Monday, November 25, 2013

Odysseus: Winds of Fate - revived and updated!

Odysseus: Winds of Fate is one of my favorite designs. I love the theme and the whole idea of the game, but while I've had playable iterations of the game, I've never found a version that I was totally happy with. It's been a while since I have even thought about O:WoF, and I hadn't really tried the latest changes and ideas I'd had.

This week I dusted off the game and brought it to BGG.con with me, and I got in 2 playtests with some folks (Matthew O'Malley, David Chott, Adam McIver, Peter Wocken, John Clair, Steve Behnke, and Chris Johnson). It was great getting to know the game again, and I got some good feedback. I have a good idea now the direction I'd like to take and what I'd like to try next:

An old playtester comment was that there wasn't enough reason to want Odysseus to go to one location over another. Things I've done and considered to combat that include...
1) Allow a free Path bet each round for each player. The Path bets are the way players communicate their intentions, so the more of them that happen, the better.
2) The Spielbany group suggested adding more Greek gods to the game, and associating each encounter with a specific god (3 each of 3 gods). They suggested putting a god tile onto the encounter, and the bonus for biggest contribution to the adventure would earn the god tile for that encounter (rather than a bet chip, which is the current bonus), and there could be some sort of set collection scoring for getting multiples of the same god tile.

The free Path bets each round helped a lot, and I'm not even sure the god tile thing is necessary... but I'd like to give it a shot anyway - I think adding gods would be great thematically, and I finally have an idea of how to do it in a pretty simple way (I think): I've already got an Olympus Deck, from which a card is flipped at the end of each Adventure. Currently there are only Athena and Poseidon cards in the Olympus deck, which help or hinder Odysseus, respectively. I think a nice way to get more gods into the game is to make this Odysseus deck into more of an Event deck, with more gods represented, each with some effect as well as a help/hinder contribution:
Zeus: +4 Hinder. Reshuffle Olympus deck.
Hera: +4 Help. Reshuffle Olympus deck.
Poseidon: +3 Hinder
Athena: +3 Help

Hades: +2 Hinder. Odysseus loses 2 Crew.
Dionysus: +2 Help. Odysseus gains 2 Crew.
Hermes: Each player draws 2 Adventure cards.
I'm not sure the best reward for collecting multiples of the same god tile... it could be as simple as just collecting 1/3/6 points (or bet chips) for 1/2/3 matching god tiles. It might also be cool if the different gods behaved differently - that could potentially be accomplished by adding some effect on the Odysseus cards. For example, instead of the above it could be:
Hades: +2 Hinder. Each player may choose to have Odysseus lose 1 Crew per Hades god tile in their possession.
Dionysus: +2 Help. Each player may choose to have Odysseus gain 1 Crew per Dionysus god tile in their possession.
Hermes: Each player draws 2 Adventure cards (1 of each type) per Hermes god tile in their possession.

I would like to try that - the effects in the Olympus deck, as well as the scoring.

Speaking of the Path bets... currently the payoff for a successful Path bet is 6vp divided between the bet chips placed there. A great suggestion from John Clair was to instead reward the bet chip to the player... so now each round players would place bet chips from the general supply onto the board, then if Odysseus passes over them, the players take those chips into their personal supply where they are worth points, or can be placed as Timeline or Destiny bets. That's nicer and more elegant than having to track VPs throughout the game. Similarly, the rewards for passing are currently 4vp/2vp for the last/penultimate passer... that could be changed to 2/1 bet chips instead. Then all scoring would be simply based on bet chips at the end of the game.

I am fairly confident that these changes will pan out, and I'm excited to give them a try.

I see in my prototype that I used to have an Adventure card value range of 2-4 or 2-5. At some point I changed it to 3-5. I wonder if that's too narrow a range. I think I'll open it up and make it maybe 2-5 or 2-6. I'd like player who wins the bonus and the player who passes last to be different players much of the time! 

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