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Subject: My list of possible variants rss

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Mercury Phlegmatic
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South Carolina
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I was thinking about possible variants to this game that might add something to the game without breaking the balance. I haven't tested any of these yet but I thought I'd put them here just in case someone is looking for a variant that isn't just about "fixing the starvation loophole," which is basically most of what I found here. They rent out their huts to tenants for food, but the tenants trash the place. Or they resort to the world's oldest profession. I'm sure there's something that fits the theme.


I'll try to list the best ideas first. If you don't like my suggested numbers, change them. Feel free to pick out any ideas that you like or don't like and ignore the rest, and since you're here you're probably looking for added complexity, so I'm not really going to try and avoid that.


1) Priority Cost - Starting with the player moving last in any given round, players may pay a cost to immediately make a regular placement. This opportunity continues in reverse order, after which normal play resumes, i.e. the player moving first can pay the cost to move twice consecutively.

Dedication of 2 meeples for the round is the cost that seems appropriate (put them off the board and then pick them back up at the end of the round). Other options for cost are just 1 meeple dedication, 5 food, or any two resources. I'm not sure what's most balanced.

Why? Gives the fourth player an advantage if they're willing to pay for it, and helps players succeed in actions which they value very highly.

Opinion - I think this could work really well if the cost is right. Two meeples might be a little steep.


2) Shop Dance - When someone buys one of the shop roulette cards, instead of rolling dice for the number of players, each player instead rolls one die for themself. The person who buys the card may then choose to swap dice with any other player's roll (once only). Afterward, everyone gets what's on their die.

Why? Shop cards are biased to the person to the buyer's left, who generally gets something good without having to pay for it. This equalizes the situation for all the non-buyers and gives the buyer a chance to force a specific player to take a bad resource sometimes.

Opinion - I really see nothing wrong with this. Table seating position shouldn't really matter that much, so this is a great fix for it.


3) Super Hunters - There are two slots on the board for "super hunters" (maybe on the river and call them fishermen). This works just like any other resource location for placement purposes, just with a maximum of two meeples there. These spaces produce 3 food each when activated, but you can't use tools on them.

Why? The ability to block people off the best food adds another dynamic.

Opinion - Weakens starvation, adds more food to the game. I don't think it's big enough of an effect that it would ruin much.


4) Increased Set Value - Sets are worth (n+2)^2 points instead of n^2, making a full set worth 12.5 points per card instead of 8.

Why? I think the weakness of sets is the aspect most in need of "fixing" in this game, and the effort spent in getting them isn't really worth the points you get back.

Opinion - I think this could go a long way toward adding another viable strategy in set collection. If it's too much, (n+1)^2 might work (~10 points a card for a full set). Places a high value on the first set card, but not too high.


5) Rerolls - Players may reroll any given roll, but they may only do so once per roll and they must reroll all of the dice.

Why? Mitigates people complaining about the dice and helps people avoid losing out when they really need something.

Opinion - Overall increases the amount of resources collected, but not by too much. The dice usually work out fine so it's not really necessary unless you're playing with people who complain about them.


6) Possible town tweaks

* Fields and toolmakers cost two meeples each to bring them more in line with the shack.
* The shack costs only one meeple to bring it more in line with the fields and toolmakers.
* When you mate, you don't have to feed the baby, to help bring the shack more in line with the fields and toolmakers.


7) Anti-Hut Drill - Each hut stack starts with fewer huts in it at the beginning of the game (5), but two stacks must be fully removed before the game ends.

Why? Forces hut drillers to buy more huts in order to end the game.

Opinion - If you think hut drilling is too powerful, this is probably for you. Drilling two stacks of 5 is harder than one full stack, but not so much harder that the game will always end on cards, since you can buy a hut off each stack on one turn.


8) Card Rush - Discard the cards in the one, two, and three resource slots if they are unbought. Optionally ignore this practice on the first turn.

Why? Ups the value of the three card because if you want it you actually have to pay for it right now. Also helps quicken the game.

Opinion - If you're in a group that doesn't buy many cards, then you might want to try this so you can see more of the deck.


9) VP Track - There's another slot in town requiring one meeple which advances a player one point along the "VP track," which in turn generates that many VPs per turn. Caps out at 10.

Why? Adds another town slot to help out player four, but is easily the weakest town play.

Opinion - VPs have no hard value for allowing you to get more VPs like the other resources do, so 1 VP/turn isn't really an amazing play relative to the other town spots. Getting two times your "VP track" in VP each turn might make things more interesting, but is probably a little much.


10) Starvation Table - Instead of losing 10 VPs for starving, you lose a set amount of VPs according to a table of how much of a food deficit you have.

Example:

1 - 5 points
2 - 6 points
3 - 7 points
4 - 7 points
5 - 8 points
6 - 8 points
7 - 9 points
8 - 9 points
9 - 9 points
10 - 10 points

Why? Penalizes players less for accidentally failing to feed, while making starvation slightly better or worse, depending on the numbers you choose for the table.

Opinion - Could be useful, just keep in mind that the starvation strategy should remain a viable part of the game. Also, this gives food some value to the starver, just not much, again depending on the numbers you pick.


11) Low-Food Start - People have mentioned starting the game with zero food. What about starting with six? That's enough for one free turn even if you go for the shack, but puts more pressure on you than a regular game, food-wise.

Why? Might slow down the game start slightly, giving you an extra turn or so to decide on your plan for how to win, but probably won't prolong the game too much.

Opinion - Not really a big change, and probably not that important, but worth considering.


12) Dedication of Tools - Prior to rolling on any given turn, you may dedicate three tools to add 1 pip to all of your rolls. So if you put meeples in every single area, you get +1 pip in all of them, giving you +5 total pips. The downside is that you spread out your pips and have less control over which ones go where.

Why? Could encourage diversification, which is currently pretty inefficient.

Opinion - Adds more options for using your tools and helps on turns when you're not really seeking any particular resource. Might actually work with just two tools instead of three.


13) Improved Building Efficacy - When spent on building a hut, gold gives you 8 points (+33% points), stone gives you 6 points (+20% points), and brick gives you 9 points if you put in two (+12.5% points). Ignore listed hut values and recalculate from the resources spent.

Why? Gold might be the most efficient resource, but it's really kind of a pain to use, and the mystical 1-7 hut built with 7 gold just doesn't seem feasible in most situations, and the 42 points it's rewarded with seem a little light when you take into account the fact that all that effort doesn't have any other practical effects besides those VPs.

Opinion - Probably breaks the game, but most strategy games noticeably reward you for putting in huge lump sums of resources at once, and Stone Age doesn't really, aside from the fact that you don't have to claim as many buildings. So it might be worth a shot.


14) Power Cards - When you buy a civ card, you may spend an additional three resources to receive double the bonus listed on the top half of the card. Not available for one-use tools and the "two of any resource" card.

Why? Lets a player get more of something if they really value it a lot.

Opinion - Three resources is a lot, but might be worth it for something like two food track. Probably won't affect the game much, although only requiring two additional resources would probably affect the game a lot. If you're really hardcore, you could make a table of costs for each card (e.g. something like 3 VPs would only require one extra resource).


15) Anti-Card Buy - Cards cost one additional resource to the listed table value.

Why? Slows the game down, makes the one-slot card less of a definite good pick.

Opinion - If you're looking to slow things down, this will help. This basically just makes it more likely you'll finish up on huts, though, so you might want to use Anti-Hut Drill (#7, above) or a modified version, too.


16) War Zone - Players may place up to three meeples in the "war zone" spot, at which point they declare which other player they are attacking. Afterward, the defending player may place up to two meeples in the "war zone" spot for defense. When the attacker activates the spot, they roll dice for all the meeples they have there. The defender then rolls dice for all the meeples they have there, plus one more. High die wins, defender wins ties, a la Risk, and it's best 2 out of 3. The loser loses a meeple. If the defender loses a meeple and they don't have anyone in the war zone, then they choose any one on the board to remove.

Why? Fighting is fun! There's really no gameplay motivation behind this one.

Opinion - Basically allows players placing their meeples last in the round to bully the others into submission, although the investment is a little steep for something that derives no direct advantage for the attacker. Allows losing players to try and take down whoever they think is winning the game, although they might be wrong about who that is. Not really recommended.
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Randall Bart
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Winnetka
California
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MercuryPhlegmatic wrote:
2) Shop Dance - When someone buys one of the shop roulette cards, instead of rolling dice for the number of players, each player instead rolls one die for themself. The person who buys the card may then choose to swap dice with any other player's roll (once only). Afterward, everyone gets what's on their die.
That's a good one.
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Vince Lupo
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ALEXANDRIA
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MercuryPhlegmatic wrote:


7) Anti-Hut Drill - Each hut stack starts with fewer huts in it at the beginning of the game (5), but two stacks must be fully removed before the game ends.

Why? Forces hut drillers to buy more huts in order to end the game.

Opinion - If you think hut drilling is too powerful, this is probably for you. Drilling two stacks of 5 is harder than one full stack, but not so much harder that the game will always end on cards, since you can buy a hut off each stack on one turn.


13) Improved Building Efficacy - When spent on building a hut, gold gives you 8 points (+33% points), stone gives you 6 points (+20% points), and brick gives you 9 points if you put in two (+12.5% points). Ignore listed hut values and recalculate from the resources spent.

Why? Gold might be the most efficient resource, but it's really kind of a pain to use, and the mystical 1-7 hut built with 7 gold just doesn't seem feasible in most situations, and the 42 points it's rewarded with seem a little light when you take into account the fact that all that effort doesn't have any other practical effects besides those VPs.

Opinion - Probably breaks the game, but most strategy games noticeably reward you for putting in huge lump sums of resources at once, and Stone Age doesn't really, aside from the fact that you don't have to claim as many buildings. So it might be worth a shot.


15) Anti-Card Buy - Cards cost one additional resource to the listed table value.

Why? Slows the game down, makes the one-slot card less of a definite good pick.

Opinion - If you're looking to slow things down, this will help. This basically just makes it more likely you'll finish up on huts, though, so you might want to use Anti-Hut Drill (#7, above) or a modified version, too.



I haven't played the game enough to experience hut drilling yet, but I have played it enough to see how mindlessly easy it is to get lots of wood and buy lots of cards.

We aren't in favor of slowing down the game, per se, but we are in favor of making the cards less powerful. I felt little incentive to buying the huts because they tend to not give you anything during the game, and don't give you more points than the cost. Whereas, I can easily spend 1, 2, or 3 even 4 wood without any heartburn and still get more points than what I spent in resources (considering wood at a value of 3). Think about what happens when you buy a 2 shamen card and you have 7 people. That's adding at least 14 points and costing no more than 12 value and as low as 3 value.

So, with that in mind, I might try adding 5 points to every hut (regardless of what it is), using extra resource cost per card, AND anti-hut drilling just in case huts are too easy now.


We played 2 games of Stone Age over the weekend and I might have ruined the game for my wife because I won both of them and I didn't even play that well on my second game. I played mediocre throughout. But I got kinda lucky with the cards I bought.


Here are some more possible variations for card cost:
Perhaps every card costs the same, regardless of the card order.
Maybe all cards cost 10 VALUE. So, you could spend 1 gold and 1 brick, 2 stone, or 4 wood, or 2 wood + 1 brick. Also, you should be able to spend food if you want. The cards represent bartering, after all. Food is 2, wood is 3, brick is 4, stone is 5, and gold is 6 (just like the rolls).


I think I might prefer this variation. I think I will still add 5 points to every hut and add anti-hut drilling. So, now when you buy a hut or a card, you're getting more value and/or points than what you put into it. The difference is that cards will get you something to help you now too.


1) I think these changes balance the resources. Wood is no longer the best strategy, IMO. It is good, but it is also good to get bricks now, or even to get Stone, or Gold.

2) Huts and cards are probably balanced here too. It may make sense to recalculate each hut based on the "Improved Building Efficacy", but it seems like it would slow down the point calculation a little too much.


edit: Paying for cards with food would probably break it though, I just realized, as everyone would probably just go for food all the time because you could use it for cards and feeding. And because the hunting action is "infinite".
 
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Relic Hunter
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Has anyone tried variant 16 or something similar? Something where you directly attack another player?
 
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Jose Huerta
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MercuryPhlegmatic wrote:
2) Shop Dance - When someone buys one of the shop roulette cards, instead of rolling dice for the number of players, each player instead rolls one die for themself. The person who buys the card may then choose to swap dice with any other player's roll (once only). Afterward, everyone gets what's on their die.


I used that one tonight and liked it, but my wife didn't like it that much. I thought that it kept the idea similar but kept interaction higher, and more exciting. Especially when my daughter bought the card and rolled wood and I rolled +1 Grain. I got hosed, she swapped out mine and I got stuck with wood, even though Gold and Brick were available trades for her.

Fun Mod. Thanks..
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Martin Matt
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MercuryPhlegmatic wrote:

2) Shop Dance - When someone buys one of the shop roulette cards, instead of rolling dice for the number of players, each player instead rolls one die for themself. The person who buys the card may then choose to swap dice with any other player's roll (once only). Afterward, everyone gets what's on their die.

I do really appreciate this variant. It makes the "dice Civ cards" more fair and has virtually no impact on the game strategy.

Based on the above variant, we made the following quasi-equivalent variant:
"The player who buys the card rolls all dice at once using the dice cup. Dice must be cyclically ordered based on their positions on the table*. The player who bought the card chooses and takes one die. Clockwise around the table, each of the other players takes the next die available in a clockwise order".

This keeps the spirit of the Mercury's variant and allows...
(a) to roll all dice at once using the dice cup (a fast action);
(b) to avoid the feeling of “being robbed” when a player’s die is swapped by another player.

*To ensure that no doubt arises on which should be the dice cyclically order, turn the cup upside down and set it on the table while keeping the dice hidden; before removing the cup, move it gently in a circular way.
 
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