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Cfighter

House Rules - Awareness & 5th Player

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Hey guys, finally got around to registering an account a few days ago and just got it approved. Wanted to share two house rules I've come up with for the game (I apologize in advance if there is like a single thread for house rule postings that people are supposed to reply to).

 

Awareness

Once you have successfully cleared an encounter card, each time you reactivate it you may roll 1 Dodge Die to determine if the enemies or if the players activate immediately.

So in other words, this house rule gives you a 50/50 chance of being able to bypass the mechanic where all the enemies activate automatically when entering the tile. Now just to clarify, this only works for encounter cards you have already cleared. Meaning if you die in the middle of battle when you re-enter that tile you will not be able to roll a Dodge Die. As a result, this also means Bosses are excluded from this.

I had created this house rule really to help speed up the VERY repetitive grind aspect in the gameplay, but it also coincides with the nature of the video games. If you're grinding an area in the video game, naturally it will only take a few sweeps before you're well-versed in the enemy spawns and behaviors. So this house rule really isn't very far-fetched when implemented in the board game—and at the same time doesn't break the game mechanics either as a single Dodge Die gives you a 50/50 chance of being able to attack first, or having the enemies attack first as they usually would. I've been using this house rule during every game played since I thought of it, and everyone I've played with typically agrees it's well balanced while also providing the chance to drastically speed up grinding.

 

Now this next house rule I haven't actually been able to try out yet. Because of this, despite the fact that I've spent a good while fine-tuning it and tweaking it for balance on paper there is still a chance that in practice it just doesn't work at all. I'm sharing it here though in case anyone who DOES have the opportunity to play around with it may do so and let me know how balanced it actually is ;)

 

5th Player

A 5th player may be added to the game as a DM. The DM will control all enemy encounters, movements, and attacks. The DM MUST obey enemy movement and attack TARGET icons (Aggro/Nearest Player), as instructed on the enemy control cards.

Setup — At the beginning of setup, the DM will draw 3 encounter cards per tile in play, following the standard encounter card setup/format. The DM will then be able to look at each drawn deck of encounter cards (in private) and choose which card to place face-down on each deck's respected tile. Repeat until each game tile has an encounter card placed face-down on it. These encounter cards must remain in play until the party rests at the bonfire. If the party rests at the bonfire, the DM may swap out any encounter card in play with another from that tile's deck; if the DM swaps out an encounter card with a new one, the old card is removed from the game. The DM cannot swap out an encounter card that contains an unopened Treasure Chest or a Tombstone.

Determining Push — The players will be able to determine where the characters get pushed to, while the DM will be able to determine where enemies get pushed to. If a node already contains 3 characters/enemies when someone enters that node, the person entering the node will determine which of the three characters/enemies already on the node will be pushed. The player controlling the determined character will then be able to decide where to be pushed to.

Ok so I think the only thing about this house rule that may cause some confusion is the section regarding setup. Essentially what I've done is allow the additional player the opportunity to swap out encounter cards from the game board with a brand new encounter card. Now before you argue about this being either unfair or unnecessary, this is the one thing I spent the most time ironing out so take a minute to hear me out on this one.

First of all, this goes without saying, but the game obviously wasn't designed with the idea of a player controlling the enemies. Should the occasion arise however where you find yourself with one-too-many people and don't want to leave someone out, this is a fun way to include someone without breaking the game's balance of a party of 4. Now arguably the easiest way to balance a player controlling the enemies is to force them to obey specifically Aggro and maybe Nearest Player (unsure if Nearest Player should be required), because otherwise a smart/unfair player would send every enemy after a single character over and over until that character dies (which breaks the game). However after thinking about it for awhile, if you simply had someone play as an enemy in that manor that player would get VERY bored VERY quickly—it would be fun for the first, maybe second time an encounter card is activated but how I envision the game going is eventually the players controlling the characters will still be able to formulate a system to clear an encounter, despite the fact there is a player controlling the enemies. In other words the additional player would eventually lose interest in even trying or otherwise simply would run out of options.

SO my answer to that problem is to let the additional player swap out encounter cards with others of their choice. And in theory, this should actually benefit the overall experience in more ways than one; for starters it would give the additional player a LOT more strategic purpose, as they would effectively be able to design the entire game and which obstacles the party must overcome. Even if the new encounter cards are still pretty easy to overcome, this would still most importantly ensure the additional player remains interested in the game. Now for balancing purposes there are a few key things about this to note, the biggest being that the standard game setup must still be obeyed. In other words the additional player cant place a level 3 encounter card on every tile, he/she would still need to obey the Mini/Main Boss encounter card layout. Also I've made it so that the additional player can't screw the party over by making it so that an encounter card with an unopened Treasure Chest or Tombstone must remain on the board. Beyond the benefit of the additional player however, this also would benefit the party from getting bored of grinding. A new encounter card not only brings new risks but also keeps the gameplay fresh as the party will constantly have to re-strategize every time an encounter card is swapped out. This also gives the party a very small form of strategy in regards to the card placement as well, as if the party clears an encounter card that contains a Treasure Chest they may opt to leave it unopened for the time being to prevent the chance of that card being replaced.

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2 hours ago, MechMage said:

Do you find the DM rule reduces player success rate?  Seems like it would make monsters harder to avoid.

Like I mentioned, unfortunately I haven't actually been able to test it out yet (haven't had a fifth player yet). I came up with the rule in case my friends and I ever find ourselves with an additional player, or maybe even perhaps the rule could work for if someone wants to play against the party regardless of how many players there are. I just listed it here in case anyone found it interesting enough to test it out and maybe let us know how well it actually is in play.

As for you direct concern though, while again I haven't been in a situation to try it first hand but if the DM obeys both the Aggro and the Nearest Player targets on the control cards then how I see it playing out in my mind is that an encounter would mostly be the same in regards to how enemies move/attack. The DM would be making smaller decisions. Maybe. Clearly there are a lot of things yet to be ironed out, hopefully soon I'll be able to do so and update the house rule. From what it is currently though does it sound interesting enough?

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I'm skeptical.  I've only played a few games with two players, but from what I hear about people being shut out by RNG and my own experience using pushing to maximize the number of monsters who fail to reach the heroes, it seems like the combination of maliciously chosen encounters and greater difficulty of kiting will make runs that hit an early wall more common.

I imagine expansions will addore classes, but until then I'd just play with with a duplicate hero.

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Oh thank God someone else agrees with me about the monsters always going first lol. Yes, great idea which I will be adopting from now on. That rule as-is sucks monkeyballs. Who the heck thought that was a good idea? It is neither realistic nor matches the videogame and just makes things unnaturally difficult for the players. If for no other reason than so many enemies target the player with the aggro token. In the last game I played, I was the herald, and generally went last in encounters...which because of the rules meant I was always aggrod first, and thus always died first. Stupid af mechanic imo. So thank you for the house rule idea :)

For other players...I would prefer just adding other players as additional characters once that exp comes out. For now...hmmm...

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30 minutes ago, stargorger said:

Oh thank God someone else agrees with me about the monsters always going first lol. Yes, great idea which I will be adopting from now on. That rule as-is sucks monkeyballs. Who the heck thought that was a good idea? It is neither realistic nor matches the videogame and just makes things unnaturally difficult for the players. If for no other reason than so many enemies target the player with the aggro token. In the last game I played, I was the herald, and generally went last in encounters...which because of the rules meant I was always aggrod first, and thus always died first. Stupid af mechanic imo. So thank you for the house rule idea :)

For other players...I would prefer just adding other players as additional characters once that exp comes out. For now...hmmm...

I may have misunderstood your post, but don't forget that you choose who starts with the Aggro token in every encounter.  :)

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23 minutes ago, Ashraam said:

I may have misunderstood your post, but don't forget that you choose who starts with the Aggro token in every encounter.  :)

EH?! Really? I would have sworn it said that the player who went last previously starts the next encounter??

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1 hour ago, MechMage said:

I'm skeptical.  I've only played a few games with two players, but from what I hear about people being shut out by RNG and my own experience using pushing to maximize the number of monsters who fail to reach the heroes, it seems like the combination of maliciously chosen encounters and greater difficulty of kiting will make runs that hit an early wall more common.

I imagine expansions will addore classes, but until then I'd just play with with a duplicate hero.

Yeah the RNG system in the board game was, in my opinion, the most crucially overlooked design choice taken by Steam Forged. It's pretty awfully broken, but thankfully there have been plenty of people here with excellent house rule suggestions to modify the deck. The last game I played I actually used a house rule created by someone else here, and it worked wonders. I forget who here thought of it, and I don't remember the specifics off the top of my head by the gist of the rule was to separate the common treasure deck into two decks—Deck A containing every weapon upgrade as well as the six best weapons of the common cards (forget which ones) and Deck B containing everything else. The idea there is that Deck B would be now filled with gear easily equipped early game while Deck A would be for when you're ready for the good stuff (Deck A costing 2 souls per card, also all Transposed and Legendary cards would be added to this deck).

 

1 hour ago, stargorger said:

Oh thank God someone else agrees with me about the monsters always going first lol. Yes, great idea which I will be adopting from now on. That rule as-is sucks monkeyballs. Who the heck thought that was a good idea? It is neither realistic nor matches the videogame and just makes things unnaturally difficult for the players. If for no other reason than so many enemies target the player with the aggro token. In the last game I played, I was the herald, and generally went last in encounters...which because of the rules meant I was always aggrod first, and thus always died first. Stupid af mechanic imo. So thank you for the house rule idea :)

For other players...I would prefer just adding other players as additional characters once that exp comes out. For now...hmmm...

Yeah haha, I understand that the enemies attacking first does indeed increase the risk with every encounter but it gets to a point where some encounters there's no strategy to the beginning, you're just forced to be gimped from the get-go. But to be fair I will admit that while I do stand by my house rule not breaking the game entirely, there have been a select few encounters/enemy spawns that by my friend and I activating first we have been able to nearly clear the entire encounter with a single attack (3 out of 4 enemies in the encounter being on a single spawn node; one of us has ranged attack with node damage; gg).

 

1 hour ago, Ashraam said:

I may have misunderstood your post, but don't forget that you choose who starts with the Aggro token in every encounter.  :)

 

41 minutes ago, stargorger said:

EH?! Really? I would have sworn it said that the player who went last previously starts the next encounter??

I believe how the rules put it (or at least this is how I've been interpreting the rules) is that at the start of the game you determine which person starts with the Activation token (turn order) and then at the start of each characters activation the first thing they do is take the Aggro token. Now what happens at the end of the encounter I think is what the rules don't specify, so this is how I've been interpreting it: at the end of the encounter the Activation token is passed to the next person in turn order (that much is clearly stated in the rules) however the Aggro token remains with whoever had it at the end of the encounter (whoever killed the last enemy basically). At the start of the next encounter you may very well have someone with the Activation token and someone else with the Aggro token, but regardless it will only be for the enemies first activation since whoever has the Activation token will take the Aggro token right after that.

That's how I understand it at least. But I do know for certain that you only determine who starts with the ACTIVATION token at the beginning of the game, after that it just rotates around to every player. As far as I understand, at no point do you choose who has Aggro. Either I missed something and after an encounter the Aggro is removed from whoever has it, or how I've been doing it is how they intended it to be.

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1 hour ago, stargorger said:

EH?! Really? I would have sworn it said that the player who went last previously starts the next encounter??

The 1st Player Activation token goes to the next person in sequence from the previous encounter. Aggro is determined by the players separately for each encounter. It's part of the encounter setup.

From Page 19:  "Next, choose which character led the way into the encounter and place the Aggro token on that character’s model. Then the battle begins!"

This is separate from the 1st Activation token, which is also covered on 19: "No matter whether the encounter ends in victory or defeat, give the First Activation token to the player who is next in turn order after the last player who activated their character. The player with the First Activation token will activate their character first in the next encounter."

 

So, the First Player is whoever is next in sequence. The Aggro player is chosen by the players. "Who's gonna kick the door in and make 'em mad?"  :)

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Thanks guys. Guess I was confusing the two tokens.

Although, even that being said...since currently, all enemies either attack the person with the aggro token or the closest enemy (which players will share since they start on the same starting space of an encounter, I think even then there are going to be times where there's just no avoiding getting wailed on in the first turn lol.

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7 minutes ago, stargorger said:

Thanks guys. Guess I was confusing the two tokens.

Although, even that being said...since currently, all enemies either attack the person with the aggro token or the closest enemy (which players will share since they start on the same starting space of an encounter, I think even then there are going to be times where there's just no avoiding getting wailed on in the first turn lol.

You know heroes can start on any node on the edge they entered on, not just the central one, right?  A lot of the time the melee attackers don't reach the furthest node.

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18 minutes ago, stargorger said:

Thanks guys. Guess I was confusing the two tokens.

Although, even that being said...since currently, all enemies either attack the person with the aggro token or the closest enemy (which players will share since they start on the same starting space of an encounter, I think even then there are going to be times where there's just no avoiding getting wailed on in the first turn lol.

The opening placement and first move are the most strategic phase of the game in my opinion. Depending on the enemies you may want to give your Assassin the aggro so he can Dodge and reposition for further attacks, keeping other players out of harm's reach. Or you might want to give it to the Knight so he can block and be pushed to another node, etc, etc. Enemies with node attacks make the setup even more tricky, as does the fact that multiple players might be "nearest" but the Aggro is the tie-breaker.

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28 minutes ago, MechMage said:

You know heroes can start on any node on the edge they entered on, not just the central one, right?  A lot of the time the melee attackers don't reach the furthest node.

Woah woah wait...what? Really? Sonofa...

*sigh*. This rulebook, in all honesty, is really shit-ily written lol. The layout and when they give you what information sucks. I read through the things twice and am still just now hearing these things? Urg.

On the plus side: that's good to hear! Thank you! :)

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2 hours ago, Ashraam said:

The 1st Player Activation token goes to the next person in sequence from the previous encounter. Aggro is determined by the players separately for each encounter. It's part of the encounter setup.

From Page 19:  "Next, choose which character led the way into the encounter and place the Aggro token on that character’s model. Then the battle begins!"

This is separate from the 1st Activation token, which is also covered on 19: "No matter whether the encounter ends in victory or defeat, give the First Activation token to the player who is next in turn order after the last player who activated their character. The player with the First Activation token will activate their character first in the next encounter."

 

So, the First Player is whoever is next in sequence. The Aggro player is chosen by the players. "Who's gonna kick the door in and make 'em mad?"  :)

Huh, well I stand corrected. I guess I did overlook that in the rules. Well that will surely change how my friends and I play the game - thanks!

 

23 minutes ago, stargorger said:

Woah woah wait...what? Really? Sonofa...

*sigh*. This rulebook, in all honesty, is really shit-ily written lol. The layout and when they give you what information sucks. I read through the things twice and am still just now hearing these things? Urg.

On the plus side: that's good to hear! Thank you! :)

Yeah that's another one of those small things the rule doesn't slow down to directly address. The only node you are not allowed to start on are enemy spawn nodes. Another thing that you're allowed to do - bizarrely enough - is set up the game tiles in any order/path/connect them by any edge even if there aren't any doorways being connected.... Which just begs the question.... Why did they even bother printing the tiles with doorways if they're just going to tell us not to worry about them during set up?

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Really like the idea of DM, awareness not so much...

Would like to add few more things to the DM house rule: (to make the DM player more entertaining to play as)

  1. Boss's encounter deck is constracted as normal, if the party fails to kill the boss the encounter deck is re-constracted
  2. The DM picks the activation order for the boss's behaviour cards from his/her hand (can't use the same card twice)
  3. Since I consider tombstones to be worthless and DM can swap out cards, for every tombstone in play all enemies gain +1 health (ones that can't be seen don't count)
  4. If the party rests at the bonfire, the DM will roll 1 dodge dice per encounter tile; for every successful roll the DM has to swap that tile's encounter card

Not sure if there's anything do be done with the Treasure Deck/ Souls earned at this point

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