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Subject: Squash's top 10 variant rules rss

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ATTACK! DELUXE VARIANT OPTIONS


The Disclaimer

Attack! Deluxe is a superb game with the rules as written. So try them first and see how you like them! Then if you want to experiment with some other options, by all means try any or all of the following variant rules and see what you think. The goal is to have fun!

I was a playtester for this game, and as such spent many, many hours not just playing the game, but pouring over the various editions of rules and experimenting with different options. What follows are the 10 changes that I like to incorporate into my own games.


1. Resourceful staring players

I have found Oil and Minerals to be more useful technologies than Factories and Rail Transport at the beginning of the game (although some might argue that Factories are more important than Minerals...). Therefore, I have modified the starting technology options as follows:

FASCISM: choose Minerals 1 or Transport 1
COMMUNISM: choose Transport 1 or Oil 1
MONARCHY: choose Oil 1 or Factories 1
DEMOCRACY: choose Factories 1 or Minerals 1

This way, every government type has the option of choosing to start the game with Oil or Minerals.


2. Remaining incontinent

The Attack! Deluxe rulebook doesn’t specifically state how the continents are divided up for the sake of choosing the players’ starting continents. The Attack! Expansion rulebook gives an illustration of the 6 different continents, but I like to divide them up slightly differently so that each continent has as close to the same number of land regions as possible.

North America: -all regions north of (but not including) Mexico
-11 regions
South America: -all regions from Mexico and south
-9 regions
Europe: -eastern boundary includes Uralsk, Kazakhstan, and Iran
-16 regions
Africa: -north-eastern boundary includes Turkey, Syria-Iraq, and Saudi Arabia
-15 regions
Asia: -western boundary includes Western Sibir and India
-eastern boundaries include Japan and French Indo-China
-16 regions
Oceania -includes Australia and all the eastern islands except Japan
-16 regions

During the setup phase, I like to use game pieces (such as the ship figures) to mark the boundaries of the continents in order to make them easier for players to visualize. Then after setup is complete, I remove these markers before the game begins.


3. The last shall be first

The rulebook states that once setup is complete, players should roll a die to see who becomes the first player for turn 1. Personally, I find that there is a bit of a disadvantage in being the last player during the setup phase, so to mitigate this somewhat, we have the player who was last to set up become the starting player for the first turn. (One of my fellow playtesters has also come up with an excellent method of balancing the setup phase: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/428295).


4. Factoring in the factories

I’ve got no problem with the current Factories technology, but there is another way that is equally fun to play. Instead of counting from the capital region, I treat Factories in the same manner as Oil technology. Every time a player researches Factories, they may put a factory marker on the board in any land region they control that doesn’t already contain a factory marker. With a BUILD action, a player may only place new units in regions that contain a factory. Because factories remain fixed in the land regions, they can also be captured by other players. You could make your own factory markers (using a file such as this: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/file/info/4859), or you could use other game components to represent the factories. Personally, I find that the hotels from Monopoly work splendidly! (You haven't gotten rid of your Monopoly game, have you?)


5. Avoiding prematurely finishing

There’s nothing worse than a premature finish just when everyone is beginning to have fun. It ends up being awkward for all parties involved. I’ve played a game or two where a player did not properly protect his/her capital region and another player used a BLITZ action to suddenly take it over and end the game before turn 1 was even completed. Therefore, I have removed altogether the rule that states the game ends as soon as a player’s capital region is captured. Sure, this leaves open the possibility of the dreaded "player elimination" (we now say that a player is eliminated as soon as they have lost their last army unit), but my new factory rules make it easier to remain competitive even if they lose their capital. I also make it abundantly clear at the start of every game that players need to protect their capital against all possible attacks, or at the very least, to have enough production points to build a new factory if necessary, or enough army units on the board to capture one.


6. An offer they can’t refuse

For those (such as myself) who find that they are all but ignoring the NEGOTIATE action due to the element of luck and the high cost involved, I suggest cutting the cost of negotiating in half. So instead of being 0 PP for a match, 4 PP for an ally, and 8 PP for a hostile, I play 0 PP for a match, 2 PP for an ally, and 4 PP for a hostile. I find that this is more in line with the relative costs of purchasing military units, and people are actually now willing to attempt to negotiate! I’ve made up a set of player reference cards that have the new negotiations chart on one side and military unit information on the other and made them available in the Files section: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/45421


7. Run silent, run basic

I prefer to classify Submarines as a basic unit instead of an advanced unit. The army units have 2 basic (including Artillery, which provide an opening salvo) and 2 advanced units, so I like to do the same with the naval units. This might diminish the value of the Minerals technology slightly, but I find it’s still quite important with half of the units being classified as advanced.


8. Spreading the love

With the setup rules now having players all start on different continents, it’s easy for players to consolidate in one area of land and to come into conflict with only one or two other players during the game (such as North America vs. South America, Europe vs. Africa, Asia vs. Oceania). In order to encourage players to spread out across the map and to therefore increase the amount of player interaction, I have introduced another method of gaining victory points. At the end of the game, I award each player 3 VPs for each different continent on which that player controls at least 1 land region.


9. A man of action

The new Action cards are a fun new element of the game. And because I like fiddling with this sort of thing, I’ve made up 24 new Action cards to add to the 36 that came with the game (although to give credit where credit is due, 4 of them were ideas that I stole from my fellow playtester Bill Andel). Those cards can be found here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/45420 . I’ve simply printed them onto cardstock and sleeved them with the old "Political Action" cards, as well as sleeving the new Action cards. This means that the cards will have slightly different backs, but I don’t find this to be a major issue with the number of cards that are in play.


10. Sir, yes sir!

The final variant is also the biggest change. While the "direction arrow" system of play that Attack! Deluxe utilizes is very effective, I grew rather fond of the "Action card" method (now termed "Orders card" to avoid confusion with the new Action cards) that I adopted for my past Attack! games. Therefore, I have created a set of Orders cards that each contain one of the available actions as well as an "initiative" number. At the beginning of every season, each player secretly chooses one of their Orders cards and players reveal them simultaneously. Then the actions are carried out in order of lowest initiative number to highest. If more than one player played the same card, the order of play starts with the starting player for that year and goes around the table in the direction that had previously been determined by the starting player. After all players have completed their action, these cards are set aside for the remainder of the year and a new card is chosen for the next season. When winter arrives, each player must choose either "BURN" or "DIG IN". Those players that choose "BURN" must then select an Orders card from the ones they have not yet played, and play proceeds as normal according to the initiative numbers. This method of play adds an interesting element of strategic timing for the actions, and the cards give the added benefit of a handy player reference for each action (the cards are here... http://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/45419 ...although the "RESEARCH" card contains my Factories variant and the "NEGOTIATE" card contains my cost variant).

ALTERNATE METHOD OF ORDERS CARD PLAY:
The initiative numbers are ignored and instead, each player’s Orders cards are marked with a different colour. At the beginning of every season, each player secretly chooses an Orders card and these all get shuffled up. The top 2 cards are revealed, and the player who owns the top card takes that action. Then the third card is revealed and the player who owns the second card takes that action. This continues until all players have taken their action for that season. During the winter, players first secretly choose either "BURN" or "DIG IN", and those who chose "BURN" then pick another Orders card. Again, these are shuffled up and play proceeds in the same manner.


Th-th-th-that’s all folks!

And that’s all I’ve got. If you have any questions, comments, or effusive words of praise, please do not hesitate to send a message to "squash" here on BGG. Happy Attack!ing!!

-Josh.


P.S. For those who might wish to print all this off, I've uploaded this entire document to the Files section: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/45418


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Mark Chaplin
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Thanks for taking the time to do this, Squash.



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Squash, I like "DIG IN" better than the "PASS" I put on my own orders cards (http://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/45411).

And the initiative number notion is intriguing! Does each action have the same initiative number, i.e. are all "BLITZ" cards regardless of players a "1" for example? Or does it vary from player to player? And how do you resolve "ties" in initiative?

I'm also thinking a set of order cards that are GOVERNMENT specific would be interesting - it'd be the same basic 8 orders, but the initiative numbers would be different based on the form of government, e.g. Fascists could have higher initiative to BLITZ, Communists higher intiative to NEGOTIATE, Democracies higher initiative to RESEARCH, etc.

Your take on starting tech is something I, too, suspected. I might have to do a new version of my player mats based on it.

I have to disagree with you about NEGOTIATE, though. NEGOTITATE gives you: 1 region, 1 infantry and an action card if you convert the region for 0 PP 25% of the time, 4 PP 50% of the time or 8 PP 25% of the time.

The equivalent would be to BUILD 4 infantry (4 PP) and cash 3 of them in during RESEARCH for a POPULATION card - which, like a region - gives you 1 PP income - and an action card.

So, with NEGOTIATE, you are playing the odds that you'll get a free lunch. I think bumping the costs to convert down by 75% could be reasonable, i.e. 0/3/6 PP vs. 0/4/8, but 0/2/4 I think is too cheap. The other advantage of 0/3/6 is that if you convert first turn, you wouldn't have to spend the oil certificate you start with.
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Thanks for your thoughts Bill - I certainly respect your opinions very much!

With my Orders card variant, there is still a starting player for each turn who decides on the order of actions. This is because all actions of the same type (such as your BLITZ example) have the same initiative number. In case 2 or more players play the same action card, the play for that particular action begins with the starting player and proceeds around the table in the direction that had been chosen by that player.

But I've VERY intrigued by your "different initiative numbers for different government types" idea. I'm going to have to give that some thought, and I'd love to hear if you come up with anything!


bill_andel wrote:
Squash, I like "DIG IN" better than the "PASS" I put on my own orders cards (http://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/45411).

And the initiative number notion is intriguing! Does each action have the same initiative number, i.e. are all "BLITZ" cards regardless of players a "1" for example? Or does it vary from player to player? And how do you resolve "ties" in initiative?

I'm also thinking a set of order cards that are GOVERNMENT specific would be interesting - it'd be the same basic 8 orders, but the initiative numbers would be different based on the form of government, e.g. Fascists could have higher initiative to BLITZ, Communists higher intiative to NEGOTIATE, Democracies higher initiative to RESEARCH, etc.

Your take on starting tech is something I, too, suspected. I might have to do a new version of my player mats based on it.

I have to disagree with you about NEGOTIATE, though. NEGOTITATE gives you: 1 region, 1 infantry and an action card if you convert the region for 0 PP 25% of the time, 4 PP 50% of the time or 8 PP 25% of the time.

The equivalent would be to BUILD 4 infantry (4 PP) and cash 3 of them in during RESEARCH for a POPULATION card - which, like a region - gives you 1 PP income - and an action card.

So, with NEGOTIATE, you are playing the odds that you'll get a free lunch. I think bumping the costs to convert down by 75% could be reasonable, i.e. 0/3/6 PP vs. 0/4/8, but 0/2/4 I think is too cheap. The other advantage of 0/3/6 is that if you convert first turn, you wouldn't have to spend the oil certificate you start with.
 
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Some ideas for extra cards, feel free to use them:

"Embassies"
(Negotiate Action)
Look secretly at the government markers of two neutral territories.
[Democracy]
Look secretly at the government markers of three neutral territories.

"Political Upheaval"
(Negotiate Action)
Pool together the government markers of one neutral territory per continent. After secretly looking at them, put back a marker of your choice from the pool on each of those territories.
[Communist]
Same, but with two neutrals per continent.

Also, for more agressive interaction, we could have a new type of card that's designed to be played during other players' actions to block or hinder them. (I don't remember if this type of card was considered too annoying or unbalanced in Attack! Expansion.) This would allow us to bring back cards such as "Military Aid to Minor Neutral", virtually unchanged. Shortened example:

"Military Aid to Minor Neutral"
(BLOCK Move or Blitz Action)
Help a minor neutral to defend by adding up to 4 units of your own to the home army - if the neutrals win they join you.
[Communist]
Same, but bring 5 units instead of 4.

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gabba wrote:
Some ideas for extra cards, feel free to use them:

"Embassies"

"Political Upheaval"

"Military Aid to Minor Neutral"


I like your card ideas! For the last one, 4 and 5 units might be a bit much. I would consider either doing 2 and 3 units of the player's choice, or perhaps 3 infantry and 4 infantry specifically.
 
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squash wrote:

I like your card ideas! For the last one, 4 and 5 units might be a bit much. I would consider either doing 2 and 3 units of the player's choice, or perhaps 3 infantry and 4 infantry specifically.


True, it's not an easy card to balance. Maybe allow the player to bring as many units as the year number?
For a change, I was also thinking of a different government-oriented bonus (instead of giving it, say, to communism):
[Special]
Reveal the government type of the territory you're supporting (which doesn't matter, since either player will get the territory at the end of the battle). If it matches your government type, you may bring 1 extra unit to defend it.

And more card ideas, that still need some work:
"Icebreaker"
(Navigate Action (+can't play in Winter?))
Move any number of ships from an adjacent sea zone into the arctic circle. Treat it as a sea zone for the purpose of disembarking. On your next Navigate Action, those ships must move away from the arctic circle.
[government bonus]
No idea, really, unless you limit the number of ships above and increase it here for Democracy/Communism, or any player that has its capital in the Northern hemisphere.

"Freedom for the Colonies"
(Transport action)
Abandon up to two territories by transporting all of your units away from it. Those territories become neutral: shuffle face down all the government markers you collected and draw one to place on each of those territories.
[Monarchy]
Same, but with up to three territories.

"Freedom for the Colonies" could be used for a kind of "scorched earth" tactic, to make it harder for an opponent to gain a territory where you only had 1 infantry left anyways. If the card is deemed too weak, you could additionally gain an action card, or even gain one action card per territory "freed" in this way.
Edit: It should probably be usable in Move/Blitz actions as well, so it can be used to abandon territories to free up more units for an attack.

"Heroic Sacrifice"
(BLOCK Navigate action)
You may bring a number of airplanes, lesser or equal to the current year number, to support a fleet that's being attacked in an adjacent sea zone. The planes partake in the battle as normal, but must be the first units to be moved to the battle line, and are also the first units to be eliminated. Remaining planes after the battle is over are eliminated.
[Fascist]
Same as above, but you can bring one extra plane.

"Revolt"
(Negotiate Action)
Pick any region owned by another player, except one with a Capital. A number of basic units in this region equal to the current year number switch to your color. Resolve any ensuing battle immediately.
[Democracy]
Same as above, but one of the units you convert can be an advanced unit.

"Sock puppet"
(Negotiate Action)
Exchange the governement marker of a neutral territory with one of those you already collected.
[Monarchy]
Do this to two neutral territories.

"Unfortunate side-effect"
(Research Action)
Some of your weapon experiments were a bit too successful. Pick a neutral territory, and remove its government marker from the game permanently. This territory can be occupied by a Move/Blitz with no resulting fight, but doing so doesn't increase a player's income.
[Fascist]
Do this to two neutral territories.

"Oil Crisis"
(Burn Action)
Destroy an oil marker of your choice from every player, including you. This is in addition to the oil marker you may have burned to get this action.
[Democracy]
You saved up some oil before your oil rigs blowed up. Draw an oil certificate.
 
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squash wrote:

4. Factoring in the factories

I’ve got no problem with the current Factories technology, but there is another way that is equally fun to play. Instead of counting from the capital region, I treat Factories in the same manner as Oil technology. Every time a player researches Factories, they may put a factory marker on the board in any land region they control that doesn’t already contain a factory marker. With a BUILD action, a player may only place new units in regions that contain a factory. Because factories remain fixed in the land regions, they can also be captured by other players. You could make your own factory markers (using a file such as this: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/file/info/4859), or you could use other game components to represent the factories. Personally, I find that the hotels from Monopoly work splendidly! (You haven't gotten rid of your Monopoly game, have you?)


squash (or anyone else), have you considered taking this approach with all Technologies? With the handy Economics tokens you link to, players could also place Railways, Mines, and Populations on the map. Technological effects could also be localized; for example, a Factory can't produce more than one advanced unit unless it is contiguous with a region that has a Mine owned by the same player.

It might also be interesting combine this approach with how these tokens were used in the original Expansion. Every region starts with its own token face up. Conquering that region earns you the benefit of that token. Research could then upgrade tokens under your control.
 
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squash wrote:
1. Resourceful staring players
...although some might argue that Factories are more important than Minerals...

I would definitely agree with this. Minerals can come later. Factories you need right away.

squash wrote:
2. Remaining incontinent
The Attack! Deluxe rulebook doesn’t specifically state how the continents are divided up for the sake of choosing the players’ starting continents.

Actually, it is pretty specific. It refers to the actual borders of the real continents. That means that:
- everything on the mainland on the Eastern board is a part of Asia
- Turkey, Syria-Iraq, and Saudi Arabia are a part of Asia
- Panama and Mexico are part of North America

I agree though that South America gets kind of shafted and instead of "South America" you should use "Latin America" instead, which includes Mexico and Panama. Also another idea to help rectify this would be to make Cuba and Hispaniola actual territories on the map (which would also constitute part of Latin America).

squash wrote:
3. The last shall be first
(One of my fellow playtesters has also come up with an excellent method of balancing the setup phase: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/428295).

I actually think I like his version a bit better, but I can definitely see why you would want to make a change.

squash wrote:
5. Avoiding prematurely finishing

There’s nothing worse than a premature finish just when everyone is beginning to have fun.

I agree that the game shouldn't be allowed to end right away. I would be inclined to invoke a rule that says that capitals can't be attacked until the game is at least half finished (so after 3 years for a short game, etc.). The game DUST uses such a rule. Losing a capital can be pretty crippling.

Alternately, allow a player who loses a capital in the first half of the game to place his capital in another territory he owns at the cost of a loss of 4 victory points (deducted from his total at the end of the game). You could also say that someone who captures a capital in the first half gets to take a random action card from that player's hand, or half their oil certificates, or a population tech.

squash wrote:
6. An offer they can’t refuse
For those (such as myself) who find that they are all but ignoring the NEGOTIATE action due to the element of luck and the high cost involved,

I think the cost is actually fairly reasonable. 4 PP is pretty good considering that you get:
1 infantry piece
1 territory that produces a PP each turn and 1 VP
1 Action card (which is worth about 2 PP on average)

I do agree that the luck factor bothers me, and I posted an alternate rule for the negotiate action here: http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/625448/a-couple-of-optional-...

squash wrote:
7. Run silent, run basic
I prefer to classify Submarines as a basic unit instead of an advanced unit.

Interesting idea... If you want to add another basic unit to the list though I think it should be the battleship, since the submarine is a newer and more technology-dependent type of ship. They had been building battleships since the 1860's.

squash wrote:
8. Spreading the love
I award each player 3 VPs for each different continent on which that player controls at least 1 land region.

I like this one.

squash wrote:
10. Sir, yes sir!

Therefore, I have created a set of Orders cards that each contain one of the available actions as well as an "initiative" number.

You still need an order of play because two people might play the same card number.

Also, I'm not sure I agree with the order you have assigned. For example, you have the Research action before Move or Blitz. This means that the researching player has to remove his units before other players decide if they are going to attack him, so if he does so he becomes vulnerable. I would prefer that research comes near the end, so that you risk losing the units (if someone attacks you) that you wanted to sacrifice for tech, but at least you don't have to kill off these units before someone invades.

Anyway, that's my 2¢.

Peet

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drpetrov wrote:


Anyway, that's my 2¢.

Peet



Thanks for your thoughts, Peet!

You have some cool ideas regarding the capitals. If you look a little more closely, you'll see that I did address the order of play if more than one player played the same card:

"If more than one player played the same card, the order of play starts with the starting player for that year and goes around the table in the direction that had previously been determined by the starting player."

But I certainly see your point regarding the specific initiative numbers.
 
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I like the Order card initiative idea.
( Same mechanic as Runewars , but using turn direction rather then influence to break ties) Brilliant system , and good fun!

I would number them as below which is similar to Runewars

1- Transport
2- Blitz
3- Move
4- Navigate
5- Negotiate
6- Build
7- Research

Dig in ( No action in Winter)
Burn ( Play a card in Winter , cost 5 oil)



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