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Subject: What's a good variant for 3 players? rss

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Chris Schenck
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The more I play Nightfall with 3 players, the more I dislike the kingmaking aspect of the game with that number.

Here's a typical example of what I'm finding to be annoying: I'm sitting with 8 minions ready to attack in my Combat phase. Both of my opponents have 4 or so minions themselves, and they're both about the same level of threat to me with roughly the same amount of Wounds collected so far. I have no real incentive to pick on one over the other. What do I do? If I split my attack, I'll probably end up knocking out a couple of each of their minions, and maybe doing a wound or 2 to each of them. That doesn't sound very appealing, because it'll end up pissing both of them off at me, and I'll be sitting there with little to no defense for their inevitable counterattacks. The other alternative is to send ALL of my minions after one player. That will devastate that player, probably causing 10(ish) wounds and pretty much guaranteeing he won't win.

Is there a good variant that alleviates that problem? Back in my Magic: The Gathering days, I believe there was a 3-player variant which can basically be summarized as "attack to the left" ... meaning that when you attack, you can only send minions against the player on your left. Each player follows this rule, so you'll only ever get directly attacked by the player on your right. Yes, it unfortunately limits the tactical choices, but also eliminates the kingmaker aspect.

Has anyone tried "Attack to the left" with Nightfall? Or do you have another suggested variant that might alleviate the kingmaking aspect of the 3-player game?
 
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Dave Kudzma
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I've played quite a bit of 3 and 4 player, and with 3 I've never felt a variant was necessary. The problem you describe also doesn't sound like what I think of as Kingmaking, where your actions allow another player to win; quite the opposite, you're trying not to guarantee one player will lose?

Regardless of the number of players you should always attack the weakest player. This ensures the most wounds are dealt and helps you dictate the pace of the game. In our games we're experienced enough that we keep track of wounds and often when I attack one person for a large number of wounds I get attacked back. It all evens out in the end.
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Chris Schenck
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I think kingmaking is the correct term, as I understand it. Maybe I've described the problem poorly, or (more likely) the dynamics of the 3-player game do not suit my gaming tastes. Let me describe the end result I'm finding unpleasant...

In the 3-player games I've played, I'm finding that the winner of the game isn't determined by clever card play or by exploiting the best combos. It's determined by one player facing the situation of needing to pick a player to wipe out of contention. Once he does this, he himself will inevitably be the next one to get wiped out -- because the guy he didn't attack will now focus on him as the main competition, and the guy he did attack will be out for revenge. No matter who he picks, he'll be the recipient of a double-team attack next.

So when the "pick someone to eliminate" situation arises, whoever you don't attack ends up winning. That means your initial attack choice is effectively picking who will win the game, causing you to be the kingmaker.


locusshifter wrote:
In our games we're experienced enough that we keep track of wounds and often when I attack one person for a large number of wounds I get attacked back. It all evens out in the end.

Yes, precisely! Except it doesn't even out. The situation you just decribed only has TWO people receiving a large amount of damage -- the guy you attacked, and you. The third guy will usually end up winning. That's lame.
 
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Dave Kudzma
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I understand your meaning better now.

Quote:
Yes, precisely! Except it doesn't even out. The situation you just decribed only has TWO people receiving a large amount of damage -- the guy you attacked, and you. The third guy will usually end up winning. That's lame.


Except I didn't describe this, I described a situation in which players attack the weakest player, which is not always the player with the most wounds. Further I specifically said that we keep track of wounds and attack the one with the least when there is a clear leader.


I think this is the problem:

Quote:
and the guy he did attack will be out for revenge.


If I attack player A I would expect A to attack me and perhaps B but at that point player A should realize that B hasn't been attacked and will win if nothing is done.

If a player is so bent on their revenge that they are not attacking the person with the least wounds they are not trying to win
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Chris Schenck
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locusshifter wrote:
If I attack player A I would expect A to attack me and perhaps B but at that point player A should realize that B hasn't been attacked and will win if nothing is done.

If a player is so bent on their revenge that they are not attacking the person with the least wounds they are not trying to win

True, I agree that's the root of the problem. But remember that the scenario in question has player A knocked out of contention. He doesn't have a realistic chance of winning, so his primary motivation will be to make sure that the guy who took him out also goes down. I think that's a pretty normal human reaction to want the guy who eliminated you to also be eliminated, if you have no real chance of winning.


After reading a few more threads for this game, I stumbled upon this post from AEG's Mark Wootten:
Quote:
I have found very quickly that the sort of attack you are talking about is less of being a Kingmaker and more of being a Loss-maker. And the two players that will lose will be me and the guy targeted (so maybe a Kingmaker in a 3-player)!

If you manage to get a player who is so vulnerable as to be in a position to take huge wounds and thereby eliminate him/her from the game, then their agenda changes - from one of winning to one of revenge. Also, almost invariably, attacking such a player means ignoring a player sat ahead of you with a bunch of minions.


This is exactly the situation I'm talking about, so it's nice to see an acknowledgement from someone at AEG that this isn't just all in my head, or unique to my group. He goes on to basically say that this is the nature of the game, and you'll have to find a way to deal with it. He suggests that maybe attacking the OTHER guy (the one who's not defenseless) may be a better plan, depending on the situation.

Anyway, thank you very much Dave, for helping me work through this! Ultimately, I think the 3-player game just may not be for me. I really enjoy 2-player though, and I want to give one of the 4-player team variants a try. Plus, maybe there is a 3-player variant out there that will tweak the game in a direction that better suits me. So I'll keep an eye out for that as well.

 
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Chris Schenck
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I've been doing some more thinking about this topic, and I believe that the largest contributing factor is that someone who has been knocked out of contention gets to continue playing the game. Actual player elimination would resolve the issue for me.

Come to think of it, why the hell isn't there player elimination? This ain't no stinkin' eurogame! This is a game about vampires and werewolves tearing each other apart limb from bloody limb. Let's see some elimination for cryin out loud!


So maybe the variant I'm looking for will adjust for that aspect. I recall seeing a variant where everyone has their own personal wound pile, and they get actually eliminated from the game when their wound pile is depleted -- not just knocked out of contention to play the role of kingmaker.
 
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Dave Kudzma
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In the last game of NF I played, and actually in many of our games, someone has been hit for 10+ and still been in contention.

Quote:
After reading a few more threads for this game, I stumbled upon this post from AEG's Mark Wootten:
Quote:
I have found very quickly that the sort of attack you are talking about is less of being a Kingmaker and more of being a Loss-maker. And the two players that will lose will be me and the guy targeted (so maybe a Kingmaker in a 3-player)!

If you manage to get a player who is so vulnerable as to be in a position to take huge wounds and thereby eliminate him/her from the game, then their agenda changes - from one of winning to one of revenge. Also, almost invariably, attacking such a player means ignoring a player sat ahead of you with a bunch of minions.


This is exactly the situation I'm talking about, so it's nice to see an acknowledgement from someone at AEG that this isn't just all in my head, or unique to my group. He goes on to basically say that this is the nature of the game, and you'll have to find a way to deal with it. He suggests that maybe attacking the OTHER guy (the one who's not defenseless) may be a better plan, depending on the situation.


I guess it's really based on the player. None in our group would feel immediately defeated. Indeed they would still try to even the odds. Attacking the player to their left and then that left hand player attacking you would make the most sense to me, but then again I rarely feel the need for vengeance as I could always just play again and try to do better

You could always raise the number of wounds needed for the end game in three player to give players more time I guess. If there were 40-50 wounds instead of 30 that would certainly give them enough time to "recover" or other players to simply dish it out more evenly.

It's a shame that this seems unlikely to be resolved without a major change in the rule for you as I find 3p a very fun and fast way to play the game.

I'm glad I was helpful in some way I try to be constructive when talking about games I love especially when it's obvious you simply wanted a way to make the game work for you.
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Blue Jackal
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By the way - why is it guaranteed you're going to take damage? You can play minions on your own turn to defend yourself. If you have twice as many minions out as your opponents, maybe you should have held some in your hand to play on your own turn.

Similarly, if you just swung with overwhelming force, your opponent's forces should be depleted - at least depleted enough for your new minions to defend you successfully?
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Chris Schenck
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It's not guaranteed, though it's pretty likely when you have both of the other players attacking you. We've just had similar situations happen often enough that it annoyed me to the point of trying to find a variant. I think I found my answers though. There are a couple of variants I want to try out. If they don't work out, then I'll just mark Nightfall down as a 2 or 4 player game for my tastes.
 
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Nick Jordan
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There are a number of variants floating around that have been either written or commented on by the designer.
I don't particularly like the base rules for Nightfall, and would really encourage them to put some of these variant rulesets in the rulebook. A LOT of people who complain about this game complain about the kingmaking aspect. Just putting in some suggested variants with less kingmaking would go a long way (I think) towards keeping people happy when they buy it. I'm sure most people who buy Nightfall don't go and scour BGG afterwards, looking for other ways to play. If the printed rules don't work for them, they just shelve/sell the game and move on.

Two of my personal favorites are the Aggressive Wound variant and the "wounds are a life total" variant. Aggressive Wound you can just search for on BGG. The other one is basically that you start out with 10-20 wounds in a side deck, and add them to your deck as you take wounds. That side deck is your "life total" and when its out, you die. So it has player elimination.

Neither of these really "solves" kingmaking, I just enjoy them more because I feel both variants do more to reward the player who builds the "best" deck, rather than the player who just flies under the radar the most.
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David Gregg
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Entropy42 wrote:
really encourage them to put some of these variant rulesets in the rulebook

Noted. There may be some in The Coldest War's rulebook
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Nick Jordan
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Glad to see you pro-actively took my advice months before I gave it.
 
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David Gregg
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Entropy42 wrote:
Glad to see you pro-actively took my advice months before I gave it.

That's how I roll cool

We're always looking into new variants and such, usually by posting here first to see what people like, then tweaking and finalizing any that really pick up well.

Edit: I'd like to start a pattern of including an official variant with each big box set, so perhaps NF7 will have a variant or two included there as well.
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