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Subject: Would the game better if a Ring could change a die to WW? rss

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Mr. Kickerz
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I have played roughly 30 games online. Some, but not near as many as some of you. In my experiences, the game play is fun but too much balances on how early the Shadow hits their musters and the FP hit thier WW.


If the Shadow don't have Saruman and Sauron to War in turn 3, it is going to be a tough game for the Shadow.

The FP on the other hand have to hit their WW by turn 3, or turn 4 at the latest or they are going to run out of time.

The implication of one die for the FP and one for the Shadow is different though. 4 die to 7 at base in a big difference. 1 die to the FP is 20% more dice. 1 to the Shadow is 12.5% more dice. The issues lies in the fact of restrictions. The FP have to wait until the Shadow people get their musters before the can Score their White Hat Die. Consequently, you could get raise a King in Gondor but you are pretty much relying on we prove the swifter and not getting revealed in your first few moves.

My point is that if the FP are going in turn 5 and have not rolled a WW in turn 2, 3 or 4 the game is probably over for them.

Why not enable them and balance out the game a little bit more by allowing the FP to use a Ring to change a die to WW. I don't think it does anything but make for more consistent game play and balance between the two sides. It is simply a quality of life -quality of game play experience- change to the game.

If the the FP cannot roll WW by turn 4, they will lose against a decent Shadow Player. Unfortunately, I am finding that to happen to often.
 
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Raf B
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If memory serves, a search of the 1st edition forums will probably turn up threads from 2004-2006 with very similar arguments to those you just made. It's part of the design of the game, Mr. K, and part of the agony of playing the Free Peoples. Allowing Elven rings to change a die to a Will of the West would eliminate that uncertainty, but that undermines the providential nature of rolling Wills, and the thematic considerations they represent. Not a useful answer, but as you've learned from your many plays, a good player does what he can with the actions and cards at his disposal.

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Mr. Kickerz
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Raf, at the end of the day I ask myself. Would this change hurt the game? I don't think it would. I also ask myself if it would improve the game. I am not certain, but I think it would. Even if it was just "Elrond's ring" that did it. There just has to be something other than a dice roll to affect such a huge part of the game.
 
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Raf B
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The best remedy for this 'problem' is to play another game. You're not going to win them all.
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Ralf Schemmann
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I look at the result totals of the ladder and think the game is pretty well balanced. You change would alter the balance drastically and strongly change the dynamics of the early game.

As Raf says, the uncertainty of being able to bring Gandalf the White into play is a stated design goal of the authors. LoME addresses your concern by adding the special keeper dice that can be brought in independently.

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Mr. Kickerz
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When I consider ladder, I will only consider the top level of play. Lets look at the top 5.

Shadow score AVG: 634.8
690
647
600
635
602

Free People AVG: 593
658
644
575
529
559

That is a significant disparity.

If the designers were able to create 2nd edition rules to include things like stating whether a card was a character/strategy -which most at home kitchen players would probably notice/realize the significance of- to correct higher level play, they should really look at the results of the FP and SA at the top levels.

Perhaps the Ring to WW is not the change that is needed, although it does it appear that some small changes need to occur. I own LoME but have not played it yet(focusing on 2nd ed. for now), so I cannot speak to the way it may rebalance the SA and FP in an expansion. I think that something has to be done to affect how fast a SAMV can occur.

Perhaps changing WR to a City -Why is it a SH anyway?- could be one change that would fit. Perhaps another would be to add another Elite and leader in Erebor.

I really enjoy this game. I know I have not played for that long, but I have thought about it, and have seen quite a few of the top players play SA, and I really think that the FP need just a couple tweaks for the FSP movement to be able to pressure the SA as much as the good SA players can pressure the FSP.
 
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steva fields
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Play LOME. I don't think that another revision is in the works right now. So the changes you are considering, just not going to happen. BUT, LOME does address some of your issues.
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Mr. Kickerz
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sixtoedcat wrote:
Play LOME. I don't think that another revision is in the works right now. So the changes you are considering, just not going to happen. BUT, LOME does address some of your issues.


I have to ask if you actually had a sixtoedcat...Do cats have toes?

In response to your suggestion, I will admit that it is probably good advice. However, I am stubborn at times. When I like something, and I think it has a flaw I will genuinely discuss possible positive changes to improve it with people I think will have an educated and thoughtful point of view -people like you, Ralf, Peter etc...-

I am really looking forward to LoME. However, in the meantime logic would suggest that this game will eventually have a 3rd edition. It might take a long time, but I find it to be an interesting enough topic to discuss. There is still an apparent gap in equity at the higher and lower ends of play.

To effect both, I wonder if the answer could be found in army composition. The # of starting elites for SA could be changed and replaced with a few more regulars. A starting player would feel more comfortable with a bigger troop, while a better player would want the Elite for pressing strongholds perhaps.

 
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steva fields
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We had 3 sixtoedcats at one time, and the toes are where the nasty little claws come from. So the shadow player would have a choice at the beginning of the game, how his amies are built?
 
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Raf B
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kickerz wrote:
Perhaps changing WR to a City -Why is it a SH anyway?

Um, because like Moria and Erebor, it's underground? Because conquering any Elven settlement should be worth 2VP? I don't know the answer, but the design choices are nuanced and heavily influenced by theme.

kickerz wrote:
I really enjoy this game. I know I have not played for that long, but I have thought about it, and have seen quite a few of the top players play SA, and I really think that the FP need just a couple tweaks for the FSP movement to be able to pressure the SA as much as the good SA players can pressure the FSP.

If you haven't read the articles on playtesting the 2nd edition, you ought to. Start here: http://www.aresgames.eu/category/articles+war-of-the-ring-ga.... One major change was allowing the FSP to declare in Mordor even if revealed, eliminating several turn-stall tactics that an experienced Shadow player could deploy with devastating effect. Another was requiring the allocation of at least one Eye if the FSP moved in the preceding turn. Both tweaks tightened the race between the Shadow military game and a ring dunk.

[Edit: autocorrect's expended changed to experienced]
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Kevin Long
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kickerz wrote:
When I consider ladder, I will only consider the top level of play. Lets look at the top 5.

Shadow score AVG: 634.8
690
647
600
635
602

Free People AVG: 593
658
644
575
529
559

That is a significant disparity.



by simplistic math that is only 6% difference in an asymmetrical game. And only the best can find that small difference. Couldn't ask for better. Could argue they are as balanced as possible. Any change to the design probably can't get it closer. Just tip it the other way?
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Jim Hansen
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treece keenes wrote:
by simplistic math that is only 6% difference in an asymmetrical game. And only the best can find that small difference. Couldn't ask for better. Could argue they are as balanced as possible. Any change to the design probably can't get it closer. Just tip it the other way?

Going one step further:
If you assume that these players have converged to their equilibrium ladder rankings (all but nico have 50+ games), the difference of 42 points means that a FP win gives +/- 18 while a shadow win gives +/- 14. So, to maintain this equilibrium, the SP has to win 18/32 games and the FP has to win 14/32 games.

This would produce a 56:44 split. If you consider the entire ladder, the results are probably closer to 51:49. Seems pretty balanced to me.
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Mr. Kickerz
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Teamjimby wrote:
treece keenes wrote:
by simplistic math that is only 6% difference in an asymmetrical game. And only the best can find that small difference. Couldn't ask for better. Could argue they are as balanced as possible. Any change to the design probably can't get it closer. Just tip it the other way?

Going one step further:
If you assume that these players have converged to their equilibrium ladder rankings (all but nico have 50+ games), the difference of 42 points means that a FP win gives +/- 18 while a shadow win gives +/- 14. So, to maintain this equilibrium, the SP has to win 18/32 games and the FP has to win 14/32 games.

This would produce a 56:44 split. If you consider the entire ladder, the results are probably closer to 51:49. Seems pretty balanced to me.


I cannot consider the entire ladder. Too many players on the ladder do not play their side as effectively as possible. The game is close, for the most, but the top play is where the play NEEDS to be most balanced. There can be quality of life changes to help less skilled players at the other levels play each side fairly, but the top level play needs to be as fair as possible. The game made some big changes from 1st edition to 2nd edition. When that happened, based on what I have read and discussed with player, there was a fair amount of approval and complaint. In retrospect, I think that most of the community would agree that those changes were positive.

Most people are reluctant to head change, and I understand that. In many ways I am as well. I know that nothing in this game will change soon, but I would love to have the discussions about what would improve balance in the meantime. The top players tend to prefer playing Shadow, because you have a better chance of winning. The FSP are more dependent on their dice, and the Shadow players tend to have a better ability to control their fate.

Some of the changes I mentioned above were not my own. Magic G. and I were discussing DEW recently, and it was his idea that WR should probably be a settlement. I thought it was worth getting feedback upon.

I thought that maybe the FP players should be able to Change the SA dice with their ring instead of just their own.

Balance issues are tricky beats. My gaming history mostly comes from real-time strategy games. Small changes can have small but meaningful changes at top play without hurting the overall experience for an average player. A goal like that is possible with a board game like WoTR as well.

A commons statement that can be found on twitter these days is:

"the greatest hindrance to being great, is to be very good."

This game is very good, but until the deviation in results in top level play falls within a half percentage point, this game cannot be considered great in my mind. That is a good thing. It means there is room to improve, and creative people can support that change.

I would love to have a suggestive change area in the forum for topics of discussion such as these:


Adding FSP leader abilities to all party members -power influenced by level-. For example, maybe Legolas can hide the party using using only Hybird dice. Or, perhaps, Gimli can change any standard muster die to a Character die... It would make the game more fun for the FSp when you could actually utilize these small abilities.

Allowing any player to discard two event cards to draw one once per turn.

Adding in another region on the Eastern Edge of the map.

Allowing Nazgul in the area of the FSP to negate Leader abilities...

Any many more like this.
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Kevin Long
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Quote:
This game is very good, but until the deviation in results in top level play falls within a half percentage point, this game cannot be considered great in my mind.


Not possible in an asymmetrical game. In my mind, this being stated as a requirement is just weird. You freaking me out man

What i do agree with is the spirit of evolving the game. It is in the 2nd edition and the latest expansion balances it further.
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Mr. Kickerz
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treece keenes wrote:
Quote:
This game is very good, but until the deviation in results in top level play falls within a half percentage point, this game cannot be considered great in my mind.


Not possible in an asymmetrical game. In my mind, this being stated as a requirement is just weird. You freaking me out man

What i do agree with is the spirit of evolving the game. It is in the 2nd edition and the latest expansion balances it further.


Good, you are freaky!

It is more difficult to do in an asymmetrical game, but I do not believe it to be impossible. Small changes improved the gap significantly from 1st Ed to 2nd Ed.

Now all we need is another closing of the gap.

 
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Raf B
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kickerz wrote:
Some of the changes I mentioned above were not my own. Magic G. and I were discussing DEW recently, and it was his idea that WR should probably be a settlement. I thought it was worth getting feedback upon.

My feedback is yes, definitely make Woodland Realm a basic settlement (Town) when Magic Geek is the Shadow player. DEW is then worth only 3VP and the Shadow will have to expend more movement actions to claim two more VPs elsewhere on the board.

When MG plays the Free Peoples, treat Woodland Realm as a City, but still give the Shadow player 2VP for its capture and Thranduil's head on a pike. With Erebor as the only remaining DEW stronghold, an early DEW push will have a better chance against MG even if he breaks all Companions to Moria on turn 1 and they disperse from there.

I think this would address your concerns about game balance at the higher end of the ladder.
whistle

Seriously, though, this discussion suggests to me it might be worthwhile to house rule a few mods for players who are at 600+ (or now 700+) on one side or the other of the ladder, if there's enough interest. It's a more achievable goal than getting the designers to revisit their game a second time to produce a third edition, and something the online WotR community could decide on its own merits.

[Edit: Town specified, ladder-based mods]
 
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Mr. Kickerz
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Rafamir wrote:
kickerz wrote:
Some of the changes I mentioned above were not my own. Magic G. and I were discussing DEW recently, and it was his idea that WR should probably be a settlement. I thought it was worth getting feedback upon.

My feedback is yes, definitely make Woodland Realm a basic settlement (Town) when Magic Geek is the Shadow player. DEW is then worth only 3VP and the Shadow will have to expend more movement actions to claim two more VPs elsewhere on the board.

When MG plays the Free Peoples, treat Woodland Realm as a City, but still give the Shadow player 2VP for its capture and Thranduil's head on a pike. With Erebor as the only remaining DEW stronghold, an early DEW push will have a better chance against MG even if he breaks all Companions to Moria on turn 1 and they disperse from there.

I think this would address your concerns about game balance at the higher end of the ladder.
whistle

Seriously, though, this discussion suggests to me it might be worthwhile to house rule a few mods for players who are at 600+ (or now 700+) on one side or the other of the ladder, if there's enough interest. It's a more achievable goal than getting the designers to revisit their game a second time to produce a third edition, and something the online WotR community could decide on its own merits.




[Edit: Town specified, ladder-based mods]


Very interesting idea Raf. I would be up for that! In truth, I think that the designers would be given great feedback from the top of the community and help enable them to make changes in the future as well!
 
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Raf B
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Um, I don't think they're looking to make a 3rd edition, especially when more 2nd edition expansions are in the works. Nor do I get the sense from respondents to this thread that there's much demand for it.

My thought was addressing the disparity when higher-ranked and lower-ranked players compete, and any such mods probably should be linked to point differential rather than whether someone has crossed the 600 or 700 point line.
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Mr. Kickerz
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I just want to make the game better. As I said. A 3rd Edition may take 15 years, but I don't care
 
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The short answer to your question: No, the game would most definitely not be made better if a Ring could change a die to a WW.

I agree that a lack of Wills can be something that can hurt the Free, but this is definitely not the solution to the problem.

The reason is simple, even if it made the game more "balanced" it would make it less fun. War of the Ring is a game of interesting decisions and hard choices. Compelling options that you agonize over which to choose are fun. This option would completely remove a huge element of them for the Free Peoples, rendering the game full of much more "obvious" decisions and far fewer interesting ones.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. Turn 1, the shadow allocates 0 eyes and rolls none. The Free rolls C, C, C, W (or something to that affect). As the Free do you race Aragorn to Gondor and crown him, or move the FSP 4 times with impunity (getting you past Moria for nothing)? This is an actual decision I have been confronted with on multiple occasions. It is also an interesting one that depends on a lot of things, the cards I have in hand, the Shadow's opening 3 dice moves, my opponent, etc. All of this would be removed with the option get a WoW whenever you wanted it. You'd just move the FSP 4 times and get Aragorn later. There is zero urgency to turn that Will into another Action die for the future.

Furthermore, with regards to balance this would be the equivalent of using a bazooka to kill a fly. As has been pointed out, even at the top end of the ladder there is a less than 6% difference in balance between the Free and the Shadow. That is an incredible balance for an asymmetrical game. This would have drastic and far reaching affects beyond a slight redressing of game balance. And as Peter points out, for newbies it would skew things even more drastically in favor of the Free than they already are.

I'm also a little stunned that you say the game cannot be considered "great" until balance falls to within .5%? Firstly, I doubt that is even possible in an asymmetrical game. Secondly I think this game easily qualifies as great, even with a 6% gap in top level balance (and overall on the ladder as a whole only a 1% gap). That is why a bidding system is used in the tournament, and yet I have been amazed at how few matches have actually had to use it by going the full 3 games. Twilight Struggle, currently the highest rated board game on this site, and another brilliant strategy game, is commonly considered to favor the USSR by experienced players. I don't think that makes the game just "very good". It is a great game, and once again a bidding system helps address any minor imbalance issues.

Finally, I would advise against tweaking the base game at all until all 3 expansions are out. We honestly have no idea what balance will look like then.

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