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Shadows over Camelot: Merlin's Company» Forums » Variants

Subject: A Collection of Variants rss

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Cameron McKenzie
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My friend hosts gaming parties every couple of months, and Shadows Over Camelot quickly became a favorite. Unfortunately, there are a few things that almost everyone doesn't like about it, and a few things I was kind of interested in fixing myself. These are a few ideas I might try next time I play with the group:


Loyal King Arthur

This is partially a thematic thing, but I decided that we could try not giving King Arthur a loyalty card. He has no chance of being a traitor. It makes things a little more interesting, since you know there is one person you can definitely trust. It allows them to take on a leadership role of sorts, and makes King Arthur stand out among the knights as he should.


Number of Traitors


When we played with 7, the group complained that 2 traitors was too many, but I felt that 1 traitor wouldn't be enough. Since Merlin's Company provides plenty of new loyalty cards, the solution is easy. For certain player numbers, you will create two loyalty decks. Deal one at the start, and one at a certain number of swords on the round table. When the second set is dealt, everyone passes a "Loyal" card to the left, unless one player got both Traitor cards in which case he passes one. This prevents one player from getting both Traitor cards and being the only traitor, and creates a rare situation in which the traitors know each other as a result, which may be interesting.

8p: 2 traitors at start
7p: 1 traitor at start, 1 more at 3 swords
6p: 1 traitor at start, 1 more at 6 swords
5p: 1 traitor at 3 swords, 1 traitor at 6 swords
4p: 1 traitor at start

This means an average of 1/4 of the turns will be taken by traitors. I decided to go against a starting traitor with 5p because that would put the second traitor at 9 swords, and it would suck to get your team changed that late in the game. This makes certain number of players between 5 and 7 more difficult than they should be, but this may be balanced by using the next option.


Travel Card Choice


Everyone in the group hates the travel cards, but I didn't want to just get rid of them. On the other hand, the Captured! card was just way too random for something that is practically eliminating a player from the game. Instead, when a player moves they draw two cards from the top of the deck, and choose 1 to encounter. The other one goes back ON TOP of the travel deck. When 1 card is left in the deck, the discards are shuffled and the 1 card is put ON TOP.

Nobody liked the captured card, but with this variant the captured card will get stuck on top giving players not much of a choice with travel cards. But they still have a choice. No player is forced to be captured just because of bad luck, but they may decide to if the alternative is Charged and they don't have the pair.

It also gives unrevealed traitors more ways to hurt the loyal knights, although not so secretly. They have more chances to draw and play the "Charged" and "Ambushed" travel cards, which traitors love.


Traitor Sword Flip


It never made sense to me that a second traitor at the game's end would cause a third sword to be flipped. It is hard enough that you had a second traitor to begin with. Instead, in games with two traitors, EACH traitor that is unrevealed at the end will flip one sword. If there is only one traitor in the game, he still gets to flip over both swords.
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MasterDinadan wrote:
My friend hosts gaming parties every couple of months, and Shadows Over Camelot quickly became a favorite. Unfortunately, there are a few things that almost everyone doesn't like about it, and a few things I was kind of interested in fixing myself. These are a few ideas I might try next time I play with the group:


Loyal King Arthur

This is partially a thematic thing, but I decided that we could try not giving King Arthur a loyalty card. He has no chance of being a traitor. It makes things a little more interesting, since you know there is one person you can definitely trust. It allows them to take on a leadership role of sorts, and makes King Arthur stand out among the knights as he should.


Number of Traitors


When we played with 7, the group complained that 2 traitors was too many, but I felt that 1 traitor wouldn't be enough. Since Merlin's Company provides plenty of new loyalty cards, the solution is easy. For certain player numbers, you will create two loyalty decks. Deal one at the start, and one at a certain number of swords on the round table. When the second set is dealt, everyone passes a "Loyal" card to the left, unless one player got both Traitor cards in which case he passes one. This prevents one player from getting both Traitor cards and being the only traitor, and creates a rare situation in which the traitors know each other as a result, which may be interesting.


8p: 2 traitors at start
7p: 1 traitor at start, 1 more at 3 swords
6p: 1 traitor at start, 1 more at 6 swords
5p: 1 traitor at 3 swords, 1 traitor at 6 swords
4p: 1 traitor at start

This means an average of 1/4 of the turns will be taken by traitors. I decided to go against a starting traitor with 5p because that would put the second traitor at 9 swords, and it would suck to get your team changed that late in the game. This makes certain number of players between 5 and 7 more difficult than they should be, but this may be balanced by using the next option.


Travel Card Choice


Everyone in the group hates the travel cards, but I didn't want to just get rid of them. On the other hand, the Captured! card was just way too random for something that is practically eliminating a player from the game. Instead, when a player moves they draw two cards from the top of the deck, and choose 1 to encounter. The other one goes back ON TOP of the travel deck. When 1 card is left in the deck, the discards are shuffled and the 1 card is put ON TOP.

Nobody liked the captured card, but with this variant the captured card will get stuck on top giving players not much of a choice with travel cards. But they still have a choice. No player is forced to be captured just because of bad luck, but they may decide to if the alternative is Charged and they don't have the pair.

It also gives unrevealed traitors more ways to hurt the loyal knights, although not so secretly. They have more chances to draw and play the "Charged" and "Ambushed" travel cards, which traitors love.


Traitor Sword Flip


It never made sense to me that a second traitor at the game's end would cause a third sword to be flipped. It is hard enough that you had a second traitor to begin with. Instead, in games with two traitors, EACH traitor that is unrevealed at the end will flip one sword. If there is only one traitor in the game, he still gets to flip over both swords.


These variant are all interesting but I'm not sure if they'd be effective or not. Having Arthur be loyal outright means that the knights can indeed band around him, but this gives the heroes a specific advantage and removes a crucial element from the game...distrust. Sure Arthur will distrust everyone, but it means that its one less knight that anyone could suspect. Still, its an interesting way to play.

The travel deck, I think, is a must. It's essential to increasing the difficulty of the game. Being able to pick one of the two may be a bit too easy, but if you do this I would say that the last person HAS to draw the final card. That way it seems a bit more balanced for evil.

The third one is interesting. I'd have to see how that played out. I do think that two traitors is really the only way this game should be played with 7 people. We always found that one traitor wasn't harsh enough.

I think the sword flip thing is spot on perfect. I wouldn't change that at all. The three sword flip means its imperative that the knights try and discern who the traitor is before the game is over. Otherwise, they could be in for a huge upset. I like the element this adds to the game.

Glad to see people are thinking though, as I feel like this game has been replaced by Battlestar Galactica.
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Cameron McKenzie
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Most of these do make the game easier, but the group I play with has a hard time ever winning as loyal knights as it is. It's simply a cake walk for the traitors. I'll admit that choosing a travel card makes the game a LOT easier so you might have to compensate by tweaking in other areas.

I don't mind a challenge, but my group has started to become discouraged and every time we play they insist that we leave the travel cards out altogether. I do not want it to come to that, so I'm trying to salvage it any way I can.

I will probably also add a rule that the knights start out with fewer life and cards. That means that they can't be quite as picky about drawing black cards (they don't have a lot of life to give up in exchange for not drawing) which might compensate the fact that they have more choice about the travel deck.

It may also be okay to allow travel cards to be canceled by merlins, which incidentally some people in my group constantly try to do anyway. I have to remind them that Merlins only cancel black cards, not travel cards, but maybe I will allow it in future games since these guys hate the travel cards so much.
 
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We play that you draw two travel cards. The one not chosen is discarded, and the one chosen is then removed from the game. We get to the point where we need to reshuffle the travel deck, and now we're choosing from cards that were not chosen- always choosing the lesser of two evils, or at least trying to manage the evil ones as best we can. We love it this way.
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Tomas Hejna
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MasterDinadan wrote:
I don't mind a challenge, but my group has started to become discouraged and every time we play they insist that we leave the travel cards out altogether. I do not want it to come to that, so I'm trying to salvage it any way I can.

Maybe you may try this variant:

1) the travel deck is still present, but for a knight it means a "hasty travel" option.

2) the second option while traveling is a "safe travel"; in this case, a knight will arrive at his destination without the need of revealing a travel deck card BUT he has to skip his action on the next turn as well.

3) you may simulate this by a "double travel" - first remove the knight's figure from the plan (instead of revealing a travel card) then move him on his destination on the next turn.

4) the knight's player has to state the quest on which he is heading immediately when he chooses a "safe travel".
 
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Enrique Dueñas
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MasterDinadan wrote:
My friend hosts gaming parties every couple of months, and Shadows Over Camelot quickly became a favorite. Unfortunately, there are a few things that almost everyone doesn't like about it, and a few things I was kind of interested in fixing myself. These are a few ideas I might try next time I play with the group:


Loyal King Arthur

This is partially a thematic thing, but I decided that we could try not giving King Arthur a loyalty card. He has no chance of being a traitor. It makes things a little more interesting, since you know there is one person you can definitely trust. It allows them to take on a leadership role of sorts, and makes King Arthur stand out among the knights as he should.


Number of Traitors


When we played with 7, the group complained that 2 traitors was too many, but I felt that 1 traitor wouldn't be enough. Since Merlin's Company provides plenty of new loyalty cards, the solution is easy. For certain player numbers, you will create two loyalty decks. Deal one at the start, and one at a certain number of swords on the round table. When the second set is dealt, everyone passes a "Loyal" card to the left, unless one player got both Traitor cards in which case he passes one. This prevents one player from getting both Traitor cards and being the only traitor, and creates a rare situation in which the traitors know each other as a result, which may be interesting.

8p: 2 traitors at start
7p: 1 traitor at start, 1 more at 3 swords
6p: 1 traitor at start, 1 more at 6 swords
5p: 1 traitor at 3 swords, 1 traitor at 6 swords
4p: 1 traitor at start

This means an average of 1/4 of the turns will be taken by traitors. I decided to go against a starting traitor with 5p because that would put the second traitor at 9 swords, and it would suck to get your team changed that late in the game. This makes certain number of players between 5 and 7 more difficult than they should be, but this may be balanced by using the next option.


Travel Card Choice


Everyone in the group hates the travel cards, but I didn't want to just get rid of them. On the other hand, the Captured! card was just way too random for something that is practically eliminating a player from the game. Instead, when a player moves they draw two cards from the top of the deck, and choose 1 to encounter. The other one goes back ON TOP of the travel deck. When 1 card is left in the deck, the discards are shuffled and the 1 card is put ON TOP.

Nobody liked the captured card, but with this variant the captured card will get stuck on top giving players not much of a choice with travel cards. But they still have a choice. No player is forced to be captured just because of bad luck, but they may decide to if the alternative is Charged and they don't have the pair.

It also gives unrevealed traitors more ways to hurt the loyal knights, although not so secretly. They have more chances to draw and play the "Charged" and "Ambushed" travel cards, which traitors love.


Traitor Sword Flip


It never made sense to me that a second traitor at the game's end would cause a third sword to be flipped. It is hard enough that you had a second traitor to begin with. Instead, in games with two traitors, EACH traitor that is unrevealed at the end will flip one sword. If there is only one traitor in the game, he still gets to flip over both swords.


In my last game (6 players), we used the "loyal king arthur" and "travel card choice" variants. It worked GREAT!!
 
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