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Subject: thoughts on running at a convention rss

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Gregory Wong
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I've signed up to GM Roborally at a game convention. I plan to use the WOTC rules (including virtual robots) and options. Here are some house rules I'm considering. I'd like your feedback on this.

1. Game conventions assign you a fixed number of hours to run a game. After that, you need to clean up so another game can use the table. In order to fill the time slot, I plan to set up a course of N flags (N to be determined later). After your robot touches flag N, your next flag is 1, then 2 etc. Winner is the robot that touches the most flags in sequence when time runs out. In case of a tie, it's the robot that touched that flag the earliest.

2. Unlimited lives. This will keep all players in the game for the entire time.

3. First time players will be given a one turn headstart.

4. Mechanical Arm (MA). This is a very powerful and controversial option. So I'd modify as follows:

a. Diagonal reach is not allowed.
b. Walls and repulsors block the reach.
c. Your archive location is updated to the flag touched by MA.
d. The MA comes with one token (like a fuel token). When you touch a flag with MA, you lose that token and cannot touch any more flags unless you "re-arm" (pun intended) at a chop shop. You can't possess more than one arm token at any time. You can still sacrifice a spent arm in place of damage.

5. Robo Copter (RC). If the course contains water or chasm where RC has a decided advantage, then RC should be limited to 3 uses. Use 3 fuel tokens to indicate this. RC can be re-fueled at a chop shop.

6. Scavenger Hunt II. This is described in the Armed and Dangerous book. Deal out a number of options equal to the number of players and put these near one of the flags face-up. The flag should be somewhere in the middle of the course. When a robot touches that flag, the player to his/her left chooses one of the options and gives it to the player touching the flag. Thus, you get an option card reward, but the leader will most likely get the crummier option. The better options will be left for the players who are trailing. If this is the second (or more) time you've touched the flag (in other words, you've lapped someone) you don't get an option card.
 
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Brad Johnson
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1. How long is your time slot? At WBC, the qualifying heats are scheduled for 3 hours (3 flags). But we use 2-minute timers for each turn, and a lot of tables finish in well under 3 hours. I recommend timers highly, regardless of your duration, to avoid having 1 or 2 super-AP players really dragging everyone's fun down.

Personal opinion: I think being forced to continue playing past the end of the game would not be fun for me. There's frequently a runaway leader, so whether I'm winning or losing, I'd rather the game just ended cleanly.

2. What's your motivation to keep everyone playing for the full time? Are there event fees that make everyone feel ripped off if they get eliminated early, or something like that? If you're playing to get a winner, I recommend against unlimited lives. We use unlimited lives when I play with my non-gamer friends, but even they have gotten to the point where it's rare for anyone to die more than once or twice a game anyway.

3. Ok, if you like.

4. a) and b) - I thought those were standard rules, not modifications.
c) Agreed, this is a critical clarification to the rules.
d) This is a pretty good rule, too, although I've never used it. I agree Mechanical Arm is very powerful in the hands of experienced players.

However, all that being said, options are hardly ever a factor in a competitive game of Roborally. If you're stopping to get options, chances are you're working on losing.

5. Seems raasonable. We pretty much never use the chasm or water boards, definitely not in the WBC tournament, and I think we're also limited to the basic options, so the issue you're trying to fix never comes up for us.

6. This will certainly make options more of a factor - ignore my comment about that above. I've never played this variant, so I can't comment on it. Sounds like it could be interesting.
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Rich Shipley
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Are you limiting the participants to one board?

1. Three flags on three or four boards usually makes for a good game. Make sure the paths will cross some.

2. You could keep track of how many lives people lose and use that as the first tiebreaker.

3. I'd advise against giving newbies a headstart. Being behind other players at the beginning can be a good thing.

4a-c are the standard rules for Mechanical arm. It is probably easier to take it out of the deck than to add more rules.

5. If this is a teaching game, I'd leave out the A&D options.

6. Sounds like fun.

What your time limit for programming? I've found that three minutes is pretty good for freindly games. Down to two for experienced players. Less than that is tough.
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Aaron Morgan
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saxophone wrote:
4. Mechanical Arm (MA). This is a very powerful and controversial option. So I'd modify as follows:


I'd just remove any options that are likely to be problematic in the interest of keeping the game moving and keeping houserules to a minimum.
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Gregory Wong
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tempus42 wrote:
1. How long is your time slot? At WBC, the qualifying heats are scheduled for 3 hours (3 flags).


4 hours less time needed to explain the rules. I'll probably set an alarm to go off 15 minutes before the end of the time slot to signify that the last turn is being played. That way we won't run over the allotted time and people can get to their other games.

Quote:
But we use 2-minute timers for each turn, and a lot of tables finish in well under 3 hours. I recommend timers highly, regardless of your duration, to avoid having 1 or 2 super-AP players really dragging everyone's fun down.

If there are newbies in the game, I may not use the timers for the first few turns. I also have to think of the impact timers will have on players that have to program drones as well as their own robots.

Quote:

2. What's your motivation to keep everyone playing for the full time? Are there event fees that make everyone feel ripped off if they get eliminated early, or something like that? If you're playing to get a winner, I recommend against unlimited lives. We use unlimited lives when I play with my non-gamer friends, but even they have gotten to the point where it's rare for anyone to die more than once or twice a game anyway.

First of all, my emphasis will be on fun rather than competitiveness though I recognize that with some people, these two things are not mutually exclusive. Although I've never attended WBC, from what I've read, that convention is pretty competitive. As you pointed out, experienced players are not likely to die more than once. But newbies will die a lot, especially in the beginning. Eventually, they get the hang of it. By giving unlimited lives, the newbies stay in the game. They also will remain to slow the leader down when the leader starts crossing back toward the earlier flags.

Quote:

Personal opinion: I think being forced to continue playing past the end of the game would not be fun for me. There's frequently a runaway leader, so whether I'm winning or losing, I'd rather the game just ended cleanly.

Your opinion is noted. I'm mostly concerned about the game running long. This way, when time runs out, I have a winner.

Quote:

Whether you play an "infinite circle" game or not, you should decide what you will do if total flag count is tied. What's the tie breaker? At WBC, we use fewest phases (assuming optimal moves) to the next flag.

I thought I listed my tie breaker. If two players touch flag 4, then the one that touched it earliest is the winner. Yes, I realize that this erases any progress you made since touching flag 4. The WBC tie breaker sounds good, though.

Quote:
4. a) and b) - I thought those were standard rules, not modifications.

I don't have it handy, but I think the AH version allows diagonal reach. I may also add that the arm cannot reach down or reach up to different levels.
 
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Berthold Nüchter
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1. 4 hours is a very long time for a game of RoboRally, even including explanation and setup. You will not need that much. With experienced players and time limit even two games would be possible, but I would not try that. I would setup courses on 2 boards with many crossing paths with a fixed last flag. I suggest you take a look at the good courses in the manual of RoboRally 3rd edition. Also the time limit rules of the 3rd edition are really good. With beginners I would play the first few turns without limit.

2. Unlimited lives should not be necessary but is alright.

3. "First time players will be given a one turn headstart." A whole turn? Really? I think this is too much

4. Your rules for the mechanical arm should be fine.

5. I would not use the complicated A&D boards and options when playing with beginners. It seems to be too complicated. They will be stressed, as you also play with time limits.
You may think about preparing a few different courses and use the course that suits the specific players best. If there are no beginners you could use the A&D stuff.

6. Scavenger Hunt II should be fine.
 
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Kevin Riddle

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I agree with a lot of what was already said

-fixed time with a clear definite winner
-no time limit on programming for a few turns
-no need for a headstart for beginners, they'll be picked off by lasers
-maybe just take out Mechanical Arm and a couple options that are too powerful or too lengthy to explain (Keep it Simple and fast leads to more fun, IMO)
-unlimited lives sounds fine, if they are losing they will probably start trying to mess up the leader, might be a prob ...
-a course that criss crosses is a must (need to find the Scavenger Hunt mentioned)

sounds like fun, I need to get my game out again ...
good luck!!
 
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Lori
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I don't know what con you're running this at or what it's like, but you sound very much like you expect a lot of people who may be new to the game. If so, I would seriously consider not using Armed & Dangerous at all. It really adds a pretty thick layer of complications (and possible rules questions). Also, I would argue that it tilts the game against the less experienced players.

If I'm new to Roborally, I've probably got enough on my mind just understanding the main rules and figuring what the heck my robot is doing. I'm not fast enough to program my robot AND a buzzbomb in the same turn. I may have trouble remembering when and how I can deploy mines or goo. I'm not really sure how to use the more complicated options, and especially under time pressure--and not wanting to bog down a tournament event with my ignorant rules queries--I may just not use my option if it's confusing, which means it's as if I didn't get one, but the experienced players did. Not good.

I don't like your point #3 (a head start for beginners) for several (and probably contradictory) reasons.
-- As has been mentioned, it might actually hurt instead of help them, depending on the course. If the beginner gets to be the robot who's getting shot in the back by the whole rest of the pack, that's not so advantageous.
-- It just seems wrong to me. Especially in tournament play. I get that there's no million-dollar purse here, this isn't a highly televised World Roborally Tour event, and this probably won't be the most bloodthirsty competition in the history of the world, but it still seems wrong to handicap in a tournament. If it's your first time running a marathon, you still start at the starting line with everyone else. And if you finish the race, you know you ran the whole thing yourself.
-- I hate to go here, but how do you know who's a beginner? What's to stop me from entering your event and claiming I've never played before, so I can get the handicap?
-- Also, suppose I've played Roborally once before, but it was just one game, five years ago, and I don't remember it very well at all. I might not be much--if at all--better than the people who have literally never played, but they'll get the compensatory advantage and I won't. It's hard to handicap something like this in a way that's really fair.
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Roberta Yang
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Definitely endeavor to keep things simple when running with new players - anything requiring a house rule to explain, or complicated mechanics on top of the basic programming rules that will already give newbies trouble, should definitely be axed.
 
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