Kevin
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I've been thinking about some house rules for Castle Ravenloft. It seems that, I am not the only one who has had some problems with it.

A lot of people on BGG, complain about there being no initiative check and that the encounter deck is relentless and nasty.

The difficulty people have, is when they change the game, it can unbalance it.

Here are some proposals I have for the game. I haven't played it yet with these rules as I tend to only get the chance to play this game once in a while with my game group.

Anyway any comments welcome.

The Split Decks and using Monster Tokens http://ratdorg.blogspot.co.uk/p/index.html are other people’s suggestions on BGG. The initiative rule is my own proposal, as is the luck mechanic.

Monster spawning

First I’d use monster tokens instead of revealing 1 monster per tile. I'd remove the villains and play with all the remaining tokens in a draw bag. When a token is taken, it is not put back into the bag until all the tokens have been used. This makes it more exciting as you never know how many monsters you will face.

Initiative House Rule.

Secondly, I wanted the players to get at least a chance, to avoid the initial attack of revealed monsters, so I propose,

Roll less than your speed to parry an attack, and take no damage from an attacking monster, revealed in the villain phase. You suffer -1 penalty for each additional monster attacking you after the first. Eg if 3 monsters are revealed by drawing a monster token, you chose which attacks you first and you must roll your speed or less to parry it, the second parry is at -1 speed and the 3rd at -2.

You also have a small chance of counterattacking. Roll less than your speed again to be able to counter attack. You can only counter attack, one monster attacking you and you must have parried that monster’s initial attack. There are no penalties for the number of monsters attacking you. This parry/counterattack action can only be used in the first round of combat, when the monsters are first revealed.

Some people’s previous suggestions meant, that the hero could attack straight away, if he gained initiative, however a lot of people said this severely altered game balance, as a great many monsters have only one HP and never got a chance to injure the hero.

In my rule, it is only a small chance a hero will actually be able to hit first, so shouldn't be to game changing.

Altering the Encounter Deck
During setup up each player rolls a "Luck" roll on a d20 and keeps a record of it.

After drawing the encounter card, you have several options.
1. You may roll your luck or less, to cancel an encounter. If successful, you draw a monster CARD placing it on the nearest bone pile to the active hero and you can’t parry this particular monster this turn. . If you fail, you lose this luck ability, unless you take 1damage and the encounter card triggers regardless.
2. After drawing an encounter, you may automatically cancel it; however you lose this luck ability for the rest of this dungeon and take 1 damage.
3. Resolve the encounter card as normal

A new luck score must be re-rolled after each attempt you use luck. A penalty of -1 is applied to this new luck for each time it has been re rolled. Each heroes luck only affects that hero and you can only use this ability once per turn. Finally if you try your luck, pass or fail, you must immediately search the monster token draw bag and remove from the game a token which places zero monsters were possible.

This rule gives players a few more choices, they can possibly cancel a nasty encounter but this will put a monster on the map and they may have already have placed some monsters this turn, when they drew the monster tokens. The remove from the game, of a zero monster token, effect, will also give players a moment of thought.

My intention is to give the players the option of stopping those horrible "make you feel its pointless to carry on encounters", whilst not unbalancing the game to much.

Exploration Tweak
I propose using the split decks mentioned here in a previous BGG posting .http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/571360/split-the-deck
For completeness and to make the info available all on this post, I have copied the relevant parts. Split the encounter cards into 2 decks outlined below.

EXPLORE DECK:
When you explore a new tile with a black arrow, draw an encounter from the Explore Deck.

Alarm
Crossbow Turret
Crushing Walls
Dart Trap
Fire Trap
Sliding Walls
Spear Gauntlet
Ambush!
Animated Armor
Corner of your Eye
Cyrus Belview
Ghost of Prince Aurel
Lief Lipsiege
Neglected Passage
Secret Door
Summoning Circle
Teleport Glyph
Treasure Chest
Howling Ghost
Icy Corridor
King Tomescu's Portal
Patrina Velikovna
Prowling Ghost
Bat Swarm
Cackling Skull
Haunted Mists
Spirit of Doom

IDLE DECK

If you did not explore a tile then draw an encounter from the Idle Deck .

Choking Fog
Circle of Death
Gray Ooze
Green Slime
Hands of The Dead
Bubbling Cauldron
Cowardly Flight
Frenzy
Howl of The Wolf
Illusionary Trick
Mists of Terror
Overrun
Overwhelming Terror
Passage of Time
Prowling Spirits
Reinforcements
Spirit of Doom (event)
Spider Webs
Strahd's Hunger
Strahd's Minions
Strahd's Trick
Strahd's Whispers
Strahd Attacks!
Voice of the Master
Blood Fog
Crippling Miasma
Deadly Shadows
Music of The Damned

Hopefully this will give players a way of stopping some nasty encounter cards and a chance to hit something first whilst keeping it a challenge.

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Vayda
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I'm against altering the rules of a game- it was designed a certain way (flawed or not) so, for me, that's how it's played. That said-- I think you have some great ideas here for people who do tweak rules.
One of the things I enjoy most about CR is the challenge, but your options have a good chance of maintaining that threat.
I'm not sure I'd want to cancel an encounter to draw 1-3 monsters. An unlucky draw will have you wishing for it back in CR. Very nice touch.
The thematic split on the encounters helps make "sense" of the randomness as well.
I also enjoy that the chance of luck decreases over time, and parry decreases with multiple attackers. I still think a counter attack is not needed, especially now with out of phase powers and allies.

I look forward to some session reports comparing gameplay.
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The Initiative House Rule looks interesting. I might try that accompanied by the Monster Spawning rule in my next game.
 
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Kevin
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Hi Vayda,

I wasn't proposing you draw a monster token if you try the luck roll to cancel the encounter card, as this could mean you merely draw a zero monster token.

I thought it best to draw a monster CARD and guarantee a monster is placed, if you successfully cancel an encounter. In addition the fact you have to remove a monster token from the draw bag which places zero monsters, each time you try the luck check, should give the players something to think about, as it means subsequent draws from the bag means a greater chance of drawing the 1.2 and 3 monster appearing tokens.
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Vayda
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chainsaw_ash wrote:
Hi Vayda,

I wasn't proposing you draw a monster token if you try the luck roll to cancel the encounter card, as this could mean you merely draw a zero monster token.

I thought it best to draw a monster CARD and guarantee a monster is placed, if you successfully cancel an encounter. In addition the fact you have to remove a monster token from the draw bag which places zero monsters, each time you try the luck check, should give the players something to think about, as it means subsequent draws from the bag means a greater chance of drawing the 1.2 and 3 monster appearing tokens.


Thanks for the clarification. I incorrectly read that as removing the zero monster tokens, drawing a 1,2, or 3 token-- then replacing the removed zero tokens back.
 
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Kevin
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So, I have just played a couple of games using my house rules and whilst some of it worked, a lot of it didn’t.

My thoughts...

Using the monster tokens just didn’t work, whether it was bad luck or what, we seemed to draw a lot of "2" monster tokens and we really struggled with these and whilst no "3" monster tokens appeared; I felt that if they had, it would have been game over.

The luck mechanic was too cumbersome. I intended it to provide the option of mitigating a really bad encounter card, with a small punishment but I found it slowed the game down, as I found myself constantly thinking, was it worth enacting and risk failing and taking an additional damage. Also if you rolled a low luck from the start, you were unlikely to chance using the mechanic, so in this circumstance, it was pointless, apart from the one cancellation affect it offered.

The initiative idea worked but I would drop the counter attack aspect.

Counter attacking just added another step and muddied the waters, with questions such as how do you counter strike? Do you use an ability? Can you take a treasure card? Also the actual chance of you being successful was very small and in the end I felt it’s not worth the ability being there as proposed.

Splitting the encounter deck didn’t seem to be as punishing but this could have been the luck of the draw when we played.

I, in discussion with my group, still think the game as issued, is lacking something.

Namely, the harshness of the encounter deck or maybe a lack of healing possibilities in view of said harshness.

After a discussion, we are now going to try

Keep the initiative check but lose the counter attack, that is, when revealing a monster, if you roll your speed or less, you parry the monster and it does not attack this turn.

Lose my luck mechanic completely. But try a simpler mechanic to negate killer encounter cards. We propose, flipping a Daily Power ability.

Stick to the draw a monster card, rather than the monster tokens.

Keep the split encounter deck, this worked well.
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