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Mid-Late Game Trigger Help

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pupulesurfer
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Hello everyone,

First time here so go easy on me, lol.

I have a game where the players are exploring in an attempt to trigger the mid-late game sequence to fight in the final battle. During their escapades they are discovering cool trinkets, weapons, and clues as to where the bad guy appears.

Currently, players are exploring, defeating enemies, leveling up, and finding "x" number of clues before triggering this mid-late game sequence of events. Like Betrayal has the omen/haunt roll to determine its mid-late game sequence, I am trying to figure out the best way to handle this without being identical or closely related to Betrayal.

These clues they must find are shuffled into an item deck and players must go through enough cards to get to all the clues. I have done the following things thus far and all feel wonky:

-- 40 card deck - 5 clues inserted - must find 5 clues
-- 30 card deck - 5 clues inserted - must find 5 clues
-- 30 or 40 card deck - 5 clues inserted - must find 3 clues
-- any # of cards (tried tons of quantity variants) - 5 clues inserted - must find "x" number of clues
------2-4 players, find 3 clues
------5-6 players, find 4 clues
------7-8 players, find 5 clues

This process seems to be okay but haven't figured out the best option or if there is a completely different options I'm not thinking of.

Would it be better to have players find a particular trinket as the trigger? I would think this has a danger of triggering too soon if that trinket it high up in the deck.

What about if a certain area is explored? Seems too close to Betrayal, especially if particular items are found in specific areas

The main issue is this makes the game drag on for 3+ hours but wanted to get to 2 hour maximum as it is an adventure game with level ups.

Thanks for any help!

ArkhamArkhiver
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"Rig" The Deck

My most immediate thought is to rig or stack the deck.

Some games do this, I think maybe Pandemic? Can't remember the others, but basically there were cards that when drawn, acted as a count down. So if I drew all 5 or 6, the game would basically be over. But in order to avoid the too-soon vs 3 hour slog dilemma you're experiencing, the "trigger" cards would be placed in the deck in a semi-randomized rigged order.

The deck was divided into 5 small piles, and a trigger card was shuffled into each pile. So you get 5 randomized piles with a trigger card somewhere in them. Then the 5 piles were just put on top of each other to form the deck.

That's what I think you should do. Control when you want the end game to trigger via the setup. For example, take your adventure deck and divide it into X piles. Shuffle 1 trigger card into the 1st pile, 2 trigger cards into the 2nd, and so on. If you need 6-7 trigger cards to put you in the end game, your players will probably go through ~60% of the deck.

Hope this helps.

Tim Edwards
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I think I prefer having to

I think I prefer having to find X number of cards to trigger something rather than a single card. There's sometimes more suspense when you get a sort of random count down and then you're waiting for the final card. If you wanted to avoid the chance of the tigger cards being clumped together, I wonder if you could split the deck into X sections and shuffle one trigger card into each section. The timings of the card discoveries would be more predictable, but maybe there would be enough variation to keep it interesting.

Edit: I have suggested the same idea as my colleague above. Must be a good one then!

questccg
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Betrayal at the House on the Hill

My problem with this game is that while it is very clever with it's storytelling and dynamic "conclusions"... I feel like the CONCLUSIONS are FAR TOO IMBALANCED. I watch TableTop with Wil Wheaton and he was the traitor and it seemed like the demons he spawned quickly defeated the opponents rather quickly while he went and hid somewhere. Do you think that is a GOOD "conclusion" for this game(!?)

I for one didn't and that cheapened the whole experience.

Can't say if other "outcomes" are the SAME or NOT... But if they are anywhere close to the same kind of slaughter... I'd hate to be the other players because the "traitor" seems to have a definite advantage to winning the game!

Here's an IDEA which is a bit different (I think):

1. Divide the deck of "X" cards for 2-8 players into 3 piles (approximate).

2. Put 1 clue on the top of each pile.

3. Shuffle the piles individually.

4. Combine the shuffled piles (DO NOT RESHUFFLE).

5. Play the game...

What this will do is sparse out the experience and ensure that the 3 clues will be in relatively batches. So #1 may be early, but you'll still need to use up more that 33% of that deck before reaching #2 (and probably more).

If you do it this way, it can be identical for any amount of players and the length varies from the SIZE "X" of the deck. If you want it LONGER go for 40 cards, if you want it shorter go 30 cards. That can be tweaked as you have already explained.

Cheers!

Note: Another designer beat me to the punch... But basically he's suggesting the same process (he says 5 cards) ... it might be hard with a deck of only 30 cards... I would say 3 cards to trigger should be enough.

Notice that this method, when applied results in the BOSS being found BEFORE the end unless the 3rd clue was the bottom card of the deck.

questccg
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Improved methodology

Okay so make it "40" cards and divide the deck into 4 piles. Place clues on the first three (3) pile and NOT the 4th one. Shuffle all piles. Place the piles on top of each other such that the 1st pile stays on TOP and the 4th pile stays on the BOTTOM.

What this will do is ensure that there are a MINIMUM "10" cards before the end of the deck...

I don't know if this is IMPORTANT ... but for sake of completion, I add it here as another way of doing the seeding (and allowing there to be cards in the deck before the end).

Note: The 3rd clue may occur early in the 3rd pile and what this will do is ADD more cards to the "end-phase" deck. What I mean is that it will have 10 PLUS cards before reaching the end of the draw deck.

This might be VERY desirable depending on the game. But only you can confirm if having cards left over to draw before battling your "boss" is important or not (I think it is... as per the OP).

FrankM
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Spacing

Welcome to BGDF, pupulesurfer!

Everyone seems to have hit upon similar ideas. Depending on the desired pace, you can mix and match the subdecks:

* "Clueless" subdeck on top ensures a lot of draws before clues appear.
* "Clueless" subdeck at the bottom has the effects Quest mentioned.
* Subdecks stacked in random order would allow for the first or second effect at random, or just a big lull between clues. No telling ahead of time.

It sounds like the clues are MacGuffins or Plot Coupons (that is, they serve no other purpose than to be the trigger), but you might want to consider giving each one some power so that you can guarantee the heroes have such powers by the time they face the boss.

A much more complicated system would be to have each clue drawn from a small set of clues... and the exact clues that appear have some bearing on where the boss is and/or what it is capable of doing. So there would be four or five First Clue cards, four or five Second Clue cards, etc. Unless riddles/myths/prophecies are integral to your theme, this is an idea best left until AFTER the rest of the game is working.

questccg
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I had another idea!

Instead of waiting for clues to be drawn from a Deck... Why not give each player a "Player Board" with a TRACK (that can even be different from one player to the other — think Asymmetric Powers)... When a player REACHES a certain LEVEL in the track, a clue is revealed.

You mentioned leveling-up ... Why not ADD a "score" counter which increments when players do actions in the game which positively affect the outcome.

To keep track of this all you need is one (1) Acrylic or Wooden cube per player and the Player Boards as I mentioned before.

This might be an interesting alternative to what you are thinking about in terms of your design!

Note: This presupposes that the number of CLUES is equal to the number of Players. I don't know if this is reasonable... But knowing that they come up from Game Progress versus a Deck ... That might have an impact. Not sure(!?)

pupulesurfer
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Wow, Thanks!

Okay, wow! Thanks for the help everyone!

So I like deck rigging like Pandemic and is something I am very familiar with.

My only concern is the quantity of cards. This has been the timing stumbling block and after testing this out for years, I can't seem to find the balance. Too few total cards has led to way too short of time in game. Too many and it drags along. I have yet to find the perfect balance with any size group. Maybe just keep testing it one card at a time using the deck rigging could do the trick?

I have player boards with 4 different tracks already (and they are different for each player) - level track, range track, melee track, hp track. What if the mid-late game is triggered upon a certain number of level ups? For instance, in a 4 player game, each player can level up to 10 from 1. That means there are 9 levels per player to be achieved for a total of 40 levels combined. What if the trigger is once the total level of all players reaches 30 for a short game of say 1 hour, 35 levels for mid game of 2 hours, and 40 levels for a full length game of 3+ hours. Obviously this would need testing to determine the levels needed and the time it takes to get there but just an example. Would that be something exciting and intriguing or is it boring as all get out?

A third option - what if players each had their own item deck (that way there is no chance of getting an item that is useless to them) and they have to shuffle the "clue" or whatever trigger I have into the bottom half of their deck. Then I could have a set # or clues/triggers that must be acquired to complete the mid-late game trigger. Thoughts?

FrankM
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Just a quick example

Just a quick example to explain what I meant by clue-specific decks:

First Clue might indicate a style/element of power for the bad guy. Let’s players know what to plan for, though it’s impossible to prepare completely.
Second Clue might indicate a (mild) weakness. Gives the players a bonus to watch out for... sets up a strategic choice if developing toward that weakness is useless against other foes.
Third Clue might indicate the badguy’s motivation/desire, having some impact on its AI (does it covet magic items, retaliate against those who hit it, turtle, etc.).
Fourth Clue might indicate the type of minions present, the details of which vary with the style/element (flying, swarming, tanking, healing, debuffing, etc.). A no-minions result buffs the bad guy personally.
Fifth Clue would indicate the part of the map where said badguy can be found.

It generally wouldn’t matter too much if the Clues were found out of order, just allow for what happens if the encounter happens before all Clues are found (due to finding the Fifth Clue and going there). The players might draw immediately from the original Clue piles and build the boss on the spot.

let-off studios
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Clarity of Purpose

pupulesurfer wrote:
What if the trigger is once the total level of all players reaches [...] Would that be something exciting and intriguing or is it boring as all get out?
What is your game about? What do you want the players to do?

- Do you want them to work together so that the level cap is reached as quickly as possible?
- Do you want the players to have a fun way to hang around for 3 hours?
- Do you want one player to be the obvious victor, and their measure of success is the number of levels they've attained?
- Do you want all the clues to be discovered, and the boss to be faced as quickly as possible?
- Do you want the entire mansion/location explored?
- Do you want players to acquire the best equipment from the equipment deck, as quickly as possible?

I hate to say it like this, but I don't have a clear idea of what you're trying to do with your game, what kind of obstacles the player is going to face, or what constitutes a victory.

If you can provide a few more details regarding your design goals, and specifically what kind of scenario you're attempting to simulate with your game, then I think we can be of better assistance. Are your rules posted anywhere we can review them? Any playthrough footage we can watch?

Maybe I'm the only one confused by what you're describing here, and I apologize for that. But I feel like I need a little more guidance before I can offer some worthwhile suggestions.

pupulesurfer
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What it's about

Thanks for the comment. I feel the information you seek is not important to the problem but as a first time designer I have no idea. Here are the pertinents:

What is it about? Players are adventuring in an area, revealing more about the area as they go (pathfinding?). They will collect weapons, treasures, and clues as to the whereabouts of a great evil they must defeat, all while slogging through creatures and traps. They must all come together to defeat this evil.

Work together? Yes as it is cooperative. Hitting the cap as quick as possible could be good but if they do it too quickly they may not have explored deep enough or found any items that could help them in their final battle.

Have fun and hang out for x hours? Sure, that's the goal of any game from my perspective.

One obvious victor? Not really, just like an RPG campaign, I'd like them to all succeed or fail together.

All clues discovered and boss faced quickly? Amount of clues I am open to. I've had multiple clues in a single deck so there were more instances and chances at finding one but not all were required. I am open to any suggestions on the number included vs number required to find boss. I do NOT want them to find the boss super quick as they will likely lose. I do NOT want them to find the boss super slowly or they will lose interest.

Entire location explored? Not necessary but for players that want a more in depth and longer game play could pursue this option.

Acquire the best equipment and quickly? I think some of these items could be beneficial in a final battle but want them to be able to level up and use just their base skill set to fall back on in the case of them not finding anything useful. Quickly would allow them to quicken the pace of the game but I also don't want it to be autopilot easy (like the purpose of battle is just for the xp and their being little to no challenge).

let-off studios
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Game Timer

pupulesurfer wrote:
Quickly would allow them to quicken the pace of the game but I also don't want it to be autopilot easy (like the purpose of battle is just for the xp and their being little to no challenge).
I suggest you implement a time limit in your game - something like, "30 turns until the doomsday clock strikes 12 and the world ends," or whatever - and see what it does for your game.

Based on what you describe here, I suspect players are dragging out the game themselves because there's no urgency behind their quest. If your main complaint is that the game seems too long and/or risks being boring, then injecting some urgency as tension may likely help. If it works but the game seems too difficult, then you can balance other game factors to compensate.

pupulesurfer
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interesting idea

let-off studios wrote:
pupulesurfer wrote:
Quickly would allow them to quicken the pace of the game but I also don't want it to be autopilot easy (like the purpose of battle is just for the xp and their being little to no challenge).
I suggest you implement a time limit in your game - something like, "30 turns until the doomsday clock strikes 12 and the world ends," or whatever - and see what it does for your game.

Based on what you describe here, I suspect players are dragging out the game themselves because there's no urgency behind their quest. If your main complaint is that the game seems too long and/or risks being boring, then injecting some urgency as tension may likely help. If it works but the game seems too difficult, then you can balance other game factors to compensate.

Hmm, that's a good suggestion. That could very well be the issue. I know for a fact it isn't analysis paralysis so I think this could help. I have a testing group this weekend that may be able to help out with this.

wob
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hello.im not familiar with

hello.
im not familiar with betrayal so sorry if this is their method.
dice can be useful for this. 1 d6 rolled each round, roll x 6s and the end game triggers. this is not completely random as you can play with the number of dice (and the number of sides) to get the right frequency of numbers (anydice.com can help) eg. using 2 d6s makes the chances of rolling a 7 or higher about 60℅ (58.333...) an 8 or higher is about 40℅ (41.67). you can also adjust the number you need to roll or the number of times you roll it depending on difficulty and player count.
thematically its harder to justify dice (cards can have pics and text) but custom dice can help with that.

pupulesurfer
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Thanks

Thanks for the reply! That is mostly how Betrayal does it so good suggestion! It is successful!

Custom dice was played with for awhile but found it more expensive and unnecessary for this game.

mwlgames
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I immediately thought of

I immediately though of something along the lines of Onirim where the player is able to push the Boss encounter off until they no longer have the resources to avoid it any longer. Not sure how that would work mechanically or thematically...

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