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Disciples playtest session report

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jwarrend
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Joined: 08/03/2008
Disciples playtest session report

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The game is currently a “metastable” thing that appears to be precariously balanced across all its systems, and I’m very paranoid that changing something like this will necessitate more additional playtesting to re-balance.
I'm not sure what all that meant, but changing something like this Jews track thing is, to me, constitutes tweaking and rebalancing.

Something that is “metastable” is in between stable and unstable. Think of a pencil that’s perfectly balanced on its point, for example. It can stay there forever, but if it gets the slightest nudge, it will become unstable, and fall. That’s what I’m worried about with changes to the game; that nudging something could make the whole thing not work, and then more changes will be needed to put it back together again.

I think, though, that changing the negative end of the Jews track such that it advances the Rome track is hopefully minor enough that it won’t destroy the game. You can make this change in your prototype, if you’d like.

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The thought [with making the tracks go from 2-5] is that there's not a lot of variety in the tracks. I get the impression that you like people to be able to draw all the cards needed to do a particular deed in one turn most of the time. It seems like the game might benefit from people having to commit a little more to doing deeds, otherwise there's not much difference which deed they do. If they do this deed this turn, they can go do that deed next turn, or something like that. I think that would be fine some of the time, but I think it might be neat to have the costs escalate a little more, so you eother actively persue Jesus doing the deed, or you start saving up cards for it.

Ok, I see your thinking here. I would make a couple of observations on this subject. First, since one Deed is added per turn, players need to be consuming an average of about one Deed per turn to keep the game stable (since Deed explosion = easy traitor win). Now, there will be some turns where you don’t do any Deeds, and some where you do a couple, so it roughly balances out.

I wouldn’t say that I want players to be able to draw the cards they need to do a Deed in the same turn; in fact, I’d say quite the opposite. The only time you can draw cards and do a deed in the same turn is when the Deed costs 2. Other than that, it takes 2 separate turns to draw enough symbols from the face-up piles to do the 3- and 4- cost Deeds. Of course, you can sometimes get lucky by going to the face-down pile, and I like that this is possible. But I also want to make it realistic to be able to do any Deed by being patient and going to the face-up piles. A 5-cost Deed would take 3 turns to do. That just wouldn’t be viable, and would make the face-down pile much more important.

I like the idea of more variation on the tracks, but I don’t think it’s sufficient justification. It’s possible, however, that our play styles are quite different. For myself, I find that at any given time, I have one or two Deeds that I’m specifically targetting. If you find that you or your players are adopting an “any Deed will do” approach and parlaying that to consistent victories, let me know!

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I just thought of another thing- if you wanted you could have the VP payoff increase with the toughness of doing the deed... like at the 4-cost you could ask Jesus to do the deed, or just pay 4 for it. But at the 5-cost you could ask Jesus to do it, or do it yourself and earm a bonus VP.

We’ve talked at our playtests about trying to reward the more expensive Deeds with more points, but I never really found a great way to do that, or even to study this effect.. Mike (fanaka) suggested that when you do a Deed, you get tokens equal to the amount of symbols you had to spend to do it, as a way of tracking this, but I haven’t ever tried it.

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Well, not only would it make people's first turn not all be the same, I think it'd give the game a beeter feel in the startup- where you actually have to decide which kind of deed you want to do, and prepare to do it. Maybe you do draw a face down card and let that determine which deed to do, or maybe you take the card you really want so as to do the right deed next turn.

Ok, I understand the concern and the suggestion. I’ll watch the first turn a little more.

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What would be the motivation for [More deeds out to begin the game for fewer players]?

It's a possible way to mitigate the potential Traitor weakness problem (if it turns out to be a problem) without f'ing with the Pharisees track.

I still don’t believe there is such a problem, barring further evidence.

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No, I'm pretty much referring to all of them. By "ineffectual" I guess I mean their impact is very small. Even the ones that do something don't do anything very significant relative to other actions in the game. Some of them are nice, don't get me wrong, I'm just saying what if they were bigger and more important, if players had to take them into account more.

Ok, now I understand your point. Could you give an example of an Event you could envision that would seem more substantial? I think that some of the events may seem minor (e.g., “Move Jesus to Bethsaida”), but in certain situations, each one can have an important impact on the game. Also a good model for the “structured events” you’re advocating is Lord of the Rings, yet those events aren’t all that more consequential in scope than mine; e.g., “group discards 2 wild symbols, or else everyone rolls the die”. Yet, they work so well because each such occurence is a little step towards a big result (the loss of the game, in the case I mentioned.)

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Well, it's not that there's necessarily something wrong with it... it's just that the events seem like such a small part of the game when they could be a more driving force. Currently there's not much motivation to worry about the tracks at all, aside from the possibility of pushing the Pharisees up and allowing a traitor win. Bigger events would make the Rome track more interesting, don't you think?

Possibly, but you have to also keep in mind that the intended audience of the game is slightly more casual gamers, so adding more functionality and effects to the tracks or to some other aspect of the game may not be desirable.

I’m also not sure that restructuring the Event system is the way to make the political tracks more interesting; the Rome track is really meant to be nothing more or less than a “game clock” (although I added some Event spaces to give it a little more pizzazz). The Jews track is meant to be a barometer for the other 2.

I could maybe spice up the Jews track by putting an Event trigger on the “0” position. This would get a lot more events into the game.

But ultimately, it sounds like your concern is that the events themselves don’t affect the game enough. Hence my question what kinds of events you could envision that would effect the game.

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For example, Thaddeus earns a VP for each Healing deed done, and additional VPs if the group does a lot of Healing deeds. You have absolutely no control over weather or not other players do Heling deeds. What if instead it was "1 VP per healing deed and 1vp per 2 healing deeds Jesus does"?

Not a bad thought, but the advantage of the current wording is that it protects the Thaddeus player from other players scooping up all the healing deeds and leaving him out cold.

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I just had another idea- regarding the action tracks... supopse there were some incentive to pick one over another- in addition tot he political tracks and you goals. Say there were a bonus gospel or else VP available for one deed type each turn, and when you do a deed of that type you get a bonus, and when you get that bonus you decide which track the incetive VP should go on next.

Again, a decent idea, but adds more complexity. And more importantly, if the game doesn’t already scream out for this change, it may not be needed. I will note that the one thing it would do well would be to help strenghthen the types of goals that you mention above, as it would give a tangible way that you could “shape” the actions of other players.

This function could perhaps be given to Gospels; that you can place Gospel tokens on a Deed, and whoever performs that Deed receives the tokens.

Just thinking out loud with that one...

-J

sedjtroll
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Disciples playtest session report

jwarrend wrote:
That’s what I’m worried about with changes to the game; that nudging something could make the whole thing not work, and then more changes will be needed to put it back together again.

... or you could just reverse the changes that 'broke' the game ;)

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since one Deed is added per turn, players need to be consuming an average of about one Deed per turn to keep the game stable (since Deed explosion = easy traitor win). Now, there will be some turns where you don’t do any Deeds, and some where you do a couple, so it roughly balances out.

Do you think this would change significantly?

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A 5-cost Deed would take 3 turns to do. That just wouldn’t be viable, and would make the face-down pile much more important.

The way you talk about it I'm suprised there's a face down pile at all. If you don't want it to do anything, or to be important, then maybe there should only be face up piles of single symbols.

The face down pile is only more important when the cost is high, if at all, and at that point you can have Jesus do a deed and reduce the cost.

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If you find that you or your players are adopting an “any Deed will do” approach and parlaying that to consistent victories, let me know!

Misa seemed to be doing any deed she could get her hands on, and with other people or Jesus present, and she was way ahead on the VP track all game. I finally causght up- in part because she had been doing any deed instead of targeting her goals, but also in large part because my goals were very complimentary (and one was potentially unbalanced- the gospels one). Even with me getting a huge payoff for my goals and her getting almost nothing (8-3), I only barely beat her, and she was soundly in second place.

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Could you give an example of an Event you could envision that would seem more substantial?

Things like you have such as 'everyone in the same location as Jesus gets 1 Gospel' is a good start, but imagine if it were 3 Gospels or something and you knew it was coming but not exactly when... like the next event will be that one, and it will happen the next time someone advances the rome track... which means a deed that advances Rome, a couple that advance Jews toward Rome (I'd get rid of the + and - btw, and just have the card say "J -> P" or "R <- J"), or possibly a deed that itself has an E on it (there's currently 1, but could be more).

This would help drive players actions I think, and by making the reward (or Penalty) bigger, it would carry enough weight to matter. Another example is an event where everyone must discard 1 of each symbol (or something), and for each symbol they can't discard they lose a Gospel, and for each gospel they can't discard they lose a VP (or something).

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I think that some of the events may seem minor (e.g., “Move Jesus to Bethsaida”), but in certain situations, each one can have an important impact on the game.

To me, this is a red flag. If random events are really situational then you are introducing a lot of luck into the game. If you are headed to the same town as Jesus and you know he might teleport to Bethsaida if 2 more Rome deeds are done, then that's your choice. If you are moving there and at the last minute he randomly disappears, that kinda sucks.

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Also a good model for the “structured events” you’re advocating is Lord of the Rings, yet those events aren’t all that more consequential in scope than mine

Right, I'm suggesting you make yours sorta like that, but more substantial (some good, some bad) to help drive people's motivation to do certain deeds- that motivation could change during the game.

Also, as you progress in LotR, the events DO get more and more substantial. And LotR has a lot more events than your game, so yours could stand to be more substantial than those.

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you have to also keep in mind that the intended audience of the game is slightly more casual gamers, so adding more functionality and effects to the tracks or to some other aspect of the game may not be desirable.

Um... I've made this comment in anotehr thread, I can't recall to whom or in reference to what... I wouldn't recommend making a game crappy simply because your intended audience isn't 'gamers'. By crappy I'm not saying that your game is crappy. I'm saying that if in any game there's something that could be more functional, and you opt not to make it so because your intended audience doesn't care or won't notice, then you're not making the best game you can make.

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I’m also not sure that restructuring the Event system is the way to make the political tracks more interesting; the Rome track is really meant to be nothing more or less than a “game clock”

So right now players have incentive to not advance the Pharisees (except maybe 1 player), and TO advance Rome (except that same player). I don't see the tension. If the events were like obstacles, and were unwelcome at times so much that someone might pass on a Rome deed, then there's something interesting... if you prolong the game by not doing Rome deeds, then the traitor's scoring opportunity increases, but if you advance toward the game end, bad things happen. The other way to look at it is that the faster you finish the rome track, the less time the traitor has to advance the Pharisees.

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The Jews track is meant to be a barometer for the other 2.

I'd like to point out that currently, it isn't. If it advanced the Rome track then maybe it could be considered a barometer for the other 2 (though I'm not sure that's a good analogy, but I know whatyou mean).

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I could maybe spice up the Jews track by putting an Event trigger on the “0” position. This would get a lot more events into the game.

I don't like the csound of that very much.

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But ultimately, it sounds like your concern is that the events themselves don’t affect the game enough. Hence my question what kinds of events you could envision that would effect the game.

My problem I think is that the events are too random, and thattheir effects are small much of the time. Il'l think about what might be better, but probably much of the stuff you have is good- it just needs to be larger on the reward/penalty end I think.

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Not a bad thought, but the advantage of the current wording is that it protects the Thaddeus player from other players scooping up all the healing deeds and leaving him out cold.

I didn't think of that, but then why bother persuing the goal? And what motivation do the other players have to scoop those goals up?

- Seth

jwarrend
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Disciples playtest session report

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Do you think [players doing an average of about 1 Deed per turn] would change significantly [if the tracks went to 5]?

Almost certainly. As it is, when the tracks peg to 4 and stay there for a long time, the game bogs down. I’m fairly sure it would do so even more at 5.

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The way you talk about it I'm suprised there's a face down pile at all. If you don't want it to do anything, or to be important, then maybe there should only be face up piles of single symbols.

I don’t want the face down pile to be unimportant; I want it to be balanced with the face-up piles, which it is currently (I think).

So far, there’s really only one argument in favor of expanding the cost tracks: increased variability of the tracks. I need more reasons in favor of considering this change; counterarguments to my reasons against don’t count as reasons for.

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If you find that you or your players are adopting an “any Deed will do” approach and parlaying that to consistent victories, let me know!

Misa seemed to be doing any deed she could get her hands on, and ... and she was soundly in second place.

This certainly counts as evidence. It’s certainly the case that if you can do a lot of deeds in towns with Jesus and other players, it could rack up a lot of points. I’ll have to watch if it’s a consistently viable strategy to ignore your goals and just go for Deeds. I don’t think it is, but we’ll see...

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Things like you have such as 'everyone in the same location as Jesus gets 1 Gospel' is a good start, but imagine if it were 3 Gospels or something and you knew it was coming but not exactly when... like the next event will be that one, and it will happen the next time someone advances the rome track... which means a deed that advances Rome, a couple that advance Jews toward Rome

Ok, it seems to me that you’re actually suggesting changing four things with respect to Events. I’d like to list them individually, and show how each change contrasts with the current system.

1. Events should come out in the same sequence every game (as opposed to random sequence every game)

2. You should know in advance what Event is coming next (as opposed to a hidden draw pile).

3. The Events should appear as a consequence of player-initiated actions (as opposed to a combo of this and of randomly triggered occurence).

4. The Events should each have a bigger effect on the game (as opposed to Seth’s impression of the game that currently, they do not).

Now, of these, which do you think are actually needed, and why do you think so? Because, for example, it would be possible to achieve (2) by having the Event deck be face-up, so you know what the next event will be at any time.

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This would help drive players actions I think, and by making the reward (or Penalty) bigger, it would carry enough weight to matter.

With respect to the first, do you think the game currently lacks sufficient motivation for decision making? If so, I really need to hear this, because it’s always been my impression that there is already perhaps too much to think about. When choosing whether to go for a certain Deed, you can currently consider: which Deeds are best for your goals, how close the deed is to where you are, how many VPs the Deed would pay, whether you can afford the cost, and what consequences it might have. I’ve always found this problem space to be managable, but I wouldn’t be surprised if casual players already found it to be a lot to think about. I think adding more factors to consider would only be necessary if there was a sense of directionlessness when playing the current game. Do you think there is?

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I think that some of the events may seem minor (e.g., “Move Jesus to Bethsaida”), but in certain situations, each one can have an important impact on the game.

To me, this is a red flag. If random events are really situational then you are introducing a lot of luck into the game. If you are headed to the same town as Jesus and you know he might teleport to Bethsaida if 2 more Rome deeds are done, then that's your choice. If you are moving there and at the last minute he randomly disappears, that kinda sucks.

But you can’t have it both ways -- either the Deeds are currently too ineffectual, or they’re not.

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I wouldn't recommend making a game crappy simply because your intended audience isn't 'gamers'...if in any game there's something that could be more functional, and you opt not to make it so because your intended audience doesn't care or won't notice, then you're not making the best game you can make.

My point isn’t that the target audience won’t notice; rather, it’s that for the events in question (involving agreement between player), they will work just fine.

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So right now players have incentive to not advance the Pharisees (except maybe 1 player), and TO advance Rome (except that same player). I don't see the tension.

I think there’s a disincentive to advancing Rome as well, though; if the game ends before you can fully do everything you want to do goals-wise, that’s also a bad thing. It’s just that the Rome track is often the lesser of two evils.

Again, the tension isn’t a “now Now NOW’ kind of thing; it’s that each consequence moves the game a little closer towards one of its possible endings. It’s easy to ignore this since the ending seems far away. But if everyone thinks this way, the end will come sooner.

It’s similar to moving Sauron in LotR. There’s nothing in the game that says “...and Sauron gobbles a player up!”, but the cumulative effect of Sauron creeping forward is devastating, and you need to avoid it.

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If the events were like obstacles, and were unwelcome at times so much that someone might pass on a Rome deed, then there's something interesting... if you prolong the game by not doing Rome deeds, then the traitor's scoring opportunity increases, but if you advance toward the game end, bad things happen. The other way to look at it is that the faster you finish the rome track, the less time the traitor has to advance the Pharisees.

Yes, there’s this element currently as well, but I think that the only player who actually wants the game to end faster is the one who’s currently in the lead; other players will want it to last until they can catch up (I think).

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I'd like to point out that currently, it isn't. If it advanced the Rome track then maybe it could be considered a barometer for the other 2

It is, in this sense: in the original design, any Deed whose consequence was “+2 J” or “-2 J” also advanced the Rome track. But this was easily forgotten, so I just printed the “+1 Rome” consequence on those cards as well. The idea originally was that the ends of the Jews track triggered the Pharisees, and fast movement by the Jews in either direction triggered Rome. I also had a clause that if two Deeds performed in a turn moved the Jews by 2 spaces, this also triggered Rome. But in practice, this just never happened, and was an extra rule.

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My problem I think is that the events are too random, and thattheir effects are small much of the time.

Ok, that’s fine. But in that case, it would seem like making them more substantial (still not clear what that would mean) would also necessitate making them less random. Yet, the random nature of the events is something I’ve never been bothered by, and even have enjoyed. It’s a nice source of uncertainty and flavor without dominating the game.

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Not a bad thought, but the advantage of the current wording is that it protects the Thaddeus player from other players scooping up all the healing deeds and leaving him out cold.

I didn't think of that, but then why bother persuing the goal? And what motivation do the other players have to scoop those goals up?

Because you get more points if you do them than if the other players do them. The other players might scoop them up simply because there are only 4 suits in the game, and only 6 of the 12 goals having you paying specific attention to the suits in which your deeds are performed. Players might inadvertently steal your deeds, and removing those elements where you get points for the others' deeds could weaken those goals too much.

-Jeff

jwarrend
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Seth's latest session report

(Pasted in from Seth's "SW BGDF Playtest" thread)

sedjtroll wrote:
Tyler, Jake, and I played a game of Disciples. This took longer than it should have because we also put on Bring It On.

That’s a funny juxtaposition!

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They seemed to like the game OK, but we fear the goals are severely out of balance.

Glad to hear the session went ok. Obviously, my main concern at this point is balancing the game, particularly the goals, so more data on this is very helpful, especially for 3 player games, which I haven’t tested much. I don’t believe that at this stage, there’s a goals imbalance that rises to the level of being “severe”, but of course, my observations reflect experience mostly with larger games. Having said that:

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Jacob: 39 points. Thomas [7VP] and Bartholomew [8VP], and about 5 VP from about 6 Gospel tokens
Tyler: 30 points. Peter [0], Matthew [5], and 1 VP from 3 Gospel tokens.
Seth: 26 points. Phillip [5], Judas [-4], and 2 Vp from 4 Gospel tokens.

These overall scores seem quite reasonable for a 3 player game. Did the game end with the exhausting of the Deed deck, or with the Rome track pegging?

Bart’s goal (4 pts if you do a Deed in each category, 1 pt per category in which all players did a Deed) is certainly easier in a smaller game, but experienced opponents should be able to keep that goal less lucrative simply by making sure there are at least one or two categories in which they haven’t done a Deed.

I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a full-length game where Peter (3 VP for every 2 towns in which you preached) got completely closed out. It’s one of the tougher goals (because other players can scoop up Preaching deeds on you), but the payout per deed is also higher for that goal than for any of the others. I consider this an anomaly; 3 points should be easy for Peter, it’s whether you make the jump to 6 points that is tougher, and 9 points is very, very tough. So in a “normal” game, Tyler would have had 33-36 points.

The others (5-7 points) seem fine for 3p. I’ll say more on Judas below...

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If I had betrayed near the end of the game I would only have gotten 19 VP total.

That is pretty low. Were there not very many Deeds out around the board?

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I think [especially in a 3 player game, maybe not with more] if you are going to betray at all, it has to be very early. Either that or Judas' reward is simply not good enough.

It’s possible that the Pharisees track needs to be started another space further forward (you did start it one space one space to the right, yes?). But I do agree, a short game tends to favor the Traitor, although in the ideal case, I’d like to see the betrayal be possibly viable over the whole length of the game, but difficult to know with certainty whether it will work or not.

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This concern has come up every time we've played. Some have insisted that at no time would the Traiter have been able to win. I won't go that far, but I think there's a point after which that's true. I also think the point may come too early.

This is definitely a legitimate concern. However, I don’t think your previous sessions really count as evidence, since there wasn’t a player playing the Traitor. And I’ve never seen a “too weak” problem; if anything, my evidence leans the other way. The only thing to do is keep playing the game and continue watching the traitor’s position for its viability.

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Maybe the VP goal could simply be '+1 for each deed that didn't increase the Pharises' [drop the '-1 for each deed that did']. This game that would have made my bonus from that goal +2 instead of -4, making it much closer [and 2nd place instead of 3rd]

I think a better alternative might be to keep things as they are, but simply not allow the Judas goal to pay out negative points. That would have put you at 30, in a tie for second.

The thing that I like about the subtracting points is that it makes Judas’ non-betrayal goal more diametrically opposed to his betrayal goal. This encourages Judas to lock in whether he’s going to be “good” or “bad” from an early point -- to make a choice, and that’s exactly what that mechanic is meant to simulate. I think it’s one of the thematic high points of the game.

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When two people are tied with Gospel tokens, what score do they get?

The same as if there were only one at that score; for example, if the gospel totals are 7/5/5/3, players get 6/4/4/1.

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Also, if the traitr betrays, do they score for Gospels? Does the player with the next most gospels count Judas' Gospels for Gospel scoring?

No and no, but I think that for John’s goal (# of gospel tokens), you do include the traitor’s gospels in the calculation.

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And you don't add your traitor points to your other goal, do you? If so my potential score would have been 31, still not a win, but much closer.

Not sure I understand the question; if you betray, your only scoring comes from the Pharisees track and the # of face-up deeds around the board. If you don’t betray, you score usually.

Again, many thanks for playing the game and offering comments! I welcome any further questions and comments about the game!

sedjtroll
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Re: Seth's latest session report

jwarrend wrote:
sedjtroll wrote:
Tyler, Jake, and I played a game of Disciples. This took longer than it should have because we also put on Bring It On.

That’s a funny juxtaposition!

I thought so too :)

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Did the game end with the exhausting of the Deed deck, or with the Rome track pegging?

Rome Track.

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Bart’s goal (4 pts if you do a Deed in each category, 1 pt per category in which all players did a Deed) is certainly easier in a smaller game, but experienced opponents should be able to keep that goal less lucrative simply by making sure there are at least one or two categories in which they haven’t done a Deed.

That sounds like a VERY advanced tactic, but I see what you mean. Even so, it's not so terribly broken to get an 'easy' 8 points from that goal, as long as the other goals can score similarly (5-7).

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I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a full-length game where Peter (3 VP for every 2 towns in which you preached) got completely closed out.

Yeah, Jacob and I were basically 'scooping up' the Preaching deeds... I happened to draw a ton of double Preach cards, meaning Tyler didn't, and that I did some Preaching. Also, since I had more preaching that other deeds, I tried to get Jesus to do some Preaching as well due to my goal. Tough luck for Tyler.

A note on drawing... I have more to say about it later, but maybe Tyler should have spent more time drawing single symbol preaching cards (if his problem was not being able to afford it). Then again, he had no way of knowing I had a bunch of double preach cards in my hand all game.

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That is pretty low. Were there not very many Deeds out around the board?

Near the beginning there were 5 or so, but as the game went on there were fewer and fewer. Usually about 4. I think I can attribute this to the way we play vs the way you must play with respect to the draw piles.

I'll note that Once (MAYBE twice) a single symbol card was drawn yesterday. We all drew from the face down pile almost exclusively. We shuffled it at least twice. On 2 or three occasions someone overpaid for a deed.

Here is where our approaches differ the most. I was re-reading the last few posts in this thread, and it's becoming clear to me that your group (or you) seem to take longer to do deeds. You draw the correct cards to do the deeds you want to do, and you're careful about which deeds you do because of the Political tracks.

We seem to have a different approach. With the exception of the traitor, we see no reason (well, I guess I'm talking about "me" here, but it's been evident in other people I've played with) to worry about advancing the Rome track, or moving the Jews track. You don't really know if you're in the lead, so if you're stalling the Rome advancement you could just as easily be hurtingyourself as helping. Unless you haven't been doing Deeds, which brings me to my next point: Do deeds.

Priority #1 for you seems to be your goals, followed by the Political track consequences, followed by scoring and affording to do the deed. For me it's about the opposite- I look first at what deeds will score me a lot and wheather I can afford them (Goals figure into that scoring), then maybe if I care about the consequences. As I've said in previous posts, I don't see the consequences as making much difference, so I don't really need to worry about that too much, and if you're getting as many points as you can then hurrying along the Rome track is just fine.

As for affording the deeds, that's why we draw from the face down deck. We want to be able to do more deeds, so we don't want to 'waste time' drawing single symbols. We'll do it if we have a 2-symbol card and the deed costs 3 for example, but most of the time we're drawing from face down to see which deeds we can afford to do.

So it would seem that we do more deeds, faster, because we draw from the face down deck and aren't as worried about WHICH deed to do. As a result there are fewer deeds out and the traitor scoring is lower for it.

It sounds like in your games the number of deeds in play actually GROWS over the course of the game. I see how that could help the traitor a bit. Instead of 19, I might have been able to score 23 or so... still not enough though.

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It’s possible that the Pharisees track needs to be started another space further forward (you did start it one space one space to the right, yes?).

I started it 2 to the right I think... such that the first advance still said "can't betray" and the second advance was to 3 points. I did some deeds that advanced the Pharisees, and I did some that advanced the Jews, but Jake did one that REDUCED the Pharisees, and there were some deeds that reduced the Jews too so the Jews track never pegged that way. I think I could have been a little more careful with timing my Jews (or double jews) plays, but all in all it would have advanced the Pharisees only 1 or 2 times. 2 might have been enough to matter, but 1 wouldn't have been.

For the record, I don't believe Tyler and Jake were purposely reducing the Jews track, I think it was coincidence.

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But I do agree, a short game tends to favor the Traitor, although in the ideal case, I’d like to see the betrayal be possibly viable over the whole length of the game, but difficult to know with certainty whether it will work or not.
That's always uncertain because of the hidden goals.

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[Difficulty of a Traitor win] is definitely a legitimate concern. However, I don’t think your previous sessions really count as evidence, since there wasn’t a player playing the Traitor. And I’ve never seen a “too weak” problem; if anything, my evidence leans the other way. The only thing to do is keep playing the game and continue watching the traitor’s position for its viability.

I am really starting to think it's due to play style differences. If people do lots of deeds and the deed number is low then it's pretty tough for the traitor to win. If the deed number GROWS then it might be easier (or possible).

This is evidence in support of the higher costs (2-5)

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The thing that I like about the subtracting points is that it makes Judas’ non-betrayal goal more diametrically opposed to his betrayal goal. This encourages Judas to lock in whether he’s going to be “good” or “bad” from an early point -- to make a choice, and that’s exactly what that mechanic is meant to simulate. I think it’s one of the thematic high points of the game.

I TOTALLY agree with you here. Either you plan to betray, or you plan not to. It is thematic. The only problem is that if you get into that situation where you didn't betray in time, then you basically auto-lose. Maybe that's the way it should be.

If you reward positively only the deeds that DIDN'T increase the Pharisees (or jews) and don't penalize the deeds that do, then you still have that tension... it means if you want a good bonus from your goal you pretty much have to consign yourself to not betraying. But if you attempt the betray path and get shafted out of it you can still be in the running rather than feeling like you are out of the game. Also, it allows you to change your mind. Maybe you decide to go the betrayal route, but you notice that Pharisees deeds stop coming out, or that people are actively reudcing the Jews as much as possible... you could say "ok, nevermind... I'll go for my non betrayal VPs now".

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Seth wrote:

Also, if the traitor betrays, do they score for Gospels? Does the player with the next most gospels count Judas' Gospels for Gospel scoring?

No and no, but I think that for John’s goal (# of gospel tokens), you do include the traitor’s gospels in the calculation.

Fair enough, but lots of things to remember. It's scoring though so you only have to know it once I guess and it could be looked up easily.

Now, some responses from previous posts:

Jeff wrote:
So far, there’s really only one argument in favor of expanding the cost tracks: increased variability of the tracks. I need more reasons in favor of considering this change.

I'd say increased variation as well as 'fixing' the Traitor scoring 'problem' (the one you don't believe exists but we do- probably because we do more deeds than you)
Jeff wrote:
it seems to me that you’re actually suggesting changing four things with respect to Events. I’d like to list them individually, and show how each change contrasts with the current system.

1. Events should come out in the same sequence every game (as opposed to random sequence every game)
This was just an idea, I don't know that it's necessary but it seemed to fit both the theme and my suggested mechaincs of the Events (see #2)

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2. You should know in advance what Event is coming next (as opposed to a hidden draw pile).

This is more important I think that #1, and is the real thing I'm advocating. It might be enough to play with the event deck face up. (just thought of something probably silly- play with the Events face down, have 1 Rome advance flip the top one face up, and have the next trigger that event. Probably too much work though, and probably not better than just playing with them face up).

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3. The Events should appear as a consequence of player-initiated actions (as opposed to a combo of this and of randomly triggered occurence).

As I mentioned in my report, we ALWAYS forget to randomly trigger the events. As you said in a previous post, you like it but it's another rule to remember. I'm suggesting that not only is it easier to forget, but that the game would be better overall if the events were not randomly triggered.

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4. The Events should each have a bigger effect on the game (as opposed to Seth’s impression of the game that currently, they do not).

This is less important I think than #2, but I thin kit would be a benefit to the game. Currently I feel I can ignore the Rome consequences because the events have minimal effect (and I don't know what it'll be anyway so who cares if it's now or later), and since we don't know peoples' scores there's no reason to stall the end game. Especially if there's a traitor in the game. And as discussed, even if there is, it would take a lot of Pharisees track pushing for a btrayal win anyway.

If I at least knew which event was next, I might have some incentive to either trigger it, not trigger it, or do something else (not draw cards if I want the extra Gospel for having fewest symbols, go where Jesus is, etc)

Jeff wrote:
do you think the game currently lacks sufficient motivation for decision making? If so, I really need to hear this, because it’s always been my impression that there is already perhaps too much to think about. When choosing whether to go for a certain Deed, you can currently consider: which Deeds are best for your goals, how close the deed is to where you are, how many VPs the Deed would pay, whether you can afford the cost, and what consequences it might have.

Well, as I think I've probably covered by now, here are my thoughts on this...
Which Deeds are best for your goals? This is secondary to other concerns because if you can't get there this turn then it's irrelevant, and if other players or Jesus isn't there then you might as well wait- it's not like the deed is going anywhere.
How close is the deed to where you are? There are 2 answers: Close enough, or not close enough. It gets a little more complicated when you consider the cost and how many draw actions you'll need (2 towns away might become too far sometimes)
How many VPs will it pay? This is very important because the deeds stick around until they're done, so you want to get the big VPs for doing them (at least 2). Seldom is it good to do a deed all by your lonesome, it's just inefficient
Can you afford the cost? This is the biggest concern, because if you can't then you can't do the deed. But you CAN draw cards to afford it. Often times I find myself drawing off the facedown pile first to let me know which deeds I might be able to do (again, efficiency of actions)
What consequences might it have? I think I've expressed my opinion on this... at present the consequnces don't seem to be trhat big a deal. I look at them after I look at points and viability. I'm more concerned with where Jesus will move next than which action track I affect.

Jeff wrote:
I think there’s a disincentive to advancing Rome as well, though; if the game ends before you can fully do everything you want to do goals-wise, that’s also a bad thing.

There is a point here, but I'd wager you have time to work on your goals even if the Rome track "races" toward the end. If not, then great, there's a good source of tension for you- the game clock is ticking, you better make sure you consider your goals!
Jeff wrote:
I think that the only player who actually wants the game to end faster is the one who’s currently in the lead; other players will want it to last until they can catch up (I think).

You don't know who's in the lead though.
Jeff wrote:
But in that case, it would seem like making them more substantial (still not clear what that would mean) would also necessitate making them less random. Yet, the random nature of the events is something I’ve never been bothered by, and even have enjoyed. It’s a nice source of uncertainty and flavor without dominating the game.

Right, less random goes hand in hand with more substantial. I wouldn't advise the latter without the former (although I think the former without the latter would still be good for the game). If you like the randomness they I can respect that, I would at least play with the Events face up so you could see them coming.

In fact, this might be contrary to what I've just said, but as long as you see them coming I think the effects of some of the deeds could be more pronounced. I like the "Jesus moves [here]" events if you can see them coming... maybe more of those. And "get Gospels if [this]" events would be neat, where [this] is some board position you could actively work toward.

Jeff wrote:
I think, though, that changing the negative end of the Jews track such that it advances the Rome track is hopefully minor enough that it won’t destroy the game. You can make this change in your prototype, if you’d like.

i had forgotten about this... and it's too bad because I think it's a great idea. The reducing action tracks is usually not a big deal, and if anything it's like a penalty since other players get the benefit. So often the player opts not to reduce anyway.
Jeff wrote:
First, since one Deed is added per turn, players need to be consuming an average of about one Deed per turn to keep the game stable (since Deed explosion = easy traitor win). Now, there will be some turns where you don’t do any Deeds, and some where you do a couple, so it roughly balances out.

This is part of what's got me thinking we do more deeds (per turn, on the average) than you.
Jeff wrote:
[RE: Incentive on action track]a decent idea, but adds more complexity. And more importantly, if the game doesn’t already scream out for this change, it may not be needed. I will note that the one thing it would do well would be to help strenghthen the types of goals that you mention above, as it would give a tangible way that you could “shape” the actions of other players.

That was the thought... some of your goals have to do with other players actions, and this is a way to help shape their actions.

Well, that's all for now. I know you aren't looking for changes that MIGHT make the game better. I've tried to limit my comments to things I've got reason to believe WILL make the game better (even if I haven't fully explained all the reasons). Or at least I've tried to indicate if something's "just an idea" or might not make that big a difference.

- Seth

jwarrend
Offline
Joined: 08/03/2008
Disciples playtest session report

Seth,

Thanks for some very helpful clarifications. I’ll address 4 main issues in my reply: drawing cards, Rome track, the Traitor, and Event cards. (I may reply more fully at some later time...)

Drawing cards (esp face-down vs face-up).

sedjtroll wrote:

I'll note that Once (MAYBE twice) a single symbol card was drawn yesterday. We all drew from the face down pile almost exclusively. We shuffled it at least twice. On 2 or three occasions someone overpaid for a deed.

Here is where our approaches differ the most. I was re-reading the last few posts in this thread, and it's becoming clear to me that your group (or you) seem to take longer to do deeds. You draw the correct cards to do the deeds you want to do, and you're careful about which deeds you do because of the Political tracks.

As for affording the deeds, that's why we draw from the face down deck. We want to be able to do more deeds, so we don't want to 'waste time' drawing single symbols. We'll do it if we have a 2-symbol card and the deed costs 3 for example, but most of the time we're drawing from face down to see which deeds we can afford to do.

So it would seem that we do more deeds, faster, because we draw from the face down deck and aren't as worried about WHICH deed to do. As a result there are fewer deeds out and the traitor scoring is lower for it.

This is interesting, and just shows why blind testing is so important!

It’s true, I haven’t seen a player draw exclusively from the face-down pile. I’m not sure how that approach would compare to the more “methodical” style I usually adopt. My sense is that the more methodical approach should produce higher goal scores, yet the 1st place player scored 15 goal points in your game, so that’s a strong counterargument. I’ll have to try a solo test with a blend of the two styles and see if I can find anything out.

My vision for the game is that the blind drawing approach should not be a consistently winning strategy; I want players to have to plan ahead a bit more. This suggests that perhaps a few singletons do need to go back into the draw deck, to blunt that strategy a bit.

Rome track

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You don't really know if you're in the lead, so if you're stalling the Rome advancement you could just as easily be hurtingyourself as helping. Unless you haven't been doing Deeds,

I think that there are two senses in which you want the game to last. One is that many of the goals have “tipping points”, so if you have Peter’s goal (3 VP for every 2 Preach deeds) and you’re holding 1 Deed, or 3, you really don’t want the game to end before you can get that one more Deed to push you into the next bracket. The other is qualitative and is explified by a comment made by Steve after he, as Judas, ended a game about halfway through -- “I feel bad for betraying, because I’m having fun and don’t want the game to end.” Of course, this isn’t a hardcore gamery sensibility, but it may affect how some folks might play the game.

The traitor

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I am really starting to think it's due to play style differences. If people do lots of deeds and the deed number is low then it's pretty tough for the traitor to win. If the deed number GROWS then it might be easier (or possible).

I don’t know if I’ve seen the number of Deeds growing per se; I’d say that in my games, there’s an ebb and flow to the number of Deeds. And you want that. For the game to work, there needs to be about 6-8 or so Deeds out so that you have some choices. It seems like your group’s style can become self-perpetuating: as all the Deeds get consumed, there’s very little choice as to what Deeds you can do, so you just do the ones that are available.

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This is evidence in support of the higher costs (2-5)

I think that this would likely make the face-down pile even more important, and as I’ve argued, I’d prefer to reduce the power of face-down drawing. Otherwise, the role of luck in the game could be too important. I think a better solution will be to throw some singletons back into the face-down pile, thus making Deeds more difficult, thus slowing the rate of Deed consumption.

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I TOTALLY agree with you here. Either you plan to betray, or you plan not to. It is thematic. The only problem is that if you get into that situation where you didn't betray in time, then you basically auto-lose. Maybe that's the way it should be.

I don’t think I want this to be consistently the case; I’d like the betrayal option to be viable all the way up to the end.

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If you reward positively only the deeds that DIDN'T increase the Pharisees (or jews) and don't penalize the deeds that do, then you still have that tension... it means if you want a good bonus from your goal you pretty much have to consign yourself to not betraying. But if you attempt the betray path and get shafted out of it you can still be in the running rather than feeling like you are out of the game.

The problem is that without the -1 penalty, Judas non-betrayal goal is a bit too easy.

Events

Not too much to say on this; I may try the idea of having a face-up Event deck, or try to play around with a couple of Events, but I don’t know if many more substantial changes are likely in this subsystem. I think you capably argued that there is already sufficient motivation for decision-making in the game, so I don’t think changing the events as a way to motivate decisions is necessary. And keep in mind, the intended level of this game is somewhat lighter; like Carcassonne or some such. It’s already at the “complex” end of that because of the Action Point system (simple, rigid turn sequences are really what is needed for gateway games), so making the game more rich strategically might also make it overwhelming.

Nevertheless, I really appreciate your detailed comments and analysis. I’ll run through a solo test with a “face down only” play style up against a “my” style and see which wins. But the easiest fix for that is likely to revert to the old draw deck composition.

Again, thanks!

-Jeff

sedjtroll
sedjtroll's picture
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Joined: 07/21/2008
Disciples playtest session report

The below didn't sound as good as I'd hoped, so I'll summarize here:
1. Turn the event deck face up next time and have the -J advance rome.
2. Adding singletons to the deck won't change the behavior of people who are looking to draw double symbols. It may decrease their effectiveness, but there's still zero chance of multiple symbols in the face up piles. It actually feels pretty good as is, and should probably stay that way unless you find out it doesn't work the way you want.

jwarrend wrote:
It’s true, I haven’t seen a player draw exclusively from the face-down pile. I’m not sure how that approach would compare to the more “methodical” style I usually adopt. My sense is that the more methodical approach should produce higher goal scores, yet the 1st place player scored 15 goal points in your game, so that’s a strong counterargument. I’ll have to try a solo test with a blend of the two styles and see if I can find anything out.

Just as a clarification, don't look at it like we draw face down cards no matter what, look at it more like this:
You draw face up cards when there's a deed you want to do, and face down cards only when there's nothing else to do.
We draw faceup cards only when necessary to complete a deed. If drawing 1 face up card won't make us afford a deed, we'd rather draw a face down card instead- at least as the first action. It might turn out that after the face down draw we can do the deed we wanted to, or maybe a different deed we hadn't wanted to. Either way, a face up draw still won't let us do the deed we wanted to.

Note, if we need 2 of a particular symbol then we might spend both draw actions drawing face up cards, it just that's not the norm.

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My vision for the game is that the blind drawing approach should not be a consistently winning strategy; I want players to have to plan ahead a bit more.

I tihnk that's just a different kind of planning ahead. You plan then draw, we draw then plan.

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This suggests that perhaps a few singletons do need to go back into the draw deck, to blunt that strategy a bit.

You think this will reduce the luck factor in the game, but I think it will keep it about the same. It's ALWAYS more efficient to draw face down cards (at present)- more symbols per draw- and if you put singletons in then it'll only usually be more efficient. It'll never be less efficient, but the idea is that it's supposed to get you poorer card quality (you don't know what you'll get). If you want the face down deck to be less attractive than the face up deck, maybe there should simply not be a face down deck. Or maybe the facedown deck should be all singletons, but some of them wild.

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I think that there are two senses in which you want the game to last. One is that many of the goals have “tipping points”, so if you have Peter’s goal (3 VP for every 2 Preach deeds) and you’re holding 1 Deed, or 3, you really don’t want the game to end before you can get that one more Deed to push you into the next bracket.

This I see, but I think the game is long enough even if you don't try and prolong it to do the deeds for your goals, unless you are incredibly unlucky.

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The other is qualitative and is explified by a comment made by Steve after he, as Judas, ended a game about halfway through -- “I feel bad for betraying, because I’m having fun and don’t want the game to end.” Of course, this isn’t a hardcore gamery sensibility, but it may affect how some folks might play the game.

I submit that those people would happily play again if the game ended.

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I don’t know if I’ve seen the number of Deeds growing per se; I’d say that in my games, there’s an ebb and flow to the number of Deeds. And you want that.

For what it's worth, I think higher cost tracks would give you this ebb and flow. If all the costs get high, some deeds build up until Jesus gets a move on doing some of them or people draw several cards to afford them. Then, as they're all cheap again, they all get snatched up really quick (several per turn).

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For the game to work, there needs to be about 6-8 or so Deeds out so that you have some choices. It seems like your group’s style can become self-perpetuating: as all the Deeds get consumed, there’s very little choice as to what Deeds you can do, so you just do the ones that are available.

I agree

Quote:
Seth wrote:
This is evidence in support of the higher costs (2-5)
I think that this would likely make the face-down pile even more important, and as I’ve argued, I’d prefer to reduce the power of face-down drawing. Otherwise, the role of luck in the game could be too important. I think a better solution will be to throw some singletons back into the face-down pile, thus making Deeds more difficult, thus slowing the rate of Deed consumption.

I maintain that the face down pile is already better than drawing singletons nearly all the time, I don't think it can GET more important. So maybe adding singletons to it is the way to go after all. But once you start doing that, you might as well not have a face down pile.

I take that back, I guess you could use the face down pile in the case you either have nothing better to do, or are gambling because you really need a doubleton in your suit.

I'm not sure any change is needed really, as it appears the way it is works for 2 entirely different play styles.

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The problem is that without the -1 penalty, Judas non-betrayal goal is a bit too easy.

I don't think that's the case. If you started the game as a non-betrayer then you can just as easily avoid the pharisees deeds either way, and if you start as a betrayer and switch your non-betrayal goal will still be less than if you had started out as a non-betrayer, but if you don't use the penalty it will also not be zero.

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Not too much to say on this; I may try the idea of having a face-up Event deck, or try to play around with a couple of Events, but I don’t know if many more substantial changes are likely in this subsystem. I think you capably argued that there is already sufficient motivation for decision-making in the game, so I don’t think changing the events as a way to motivate decisions is necessary.

Hmm... interesting. I thought I was saying the tracks weren't currently enough motivation.

Just try it next time with a face up event deck and see how it goes like that. Between that and the -J advancing Rome I think it will be fine. As it is now technically works I suppose, but I htink it's less fine.

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And keep in mind, the intended level of this game is somewhat lighter; like Carcassonne or some such.

That doesn't mean it can't also be interesting. 'lighter' players might not look at the events to see what's next (heck, they could turn the dek face down if they wanted), and I bet they wouldn't worry about the Rome track either, especially not near the beginning.

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Nevertheless, I really appreciate your detailed comments and analysis. I’ll run through a solo test with a “face down only” play style up against a “my” style and see which wins. But the easiest fix for that is likely to revert to the old draw deck composition.

Your 'fix' may work, but moreso I think it would make players like us more sad when we draw a singleton out of the face down deck rather than make us not want to draw from that deck. There's still no chance of getting 2 or 3 symbols out of the face up decks. Anyway, I wouldn't even think a 'fix' would be necessary unless 'drawing face down cards' consistantly beats 'drawing face up cards'

Realizing of course that the two are not mutually exclusive!

Quote:
Again, thanks!

You're welcome :)

jwarrend
Offline
Joined: 08/03/2008
Disciples playtest session report

I ran through a solo playtest last night that was interesting. I played with 3 players: I had one player adopt a “Seth-like” strategy, which meant drawing cards almost exclusively from the face-down pile unless drawing from the face-up pile would guarantee that a nearby deed could be completed. Another player adopted a “Jeff-like” strategy, targetting Deeds in advance, and then drawing cards (mostly from the face-up piles) to be able to fill them. The third player was the Traitor, and I had him adopt a “betray at all costs” strategy. Here’s what happened:

The “Seth-like” player performed a lot of Deeds -- 11, in fact. But I found that when you’re relying on the luck of the draw, it's not particularly likely that you'll get cards that correspond to Deeds that are close to you, or in high-traffic areas. It’s completely scattershot, and that’s not surprising. So there were some of those Deeds that were worth 1 pt, and some that were worth 3. It’s also hard to explicitly target your goals. This player had the Goals “1 pt per healing Deed” and “For the category in which you did your most Deeds, 1 VP per deed that you did and 1 VP per deed that Jesus did”. In the end, these paid out 4 and 5 VP respectively: reasonable totals, but nothing exceptional. The player ended with 31 pts.

The “Jeff-like” player only did 6 Deeds, but they were more targeted towards his goals, and in general paid out more points per Deed. In my experience, this is the “art” of the game, and I think it’s why my strategy is viable. You want to find a way to do Deeds that help your goals AND that Jesus and/or other players will be in the same town. Often this requires thinking a turn or two ahead, and that goes hand-in-glove with the face-up drawing approach. This player accumulated 33 points, 10 of which came from goals and 4 from Gospels (the “Seth” player only got 1 VP from Gospels).

The Traitor player gave me some concern. I found that it was possible to get the track up pretty high: it ended at 22. And, there were plenty of Deeds out around the board throughout the game, such that the Traitor would have gotten 30 points had he betrayed. And indeed, on his very next turn, I was going to have him do so, but I decided it was in one of the other player’s interest to end the game with the Rome track, costing the traitor the chance to betray. His Judas goal paid out -6 points, bringing him in a distant 3rd with 19 points. It makes me think that that goal should not be allowed to give you negative points, so he would have been at 25. Betraying would still have left him in 3rd place, but it would have been a close enough call that he would have gone for it. There were a few points in the game where betrayal was viable, but not certain to produce a win.

So, again, the final scores were 33/31/19, with the “Jeff-like” strategy winning, but basically I consider those two top scores to be within the noise of each other. It’s funny how different the two play styles feel. My inclination is to leave the game as is pending further study, since it didn’t seem like face-down drawing led to a runaway win. But I think the problem may be that sometimes, things will just work out right, and it will. I need to see what percent of the time that happens. If it’s too high, blunting that strategy will be necessary. My bigger concern was the traitor getting “closed out” of betrayal. In general, I wonder if the game should have a rule whereby when the game ends, all of the remaining players still get to take their turn, so that everyone gets the same number of turns. (In this game, the “Seth” player got one extra turn relative to the other players).

Overall, an interesting session, and fun to try a blend of play styles. I was satisfied to see how close the game was: 33/31/30 (w/betrayal) is very competitive. I’m increasingly pleased with the balancing of the various systems of the game.

A couple of quick replies to Seth's post:

sedjtroll wrote:

1. Turn the event deck face up next time and have the -J advance rome.

This may be worth a try.

Quote:

2. Adding singletons to the deck won't change the behavior of people who are looking to draw double symbols. It may decrease their effectiveness, but there's still zero chance of multiple symbols in the face up piles. It actually feels pretty good as is, and should probably stay that way unless you find out it doesn't work the way you want.

I don’t mind the play style, I just don’t want players to be able to win by relying exclusively on luck of the draw. As you say, it may be fine as is.

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Quote:
Not too much to say on this; I may try the idea of having a face-up Event deck, or try to play around with a couple of Events, but I don’t know if many more substantial changes are likely in this subsystem. I think you capably argued that there is already sufficient motivation for decision-making in the game, so I don’t think changing the events as a way to motivate decisions is necessary.

Hmm... interesting. I thought I was saying the tracks weren't currently enough motivation.

I think we're talking about 2 different things. I am saying that, holistically, there is plenty to think about to motivate your decisions. You're saying that the tracks could become a bigger factor in decision-making with the increased role of Events that you advocate.

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Quote:
And keep in mind, the intended level of this game is somewhat lighter; like Carcassonne or some such.

That doesn't mean it can't also be interesting. 'lighter' players might not look at the events to see what's next (heck, they could turn the dek face down if they wanted), and I bet they wouldn't worry about the Rome track either, especially not near the beginning.

But the point is, you don't want to overwhelm them, either. As it is, I think the tracks are probably too much for the casual players. Anyway, next time you play, feel free to try it with the face-up event cards. For myself, I just don't believe that this area of the game is deficient, so modifying the event aspects of the game seems like a wild goose chase to me. If you can demonstrate that the game becomes more fun for you with one of these changes, you may be able to convince me...

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This suggests that perhaps a few singletons do need to go back into the draw deck, to blunt that strategy a bit.

You think this will reduce the luck factor in the game, but I think it will keep it about the same. It's ALWAYS more efficient to draw face down cards (at present)- more symbols per draw- and if you put singletons in then it'll only usually be more efficient.

Yes and no; if there's a Deed that you really want to do, face-up drawing is statistically more efficient. But, if things work out w/face-down drawing and you get the card you need from the face-down deck, THEN face-down drawing shines because you also have some extra cards to use. I think, though, that drawing primarily from the face-down deck leads to a more scattershot play style, whereas face-up drawing leads to a more targetted play style. But I wouldn't say that you can speak in terms of "efficiency" based solely on number of symbols per draw: I'm willing to bet that when you play, you end up with 6 or 8 symbols in your hand, so you're also drawing a lot of "useless" cards.

Originally, as you'll recall, there was a penalty based on the number of symbols left in your hand at the game end, and this was meant to penalize card hoarding. I changed it to a reward for fewest symbols remaining, but that ended up being pretty inconsequential, and I removed it because it was an extra rule. I'm disinclined to revert to the original "penalty" rule, because it would be hard to rebalance, I think my point is simply that card-hoarding is NOT meant to be the dominant strategy in the game. (and I don't think it is) Perhaps a couple of events that force you to flush a card or two would be sufficient. Actually, there may already be a couple that do this.

-Jeff

sedjtroll
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Disciples playtest session report

Very interesting playtest indeed. What we need to do is get the online playtest software done and actually play against each other!

jwarrend wrote:
If you can demonstrate that the game becomes more fun for you with one of these changes, you may be able to convince me...

I will certainly try it next time, assuming there is a next time (it's so hard to get people to playtest!)

Quote:
I'm willing to bet that when you play, you end up with 6 or 8 symbols in your hand, so you're also drawing a lot of "useless" cards.

Last game that's certainly true, but I wouldn't say they were useless... you can do other deeds with them. Like in PoF when sometimes you spend some ations setting up, and then stop building stuff and just do work after work. In fact, the last game I ended up with a lot of preaching symbols in hand, and I WANTED to do preaching deeds... the problem was there were few deeds on the board to do. By the way, I didn't count them, but I think the number of deeds done by each of us theo ther day was more than 7 each. Probably close to 10 on the average.

Quote:
Originally, as you'll recall, there was a penalty based on the number of symbols left in your hand at the game end, and this was meant to penalize card hoarding.

I didn't recall, but I do now. I don't think it's necessary to penalize card hoarding. If you end the game with a bunck of symbols in your hand it does you no good, and spending actions drawing those symbols already cost you- it's got a built in penalty.

Quote:
card-hoarding is NOT meant to be the dominant strategy in the game. (and I don't think it is) Perhaps a couple of events that force you to flush a card or two would be sufficient. Actually, there may already be a couple that do this.
There's the one where you get A Gospel for having the fewest.

What if that one were "Leave this card face up. At the end of the game the player with the most symbols in hand must discard 3 gospels" (or lose points, or gain points, etc. I say most because with least there'll likely be a multi-way tie at 0 or 1)

That's an example of a more significant event. Randomly receiveing a Gospel because you happen to have the fewest symbols in hand at the time is... well, pretty random, and worth only 1/2 a point. Knowing that you will gain/lose points if [X] seems a lot better to me. Note that simply changing that card to be 3 gospels to the player who currently holds the fewest symbols wouldn't count as 'more significant' because it'd still be completely random. Unless you expect that deed to come up, really want the 3 Gospels, and play the whole game with very few symbols in hand. I don't expect light gamers would think of that, especially if there's just 1 deed like that in the deck. If the intention is for people to hold few cards in order to benefit from deeds like that, and the deeds are to be random, then I recommend more deeds like that- a handful of deeds that consistantly reward small hand size would mean that even casual players might notice after a game or two that it's good not to hold cards.

- Seth

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