Richard Launius
United States
Johns Creek
Georgia
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As many of you know, I am a strong proponent of house rules, especially for a cooperative game. While I have several house rules for almost every game I play, including games that I design (make your own joke here), I only have a handful for Defenders of the Realms and since several of you have requested that I post them I am doing so below. Keep in mind that these are just House Rules and as such may not work for your gaming group, as the key to house rules are that they are tailored to the players experience level and personality. Therefore, what works with the folks that game with me may not be right for your gaming group. The nice thing about house rules is that you can take some of them, or all of them, or none of them - the choice is yours.

1) Choosing Characters: Not really a major house rule since the rules state you can pick generals a number of way that can be decided by the players. So, depending on the group experience level with the game, we choose heroes as follows.

New Players: When playing with new players I always allow them to choose the hero they want to play. Furthermore, I encourage them to choose a hero class they like over trying to pick specific skills when making their choice.

Experienced Players: With Experienced players I we randomly establish the hero they will play by shuffling all the heroes and dealing 1 to each player. When using the expansion heroes as well, I deal 2 to each player and they choose between those 2 heroes dealt. All choose without knowledge of what the other players are choosing - so we cannot build our teams based on skills. We like the randomness of heroes pulled together in an emergency rather than planned skills to best serve the team.

While the random selection process is an option in the game rules, the biggest change is that when using the 12 new Heroes set for expansions in 2011 there are 21 Heroes to choose between. The skill combinations of the team become much more dynamic.

2) Combat Failure: Regardless of any die modifiers, any 1’s rolled in combat is failure.

This rule can make battles with minions tougher, especially in the mid and late war when the players have most likely gained some the Quest items that grant significant bonuses when coupled with hero skill bonuses, but I like the idea that no battle is automatic.

3) Orc Patrols: I always play the game where any Green location without an Orc will get one when this card is drawn. That means if other minions are present but an Orc is not - a Green Minion is added to the location.

Orc War Party: The Same is true with Orc War Party card - If a 1 Orc is present regardless of how many other minions may be on the location - and Orc is added to the location.

I only recommend these for players who really want to be challenged and that it why it is not in the base rules and remains a house rule. Almost without exception my house rule will add 1 - 3 additional Orcs on each Orc Patrol card played. But it does make things interesting!

4) Healing the Land: based on the experience level of the players we often use one of the house rules below for healing the land actions:

Experienced players: We require the specific location card to be played to make a Heal the Land action. Therefore, if Father Oak Woods was tainted and we wanted to heal it, we would have to use the Father Oak Woods hero card to perform this action. This house rule restricts players from healing and can make them use a 2 combat dice card to heal if things are desperate enough.

Newer Players: Normal rules apply, but a modifier to dice is in place if the Location is matched by the same location of the Hero card. Therefore, if the card used to heal to the land matches the location, the player heals the land with a 4+ rather than a 5+.

5) Special Cards and Quiet Night: My favorite way to make a game tougher is to remove 5 Special Cards randomly from play and to take out some or all of Quiet Night cards from the Darkness Spreads deck depending on the experience level of the game.

Additionally, any special cards lost for any reason (usually in failed battles with Generals, but some of the new minions we have been play testing like the Imps from the Dragons expansion that take cards rather than wound) are removed from play - not placed in the discard pile to be reshuffled. Usually these cards are lost only when used for battle dice or special ability.


These are the base House Rules I use when playing Defenders of the Realm. Most make the game more difficult, but many of the folks I game with are very experienced in the game and desire a challenge each time we play. Of course there are many other play test things we add like Global Effects and Team Quests as well as the new Heroes, Generals and Minions to constantly mix things up - and in time you will be able to do the same.

For those of you wanting a greater challenge, I suggest you consider some of these rules, especially the Combat Failure rule. For those of you struggling to get a victory I suggest you use some of the Want an Easier Game variant rules until you wind a few games and then move back to the base rules, and then maybe implements some of these house rules.

I hope you enjoy playing Defenders of the Realm as much as I do, and enjoy the fact that you can customize the game to your level of play. In time I hope to put a scoring system on BGG that will enable you to score the difficulty of the game you choose to play, so you will have a measurement beyond just winning and losing. This will be especially nice when you can choose between Generals and Minions, each with varying difficulty ratings.

That's all for now - thanks for playing. Richard

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Ernie
United States
Indiana
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Richard,

Thanks very much for your active and continuing support for your game! While I won't try to speak for the community here, I certainly appreciate your patient advocacy and rule explanations.

I look forward to each and every expansion. Maybe your house rules can be added into a future edition of the rulebook!

Regards,
Ernie
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Carlos Saldanha
Portugal
Loures
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I'm looking forward to get this on Europe - Portugal!
 
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Richard Launius wrote:


2) Combat Failure: Regardless of any die modifiers, any 1’s rolled in combat is failure.

This rule can make battles with minions tougher, especially in the mid and late war when the players have most likely gained some the Quest items that grant significant bonuses when coupled with hero skill bonuses, but I like the idea that no battle is automatic.


I definitely agree with this one and this is always used no matter how experienced my players are. Not only should no battle be automatic, but being able to auto-kill with items or the sorceress shape-shifting ability diminishes being the slayer of that race. Only the slayer should get an automatic kill, and a 1 misses for everyone else no matter how many power-ups they have.

Richard Launius wrote:


3) Orc Patrols: I always play the game where any Green location without an Orc will get one when this card is drawn. That means if other minions are present but an Orc is not - a Green Minion is added to the location.

Orc War Party: The Same is true with Orc War Party card - If a 1 Orc is present regardless of how many other minions may be on the location - and Orc is added to the location.

I only recommend these for players who really want to be challenged and that it why it is not in the base rules and remains a house rule. Almost without exception my house rule will add 1 - 3 additional Orcs on each Orc Patrol card played. But it does make things interesting!



The war party is confusing me. This is saying (I think) that the war party adds an orc to any space with 1 orc, whether with other minion types or alone. So is this the real way or a house rule? When I originally read the card, I thought the orc had to be alone. But the FAQ says that other minion types can be present, as is this thread as a house rule. So I just want to get clarified which way is the normal game way, and which way is the house rule way.
 
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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Corvallis
Oregon
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DoomTurtle wrote:
Richard Launius wrote:

3) Orc Patrols: I always play the game where any Green location without an Orc will get one when this card is drawn. That means if other minions are present but an Orc is not - a Green Minion is added to the location.

Orc War Party: The Same is true with Orc War Party card - If a 1 Orc is present regardless of how many other minions may be on the location - and Orc is added to the location.

I only recommend these for players who really want to be challenged and that it why it is not in the base rules and remains a house rule. Almost without exception my house rule will add 1 - 3 additional Orcs on each Orc Patrol card played. But it does make things interesting!



The war party is confusing me. This is saying (I think) that the war party adds an orc to any space with 1 orc, whether with other minion types or alone. So is this the real way or a house rule? When I originally read the card, I thought the orc had to be alone. But the FAQ says that other minion types can be present, as is this thread as a house rule. So I just want to get clarified which way is the normal game way, and which way is the house rule way.

The FAQ entry for Orc Patrols lists the two methods of placement as Base Game and Advanced rules (we've always played advanced). As for Orc War Party, the FAQ says you place Orcs on locations that have one Orc and only one Orc, but we'd always disregarded other minions at my house, as per the Advanced rule for Orc Patrols. For consistency, I think it would be best if the FAQ used the same term for the tougher method in both cases (advanced rule, varuant for increased difficulty, house rule, whatever).
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Richard Launius
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Johns Creek
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Orc War Party: The Same is true with Orc War Party card - If a 1 Orc is present regardless of how many other minions may be on the location - and Orc is added to the location.

Since I was listing the Orc Patrols I actually added this just to clarify that Orc War Party should have a minion added regardless of other minions being present. Sorry if I confused you. I guess a house rule would be if you did not add an Orc if other Minions were present. So, if you are always adding an Orc when one is present regardless of other minions, you are doing it correct to the base rules.

Richard
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Robert Hill
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Richard,
I also REALLY appreciate all of the support you are giving to your GREAT game!!
Cannot wait for the expansions!!
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Jim Wilde
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Love your house rules Richard, and your active participation in the ongoing design and development of this game that you so obviously love. Here's my variant on your house rules, and comments on the ones you play.

1) Choosing Characters: We always allow players to select their hero. Even so, experienced players will often choose randomly, or simply select one they haven't "played for a while".

Looking forward to the expansion and more heroes.

2) Combat Failure: Like you, 1 = failure.

3) Orc Patrols and Orc War Party: I feel these cards are fairly well balanced, so we play them as they are.

4) Healing the Land: I haven't tried your variant for experienced players, but it looks interesting to me. I think we'll give it a go next time. For some reason, taint never seems to be a threat in our games...

5) Special Cards and Quiet Night: We remove all the Quiet Nights from the Darkness Spreads deck, which leaves one "Quiet Night" special card in the Hero deck.

Edit to add:

6) Quests and Experience: Players start with no skills. Whenever a player complete a Quest, they may take the Quest reward or the next skill on their character card (lowest to highest). This adds more difficulty to the game, and makes some of the Quests more interesting.
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Jose Negron
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I actually used the "must be in the location and have the matching card" rule for tainting. I played my first game last night and accidentally used that rule. It wasn't too hard but I did use 7 taints.
 
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