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Subject: Help Develop an Alternate Deduction Variant rss

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Christopher Todesco
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First of all, I want to say that I have no problem with Android as it is published. I think it is a very good game, and I am personally not bothered by the "investigating-vs-framing problem". I like game design, and I like playing with variants to see how it changes the game. Also, I'd like to thank Chris Davis (bleached_lizard) for his work on his variant. I certainly have "borrowed" some of his ideas to start this conversation, and I hope he takes part in it as well.

The best variants are those that change other aspects of the game as little as possible. I do not like variants that require me to change, throw out, or include additional markers, cards, or rules. This subject line here says "Help develop" because this idea isn't completely hashed out, I don't have all of the answers, there are much better people here than myself and I think a variant will be better constructed if it is developed and tested by the entire community. So my goal here is for us to create a deductive variant that stays as close to the concept of the published rules as possible.

The initial idea is to start the game with a number of evidence tokens face down on each suspect's sheet (i.e. maybe 2 or 3 tokens on each Physical, Document, and Testimony) and leave the Guilty and Innocent hunches in a stack on the board-- do not distribute any of them. When following a lead, players may peek at one evidence token of the same type on any suspect except for Testimony leads, which allows the player to peek only at an evidence token on the Testimony file of the suspect shown on the counter that the player's detective landed on.

Similar to Chris Davis's variant, detectives can visit the scene of the crime and spent 1 Time to look through the Guilty OR Innocent hunches pile and keep one. Players may do this as many times as they want during the game, but may only ever have one Guilty and one Innocent hunch at a time. At the end of the game, the evidence tokens on each living suspect are added up, and the Guilty and Innocent hunch cards are worth the points as written on the cards.

When a Conspiracy token indicates a type of evidence, instead of moving a lead, you move one evidence token either from one suspect's card to another, from the pile of unused evidence to a suspect's card, or from a suspect's card to the pile of unused evidence. The token MUST be moved from/to the file type indicated on the conspiracy piece, and the player may look at the token before replacing it. This represents the members of the conspiracy trying to influence the outcome of the investigation, so while the murderer WAS predetermined at the beginning of the game, the conspiracy can change who will actually be convicted.

I have a couple of issues that need to be resolved, namely Lily and Jimmy's rules need to be rewritten, as they now have the same power as following a lead. A couple ideas I'm kicking around are:
- Allow the player to look at another player's Hunches.
- Allow the player to look at another player's Twilight cards.
- Allow the player to look at the top Conspiracy token of each type.
- Allow the player to look at something (if anything) another player has written down about the suspects...

Other possible changes are the way Alibi tokens work, and if the meaning of Strong vs Weak evidence still remains the same. Another issue I foresee is one of scale-- with more players meaning more suspects, it's going to be quite a bit harder to figure out who has the most evidence token points because you still have the same number of turns to inspect them.

Like I said, this is only my initial thoughts, and I'd love it if many players chimed in and we collectively come up with the best variant possible, so all ideas are welcome and open for discussion.

Desco
 
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R. Frazier
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I think what you're talking about might be mechanically successful, however I don't think fans of "mystery" games would find it satisfying.

I think in order to turn Android into a mystery solving game, you need to completely discard the evidence mechanic and all cards relating to evidence or evidence tokens, then create expanded suspect profiles with lots and lots of details a deck of "evidence cards" that the players draw through. The evidence cards will contain hints as to who the "real killer" is, such as blood type, fiber evidence, location, etc., etc.

For the cost of one of each kind of favor, a player can accuse a suspect. He then turns over that suspect's "accusation" card. If he's right, he gets 15 VPs and the game ends. If he's wrong, he gets -10 VPs and the game continues. He also gets to keep the "accusation" card which might contain an additional special hint or something.

This is more of a complete rework, the kind you said you don't like, but IMO the game you're talking about would be equally unsatisfying to "mystery" game fans and also mechanically inferior to the original rules.
 
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Allen Doum
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Many of the events that effect evidence would have to be removed or rewritten to do this. For example, the Slash event from the introductory scenario.

Both this and Chris's variant have "deduction" based on evidence tokens. I didn't think that his variant made for a deduction game, and I don't think this will either. His was based on deducing from player behavior, when that behavior might be deliberately deceptive. Yours might lead to situations where the random evidence would quickly point to a suspect. Since that would shorten the game, how would you determine the effect of Plots?

One question: Do you intend to arrange the evidence counters so that players can know which ones they have looked at? This is an issue in the base game as well. Some threads have assumed that you would know which counters that you have looked at, or at least which players played each counter. I don't think that was the intent. So how do you stand on this?

In general, I think that you will be changing more of the game than you intend to. The various systems are not really independent.
 
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Chris J Davis
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rylfrazier wrote:
I think what you're talking about might be mechanically successful, however I don't think fans of "mystery" games would find it satisfying.

I think in order to turn Android into a mystery solving game, you need to completely discard the evidence mechanic and all cards relating to evidence or evidence tokens, then create expanded suspect profiles with lots and lots of details a deck of "evidence cards" that the players draw through. The evidence cards will contain hints as to who the "real killer" is, such as blood type, fiber evidence, location, etc., etc.

For the cost of one of each kind of favor, a player can accuse a suspect. He then turns over that suspect's "accusation" card. If he's right, he gets 15 VPs and the game ends. If he's wrong, he gets -10 VPs and the game continues. He also gets to keep the "accusation" card which might contain an additional special hint or something.

This is more of a complete rework, the kind you said you don't like, but IMO the game you're talking about would be equally unsatisfying to "mystery" game fans and also mechanically inferior to the original rules.


I would disagree. That is simply one way in which a mystery solving game could be implemented, but there are many others, including what the OP suggests. Just because you might not be satisfied with that particular style of game doesn't mean that others wouldn't. The OP's hypothetical ruleset sounds like a perfectly good and enjoyable idea to me.
 
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Chris J Davis
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I agree with Allen in that the biggest obstacle to overcome would be the cards that allow players to look at evidence on the suspects, which would suddenly become a *lot* more powerful with this variant.

However, sick as I am of the "can't do" attitude of people on this site when it comes to variants, I would say that even this is a problem that can be overcome. I'm also not in favour of changing anything in a game that takes it *too* far away from the original mechanics, or introduces additional components, or whatever. What I *do* find acceptible in circumstances where it is required is introducing blanket rules that cover all situations where a particular phrase appears on cards or in the rules. So for example, with this variant you could say that whenever the phrase...

"...may look at all evidence on a single suspect sheet..."

...appears on a card or in the rules, you read it as meaning...

"...may look at all evidence of a single type on any one suspect sheet..."

...or...

"...may look at any one piece of evidence on any one suspect sheet..."

Problem solved.

Games like Android are not balanced to precision. It is not a Euro. Modifications like this may change the game balance, but they will not break it, providing you are reasonably careful.

As for the problem of scaling this variant with number of players, the solution is an easy one. At the start of the game place a number of tokens on each suspect according to the number of players:

3-players: 5 tokens in each file
4-players: 4 tokens in each file
5-players: 3 tokens in each file

Hope this helps, and happy gaming!
 
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Christopher Todesco
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I don't think either Chris nor I are attempting to turn Android into a "Mystery" style game, nor are we trying to cater to fans of that style of game. Those games tend to be either too detailed and specific to be replayable (since you already know the solution), or in an attempt to be replayable are too general and random to be interesting. What we're attempting to do address the common complaint that Android is not so much "finding a killer" as it is "framing a suspect" by adding in the Clue(do)/Mystery at the Abbey/Guess Who style "Deduction" gaming that the designers said they didn't want. As stated, a "Mystery" style game would require major changes, while we are attempting to make as few changes as possible by predetermining the murderer and using the already existing systems (i.e. evidence tokens) to give the players the information they need to deduce the killer's identity.

As for events that effect evidence, I fail to see why those would have to be changed or chucked. I looked through the event cards (as I haven't played enough to have encountered them all) and didn't see the "Slash" event you are referring to, but saw many events that would cause evidence to be removed from various suspects. I'm okay with this. Evidence in cop-drama TV shows gets destroyed all the time. And sure, this system pre-determines a murderer at least from the start, but that doesn't mean that suspect has to be the one convicted at the end of the game... I'm going to have to go through all of the cards in more detail to determine for sure, but I didn't see any that would cause a real game-breaking problem.

On scale, I think we've come up with a solution that scales-- The limiting factor on how many leads you can follow is time, which is fixed. Increasing the number of suspects and number of tokens in each file makes it harder to get all of the information needed to make a good accusation. Increasing the number of players doesn't change how many leads you can follow nor how much information is needed to make a good accusation, so why should number of suspects or number of evidence tokens in each file change?

What we're currently working with is the idea to use the same number of suspects regardless of number of players (probably all of them), and place only one token in each file to start. This may not only solve the scale issue, but two other issues brought up-- one, it reduces the power of events that let you look at all of the evidence on one suspect, and two since there is only one token in each file, it makes it easier to keep track of which evidence you've already looked at. If tokens get added or changed later by the conspiracy or events, that messes things up a bit, but isn't that the point?

We're going to try this style this weekend, with no other mods, and see how it works...

 
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Chris J Davis
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Hi Christopher!

I must say, I like the idea you've come up with. If it weren't for the fact that I've already developed a variant myself that I'm happy with, then I would definitely be using yours! I especially like the fact that, like in my variant, although there is a killer predetermined at the start, he's not necessarily the one that will be convicted.

I think the event that is being referred to is "Noise is cooking up something nasty" (it's Noise, not Slash). It's the one that removes all evidence tokens from suspects about 3/4 of the way through the game. I'm of the opinion that that event needs errata-ing even when not using variant rules anyway.

By scaling the number of tokens in each file you can keep the total number of tokens relatively even, but spread out over more or less suspects (providing you base the number of suspects on how many players there are in the game). So using the numbers I supplied above:

3-player game: 4 suspects, 5 evidence per file, 60 evidence total
4-player game: 5 suspects, 4 evidence per file, 60 evidence total
5-player game: 6 suspects, 3 evidence per file, 54 evidence total

You're right though in that with your system maybe it's not neccessary to vary the number of suspects with the number of players, so you can just use the same number of suspects in every game. You just need to figure out how many leads a single detective can realistically look at in the course of one game, and make it so that the total amount of starting evidence on suspects is around the same figure.

Report back on how it goes!
 
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Allen Doum
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Yes, I meant the Noise scenario event. Slash must be a ghost sneeking in from some other cyberpunk universe. I have no problem with the event in the published game. The effects can be prevented by any character, but it will also be to some players advantage to let it trigger.

The probliem with making a blanket change in how some events are resolved, is that some of the character are better at those effects. Because of the more powerful events, it will be hard to say that a given game was balanced. But if a change adversly effects one character more that the others, it is also hard to say that there is not an effect on balance.
 
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AllenDoum wrote:
Yes, I meant the Noise scenario event. Slash must be a ghost sneeking in from some other cyberpunk universe. I have no problem with the event in the published game. The effects can be prevented by any character, but it will also be to some players advantage to let it trigger.

The probliem with making a blanket change in how some events are resolved, is that some of the character are better at those effects. Because of the more powerful events, it will be hard to say that a given game was balanced. But if a change adversly effects one character more that the others, it is also hard to say that there is not an effect on balance.


I'm not going to get into a discussion on the suckiness of the Noise event here - that's for another thread.

Are you trying to imply that the characters, as they are in the base game, are perfectly balanced?
 
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Allen Doum
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bleached_lizard wrote:
Are you trying to imply that the characters, as they are in the base game, are perfectly balanced?

I'm just saying that a variant can change the balance.

I am willing, without seeing any evidence to the contrary, to believe that the publishers balanced the characters during playtesting. But it wouldn't be the first time if that didn't turn out the way they intended.
 
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While it's true the game is not about deducing who the murder was, deduction does play an important role in the game as it is, because guessing your opponent's hunches is essential to increase your chances at scoring yours.

You have to observe your opponents all the time and see where they place evidence (and even use the snitch to peek at it) and see how they react to your evidence, etc... This is a more satisfying deduction work than any "deduction" mechanic which is only about finding hidden information during the game.

Any variant that removes that aspect of the game will actually make the game less about deduction because hiding information and then providing mechanics to finding it out doesn't really require deduction on your part, just adding up the evidence you found and making a choice...

And if you allow for the evidence to actually be modified then you're basically nullifying any previous work the detectives do. Moving an evidence token from one suspect to another will change things too much, and as there's only one card for each guilty hunch, it will be used against the player that has the correct guilty hunch. So in the end the game becomes a tug of war, drawing conspiracy puzzle pieces hoping you can modify who will be convicted so your opponent doesn't win...
 
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AllenDoum wrote:
bleached_lizard wrote:
Are you trying to imply that the characters, as they are in the base game, are perfectly balanced?

I'm just saying that a variant can change the balance.

I am willing, without seeing any evidence to the contrary, to believe that the publishers balanced the characters during playtesting. But it wouldn't be the first time if that didn't turn out the way they intended.


Of course a variant will change the balance. But it's very important to remember that just because something is different doesn't mean that it's neccessarily worse (or better). Just different.

If in the base game Louis has a 15% better chance of winning than Caprice, but with the variant rules, Caprice has a 17.5% better chance of winning than Louis, what's the big deal? Are you really going to get your knickers in a twist over that extra 2.5% and role reversal if the game is 200% more enjoyable to play?
 
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Allen Doum
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bleached_lizard wrote:


If in the base game Louis has a 15% better chance of winning than Caprice, but with the variant rules, Caprice has a 17.5% better chance of winning than Louis, what's the big deal? Are you really going to get your knickers in a twist over that extra 2.5% and role reversal if the game is 200% more enjoyable to play?

Straw man arguement. I can do that too. What if in the published game, Louis has a 5% better chance of winning than Caprice, but with the variant rules, Caprice has a 20% better chance of winning than Louis. Is that a bigger deal? Yet you changed the number more.

I don't know if the game is balanced. I just assume that balance was considered in the playtesting. Any of these variants could change the balance by a large amount. Again, I don't know. And I don't think you know either.

Quote:
... if the game is 200% more enjoyable to play?

You have made your opinion of the base game (and your own variant) clear. What is equally clear is that others don't agree with you.
 
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Christopher Todesco
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Well thanks to a death in the family, I didn't get as much gaming is as I had hoped for the weekend, even with two days off work for bereavement.. But with this variant, using 5 suspects with 2 pieces of evidence in each file, a couple things became very apparent-- none of which break the game.

1. You can't play 1 week games. With the stock rules, you can end the game short after 1 week, add up the score, determine a winner, and go to bed. Sure, you probably didn't have enough time to uncover enough of the conspiracy to make a difference, but you've placed enough evidence to assign guilt, and playing the conspiracy pieces wasn't all for naught... You still get bonuses for playing those pieces. However, with this variant, after 1 week you didn't have enough time to see enough of the evidence to make a good guess.

2. There definitely needs to be a few more house rules, but not because of cards that remove evidence. (In fact, we encountered "Noise is up to something" or whatever event that removes all evidence) The problem was first noticed with Rachel's plot that said she gets 1 good baggage every time she places evidence. Easy in the stock rules, quite a bit harder in this variant. We decided any event that is conditional on placing evidence becomes conditional on inspecting evidence, but any event that lets you place evidence still lets you place evidence.

3. Although like has been observed, this definitely changes the balance of rules, especially those that wipes evidence off the sheet, it's definitely not for the worse... It just changes the game. For instance, Noise's event that wipes ALL sheets caused quite a scramble for the events that let you place additional evidence. Jorge pointed out that changing the evidence in the files nullifies work previously done by other detectives. While this is true, there aren't many events which are all that drastic, expect perhaps Noise's aforementioned event, which drastically nullified work of the other detectives even in the stock game. What it creates is instances of "Crap, new evidence!" and a scramble for finding out what it is...

4. You can't ignore the case. Although the same can be said for the stock rules, I've seen players follow only a few leads to place evidence, spend most of their time chasing their plot, and still win their guilty hunch. You can't win hunches in this variant (and I would assume Chris's variant will have the same issue) without devoting a majority of your Time following leads.



As I said before, I like the stock rules. This variant is meant to address some peoples' concern that the game doesn't feel like you're investigating a murder, and it does, to an extent, change the feel to more closely match its investigation roots. It was an interesting change, which is what this is all about, and I will still continue playing with it to see how it adapts.
 
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Allen Doum
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Glad you got a chance to try it. Sorry my part in the redirection of your thread. But I would still like to know the answer to the question in my first post.

AllenDoum wrote:
One question: Do you intend to arrange the evidence counters so that players can know which ones they have looked at? This is an issue in the base game as well. Some threads have assumed that you would know which counters that you have looked at, or at least which players played each counter. I don't think that was the intent. So how do you stand on this?

 
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Christopher Todesco
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With only 1 evidence per file, you wouldn't need to keep track of which counters you've already looked at. However, as I said, this was with 2 evidence per file, and evidence gets added. We did play in such a way to keep the evidence in the same "order" (left to right on the file), as do we play that way with the stock rules too.
 
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AllenDoum wrote:
bleached_lizard wrote:


If in the base game Louis has a 15% better chance of winning than Caprice, but with the variant rules, Caprice has a 17.5% better chance of winning than Louis, what's the big deal? Are you really going to get your knickers in a twist over that extra 2.5% and role reversal if the game is 200% more enjoyable to play?

Straw man arguement. I can do that too. What if in the published game, Louis has a 5% better chance of winning than Caprice, but with the variant rules, Caprice has a 20% better chance of winning than Louis. Is that a bigger deal? Yet you changed the number more.

I don't know if the game is balanced. I just assume that balance was considered in the playtesting. Any of these variants could change the balance by a large amount. Again, I don't know. And I don't think you know either.

Quote:
... if the game is 200% more enjoyable to play?

You have made your opinion of the base game (and your own variant) clear. What is equally clear is that others don't agree with you.


Not a straw man argument. The specific numbers are not important - it's a matter of degrees. You can change the numbers however you want - as long as whichever individual in question is happy with the balance between character balance and enjoyment of gameplay, that's the main thing.

One important point I'm trying to make is that in most Ameritrash games it's actually (providing you are quite experienced with games and have an ounce of intelligence about you) quite difficult to upset the balance so severely that one character gains an overwhelming advantage over another and the game becomes unenjoyable to play. Especially a game like Android which is quite chaotic to begin with.

And I'd say what's *very* clear is the 406 people who have downloaded my variant, thank you very much.

Anyway, back on topic...
 
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Desco wrote:
Well thanks to a death in the family, I didn't get as much gaming is as I had hoped for the weekend, even with two days off work for bereavement.. But with this variant, using 5 suspects with 2 pieces of evidence in each file, a couple things became very apparent-- none of which break the game.

1. You can't play 1 week games. With the stock rules, you can end the game short after 1 week, add up the score, determine a winner, and go to bed. Sure, you probably didn't have enough time to uncover enough of the conspiracy to make a difference, but you've placed enough evidence to assign guilt, and playing the conspiracy pieces wasn't all for naught... You still get bonuses for playing those pieces. However, with this variant, after 1 week you didn't have enough time to see enough of the evidence to make a good guess.

2. There definitely needs to be a few more house rules, but not because of cards that remove evidence. (In fact, we encountered "Noise is up to something" or whatever event that removes all evidence) The problem was first noticed with Rachel's plot that said she gets 1 good baggage every time she places evidence. Easy in the stock rules, quite a bit harder in this variant. We decided any event that is conditional on placing evidence becomes conditional on inspecting evidence, but any event that lets you place evidence still lets you place evidence.

3. Although like has been observed, this definitely changes the balance of rules, especially those that wipes evidence off the sheet, it's definitely not for the worse... It just changes the game. For instance, Noise's event that wipes ALL sheets caused quite a scramble for the events that let you place additional evidence. Jorge pointed out that changing the evidence in the files nullifies work previously done by other detectives. While this is true, there aren't many events which are all that drastic, expect perhaps Noise's aforementioned event, which drastically nullified work of the other detectives even in the stock game. What it creates is instances of "Crap, new evidence!" and a scramble for finding out what it is...

4. You can't ignore the case. Although the same can be said for the stock rules, I've seen players follow only a few leads to place evidence, spend most of their time chasing their plot, and still win their guilty hunch. You can't win hunches in this variant (and I would assume Chris's variant will have the same issue) without devoting a majority of your Time following leads.



As I said before, I like the stock rules. This variant is meant to address some peoples' concern that the game doesn't feel like you're investigating a murder, and it does, to an extent, change the feel to more closely match its investigation roots. It was an interesting change, which is what this is all about, and I will still continue playing with it to see how it adapts.


Commiserations on your loss, Chris - hope you're okay...

One point to make:

I know this might sound a bit obsessive, but if you're going to develop house rules I would first advise reading through *every single card* in the game to see if anything conflicts with what you are trying to achieve. You can usually catch most things before you playtest for the first time this way.

But maybe that's just my OCD manifesting itself. blush
 
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