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A couple things Jol-Nar can do even with the restrictive secrecy rules:

-Makes great use of the good old non-binding alliance and negotiaton tactics even before alliances are formed. Threaten/blackmail/extort players by revealing sensitive info about those who would cross you, help others with the promise of future help (promise them info before Temporary Ceasefire, promise them a formal alliance in the future when the card is drawn, etc.) to foster some good will. Anyone can form non-binding alliances and make promises to some extent, but Jol-Nar has a lot of unique leverage in this area

-Related to the above: I found that as Jol Nar, splitting the other factions into two groups, "with me or against me" helped with the memorization issues as well. If you form a non-binding pact with a player, you can relax on trying to memorize his hand, and focus on those who are your enemies. I have to admit though I do not prefer my games to have heavy memorization elements, so that part does bother me. I appreciate what they were trying to do with speeding the game up but I wish there were a middle-ground.

-Jol Nar should take turn order into account when forming official Temporary Ceasefire alliances. With proper timing he can absolutely help his allies or hurt his opponents during the bidding phase, though the methods for doing so are more subtle than in Dune I'm sure. Manipulating the other players through psychology and turn order abuse is certainly not as powerful as just being able to whisper into their ear in Dune, but it can be very interesting a different way and lets the Jol-Nar player feel clever.

And Jol Nar's Combat/Ally ability is still great, but I don't think anyone disagrees with that

Hacan's riches come in handy during the Temporary Ceasefire, when he IS allowed to share influence. He's no Lazax but his riches shouldn't be underestimated

Anyway, those are just some thoughts -- I don't have any conclusive opinions on the overall balance myself, but I do think those two races deserve a bit more credit
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Joseph Courtight
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The ability to look at the next card of the influence deck is actualy very helpful.
 
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fahbs2000 wrote:


Only Lazax/Emperor can trade money now- This hugely strengthens Lazax and severly weakens Hacan.

AFAIK everyone can trade influence during each temporary ceasefire.
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fahbs2000 wrote:
That sounds too nebulous to be very useful. Instead of vague promises, Atredis could demand cold hard cash for information.


Nevertheless, it's useful, and its one of Jol Nar's advantages. Not being able to accept bribes or tell secrets makes Jol Nar strictly worse and harder to use in that area than his Dune counterpart, but he still has some advantages over the rest of the Rex cast. If you just discount his negotiation advantages and play him like a naked character without abilities then of course he'll seem really weak.

There's a human variable in this game, along with all the other variables like the Influence Deck etc, so the actual balance is sort of difficult to pinpoint and seems to vary from group to group -- this type of game is usually vulnerable to group-think
 
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Tim Burris
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A couple of thoughts...

Jol-Nar seems underpowered in their own right, but have a lot of diplomatic leverage. Like a lot of things, it comes down to the player. Jol-Nar are definitely not for everyone, even if you do allow taking notes (we don't, so far...). In the right hands they will dominate the game. Bidding is a fine art. A competent Jol-Nar with the right personality can greatly influence which cards are going where - whether he's in the Lazax alliance or not. Tonight Jol-Nar got Lazax to buy three Energy Shields over a span of a few turns. Even better if he can actually remember what is in everyone's hand.

On the other hand, if the person playing Jol-Nar is a stoner with attention deficit disorder who can't remember what's in his own hand, he's not as attractive an ally. I would go so far as to say that the character of the game is more affected by which player is playing Jol-Nar than it is by which player is playing any of the other races. His reaction when he looks at each card is all you have to go on during the bidding phase! As mentioned, turn order plays a big role as well and is randomized (or is supposed to be).

As for their combat ability you're underrating the ability to force someone to commit early, especially which Leader somebody is going to use - this is especially important if Letnev or Sol (for instance) is going to keep dropping down short stacks to ditch cards. This is key to dialing as low as you can while still winning the fight. Or, if you have both defenses, just ask what weapon they're going to use and you know you're safe. It's not as powerful as the Xxcha's ability but it can usually mean that a player with a good hand will keep their good hand. The ability, as useful (or more) for Jol-Nar's allies (the ones with good hands) as it is for Jol-Nar, further adds to their desirableness as an ally. Oh yeah, and they usually know when a temporary ceasefire is coming up, which means they can plan accordingly, and often pick their partners, which is possibly the most powerful thing of all in Rex.

Hacan's racial advantage to move anywhere instead of deploying is fairly useful to Xxcha and Sol, who don't have spaceports and in Sol's case can only deploy on a third of the map. It is true that people are paying them more early in the game, but they need to use that influence to pick some fights that they think they can win once everyone starts "turtling," and take out some units, so that the loser will have to deploy again and pay Hacan.

If Hacan becomes the richest player what are they going to do with it? Teleport a huge stack across the map to fight whichever opponent they think is weakest, so that player will have to deploy some more. Chase influence/spice so the Lazax team gets as little as possible. They have had more money than Lazax in all the games we've played (usually more than they know what to do with), or have been allied with Lazax...but a lot of this like so much else comes down to group dynamics and the metagame...who is playing Lazax, who is playing Hacan, and is the group more afraid of running up the bid and paying Lazax than they are of deploying in contested areas and paying Hacan, etc.

Finally, Dune shouldn't really be the barometer for this game. Some races have been nerfed more than others, but Dune was not perfectly balanced either, nor was it supposed to be, nor is this game supposed to be.

Oh yeah, and Xxcha predictions are a metagame thing as well. Sure, all things being equal, you pick Hacan turn 8, but how often are all things equal? How often are all players of equal ability? Is one player at the table tonight consistently good enough to be a safe pick to be in the winning alliance on turn 8? Not to mention, obviously, the prediction is at its most powerful when nobody knows what it is! Xxcha can also often pick their partners, although people will be wary later in the game due to the prediction. Still, if they pick SOMEBODY on turn 8, and there are two three-person alliances, Xxcha's chances of stealing the win are pretty good, better than 50/50. If the person you predicted is in the opposing alliance, then whichever alliance wins, you win! If the person you predicted is not in an alliance and is not Hacan, then, well, you probably aren't going to win the game that way. I agree they are the most powerful race and I can't imagine anything more satisfying than pulling off an Xxcha prediction win with something other than Hacan turn 8.
 
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Joey V

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Sol: not to mention Sol can tell how far the bombardment is going to move and can play that card that turns off shields for a certain area. He can set up a battle in a shielded area and then turn off the shield and let the bombers wipe out whoever is left there. he can move in cool ways and is quite powerful especially depending on turn order.
 
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