Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Crusaders final tweaks - tested!

Last week I posted about some final tweaks I'd like to make to Crusaders. I updated my prototype and tonight I got a 3 player game in to test those tweaks.

They went well! I liked the size of the board, the number of open building spaces, and the feeling that we were running into each other by the end.

I also liked the random distribution of 26 out of the 30 enemy tokens. This game it turned out that 3 of the 4 enemies left out of the game were Saracens, which meant that several of the free buildings couldn't be had by more than 1 player, and I think that scarcity will be good for the feeling of interaction in the game.

I left the Crusade VP the way it was, but I continued to scale the enemy strength up rather than taper it off like the score... this did not really make any difference though because we didn't get to the point where it mattered.

I did a heavy building strategy, building to level 4 Castle and Church, and influencing for a fair amount. I only crusaded 3 times (one of each enemy type). Danielle did a lot more crusading (8 enemies total), so she got a lot more points from that, as well as 18 points in endgame bonus, but she didn't get any level 4 buildings down. I ended up winning by about 3 points over her.

Here are a few things I think I'd like to do a little differently:
* Score majority bonus for Saracens - I haven't been doing that since in theory the Saracens help you score the level 4 building bonuses, but maybe it'd be better to reward it. If nothing else it gets rid of an exception.

Edit: I have started doing this, and I think I like it.

* Score 2nd place in a 3p game - currently the 2nd place majority bonus says "4p-only", but I'm not sure why. I think I'll try awarding it in a 2 player game.

Edit: First off, I meant in a 3p game (at the end there). In a 2p game I could just award the 2nd place tiles (Gold West does that), or I could award both -- with the caveat that you need at least 1 to qualify for 2nd place. I guess the latter would be more consistent.

* Try building/crusading in 2 spaces at once - This is something several players have asked to do, and I've been afraid it would be too powerful. I should give it a try though... if it does turn out to be too powerful, maybe I could make that a player power -- no rondel control, but the ability to Build in 2 hexes at a time, or to Crusade against 2 enemies at a time, given you have enough cubes.

Edit: I tried this, and it's too powerful. I think I figured out by I don't like it... This game is about efficiently managing your rondel, and if you can use the overage to just build more, then you don't have incentive to efficiently manage your rondel as much. I don't like the way that out of undermines the main mechanism of the game.

I have made new faction powers and tried to incorporate this power into one of them. It allows you to use the Influence action (an oft overlooked action, unless you're perusing that strategy) as if it were Crusade or Build. it turns out this is a really good ability, so I may need to nerf it, but I do like how an upgraded rondel could allow you to Muster + Crusade in the same turn, or Build + Build.

* Maybe try final lap again - I have never been 100% satisfied with the end game just sort of happening. I don't like when it sneaks up on you. In EmDo I changed so once the end game trigger happens, you finish out the round and then play 1 final round (a "final lap"), like in Railroad Tycoon. Maybe the same thing would be good here. I tried it before and didn't love it, but maybe I should try it again.

Edit: I have not tried this, and I'm not likely to do so. I think the end game will do as-is -- even if it's not my favorite part of the game.

And as a side note, the player power that simply starts with 2 additional cubes on the rondel MIGHT be a little overpowered, but not by a lot. Maybe it needs some kind of drawback... maybe something like "when upgrading, you may not distribute any cubes" or something small like that. Or maybe "-1 Travel".

Edit: I have tried adding "-1 travel" to this faction, which means they're a little better at all actions on the average because they have 2 more cubes (like 16% better), but they're always at -1 to travel. I think this might be a good nerf, though at times it seems really harsh. I know my friend John doesn't like it at all, and I have definitely felt like it was rough to deal with the -1 travel as well. I wonder if there's a slightly less harsh nerf for it.

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