Brian M
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We liked Thunderstone when it came out. We recovered from losing interest when they changed all the rules. We managed to ignore the poorly balanced cards. In fact, we liked it enough to buy expansions. Which, apparently, was a mistake.

Maybe we should rewind to just the basic set, but I can't help thinking there's got to be a way to fix all this.

There's two big problems that have really messed Thunderstone up for us. (and a slew of little ones, but just fixing the two big ones would be good enough).

Big problem number 1:
Jamming. When you've got monsters that nobody can fight, and everybody sits there hoping someone else clears the jam so they can swoop in like a vulture and kill the new monster. Which, of course, no one does.

The not-so-fixy fix: The intelligent randomizer. Which works...most of the time. But not always. And it a royal pain to use. Sigh...don't get me wrong. The randomizer is perfectly well done for a web randomizer, I just hate having to use it - I really don't like having to use a computer to play a board game, and I don't always have an internet connection handy. Pity its not an app...that would be an improvement at least.

The web randomizer really is great for anyone who likes using that sort of thing. I just really don't think I should need a computer program to play a board game.

Big problem number 2:
Early game swingers. They started adding more and more of these in later sets. Monsters that first player attacks with no hope of winning, but conveniently wipe out all their militia, drastically accelerating their deck.
In the times we've seen this, the player that gets an early boost typically scores twice or more what other players do.

No fix yet so far on this.

So...anyone got brilliant and clever house rules to fix these problems up?

The only thought I've got so far:

1) Monsters aren't discarded when a player fails to defeat them.
2) When a player rests, they must discard one monster from the dungeon.

That way if a monster kills militia, at least everyone would benefit. And if a player wants to unjam an unkillable setup at least they are getting some benefit at the same time. But overall its not a set of houserules I feel very confident about.

Better ideas?
 
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Mike Reeves
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Have you tried the Vasel Epic variant? Have a look at the files section for details if you're not aware of this.

Basically the weaker monsters come out first, then medium "toughness" and finally the toughest monsters. This helps prevent jamming and kamikaze attacks because the monsters are more in line with the current strength of your heroes.
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Another problem which made me sell my base game and 1st expansion: This game takes much too long for what it is, especially with the expansion(s).
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Motorkopf wrote:
Another problem which made me sell my base game and 1st expansion: This game takes much too long for what it is, especially with the expansion(s).


The Epic Variant also resolves this.
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K. David Ladage
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Tho things I think will help you:

Jamming
When you create the dungeon deck, sort the cards by the XP they grant. Place the 1XP monsters in a stack, the 2XP monsters in a stack, and the rest of the monsters in a stack. Shuffle the stacks.

Deal off 10 cards from the 3+XP stack and shuffle in your Thunderstone. This forms the bottom of your dungeon stack. Add in the remaining 3+XP monsters. Shuffle in a Guardian with the 2XP cards. Place these on the dungeon stack. Place the 1XP monsters on the Dungeon Stack.

This should help to take care of the jamming effect.


Swingers
There is a house rule called "why should I run away when I just kicked your ass?" Basically, if a monster is attacked and not defeated, then it does not go away. Some will even have it move forward in the dungeon and swap places with the monster in front of it. You can even add "rank 0" effects if you want (e.g., if a monster is attacked in rank 1 and not defeated, it moves into rank 0, and 'X' happens; further attempts to defeat the monster without success will trigger 'X' again).

'X' can be whatever you want it to be, but it needs to be significant without being overbearing. The best 'X' effects are ones that scale with the monster (i.e., if 'X' is something like 'remove the top card of each village stack, then you could make it scale by making it 'remove the top Y cards of each village stack, where Y is the XP that monster grants).

If you want to be truly cleaver, have the 'X' effect be based on the attributes of the monsters -- humanoids do this, dragons do that, undead do this other thing...
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StormKnight wrote:
The not-so-fixy fix: The intelligent randomizer. Which works...most of the time. But not always. And it a royal pain to use. Sigh...don't get me wrong. The randomizer is perfectly well done for a web randomizer, I just hate having to use it - I really don't like having to use a computer to play a board game, and I don't always have an internet connection handy. Pity its not an app...that would be an improvement at least.


Have you tried using it offline? It's specifically designed to work well with phones, and it leverages HTML5's offline features so that once you load it, you should be able to run it regardless of whether you've got an internet connection or not. Basically, there are only two difference between this and an "app": 1, you bookmark it instead of "installing" it and 2, it's not tethered to some arbitrary walled garden.

Alternatively, you can use the "quick d6" to make a list of 6 intelligently-randomized setups formatted perfectly for printing. Just print out a sheet and stick it in your box. No electronics required.

Here's a link for convenience to Thundermaster
 
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Brian M
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Thanks for the suggestions so far.

Regarding the Epic Variant: I know this gets suggested a lot. I've got a lot of reservations about it. First, it just seems like a pain to setup each game with the huge piles of cards to shuffle. Second, the cards in Thunderstone aren't all that well balanced, but its usually not too big a deal since everyone can get them all. It seems like, for example, a game in which one player grabs an early Selurian when no one else can get a Selurian is going to be very heavily tilted. And some cards will either jam up piles or simply never ever be bought if you are playing with the variant to discard cards from the top (granted, those cards probably normally never get bought in regular Thunderstone anyway).

So, yeah, maybe I should give it a try, but that's a lot of work to set up for a variant that I really have doubts would work very well.

Quote:
When you create the dungeon deck, sort the cards by the XP they grant. Place the 1XP monsters in a stack, the 2XP monsters in a stack, and the rest of the monsters in a stack. Shuffle the stacks

While this would make setup more complicated, I'm not really sure it would help. The jamming problem we see isn't usually caused by "tough monsters early", its caused by monsters that the current setup can't fight. For example, a monster that requires magic attack when none is available. Or a monster immune to magic attack when all the heroes have magic attack.

Quote:
Basically, if a monster is attacked and not defeated, then it does not go away.

But then you need to add a rule to let you clear a monster in some way to prevent jamming
 
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Quote:
For example, a monster that requires magic attack when none is available. Or a monster immune to magic attack when all the heroes have magic attack.


Quick question, when you say "none is available" in regards to magic attack, are you saying that for the entire village set up? As in no heroes or items or spells with magic attack? If that's the case I think you might enjoy the game more if you didn't play so strictly with the random cards.
Try making the monsters random, but make the heroes slightly less random, so keep drawing hero cards until monster 'requirements' are met. If there's a class of monsters that require magic, then make sure there's at least one hero with magic attack. If some monsters destroy fighters, then make sure that at least of the heroes isn't a fighter. Any monsters (or items for that matter) that generate diseases would force at least one hero/item that can deal with diseases. (Some of what the online randomizer does, but just manually)
I don't think it'd add much more than five or so minutes to set-up time, and the payoff would be a game that wouldn't have impossible monsters.
 
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StormKnight wrote:


So, yeah, maybe I should give it a try, but that's a lot of work to set up for a variant that I really have doubts would work very well.


In the Epic Variant, you keep shuffled the Villager stacks. Same for Light, Spell, Weapons, Monsters, Heroes etc... stacks. There is no sorting stuff at all at the end of the game.

That means certainly that the first game set up is a bit painfull but all other games are really quick to play.
 
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Stephen Cappello
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StormKnight wrote:
...
Big problem number 1:
Jamming. When you've got monsters that nobody can fight, and everybody sits there hoping someone else clears the jam so they can swoop in like a vulture and kill the new monster. Which, of course, no one does.

The not-so-fixy fix: The intelligent randomizer. Which works...most of the time. But not always. And it a royal pain to use. Sigh...don't get me wrong. The randomizer is perfectly well done for a web randomizer, I just hate having to use it - I really don't like having to use a computer to play a board game, and I don't always have an internet connection handy. Pity its not an app...that would be an improvement at least.

The web randomizer really is great for anyone who likes using that sort of thing. I just really don't think I should need a computer program to play a board game.
...


Try Thundermaster - Unplugged
And here is a video explaining its use:
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Will M. Baker
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hanshu wrote:
That means certainly that the first game set up is a bit painfull but all other games are really quick to play.


I found the reverse to be true, that playing Epic actually required more setup and takedown time. Without Epic, setup of the village requires no shuffling, as each stack of village cards contains only one sort of cards. In Epic, I would need to shuffle a huge stack of weapon cards, for instance, to ensure that the weapons I used last time weren't just at the top or bottom of the stack. Same goes for hero stacks. Different people play with different quantities of each card (e.g. only two copies of each, only three, etc.), which will affect the size of the stacks to be shuffled. Monster setup didn't seem to take any additional time.

For takedown, I find it much easier to sort out cards by their image, each to a unique pile, than to read the text on the card to identify the target pile it should go into (e.g. in the weapon pile, or food pile, etc.), and to recall where the edge cases go (food with light; weapons with magic; etc.). Heroes are even more of a pain, as I must first separate out all the Level 1 heroes, to go into the random piles, and then individually re-file all the level 2+ heroes. In a normal game, there would be a maximum of 4 such hero types; in epic, there could be any number of level 2+ heroes that must each be re-filed. Monster takedown (sorting into piles by XP, VP, or health) doesn't take significantly longer.

So, for me, Epic adds more time to both ends of the game. (This is to say nothing of how it actually changes game play, which I also found unfavorable.)
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you also mentioned app, if you have an iDevice, I'd suggest iThunderstone. I attempted to link it, but you can search for it on the iStore.
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Mike Reeves
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StormKnight wrote:
Thanks for the suggestions so far.

Regarding the Epic Variant: I know this gets suggested a lot. I've got a lot of reservations about it. First, it just seems like a pain to setup each game with the huge piles of cards to shuffle. Second, the cards in Thunderstone aren't all that well balanced, but its usually not too big a deal since everyone can get them all. It seems like, for example, a game in which one player grabs an early Selurian when no one else can get a Selurian is going to be very heavily tilted. And some cards will either jam up piles or simply never ever be bought if you are playing with the variant to discard cards from the top (granted, those cards probably normally never get bought in regular Thunderstone anyway).

So, yeah, maybe I should give it a try, but that's a lot of work to set up for a variant that I really have doubts would work very well.

Quote:
When you create the dungeon deck, sort the cards by the XP they grant. Place the 1XP monsters in a stack, the 2XP monsters in a stack, and the rest of the monsters in a stack. Shuffle the stacks

While this would make setup more complicated, I'm not really sure it would help. The jamming problem we see isn't usually caused by "tough monsters early", its caused by monsters that the current setup can't fight. For example, a monster that requires magic attack when none is available. Or a monster immune to magic attack when all the heroes have magic attack.

Quote:
Basically, if a monster is attacked and not defeated, then it does not go away.

But then you need to add a rule to let you clear a monster in some way to prevent jamming


I do still think that epic will help you because although you can still get fiddly cards, they are less fiddly because you are still getting the easiest ones first, if you see what I mean.

As for set up, its actually quicker because you get rid of the all of the different monster sets and simply divide them into three types; 1xp, 2xp, and 3xp. The same goes for the village cards which are divided into simpler types such as weapons, light items etc. This means that you don't have to draw randomizers for these cards which in my view is quicker.

Hope this helps.

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Carl Bussema
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The house rule we use to address "quick! attack the "all heroes suffer strength -2 and kill the militia!" problem:

"If you lose a battle, you cannot destroy more than one militia." (You may destroy as many as required / allowed by the rules if you win the battle. Typically we find you don't have very many militia in winning battles. )

Interesting about Thundermaster... it DOES work offline (I disabled wifi and mobile data and loaded it from a bookmark; my web app prompted me to enable data but I was able to cancel, so one extra button press, then I randomized, changed which sets and cards were allowed, randomized again, worked fine), but it desperately needs a mobile.css to format it to fit the tiny screen better.
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KDLadage wrote:

Swingers
There is a house rule called "why should I run away when I just kicked your ass?" Basically, if a monster is attacked and not defeated, then it does not go away. Some will even have it move forward in the dungeon and swap places with the monster in front of it. You can even add "rank 0" effects if you want (e.g., if a monster is attacked in rank 1 and not defeated, it moves into rank 0, and 'X' happens; further attempts to defeat the monster without success will trigger 'X' again).

'X' can be whatever you want it to be, but it needs to be significant without being overbearing. The best 'X' effects are ones that scale with the monster (i.e., if 'X' is something like 'remove the top card of each village stack, then you could make it scale by making it 'remove the top Y cards of each village stack, where Y is the XP that monster grants).

If you want to be truly cleaver, have the 'X' effect be based on the attributes of the monsters -- humanoids do this, dragons do that, undead do this other thing...


This is a variant I'll try out. In some ways, this can make it harder... the monster that no one can beat is now clogging up the shallow end of the pool. For instance, in one game we had a tough "Immune to Physical Attack" monster in rank 1 right out of the gate. That was pretty brutal. But a tough monster in rank 0 is basically out of your hair, so that's nice.

If you want to add faux Breach effects for this, you could try using spare setting cards. They have interesting game-changing effects on them that you can plug into things like 'X'.

Also, FWIW, we know this is annoying too, so we addressed it in Thunderstone Advance by giving monsters levels.

Typical games will have monster groups of levels 1,2, and 3. The variant I play most often with Advance is to pull out six level 1 monsters before I shuffle the dungeon deck together. I seed the hall with level 1 monsters, and put the other three on top of the shuffled dungeon deck. That assures that out of the gate, there won't be any show stoppers. By the time you're through those starters, you'll likely have your deck built up enough to handle the tougher monsters. This solves Big Problem number 1 and Big Problem number 2, because your lvl 1 monsters have little to no card destruction on them.

This also lets you scale difficulty easily... if you want an easier game, play 1,1,2 or 1,2,2. For a tougher game, play 2,2,3. (I don't know if I'd recommend playing much tougher than that... level 3 monsters can get brutal en masse.)

Dang, I totally should have saved this for a Guardian article.
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Edward Bolme
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Jefftyjeffjeff wrote:
Dang, I totally should have saved this for a Guardian article.


Yeah, I was thinking that by the end of the line including "FWIW."
 
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Brian M
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Quote:
That means certainly that the first game set up is a bit painfull but all other games are really quick to play.

I would think first set-up would be quite painful, since it requires sorting all the cards for the game into different stacks. That's an awful lot of effort to go through for a variant that I don't think looks very good. If it were easy to try, I'd probably go ahead and just try it.

Quote:
you also mentioned app, if you have an iDevice, I'd suggest iThunderstone. I attempted to link it, but you can search for it on the iStore.

I've seen this on the app store before, but it doesn't mention what sort of randomization it actually does - if it doesn't have any kind of "smart" randomization, its no better than just shuffling the cards ourselves

Quote:
Also, FWIW, we know this is annoying too, so we addressed it in Thunderstone Advance by giving monsters levels.

Its interesting to know this has been modified in Thunderstone Advance, but how can that be applied to making Thunderstone play better?

It seems like there are really only a few sets of creatures that cause jamming problems. Perhaps I should just mark those randomizers in some way and make sure we don't use more than one hard to fight stack at a time? I could also see taking some of the easier monsters to stack on top as Jeff indicates, but when your monster stacks are Pain Elementals, Nature Elementals and Dragons, its going to be pretty slow going no matter what you stick on top.

Putting a certain set of monsters of top could also avoid the "clear all your militia right away" problem, since that's normally only a big problem when it happens in the first few turns.

Any ideas of which monster stacks to put into the "no more than one" category? At a quick glance, I'm thinking maybe Dragons, Pain Elementals, Druids, Giants, Hydras, Liches and Stormwraiths. But that's just a quick thought list.

It seems like hero/village randomization might work well if you just:
A) make sure you've got one hero with magic attack (deal 3 heroes; if you don't have a magic attack hero, make sure the fourth one has it).

B) make sure the town has a weapon, light and spell.

Again, might use some marking the randomizer cards (similar to the manual intelligent Thundermaster labels).
 
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Stephan AA
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KDLadage wrote:

Swingers
There is a house rule called "why should I run away when I just kicked your ass?" Basically, if a monster is attacked and not defeated, then it does not go away. Some will even have it move forward in the dungeon and swap places with the monster in front of it. You can even add "rank 0" effects if you want (e.g., if a monster is attacked in rank 1 and not defeated, it moves into rank 0, and 'X' happens; further attempts to defeat the monster without success will trigger 'X'

If you want to be truly cleaver, have the 'X' effect be based on the attributes of the monsters -- humanoids do this, dragons do that, undead do this other thing...


I use a D6. ie 1-2=village/mercenary, 3=Item, 4=weapon, 5=Spell, 6=Hero.
 
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Hi, have you tried playing by keeping the monsters concealed? It really adds much tension to the game. Monsters are revealed when:

A) they are attacked.
B) they have a global effect (cards are marked)
C) the adventurers have sufficient light.

http://boardgamegeek.com/article/6455500#6455500

 
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Quote:
Hi, have you tried playing by keeping the monsters concealed?

Given that our big complaints are the game taking too long and too many luck swings, no, we aren't going to try a variant that will make the game take even longer and add even more luck swings. Though it would remove the early boots from "kill all your militia" monsters. Past that it would pretty much make the game mostly luck.
 
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No game lengthening issue, still much strategy, good/bad card combo choices and the luck factor is a small trade off for more tension & thus much more fun ( yippee or oh blast moments!) plus a greater emphasis on light.
 
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Quote:
No game lengthening issue...

No, this would drastically lengthen the game since a much higher number of turns would be wasted on failed attacks, and it would be impossible to "snipe" weak monsters for some early leveling. And the luck factor would be absolutely huge.
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Each to their own I guess!!
 
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I'm hesitant on being too optimistic here, but we had a pretty good game playing with the rules from TS: Advance. (Not the cards, just the rules).
The two big things seemed to be ensuring a more balanced monster spread, and the ready action, which was simply awesomely helpful.
Remains to be seen how it will keep working...

Having 4 monster spots was also helpful, reducing the odds of every space being blocked.

They also got rid of the "0 STR = Death" rule, which removes some of the militia cleaners - they will still be a problem though. Maybe we'll just reshuffle them when they come up first turn.
 
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tim obesse
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StormKnight wrote:

Jamming. When you've got monsters that nobody can fight, and everybody sits there hoping someone else clears the jam so they can swoop in like a vulture and kill the new monster. Which, of course, no one does.


We play with a trophyroom/preparing option (instead of resting) which is a combo of some variants found elsewhere here.
For your turn you can remove up to 2 cards total from your hand -
* up to one can be destroyed,
* up to 2 maybe discarded,
* and up to 2 monsters may be set aside to be added back to your deck at the end of the game (this effectively removes them from play and is called "the trophy room").

You then have the option of either:
drawing a new hand for the next turn,
or drawing enough card to have 6 again (this is the "preparation" part).

We often opt for this when a juicy monster arises zombie that we can almost kill- take a turn, get rid of some useless cards that are clogging your deck anyway and hopefully end up with a stronger hand for the next turn.

P.s. we play epic
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