once people get really strong weapon and armor items. I'm wondering if the ability to equip multiple items could be an upgrade available to heroes in some fashion, even if it's only a second item. I think allowing everyone a weapon and armor doesn't help though, as the expendables would still get knocked out. We don't know the details yet, but it looks like heroes are already limited in item types, with all but one of the six core heroes having expendables as one of their two item types. I think if those limitations are built in, then upgrading to be able to have one of each of the two items equipped could be a good move.

Choosing Alien units
Sounds like some missions have limitations involved. So I see this one as at least partially addressed, and in a way that works for both one off skirmishes and in campaign play. I'm obviously pushing for even more complexity in campaign play, but my solution doesn't address skirmish play well. I have some more solutions in this area to propose/discuss as well involving classifying alien units into categories, but I'll save that for it's own post.

No Alien Upgrades
I'm actually against alien upgrades for a number of reasons.
1) I believe the army/skirmish building system already gives flexibility to the alien side. The core box only has 4 alien types, but there are currently 20 unique alien types introduced in the campaign. Mixing and matching those should give all the customization options needed, with stock infantry, support, specialist, and leader options. We don't know what those options do yet, which is why it's hard to picture this, but even with the 4 aliens we know, I can already build very different forces. Upgrades come from buying different aliens.
2) Adding upgrades in the mix makes coop/solo play even harder. The extra layer of complexity is an extra layer that either would have to be ignored, or will make army selection more difficult.
3) Customization is another barrier for new players. When new players pick up the overmind, they will already likely be somewhat overwealmed by all of the alien options. Adding upgrades into the mix means that picking up the game and playing the overmind has even more of a barrier to entry.
4) This should not be a min/max wargame. Building another layer of options around the aliens will encourage more min/maxing for the overmind, and I think that would actually hurt the game in terms of balancing it. Building overmind forces should not be a high skill cap item in the game.

Overwatch
I'm definitely on board with some kind of overwatch mechanic. I think it adds to tactical choices without adding too much complexity to the game.

Movement
I'm in agreement here, although I don't feel as strongly about this area.

Extraction
I'm probably in the minority here, but I don't like the extraction rules at all, and I think that they should just go away altogether. I do see how they can be used for some tactical advantages, and it is one of the more unique aspects of the game, but personally, I would prefer to see the space station completely kept to campaign mode, and the extraction rules require space stations in one-off skirmishes. Making extractions even easier could actually be a balance issue. Not only is interacting with some room on the space station potentially useful, this is a teleport from any yellow square to any other yellow square, and allowing that too easily seems like it could be too advantageous in taking objectives.

Combat
I agree this is pretty straight forward. You have melee, short, and long range attacks, so that is your first level of complexity. Then items/abilities come into play, and that is where you will get even more variations in how this plays out. I think there is some additional status conditions would benefit things, but I'm also ok if not all of those are in the orginal release of the game and are saved for expansions. We don't know most of the hero/alien abilities yet, so we don't know how much those will mix up combat options.

Leaving Combat
I think the "no defense" is pretty rough as well. What if there was at least a "withdraw cautiously" option, that uses your action, but lets you defend as you withdraw? Right now, what this rule does is make sneakers the best item I've seen in the game. My stance is, I think a free attack from each adjacent enemy is ok, but should allow defense.

Swapping Items
I'm mixed here. I can see free swaps being a balance issue, since you don't have a limit of items in pack either. If you have a big bag of stuff, and no cost for getting what you want in hand, I see problems. I think addressing "in use" slots is more important. (By the way, I think item swapping and use is a ripe area for character abilities as well.)

Junk
I'm fine with junk. It makes things like abilities to draw 2 items and choose 1, or to peek at items that you haven't found yet more useful.

Player Roles
I think player roles are a complication that doesn't really add to gameplay right now. Either roles need to be more meaningful (and probably more numerous) or they should just be dropped. I'm almost prefer to see them put into some kind of "promotion" system, where you can earn roles for benefits, but I haven't thought that through.

Choosing Missions
My entire focus of suggestions is around missions, putting player choice into it instead of pure randomness. I've posted enough on this topic in other threads.

World Map
I've also talks a ton about this one in mission revamps. So won't go into depth here except to say the strategic game of the world map and missions is the place where I see low hanging fruit to greatly improve the game.

Best Strategy
I posted on the KS comments about best strategy as my first thing after seeing the rules. It's definitely a problem under current rules, and is part of the driving force of revamping missions.

Expanded base managment
I think adding individual rooms automatically expands base management. We don't know what all the rooms do in the base set let alone what happens with expansion areas. Things like research may already be incorporated. Intelligence gathering is absolutely already part of the game (although I think it can be improved with the more complex mission structure.) Aerial combat is best left to a future expansion after the rest of the game is out. I think that is a major undertaking.
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