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Subject: Spam critical mass rss

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Anna Bug
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I played a 2 player and 3 player game of the new edition, and both went quite well.

Then brought it out for the family to play with 5 players. Someone got Rear-Firing Laser AND Double Barrelled Laser. Someone else had the Virus Module. A few people rebooted on the same turn, then someone near the back pushed everyone into the pit in line with reboot, ended up with multiple people rebooting in a line on multiple turns.

Before you know it, we ran out of spam and (as per the rules) started handing out Viruses, Worms and Trojan Horses as replacements for spam. Everyone was programming spam each turn, but because we were turning up viruses and trojans from the top of our deck, the damage cards were still getting handed back out as fast as they were being handed in. After several turns of this we considered the game had got to an unplayable state and stopped playing.

One of the big issues we had was we had to think really hard about priority on giving out cards when there weren't enough. This came up most often when someone turned up a virus, needed to hand out 3 spam cards, but there were only 2 damage cards in the pile. Who do they hand them to first? First in priority from the antennae? Closest to the robot doing the shooting (as though that robot is a priority antennae itself)? Shooting player's choice? Ugh. It was far too much thinking and slowed the game down tremendously.

Direct changes to damage that might help:
- Remove this rule: "Note that if a damage card draw pile ever runs out, any player who would have drawn that type of card must
choose a damage card of another type."
- Remove the Virus Module and/or Trojan Needler upgrade cards, treat virus and trojan cards as more spam (solves problems of virus-giving priority too).

Indirect changes:
- Only allow one weapon upgrade card per player, so you don't have players giving out 2 spam in both directions every phase. Actually that player also obtained the Rail Gun, but we were running out of damage too fast for the rail gun effect to be used. D:
- Use the old version's flag archive system, so fewer players will be respawning at the same point = fewer turns when everyone shoots/pushes everyone else.



What are people's thoughts on these?
 
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Ben Kyo
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I think the rule about replacing cards should only go from not spam to spam, and never the other way around. Printing more spam cards might help.

I'm going to make virtual robot tokens too, because the respawn traffic jams can get too messy.
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Mike M
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The real problem is that the game doesn't come with nearly enough Spam cards. I believe Richard Garfield even mentioned that on a thread somewhere here on BGG. I don't know of an elegant solution, though Of the options you listed, I like the former ones better than the latter ones (i.e. I'd prefer to just treat all damage as Spam damage, rather than restrict upgrades and change the reboot system).
 
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M. B. Downey
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This should be in the variants forum.
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Kirk Roberts
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An elegant solution is to use the advanced variant in the rule book: players do not discard unprogrammed cards, they simply draw up their hands (drawing 5 to replace the cards they programmed). With this approach you will never come close to running out of spam cards because people will be forced to play them rather than have them cycle through their hand over and over.

As for the reboot spots, just make sure they aren’t running people into pits or conveyor belts or similar. I had issues with a few of the included map layouts in this regard and decided to make my own courses instead.
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Ben Kyo
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kirkroberts wrote:
An elegant solution is to use the advanced variant in the rule book: players do not discard unprogrammed cards, they simply draw up their hands (drawing 5 to replace the cards they programmed). With this approach you will never come close to running out of spam cards because people will be forced to play them rather than have them cycle through their hand over and over.

Oh, I forgot about this, I assumed this was a given. Why it got split into an "advanced" variant is a mystery to me.
 
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Mike M
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Yes, it is very possible to run out of spam cards even using the "advanced" variant.
 
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Kirk Roberts
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Backlash27 wrote:
Yes, it is very possible to run out of spam cards even using the "advanced" variant.

Sure, I was a little cavalier with my “never come close to running out”. It’s possible, but somewhat unlikely.
If you want to mitigate further against that possibility you can house rule that people retain damage cards but discard unprogrammed non-damage cards. This keeps the deck flow higher and gets damage cards in hand faster.
And it starts to get close to feeling like the old damage chits that made you draw less cards. Fun!
 
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Anna Bug
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Backlash27 wrote:
The real problem is that the game doesn't come with nearly enough Spam cards. I believe Richard Garfield even mentioned that on a thread somewhere here on BGG. I don't know of an elegant solution, though Of the options you listed, I like the former ones better than the latter ones (i.e. I'd prefer to just treat all damage as Spam damage, rather than restrict upgrades and change the reboot system).


Oh wow. Yeah found that post https://boardgamegeek.com/article/24546425#24546425
"I would think there would be at least 60 for 6 players and I would have gone to 120. In fact thinking about how many you need I would probably consider some sort of rule allowing players to consolidate damage to higher denominations if it was an issue in playtest."

Not sure how higher demonimations could work.

But yeah, 38 < 60 D:

Thanks, I'll try the advanced variant next time of not discarding unprogrammed cards.

I've used card sleeves for the decks, I might try throwing in a pack of empty sleeves to use as extra spam cards. We'll be able to see them when shuffling, but it might still be playable.
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Anna Bug
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downeymb wrote:
This should be in the variants forum.
I disagree. I am not looking at different ways to play the game for variety.

I am looking at how to make the base game actually playable. It seems Avalon Hill made an error in printing a third as many spam cards as they should have.

Can this please be moved back to the Rules forum?
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Ben Kyo
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A lot of people believe their variants "fix" a published game.

In this specific case, I believe you are right, in that the game requires fixing to work properly. At a bare minimum, the game requires:

More Spam cards.
Using maps other than some of those provided in the rules, or finding alternative fixes to the problem of infinite death loops on respawn.

After that you get into variant territory, and I think the game is much better as Garfield designed it (private markets, 2 starting energy, 2 energy to get a new card into your private market, using the "advanced" damage variant in the rulebook) along with a reversion to using the "virtual" robots for respawning, as in the previous edition.

But anyway, the variants forum is a good fit for all of this, while the rules forum is not.
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Anna Bug
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Benkyo wrote:
A lot of people believe their variants "fix" a published game.

In this specific case, I believe you are right, in that the game requires fixing to work properly. At a bare minimum, the game requires:

More Spam cards.
Using maps other than some of those provided in the rules, or finding alternative fixes to the problem of infinite death loops on respawn.

After that you get into variant territory, and I think the game is much better as Garfield designed it (private markets, 2 starting energy, 2 energy to get a new card into your private market, using the "advanced" damage variant in the rulebook) along with a reversion to using the "virtual" robots for respawning, as in the previous edition.

But anyway, the variants forum is a good fit for all of this, while the rules forum is not.


Fair enough.

Was the advanced damage variant part of Garfield's original rules?

How did the Virtual Robots work? I've only played the 2005 edition previously.
 
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Ben Kyo
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spacebug wrote:
Was the advanced damage variant part of Garfield's original rules?

How did the Virtual Robots work? I've only played the 2005 edition previously.

I believe so, I don't remember.

Virtual robots were used at the start of the game, and whenever 2 or more robots respawn at the same time, or at the same place a robot is already present. There was no start board, everyone started on the first flag. The virtual robots functioned just like normal robots, except they ignore other robots. At the end of any round in which you no longer share a space with another robot, you replaced the token with your model.

Downside: robots that were lucky enough to stay virtual for an extra round did better.

Upsides: fair starts, no problems with respawn queues, more flexibility in track design.
 
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Kirk Roberts
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For what it’s worth, the only time I’ve experienced the “unplayable state” the OP has referenced is when using some of the Short courses from the manual. Once you start to recognize potential reboot loops they can be corrected by simply moving/reorienting the reboot token. And also not placing flags near the edge of the board or next to pits or conveyors, unless you want those extra challenges (potentially longer game with more reboots). It’s funny when someone gets pushed off the board the first couple of times. Then it just gets monotonous and unfunny.

I’m not a zealot about the older versions, but I do think that in the new version spam is borderline inconsequential. It takes so long to build up in your deck and still just flows through your hand. Having the damage cards “stick” in your hand makes them matter much more, especially on shorter courses. And it sharply mitigates the issue of not having enough Spam cards.

It may be that these two things - careful course consideration and having damage “stick” - fix the OP’s issues with the game.
 
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James R. Gracen
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kirkroberts wrote:
As for the reboot spots, just make sure they aren’t running people into pits or conveyor belts or similar. I had issues with a few of the included map layouts in this regard and decided to make my own courses instead.

Yeah, this. Reboot loops suck.

Like Kirk says in a later reply, just move the reboot token to make sure its path is free of pits.
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Kirk Roberts
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Benkyo wrote:
kirkroberts wrote:
An elegant solution is to use the advanced variant in the rule book: players do not discard unprogrammed cards, they simply draw up their hands (drawing 5 to replace the cards they programmed). With this approach you will never come close to running out of spam cards because people will be forced to play them rather than have them cycle through their hand over and over.

Oh, I forgot about this, I assumed this was a given. Why it got split into an "advanced" variant is a mystery to me.

I'm guessing there are the "regular" and "advanced" modes for at least two reasons:
1 - in "regular" mode damage cards are not very punishing, perhaps better for beginners?
2 - in "advanced" mode it is rather challenging to retain all your unprogrammed cards because types you don't need or want can build up (e.g. all forwards or all turns), or cards you don't want at all can clog your hand (almost acting like damage in that regard). It's one thing if it's in your hand and then discarded. It's another if it gets in your hand and stays there until you play it.

This is why the house rule of retaining only the damage cards in hand is a personal favorite (although I also like the vanilla "advanced" rules for the challenge of making use of the cards and would rather play that overall than the "regular" mode).
 
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Benkyo wrote:
spacebug wrote:
Was the advanced damage variant part of Garfield's original rules?

How did the Virtual Robots work? I've only played the 2005 edition previously.

I believe so, I don't remember.

Virtual robots were used at the start of the game, and whenever 2 or more robots respawn at the same time, or at the same place a robot is already present. There was no start board, everyone started on the first flag. The virtual robots functioned just like normal robots, except they ignore other robots. At the end of any round in which you no longer share a space with another robot, you replaced the token with your model.

Downside: robots that were lucky enough to stay virtual for an extra round did better.

Upsides: fair starts, no problems with respawn queues, more flexibility in track design.

Yeah, the easiest, and IMO best, solution is to use the original Virtual Robot rules.

There are some more upsides:

* Robots that were lucky enough to stay virtual for an extra round did better. Getting lucky is fun.
* The game goes faster. You get to the interesting part of the game quicker.
* Your robot can't be destroyed or crippled on the very first turn of the game, except possibly through your own mistakes.

----- Slightly Off-Topic -----

Regarding the Advanced rules, if you think they're too hard, you can tone them down a bit. For example, instead of retaining all your unprogrammed cards, you could make the rule be "You may discard one of the unprogrammed cards, and retain the rest." This way, you can slowly get rid of damage cards and other cards you don't want, but if you have more than one, it will take some time to get past them.
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Mike M
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kirkroberts wrote:
Backlash27 wrote:
Yes, it is very possible to run out of spam cards even using the "advanced" variant.

Sure, I was a little cavalier with my “never come close to running out”. It’s possible, but somewhat unlikely.
If you want to mitigate further against that possibility you can house rule that people retain damage cards but discard unprogrammed non-damage cards. This keeps the deck flow higher and gets damage cards in hand faster.
And it starts to get close to feeling like the old damage chits that made you draw less cards. Fun!


I should also probably have clarified that it has happened to us (and apparently to other people in this thread also). It really seems to happen when specific upgrades come out, like the Trojan Needler. I have already taken Crab Legs out of the deck rather than try to house rule it, because I feel it is too powerful by far. I might also just take out some of the worst offenders with respect to damage spreading. I like chaos, but some cards lead to game states that seem unfun.

Regarding reboot loops - we have avoided these by just making sure the reboot token(s) are in relatively safe places. I haven't felt the need to use virtual robots, although the starting positions are certainly not all equal. Maybe we'll try it next time! Seems like it might be hard to track without robot tokens, though.
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Also, AFAIK, the Double Barrel Laser does not apply to the Rear Laser, nor to any other weapon. The Double-Barrel Laser only applies to the robots main laser, modifying it. The Rear Laser is a separate weapon. So if you have both, you cause 2 points of damage forward, and 1 point of damage backward.
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James R. Gracen
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spacebug wrote:
Backlash27 wrote:
The real problem is that the game doesn't come with nearly enough Spam cards. I believe Richard Garfield even mentioned that on a thread somewhere here on BGG. I don't know of an elegant solution, though Of the options you listed, I like the former ones better than the latter ones (i.e. I'd prefer to just treat all damage as Spam damage, rather than restrict upgrades and change the reboot system).


Oh wow. Yeah found that post https://boardgamegeek.com/article/24546425#24546425
"I would think there would be at least 60 for 6 players and I would have gone to 120. In fact thinking about how many you need I would probably consider some sort of rule allowing players to consolidate damage to higher denominations if it was an issue in playtest."

Not sure how higher demonimations could work.

But yeah, 38 < 60 D:

Not quite right. Hasbro actually made it 74 > 60. You forgot to quote the previous sentence in Richard Garfield's post:

Richard Garfield wrote:
I wonder how many damage cards they put in the game? I would think there would be at least 60 for 6 players and I would have gone to 120.

He is talking about *total* damage, not *Spam* damage. There are 74 *total* damage in the new edition, but not quite the 120 max that he was suggesting.
 
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