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Runika and the Six-sided Spellbooks» Forums » Variants

Subject: Solo Mode variant rss

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Shannon Kelly
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Hey everyone, after receiving a ton of feedback from backers along the lines of "I'd really love to be able to play this solo too", I've gone and created a single-player mode for Runika.

Keep in mind this is an early draft. It will take a bit of testing to balance, and I'm not 100% happy with the Advanced Classes challenges (so I haven't included them here yet).

Edits made: 15 May 2019
Underlines show new additions, strikethrough shows removals.

Solo Mode: The Challenge of the Masters
You have lived and breathed rune magic all semester now, and it is time for your final exams. Each of your professors has a challenge for you: complete three runes of their choosing, and then their mastery rune. Do this before time runs out.



Rules Variations

Goal: Complete 3 normal runes, then 1 mastery rune. Those runes are:
~~~ Ko'bataar - Empower, Magic Pocket, Wave Whip, Tidal Vortex
~~~ Ainfean - Spark, Shimmerfield, Fire Flash, Thunderbolt
~~~ Simza - Sweep, Charm, Hand of Mist, Wind Walk
~~~ Ekamu - Pivot, Energise, Stone Dagger, Fortification

Set up: Set up as per Runika. Flip over the Professor for whom you are challenging. You may not influence them nor ask them for help. Place the three runes and mastery rune (above) in front of you. Those are the runes you must complete. Set aside all other rune cards.

Gameplay:
Draft Phase: Instead, draw 8 dice from the bag. Choose 4 of those dice to add to your stored elements, then remove the other 4 from play. Finally, randomly draw 2 dice from the bag and remove them from play.

Rerolling Dice: You may still discard a die to reroll any number of other stored dice. However, you must remove the discarded die from play.

Completing Runes: Any dice that are used to complete one of the runes are not returned to the bag. Instead, remove them from play.

Earning Points: Each time you would earn a point (whether from Merit Card, dice used to make a rune, Ainfean's ability, or earning a rune cards), instead, choose a die that was removed from play and return it to the bag. (If you earn 4 points, you would choose 4 dice, and so on.)

Earning Merit Cards: You earn a Merit Card when you have influenced all three Professors (since you cannot influence the Professor you are challenging).

Cleanup Phase: At the end of your turn, randomly draw two dice from the bag and remove them from play.

End Game: If at any point you need to draw a die and there are none remaining in the bag, you do not draw any further dice. You have until the end of this turn to complete the Mastery rune, otherwise you lose (even if new dice are added to the bag in this time).

You win after you have completed the Mastery Rune. Remember that all dice used to make the Mastery Rune are removed from play; and that you may return dice to the bag equal to the points you just earned from completing that Mastery Rune.

How did you do? To compare your score, count the number of dice remaining in the bag (or subtract the number of dice removed from play from 80). Gain 5 bonus points if you did not discard your "Discard on your turn" Rune Card during the game.

NEW MODE: Five challengers
To begin: Randomly draw a Professor you have not challenged yet. Set up the game as you would normally. Take three "1 Point" tokens and put them on your board. (If you lose all three, you lose the game.)

Each time you win a challenge: Gain another "1 Point" token. Take one non-Mastery rune you have completed this challenge and keep it on your board for future rounds. (If you choose the "discard on your turn" rune, you may use it once each challenge.) Return all dice on your grid back to the bag and reset your disk with air on top. Return 30 dice of your choice that were removed from play back to the bag. Set aside the Professor you just challenged - you may influence them in future games but may not challenge them again. Randomly draw from the remaining Professors and begin your next challenge.

Each time you lose a challenge: Remove a "1 Point" token from your board. Return all 80 dice back to the bag, then remove from play 10 5 dice from each colour of Professor whose challenge you have completed. You do not get to keep any runes you completed this challenge, but you may keep the runes you chose to keep from previous challenges.

If you ever lose your last "1 Point" token, you lose the game.

The final challenge: Luniorn
Once you have completed all four Professors' challenges, you must face the final exam. Headmaster Luniorn himself challenges you to complete all four Mastery runes before the dice run out. If you complete all four Mastery runes (in any order you wish), you win the game.

For the final challenge, you will need to add in your fourth influence token, as you can now influence all four Professors again, but must influence all four to earn a merit card.

THESE ARE DRAFT RULES. You can access the Print and Play through the Kickstarter Page, and play using your Lucidity dice.

If you have any feedback on the mode, please let me know! We only have a couple of weeks left on the campaign, and the sooner this is balanced the sooner we can manufacture.

And thank you!
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Dave Moorthamer
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I just finished my first solo game winning with 14 points.
I didn't think I would make it, because the removed dicepile was growing rapidly. However, some lucky rolls and use of the other professors helped me out
(I played vs Simza btw)
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Just played against Ko'bataar and scored 10 points. Lol, I used every dice; the only thing I didn't use was the 'discard this card' for 5 points and I got 5 more points from collecting the master rune card at the end. Drinking might not have helped...or maybe it did. My last moves were pretty intense.

In the beginning, I thought it might be too easy. I knocked out one rune card no problem and had half of another almost done. Then I got a bunch of bad draws, had to pivot to finishing off a different rune card, and finally came back to the problem card (curse you magic pocket).

By this point I was almost out of dice. For my second to last move, I needed to add a blue die from the top, but I also needed a die in that same column destroyed or it would push a necessary blue die off the bottom. My draw had a blue die and 2 red dice, but after my roll I still needed to use the rune card ability to 'roll all dice of a single color' which got me the red energy symbol to influence the teacher and destroy the blocking die.

For my final draw there were only 4 dice left. I needed a blue die and it had to come in from the right, which meant I needed either a rotation or a yellow energy to use the teacher power. My final draw gave me the 1 blue die I needed and 2 yellow energy die so I could influence the teacher for a rotation. It was pretty intense.

Next time, I think I need to put more effort into visiting all 3 teachers and collecting a merit card or two.
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Some clarification questions:

1)The "once per round" rune cards, in a solo game is it considered a round each time you draw 4 die, i.e., draw 4 dice, use card, finish placing dice, draw 4 more dice, use card again...?

2)What happens to dice that are pushed off the spell grid? I believe the regular game says they go back to the draw bag. Is it the same for solo or are they discarded?

3) Also, just to be sure: a die used for rotation is discarded and a die used to influence a teacher is also discarded?
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Shannon Kelly
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Excellent! Thanks Frank. The puzzle seems to work well, and I'd like to try and add in that campaign feel you had in your solo version. I think the real trick is going to be balancing how hard it feels.

As to your questions:

1) Yes - a round is each turn you take (ie each time you draw 4 dice. Remember to clear the Professors each round/turn.

2&3) Dice that are pushed off, spent to rotate, or used to influence professors are returned to the bag. The only ones that are removed are the four each turn you don't choose, the two random dice each turn, and any that are used to make runes.
 
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Just played against Ainfean and scored 37 points. Also, this was with alcohol as my copilot.

I believe I have the rules down. It seemed a little easy this time. I was able to get 2 merit cards worth 3 points each. I'll note my dice rolls seemed a little lucky as far as points (1) symbols go.

Also to note, I played as intensely as a drunkard could play. Always spending time to make the best moves, considering the dice colors still available, and planning ahead a move or two if possible. We're talking about 1 hour 45 minutes to completion. (remember alcohol was involved, i will intensely study a puzzle while drunk)

My last 2 or 3 moves weren't about "how am I going to finish this with my limited dice," those moves were spent thinking about how I could maximize my final points.

Maybe too easy or too reliant on luck of the draw? I definitely want to play against the other masters when I have a chance. The sliding dice puzzle at the core of this game is sooo fun and thinky.


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Shannon Kelly
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Frizank9009 wrote:

Just played against Ainfean and scored 37 points. Also, this was with alcohol as my copilot.

Nice score! I just went up against her for three games and won all three easy-mode games. Then I played four hard-mode games and lost the first three times.

I've updated the rules in the first post to some tweaking. Notably, I moved the 2 dice taken randomly from the bag to the end of the turn; I went with Frank's suggestion that the die used to reroll is removed from play; and I've added the campaign-style solo play that Frank's version had.

Additionally, the hard modes of the five challenges (still being tested) are:

Ainfean
Alchemy Finals: At the start of the game, remove all fire dice from play. At any time, discard two matching (element or symbol) dice to take one die of your choice from out of play and roll it.

Ekamu
Meditation Finals: Whenever you resolve any rotate die, roll it. If it rolls as a rotate, you must rotate your disk anti-clockwise instead of clockwise.

Simza
Art Finals: At the beginning of every round, push each die along the air side of your grid one space towards the earth side of your grid. This can push dice off.

Ko'bataar
Summoning Finals: After you push the first die onto your grid each turn, draw a die randomly from the bag and push it on from the opposite position on your grid.

Luniorn
Viva Voce: Whenever you complete one of the four Mastery runes, you must choose a rune (Mastery or normal) on your board and discard it.
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Whoa!!! 5 challenger campaign is epic! Looks like it will take a couple play sessions to get through.

Considering this game didn't start out with a solo mode, it has some pretty robust solo options now. Face off against a random teacher, face off against a random teacher in hard mode, and now an epic campaign.

Some of the hard modes seem like they might be a little crushing. I like how Ekamu's hard mode uses a die roll to decide whether you get punished. Admittedly, I have no concept of game balancing; but would it be possible to introduce a die roll to each hard mode?

Like at the beginning of each round you would roll a die in that teacher's color and when you get a certain side/symbol you would then enact the hard mode condition.

For Ainfean, maybe half of the red dice would be removed to start then each round you would roll a red die and depending on what is rolled, you might have to toss 2 or 3 red die from your supply. For Simza and Ko'bataar, their hard mode condition would only happen on a die roll that came up positive.

Of course I say all this having no idea of how hard it would be to balance/test. I just like the idea of rolling a die and wondering if I'll be safe or if a monkey wrench is about to get thrown into my carefully laid plans for a hard mode.



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Shannon Kelly
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Yeah, I'm glad to have had the time to spend on this mode to make it what it is. And to have had your feedback and ideas the whole way.

As to the hard modes, I have played both Ekamu's and Ainfean's. Crushing is the right word for it. But then, I want them to be crushing. It should feel like a real achievement to finish one of them.

Ainfean's is surprisingly not impossible, despite losing 25% of your dice at the start of the game. You neeeed to use the alchemy ability intelligently, but because you can control when that happens you can essentially choose when red dice come out. And whenever you complete a rune, you can use the points gained to get your red dice back. It's tough, but not unfair. I'm 1:4 on win rate.

Ekamu's feels super frustrating, but that works just fine for the game. The thing I like about it relying on a dice roll is that it makes the rotate symbols that little bit unpredictable, so you lose the ability to incorporate them into your plans. I'm 1:2 on win rate.

Ko's I have not tested yet. And Simza's I've only played once. It is tricky to do, because you need to line up the runes so carefully, and really make use of the Hand of Mist ability to complete the final parts of the Mastery, but because it is predictable, you can actually use it if you're clever in order to help build the runes. I did not win.
 
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Shannon Kelly
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Okay, played through an entire campaign. It took me 2 hours start to finish. I easily beat Ainfean in the first round, but lost to Simza in the second and had to use a life to repeat. Then I just barely managed to beat the last two professors.

Then Luniorn...

Let me tell you, he is tough. Even though I had four runes helping me, I lost three times in a row. In the end, I couldn't see any way to win with the reset condition at only 40 dice, so I'll test with only removing 5 dice of each colour on a reset.

Even with 60 dice in the bag, I had to use every stop, every bit of logic... he is TOUGH to beat. And that was normal mode! But satisfying to win.
 
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George Jaros
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Two questions...

Foxtale wrote:
How did you do? To compare your score, count the number of dice remaining in the bag (or subtract the number of dice removed from play from 80). Gain 5 bonus points if you did not discard your "Discard on your turn" Rune Card during the game.

NEW MODE: Five challengers
...Return 30 dice of your choice that were removed from play back to the bag.


Are dice that remain on your Spell Grid at the end of the game counted in dice that are removed from play, or dice in your bag? Seems to me that they are neither, but I'd assume they count toward your score and don't count toward the 30 returned to your bag (they'd automatically be returned since they weren't used up).

Quote:
Each time you lose a challenge: ...Return all dice back to the bag, then remove from play 10 5 dice from each colour of Professor whose challenge you have completed. ...


If I discard 42 dice and win the first challenge against, say, yellow, then return 30 of those back to the bag (leaving 12 out of the next challenge). If I lose the second challenge, discarding 62 of the dice (62 discarded, 12 out from the first challenge, and 6 remaining on my board), does this mean I return all 80 dice to the bag before removing 5 yellow dice, or do I return 68 dice to the bag, keeping out the 12 that I lost after the first challenge plus five more yellow dice?

Other than these clarifications the solo mode sounds great! I love the challenge/campaign mode and how it scales in both difficulty, but also in your abilities (as you gain rune skills you can keep using). Great job!
 
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Shannon Kelly
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gjjaros wrote:
Are dice that remain on your Spell Grid at the end of the game counted in dice that are removed from play, or dice in your bag? Seems to me that they are neither, but I'd assume they count toward your score and don't count toward the 30 returned to your bag (they'd automatically be returned since they weren't used up).

Good clarification. Dice on your spell grid are returned to the bag, not removed from play.

gjjaros wrote:
If I remove 42 dice from play and win the first challenge against, say, yellow, then return 30 of those back to the bag (leaving 12 out of the next challenge). If I lose the second challenge, removing 62 of the dice (62 from play, 12 out from the first challenge, and 6 remaining on my board), does this mean I return all 80 dice to the bag before removing 5 yellow dice, or do I return 68 dice to the bag, keeping out the 12 that I lost after the first challenge plus five more yellow dice?

If you lose a challenge, return all 80 dice back to the bag, then remove the 5 of each colour matching the professors you have beaten.

I'll go clarify that. I think apart from general balancing, and testing those Hard Mode abilities, I'm pretty bloody happy with how this has come out!
 
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Will there be a Luniorn card with the game? Or at least a printable version? Can't wait until my next game night to try the campaign.

 
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Shannon Kelly
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Frizank9009 wrote:

Will there be a Luniorn card with the game? Or at least a printable version? Can't wait until my next game night to try the campaign.

There maaaay be. You might need to check the whole box for it though...whistle
 
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Ok, I've started a 5 challengers campaign. As I expected, it's taking me a long time to get through. Looks like about 1 hour per teacher for me.

I beat 2 teachers tonight without failing. First up was Ekamu. Fairly challenging as I only had the benefit of the other teachers. I finished with a decent bit of dice left, ultimately I moved on the next round lacking about 6-7 dice of each color.

Next round was Simza. Things were a little more tight this round. Towards the end, I was really feeling a lack of dice in the bag. Without the rune card I kept from defeating Ekamu, I don't think I would have made it.

As the dice bag was growing empty, I needed a rotation and a green die to finish off Simza's master card. I got a rotation, but no green die. I also I got both a red rune and a blue rune. I cashed in the red rune to remove a die from the spell board and gain a merit point, I used the merit point to add a green die from the used supply to my bag. I cashed in the blue rune to draw and roll 2 more dice. Luckily, one of those 2 dice ended up being the green I needed. I might have had one more draw left had I not succeeded.

Once all the merit points were calculated and 30 dice were added, I was once again working with a deficit of about 7 dice for each color.


 
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Frizank9009 wrote:

Ok, I've started a 5 challengers campaign. As I expected, it's taking me a long time to get through. Looks like about 1 hour per teacher for me.

...

Once all the merit points were calculated and 30 dice were added, I was once again working with a deficit of about 7 dice for each color.

Awesome. I'm really pleased that it creates a bit of a narrative as you play. Your campaign experience so far has been totally different to mine.

I also like (I mean... planned, yeah planned) how Ekamu lets you continue with either the rune that guarantees rotate symbols can be added to your grid, OR the rune that guarantees you can rotate once per turn. Those two guarantees would be too powerful if used together. So having to choose is actually interesting.
 
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Michelle Skevington-Carter
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Found this from a post on Facebook and, as puzzles are right up my street, I had to try it. So I crafted a hybrid dice/cards copy (I had dice in nearly the right colours, so made a conversion board using the first page of the cards file - this is also where I store dice before using them) and am very proud of my two layer board with the rotating section for rune placement.

I tried the original solo ruleset and very much felt this was too easy - in my first game I scored 31 points (against Ko'bataar) and then I broke 40 against Ekamu. So I set out to try the challenger, and that campaign brings it to life. Whilst the gameplay is essentially the same, it is much harder to overcome the next challenger with a random collection of dice removed from your set - this provides the necessary challenge in a solo game. I think the chosen runes to complete for each professor feel balanced and there are significant choices to be made. Great team work between you and Frank by the looks of things.

I will come back to try the hard mode once I've beaten the campaign.

You have every right to be 'bloody happy' with the way this turned out - I've tried to share the worthwhile solo addition where I can as I know there are people who only back soloable games and the Kickstarter ends very soon.
 
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Day 2, reach into the bag of fate… red die. Ainfean!

I played a tight game, but I slightly miscalculated how many red dice I had left in the bag to draw towards the end of the game. On my second to last draw I only needed 2 red and I would have won, but it turns out there was only 1 red die left.

I thought I was done for, but then I realized I only needed to visit 2 more teachers for a merit card. I had drawn my last green and yellow die, the exact 2 I needed to visit. I sacrificed my one red die since a merit card would likely give me 2 or more die back and I took 2 blue die for re-rolls on the green and yellow.

Initial roll: green symbol, no yellow symbol. Sacrifice blue for re-roll: no yellow symbol. Sacrifice blue for re-roll: no yellow symbol. Failure! So angry! I re-rolled the yellow die just to see what would come up after I had failed against Ainfean… of course, symbol. I had to quit for the night after that.

I got to thinking of maybe adding a house rule. A once/twice per campaign use of Jean the cat and also only having 3 lives total instead of adding lives upon beating a teacher. Jean would add maybe 12 dice upon use? If I hadn’t failed Ainfean, I don’t think I would have been able to beat the next teacher with only the infusion of 30 dice plus what I would have earned from the master card. I would have had less than 40 dice in the bag.

I like the idea of potentially being able to complete the whole campaign without failing (is it possible now?). As it stands, I think I would inevitably fail once or twice. Knowing that I would probably fail against a teacher if I started a battle with say (-9) to (-10 or more) of each color, I think I would take a fail before even trying (why waste the time?). Granted, deciding when to take a fail could be considered a strategy in itself.

As a plan: Why not beat 2 teachers then choose a fail? Recharge your dice supply to 60. Battle the next 2 teachers and choose another fail to enhance your dice supply to 60. Then go for Luniorn.

The way the mode plays now, I feel like I’m encouraged to fail ahead of time depending on the dice I have left. Although, I might be jumping ahead of things and I just need to get better at playing the game. I fully admit to getting overly angry at failing.


 
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cattarn wrote:
You have every right to be 'bloody happy' with the way this turned out - I've tried to share the worthwhile solo addition where I can as I know there are people who only back soloable games and the Kickstarter ends very soon.

Thanks Michelle! I think it maybe only needs a couple of tweaks for balancing purposes, and testing for edge-cases. But otherwise it is in pretty good shape.

Frizank9009 wrote:
The way the mode plays now, I feel like I’m encouraged to fail ahead of time depending on the dice I have left. Although, I might be jumping ahead of things and I just need to get better at playing the game. I fully admit to getting overly angry at failing.

Mmm, agreed. I found that failing on the last turn was frustrating. How would you feel about something like...

After winning a game, you put only 20 dice back in the bag (instead of 30). However, at any time you may spend 1 life to add 3 dice of each colour back to the bag. That could allow for the emergency button you suggest, without necessarily adding a new kind of token to the game. That also gives you a tough choice if things are looking badly, whether to risk it or punch the button for another turn or two.
 
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Frizank9009 wrote:

As a plan: Why not beat 2 teachers then choose a fail? Recharge your dice supply to 60. Battle the next 2 teachers and choose another fail to enhance your dice supply to 60. Then go for Luniorn.


I think you're missing a rule in the solo campaign:

Quote:
Each time you lose a challenge: ... Return all 80 dice back to the bag, then remove from play 5 dice from each colour of Professor whose challenge you have completed.


The way I interpret this, it means that you'll have 70 dice if you fail after completing two professors (5 dice removed from each of the completed professors) and 60 available after four professors when you try to take on Luniorn. That actually makes it even easier than what you described.

So maybe there needs to be an additional reward for actually completing a challenge? (Put 5 of that professor's dice back, then 30 more of your choice?) Or an additional penalty for having to challenge a professor a second time? (They won't be available to influence after they are defeated, or can be influenced, but at a higher cost? Maybe you need to influence them twice to earn a merit certificate?)
 
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Foxtale wrote:
Mmm, agreed. I found that failing on the last turn was frustrating. How would you feel about something like...

After winning a game, you put only 20 dice back in the bag (instead of 30). However, at any time you may spend 1 life to add 3 dice of each colour back to the bag. That could allow for the emergency button you suggest, without necessarily adding a new kind of token to the game. That also gives you a tough choice if things are looking badly, whether to risk it or punch the button for another turn or two.


Ok, I retconned my loss against Ainfean to a 'win' using these rules. I assumed that I would have cashed in a life earlier in the campaign due to only receiving 20 dice upon a win instead of 30. And, of course, I used a life to secure the 'win' against Ainfean.

Assuming the win and the loss of 2 lives, I was going to face Ko'bataar with about 30ish dice and 4 lives. I assumed 30ish dice was not enough so I cashed in another life. Now, I was facing Ko'bataar with 40ish dice and 3 lives.

I ran a tight battle with little waste, but I was running short of dice when I needed maybe 2 more turns. I cashed in another life (2 lives left) and beat Ko'bataar. With the win against Ko'bataar, I gained 20 dice and another life (3 lives left).

The final fallout after Ko'bataar was 42 dice and 3 lives as I go to fight Luniorn. I have a feeling that I'll need to cash in at least 2 lives to win with the last life as a buffer. I'll see next week when I have time to game again. I'm betting Luniorn will take me 2+ hours.

I think cashing in lives for 12 dice (and gaining 20 dice on a win) makes more sense than failing and gaining 60+ dice back. When I think "campaign," I think of an upwards struggle. You're trying not to die. Being able to die and gain dice for it seems a little counter intuitive. It almost encourages you to 'strategically' die for a benefit.

I don't know how game balance would be affected, but I had some thoughts on possible alterations: Less 'lives' and more dice per 'life'. Less 'lives' and more dice per 'win'. Ainfean currently gives a merit point if the die removed from the board is a 'point' die, what if 'any' die removed gave a merit point? Ko'bataar currently lets you blind draw 2 more dice from the bag, what if he let you blind draw one die from the bag and then one die of your choice from the discarded pile? Ainfean and/or Ko'bataar could become a way of generating dice if you're low.

I don't know if modifying Ainfean and/or Ko'bataar in order to gain a way to generate dice makes sense. It was just something I thought of. I do think the new rules make more sense than the original rules for a 'campaign' experience.


 
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Luniorn, I choose you!

I started the campaign final battle with 42 dice and 3 lives. Luniorn is pretty tough. It's hard to build 2 patterns at the same time like you would with the teacher's rune cards. I tried to build 2 patterns together, but I also had to start building a third pattern where possible (to not waste dice), even if the die was out of place (expecting to push it into position later).

My captured rune cards were constantly used. I think I would use the same rune cards every time I ran a campaign. One card let me move a die, which replaced the green teacher. One card let me do a free rotation, which almost replaced the yellow teacher. One card let me do a free dice draw and roll, which almost replaced the blue teacher. One card let me remove a die from the spell grid, which replaced the red teacher.

Ultimately, I cashed in 2 lives (1 life left) and finished with 22 dice left.

As the solo mode stands (using the rule of +20 upon success and +12 when cashing in a life), it works. As you progress through the campaign, you have to play as smart as possible so you can get to Luniorn with enough lives left to win.

Two things I noticed:

1) being able to 'cash in' a life helped the campaign flow better (no weird situation where death equals bonus dice), but there was a loss of the intense 'last minute' finish where you were almost out of dice and you just pulled off a win.

2) collecting a trophy rune card for each win against a teacher sort of negated the need to use that teacher in the future. As the game progressed, I used the teachers less and less. Also, it was questionable if it was worth it to try for a merit card. A merit card is only worth +2, +3, or +4 dice and you throw out -6 dice each round.


 
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