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Subject: Harkonen Karma Power rss

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Kyle K
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I've played more than a few times. I really like the added karma abilities. I have heard online how people think Harkonen's "trade trechery cards" ability is too strong. Last time I was Harkonen, I got the Atreides to tell me who had the other Karma Card, and I just swapped with that person. Poor guy.


The Rex re-implement made me think of this replacement ability:

"As Harkonen, you may spend a Karma Card to do the following: Shuffle the Traitor deck then secretly discard one of your traitors to the bottom of that deck. Draw two more Traitors."

This requires a Deck of traitor cards which is not in the base game, but is in the Scott fan-made version.

Thoughts? Do you like the original power more than mine?
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Klaude Thomas
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echephron wrote:
The Rex re-implement made me think of this replacement ability:

"As Harkonen, you may spend a Karma Card to do the following: Shuffle the Traitor deck then secretly discard one of your traitors to the bottom of that deck. Draw two more Traitors."

Thoughts? Do you like the original power more than mine?

I like the original power, but it is too strong Veterans like tempus42 have described it as the most powerful action you can take in Dune. Played well, it is pointed at a player like Atreides around turn 6 when he has likely built his hand. The swap is then made for the whole hand. This gains at least 10 spice in useful cards, and sets the other guy back for about 4 turns; which are both asides to the main purpose of auto-winning a given battle. A Harkonnen holding the card gains tremendous influence over the game.

Drawing more traitors instead weakens or removes those asides, and gives the win a probability instead of being automatic. In a 6-player game there are 30 traitors from which 20 are dealt to other players and 5 retained. However, from Harkonnen's perspective you are offered (roughly) 6 draws out of 30 cards to find the traitor you require. Assuming equal distribution, you are given good odds to find a traitor belonging to a target player. However, there is no guarantee they will play it. With careful troop distribution you might ensure that an opponent must play one of their top 2 traitors against you, but you could not guarantee that you in fact drew that traitor: hence I would judge your chance of auto-winning to be about 20% (6 draws at 5:30 is about 1 x their 1:5 chance to play the relevant guy or girl). However, those odds have only improved by +7% over what you had anyway with your initial 4 draws! (A little better situationally, as a-priori we could assume that you either did or did not have the card you needed, and only played the Karaka where you did not.)

Bottom line though, gaining +7% to traitor someone is underwhelming. If you were to try this line I would suggest either of the following

a. Harkonnen can swap a traitor card with another player.
b. Harkonnen draws 4 additional traitors.

a. nerfs an enemy and chances are they chose their best traitor option they had so there will be plenty of room for skillful play, plus of course you can feed a friend a traitor to win a fight, which greatly amplifies the value of those you hold.

b. straightforwardly doubles your chance to have the traitor you want, taking your chance to auto win from ~20:150 to ~40:150 or around 26% for a gain of 13%. However, there is no skill in playing this: if you draw it you play it. (Similar problem exists with your original version which at least contains the mild skill of ditching your least relevant traitor.)

OTOH my maths is crap, so who knows what those odds really are Anyway, option a. looks most interesting, so were I changing Harkonnen karama I would try that.

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Kyle K
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Your math is a little fuzzy but whatever. Its more like more traitors than +7% auto-win to Harkonen and his allies. If you exchange a traitor card of your own house(no less useful when removed from your hand, or an exposed traitor, or an Atreides Traitor that is no longer useful) with two additional. You move from 3 to 5.

Further, any discarded traitors may now be in you hand, which will scare enemies. I am only comfortable fighting Harkonen with a leader that I know is not a traitor, but after he uses this Karma power, I don't know of any safe leaders anymore.

Swapping Traitors steals someone else's traitor, which could be really annoying for them(like if you swapped treachery cards) so I don't like that idea. it also assures you that they will not have a traitor of yours, which I dislike.

I agree there are problems. No other Karma Power lasts the rest of the game. There is little to no skill to playing this ability either, though the same is true of some other Karma cards(BG always wants worthless cards, Atredies always wants to not use their ability cuz its lame .) I considered a version that only lasts one turn, but dislike it.
 
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Klaude Thomas
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echephron wrote:
Your math is a little fuzzy but whatever. Its more like more traitors than +7% auto-win to Harkonen and his allies.

I might have explained badly. By autowin, I mean a guaranteed win of a single battle. Harkonnen's present karama power mostly does that. Well, it does that, and then the victim has to hide for a bit!

+7% is the approximate improved chance you have to win a given battle through a traitor call as Harkonnen if you discard one and draw two traitors beforehand. The exact chance would be a concatenation of chances treating each draw separately and considering the probabilities of retention of given cards by other players. For example, Guild Rep is more likely to be in the discards (if Harkonnen doesn't hold him), than Staban Tuek is.

Quote:
Further, any discarded traitors may now be in you hand, which will scare enemies. I am only comfortable fighting Harkonen with a leader that I know is not a traitor, but after he uses this Karma power, I don't know of any safe leaders anymore.

This is an important nuance that I overlooked. I guess I don't favour it. For me safe leaders are an important mechanic that leads to more skill in play. I dislike things that reduce skill.

Quote:
Swapping Traitors steals someone else's traitor, which could be really annoying for them(like if you swapped treachery cards) so I don't like that idea. it also assures you that they will not have a traitor of yours, which I dislike.

Having your hand removed is even more painful, if you ask me

Quote:
I agree there are problems. No other Karma Power lasts the rest of the game. There is little to no skill to playing this ability either, though the same is true of some other Karma cards(BG always wants worthless cards, Atredies always wants to not use their ability cuz its lame .) I considered a version that only lasts one turn, but dislike it.

That's true. Atreides' karama has only one function, preventing it being a Harkonnen karama. BG has a little more interest because although it is a no-brainer to want Worthless Cards, knowing the best way to play them takes skill.

My intuition is that a traitor swap will feel more skillful than drawing more traitors, but all your points are fair and noted. The issue is always getting something into playtest and going from there. Also, to playtest alternatives so you know what the other main options look like.
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Armin Sudhoff
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First of all: thanks for this great idea... we immediatly implemented it (our way), because the hand-swap IS imo the "super-weapon" in the game.

vonklaude wrote:

Bottom line though, gaining +7% to traitor someone is underwhelming. If you were to try this line I would suggest either of the following

a. Harkonnen can swap a traitor card with another player.

Swapping traitors is imho quite boring. Traitors should always be a secret. Swapping them means, that now two players (when in an alliance maybe even more) know the "secret". If the Harkonnen is the "bad guy" as usual, the opponent might even announce his original traitor openly, so everyone knows now a Harkonnen-traitor. Imo this even weakens the Harkonnen player.

vonklaude wrote:
a. nerfs an enemy and chances are they chose their best traitor option they had so there will be plenty of room for skillful play, plus of course you can feed a friend a traitor to win a fight, which greatly amplifies the value of those you hold.

Although I like this ideas, I have to quote:
"This person, this traitor, will be worth more to us than ten legions of Sardaukar!"
Imo it is "un-Harkonnen-like" to sell their traitors away... who the Harkonnen traitors really are should be imo until end of game a secret, that only the Baron knows.
Quote:
b. straightforwardly doubles your chance to have the traitor you want, taking your chance to auto win from ~20:150 to ~40:150 or around 26% for a gain of 13%.
Sounds "balanced"... but we tested this (and it is quite easy to test, just take your traitordeck and draw the cards). Problem A: The Harkonnen might have two (or even more) Karama cards in one game, especially, when the pile exceeds (in our games, quite fast).
Taking that in concern and assuming a 5-player game (our normal setup), he then has 12 traitors out of 25.
This leads to problem B: the chances are imo too high, that the Harkonnen once has a "whole faction" as traitors. Keeping in mind, that players often have just 3 or less leaders at hand in midgame and the Harkonnen knows, which leaders those are, this might mean too many "auto-victories" for Vladi.
In our playtest, the Harkonnen had often 3 or 4 seldomly all 5 leaders of a faction, when drawing 12 leaders. Also keep in mind, that the other players won't keep their own leader as traitor, that increases the probability even more, that he will draw no Harkonnens.
Quote:
However, there is no skill in playing this: if you draw it you play it. (Similar problem exists with your original version which at least contains the mild skill of ditching your least relevant traitor.)

You are absolutly right... especially when 4 traitors are offered. It is an "Karama-Auto-Play". We just gave two more traitors as an option. So Harkonnen maybe decides once and a while, to keep a Karama, to counter voice, prescience, ship cheap or else. Imo, then skill is needed again, as you can't be sure, that the traitor-draw is the best option.

If you wish even more skill and say, 2 more traitors is too weak, you could let him draw 4 more and keep 2 of them.

We played it in our last game with "give one away, take three"... but I see neither a game-play, nor a thematic sense in Harkonnen "giving away" traitors... the choice is mostly easy: Give away your own leader or if none at hand, the "cheapest"/one in the tanks. So we will play our next game with "take two out of four".

Hope, this helped,
Greetz, Hived!

 
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Klaude Thomas
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HivedOne wrote:
We played it in our last game with "give one away, take three"... but I see neither a game-play, nor a thematic sense in Harkonnen "giving away" traitors... the choice is mostly easy: Give away your own leader or if none at hand, the "cheapest"/one in the tanks. So we will play our next game with "take two out of four".

Hmm. You'll draw four and of those some might be in the tanks and some your own: about the same issue you noted already. I preferred your first intuition, i.e. that 'Draw two traitors' is weak enough that it balances against other uses for the Karama. So the skill is to play it for that or keep it for another purpose. A slightly 'meh' skill to me, but skill nonetheless

Another thought is just restrict Harkonnen as to how many cards he pulls from another player. For example, a flat exchange of two cards. Instead of up to four. Exchanging two cards with someone is pretty nasty, but if they have three cards then you might not hit the critical piece.
 
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Armin Sudhoff
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vonklaude wrote:

Hmm. You'll draw four and of those some might be in the tanks and some your own: about the same issue you noted already. I preferred your first intuition, i.e. that 'Draw two traitors' is weak enough that it balances against other uses for the Karama. So the skill is to play it for that or keep it for another purpose. A slightly 'meh' skill to me, but skill nonetheless

You are right... while simulating this just by drawing traitor cards, it is hard to see the real use of the new traitors... so maybe "2 out of 4" is really the best decision, as the Harkonnen is a) not that luck dependend, b) needs "soft skill".

vonklaude wrote:
Another thought is just restrict Harkonnen as to how many cards he pulls from another player. For example, a flat exchange of two cards. Instead of up to four. Exchanging two cards with someone is pretty nasty, but if they have three cards then you might not hit the critical piece.

I don't like that idea... as he looses that Karama by this action, he "shares" 3 for 2 cards.
A third idea to nerf the powerful handswap is, that the cards that should be exchanged (mostly 4 "weak" Harkonnen and 4 "strong" opponents cards) are shuffled together and both players draw an equal number of cards from this pile. That way the Harkonnen has not definitly all "strong" cards and also doesn't know the opponents entire hand...
Here the probabilities, that he got x "new" cards out of 4:
0: 1,4%
1: 22,9%
2: 51,4%
3: 22,9%
4: 1,4%
This way he has a chance of more then 75% to get two or more cards... on the other hand there is a chance of ~24%, to get out less...

Nevertheless... I think it is more "spicy", if he draws new traitors (as they are no longer safe... think of Yueh! Noone can break the imperial condition... Yueh IS not the traitor ;-))
That way, he also cannot nerf a specific player "of his choice"...

Greetz, HivedOne!
 
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Klaude Thomas
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HivedOne wrote:
I don't like that idea... as he looses that Karama by this action, he "shares" 3 for 2 cards.
A third idea to nerf the powerful handswap is, that the cards that should be exchanged (mostly 4 "weak" Harkonnen and 4 "strong" opponents cards) are shuffled together and both players draw an equal number of cards from this pile. That way the Harkonnen has not definitly all "strong" cards and also doesn't know the opponents entire hand...
Here the probabilities, that he got x "new" cards out of 4:
0: 1,4%
1: 22,9%
2: 51,4%
3: 22,9%
4: 1,4%
This way he has a chance of more then 75% to get two or more cards... on the other hand there is a chance of ~24%, to get out less...

If it helps, the groups I've played with ordinarily play that '...take without looking any number of cards, up to the entire hand of any one player of your choice. For each card you take you must give him one of your cards in return.' means that Harkonnen must give over cards from his own hand before looking at the cards he has taken.

WBC play it that Harkonnen takes cards and looks at them first. Then chooses from his own hand what he will give back. An interpretation I find mechanically unsustainable. They decide that the literal ordering of the words entails a mechanical ordering, focussing on the question of Harkonnen fishing for a key card. Let's say you have Kulon, Baliset, Lasegun. Harkonnen wants the gun. They interpret 'take without looking' to have the intention of preventing Harkonnen looking at your hand and taking that single card he wants. Unfortunately, the way that must mechanically operate produces problems, including the problem they hoped to prevent! As follows -

Step 1 - he takes the cards without looking
Step 2 - he then looks at them (the RAW doesn't contain these words, but the WBC version demands them)
Step 3 - he then gives back cards

Now since he must 'take without looking' it either is the case that he sees the cards because they are now in his own hand, or he sees them in some intermediary game zone. In the latter case, WBC must be supposing that a new zone comes into being - call it taken cards - and that Harkonnen is permitted to look into that zone. Yet nowhere do we learn that such a zone should exist, and even supposing it should we definitely don't learn that Harkonnen is privileged to look into it. If we allow that, then how can we feel that we've sustained the admonishment to 'take without looking'?!

Alternatively then, Harkonnen has been permitted to look at the cards taken because he has already added them to his own hand. In which case he can legally give those cards back in Step 3: producing the problem they hoped to prevent. Worse still, he can then take all the cards his target holds every time. Because however many cards he started with, having taken all their cards and added them to his hand, he will have sufficient to give back.

Dreadful! Either we've created a new zone and given Harkonnen privilege to look in it. Or we've defeated the very meaning we thought the rule was supposed to sustain. English is written linearly. But that doesn't mean we should assume that B coming after A means that B must always happen after A. For example. 'Yesterday I walked to the shop. I wore my raincoat.'

Thus I feel it is far better justified to play that Harkonnen has no opportunity at all to look at the cards he is stealing prior to deciding what from his own hand he will give for them. That sustains strong meaning in 'take without looking' and also avoids creating any new game zones or privileges. Technically, the exchange is an instant event in which giving cards is done in enablement of taking them. Harkonnen identifies his target, identifies the cards he will give, then randomly takes from the target's hand that number of cards.

You can either trust him to do that honestly, or have him set the identified cards aside. Being as it's Harkonnen we're speaking of, we prefer the latter!
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Armin Sudhoff
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vonklaude wrote:

WBC play it that Harkonnen takes cards and looks at them first. Then chooses from his own hand what he will give back. An interpretation I find mechanically unsustainable...

me too!! That way you can give back exactly the cards you don't need anymore... another point that speaks against this is the hand limit: Any player should only be able to look at cards, he owns (or the discard pile). If he already owns that cards and wanted to get... say 3 opponent cards, it might be, that his handlimit has been exceeded for a short moment.

How can the WBC-rules-creators, assume this, to be right??

Nevertheless... we played the "new variant" (draw 4 more traitors, keep 2 of them) in our last game... And it is miles more exciting (to everybody!)

Greetz, HivedOne!
 
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Master Jaz
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We change the Harkonnen in two ways:

Capturing Leaders -> One dice of spice if he wins a battle

Karama -> reinforcement: Hand filled up to 8 trachery cards.

No other player is broken, but harkonnen is able to go for a cruzade and be back in short time, when he is smashed.
 
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