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The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game» Forums » Variants

Subject: Solo Balance Mod -- feedback welcome rss

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Wes Weston
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Some quests seem to be designed primarily for the benefit of multiplayer games. As someone who plays this game solo I am trying to "mod" the game such that these quests are still challenging, but not so challenging that they're unfair or tedious to play.

There are several reasons for this. Sometimes I think a lack of playtesting has resulted in quests that simply do not scale properly -- perhaps the designers were only thinking of multiplayer games, I am not sure. For example, in Escape from Dol Guldur, a two-player game starts with five out of six heroes available to play with, while a solo player has to deal with the loss of a full one third of his heroes. Losing 17% of one's hero pool is a lot easier to deal with than 33%. Similarly, in Journey to Rhosgobel, two players will get twice the questing mileage in a round before Willy takes his obligatory damage.

Meanwhile, other quests are not only more difficult to play solitaire, they seem explicitly designed for multiplayer. Return to Mirkwood's many encounter cards refer to effects that target the player controlling Gollum -- or the player who is not controlling Gollum -- including, significantly, an increase of 4 threat each turn. When there is only one player, and he is necessarily controlling Gollum, you are being hit by everything, and the adventure just isn't much fun solo, IMHO.

Additionally, there are a lot of cards and effects in the game in general which were designed in a similar way. Ranged and Sentinel are useless in solo games, except for certain scenarios.

Now, I understand that the majority of players probably play multiplayer and either don't notice or don't care about these issues. For those of you who do not believe this to be a problem, please feel free to ignore this post. Myself, I bought this game for solitaire use -- like it says on the box -- and I don't feel like I'm able to get as much out of it as I would were I playing with others.

Therefore, with that long preamble, I would like to request your collective assistance in generating a "solo balance mod" that will make the game more enjoyable/playable from a solo perspective. I have been playtesting some house rules and would appreciate your feedback.

I have endeavoured to design these rules with certain criteria: A) The encounter must still be equivalently challenging to its difficulty with multiple players. B) Where possible, the player should be given additional options in order to allow making meaningful decisions, rather than just making things easier. C) The optional rules should make sense thematically.

Here's what I have come up with:

1) Ranged --> A character with "ranged" may commit its attack before the enemies do so.

(Pretty straightforward; just affects the combat order a little bit.)


2) Sentinel --> A character with "sentinel" may spend one resource to defend without exhausting.

(I tried this without spending resources but it is too powerful. There needs to be a limit on how often this can be done per turn.)


3) Escape from Dol Guldur --> The player selects an ally of their choice from their deck and places it in the staging area. This ally is considered the prisoner. Each turn the ally takes one point of damage. If the ally dies while imprisoned, the player loses the game. Once the prisoner is rescued, put it into play, retaining all damage.

(So the player has all of their heroes to work with but has a difficult race to rescue the ally before he starves to death. Gandalf and Beorn will still go away, but only once they have joined the player.)


4) Journey to Rhosgobel --> A player may elect to gain two threat to prevent damage done to Wilyador from any one source.

(This house rule has made a very frustrating and tedious quest into an enjoyable challenge. You still need to rush to save Willy, but there's at least a chance to finish the quest without relying on completely random draws. The choice of letting Willy take a hit or not ends up being a meaningful one. The thematic justification for this is that the characters are stopping to dress wounds, prevent bleeding etc, while the dangers around them continue to build up.)


5) Return to Mirkwood --> Set up a dummy player with 30 threat. This player does not play cards, gain resources, etc; it can only guard Gollum and gain/lose threat. The dummy player gains 1 threat per turn, as would a normal player. Any time an encounter effect would target the player controlling Gollum but would otherwise have no effect (for example, being forced to discard cards), Gollum takes one point of damage. During the last stage, the enemies engage the player, not the dummy player.

(I still have a very difficult time winning this scenario, but being able to distribute threat by getting the dummy to hold Gollum for a turn or two makes a huge difference. Not the most elegant solution to the problem, but this quest requires a bit more tweaking in order to "fix" it.)


I welcome any suggestions or criticism you have to offer.

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Sheila Kuchta
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So glad you have posted this. I don't have any suggestions but am anxiously awaiting for additional input to make the quests more doable solo. I like your ideas and will try some of them out. Thanks.
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LSU LSU
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Thanks for posting this. I'll have to think about your suggestions. I really like playing solo, and I don't particularly care to play two handed decks. I want to play the game, not worry about keeping track of whether or not I added to the threat of both players. I'd like to hear feedback from others about these suggestions. The ranged rule in particular seems quite strong. I like the attempt to get something useful out of ranged and sentinel. I don't think I've played with Aragorn more than twice since I got the game because his 12 threat is just so high.
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Wes Weston
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LSUtigers wrote:
Thanks for posting this. I'll have to think about your suggestions. I really like playing solo, and I don't particularly care to play two handed decks. I want to play the game, not worry about keeping track of whether or not I added to the threat of both players. I'd like to hear feedback from others about these suggestions. The ranged rule in particular seems quite strong. I like the attempt to get something useful out of ranged and sentinel. I don't think I've played with Aragorn more than twice since I got the game because his 12 threat is just so high.


The ranged rule I actually have not tested, so it may indeed be too strong.

The other idea I came up with is a bit convoluted, but I'll go ahead and post it anyway.

"During the planning stage, a character with ranged may declare a target enemy and exhaust and discard the top card of their deck. The cost of the discarded card is applied in damage, reduced by defense, to the targeted enemy."

So, you could theoretically use Gildor to make sure you're discarding a Beorn to do maximum damage, but that's fine. It just means you're taking care to line up the shot, so to speak. Certainly less abusive than reordering cards for resources with Zigil Miner.

Also, since your archer will be exhausted during the planning stage, they are subject to any treacheries that target exhausted characters, which gives it some added risk.
 
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Brent Gaddie
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These are some interesting suggestions. I only play the game solo and would like to see ranged and sentinel used for something. I like the first two, I have yet to even play the other 3 encounters.

To make ranged a little less powerful, perhaps you could do something to the effect that you can only use ranged when a creature is revealed and placed in the staging area. Therefore, you wouldn't be able to use it every round.
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Scott M.
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I like these,
Has any one simply considerd adding a 4th hero?

Perhaps summing the three highest start threat values?
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Georg D.
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somewhere here on the geek exists a variant with 5 heroes. But I don't know who designed it and if you find it in the forum or file-section. But with a bit of search you should find it ;-)
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Brent Gaddie
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Fluxx wrote:
somewhere here on the geek exists a variant with 5 heroes. But I don't know who designed it and if you find it in the forum or file-section. But with a bit of search you should find it ;-)


I believe this is the one:

http://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/69038/expanded-solo-varian...
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Georg D.
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yes, that's it.
I haven't played it so I have no idea f it is any good...
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John Davis
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Another suggestion I've seen for Sentinel is:

A character with Sentinel can exhaust to add its defence value to another character for one attack.
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Allan Clements
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jrd23 wrote:
Another suggestion I've seen for Sentinel is:

A character with Sentinel can exhaust to add its defence value to another character for one attack.


That is what I was going to suggest.

Well more like "A character with sentinel does not count towards your limit of 1 defender per attack", that it joins in the defense (and could take the damage itself, if you choose, Since with multiple defenders only 1 character can take the damage)
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Brother Leon
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these are all great mods - but does the game really need it?

I emailed FFG asking a similar question and the designer said they are all designed to be played beat solo (even DG).

I appreciate that they may be very difficult but isn't that part of the fun? keep coming back having collected more cards and having become a stronger player?

If i won with house rules it would feel like a hollow victory.
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Georg D.
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nssxxx wrote:
these are all great mods - but does the game really need it?
Does it need it? no! Coud it help to increase your fun? yes!

Quote:

I emailed FFG asking a similar question and the designer said they are all designed to be played beat solo (even DG).

maybe they are designed that way but there are several aspects that make me believe that some dungeons don't have the same difficult-level when played solo vs played with two players.
It would be great if there officially were different difficult ratings for 1 and 2 players...

Quote:

I appreciate that they may be very difficult but isn't that part of the fun? keep coming back having collected more cards and having become a stronger player?

Only to a certain degree. Sure the limit is different for each person.
I had fun fighting with the preconstructed decks until I bet passage through mirkwood with every single deck two time in a row. After that I had a very hard time to get pas this damn hill troll and his brother (somehow they tend to appear both together - at least I had this impression *g*) - and I had fun... I was beaten down by the troll quadrulet until I realised how to deal with them - and had fun. Then I returned to mirkwood and found it really dull. Solo it was incredible hard. It became better when I decided that for soloplay Gollum would increase threat to 3 instead of by 3 for me. It improved the gameplay but til had the feeling that I'm missing half of the quest a I never can decide how to handle gollum. So some adaption for soloplay is welcome. Haven't tried Dol Guldur yet perhaps I will do it soon but somehow I don't know if it would be fun for me with rules as written...
There are other annoying things - all these cards which effect the startplayer only. I don't know if it is really that much harder because of that as I never play with two but there is this little man with his ugly face in my head who cries 'unfair'. And then I went to Khazad-dum and guess what? Now I'm punished for beeing last player :-( Where is this card which effects all but the startplayer?

Don't get me wrong the game overall is fun. But there are some quests or eements in quests which are annoying for soloplay and if we get some way to improve the experience I would be glad. It doesn't have to be s.th. that makes it signifiantly easier - I'm one of those who houserule SoG and SA+Gand because they think it shouldn't be that powerful. So I'm not nescessary up for a huge power-up but I want more interesting choices or ways to handle the disadvantages of soloplay.

Quote:

If i won with house rules it would feel like a hollow victory.

For me a victory with a well elaborated house rule for solo-play feels less hollow than a victory due to three times sneaky gandalf - everyone to her/his taste.
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Georg D.
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Some ideas about ranged/sentine I read somewhere in this forum:

ranged: attack-action: exhaust this character to deal one damage to any monster in the staging area.

sentinel: defense-action: exhaust this character to increase the defense of one other character by one for one attack during this phase.


I wouldn't make the effects to strong as they shouldn't be stronger than the original effects.


Other idea: make some houserule which rules when you are effected by 'startplayer/last player effects' - either have some coin you turn each round or make it depend on your threat (even threat = startplayer, odd threat = last player). If you are lucky this effect doesn't effect you. (if you think it is to strong you can still add some minor default effect like doom 1 for the case that you avoid such an effect.)
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Brother Leon
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the game has some clear concessions for solo players already:

- bilbo is a slightly overpowered hero for solo players - especially coupled with Protector of Lorien in your deck
- "where x is the number of players" is generally helpful for solo players
- Denethor/Henamarth Riversong's abilities are much more effective in solo play than multi-play
- galhadrim's greeting can always be used selfishly
- if playing with a single core set - you get more copies of the "power" cards and don't have to worry about sharing them
- you can always use Eowyn/your favourite character without having to share
- you are in total control - you do not worry about miscommunication/misinterpration of your partner'(s) actions - this is something which you are unable to model playing two-handed and essentially gives you a slight unfair advantage over game

My other point is that - playing with other people is generally more fun and interactive. Playing solo is more like doing a complex maths/probability puzzle or playing a resource management video game. For me, when playing solo, i would never want to reduce difficulty in this regard. Although i can see that what you are trying to do is to make the harder missions easier. For me, if i wanted this i would simply play an easier mission (with an unfamiliar deck - if i wanted variety) nut if you want to experience all the tough missions on a reduced difficulty level then i suppose that's fair enough.

My suggestions on making game easier are as follows:

- use gandalf as a hero (threat cost 16) - no gandalves in your deck - either choose a sphere for him or allow him to spend resources anywhere. no response actions.
- use four heroes - adding the threat cost together and multiplying by 75%
- use six heroes: double the encounter deck's threat limits and play up to 100. Draw 2 encounter's each staging step.

Not sure if these would work - just random ideas!
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Jose Bellomar
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I really like this idea for solo play, especially what you did with Dol Guldur seems very fast paced and fun!! Good job there. However,


ghostwes wrote:
Ranged --> A character with "ranged" may commit its attack before the enemies do so.


This is too overpwered because I could attach Blade of Gondolin and play For Gondor!! on Silvan Archers and have them kill orcs before they ever get to attack, when usually, this is only done by paying for quickstrike(which costs 3 I think)...perhaps this should be more balanced??? i.e. pay for it with resource of the type???

I do like the idea though because the have bows so they could hit the enemy before they get to them


ghostwes wrote:
Sentinel --> A character with "sentinel" may spend one resource to defend without exhausting.


I like this, but it might be OP. I also like if sentinel characters can add their defense to other characters defending "sorta defending them"??? then instead of having a character defending and attacking same turn, you could have two characters defending the same attack and one doesn't die.

But overall I think you have made a really balanced mod. Don't be surprised if they add it to the solo game rules
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Mark Campo
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i was thinking in some quests there are cards which affect all players clearly aimed at multiplayer,

so like you don't play cards in your hero deck that only effect other players,

how hard will it be and what effect would removing quest cards which clearly are multiplayer orientated , thing liek such wording all player raise there threat , rather then the current 1st player raises there threat,


again not tested as I to feel i want to beat the game as set out in the rules, and i have managed the 1st cycle solo its is possible in all quest some times luck is a big factor not always gandalf, but defiantly a certain taylor to the quest,
 
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Jose Bellomar
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Mark Campo wrote:
i have managed the 1st cycle solo its possible


What deck did you use? If you don't mind me asking?
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Scott M.
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I would like to know as well , im on my 10th try on Dol Guldur and i keep getting beat via overwhelming threat points in the staging area.

With only two heroes, and the stagging starting with 3 encounters on the objectives, im usually under the gun on turn 1
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LSU LSU
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I’m still interested in this idea. There are certainly some cards and effects that primarily help the solo player, and conversely others than primarily help in multiplayer. That’s all fine and good. It’s not much fun to have abilities that are actually useless in solo play. And while the challenge is certainly part of the fun, there are limits to that. I know there are players on BGG who have beaten every quest solo, but from what I understand, they have either done this with 3 core sets or very small - 30-35 card decks. To me, that’s just as much of a house rule tweak as doing something different with sentinel. I’m not going to buy three core sets because of the cost and I don’t particularly want to play with a really small deck, just to make sure I get unexpected courage or steward.
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Jose Bellomar
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atraangelis wrote:
With only two heroes, and the stagging starting with 3 encounters on the objectives, im usually under the gun on turn 1


What do you mean by this? did you start with two heroes? or do you mean the prisoner fiasco...

Also what spheres are you using? Do you have crowd control? or threat reduction?
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Scott M.
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Yes, the prisoner issue. I was playing with Gimli, Legolas, and Eowyn

I would make Legolas the prisoner.

Then I put out my 3 objectives and then put three events on each. NOw these events take place immediately no?

Thus im ending up already with 2-5 points of threat from staging and the game has not even started yet.


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Jose Bellomar
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Sorry to post steal OP...

I don't know, I just got lucky I guess and drew two spider webs which went on Beravor and a measly land that I explored as soon as I could.

...back to topic
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Wes Weston
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LegioXIX wrote:

To make ranged a little less powerful, perhaps you could do something to the effect that you can only use ranged when a creature is revealed and placed in the staging area. Therefore, you wouldn't be able to use it every round.


Yes, I considered something like this. It is a bit too similar to Thalin. I would like if possible for the rules to be distinct, rather than duplicating existing abilities, if only because it kind of cheapens Thalin (though I don't think much of him as is).

What could also work is doing something when the enemies move from staging to engaging the player. So, as they are approaching you. That could potentially mean more than one use per turn however. Not sure the best way to approach this, honestly.
 
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Wes Weston
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atraangelis wrote:
I like these,
Has any one simply considerd adding a 4th hero?

Perhaps summing the three highest start threat values?


I have also been working on a campaign mod, which is similar to this. It was not relevant to this post however so I did not mention it. Once I have tweaked it a bit, don't be surprised to see a subsequent post from me on that topic.

However, for the purpose of balancing for individual encounters, I feel that adding a 4th hero is probably too powerful, and deviates too far from the original design.
 
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