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Cthulhu Wars» Forums » Variants

Subject: Dead Hand - Alternate 2-Player Rules rss

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Thomas
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Cthulhu Wars was clearly built very well for 3+ players, but is not quite as smooth or balanced with only 2 Factions on the board (even with the standard 2-player rule changes). So, this alternate rule set is based loosely on the player-controlled enemy concept from Zombies!!! combined with the use of a Dead Hand (a.k.a. "Widow") in cards.

By putting a 3rd non-player Faction on the map that bounces between the 2 opponents' control, this accomplishes a few things:
1. Helps distribute broad-affecting abilities/spellbooks (e.g., Crawling Chaos' Thousand Forms).
2. Gives both players additional features to strategically manipulate against each other.
3. Reinstates the standard method of earning Doom (and winning the game), thus preserving some Factions' ability balances.
Manipulating the Dead Hand Faction against your enemy should be done wisely though, since both Players get a shot at it in turn.

I've run this through some solid playtesting with the 4 standard Factions so far (Great Cthulhu, Yellow Sign, Black Goat, and Crawling Chaos), with some neutrals in the mix. I'd be interested to hear any other playtesting results (or if I missed anything). It looks longer than it is, but it's just an effort to be thorough--my goal was to keep the mechanics as close to the standard rules as possible.

"Dead Hand" 2-Player Rules

SETUP
1. Use the 3-Player side of the game board Map.
2. Use the Ritual of Annihilation Track for 3 Players.
3. Use the Doom Track as normal.
4. Place the 36 Elder Sign Trophy Tokens in a bag as normal.
5. Both Players choose their Factions and setup in their starting Areas.
6. Both Players agree on an opponent Faction (“Dead Hand”) and set it up in its starting Area. If you are turds about it and cannot agree, then draw a remaining Faction Token out of a bag at random.
7. Place Doom Markers on the Doom Track only for the two human-controlled Factions (the Dead Hand will not use one).
8. Select a First Player between the two human-controlled Factions as normal (the Dead Hand can never be the First Player).

ACTION PHASE
1. The First Player takes their Action as normal.
2. The Dead Hand takes one action, but is controlled by the First Player (in any way they choose, according to normal rules).
3. The Second Player takes their Action as normal.
4. The Dead Hand takes a second Action, but is controlled by the Second Player (in any way they choose, according to normal rules).
5. For the rest of the game, each Player takes a single Action as normal, then takes 2 consecutive Actions for the Dead Hand.

GATHER POWER PHASE
1. Both Players earn Power according to normal rules.
2. The Dead Hand earns Power according to normal rules, then earns 1 additional Power for each Gate it Controls.
3. All Captured Cultists are returned to their owners’ Pools and Power is earned as normal.

DETERMINE FIRST PLAYER PHASE
• Determine the First Player as normal.
• The Dead Hand cannot be the First Player.

DOOM PHASE
1. Advance both Players’ Doom Markers on the Doom Track as normal.
2. The Dead Hand never gains Doom for any reason (it needs no Doom marker on the Doom Track).
3. Either Player may perform the Ritual of Annihilation as normal.
4. After each human Player’s turn to perform the Ritual, they may choose to have the Dead Hand perform the Ritual of Annihilation. Although the Dead Hand cannot gain Doom, either Player may perform the Ritual simply to increase its cost in the future. The Dead Hand may only perform the Ritual of Annihilation once in each Doom Phase (whoever is the First Player gets the first opportunity for the Dead Hand).

BATTLE
• Battle is resolved as normal. Players can Battle each other, or Battle another Player as the Dead Hand.
• Players cannot declare a Battle against themselves as the Dead Hand, but may declare Battle on the Dead Hand as their Action.
• The Player who declared Battle as the Dead Hand decides how to assign Kills and Pains to its Units Post-Battle.
• When a Player declares Battle on the Dead Hand, the Player not involved in the Battle decides how to assign Pains and Kills to the Dead Hand's Units Post-Battle.

ADDITIONAL RULES
The Dead Hand is treated as a Player in every way except as stated above and the following:
• Since the Dead Hand cannot gain Doom, ignore all instructions to gain Doom or Elder Signs.
• If any Spellbook, ability, etc. requires the distribution of numbers between Players (e.g., Crawling Chaos’ Thousand Forms), numbers are distributed evenly between the Dead Hand and the other Player. The other Player decides where to distribute any remainder.
• Any Spellbooks, abilities, etc. affecting the Dead Hand that require choices of Units (e.g., Cthulhu’s Devour) are decided by the Player who did not perform the Action.
• Any Spellbooks, abilities, etc. on the part of the Dead Hand that could affect Battle (e.g., Black Goat’s Necrophagy) can only be initiated or chosen by Player not involved in Battle.
• The Dead Hand cannot recruit Neutral Units.
• A Player cannot capture the Dead Hand’s Cultists, but it may Capture either Player’s Cultists as normal while controlling the Dead Hand.
• When the 2 Players are Battling each other, neither Player can activate a Spellbook, ability, etc. on behalf of the Dead Hand that would interfere with their Battle (e.g., Black Goat's Necrophagy).
• When a Faction or Unit's functionality is contingent upon the Dead Hand's Doom progress (e.g., Ithaqua's Combat), the Dead Hand is always treated as having a Doom of 15.
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Eden B
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A few questions that I didn't see explained in the above:

1. If both player's are involved in a battle and DH is Black Goat, does this mean Necrophagy is never activated (b/c there is no "Player not involved in Battle")?

2. Can conditions that require you to give Doom to another faction be assigned to DH, even though they won't track the Doom? Or can the condition only be satisfied by giving Doom to the other player?

3. Is this a correct understanding of how the Action Phase would work after the first round? Or are the two consecutive DH actions meant to immediately follow each other (i.e. two DH actions in a row)?
a) Player 1 takes action
b) Player 1 takes DH action
c) Player 2 takes action
d) Player 1 takes action
e) Player 1 takes DH action
f) Player 2 takes action
g) Player 2 takes DH action
etc...

4. If Player 1 declares Battle against DH, does Player 2 resolve the DH faction (i.e. decisions about whether to trigger optional pre/post-battle abilities, pain/kill decisions, etc)? If not, then how is that decided?

I think that's it for now. I have a friend that I've been playing 2-player (Omega Rules) with and we'd be interesting in play-testing this as it strikes me as much closer to traditional CW, which Omega Rules definitely is not.
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Thomas
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Great stuff...
ebrandeis wrote:
1. If both player's are involved in a battle and DH is Black Goat, does this mean Necrophagy is never activated (b/c there is no "Player not involved in Battle")?

Yes. In this case, Necrophagy by the DH would not be an option. The alternative would be to have the defending Player have the option to use it, but that could further corrupt the function of the DH as a de facto 3rd Player, causing any defending player to have access to an additional set of abilities that a human 3rd Player may not want to use in that scenario.

ebrandeis wrote:
2. Can conditions that require you to give Doom to another faction be assigned to DH, even though they won't track the Doom? Or can the condition only be satisfied by giving Doom to the other player?

I assume you mean something like the Yellow Sign's Spellbook requirement: "Select another player. That player gains three Doom points." In that case, you would have to select the other human Player, since the Dead Hand is not technically a "Player." I'll add a note clarifying this.

That also brings up an important detail though, which is something like Ithaqua's Combat, which "equals half the Doom total of your opponent." In that case, if you were Battling the Dead Hand as Ithaqua, I would tentatively say that the DH's Doom is always treated as 15 for such purposes (halfway between the start and the end). I'll run that through some testing though.

ebrandeis wrote:
3. Is this a correct understanding of how the Action Phase would work after the first round? Or are the two consecutive DH actions meant to immediately follow each other (i.e. two DH actions in a row)?
a) Player 1 takes action
b) Player 1 takes DH action
c) Player 2 takes action
d) Player 1 takes action
e) Player 1 takes DH action
f) Player 2 takes action
g) Player 2 takes DH action
etc...

I'll clarify (and maybe add a note above too).
Action 1: 1st Player takes 1 Action as self.
Action 2: 1st Player takes 1 Action as Dead Hand.
Action 3: 2nd Player takes 1 Action as self.
Action 4: 2nd Player takes 1 Action as Dead Hand.
Action 5: 1st Player takes 1 Action as self.
Action 6: 1st Player takes 2 Actions as Dead Hand.
Action 7: 2nd Player takes 1 Action as self.
Action 8: 2nd Player takes 2 Actions as Dead Hand.
From then on, repeat the pattern of each human taking 1 Action yourself, then 2 as the DH for the rest of the game.

This is also why the DH earns extra Power, since it tends to run dry quicker getting extra Actions and being pulled in different directions.

ebrandeis wrote:
4. If Player 1 declares Battle against DH, does Player 2 resolve the DH faction (i.e. decisions about whether to trigger optional pre/post-battle abilities, pain/kill decisions, etc)? If not, then how is that decided?

Yes. The Player not involved in the Battle, or who did not initiate the Battle, will make decisions for the DH. That basic rule should apply pretty much across the board in concept, at least so far in my own testing.

ebrandeis wrote:
I think that's it for now. I have a friend that I've been playing 2-player (Omega Rules) with and we'd be interesting in play-testing this as it strikes me as much closer to traditional CW, which Omega Rules definitely is not.

Great. Let me know if you come up with any caveats I might have missed. So far, it seems to retain Faction dynamics better than the standard 2-player rules.
 
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Eden B
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Great, thank you and generally what I suspected the answers would be.

Regarding taking two turns in a row as DH, what is the rationale for that? It seems like it might allow for some crazy powerful combos as the game progresses. Or maybe that's the point - better pay attention to keeping the DH in check or the other player could really twist the knife using it?
 
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Thomas
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ebrandeis wrote:
Regarding taking two turns in a row as DH, what is the rationale for that? It seems like it might allow for some crazy powerful combos as the game progresses. Or maybe that's the point - better pay attention to keeping the DH in check or the other player could really twist the knife using it?

It's kind of all of the above.
You only get 1 Action with the DH initially to keep it from being used too quickly while both Players Gate up and prepare.
You get 2 Actions with the DH thereafter to (A) keep each other on the lookout for the DH moving in, but most importantly, (B) to prevent a constant bind-up of one Player moving the Dead Hand into Battle position on one Action, then the other Player just moving them away on the next.
With 2 consecutive Actions, the Dead Hand can always move into position and then declare Battle on the same "turn."

The "worst" thing I've seen happen is the Dead Hand getting crippled sooner than the 2 Players after getting used up, so to speak. But, it's still not a bad thing, because it hangs around long enough to provide enough counter balance for the 2 Players' Factions to operate as they should against each other.
 
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Eden B
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Ah, yeah, avoiding the "undo" button seems key. That all makes sense, thank you.
 
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