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Subject: Making Automa Fun (No Spoilers) rss

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Joe H
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Hey guys,

We just finished game 6, and haven't had a great experience with Automa so far (5 humans, 1 automa ["Otto"] on Purple). We have some homebrew ideas, and wanted to get feedback on how you think this would change the dynamic.

First some context on our goals and frustrations:
* Goal: Develop Automa Charter. We included Otto because we hoped he'd develop some of the Purple charter's buildings now that we've moved into higher-value buildings on our own charters, but so far we've gotten pretty unlucky with his card draws; seems like we never happen to have a building on the market when he draws a build card. As a result, he's built only 1 building per game and hasn't opened a single crate. The gap between Purple and the human charters is only growing, making it unlikely we'll ever build inferior Purple-track buildings, and thus unlock the Purple content, which is of course the fun part!

* Frustration: Advancing track for doing nothing. Additionally, Otto takes more than he gives: because his Zeppelin card advances the progress track whether he builds or not, the additional 2 spaces provided by the 6th active charter evaporate without actually benefiting the game state. It just isn't FUN to have the clock advance and shorten our game when nothing comes of it.

* Frustration: No further dev on inactive charter. Finally, leaving him inactive isn't an option at this point if we want the Purple charter to continue advancing; we're stuck using Otto. So we HAVE to solve this one way or another. (EDIT: I promised no spoilers, but there's been some question as to why we aren't leaving this inactive, so here's the reason (early game spoilers):
Spoiler (click to reveal)
After an inactive charter has 6 buildings in it, you don't build on it during setup anymore. There's no mechanic for building over older buildings in inactive charters. Thus, the only way to continue developing is to use Automa.


OK, so with the WHY out of the way, here are my two suggested house rule tweaks to get Otto back on track:

* Advance the progress track on Otto's turn only if he actually does something. No more freebies for going to the Charterstone if there's no crate on the market to open, or for "building" when nothing actually gets added. (Still advance on the Grandstand card as normal, since that's the point of that card.) Other effects, such as VP, still happen as normal.

* Adjust Otto's priorities to actively develop his charter. If he has a worker available, before drawing a card, he first checks to see if there are any "Purple-track" buildings available on the market. If there are, he acts as if he had drawn a Zeppelin card and builds. Otherwise, he draws a card and behaves as normal. Same deal for Purple-track crates and the Charterstone card.(So he only prioritizes his own charter's buildings and crates; he can still build/open anything via the normal method... but our experience is that he just doesn't!)

Here's where I need feedback from you!

Rip this apart: How will this break our game? What tweaks would you make here to solve our issues and accomplish our goals for Otto?

Thanks so much for your help!

(post moved from General)
 
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Willie Callison
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Chicago
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In an individual game, the buildings on a charter don't really matter that much, do they? In a 5-player game, you shouldn't need to track the Automa on the campaign level either. I'd just treat the Automa charter as inactive in set-up (i.e., flip through the Advancement deck, find a building, then add it to the charter, every game). After that, treat it as a normal Automa?
 
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Ira Fay
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Maybe I'm wrong, but if you make it inactive, doesn't it start constructing buildings every game? I'm only on game 3, so maybe the rules change by then.
 
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Joe H
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Wacco wrote:
In an individual game, the buildings on a charter don't really matter that much, do they?


Correct, it doesn't matter which building is placed in his charter. The reason I called out Purple track buildings only is to make the homebrew a little more mild. I don't want to go so far as to say "Otto prioritizes EVERY building over anything else." We DO want him to develop the buildings that are now too weak to consider for us, and open those crates so that cooler buildings become available, however. So it seems like a win-win to have him grab Purple when it's available and just roll the dice on everything else.

Wacco wrote:
I'd just treat the Automa charter as inactive in set-up (i.e., flip through the Advancement deck, find a building, then add it to the charter, every game).


Here's the problem with leaving it inactive. I'll edit this into my post as well to clean up the confusion (early game spoilers)

Spoiler (click to reveal)
After an inactive charter has 6 buildings in it, you don't build on it during setup anymore. There's no mechanic for building over older buildings in inactive charters. Thus, the only way to continue developing is to use Automa.

Additionally, (game 5 spoiler)
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Inactive charters don't use sky islands,
so we lose that real estate as well.
 
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Joe H
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ira212 wrote:
Maybe I'm wrong, but if you make it inactive, doesn't it start constructing buildings every game? I'm only on game 3, so maybe the rules change by then.


You're not wrong, but that is insufficient at this point in the campaign. See spoiler in post edit if you want to know why.
 
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Josh Ward
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So here's an option that should help you out with both cases:

Whenever Otto opens a crate, give him the buildings. Set them on top of his persona card.

Whenever Otto builds, he builds from the cards he's holding first, then if there's nothing there, he goes to the mat. He keeps the constructed building card.

At the end of the game, make him discard all but one constructed building and one unconstructed building card (like a real player).

So: He will have a mostly constant supply of his own buildings to work through, but some will still end up in the deck for everyone else to grab if you want to. He'll also stay mostly focused on purple charter-centric buildings.

He'll also be MUCH more likely to build or unlock things when those Automa cards come out. If he doesn't, still move the track. The turns moving around are an important part of the Automa system, to make it a race to beat his point engine.

I used the "let Automas keep cards" during my 6-Automa game to pretty good effect. I'm happy with it as a house rule. It will probably result in you burning through his charter cards pretty quickly, but if you're already 6 games in, that's less of a concern. Try that, and let me know how it goes!
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Joe H
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kredal wrote:


Whenever Otto opens a crate, give him the buildings. Set them on top of his persona card.

Whenever Otto builds, he builds from the cards he's holding first, then if there's nothing there, he goes to the mat. He keeps the constructed building card.

At the end of the game, make him discard all but one constructed building and one unconstructed building card (like a real player).


Beautiful! I think this probably works better than my solution. For game 7, I will likely seed him with an early purple build or two. Thanks for the insight!
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Brian

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If you don't play with him the advancement track is shorter over all - is he really advancing it more then the amount between 5 and 6 players?
 
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