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Subject: Stevens House Variants rss

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Alexander Stevens
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Here are the Ix, Tleilaxu, and Landsraad variants my group has developed over the past couple years of sporadic play. We're quite pleased with Ix, but the others have only been played in their current state a couple times.

When we play with more than six players, we use Harg Pass as an additional sietch.

When we play with six players, we allow the Fremen to play Ix instead, the BG to play Tleilaxu instead, and the Emperor to play with Landsraad instead.

We also allow spice to only be traded during the collection round.

Ix
 
Start: 5 spice. 5 units in the polar sink, 15 units in reserve.
 
Free Revive:1
 
Leaders: 4, 3, 2, 2, 1
 
You control the smuggling of illegal machinery.
 
1. The Ix player’s on-planet move can move up to two territories away. The Ix ship on to the planet at the cost of one spice per unit, even when not shipping into a stronghold.
 
2. The Ix player may choose to abstain from bidding, but draw one free card at the start of the bidding phase. No card is drawn for them in this case, even if their hand is not full.
 
3. During the collection phase, the Ix may give or receive cards from any willing player.
 
4. If the Ix play a useless card in combat, it counts as a +2 to their combat total.  If they win, they must still discard the card.
 
Karama: The Ix player may play a Karama as a useless card in combat; it counts as a +4 to their combat total.  The Karama is discarded at the end of the battle. A Karama played against the Ix stops them from trading cards for one round, or returns any worthless cards played in a battle to their hand. It does not cancel a Karama.
 
Ally: The Ix ally may also choose to abstain from bidding but draw a card.

 
Tleilaxu
 
Start: 3 spice, 15 units in reserve.
 
Free Revive: 0, but each revived unit costs one. If no units are revived, collect 2 spice.
 
Leaders: Scytale 3 (not included in the traitor draw)
 
You control the revival of the dead, and you are a master of genetically engineered spies.
 
2. Money paid to revive troops and leaders is paid to the Tleilaxu player.
 
3. During the traitor selection, the Tleilaxu choose a Face Dancer instead of a traitor. If the Face Dancer is victorious in a battle, the Tleilaxu may call it to claim the territory. The Face Dancer is slain (the Tleilaxu collect spice bounty), all the player's troops in the territory are sent to the tanks, all treachery cards are discarded, and the Tleilaxu gain one unit in the territory. The Face Dancer can only be called once in the game.
 
4. The Tleilaxu can use a leader in the tanks rather than playing their own leader in combat. If Scytale is dead, they are not forced to play a leader in this way, they may instead play no leader. If the leader survives the battle, the leader returns to its original owner. A leader used against its own faction automatically betrays the Tleilaxu. Scytale may not be played from the tanks. The same leader may not participate in two battles in the same turn-- if a leader dies in a combat, the Tleilaxu cannot use him until the next turn.
 
5. Coexistence, as for the Bene Gesserit. Whenever the Tleilaxu and Bene Gesserit both occupy the same territory, they are considered to be in combat during the combat round, whether or not each is co-existing with other players in the same territory. Whenever another player's unit enters a territory containing Bene Gesserit and Tleilaxu troops, the BG/Tleilax player with more units has the opportunity to declare co-existence or not first (in a tie, the BG declare first). If it is a stronghold, this means the other player is forced to co-exist with the new arrival, as only two players may fight in a stronghold. However, the Bene Gesserit and Tleilaxu are still considered to be in combat with each other. The Bene Gesserit may never send spiritual advisors with a Tleilaxu shipment, and neither player may ever co-exist with the other.
 
6. Once per turn, after a battle between other players where the Tleilaxu have co-existing units, the Tleilaxu may pay spice to kill the winners' units. Each unit killed costs two spice. The maximum number killed per turn is the number of units the Tleilaxu have in space.
 
 Karama: After battle plans are revealed in a battle the Tleilaxu are participating in, the Tleilaxu may play a Karama to kill the opponent's leader and collect its spice bounty before the battle resolves. A Karama can be played against the Tleilaxu to return a leader played from the tanks back from whence it came, or to prevent them from killing units after a battle once.
 
Ally: The Tleilaxu ally pays only one spice for each unit revived past their free revive rate. If the Tleilaxu ally revives no units, they may revive a leader from the tanks by paying its value to the bank.

Landsraad

Start: 10 spice. 30 units in space.

Free Revive: 1

Leaders: 3, 2, 2, 1, 1

You control vast resources and political power.

1. You receive 3 spice during the collection round for each stronghold controlled by players other than you and your ally.
2. You may form and break alliances with other players during the Spice Blow phase, even without a worm nexus occurring. Another player may break their alliance at this time if they join you.

Ally: You and your ally can occupy the same territories without combat ensuing. The player with more units in a territory is considered to have control of it for the purposes of spice collection, spice income, ornithopters, and spice harvesters. If the controlling player fails to collect all spice in a territory, the other may harvest any remaining as normal. Your ally controls these things in the case of both having the same number of units. In strongholds, one other player may attack you even though the territory is already occupied by two players.

Karama: During the Spice Blow phase, play a Karama to break an alliance between two players. You cannot break a Fremen alliance unless you are breaking one between you and the Fremen. You cannot use this if there are no more Worm Nexi remaining in the game. Any player may play a Karama to stop you from collecting bonus spice OR forming/breaking alliances during a non-Worm Nexus spice blow.
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Matt Smith
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Those are very interesting. Thanks for sharing
 
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Stephen Williams
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These are awesome! Truly inspiring variant rules. I especially like the Ix; I never really liked the original Ix and all the variants I've seen have been somewhat lackluster to me as well, but this variant really gets me jonsing to try it out!

The BT are also very interesting - I'm not a fan of the idea of the BT having army tokens (that one idea, although admittedly very restrictive, has always struck me as being true to the faction.) That said, this variant BT is enough to make me seriously reconsider.

And, of course, the fact that it sounds like you've play tested these factions a fair bit already (which shows in some of the little rulings that have been squeezed in) is very encouraging, too!

Thank you very much for sharing these! =)
 
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Alexander Stevens
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Speaking of extensive testing, a friend just pointed out we hadn't included a ruling about co-existence when BT and BG are allies. Editing it now.

BT armies don't make much sense to me either, but then again neither do BG. So there it is!
 
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Marc Shutman
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I think we also tested a version where the BT didn't have armies, and IIRC, it was extremely awful.

The problem is that its very difficult to make the BT flavorful, balanced, and have a consistent effect on the game. I'm still not particularly happy about this version, but it was definitely the best we found.

And the Ix are by far my favorite out of the three.

We also have some minor changes/restrictions when playing with more than 6. And don't really recommend playing with 7.
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Jamgar
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I particularly like this Ix idea. Have you seen the variants being tested in the PBF section on this site? There's some interesting ideas there too being run by:

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Jamgar
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Some thoughts on possible problems with this roleset (don't take this negatively, because I like the ideas, I'm just interested if you've had these issues with play):

- Is the Tleilaxu leader use from tanks overpowered? How has it playtested? I imagine it could be very swingy dependent on how many leader deaths you get

- Having Lansdraad with 30 tokens is quite a departure from the 20 tokens for all rule, does it diminish the emp and Fremen bonus tokens? Is it overly powerful? Or does it fade away as they are still revival limited (so is more a one-shot use kinda thing?)

- I don't really get the double co-existence clarification. If they're in a stronghold only BG and BT can be there cos they're considered in combat right? If there outside one no faction can force the other to co-exist?
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Jamgar
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I also really like the alliance breaking karama from the Lansdraad - that's a great idea! (Can they use a karama to form an alliance out of nexus too? That'd be awesome!)
 
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Alexander Stevens
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jamgar wrote:
- Is the Tleilaxu leader use from tanks overpowered? How has it playtested? I imagine it could be very swingy dependent on how many leader deaths you get


It's definitely their main advantage in combat. They're not a big money faction; in testing they've had trouble getting off the ground. Their combat ability doesn't really help them win combats as well as prescience/voice, so being able to play good leaders is their main way of doing better in combat. It's also a potential money source for them (being paid to revive others' leaders by playing them successfully in combat).

jamgar wrote:
- Having Lansdraad with 30 tokens is quite a departure from the 20 tokens for all rule, does it diminish the emp and Fremen bonus tokens? Is it overly powerful? Or does it fade away as they are still revival limited (so is more a one-shot use kinda thing?)


They definitely recover slowly if they lose a huge stack. I think I'd rate it much worse than Sardaukar, since their revive rate isn't any higher to compensate, and they have to pay to ship each one.

jamgar wrote:
- I don't really get the double co-existence clarification. If they're in a stronghold only BG and BT can be there cos they're considered in combat right? If there outside one no faction can force the other to co-exist?


Not sure if this answers your question, but here's the reason for the final clarification: If only BT and BG are in a stronghold, neither is allowed to declare a "fake co-existence" in order to allow a third player to land.

Some other clarifications by example besides what you asked:

If Emperor is occupying Carthag and BG are co-existing, Tleilaxu could land and also declare co-existence, causing a combat with the BG only. A fourth faction could land to contest the Emperor.

If Emperor is occupying Carthag and Tleilaxu troops land to start a combat, BG can still land in Carthag and declare co-existence. In this case, Emperor is considered in combat with Tleilaxu, BG is considered in combat with Tleilaxu, and Tleilaxu are considered in combat with both other players. If BG was first to resolve combats, they would resolve their combat with the Tleilaxu, and if they won, there would be no more combat in the territory that turn. Emperor would control, and BG would co-exist.
 
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Alexander Stevens
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jamgar wrote:
I also really like the alliance breaking karama from the Lansdraad - that's a great idea! (Can they use a karama to form an alliance out of nexus too? That'd be awesome!)


That'd be a sudden, brutal victory. Not sure if this would open a whole can of wormy rules issues or not, will have to think about it!
 
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Glenn McMaster
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Ix – very similar to the one that evolved in the 9 player game variant here. Interesting – this indicates the system pushes the Ix theme in a predictable way. Generally, some really good ideas. I’ve only commented on things I think might be a problem.

I went through the rules pretty quick, so if I misunderstood something my apologies in advance...

2. The Ix player may choose to abstain from bidding, but draw one free card at the start of the bidding phase. No card is drawn for them in this case, even if their hand is not full.

Not sure I like this – if Ix draws a bad card, he’s burned. I’d suggest making it that he can discard it or put it in the auction (in replacement for a card and Atreides does not see it) and if he does, he can bid normally.

3. During the collection phase, the Ix may give or receive cards from any willing player.

Also concerned about this one – it might be too easy for Ix to funnel Karama cards to Harkonnen, or otherwise too easily make the wrong card appear to stop a win. We play that Ix can pass but not receive.

A Karama played against the Ix stops them from trading cards for one round...

Consider preventing Ix from trading for one turn.

Tleilaxu

2. During the traitor selection, the Tleilaxu choose a Face Dancer instead of a traitor. If the Face Dancer is victorious in a battle, the Tleilaxu may call it to claim the territory. The Face Dancer is slain (the Tleilaxu collect spice bounty), all the player's troops in the territory are sent to the tanks, and the Tleilaxu gain one unit in the territory. The Face Dancer can only be called once in the game.

What happens to the victim's treachery cards - discarded or does BT get a shot at them?


4. Coexistence, as for the Bene Gesserit. Whenever the Tleilaxu and Bene Gesserit both occupy the same territory, they are considered to be in combat during the combat round...

Seems unbalanced against the BG, who need to be able to coexist to protect their leaders and scattered tokens. OTOH, the BT can draw leaders from the tanks at will and doesn’t ‘accompany’, and therefore isn’t spread thin across 5 strongholds.

5. If the Tleilaxu do not play a defense card in combat, they may pay two spice to return the opponent's defense card to their hand after battle plans are revealed.

A suggestion - what if both defences are returned to hand only if the BT plays the identical defence?

Karama: The Tleilaxu may use a Karama at the end of the combat round to attempt to assassinate a leader.

Gut hunch – maybe not powerful enough. And when it is useful, it would be quite frustrating to the opponent to see their best leader killed and not be able to do anything. IMO, players tend to want their decisions to lead to consequences. Maybe a karama card to automatically slay the opponent’s leader after plans are revealed? This puts more control in the victim’s hands.

A Karama may be played to prevent the Tleilaxu from negating the opponent's defense or to prevent the Tleilaxu from playing a leader from the tanks.


You might want to word it that the karama is played after the revelation of battle plans, so that BT can’t respond by wasting the karama play by using his ‘3’ leader.
.Landsraad

Leaders: 3, 2, 2, 1, 1

Leaders look too weak, but if Landsraad has 30 tokens that's understandable. I'd boost the leaders and drop to 20.


1. You receive 3 spice during the collection round for each stronghold controlled by players other than you and your ally.

I think this is too powerful.

2. You may form and break alliances with other players during the Spice Blow phase, even without a worm nexus occurring. Another player may break their alliance at this time if they join you.

Interesting idea. I assume that if they ally with the Landsraad, the new partner gets to terminate his current alliance partners to go with Landsraad?

Ally: You and your ally can occupy the same territories without combat ensuing. The player with more units in a territory is considered to have control of it for the purposes of spice collection, spice income, ornithopters, and spice harvesters.

Do the allied tokens fight battles together? If not, what happens to the non-battling ally if the other is defeated?
 
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Marc Shutman
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Some nice points. Here's what I think about it:

GLENN239 wrote:
Not sure I like this – if Ix draws a bad card, he’s burned. I’d suggest making it that he can discard it or put it in the auction (in replacement for a card and Atreides does not see it) and if he does, he can bid normally.


Remember, the Ix can use useless card to up their combat value, which makes up for their somewhat weak leaders, and lets them commit less troops. And once they have an ally, any redundant battle cards give both of them a more consistent combat strength. Lastly, everyone runs this risk during bidding- in our games, most players don't get more than an average of 1 card per bidding (with the possible exception of Guild/Emperor, whose hands tend to stagnate fast, and of course Hark).

GLENN239 wrote:
Also concerned about this one – it might be too easy for Ix to funnel Karama cards to Harkonnen, or otherwise too easily make the wrong card appear to stop a win. We play that Ix can pass but not receive.


We haven't seen this be a problem, but we also haven't playtested as much as we could. This is a very good fix if it does turn out to be a problem.

GLENN239 wrote:
Consider preventing Ix from trading for one turn.


I think we're using different terms for the same thing here.


GLENN239 wrote:
What happens to the victim's treachery cards - discarded or does BT get a shot at them?


IIRC, they get discarded. Ix don't really have a problem getting cards.

GLENN239 wrote:
Seems unbalanced against the BG, who need to be able to coexist to protect their leaders and scattered tokens. OTOH, the BT can draw leaders from the tanks at will and doesn’t ‘accompany’, and therefore isn’t spread thin across 5 strongholds.


Interestingly, BT are actually weaker in combat than BG for a large portion of the game. This is one of my problems with them (hard to balance), since if they have the obvious flavor-based abilities, their power in the game is directly proportional to how badly everyone else is doing, which makes them scale extremely fast. If other players tend to overcommit, they get extremely powerful, but if everyone plays conservatively, they have a minor impact on the game. I'm really interested in integrating some of your rules into ours to see if we can even this out.

If we do give them more early game power, then you're right, this does seem like it would let them beat on BG too much. Maybe can't coexist if BG are there first, but if they invade and win the combat, they then force a fight with BG?

GLENN239 wrote:
A suggestion - what if both defences are returned to hand only if the BT plays the identical defence?


One of the things is that they have no spice income early game, but once they get spice, they can both generate it (for more cards, revival, and shipment) basically at will, but also weaken other players while doing so. I really like your idea of giving them either revive or spice, but making their ability to generate spice less dependent on how much they have on hand. It should even out their power curve. What do you think would work better- matching defenses, or discarding any card but a worthless card (the other option that popped into my head)?

GLENN239 wrote:
Gut hunch – maybe not powerful enough. And when it is useful, it would be quite frustrating to the opponent to see their best leader killed and not be able to do anything. IMO, players tend to want their decisions to lead to consequences. Maybe a karama card to automatically slay the opponent’s leader after plans are revealed? This puts more control in the victim’s hands.


The purpose of this ability was to give them some way to generate starting capital. If the changes above work, this might not be necessary. However, in the current rules they are pretty powerful late game (so they don't need another really good late game ability), and this gave them some way of kickstarting their power scaling. And since there is sort of a mini-duel (and i think you can use cards played in that battle), there is some defense against it (though not a particularly good one). I like your change, but keep in mind that our version has the express purpose of being used in a combat that the BT are not participating in, and your idea might make that too swingy for the game state.

GLENN239 wrote:
You might want to word it that the karama is played after the revelation of battle plans, so that BT can’t respond by wasting the karama play by using his ‘3’ leader.


Not sure if necessary. Scytale is pretty mediocre, you know what their leader strength is going to be going into the battle, and losing Scytale and being forced to play from the tanks is actually a big disadvantage- every time you play from the tanks, you necessarily give another player free spice. However, your idea is cleaner and more consistent across different circumstances.


GLENN239 wrote:
Leaders look too weak, but if Landsraad has 30 tokens that's understandable. I'd boost the leaders and drop to 20.


Lansraad is by far the least playtested. Most of our group finds them kind of boring, to be honest. This was put in to give them an interesting dynamic, besides the ones that are normally suggested, alliance timing and territory control/denial (through things that are not battle), which make playing the Lansraad kind of bland during the exiting parts of the game.


GLENN239 wrote:
1. You receive 3 spice during the collection round for each stronghold controlled by players other than you and your ally.

I think this is too powerful.


I do too, just looking at it. I can't remember how it tested.

GLENN239 wrote:
Interesting idea. I assume that if they ally with the Landsraad, the new partner gets to terminate his current alliance partners to go with Landsraad?


Yup.

GLENN239 wrote:
Do the allied tokens fight battles together? If not, what happens to the non-battling ally if the other is defeated?


I'm not entirely sure which route we went, but I think it was with the desert-like battles: You first fight the controlling player, and if opponent is successful, you then fight the co-existing player.


Hopefully Stevens will chime in again and correct me if I got any of this wrong.
 
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Alexander Stevens
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Shutman nailed most of it. He and I just spent an hour going over the Tleilaxu, and came up with the following, which I'll also edit above.

But first, quick comments about the Landsraad: their money source is intended to make them a major money power like Emperor while also encouraging them to play a hands-off game for as long as possible. In cohabitation battles, the third player in the stronghold fights both allies (if they activate combat first, they can pick which to fight first). The intent of the weak leaders/30 troops is to make them a glass cannon that functions differently from the other factions.

New Tleilaxu, including fixes/suggestions by Glenn and new mechanics to encourage the Tleilaxu to fight from the shadows. Their new post-combat ability is potentially devastating, but they need to work hard to get enough spice to make it so:

Tleilaxu
 
Start: 3 spice, 15 units in reserve.
 
Free Revive: 0, but each revived unit costs one. If no units are revived, collect 2 spice.
 
Leaders: Scytale 3 (not included in the traitor draw)
 
You control the revival of the dead, and you are a master of genetically engineered spies.
 
2. Money paid to revive troops and leaders is paid to the Tleilaxu player.
 
3. During the traitor selection, the Tleilaxu choose a Face Dancer instead of a traitor. If the Face Dancer is victorious in a battle, the Tleilaxu may call it to claim the territory. The Face Dancer is slain (the Tleilaxu collect spice bounty), all the player's troops in the territory are sent to the tanks, all treachery cards are discarded, and the Tleilaxu gain one unit in the territory. The Face Dancer can only be called once in the game.
 
4. The Tleilaxu can use a leader in the tanks rather than playing their own leader in combat. If Scytale is dead, they are not forced to play a leader in this way, they may instead play no leader. If the leader survives the battle, the leader returns to its original owner. A leader used against its own faction automatically betrays the Tleilaxu. Scytale may not be played from the tanks. The same leader may not participate in two battles in the same turn-- if a leader dies in a combat, the Tleilaxu cannot use him until the next turn.
 
5. Coexistence, as for the Bene Gesserit. Whenever the Tleilaxu and Bene Gesserit both occupy the same territory, they are considered to be in combat during the combat round, whether or not each is co-existing with other players in the same territory. Whenever another player's unit enters a territory containing Bene Gesserit and Tleilaxu troops, the BG/Tleilax player with more units has the opportunity to declare co-existence or not first (in a tie, the BG declare first). If it is a stronghold, this means the other player is forced to co-exist with the new arrival, as only two players may fight in a stronghold. However, the Bene Gesserit and Tleilaxu are still considered to be in combat with each other. The Bene Gesserit may never send spiritual advisors with a Tleilaxu shipment, and neither player may ever co-exist with the other.
 
6. Once per turn, after a battle between other players where the Tleilaxu have co-existing units, the Tleilaxu may pay spice to kill the winners' units. Each unit killed costs two spice. The maximum number killed per turn is the number of units the Tleilaxu have in space.
 
 Karama: After battle plans are revealed in a battle the Tleilaxu are participating in, the Tleilaxu may play a Karama to kill the opponent's leader and collect its spice bounty before the battle resolves. A Karama can be played against the Tleilaxu to return a leader played from the tanks back from whence it came, or to prevent them from killing units after a battle once.
 
Ally: The Tleilaxu ally pays only one spice for each unit revived past their free revive rate. If the Tleilaxu ally revives no units, they may revive a leader from the tanks by paying its value to the bank.
 
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Stephen Williams
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junkielectric wrote:

GLENN239 wrote:
Consider preventing Ix from trading for one turn.


I think we're using different terms for the same thing here.


I think what Glenn was referring to is the fact that "round" is a game term. As in, "Battle Round," "Bidding Round," etc. To say that a Karama card cancels the trading ability for "a round" implies that they can start trading again when the game advances to the next "round." (That's certainly how I interpreted it as well.)

Glenn's suggestion is that the Karama card should cancel this ability for an entire game turn - either until the next Storm Round or until the same Round next turn - I'm not sure which he meant. If that's what the Karama power was meant to do anyway, then just consider the re-wording a clarification. =)

junkielectric wrote:

Interestingly, BT are actually weaker in combat than BG for a large portion of the game. This is one of my problems with them (hard to balance), since if they have the obvious flavor-based abilities, their power in the game is directly proportional to how badly everyone else is doing, which makes them scale extremely fast. If other players tend to overcommit, they get extremely powerful, but if everyone plays conservatively, they have a minor impact on the game. I'm really interested in integrating some of your rules into ours to see if we can even this out.


I kind of like the idea that the BT get more powerful if other people overcommit. Perhaps, instead of giving them a direct avenue to profit, give them an ability or two designed to encourage strife between other players? I don't really have any ideas for what they could be, personally, just brainstorming.
 
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Alexander Stevens
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As the Ix can only trade cards during each turn's collection round, either wording has the same result.
 
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Glenn McMaster
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Quote:
What do you think would work better- matching defenses, or discarding any card but a worthless card (the other option that popped into my head)?


Anything that makes it a little problem the BT has to solve before they get their reward, a problem that helps define the BT’s strategy when choosing opponents. Say, BT’s alliance is facing a projectile defence in one hand and a poison defence in another. BT has a poison defence. Now, he has a reason to prefer fighting one opponent over another and this makes his alliance’s combat choices a little more interesting.
 
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