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Subject: Simple variant for increasing faction variability/viability rss

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Lucas Hedgren
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(With a nod to
Anthony Rubbo
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who posed this variant to me.)

In order to increase the setup variability of the game, as well as provide possible configurations where some of the lesser powered factions might be the best choice, use this ultra-simple variant:

Before factions are chosen, randomly flip each faction board to a particular side. Only these 7 factions are available to choose.

I think it's great and will propose to try it in my next game. What do others think?
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Evil Roy
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I'd be concerned that it would lead to situations where only one or two of the factions available would be suited to the setup. Then first player gets a big advantage.
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jbrier
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Evil Roy wrote:
I'd be concerned that it would lead to situations where only one or two of the factions available would be suited to the setup. Then first player gets a big advantage.


This, absolutely. As is, being last to pick a faction in a 5p game can feel pretty bleak.

The underlying assumption behind the proposed variant is that some factions always/never get picked regardless of setup. I disagree with this assumption, even though clearly some factions are all around better than others (Darklings awesome, Fakirs awful).

I think the setup is still the biggest factor influencing which faction is best for a given game. There are plenty of setups where I wouldn't even consider the Halflings or Dwarves, for example.

Moreover, I think that selecting a faction based on the setup is the single most interesting decision in the game. This variant drastically nerfs that decision space and for that reason alone strikes me as a bad idea.
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Lucas Hedgren
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verandi wrote:

The underlying assumption behind the proposed variant is that some factions always/never get picked regardless of setup. I disagree with this assumption, even though clearly some factions are all around better than others (Darklings awesome, Fakirs awful).


A fair point. Let's prove it.

1. Construct a setup where the Fakirs are the best choice among what is remaining.

2. An easier but related question: Are the Fakirs ever a better choice over the Nomads?

(I'm just picking on the Fakirs here, but the same exercise could work with any of the "less well thought of" factions.
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jbrier
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boomtron wrote:
Are the Fakirs ever a better choice over the Nomads?


I think so, but that's just my opinion. I'm not really sure there's much we can "prove" one way or the other.

The two extremes are: (a) some factions always/never get picked regardless of setup; (b) all factions get picked an equal amount of the time.

I think the truth lies somewhere in between, and my assertion is specifically that (a) is not the case.

While I certainly wish the factions were more balanced, I think given the variety of possible setups and how they strongly influence the hierarchy of faction choices, combined with the fact that choices are reduced for players later in turn order, all factions are worth picking some nontrivial amount of the time. This is a highly subjective opinion though that is based on a decidedly unscientific couple dozen plays.

All that being said, I'm not entirely unsympathetic to the view that there's a problem as you suggest. But even so I don't think the proposed variant is a good solution for it (a) exacerbates advantage of going earlier, and (b) nerfs the scope of the most interesting decision in the game. Of course that's just my $0.02
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Matthias Reitberger
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I think with this setup you shouldn't simply choose in starting order but do some kind of auction.
I suggest the following:
1. Player chooses a faction, second player can either choose a diffrent one or bid 1 VP for the one player 1 wants.
The following players can do the same, either bid on an already choosen faction by adding an additional VP if more than one player wanted it.
After every player has choosen or bid, those players with a faction not contested by another player take it and are out of the auction.
Those remaining can, in player oder, either raise the bid or choose one of the remaining factions, paying nothing.
Highest possible bid is 20 VP since you dont have more at the start of the game.
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Edward Reece
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Evil Roy wrote:
I'd be concerned that it would lead to situations where only one or two of the factions available would be suited to the setup. Then first player gets a big advantage.


what he said
 
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Mike Stevens
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What do you guys mean by picking your Faction based on the "Set Up" of the game or board? We usually pick our Factions first before we do any Set Up on the board. We dont draw any of the random tiles until after we have picked our Factions and then we place our starting Dwellings. After our Dwellings are placed we then reveal the random Round Tiles, get our starting resources, decide on First Player and begin the game.

I have played some 5, 4, and 3 player games and currently my buddy and I are doing a series of 2-player games, where each game we play a Faction that we have not played before. I realize that 3-5-player will certainly produce different outcomes and advantages for certain Factions that 2-player wont but so far I have played the following Factions:

Halflings
Withces
Aurens
Swarmlings
Giants
Alchemists
Nomads
Fakirs
Mermaids
Swarmlings

Although I did not win every single game, I never felt that I couldn't win a game because of the Faction that I had picked. Having siad that I certainly think that some of their Special Abilitites and Stronghold Bonuses are much better than others. I think the designers tried to do a good job of balancing the Factions by giving some of them more starting Workers and Money, more markers on the Cult Tracks, and less costs for upgrading buildings. I don't think I can make a good argument yet for which Factions are way overpowered and which ones are way underpowered until I get a chance to play with and against each Faction with a variety of 2-5 player games.

Last night we played a 2-player game and my buddy picked the Chaos Magicians for the first time and I played the Alchemists for the first time. He of course only got to place one Dwelling at the start of the game while I placed 2 right across the river from each other. I had a pretty easy 106-82 win even though I lost all 4 Cult Tracks. Now that one game does not make me believe that Alchemists are way overpowered and Chaos Magicians are underpowered. I am very interested in hearing other people's thoughts and eperiences with playing with and against the different Factions.
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Chris Linneman
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Omahavice wrote:
What do you guys mean by picking your Faction based on the "Set Up" of the game or board?


The rules say to pick your factions after the setup is revealed (if you are not assigning them randomly). This creates probably the most interesting decision of the game where you have to look at the round scoring, cult bonuses, and bonus tiles and choose a faction best-suited to that configuration.

Although the game is still in its infancy, there are certainly patterns emerging as to which factions are strongest and which are weakest in MOST setups. What is possible is that there are some setups where these assumptions do not hold true.
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Mike Stevens
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QBert80 wrote:
Omahavice wrote:
What do you guys mean by picking your Faction based on the "Set Up" of the game or board?


The rules say to pick your factions after the setup is revealed (if you are not assigning them randomly). This creates probably the most interesting decision of the game where you have to look at the round scoring, cult bonuses, and bonus tiles and choose a faction best-suited to that configuration.

Although the game is still in its infancy, there are certainly patterns emerging as to which factions are strongest and which are weakest in MOST setups. What is possible is that there are some setups where these assumptions do not hold true.


Very interesting, I did not know that. So by "Set Up" that means you put out Round Scoring, Cult Bonuses, and Bonus tiles, and then you have all the players choose their Factions. Do most of you then take turns placing your Dwellings based on who the First Player is?
 
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Chris Linneman
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The order is this:

1. Set up the game, including all variable elements.

2. Determine player order and pick factions in order.

3. Place dwellings on the board in player order, then reverse player order (P1, P2, P3, P4, P5, P5, P4, P3, P2, P1).

4. Select bonus tiles in reverse player order.

5. Begin the game.
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Helge Ostertag
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QBert80 wrote:
Although the game is still in its infancy, there are certainly patterns emerging as to which factions are strongest and which are weakest in MOST setups. What is possible is that there are some setups where these assumptions do not hold true.


The expansion will change that.
Also, we will add some (tournament) rules to the game, allowing you to bid with VP's on the turn order (and faction choosing), so after the setup you can buy your favorite faction by paying the appropriate amount of VP's.
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Jan B.
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The expansion will change the existing races? I thought it will only add races.

And the auctioning system is interesting. I don't know if I am (after 15 plays) able to make an educated guess about how many VPs a race would be worth to invest in, but maybe it is the best solution to get to certain race balancing. But it will make the setup phase even more important than it already is
 
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Helge Ostertag
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Horologiom wrote:
QBert80 wrote:
Although the game is still in its infancy, there are certainly patterns emerging as to which factions are strongest and which are weakest in MOST setups. What is possible is that there are some setups where these assumptions do not hold true.


The expansion will change that.
Also, we will add some (tournament) rules to the game, allowing you to bid with VP's on the turn order (and faction choosing), so after the setup you can buy your favorite faction by paying the appropriate amount of VP's.


kent_bro wrote:
The expansion will change the existing races? I thought it will only add races.


The expansion won't change the factions, it will change/add setup components, so the relative strength of the factions will change, depending on the setup.
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Don D.
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verandi wrote:
boomtron wrote:
Are the Fakirs ever a better choice over the Nomads?


I think so, but that's just my opinion. I'm not really sure there's much we can "prove" one way or the other.

The two extremes are: (a) some factions always/never get picked regardless of setup; (b) all factions get picked an equal amount of the time.

I think the truth lies somewhere in between, and my assertion is specifically that (a) is not the case.

While I certainly wish the factions were more balanced, I think given the variety of possible setups and how they strongly influence the hierarchy of faction choices, combined with the fact that choices are reduced for players later in turn order, all factions are worth picking some nontrivial amount of the time. This is a highly subjective opinion though that is based on a decidedly unscientific couple dozen plays.

All that being said, I'm not entirely unsympathetic to the view that there's a problem as you suggest. But even so I don't think the proposed variant is a good solution for it (a) exacerbates advantage of going earlier, and (b) nerfs the scope of the most interesting decision in the game. Of course that's just my $0.02


Get off the Internet and finish your damn thesis.

-your friendly neighborhood professor friend.
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jbrier
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Horologiom wrote:

The expansion won't change the factions, it will change/add setup components, so the relative strength of the factions will change, depending on the setup.


Please! Consider testing the expansion with the PBF community. With play testing more is always better, and you have a diverse group of avid Terra Mystica players here who would be more than enthusiastic about helping you.
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