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We Must Tell the Emperor» Forums » Variants

Subject: reviewing your actions rss

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Joe Berger
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I bought WMTtE about a month ago, and now have 10+ plays under my belt, with nary the sniff of a win. Well maybe just a sniff - I've had two fronts knocked out on one occasion, but failed to secure a third, and have come within four cards of the end of the late war deck. I love it, particularly from a historical perspective — it's totally inspired me to delve in to the history.

From a game perspective, I'm less convinced. I can't help feeling it simply comes down to the die rolls. If you get good die rolls, you stand a chance (assuming you've made good choices beforehand about how to use those dice), if you get bad ones, no way. So I find myself now, 10 or so plays in, giving up a third of the way in to the game because I've had such crappy rolls it just doesn't seem possible that I can eek a win.

The other thing I've found is that I may agonise over the allocation of an action: do I roll for Army/Navy or do I push back the British front. I eventually decide, roll a 2, and . . . oh, it didn't matter then. It leaves an odd feeling, that the choice I just agonised over was not a choice at all, because either way I would have lost. It's oddly almost a relief to know that I didn't make a bad choice.
I don't know whether the logic is sound here, it's almost an existential question - had I made the other choice, would the die roll have been different?

Which brings me to my idea for a very small variant to the rules as written — this may have been discussed elsewhere but I couldn't see it in a post.

After turning over the card for the turn, you roll a number of D6 equal to the number of actions for the turn. You then decide, with the knowledge of what dice you have, what to use those for.

Let's say it's a 3 action turn. You roll 3 dice, and you get a 2, a 3 and a 6.
The 2 is not useable, so you are down to two actions.
the 3 won't help Army/Navy or Prestige, but you could use it to get an oil. Or you could use it, with the +2 DRM on Nimitz, to push Nimitz back.
The 6 is very useful — could push back any of the fronts, or get a resource of your choice.

So you would get to do a bit of tactical planning on each turn - the order in which you carried out your actions might be important. It would be especially interesting when the turn is a battle - then your 1 or 2 might come in very handy.

I haven't tried it, but I will very soon, and report back. If you have, do let me know if/why it does or doesn't work - and if it's been discussed elsewhere please post a link.

JB
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Alan Emrich
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Joe,

That's a very smart variant! When a player needs help, this is something that they can certainly reach for.

But what about Actions that do not require a die roll? (I don't remember if there are any such in EMPEROR, but I know that other States of SiegeTM games do that.)

Anyway, I think yours is a clever variant.

Alan Emrich
 
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Joe Berger
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Thanks Alan — high praise indeed!

I think all the actions in WMTtE require a die-roll.

Kamikazee and Banzai rolls would remain as they are, but those are 'free' and don't require an action. Similarly advancing on a fortification and returning after being knocked out would still require a roll. But that's good, those are moments when you grit your teeth and hope for the best.
I'll play-test it further and report back here.

 
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Paul Bradshaw
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I like the sound of that varient and will be intrigued to read how you get on. I was initially really taken with Emperor, I suspect in hindsight largely due to the fact that it was dripping with historical theme. Nevertheless, while rules wise it's easy to master, the system makes it incredibly hard to beat. Like you I eventually started to feel as though too often it was simply down to the luck of the dice (or not as is often the case) and that in most games I seemed to reach a point in the third deck when the writing was on the wall. The idea of having more scope for tactical decision making is something that I would warm to. I look forward to seeing how workable your option is in practice.
 
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Steve Carey
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One of the main design goals for WMTtE was to convey the feeling of the war from the Japanese perspective, and to provide a narrative gaming experience. As such, it is indeed a very difficult game to win. We've actually taken a few hits for even allowing the Japanese any chance of winning at all (but then it wouldn't be much of a game, would it?).

Over the course of any session, there should be several hundred die rolls which tend to run in streaks (i.e., in war terms momentum or lack of), but the dice usually do average out. Believe it or not, we did playtest even that aspect of the design.

Also, with the Expansion Kit you can track your progress of the war at various stages, which provides an incentive to "do better next time" even if you don't win.

Good luck with the variant JB, it gives the player a lot more control than the Japanese would have had historically (their planning wasn't that good, and the dice further reflect the chaos of war/Allied war efforts since there is no opponent sitting across the table from you).

One recommendation if I may - I would not use the variant on the Battle Table as that would 'game' the system while also taking away those gut checks throughout play.

STEVE

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Joe Berger
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Steve, you're right, the battle table rolls don't work if you can choose - you can never lose a battle.

I also haven't quite worked out how to handle the Bushido re-rolls - my rule last night was that it allows you to re-roll one dice at the beginning of a turn, but that your prestige drops back to five regardless of the outcome.

My rule for knock--outs is that they take two actions (and an oil of course), ie you have to commit two of the dice you've rolled. But both these dice have to be a hit, so you'll need two sixes (or fives/sixes if you've got +1 DRM).

I had a couple of goes last night, and it's fascinating how much difference that little bit of foresight makes. Totally changes the game.
Fascinating, since you're not giving yourself more actions than you would normally have, just getting to review them in small batches before committing to an action.

The first thing I notice, and unfortunately I think this invalidates the whole experiment, is that it's no longer a siege game. The fronts are easily knocked back all the way, and held at bay. It's a testament to your original game design, Steve, that you really feel the pressure of the encroaching fronts. For the most part, I had all four fronts sitting on their knock-out spot, and was just waiting for the right rolls to be able to knock them out.
That still wasn't easy, and trying to get three out at the same time became the game. You'd get two out, and then get the rolls to knock-out a third, except one of the ones already out would come back in . . .

The drama and tension, the pressure of the original game are gone; you're left with a management game, but one where the stakes are nowhere near as high.

Makes me want to play the original again though - I think I'll appreciate the stress and tension more now.

So now I'm left wondering at the difference between rolling the dice and then deciding what to do with the results versus deciding what you want to do and then rolling the dice. Both these varieties of gameplay occur over and over in boardgames; the latter is undeniably more high-stakes and interesting, the former much more to do with optimisation and management.
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Steve Carey
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Joe - yup, those would be the consequences that I'd expect. It may sound self-serving, but we at VPG were extraordinarily diligent in crafting all aspects of the design. To have that acknowledged by a player like yourself is very much appreciated.

Still, you've managed to explore an angle of the game that I had never thought of. I suppose one can look at your variant experiment as a form of alternate-history to account for a more powerful and coordinated Japanese Empire at war. It's an intriguing thought which doesn't quite translate into game terms, for the exact reasons you describe.

The more you play WMTtE, the more engaging the game (hopefully) becomes. And the better your chances (albeit still slim) for a win too as the design's secrets and strategies become revealed. There's a ton of interesting info posted on this site already, so keep at it - when/if you do achieve your first victory, it should be a memorable one. That would be one AAR that I'd love to read!
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