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Subject: How do you adapt/create balanced scenarios? rss

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Bruce Anderson
Canada
Saskatoon
Saskatchewan
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Last night I was looking at the tutorial scenarios for ranged weapons for a game we're plying this evening. I was a little frustrated because we will have 3 players, but the relevant printed scenarios are either for 2 or 4 players. After looking at both scenarios, Zombie Family for 4 players, and Target Pr. John Kendall for 2 I figured the 2 player scenario would be easier to adapt. However, I couldn't figure out how to make sure the sides are relatively evenly balanced. As far as I could find, there is no mention about balancing scenarios, or how to determine starting CP. I haven't taken the time to read the SAGS rules yet, but from the quick browse of them I did, it seems that their approach is different from creating or adapting a scenario on your own.

Anyway, this is what I came up with - we won't be playing it till tonight, so I'd love any feedback that comes along today.

Salemite faction #1
Kendall, Jack Saw, and Franck - starting CP 15; Starting area as in the scenario
As in the basic scenario, Kendall wants to get to the antidote and release the virus. However, he has gone mad, and will release the virus regardless. He has instructed Jack and Franck that if he dies they should release the virus anyway (This will prevent the scenario from ending too soon with the death of Kendall, as it gives the other players an incentive to keep him alive for a while, I hope.)

Salemite faction #2
Hollister, Bill, and Deeler Starting CP 10; Starting area in the mansion
They have discovered that Kendall has gone mad and plans to kill them all. They want to stop Kendall, recover the virus, and hold the mansion from Norad to prevent them from finding the hidden antidote (which they do not know the location of either)

Norad
Nick B., Vasquez, and James Woo - starting CP 8; Starting area about mid board along their line of escape.
As in original scenario, they want to kill Kendall, recover the virus, and exit the board - they do not know about the antidote.

I also gave each character some kind of ranged weapon so that we could really put the shooting rules through their paces.

I had a couple of questions, however:
1. I wasn't sure how to go about balancing base CP - I eventually came up with a number that when each faction added in their base and their bonus CP it would come to a total of 16

2. Starting areas for both Salemite factions are relatively unchanged, but I moved Norad farther down the board to equalize the distance between factions - was this necessary or should I have left them where they were in the official scenario?

3. Are the respective goals and victory conditions fair and workable, or have I handicapped any of the factions by making things too tough?

4. Are the factions at least relatively balanced? Have I gieven any one side too much of an advantage?

After we play tonight, I'll give a report as to how things went.

Thanks

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Eric Foldenauer
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Ypsilanti
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Take another look at Zombie family - it has options for both 3 or 4 player setups.
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M·ANTONIVS·M·F·M·N
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Rophan wrote:
I haven't taken the time to read the SAGS rules yet



You aren't going to think this is very helpful but, read the SAGS rules....it would have taken less time to learn them than it did to type out your question. Its very worth your time.
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Bruce Anderson
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Well, we ran the game as I had outlined, and it was a lot of fun! I ended up widening the board by two rows to give a bit more movement area for the extra characters, and to give the Norad side a bit more cover from their starting position. There was lots of opportunity for using all the rules up to ranged combat, and having three characters per person made for a good tactical game. I would probably play the altered scenario the same way again if the opportunity or need arose.

I looked back over Zombie Family, and still didn't see anything about altering it for 3 players, but it never really caught my fancy regardless. Having the Salemite character play so many characters and the Norad players playing only one each just didn't look too fun. I suppose part of the thing is that Co-operative mode just doesn't sit too well with me in general; it reminds me of Descent where I usually ended up being the Overlord. To me, at least, Co-operative mode feels more like an RPG where one player is the GM and the other players are "the party" - I love GMing RPGs, but to me a board game should be a break from that style of play. I much prefer a team game, or a free for all. My altered scenario did make a great free for all game. It felt balanced in the sense that there didn't seem to be a possibility of two players ganging up against the third and then duking it out for themselves.

Now that I have a handle on the basics, I'll read farther in to the rules. One of the reason's I haven't read SAGS yet, is that without much practical experience in playing the game, it was hard to wrap my head around the later rules and I just bogged down. I really love the tutorial scenario system, so I haven't felt the need to try to push through too many of the rules till I'm ready for them.
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Henry Vee
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My brother and I met for a whole day of board gaming a short while ago. We'd done up to scenario 5 and greedily plumbed for missing everything else out and learning the SAGs rules so we could have a "proper" game.

While I'm not saying it was a mistake it is something not to be taken lightly! From half past 10 to about 4 O'clock we managed 2 turns! Don't get me wrong it was great using all the rules. It's a wonderful game but the scenarios are good fun too and I couldn't help thinking we could have had fun advancing through a few more of them...

I know this doesn't help the OP at all but I thought I'd just butt in :-)
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Eric Foldenauer
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Rophan wrote:
I looked back over Zombie Family, and still didn't see anything about altering it for 3 players, but it never really caught my fancy regardless.
I went and looked again now that I am at home, and you are right. blush I read through all the online scenarios and I could have sworn that they all were 3-4 player variants. I guess I did not look to sepcifically see if they stated otherwise.
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