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Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001 – ?» Forums » Variants

Subject: Reserves Rule 6.3.3.1 consideration rss

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Mike Foley
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Fellow Labyrinth wanderers,
We noticed that the odd luck in this game seems to undermine the strategy factor to the point where several gamers are not in favor of playing it again. Take into account that the Jihadist lives on rolls and if he takes too many uncalculated rolls the result is wasted actions and few cells in play. The US side is even more at a loss due to the random card draw. Once the US starts to slide backwards and has deployed troops to the Overstretch they are doomed. They must utilize a 3 card for most of their ops to even function when on their heels.

One avenue of averting this would be if the reserves rule 6.3.3.1 was modified. Why does it state you need to flush the entire reserve on your next card play? Why can't you use just 1 point and save the next for another use? The structure of the game keeps you from abusing this, besides there is a wasted action to secure the reserves to start! And they are drained at the end of the turn anyway. The present rule makes the card draw too difficult to juggle wasting a single ops point with all the other strategy options. Especially when your opponent has been getting timely card draws.

We gave this a try and it made for much more compettive games. It seems to be just enough to help you from having a useless hand, and the ability to plot or thwart a plot more regularly makes the game more tense. And it keeps you from wasting all those 2 cards just to boost one to a much needed 3.

The optional rules in C3i "Heroic Actions" makes an attempt to fix the 1 and 2s hand draws, but its complicated and again uses random rolls to fix the random card draw problem. We thought it was not much help.

The other optional rule "Zakat and the Strong Horse" is a one time switch to get back into the game when your opponent has severely set you back. However, once used the random rolls and card draw will possibly put you in the hole again with no option.

This is merely a "house rule" question, but thought it was possibly over looked or specifically written to avoid some unseen abuse on our part?

Thoughts?
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Steve Willows
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I like the idea enough to try it out for myself!
 
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Joel Toppen
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Quote:
Why does it state you need to flush the entire reserve on your next card play? Why can't you use just 1 point and save the next for another use?


Mike, it DOESN'T say this! You can play a card into Reserves on card 1, then do something else on card 2. On your next card play or later that same turn you could draw from Reserves. The rule only states that you must draw those Reserves before the end of the TURN (before you are out of cards).

Hope this helps!

-Joel [developer]
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Mike Foley
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Joel,
Perhaps I was not clear with my point. According to the defined rule in the book:
6.3.3.1 A side may expend all its Reserves (back to “0”) to add that
value (1 or 2) to a card it plays that turn for other operations (only,
not for events such as Back Channel), to a maximum card value of
“3”. EXCEPTION: The US may not use Reserves for Reassessment
(7.6).
EXAMPLE: The US side has two Reserves and wishes to Alert a
Plot, which requires a 3-value card play (7.5.1). By expending all
Reserves, the US may play a 1- or 2-value card as though it were a
3-value card (Reserves bring a card’s value up to a maximum of 3)
to perform the Alert Operation.

My Point... is that why is it required to reduce the Reserve all the way to 0 if you are holding a 2 Ops card and only need 1 point? You're wasting the extra precious 1 Op point you put into reserve. It does not say reduce it by the amount you want... it says to reduce it to 0.

This is obvious when you play the US side as it is significantly hampered by needing 3 Ops to function on many of it's operations. (Let's keep in mind you are also dealing with opponent Events on the cards as well.) This stems somewhat from the Goverance rolls mostly resulting in a Poor (3).

The Jihadist can get by with 1 and 2 op cards as it's merely fewer dice rolled. This results in them nibbling here and there. They at least get a roll even in a Good (1) Governance without all the modifiers the US deals with on the War of Ideas table.

The US too easily gets backed into a corner as most of their operations "NEED 3 OPs" resulting in them not being able to do something effective on their turn. (NOTE here... this is the big unfun part of bad dice rolls and random card draws. It's not skill it's luck based.)

Case in point, using the Anaconda setup the Jihadist can very effectively cause Pakistan to fall into Islamist rule. Under the FATA the US is forced to wait until it can act with a REGIME CHANGE... then he's in a world of hurt if he allows Afganistan to fall as well. (LUCK note... if he draws the 1 card to trump FATA - Pakistan Offensive, or maybe an Oil Price Spike and waste a 3 OPS card!) At that point he's on his heels as the cells transfers back and forth keeping troops locked down. Between WMD plots and minor jihads the US can never back out of either of those countries. He won't ever obtain enough 3's as we've seen in games several times. The Jihadist has his way then nipping at him with first nabbing Iraq and another 3 value country to gain a victory.

(With this scenario in the real world, the US would hammer them with sanctions, but the Event cards don't seem to gel enough to cause this to happen, mainly because several of the US Events require card combos that never team up, for example SANCTIONS needs Patriot Act in play?.)

The fact is that Jihadist can string out his turn with less than a 3 card. He needs them for Major Jihads, but he can usually get by not needing them otherwise. (To the guy that posted that Minor Jihads are worthless is not apparently using them to undermine with the low valued card Ops).

The Events seem to want to balance this randomness issue of the bad draw, but they too are very apt to coccur randomly or in need of a combo which has not evened out the games we've played. We notice that if the Jihadist pulls ahead the US will lose to the 6pt Islamist victory. If the US pulls ahead they often will need to drag it to a 15pt victory or an end game draw in their favor.

In turn, the games we started using a "house rule" where you can use 1 or 2 points from the reserve to modify your card play there seems to be tighter competition on both sides. It's more of a slugfest where actions are trumped regularly. It's less random... and more skill based with the player's choice of actions.

We also have noted that certain events (like FATA, Oil Price Spike, Leak, Quagmire and US "The Door of Itjihad was closed"...) in the game are apt to seriously break the game which I'll save for a different post. In the end, we like Labyrinth alot, but as I stated initially it's not fun when one side gets unlucky by lousy card draws or (fewer rolls). It seems much tougher for the US to have a definitive win (which is realistic) and it's difficult for the Jihadist to do anything if the dice rolls don't go his way... which makes it frustrating.

 
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Ken Dilloo
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Not to speak for Joel, but I think the point he was contesting was that the reserves needed to be spent "on the next card play". Your point is a good one, but the distinction between next card play, and before the end of the turn (all cards played) is a big one.

 
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Mike Foley
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Ken, I got you... I did not clarify my statement as your next card play using the reerve would flush the entire number. Not that it had to be the very next play.

That was not the gist of the entire question I posted though. I thought it would have been clear.
 
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Ken Dilloo
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Yes, anyone familiar with the game could figure out what you meant, it was just the word choice. Guess those designers and developers are particular about the rules to their games

Personally, I like the way the reserve functions, but this seems like a reasonable variant. The forced un-optimization of the GWoT is appealing, as applied to reserve. Think some of the randomness plays well to theme, and a lot of it can be mitigated.

Two-cents.
 
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Matthew M
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Moved to Variants
 
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Joel Toppen
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Mike:

Ok, I got you now. I just wanted to be sure you were playing correctly. To be sure, most guys I've seen playing use their Reserves fairly soon after playing a card into Reserves.

Here's what I think of your variant: I think it is a valid and interesting modification to the game. I think this is more useful to new or novice players. Experienced players, I believe, enjoy the challenges that the rule as written enforce.

Here's how I'd write the OPTIONAL Variant:

6.3.3.1 A side may expend up to all of its Reserves to add that value (1 or 2) to a card it plays that turn for other operations (only, not for events such as Back Channel), to a maximum card value of “3”. EXCEPTION: The US may not use Reserves for Reassessment (7.6).


Rule 6.3.3.2 should be left unchanged.

Try it out and let me know what you think!

-Joel
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Joel Toppen
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Quote:
We also have noted that certain events (like FATA, Oil Price Spike, Leak, Quagmire and US "The Door of Itjihad was closed"...) in the game are apt to seriously break the game which I'll save for a different post. In the end, we like Labyrinth alot, but as I stated initially it's not fun when one side gets unlucky by lousy card draws or (fewer rolls). It seems much tougher for the US to have a definitive win (which is realistic) and it's difficult for the Jihadist to do anything if the dice rolls don't go his way... which makes it frustrating.


We took extensive playtest records during development. The game was shown to be very closely balanced. For every event you cite that may break a game, there IS a counter-play. I cannot tell you how many times I've been able to battle back out of an "un-winnable" position. Keys to this are:


1. Don't give up.

2. Don't keep shoving resources into a strategy that isn't working. Change your tactics and force your opponent to react to you. MANY times I see players get into a corner and keep playing cards into a strategy that isn't working. Don't get operational tunnel-vission.

3. Reassessment is a HUGE decision that can completely alter the pace of a game. Knowing WHEN to Reassess is a key decision for the US player.


-Joel
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Pete Martyn
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joel_m_toppen wrote:
Quote:
We also have noted that certain events (like FATA, Oil Price Spike, Leak, Quagmire and US "The Door of Itjihad was closed"...) in the game are apt to seriously break the game which I'll save for a different post. In the end, we like Labyrinth alot, but as I stated initially it's not fun when one side gets unlucky by lousy card draws or (fewer rolls). It seems much tougher for the US to have a definitive win (which is realistic) and it's difficult for the Jihadist to do anything if the dice rolls don't go his way... which makes it frustrating.


We took extensive playtest records during development. The game was shown to be very closely balanced. For every event you cite that may break a game, there IS a counter-play. I cannot tell you how many times I've been able to battle back out of an "un-winnable" position. Keys to this are:


1. Don't give up.

2. Don't keep shoving resources into a strategy that isn't working. Change your tactics and force your opponent to react to you. MANY times I see players get into a corner and keep playing cards into a strategy that isn't working. Don't get operational tunnel-vission.

3. Reassessment is a HUGE decision that can completely alter the pace of a game. Knowing WHEN to Reassess is a key decision for the US player.


-Joel


Those rules seem pretty applicable to life in general, actually. Good work!
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Volko Ruhnke
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This seems fine to me as a variant.
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Christian Schanner
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My wife and I have been playing the game for some time, and we find it both very balanced and also that the reserves rules works excellent. The US player uses the reserves more and often, once in five, finds itself having one extra reserve left at the end of turn. That is usually because governance increases made it cheaper than feared. I think it is totally in line with the theme of the game since the US player being the more powerful often have to spend more points than the Jihadist. I think that letting reserves stay on longer than a turn would unbalance the game towards the US.
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