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Subject: How replayable is Risk Legacy beyond Game 15? rss

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Ender Wiggins
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Before I get to my question, let me make it abundantly clear that I think Risk Legacy is a fantastic game. I've played it over a dozen times in less than a week, and it's been an outstanding experience, especially when played with the same group of people to share the ride. Even if I never play this game again in my entire life, I've easily had my money's worth, given the hours of entertainment we had, and the terrific stories and rich experiences it has created for us.

But that brings me to my question about its replayability beyond Game 15, and here's where I'd like to see some discussion and exchange some thoughts with others. It seems to me that by this point, you have a very personalized world which also bears a real risk of being very unbalanced. Some examples:
- Winning players will have selected and named major cities and continents, and these become obvious starting locations for them in future games given the bonuses that they will provide to them only. Not only can other players not select these, but adjacent territories (thus to prevent opponents selecting their pet major city) will often be distinctly unattractive starting locations for a host of reasons.
- At least one continent will have suffered a major blow (about which I won't reveal more, so as not to spoil it for those who haven't yet played the game) which will make it rather unattractive for most of the factions.
- New connections between continents will exist that weren't there at the start of the game, and can both weaken and strengthen particular continents, thus irreversibly shifting the balance of power of the starting map.
- Some players will start the game with a larger number of missiles than others, which can be a significant advantage for key combat rolls.
- Some of the factions have no stickers with extra powers or other benefits, and thus are disadvantaged and less desirable to be chosen.

Doesn't this inevitably lead to a world that is both unbalanced, and a game setup that could quickly become somewhat scripted when players choose what will be the obviously more advantageous starting locations for themselves? A good game design should result in a very balanced world, but the whole point of Risk Legacy is that the world is shaped by the players and the final result is by necessity going to be unbalanced, which could mean that certain locations are always the best place for certain players to begin.

Granted, the game relies a lot on the players, and in that sense it is somewhat self-balancing, since players must for themselves identify who is the biggest threat and to some extent even team up against a player that starts with a larger advantage. But I can see that once the shape of the world has been determined, this could mean that from Game 16 onwards, the game could become somewhat scripted, especially if one player consistently begins with the same dominance in the same part of the world. Let the discussion begin - how replayable is Risk Legacy beyond Game 15?
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Darren Nakamura
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Sign the board twice spoiler

Spoiler (click to reveal)
- New connections between continents will exist that weren't there at the start of the game, and can both weaken and strengthen particular continents, thus irreversibly shifting the balance of power of the starting map.


That's a bit more information than new players will have. Might want to spoiler tag it.

As far as the rest, as I understand it, some things you mention can still change after Game 15, so they're not as much of an issue as you may think.

Player elimination spoiler

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Comeback powers, for instance, can still be applied to knocked out factions after Game 15


9 Minor Cities spoiler

Spoiler (click to reveal)
As far as having certain areas be more important than others, I think that's balanced well by the drafting mechanic. If one continent is significantly more useful than others, then first placement is highly sought after, but perhaps at the expense of starting troops or coins.
 
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Todd Gardiner
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Well, there are almost certainly enough mission cards to keep making games unique, even if the board and deck are not changing any more because of end-of-game rewards.

All of the rest of the mechanisms that modify the game are still in place with only the end-of-game mechanism running out. Just as when scars are all placed earlier in the campaign, the game still changed and will continue to change.

I would say (making a wild guess) that it is really game 24+ where there is nothing new left to happen to permanently change the game state.
 
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Joe Forsyth
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EndersGame wrote:
Doesn't this inevitably lead to a world that is both unbalanced, and a game setup that could quickly become somewhat scripted when players choose what will be the obviously more advantageous starting locations for themselves?


I think this can happen if the players neglect the necessary checks & balances. This might mean giving up that major city to slap a -1 on a continent bonus or remove a territory card, etc.

Also, at some point it is expected that players will gang up on the leading player to prevent them from naming the world after 15 games.
 
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Mike Oehler
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EndersGame wrote:
Before I get to my question, let me make it abundantly clear that I think Risk Legacy is a fantastic game. I've played it over a dozen times in less than a week, and it's been an outstanding experience, especially when played with the same group of people to share the ride. Even if I never play this game again in my entire life, I've easily had my money's worth, given the hours of entertainment we had, and the terrific stories and rich experiences it has created for us.

But that brings me to my question about its replayability beyond Game 15, and here's where I'd like to see some discussion and exchange some thoughts with others. It seems to me that by this point, you have a very personalized world which also bears a real risk of being very unbalanced. Some examples:
- Winning players will have selected and named major cities and continents, and these become obvious starting locations for them in future games given the bonuses that they will provide to them only. Not only can other players not select these, but adjacent territories (thus to prevent opponents selecting their pet major city) will often be distinctly unattractive starting locations for a host of reasons.
- At least one continent will have suffered a major blow (about which I won't reveal more, so as not to spoil it for those who haven't yet played the game) which will make it rather unattractive for most of the factions.
- New connections between continents will exist that weren't there at the start of the game, and can both weaken and strengthen particular continents, thus irreversibly shifting the balance of power of the starting map.
- Some players will start the game with a larger number of missiles than others, which can be a significant advantage for key combat rolls.
- Some of the factions have no stickers with extra powers or other benefits, and thus are disadvantaged and less desirable to be chosen.
Let the discussion begin - how replayable is Risk Legacy beyond Game 15?


A faction without any extra powers could easily sacrifice a few games to get them, especially once people stop getting missiles and big bonuses from winning. Elimination:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
No comeback power? Hoard cards, spread yourself thin, and make reckless attacks. Someone will come along to knock you out shortly. In fact, one of our players kept trying to do this after the pack was opened so he'd get to assign one of the early picks - now the Bears have +1 attack against HQs for us.
3+ missiles:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Similarly, you can either blow everything to get a mission, or first pick cards and then try to mostly defend and cash them in to get a missile power.
10 games in for us, and I think only one brown or blue slot remains unfilled.

As long as one person doesn't have the majority of the total missiles, other players can gang up with their missiles to keep him down. +3 missiles:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Bringer of Nuclear Fire can also grant someone bonus missiles. EMP prevents die modification, which may include
Plus there are plays highly likely to knock both the attacker and defender out of contention.

I have a hard time seeing someone get a major city, named continent, and buffed continent in the same area without other people either getting their own nice set ups or using the options to weaken someone else's domain. Especially since bonus Red Stars are pretty good (especially early on), so it seems rather unlikely that someone goes on a streak and gets a ton of early rewards and then snowballs. 3+:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
The Bad Intel missile power can deny continent bonuses anyway, so someone can cancel to buy time. Similarly, another missile power can deny high value cards. It seems like there are a number of ways to stop a leader from running away with the game.


9 cities:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Draft mode makes a lot of counterplay possible. It's possible to zone someone out of a favorite starting area with an early placement. If they pick early placement, everyone else can grab troops or something to leave them with 6 guys. Someone with an early turn and later placement can really put the hurt on a player starting with 6 - especially with 10 troops and/or a faction with an ability supporting early attacks. Even if it doesn't succeed, it does basically throw the game to a third party coming and wiping out both spent players. Basically, either someone isn't getting all the stuff they want, or other people are getting more starting bonuses over them.


I do feel like starting positions become overly constrained, not so much because of people's bonuses locking into one area, but because so many locations can get blocked off. Between SA and Africa, there are 3 possible starting locations on our board. Only 1 player can start in Europe at all because there are scars or minor cities in every space except his major city. Of course, only a few of our scars are doubled up on cities; if most of them were stacked there'd be more open space.
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Ender Wiggins
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Java Joe wrote:
EndersGame wrote:
Doesn't this inevitably lead to a world that is both unbalanced, and a game setup that could quickly become somewhat scripted when players choose what will be the obviously more advantageous starting locations for themselves?


I think this can happen if the players neglect the necessary checks & balances. This might mean giving up that major city to slap a -1 on a continent bonus or remove a territory card, etc.

In most cases we've found that the lure of getting the benefits of a major city surpasses the desire to add a -1 continent bonus to hurt an opponent slightly, so in actual fact this didn't happen much with our group. And if a single player does start to dominate multiple times, he can only increase his advantage further.

I don't disagree with your remark about the necessary checks and balances, and recognize that the game has somewhat of an inbuilt self-balancing system, because it relies on the players to keep things from getting out of hand, especially by working together again a repeat winner. Yet the reality is that our post-Game 15 world is quite unbalanced and does lend itself to scripted set-ups from here on in, and I'm wondering how this compares with the post-Game 15 world that others have produced.

There's some related discussion of interest in this thread, emphasizing that the game's real value lies in the first 15 games, and while I completely agree with that, that still leaves open the question about replayability beyond Game 15:

When it's all said and done, who will want to play?
 
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