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Kingdom of Solomon» Forums » Variants

Subject: Variant for Bonus Spaces with less than 4 players... rss

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Chris Norwood
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The "playing chicken" element of the Bonus spaces are one of the coolest and most unique parts of this game, but I've noticed that with less than 4 players (and especially with just 2), it becomes less and less important as you lose the Tribute and then the Ark.

What if, instead of blocking particular Bonus spaces with less players, you just limited how many could be claimed each round?

In other words, in a 2-player game, only one of the spots could be used on any round, but the player pulling the trigger to get it could choose to use either the Tribute, Ark, or Altar. And in a 3-player game, any 2 of them could be claimed, of course.

I was wondering if this had been considered or tried either in the process of design or by any other groups out there? I just think it would make for some more interesting decisions...
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The Dave
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I haven't played KoS yet but I love this idea! It ratchets up the push your luck element and makes the decision to grab a bonus space even better.

Having not played, I wonder if the issue is balance. Are either of the blocked off spaces too powerful in a two player game?
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Philip duBarry
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Chris, what an excellent idea! It was never considered because it didn't occur to us.
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Chris Norwood
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Cool. I'll definitely have to try it out next time I play with my wife...
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Mark C
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pdubarry wrote:
Chris, what an excellent idea! It was never considered because it didn't occur to us.


It's great to hear a designer that is open to variants. I get the impression many don't like others ogling their babies too much.
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John Brownsill
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Tried this in 2 player yesterday and it worked absolutley fine.

Doesn't appear to unbalance anything. At the end there were only 4 points between us (but I won ).

It's a great game that deserves wider attention and distribution.
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kilroy_locke wrote:
What if, instead of blocking particular Bonus spaces with less players, you just limited how many could be claimed each round?

In other words, in a 2-player game, only one of the spots could be used on any round, but the player pulling the trigger to get it could choose to use either the Tribute, Ark, or Altar. And in a 3-player game, any 2 of them could be claimed, of course.

pdubarry wrote:
Chris, what an excellent idea! It was never considered because it didn't occur to us.

I really like the sound of this idea. It's almost exactly how the adjustments to key worker placement spaces are implemented with variable player numbers in the game Stone Age, and seems like an obvious thing to try in Kingdom of Solomon as well. So this Stone Age style Bonus Space placement for games with less than 4 players seems well worth considering.

But it would need the benefit of some extensive play-testing to ensure it actually works, and doesn't create any new imbalances.


Edit: Just thinking about this further, I wonder if this variant might advantage the player first in turn order too much, especially in a two player game. In the regular game the Altar is always available, but with the Stone Age style Bonus Space placement variant the player who has advantage of turn order can choose one of the other two Bonus Spaces to block the Altar, and so strengthen his own advantage by locking out his opponent from changing the turn order. In fact by making the other Bonus Spaces available to the leading player, you're just increasing his incentive to choose one of them. The player second in turn order will likely need to commit even more pawns to get the Altar before this happens. I'm not sure how this would all work out in practice, but it would certainly have an effect on changing the dynamics of game-play slightly, which only highlights the need to test it carefully before making it an official rule.
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Chris Norwood
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But that's sort of the whole point of the Bonus Spaces? They offer powerful and potentially unbalanced effect that you will balance through how many pawns you're willing to spend to guarantee getting them. The thing that makes the game so cool is that effect of pushing your luck just far enough to still get what you want but not wasting pawns that could have gotten you more resources.

The issue in the 2-player game currently is that you almost totally lose that element to the game. The Altar is, most of the time, almost worthless to the person in 1st turn order. And even for the player in 2nd turn order, you get so much less in points than someone in 4th place in a game with full complement. I just wanted to try and keep some of the excitement of the full game even with 2 or 3 players.

And really, going 1st is a big advantage, and it should be. That's why, with almost every placement, the other players need to consider whether it's worth it to jump on the Altar.
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Excellent points and analysis, Chris! I'm inclined to agree with everything you've said in your last post.

If the variant you've suggested stands up with repeated play, I concur that it would be a definite improvement by introducing some of these really interesting elements of the game-play back into the 2 player game.
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Update: I see that this variant has now been included in the revised version of the rulebook here. It reads:

Quote:
Optional Rule: If you want a more challenging two- or three-player game, try this optional rule: All three Bonus Spaces can be used, but only one less than the number of players each round. So, in a three player game, the first two players to claim them may use any empty Bonus Space, but the third player cannot.


Question for the designer and/or publisher: To what extent has this been play-tested, to ensure it doesn't create new imbalances or difficulties?

While I really like the sound of it, it would be good to be assured that it's received the benefit of some solid playtesting. Turn order is hugely important in this game, and can often determine the winner, so one concern I have about this variant is that it might help the player who is first in turn order too much, by giving him an attractive alternative to the Altar, while at the same time helping him shut out his opponents from getting it and thus retaining first position on the turn order track (especially in a two player game).
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Mark C
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(not the designer)

We've played it with the variant and it seems to work as intended.
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Joel Eddy
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Neat!

I'm still playing this game regularly and still enjoying it. This variant will throw a nice change of pace into our sessions.
 
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Chris Norwood
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This is so cool. My variant is now "official"!
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Jimmy Hensel
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Chris,

Thanks for suggesting this variant. When my wife and I play KoS, we always use it. The only time I consider not using it, is when I'm teaching the game to someone. However, the variant is really not harder to understand than the original rules for less than four players.

Being first player is an advantage, but not insurmountable. Check out my summary of a recent game Item for Geeklist "10 Games 10 Plays Each Pawnpusher 2014" . My wife grabbed the altar in the second round (she grabbed the tribute space in the first) so I played the rest of the game as the second (last) in turn order, but by building a huge resource region I won big.

we'll always play with your suggestion. Thanks!
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Chris Norwood
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Wow, Jimmy, that's so cool. Thanks for letting me know!
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