Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Scaling Alter Ego

The other day I played a 2p game of Alter Ego, and it seemed easier than the recent 3p games I've played. It makes sense - with fewer players, each player gets more time (more turns) before the Arch Villain enters play. Therefore they get stronger, and they stabilize sooner, getting to the point where the game becomes trivial.

On the other hand, with fewer players, there are fewer people to get and use Teamwork tokens as well. But experience tells me that's not as big a deal. I needed to find a way to scale the game for player count...

When I made the Arch Villain cards, I used a particular threshold for triggering their coming into play. So far, that threshold has seemed to work decently well, though lately I've been thinking that the game may be too easy, and maybe I should reduce those thresholds. But in thinking about it, the thresholds seem better with higher player counts - they're probably good for 4p games. It's 2 and 3p games that need a tweak.

So tonight I played another 2p game, and I decided to pre-seed each Arch Villain with 2 tokens (I'd try 1 token for 3p games). That's it, no other changes.

This 2p game felt much tighter than any of the recent games. I felt a lot more like we were in danger of losing for much of the game, like we needed to be careful each step of the way. In fact, we lost the game 1 turn before we would have won! This is the first loss I've seen in a long time.

I've been much happier with the last few tests than I have ever been before with this game. I'm looking forward to playing some more!

Side note about equipment...

I think the way to go with the Event cards is to not put them into your display, but instead play them from your hand during your turn. I'm sure I'll have to revisit those cards and make sure they make sense under that rule... and I'll have to clarify what happens when you don't have enough cards to play into your display (because 1 of them is an event) - maybe I could make the events count as a certain type of card if played to the display, or an effect if played from hand?

I used No-Doze tonight, which says "1x/turn, pay $2 to play an additional card to your display" - but I forgot about the 1x/turn bit. I was paying $2 more than once and adding multiple additional cards into my display. For a moment I thought it seemed strong, but in retrospect I'm not so sure. $2 is 2 Job cards worth of money, so trading that to put 1 card into play might be OK. Then again, if you have the right hero card in hand, then you can effectively buy a hero icon for $2 which seems too cheap. However, it's dependent on drawing that card, so it's limited. I was also using the No-Doze to avoid penalties, and even earn Teamwork tokens by playing additional Family cards. Is that OK? Maybe it is.

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