I think I know what causes this dilemma.
All of the inner tier spots have the same 2 problems that make it impossible to catch the first player in there (assuming they aren't just killed or corrupted outright).
1. Even if you fail a test, YOU STILL GET TO MOVE FORWARD 1 SPACE per turn. This only HELPS the lead player.
2. Even if you pass a test, you ONLY get to move forward 1 space per turn. This only HURTS the pursuing player. There's no way to "catch up."
These problems exist even if you have a cool mission at the end (many of which try to balance the game by punishing the leader, actually)- because you still have to grind through the inner tier to get there.
Try these house rules and see if they help.
- For the skill test spaces (Palace of Slaanesh, Garden of Nurgle, Fortress of Khorne, Maze of Tzeench), you MUST pass the test before you can move forward. If you pass, you may IMMEDIATELY test the next square, and so on, until you fail or reach the end (see mission). [Note: for faster games, drop the attribute checks down to 12, or even 10].
- If you fail, your turn ends, and you must still pay the penalty as indicated. But you may also choose to drop out of the inner tier (move to the Guardians of the Rift space and end your turn).
Now it is possible for the leader to get stuck (esp, if they are under-prepared), and for the pursuing players to catch up (if they are better prepared, which they should be after loitering in the easier tiers earning stuff). Allowing players to drop back out to the middle tier when they fail a test gives them a chance to build up whatever stat they failed at- and more importantly, a chance for other players to get ahead of them!
The next suggestion is a bit trickier, but a lot more fun (and gives players some way to affect each other during the endgame):
- For the Warp Rift, Crone World, Chaos Titan, and Demon World spaces- Whenever the active player discards a Renegade, Daemon, or Heretic threat ard, they may place the card on any of the spaces listed above, as long as there isn't already another player in that space, and the attribute total for all the cards on that space do not already exceed a total of 10.
- Whenever a player lands on a space with these threat cards, they must fight as normal (instead of performing the text box on the space). They may evade enemies, but...
- They may not LEAVE a space that still has any enemy cards on it!
- If they lose the fight, they must take any penalties as normal and may try again on their next turn. Alternatively, they may choose to drop out of the inner tier (move to the Guardians of the Rift space and end your turn).
Example: Bob discards a Fabius Bile he beat with help from Mary, so both of them can go up a level. Instead of placing the card in the discard pile, Bob puts the card on the Warp Rift space (no player is already on it, and it doesn't already have more than 10 points of enemies on it). Ha, now when someone tries to blaze through the inner circle, they won't be able to skip spaces based on their level, etc. because the text box for the Warp Rift doesn't apply- Fabius Bile must be defeated instead! No additional enemy cards can be placed there until Bile is defeated though, as his total value is more than 10.
In addition to throwing road blocks in front of the lead player, this rule also allows players a last chance to earn some skill points, levels, trophies, etc. through combat. This is very satisfying if you spent most of the game building up your fighting skills, where without this rule you do virtually no fighting in the inner circle.
So there you have it- hope you like this variant! We'll be playing all our RELIC games with these house rules from now on, ensuring that even the end game is entertaining and competitive.
Edited by Ironhanded, 26 July 2013 - 10:56 AM.