Chris J Davis
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Hi all,

I have just posted a document to the files section containing a number of variants that are designed to address the disparity between theme and gameplay in Android. These include rules to:

* Turn the murder into a true deductive experience (with a "real" murderer).
* Eliminate the unthematic 5-in-a-row scoring on the conspiracy puzzle.
* Allow each investigator to experience their game "day" concurrently rather than consecutively (and reduce downtime).
* Adjust how dark cards are drawn and played to be more in theme with what is happening on the board.
* Give NPCs more involvement in the unfolding story and allow some characters to "crossover" into another detective's story.
* Plus many more...

These variants have been tested and work well, though may obviously be subject to further tweaks after subsequent plays.

Obviously if you have no problem with the melding of theme and gameplay in this game then these rules are not for you. But hopefully someone will find these ideas of some use to them.

As always, Geek Gold tips are gratefully accepted.
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C Lloyd
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Sounds interesting, although I'll want to play with the printed rules first. Can you post a link here?
 
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Anders Gabrielsson
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Nice work! Personally I'm fine with the game as-is - at least for now - but it seems you've found good solutions for the problems others have with the game. Kudos!
 
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Christopher O
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Congrats on your hard work. I'll be sure to check it out when I have some extra time.

One minor point, unless you're the original "director" (i.e. - designer), wouldn't it be a "Unauthorized Cut" or "Bootleg Cut" or something along those lines?
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Chris J Davis
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Thanks for the kudos, guys! Link to the file here:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/file/info/38890

I guess officially it should be Bootleg Cut or somesuch, but then that doesn't sound so much like a cool Bladerunner reference.
 
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Chris J Davis
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Someone wrote a lengthy comment on the file page, which I thought it would be better to copy & paste here to reply to as it's easier to discuss things in the forums. Here it is:

bsushort wrote:
Most of the variants seem pretty good, however I think you should take a careful look at how they impact character balance.

In particular, I think Louis loses every advantage he had due to these changes. Originally, his advantages were that he gets lots of favors (however the NPC variant allows everyone to claim those same favors, and they can even steal them directly from Louis), and people were afraid to play dark cards on him since "Louis is in a Bad Mood" allowed him to repeatedly hit you back (the changes reverse this so Louis is now the easiest to play dark cards against, and thus most likely to be victimized by them). I don't know much about how balance is distorted for other characters, as Louis is the only one I'm familiar with, but they may have been heavily impacted as well.

If you want to address these, you might try saying that no one can steal NPC favors from the character associated with that NPC, but they can still steal them from other characters. That way, Sara doesn't cancel her date with Louis just because she was chatted up by Floyd for a second. I'd also recommend removing the errata to "Louis is in a Bad Mood" so that it once again impacts the cards he plays. The idea of the card is that Louis always gets a "discount" if he plays the appropriate kind of card. If no one is messing with him, he gets it for light cards, but when someone does mess with him he gets the discount to dark cards so he can pay them back. I actually found it to be an incredibly thematic ability, but that theme gets completely lost with the errata you suggest. Doesn't "Loius is in a Bad Mood" mean that he's looking to cause some damage, not that he's expecting to get punched in the gut?


You've got the NPC variant the wrong way around; it's actually that the other players *can't* steal Louis's favours from Louis, but Louis *can* steal his favours from other players. This is precisely so that characters strong on favours are not handicapped by the variant rule.

The change to Louis is in a Bad Mood is obviously very much a matter of personal preference. I've found that Louis is one of the stronger characters anyway, so I wasn't too worried about changing anything that might handicap him a little.

I always saw that card as representing the fact that Louis is a little bi-polar - he has strong mood swings ranging from very happy down to almost suicidally depressed. I can see how you might view the card as more like Louis is in a *Mean* Mood, but that's not how it felt to me.

So like it says at the start of my list of variants, use whichever ones you like. The variants are completely modular, so just leave out the one relating to Louis' card if you don't like it. I just prefer to play with that rule because, as one of my gaming group put it when they played Louis the other day: "I like your tweak. I actually *am* in a bad mood when that side of the card is up."
 
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This is a good piece of work. Well thought out, presented in a straight-forward way and annotated with the reasoning behind the changes.

I especially liked the rules on 'Murder' and "Days/Turns/Time'. I think they could really add to the game.

In reading over the others, I came up with a question:
In the 'Twilight/Dark Card' section on 'Fights', it says
Quote:
When you choose light tactics in a fight, you may light shift your own character. If you choose dark tactics in a fight, you may dark shift any other character.

Is this a balancing effect (the design note didn't really clear it up for me)?
Thematically, why would character choosing to fight dirty affect any other character?

But anyway, well done.
 
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Chris J Davis
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Thanks!

Yep - that's a balancing rule. The changes in the twilight rules allow the potential for players to "lock in" as completely light shifted or dark shifted, which means they can prevent bad cards being played on them. This neccessitates more methods by which players can manipulate other players' twilight tracks without playing cards. The three main rules I implemented to facilitate this are the rules for entering seedy/ritzy locations (though placement of tempting leads), changing the term "shifting" to mean moving the twilight marker two spaces, and the rule for fights.

I considered removing the rule for fights entirely, as it went against theme and when I first read the original rulebook I considered this one good example of excess rules baggage that other people have commented on. However, for the sake of the above I decided to keep it in.
 
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Thanks for the explanation.
 
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Jim Nave
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I think an interesting thing to look at with a variant would be how to change the victory conditions. One of the things that Michael Barnes complained about the game was the breaking down victory to a typical crunch for VP's (and thus making it less thematic) - i can see that as I was thinking the same thing when reading the game manual.

I don't have any ideas (as i havent played it yet ) but i'm thinking there must be some way. Maybe throw in Hastur at the end of the game or something
 
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Jim Nave
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DO you have a link for the interview with Kevin Wilson where he talks about the rule changes? Text if possible as my bandwidth is a 2gb cap (nice huh?).

thanks!
 
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Chris J Davis
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gjnave wrote:
I think an interesting thing to look at with a variant would be how to change the victory conditions. One of the things that Michael Barnes complained about the game was the breaking down victory to a typical crunch for VP's (and thus making it less thematic) - i can see that as I was thinking the same thing when reading the game manual.

I don't have any ideas (as i havent played it yet ) but i'm thinking there must be some way. Maybe throw in Hastur at the end of the game or something


If you used the Director's Cut variant rules, then I guess you could just change things so that whichever player is successful in most aspects of the story wins (i.e, innocent hunch, guilty hunch convicted, guilty hunch the murderer, each happy ending, most conspiracy tokens, etc), with VPs being used as a tie-breaker.

Though I guess this is basically the same thing as it is now, but reducing the value of each aspect to 1VP.
 
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Frank Branham
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A lot of nice ideas here. And your issues with the game almost precisely mirror my own.


 
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Jim Nave
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Quote:
I guess coming from an RPG background, it doesn't bother me any to have the players directing which way the story turns out, and I like the noir qualities of deciding whether your detective is honest or not with his evidence.
- Kevin Wilson - FortressAT "http://fortressat.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view...

This makes sense to me... the dishonest detective frames the one he wants to see take the fall.

However, if it still bugs you perhaps you can try this (maybe this is already in the document - havent had the time to read the whole thing) is to establish 1 suspect, at the beginning of the game, who is definitely guilty - perhaps you use some sort of markers with identical backs on each card and then place one on each suspect. At the end of the game you know who the real killer is and whether an (somewhat more) innocent person took the fall or not.

You could possibly flesh it out more by devising a way to put evidence tokens on each suspect (the killer will get a +1 and the others -1, or something like that) at the beginning of the game. Then astute players can try and keep track of what else has been placed, what they've placed, try to get a view of the pieces, etc... and try to flesh out by deduction who the real killer might be (by the fact that there is an extra token) - which realistically could be quite difficult and maybe not even possible (just as in real life)... at any rate, as i mentioned, it might be worth fleshing out.
 
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Jim Nave
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Ok.. here's the link to Kevin Wilson stating the rule changes:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/2943704#2943704
 
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Chris J Davis
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gjnave wrote:
Quote:
I guess coming from an RPG background, it doesn't bother me any to have the players directing which way the story turns out, and I like the noir qualities of deciding whether your detective is honest or not with his evidence.
- Kevin Wilson - FortressAT "http://fortressat.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view...

This makes sense to me... the dishonest detective frames the one he wants to see take the fall.

However, if it still bugs you perhaps you can try this (maybe this is already in the document - havent had the time to read the whole thing) is to establish 1 suspect, at the beginning of the game, who is definitely guilty - perhaps you use some sort of markers with identical backs on each card and then place one on each suspect. At the end of the game you know who the real killer is and whether an (somewhat more) innocent person took the fall or not.

You could possibly flesh it out more by devising a way to put evidence tokens on each suspect (the killer will get a +1 and the others -1, or something like that) at the beginning of the game. Then astute players can try and keep track of what else has been placed, what they've placed, try to get a view of the pieces, etc... and try to flesh out by deduction who the real killer might be (by the fact that there is an extra token) - which realistically could be quite difficult and maybe not even possible (just as in real life)... at any rate, as i mentioned, it might be worth fleshing out.


It already has been. What you've just described is, basically, pretty much how the variant works.
 
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Sven A
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When I first tried Android a week ago, I was concerned with many of the mechanics in the game. Fortunately we found your variant rules here om BGG and we tried them out this afternoon...

They worked great!

Many aspect of the game became more logical, balanced and fun. It was a whole new experience and a great improvement overall. Everyone should at least try them once!

We did find the conspiracy a little too awarding (too many vp that you could't loose compared to working on the case) and the rules for hits made it easy to kill of suspects/witnesses (actually all suspects ended up dead in our game), but we will find ways to tweak these aspects.

I have one big concern left though: some cards still seems overpowered. Played at the right time they can have an immense impact on the outcome of the game and there's nothing anyone can do about it. I know it will even out over time but one lucky draw can win you the game.

But once again; Great work! You may have saved this game!
 
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Chris J Davis
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Many, many thanks! I've very glad you enjoyed them so much! meeple

I'll be uploading an updated version of the rules soon. There's not many changes, and some will be very minor just to accommodate the variant plots that I'm currently in the process of writing up (they make use of the variant NPC rules, so they require a few tweaks to fit in with the plots).

However, the most important rule changes are these:

Whenever an investigator follows up a lead, that investigator now moves that lead himself (rather than giving it to the player on his right).

With the rules for not being allowed to place leads in your own district or an adjacent district, passing leads to the right is no longer required.

Scoring at the end of the game is changed. Now the points for the innocent hunch goes only to the player whose innocent hunch matches the living suspect with the *lowest* total guilt.

This is to provide much more incentive to the players to place evidence, and makes the innocent hunch point grab on par with other point sources (as it was too easy to score your innocent hunch before, even with the modified rules for hits). Thematically, the witness/suspect with the lowest guilt at the end of the game is the Key Witness whose testimony was crucial in convicting the killer.

There are now three options when an investigator follows up a lead:

1) Place evidence
2) Uncover conspiracy
3) Minor encounter

1) Is unchanged as per the normal rules.

2) Again as normal, except that the player no longer receives the bonus on the back of the conspiracy tile (i.e, shift/favour/baggage).

3) The investigator *only* receives the bonus on the back of the conspiracy tile (no tile is drawn, but the detective's hero marker still resets back to the lowest set of tiles).

We were finding that, even with three players, the conspiracy was still far too prominant in terms of point-scoring and would be finished by the middle of the second week. This change is to slow that down a little, and to also encourage players to place that second-to-last piece before a link is completed. For option 3, thematically the detective encounters someone or something at the location that creates a plot twist in the story, owes him a favour, or is a character related to one of the detective's plots (the lead, however, is a bust).

When a player wishes to end their turn (as a 0-Time action) they may now either:

1) Exchange one of their light cards for a dark card, or
2) Discard any card

If option 1 is chosen, then the dark card must come from the deck their hero marker is pointing at and their hero marker is moved, as normal.

This is to give detectives greater access to their opponents' dark decks, as we found that always spending 1 Time was too expensive a cost to warrant this.

Anyway, back to work on those variant plots.

Happy gaming!
 
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Sven A
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Quote:
There are now three options when an investigator follows up a lead:

1) Place evidence
2) Uncover conspiracy
3) Minor encounter

1) Is unchanged as per the normal rules.

2) Again as normal, except that the player no longer receives the bonus on the back of the conspiracy tile (i.e, shift/favour/baggage).

3) The investigator *only* receives the bonus on the back of the conspiracy tile (no tile is drawn, but the detective's hero marker still resets back to the lowest set of tiles).


Another great idea! As mentioned, we also found the conspiracy a little too important since it gave victory points and bonuses. We will try this new variant next time. Thanks again!
 
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