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Subject: Alternative Sharp Teeth rss

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Veljko Dobrijevic
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Like I've said before Sharp Teeth is IMHO maybe the poorest of the promo trait cards - for a herbivore it's just like Intelligence but twice less effective, and for a carnivore it's sort of like Pack Hunting but at the cost of discarding a card (which compared to Intelligence is again poorer, as it solves only one problem where as I. solves many).



So I was thinking of changing the power to an alternative (well most of the promo trait powers were suggested by users anyway) power meant solely for carnivores (the promo traits are mostly meant for herbivores anyway and there seems to be a lack of new carnivore-oriented traits) - something like this :
"Carnivore: Your first successful attack in a round causes the target species to lose 2 population instead of 1."

What do you guys think about this idea ? It's thematic (suits the image on the card), it's interesting, and I think it's powerful but not too powerful (if it worked on all attacks in a round it would be overpowered !).
The thematic idea behind is this - a pack of bloodthirsty predators (like on the image) attack a herd of herbivores, and slaughter many animals in the frenzy, more than they need to eat. It happens in RL with wolves ! And when they attack later they're not so hungry and in a frenzy, so they don't kill more than they need.
Please give your opinion !

The flaw of this idea is that I can't change the text on the card, so I'd have to remember it, or print out my own...

P.S.
I might also add that any Scavenger species get 2 food tokens from this attack instead of 1 (excess carcasses lying around), which would lead to some interesting Sharp Teeth - Scavenger combos... But it also might make this card overpowered...
Would love if someone tried this out and reported back (I won't be able to for a while)...
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Pierre Beri
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I’m not sure it’s thematic with "sharp teeth", but you could come up with whatever name you want (I attempted something similar with Rampaging). Your version might be nice: first attack is a double attack with no extra cost.
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Dominic Crapuchettes
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The Carnivore power was created by a fan and voted upon by hundreds of people on Kickstarter as the best power out of several hundred submitted. Although there was controversy in the office, I knew the power was too weak and at the last minute added the second power for Non-Carnivores. I thought 2 food would have been be better but I didn't want to fight it out to get my point of view across and it wasn't worth putting my foot down for a promo item.

It went to print 5 minutes later and by the morning I regretting not making it 2 Food for Non-Carnivores. Oh well. That's the price of making Kickstarter goodies - there is no way to get paid for sufficient testing. And the price is double when you open up game development to fans who are not professionals.
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Veljko Dobrijevic
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beri2 wrote:
I’m not sure it’s thematic with "sharp teeth", but you could come up with whatever name you want (I attempted something similar with Rampaging).

Well sharp teeth have something to do with it, if you're going to be a bloodthirsty predator and massacre lots of prey you sure need sharp teeth and / or claws, just like the animal in the picture.
But I actually considered naming the new trait "Blood Frenzy" or "Killing Frenzy", which would also fit the image above very nicely. But I'm most likely not going to print out my own card, so I can't change the name on the card.


beri2 wrote:
Your version might be nice: first attack is a double attack with no extra cost.

It doesn't cost you anything or bring you any direct benefits, the point is in hurting your opponent slightly more (and only one opponent - the most dangerous one). Of course that would be a boon to carnivores, so I wouldn't introduce it without also introducing one or two powerful defensive traits (like Timid).
And with the Scavenger increase you get an opportunity for a nice two-species combo.


domcrap wrote:
The Carnivore power was created by a fan and voted upon by hundreds of people on Kickstarter as the best power out of several hundred submitted.

I meant no disrespect to either the author or the people who voted for it.
But I dislike it (and consider it too weak and too similar to existing cards), and like the idea I came up with a lot more (though many others are possible of course).
I wasn't trying to convince anyone else this way is better or force them to do it this way, just find out some opinions on the new power to see if it might be overpowered or not. Because to find out for certain will take at least 10-20 games, which will take me a LONG while...

This is probably the only one of all the official and promo cards I've so far been tempted to exclude or change, and that's saying something, because in many games I consider great I'd change several things if I could (to improve it according to my taste), so that shows that Evolution cards are mostly really well thought out...
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Veljko Dobrijevic
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Enkidu_of_Abydos wrote:
The thematic idea behind is this - a pack of bloodthirsty predators (like on the image) attack a herd of herbivores, and slaughter many animals in the frenzy, more than they need to eat. It happens in RL with wolves ! And when they attack later they're not so hungry and in a frenzy, so they don't kill more than they need.

I thought I'd mention something related to this - I just heard on the news that a pack of wolves attacked a herd of sheep relatively near here (in Lika, the mountainous part of Croatia) and killed 300 sheep at once !
Well that sure is a Killing Frenzy ! Completely thematically justifies my card idea...


beri2 wrote:
(I attempted something similar with Rampaging). Your version might be nice: first attack is a double attack with no extra cost.

I've read all through that thread, it's VERY interesting. It's fascinating that the variant Matt Parker created (Vicious) is very similar to my own idea (the only difference being with my version you don't have to pay an additional card for Intelligence, and the fact my version only works once per round), and they have tested it and seem to like it (plus it seems to not be overpowered, because to make a good predator later in the game you need the trait slot for self-defense, climate-adaptation, or simply Pack Hunting + Intelligence, so maybe this is just an early-game card).
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Dominic Crapuchettes
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We tested Blood Thirsty (or maybe it was Blood Rage) in about 10 games back in 2013 and 2014. A Carnivore with Blood Rage would reduce the Population of a species it attacked by 2 instead of 1. We didn't like it.

- It felt punitive to the receiving player and wasn't fun.
- It increased the amount of chaos in the game and thereby reduced the amount of skill.
- Games with Blood Rage turned more political which doesn't fit the theme.
- Blood Rage was another dead card in the set if you didn't have a Carnivore in play.
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Veljko Dobrijevic
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domcrap wrote:
We tested Blood Thirsty (or maybe it was Blood Rage)

Blood Lust would be a great name too...


domcrap wrote:
in about 10 games back in 2013 and 2014. A Carnivore with Blood Rage would reduce the Population of a species it attacked by 2 instead of 1. We didn't like it.

- It felt punitive to the receiving player and wasn't fun.
- It increased the amount of chaos in the game and thereby reduced the amount of skill.
- Games with Blood Rage turned more political which doesn't fit the theme.
- Blood Rage was another dead card in the set if you didn't have a Carnivore in play.

I completely concede point #4, but points #1 and #3 might depend on the type of player - many people I know love exactly this type of targeted, punitive attacks, especially as a tool of slowing down the leading player...
And why point #2 ? If you're putting this a trait on an animal, you want to use it to hurt a targeted opponent, not randomly kill of animal life. That should be the opposite of chaotic ?
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Dominic Crapuchettes
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We also thought that it might be used to reign in the leader, but what we found in practice is that almost never happened. It was a player doing poorly that was most often the recipient of the Blood Lust (and now that you say it I think that was the actual title of the card we tested).

I don’t think #3 depends upon the players. We tested Evolution extensively before releasing it. I’ve now played well over 1,000 games in the Evolution system. Every time we developed the game in a direction which made the game play more political, people felt like it was a mismatch of theme and mechanics.
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Pierre Beri
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IMO, having this trait perform two actual successive attacks (if the predator is not full after the first one) is fine. However, if you have paid cards for the first attack, you needn’t pay cards for the second.

It just allows you to feed faster.
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Brandon Jacobson
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domcrap wrote:
We also thought that it might be used to reign in the leader, but what we found in practice is that almost never happened. It was a player doing poorly that was most often the recipient of the Blood Lust (and now that you say it I think that was the actual title of the card we tested).


This was also our most common experience with the trait, unfortunately. Having one less trait slot to help your Carnivore bypass defenses made it difficult to consistently attack species of players which were doing well.
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Veljko Dobrijevic
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domcrap wrote:
We also thought that it might be used to reign in the leader, but what we found in practice is that almost never happened. It was a player doing poorly that was most often the recipient of the Blood Lust (and now that you say it I think that was the actual title of the card we tested).

That's too bad. I really like the thematic and mechanical idea of this trait, but it does seem like it wouldn't work as intended.
Because in the medium-to-late game a predator needs to have Carnivore + Pack Hunting + Intelligence to snack on well-defended herbivores (plus something to prevent damage from extreme climate if you're playing Climate), so obviously this trait would take take the place of one of those, making the predator unable to attack large, well defended herbivores, and therefor he would be inclined to attack less defended targets... Though that can happen anyway even without this trait (if the attacking player doesn't want to or can't spend cards on Intelligence)...


PersistentVariant wrote:
This was also our most common experience with the trait, unfortunately. Having one less trait slot to help your Carnivore bypass defenses made it difficult to consistently attack species of players which were doing well.

Exactly.
So would you say you found your version of the trait fun to play despite this, or detrimental in general and you've given it up ?
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Pierre Beri
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Enkidu_of_Abydos wrote:
in the medium-to-late game a predator needs to have Carnivore + Pack Hunting + Intelligence
There is no compulsory path.
In my many games on the app, I use Ambush and Intelligence way more often than Pack hunting.
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Brandon Jacobson
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Enkidu_of_Abydos wrote:

PersistentVariant wrote:
This was also our most common experience with the trait, unfortunately. Having one less trait slot to help your Carnivore bypass defenses made it difficult to consistently attack species of players which were doing well.

Exactly.
So would you say you found your version of the trait fun to play despite this, or detrimental in general and you've given it up ?


Honestly, the trait wasn't used much. Despite my excitement about a trait which enabled a new way to play Carnivores, even I was often passing on playing it. It just wasn't feasible most the time, due to the defenses of others or the scarcity of prey (the two being correlated).
When it was timely to play it, however, the trait was devastating. It mostly preyed upon small Population, little-to-no protection species (unfortunately, as it would work well against large Body Sizes). But even when played in this kind of timely manner, its usefulness was exceptionally short-lived — like the experience of a fox in a hen-house. The "fox" usually ended up starving to death after killing all the prey that it could.

So sure, it was fun for its novelty and because it was made in an effort to diversify Carnivore play, but ultimately there are fundamental issues with the version of the trait that I played with.

I'm not currently working on it or any other Carnivore traits because from what I've seen, Oceans' changes to Carnivores will open up a spectrum of viable play styles and trait combinations. As a result, any variant work I'll be doing on Carnivores will most likely resume once Oceans' framework for Carnivores is set in stone
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Brandon Jacobson
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PersistentVariant wrote:
from what I've seen, Oceans' changes to Carnivores will open up a spectrum of viable play styles and trait combinations.


So I totally spaced this before, but when Nick Bentley was interviewed on Oceans at PAX Unplugged, he said that his favorite card is Apex Predator (which is a reworked version of Blood Lust)! So this trait may not be too far from being on our card tables, after all!

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Veljko Dobrijevic
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Erm, I LOVE the illustration on the card, and like the power, but that looks like the OPPOSITE of Blood Lust, not it's successor ? Maybe you've misunderstood the card power ?
From what I can understand it gives the attacking carnivore +1 to it's population, whereas Blood Lust would decrease the population of the species being attacked by an additional -1.
The interesting thing is this power might lead to the same "fox in a hen house" problem like Blood Lust did - it might eat it's prey too well and then begin to starve. Because if you're increasing your Population each time you feed, you're going to get to Pop6 pretty quick, and then it will take a lot of attacks to feed you fully, so you will begin to kill off prey species, or they will make sure to protect themselves against you. So in the end you're doomed by your own success...
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Brandon Jacobson
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Enkidu_of_Abydos wrote:
that looks like the OPPOSITE of Blood Lust, not it's successor ? Maybe you've misunderstood the card power ?
From what I can understand it gives the attacking carnivore +1 to it's population, whereas Blood Lust would decrease the population of the species being attacked by an additional -1.

Ah. Sorry, I didn't give the trait context: Oceans' mechanism for feeding is different (currently. It's still in development, obviously).

Here's some background on the rules:

The play traits phase and the eating phase are squished together: first play 1 trait, then feed 1 species.

When a species feeds, it gains population equal to the Food it consumed, then loses that population when it scores that Food. This is indicated very simply on a species board: a Food token is the same thing as a Population token.

Mechanically, that means there are never unfed population: rather, a species gains or loses population at the same time that it takes or scores Food.

One more thing is that there is no Body Size in Oceans, so Planktivores and Predators alike just take 1 Food/Population when feeding — unless a trait says otherwise.

All that is to say that Apex Predator is the love baby of Fertile and Blood Lust. An Apex Predator literally takes 2 Population from its prey.
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Veljko Dobrijevic
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PersistentVariant wrote:
All that is to say that Apex Predator is the love baby of Fertile and Blood Lust. An Apex Predator literally takes 2 Population from its prey.

Ah, I see, so it decreases the population of the target species by 2, and gets 2 population (food) itself. So it really is the child of Fertile and Blood Lust...


PersistentVariant wrote:
Ah. Sorry, I didn't give the trait context: Oceans' mechanism for feeding is different (currently. It's still in development, obviously).

Here's some background on the rules:

The play traits phase and the eating phase are squished together: first play 1 trait, then feed 1 species.

When a species feeds, it gains population equal to the Food it consumed, then loses that population when it scores that Food. This is indicated very simply on a species board: a Food token is the same thing as a Population token.

Mechanically, that means there are never unfed population: rather, a species gains or loses population at the same time that it takes or scores Food.

One more thing is that there is no Body Size in Oceans, so Planktivores and Predators alike just take 1 Food/Population when feeding — unless a trait says otherwise.

So no Body Size and Population = eaten food. And playing traits is intermingled with feeding.
I'm not sure I like these changes, they're pretty difficult to wrap your mind around once you've gotten used to the way Evolution does things. I mean I knew Oceans would be a different game but I thought the most basic mechanisms would stay on.
And these changes seem to be simplifying the game, which was already more than simple enough for my taste (and I found it simple enough mechanically to teach to even beginner players, though the strategy is pretty complex).
Still, I would need to see the whole game to make a more informed conclusion, this is just speculation based on a sneak peek of the game...

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Enkidu_of_Abydos wrote:

I'm not sure I like these changes
...
Still, I would need to see the whole game to make a more informed conclusion, this is just speculation based on a sneak peek of the game

I feel you. There are some pretty big changes being experimented with, and it really caught me off guard at first. But I trust North Star Games I'm sure whatever they end up with will be a fulfilling and beautiful game.

Even if not every fan loves Oceans as much as, say, Climate, you have to admire North Star Games for putting their necks out there. I would much rather see a company fail spectacularly at trying something new than to see them painstakingly milk all the magic out of something which was once successful.
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Veljko Dobrijevic
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PersistentVariant wrote:
I would much rather see a company fail spectacularly at trying something new than to see them painstakingly milk all the magic out of something which was once successful.

Well said !
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Enkidu_of_Abydos wrote:
I found it simple enough mechanically to teach to even beginner players, though the strategy is pretty complex.


Dominic pretty much says exactly this about his intentions designing Evolution. Amongst other vibes that I get from him
- Never describe in two rules what you can describe in one.
- Don't include any mechanics unless they introduce something very important with it.
- Don't conflate complexity with depth.

Maybe I'm wrong, this is just my interpretation of the things that I've read that he's written. Come to think of it, it's actually just that timeless principle that we all learned playing Civ IV:

Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote:
A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.


And afaik, he's been fairly heavily invested in ensuring that Oceans can live up to the Evolution brand, and I doubt that he's leaving behind his philosophy as a designer even though he's not designing it. So added simplicity, but equally interesting and nuanced strategy would not surprise me.
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Dominic Crapuchettes
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moreON wrote:
Enkidu_of_Abydos wrote:
I found it simple enough mechanically to teach to even beginner players, though the strategy is pretty complex.


Dominic pretty much says exactly this about his intentions designing Evolution. Amongst other vibes that I get from him
- Never describe in two rules what you can describe in one.
- Don't include any mechanics unless they introduce something very important with it.
- Don't conflate complexity with depth.

Maybe I'm wrong, this is just my interpretation of the things that I've read that he's written. Come to think of it, it's actually just that timeless principle that we all learned playing Civ IV:

Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote:
A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.


And afaik, he's been fairly heavily invested in ensuring that Oceans can live up to the Evolution brand, and I doubt that he's leaving behind his philosophy as a designer even though he's not designing it. So added simplicity, but equally interesting and nuanced strategy would not surprise me.


You've got me pretty well figured out!
(Except the part about Civ IV. It was Civ II that took over my life.)

And yes, I've put a lot of energy into Oceans. I've played it around 50 times now and given it a fair amount of my game designer attention. It's gone through many changes and I really like where it's at now. We're still giving it some time to percolate which means it'll keep getting better. And that makes me very happy.
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