Vince Londini
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The Perilous Parlor Game presents the Count Olaf player with few choices, and few tools for reversing a game where things are going well for the children. In general, if the children are working together to maintain a large item stockpile and rolling above average die-rolls that gain them lots of mobility, Count Olaf will not win. A Count Olaf victory largely depends on seeing the Guardian appear in a succession of nearly adjacent rooms with card-tables, and rolling at least average die-rolls with which to pursue these goals.

My guess is that the game was designed such that roughly 40% of the time Count Olaf will give the children a serious run for their money. The odds may actually be even, but as one other reviewer has noted, Count Olaf's paucity of choices may make the game seem stacked against him.

Readers can find some suggestions toward game balance in the "General" discussion for this game (here on the Geek). See especially tonycrider's Game Mechanic Flaw & Solution post for a neat variant that hinders the Children's attempts to thwart Tragedy cards. Otherwise, suggestions center on optimizing Olaf's situation and focus on three approaches:

Improving Count Olaf's moves (die-based variants). One suggestion in the General Discussion advocates giving the Count Olaf player 2 dice to throw, with the player getting to chose which die will govern Count Olaf's move. Our group suggested giving Count Olaf a d8 (if you have one lying around), though that would dent the theme (by introducing a non-thematic die).

Giving Count Olaf more to do (mini-game based variant). Another suggestion in the General Discussion advocates allowing Count Olaf to play the matching game (if Count Olaf succeeds, the Guardian loses one life point) as another route to damaging the Guardian.

Eliminating some of Count Olaf's moves (card-based variant). Our group suggested giving Count Olaf TWO cards whenever he visits a card-table. This allows him to spend more time chasing the guardian and gives him more options when playing cards, especially after some items have already been played and re-allocated to the board. At that point, Count Olaf has a good idea where the children will have to go to gather those exact items again. Having plenty of cards will enable scenarios where the Count Olaf player knows the children have several books (having seen them played, replaced on the board, and regathered), so he can play a Tragedy card thwarted by gears in hopes the children have fewer of those.

As I type this, another idea occurs to me involving the cards: give Count Olaf the ability to discard a Tragedy Card in order to see the top two Guardian cards (to "overhear" where the Guardian is going next) - this would be especially useful when Count Olaf doesn't have a hope of getting to the guardian before Mr. Poe triggers another Guardian move.

We haven't had a chance to playtest the 2-card draw variant or "insight into the Guardian deck" variant, but plan to try the 2-card draw the next time we play. What variants have you tried and how did they work out?
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G. Gomez
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Chula Vista
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I think two dice would work well for Olaf.

I spend the time trying to chase the Guardian piece and then throw a one or a two, thus I get nowhere near enough to drain the Guardian's life. Allowing me to move a little bit more would certainly help in the chase.

The card tables are near enough and I can fill my hand, but I never get to use them.
 
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