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Subject: Balanced Dilution (for playing with all expansions) rss

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Jon W
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If you combine all Mythos cards from all expansions, you will see "dilution" of game effects, especially activity in Dunwich and Innsmouth, and of course the Next Act Begins cards from the King in Yellow. A couple of nice variants have been created to address this, one by SanguinousRex and another by kungfro. Both require that you separate the current deck into two or three parts, then roll prior to drawing to see which pile you draw from. SanguinousRex's nudges the odds of these game effects up a little, and kungfro's goes the other direction and bumps them way up. I encourage you to go check them out.

While both are fine variants, I decided neither was quite what I was looking for. So I came up with this, using this excellent stats file from ricedwlit and a simple script to test some different approaches. Not sure what to call it, so I'll go with "Balanced Dilution," as it's somewhere in the middle.

Balanced Dilution variant:
When you draw a Mythos card, if the gate location is not in Arkham or it is a "Next Act" or "Story Continues" card, resolve it normally. Otherwise, draw a new Mythos card and resolve it normally.


Or, restated:
If your Mythos draw shows a gate in Arkham, or no gate at all (but it is not a Next Act or Story Continues card), discard it and redraw, resolving the new card regardless.

Some odds: if you play with Dunwich alone, you'll draw a Dunwich gate 25/102 times (25%); Innmouth alone: 33/102 (32%); King in Yellow alone: 6/93 (7%). If you combine all expansions, there are 18 "non-gate" cards, and 146 Arkham gate cards. The "normal" distribution for "non-gate" cards is hard to say, as if you play with only one expansion (small or large) you get very low numbers (3% or so), but once you add on a few expansions it jumps up quite a bit. Throwing everything into one big deck creates this distribution:
Arkham gates: 64%
Dunwich gates: 11%
Innsmouth gates: 14%
Next Act cards: 2.5%
Non-Gate cards: 8%
...so each of the effects we wish to preserve occurs well under half of its "in isolation" frequency. (IMHO, it's more useful to look at the distribution like this instead of by which expansion the card came from, as the latter is very muddy in terms of game effects.)

The problem I had with preserving the "in isolation" frequency (as kungfro's variant does), is that the distribution looks like this:
Arkham gates: 33%
Dunwich gates: 24%
Innsmouth gates: 32%
Next Act cards: 6%
Non-Gate cards: 4%
...so the vast majority of activity occurs away from Arkham. IMHO, Arkham should be the hub of activity, with occasional necessary trips out of town to deal with the hot spots. As a very simplistic comparison, there are 9 Arkham neighborhoods, and 10 non-Arkham neighborhoods (though Kingsport is inflated, considering the lack of unstable locations). Note too that playing any expansion in isolation has Arkham having 66% or more of the activity, so dropping that to 33% feels too extreme. I don't want to go too far down the path of justifying this detail, but ending up with an even split between Arkham and "Everything Else" seems about right.

The distribution with the "Balanced Dilution" variant looks like this:
Arkham gates: 46%
Dunwich gates: 19%
Innsmouth gates: 25%
Next Act cards: 4.5%
Non-Gate cards: 5.5%
...so you end up with a reasonable improvement in Dunwich (+8%), Innsmouth (+9%), and Next Act (+2%), while still keeping Arkham and non-gate cards in play. There is a little mechanical fuss (I would have loved to be able to omit the clumsy "Next Act" clause, but if you redraw on Arkham-only, you get 13% non-gate cards, which is too many). I also would like Next Act to be a bit more frequent, but it's nearly twice as probable as without any variant, so I'm OK with it. (Best would probably be to buy another copy of King in Yellow and add a few cards, but down that path lies...madness, right? goo )

Hopefully this will be of use to someone, and of course feel free to offer criticisms and suggestions.
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Tibs
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I mean, I like it. Your variant and mine just aim to reduce a different type of dilution. Mine is FULLY mechanic-based, yours is a little more theme-based.

I was also thinking about not caring anymore about Dunwich or Innsmouth, and focusing SOLELY on the Next Act cards. Either I would make sure that my mythos deck was ALWAYS 94 cards (the Story Continues and the six Next Acts would always be in there), or my "small" deck was nothing more than the six Next Act cards; I would draw from them on like a 1-in-16 roll either INSTEAD of the turn's mythos card, or in ADDITION to the mythos card.

To be honest, the Next Act issue bugs me more than the Dunwich or Innsmouth issue.
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Simple and awesome.

The number of decks on the table drives me... insane. The fewer decks, the better! Can you use the Strange Aeons custom content generator to make a Scenario (or whatever) card for this variant? For the flavor title, I'd go with "Bigger Is Not Always Better".
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Rich Dodgin
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I think I'm missing something here... Does this mean you never get any gates appearing in Arkham itself?

Or is that you only ever re-draw if the first card you draw is showing an Arkham gate? (i.e, you don't re-draw and then re-draw again if the second card is also showing an Arkham gate?).

[edit: Think I've just answered my own question by rereading the instructions above. I like it !]
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Barry Figgins
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What about the cards, I think from King in Yellow, that have no gate, but add two Doom tokens?
Could you rephrase the restriction to just be 'does not have an expansion icon'?
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Christopher Scatliff
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beri wrote:
What about the cards, I think from King in Yellow, that have no gate, but add two Doom tokens?
Could you rephrase the restriction to just be 'does not have an expansion icon'?

I don't like this idea. Your gate burst percentage would vastly increase, for one.
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Jon W
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kungfro wrote:
Mine is FULLY mechanic-based, yours is a little more theme-based.

Yes and no. Too few Arkham cards do mess with the "normal" burst and/or gate opening percentages, because you'll end up seeing too many of the "hot" Dunwich/Innsmouth gates.

Quote:
To be honest, the Next Act issue bugs me more than the Dunwich or Innsmouth issue.

Yeah, it's a tough one to get around without a lot of fussy extra rules. A really easy thing to do would be to have Story Continues double as a Next Act. Mild boost, to be sure, but it would matter over the course of a few games.
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Jon W
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beri wrote:
What about the cards, I think from King in Yellow, that have no gate, but add two Doom tokens?
Could you rephrase the restriction to just be 'does not have an expansion icon'?

There are double doom cards from several expansions, not just KiY. And some other "non-gate" ones, such as Strange Sightings (all monsters move, and a clue is given out, but nothing else).

To your second point, I'm not sure I understand it. If I'm reading you right, you mean redraw only the 66 base Arkham cards? You could do it, but it would skew the percentages way off from where I have them. You're talking the difference between redrawing on 146/228 cards vs. 66/228, so it would be a much milder nudge, and would inflate the non-gates too much (for my tastes) as well as rendering the Next Acts basically moot.
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Jon W
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richdodgin wrote:
Think I've just answered my own question by rereading the instructions above.

Yes, I think you have. Here's another way to look at it:

1. Draw mythos card.
2a. If card shows gate outside Arkham, or is a Next Act or Story Continues, go to 3.
2b. Otherwise (card has Arkham gate or no gate), discard that card and draw a new one.
3. Resolve the card.

So no, you don't revisit step 2a with the 2nd card. You draw 1 or 2, never more.

[edited for better clarity, I hope]
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Christopher Scatliff
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waddball wrote:
A really easy thing to do would be to have Story Continues double as a Next Act.

Oooh, that's good.

Definitely going to try this plan next game.
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Rich Dodgin
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Has anyone been able to try this variant out yet? If so, how did it work out?

I've had a busy week, but I'm hoping to try this out sometime in the next few days...
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Jon W
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richdodgin wrote:
Has anyone been able to try this variant out yet? If so, how did it work out?

I've had a busy week, but I'm hoping to try this out sometime in the next few days...

I've tried it, and am trying it currently (midway through another game now). I like it overall (I would hope so). Any game of AH can be streaky, so I trust the math/simulation more than spotty empirical tests (well, until you build up enough of them). Anyway, so far it's good, there's enough, but not too much, activity in Dunwich and Innsmouth. Next Act has not worked out, but it's funny, because when Story Continues hit, I looked at the next few cards before shuffling (just for fun), and they were: something - Next Act - something - Next Act. So the mythos had it in for us there, but we dodged the bullet.
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Rich Dodgin
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Sounds good
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Jon W
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Just to follow on, report in, checkpoint, whatever, I've now played 3 more games with this variant and think it works pretty well. There's plenty of non-Arkham activity, but Arkham is also involved (and with a ~50/50 split, that's no surprise). Innsmouth's DOR track is relevant, and we've had two imminent Dunwich problems that had to be dealt with (or so we felt).

The King in Yellow has been the casualty, but with only 4 games using this, that's no shock given the rarity. I may become concerned if it isn't a factor after the next few games, but for now I'll leave it as is.
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Christian Demers
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Sounds very good (I gave you a thumbs up!) and we'll give it a try my girlfriend and I on our next session.

Can't wait to see it at work!
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Matt Lernout
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An elegant dilution solution. I approve.
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Malach DeMedici
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Played with this rule about three time using DH, King in Yellow or the Pharoah Expansion.

EXCELLENT House rule for that, worked EXTREMELY well. Balanced the game really well, got the Dunwich Horror active both times well balanced gate placements and surges. Easy to use and I HIGHLY RECOMMEND
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Just a quick note for everyone who plans on using this: Take out that spell that lets you look at the top 3 cards of the mythos deck and put them back in any order. With this anti-dilution rule that spell becomes overpowered, especially if you have a unique item that lowers spell cost by 1 and an investigator who can reliably cast the spell. It basically lets you discard mythos cards at will. Happened in my last game.

Just because I'm curious: Are there any other exploits like this? And can I somehow save the spell instead of having to take it out? Seeing as I'm playing this variant so I can have everything in one enormous game, I'd love to have all the spells in, too
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How would this variant work when playing with ONLY KiY, Dunwich, and Innsmouth?

Would the Next Act/Gates on other boards percentages be too high?

EDIT: I did the math on this, and with these three expansions, I found 2 tweaks to your variant that gives very close results to yours. First, you add non-gate cards to the list of things that immediately get resolved, leaving only Arkham gates to be redrawn. Second, you only redraw half the time. This ends up reading:

If the first mythos card would open a gate in Arkham, roll a die. On a 1-3, resolve it. On a 4-6, draw a second card and resolve that. This yields:

45.3% Arkham Gates
25.8% Innsmouth Gates
19.5% Dunwich Gates
4.7% Next Act Begins
4.7% Non-gate

It's clumsier than yours because of the die roll, but non-Arkham stuff is WAY too inflated if you just apply your variant to this set of expansions.

Anyone else using only SOME expansions, play around with something like this. Maybe with your particular set of expansions you only redraw on a 1-2, or maybe you redraw non-gates, but tweaking those two variables will probably get you good results.
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ignorantpenguin wrote:

If the first mythos card would open a gate in Arkham, roll a die. On a 1-3, resolve it. On a 4-6, draw a second card and resolve that.


On a 4-6, what do you do with the 1st card? Shuffle back in or discard?
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Jon W
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Update: I have a new "Redux" version of this variant, prompted by (a) the release of Arkham Horror: The Lurker at the Threshold Expansion, and (b) the Next Act issue noted above (that is, there are too few of them).

If you're not at all bothered by the King in Yellow play not pressuring you often enough, then this old version still works fine. But I think the new version is generally better.
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Jon W
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Zlarp wrote:
And can I somehow save the spell instead of having to take it out? Seeing as I'm playing this variant so I can have everything in one enormous game, I'd love to have all the spells in, too

My take on it: use the spell as normal, but use the variant to determine what the next 3 active mythos cards will be (that is, the ones which would not be discarded). Then set those 3 aside (in the order you like, per the spell) and use them without the variant applied (since they've already been run through the filter of the variant).

A little fussy, but...this is Arkham Horror. goo
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waddball wrote:
Zlarp wrote:
And can I somehow save the spell instead of having to take it out? Seeing as I'm playing this variant so I can have everything in one enormous game, I'd love to have all the spells in, too

My take on it: use the spell as normal, but use the variant to determine what the next 3 active mythos cards will be (that is, the ones which would not be discarded). Then set those 3 aside (in the order you like, per the spell) and use them without the variant applied (since they've already been run through the filter of the variant).

A little fussy, but...this is Arkham Horror. goo



I have a proposal for that's slightly less fussy; just tweak this variant so that the second Mythos card comes from the bottom of the Mythos deck. That would keep the second Mythos card immune to Zlarp's spell (Arcane Insight? or Science Building encounter?), nerfing the spell slightly instead of buffing it.

Thus, it would read like this:

If your drawn Mythos card shows a gate in Arkham, or no gate at all (but it is not a Next Act or Story Continues card), then discard it, and reveal and resolve the bottom card of the Mythos deck.

* This assumes that Mythos discards are going into a separate discard pile, and there aren't any effects that I'm forgetting about which allow players to mess with the bottom of the Mythos deck.
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Efka Bladukas
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Simple, elegant and effective. Thank you!
 
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Dan Fielding
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Have you revisited this since Miskatonic Horror?

Aside from the two other methods you mentioned, I have a download by "busby" which is undated. It divides the cards into a stack for each gate location, and uses a deck of cards to determine which stack to draw from.
 
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