Jump to content



Photo

Played with 2 players; Great. Played with 4: Disaster. What went wrong?


  • Please log in to reply
11 replies to this topic

#1 StormKnight

StormKnight

    Member

  • Members
  • 112 posts

Posted 28 December 2010 - 09:55 AM

I played a sample game of this a month or so ago, just trying it with 2 players, and we really liked it. We didn't manage much combat as the elf player (my opponent, of course) got runes awfully fast, but it was fun sending out our armies and troops. It took only about an hour to play, and we were both completely new to the game and had to punch it.

Fast for to now. We pick up Runewars for Christmas. We play a 4 player game.

Ugh.

We quit about 4 hours in, with 2 years still left to go and no one making a convincing run for 6 runes.

Some things that really stuck out as problems:

1) Set up. We got the board all set up, and spent easily 10 minutes figuring out that we couldn't place the player start location tiles by the rules. Is this often a problem?

2) Rules. Having not played in a while, we needed to look up a lot of rules. This was always an exercise in frustration. Nothing we wanted to know was ever indexed, and many important rules were hidden in odd places.

3) Not enough runes. With 2 players, we got runes fast. With 4, spreading out the runes from heroes and events, we were only up to 4 runes each or so. There really aren't any more runes coming into the 4 player game than the 2 player game, but they spread out among twice as many players!

4) Stagnant conflicts. I send an army to attack, which wipes out your army. You then come back and wipe out mine. Neither of us ever make progress. None of the fighting ever got near actually capturing an opposing rune.

5) Fighting is a bad idea. Player A attacking player B is mostly good for C, who can mop up the weakened survivors.

6) Huge lumps of neutrals. The neutral creatures were being pushed around into huge armies. Luck of the draw of who could recruit them seemed very major.

So...much longer play time than expected, frustratingly slow...are there likely to be things we did wrong? Does anyone else see these issues?



#2 Steve-O

Steve-O

    Member

  • Members
  • 4,638 posts

Posted 29 December 2010 - 05:43 AM

StormKnight said:

1) Set up. We got the board all set up, and spent easily 10 minutes figuring out that we couldn't place the player start location tiles by the rules. Is this often a problem?

This has never been a problem in games I've played, however, I would probably be inclined to just space them out as evenly as possible and forget what the rules technically say about it, considering how much time is spent with the actual world building.  In short, I wouldn't say it's often a problem, and if it does crop up there are ways around it.

StormKnight said:

2) Rules. Having not played in a while, we needed to look up a lot of rules. This was always an exercise in frustration. Nothing we wanted to know was ever indexed, and many important rules were hidden in odd places.

Can't say I've had this experience either.  Runewars's rulebook is probably one of the best organized I've seen from FFG, it even has small index of "commonly overlooked rules" on the back reference sheet!  This is not to say it's perfect, of course.  I'm not trying to belittle your frustration, but I must respectfully disagree with the impression you give.

We don't break out this game very often, maybe once every 3 or 4 months, but we haven't had issue reminding ourselves of the rules when we pick it up again.

StormKnight said:

3) Not enough runes. With 2 players, we got runes fast. With 4, spreading out the runes from heroes and events, we were only up to 4 runes each or so. There really aren't any more runes coming into the 4 player game than the 2 player game, but they spread out among twice as many players!

This is definitely true, plain and simple.  More players will lead to a wider distribution of runes and thus a longer game.  Even so, 4 hours has generally been the maximum we've needed to complete a game.

StormKnight said:

4) Stagnant conflicts. I send an army to attack, which wipes out your army. You then come back and wipe out mine. Neither of us ever make progress. None of the fighting ever got near actually capturing an opposing rune.

5) Fighting is a bad idea. Player A attacking player B is mostly good for C, who can mop up the weakened survivors.

Both true, but also unnecessary.  The goal of the game is to control territory, not to conquer your opponents.  All you really need to do is hold enough land to house your own runes, fighting for revenge or for the love of conflict will only leave your forces weakened and your position poorer.  In theory you can try to take runes from other players by force, but honestly we don't go that route very often.  Only if one player is about to win (in which case they will generally have runes in their border hexes simply for lack of space elsewhere) do we lash out at one another like that.  Needless to say, knowing which runes are false in these circumstances becomes vital.

StormKnight said:

6) Huge lumps of neutrals. The neutral creatures were being pushed around into huge armies. Luck of the draw of who could recruit them seemed very major.

This does happen sometimes.  Other times the neutruals will be thinned out from fighting or retreating with nowhere to go and virtually disappear from the map.  Gaining control of neutrals requires a Gold result on the draw, of which there are only 4 in the deck.  Thus most diplomacy attempts will result in failure.



#3 StormKnight

StormKnight

    Member

  • Members
  • 112 posts

Posted 29 December 2010 - 06:31 AM

This has never been a problem in games I've played, however, I would probably be inclined to just space them out as evenly as possible and forget what the rules technically say about it...

This is what we did. It may have just been a freak occurence, but it really stuck out since it was our first play. Glad to know that's not normal.

Can't say I've had this experience either. Runewars's rulebook is probably one of the best organized I've seen from FFG, it even has small index of "commonly overlooked rules" on the back reference sheet! This is not to say it's perfect, of course. I'm not trying to belittle your frustration, but I must respectfully disagree with the impression you give.

Seriously? This was is just atrocious in terms of organization. All the info is there - there was never a question we couldn't answer (though some we couldn't answer until much later after thoroughly reading the rulebook again), but the index is inexcusably bad. And there are really major rules tucked away in example sidebars and no where else.

Both true, but also unnecessary. The goal of the game is to control territory, not to conquer your opponents.

Well, the goal is to get dragon runes. Outside of sending out your heroes and waiting for auctions, the only way to do that is take them from your opponents. Which requires fighting. Since the vast majority of the game is about recruiting troops and fighting, I'd expect it to work well.

How much combat do you usually have in your games?

Other times the neutruals will be thinned out from fighting or retreating with nowhere to go and virtually disappear from the map. Gaining control of neutrals requires a Gold result on the draw, of which there are only 4 in the deck. Thus most diplomacy attempts will result in failure.

 We never fought neutrals, always attempting diplomacy and forcing them to retreat. Though, had we known how unlikely this was to succeed (good grief this game has obfuscated stats) we might have not bothered, but two players had objectives requiring controlling neutral units.

Thanks for the feedback so far. I'm really wondering if we screwed something up, either in terms of rules (double checking, we've found a few minor goofs - usually things we tired to clarify but couldn't find at the time - but nothing major), or in terms of bad tactics that drug the game out, but I have no idea how to figure out what.



#4 sigmazero13

sigmazero13

    Rules Geek

  • Members
  • 1,923 posts

Posted 29 December 2010 - 07:13 AM

StormKnight said:

Seriously? This was is just atrocious in terms of organization. All the info is there - there was never a question we couldn't answer (though some we couldn't answer until much later after thoroughly reading the rulebook again), but the index is inexcusably bad. And there are really major rules tucked away in example sidebars and no where else.

I'll agree that the index isn't all that great, but I'm with Steve-O on the rulebook here; I have never had a problem finding a rule I needed.  The organization seems to be pretty good to me, especially compared to prior FFG games like Descent.  Like Steve-O, it's not perfect, but when I've needed to look something up, it's never taken me more than a minute or so.  But then again, different people have different organizational patterns, and thus what makes sense to me won't for others.

StormKnight said:

Well, the goal is to get dragon runes. Outside of sending out your heroes and waiting for auctions, the only way to do that is take them from your opponents. Which requires fighting. Since the vast majority of the game is about recruiting troops and fighting, I'd expect it to work well.

How much combat do you usually have in your games?

I think the issue can be is using the auctions and influence to help manipulate them when the time comes.  Putting yourself ahead in the influence count can be a huge advantage, and that can be done by conquering territory to put your resource dials in the best places to gather them, or to take cities that give good influence.  Also, learning when to take which title cards (which also costs influence) can be important, especially the Primarch one (for winning bids) and the Captain one (for turning in rewards).

Part of managing influence, too, is trying to keep your heroes around.  Unless you get lucky and have all matching-alignment heroes, you need to keep some influence handy in the Fall, in case one of the two Revealing their True Nature cards shows up.  

As for how much combat there is in a game, it depends on the game.  Some have very little, but those often have a lot of the 'threat" of combat, too.  Others have a LOT of combat, but it's not for the sake of combat - often they relate to secret objectives (another way to get runes), but sometimes they can revolve around the control of cities, trying to capture a hero using Coercion, or the border-runes.  If using Exploration Tokens, the Dragon Thrones can often be a hotbed of conflict, and the Magic Portals can also be interesting (even though in my games they tend to be used rarely).

Similar to TI3, I think the recruiting and fighting can be a big part of the game, but it has to be done with a purpose - every territory you capture needs a reason, even if that reason is just to distract from other purposes.

Unknown said:

We never fought neutrals, always attempting diplomacy and forcing them to retreat. Though, had we known how unlikely this was to succeed (good grief this game has obfuscated stats) we might have not bothered, but two players had objectives requiring controlling neutral units.

I fight the neutrals more often than diplomacy, unless I want to avoid a battle for Mobilize purposes, or I really want the neutrals for my forces.  In my games, the neutrals tend to act more as buffer zones than anything, but buffer zones that COULD be turned to your advantage.  Remember, you can check the odds of diplomacy at any time, which makes diplomacy attempts much less random.  For what it's worth, there are 4 "gold" cards, 8 "grey" cards, and 18 "red" cards in the Fate deck.  Knowing the odds can often make the difference in deciding "do I want to try it or not?"

Unknown said:

Thanks for the feedback so far. I'm really wondering if we screwed something up, either in terms of rules (double checking, we've found a few minor goofs - usually things we tired to clarify but couldn't find at the time - but nothing major), or in terms of bad tactics that drug the game out, but I have no idea how to figure out what.

I'll admit, I'm a bit biased, as I love Runewars - I've had very, very few games that didn't "feel" right to me.  But on the other hand, I will say that Runewars is a different type of game; not because it's just so out there or anything, as much of the mechanics are fairly typical or whatever, but more because the way they mesh makes for a different type of experience.  It took me several games to really get grips on how to do well, and I'm not even really sure I could "explain" it.  For a dumb comparison, I think I'd compare it to using pointers in programming languages.  For awhile as I was learning (especially as a teenager), it just didn't make sense why you'd use them.  But then one day, when working on a project, it just suddenly clicked.  But when other people ask, I don't always know how to best explain :)

Hopefully it will "click" for you like it did for me, as I think the game is very enjoyable.  It just takes some getting used to, and so the question is, is it worth it :)  For me it was, but I can only speak for me :)



#5 StormKnight

StormKnight

    Member

  • Members
  • 112 posts

Posted 29 December 2010 - 08:24 AM

I guess this is yet another victim of FFGs complete lack of ever bothering to playtest with varying numbers of players. However, we didn't really get it with the intention of playing it two player, so I guess I'll just have to kick myself being an idiot and wasting yet more money on another stupid FFG game.



#6 Steve-O

Steve-O

    Member

  • Members
  • 4,638 posts

Posted 29 December 2010 - 05:12 PM

StormKnight said:

Well, the goal is to get dragon runes. Outside of sending out your heroes and waiting for auctions, the only way to do that is take them from your opponents. Which requires fighting. Since the vast majority of the game is about recruiting troops and fighting, I'd expect it to work well.

True again, although I find that using heroes and influence bids are both much easier means of gaining runes than taking them from the enemy (especially when you have to wait for the enemy to do the same before they even have runes to take, or else spread yourself very thin pushing into his homeland.)

StormKnight said:

How much combat do you usually have in your games?

As a rough estimate I'd say maybe a third of the game play is combat. A lot of that is either clearing out neutrals or the occasional border skirmish, but none of us get too uppity about "getting revenge" for one measly attack since we recognize that holding runes is more important than slaughtering our opponents. Large battles with 8-16 troops on each side are very rare and usually arise out of the way the map was built, if a particular hex has notable strategic value.

StormKnight said:

We never fought neutrals, always attempting diplomacy and forcing them to retreat. Though, had we known how unlikely this was to succeed (good grief this game has obfuscated stats) we might have not bothered, but two players had objectives requiring controlling neutral units.

I wouldn't say the stats are obfuscated. They might not be explicitly spelled out in the rulebook, but it's easy enough to count the cards in the deck before playing and see the percentages, if you're inclined to know them. Also, keep in mind that the objectives which require you to control "all" the neutrals of a given type on the board can also be fulfilled if there are NO neutrals of that type (you control all zero units.) That has been explicitly answered by Corey IIRC.

StormKnight said:

I guess this is yet another victim of FFGs complete lack of ever bothering to playtest with varying numbers of players. However, we didn't really get it with the intention of playing it two player, so I guess I'll just have to kick myself being an idiot and wasting yet more money on another stupid FFG game.

I'm sorry you feel that way, although I can certainly see how this game might not be for everyone.  I think this game is tighter than past offerings and probably was playtested quite extensively, but it sounds like your first 4-player game went awry in a number of ways.  Personally I think it's a breath of fresh air in a sea of mostly similar global conquest type games.



#7 sigmazero13

sigmazero13

    Rules Geek

  • Members
  • 1,923 posts

Posted 29 December 2010 - 07:45 PM

StormKnight said:

I guess this is yet another victim of FFGs complete lack of ever bothering to playtest with varying numbers of players. However, we didn't really get it with the intention of playing it two player, so I guess I'll just have to kick myself being an idiot and wasting yet more money on another stupid FFG game.

I don't agree with this.  While most of my games are 2 players, I've played many 3 player games with no issue, and in the handful of 4-player games I've played, I've never experienced the problems you've described, at least not in the way you describe them.

IE, from my experience, the game scales very well from 2 to 4.  Sure, the dynamics of the game changes with different numbers of players, but I haven't found the 4-player games to be any less enjoyable or interesting.

Of course, everyone has different experiences, but if I could play every game of Runewars with 4 players, I would; I just am not able to get game sessions with 3 other people together very often.

 

To each their own.  This is tied with Twilight Imperium as my ultimate favorite board game, ever.  I would likely never turn down a game of this unless there were some compelling reason otherwise (ie, non-game related, like time, other plans, etc).



#8 StormKnight

StormKnight

    Member

  • Members
  • 112 posts

Posted 30 December 2010 - 05:01 AM

Sorry guys. I'm taking my frustration out on you guys, who are just trying to be helpful, and its really not your fault.

I know that FFG games usually (IMHO) stink. I spent months looking at Runewars going "Oh, that looks so awesome...but I need to resist, because I'm just going to hate it". Finally got a chance to try before buying and it was fun...and then spent the money to buy, and our first play was so bad I'm not sure it will get played again. Just very frustrating.

True again, although I find that using heroes and influence bids are both much easier means of gaining runes than taking them from the enemy

I completely agree with this. However, those are pretty limited opportunities. The other runes, you need to take by force. This is where I see a scaling problem; the number of runes available is about the same with 2 players or with 4.

Also, this is another major problem (to me). This is supposed to be a conquest and empire building game, but the core of the point scoring is based on a lousy bidding game and a pretty pathetic quest-adventure minigame.

I wouldn't say the stats are obfuscated.

To know your odds of success, just go through an entire deck of cards before the game starts, write down all the values. Then, when you need to know, go through the whole discard pile counting all the numbers, compare it to your written down sheet of values, divide...

It would be pretty hard to be LESS obfuscated.



#9 Steve-O

Steve-O

    Member

  • Members
  • 4,638 posts

Posted 31 December 2010 - 04:17 AM

StormKnight said:

 

Also, this is another major problem (to me). This is supposed to be a conquest and empire building game, but the core of the point scoring is based on a lousy bidding game and a pretty pathetic quest-adventure minigame.

 

 

But it's not a game of conquest, that's what I've been trying to say.  It's a game of control.  You aren't trying to destroy your opponents and dominate the entire world, you're just trying to hold on to enough land that you can contain enough of these powerful runes that everyone else will listen to you.  It's more like the cold war than either of the world wars in that respect.

I'm not sure I'd call it a game of empire building, either.  I mean sure, you build up armies, occupy cities and hold ground, but you don't really build an empire per se.  To me "empire building" means establishing and improving your infrastructure, gaining new abilities through technological research or expansion of civilization.  Unless you want to count building fortresses and developments there isn't really very much of that going on.

I think at least part of the problem you're having with this game is that the game want to play is not the game this was designed to be.  It's unfortunate that you didn't realize that before buying it for yourself.  I'd also say that a fair number of other FFG games (particularly in the Terrinoth setting) have a strong tendency to use mechanics which play differently than one might expect from reading the back of the box, so that might explain why you have such a poor opinion of FFG in general.  For better or for worse, they do like to experiment with uncommon game engines.

StormKnight said:

 

To know your odds of success, just go through an entire deck of cards before the game starts, write down all the values. Then, when you need to know, go through the whole discard pile counting all the numbers, compare it to your written down sheet of values, divide...

It would be pretty hard to be LESS obfuscated.

 

 

I guess you and I have differing definitions of "obfuscated."  To me, that set up isn't obfuscated at all, you just have to crunch the numbers which are plain to see.  Mind you, I'm not the sort to worry about the exact odds at any given moment, so I rarely bother crunching these numbers myself.  I know there are 4 gold cards in a 30 card deck, so roughly 1 in 7 odds, statistically.  If I happen to have noticed a lot of golds coming out in recent turns I remember that, but otherwise I just work with the basic numbers and don't bother counting the discard pile.  I know there are some who feel such behaviour is necessary, but I'm not one of them.

If I really want to negotiate with a particular group of monsters, I spend enough influence to draw at least 5 cards, if not more, because I know statistically that's what I need for a fair shot at getting them.  Otherwise I just kill the buggers and move on.

As far as combat goes, I don't worry about what's left in the deck at all.  As I've mentioned before, combat is not the purpose of this game, it's a consequence.  When it happens, it happens.  The most I'll do to control the deck is wait until it's been reshuffled to attack, if it's convenient to do so.

 

Perhaps you're already making plans to sell the game and try to at least recoup some of the cost, but if not, you might also consider working on a variant game to make it play more like the game you wanted. I'd start by suggesting you drop the fate deck and come up with some dice rolling mechanics to simplify and "de-obfuscate" the odds.  Then you might want to play around with army limits and recruiting mechanics so that you can build and maintain larger armies that can go on the extended assaults against enemy homelands that you seem to want out of the game.  I'm quite sure that there are other people who wanted a more combat-oriented war game out of Runewars, and I'm sure those people would love you for making such a variant.

PS: You might also want to check around BGG and such to make sure no one else has already made such a variant - no sense reinventing the wheel, right?
 



#10 Zabulus

Zabulus

    Member

  • Members
  • 33 posts

Posted 02 January 2011 - 01:33 AM

 I think at least part of the problem you're having with this game is that the game want to play is not the game this was designed to be.

I think a lot of people not liking this game have that. I think that has to do with the way it looks and maybe the name :) Although "but the core of the point scoring is based on a lousy bidding game and a pretty pathetic quest-adventure minigame." does sound like gripes with the game itself.

As for play length, most of our 2-player games run 3-4 hours, but the 3 and 4 player games I've played ran on for some 7 hours or so. Of course, these were relatively leisure games with smoking breaks and "Hey, how's your mother doing anyway?", along with some looking up rules for good measure.

Our 2-player games usually have plenty of combat, I think that has to do with preemptive strikes at chokepoints, coupled with... well... all the combat that is going to occur (apart from your opponent fighting neutrals) is going to involve YOU. So maybe that just feels like there is more combat.

Like Steve-O, it's not perfect

I had to grin at that :)

And: do you have to have a certain number of points before you can quote? *wonder*



#11 StormKnight

StormKnight

    Member

  • Members
  • 112 posts

Posted 02 January 2011 - 03:47 AM

I think at least part of the problem you're having with this game is that the game want to play is not the game this was designed to be.

Perhaps I was foolishly misled by that big blurb on the cover about a game of Conquest, adventure and Fantasy Empires. Silly me 

The thing is, the majority of the game is about the Conquest and Empire part. That's what most of your actions do, that's what most of the rules are about, that's the focus of most of the actual game play. You can do a little bit to support the quest phase, but mostly its one stray thing that happens once every four turns.

I guess you and I have differing definitions of "obfuscated."

Obfuscated = Hidden. Not apparent. Needing to roll a 3+ on a D6 is obvious odds. A deck of uncertain composition isn't.

I'd start by suggesting you the fate deck and come up with some dice rolling mechanics to simplify and "de-obfuscate" the odds.

While that's an annoying design choice, its not really a big deal. Knowing "gold is unlikely, triangles are worst, circles and squares better, and hexagons the best" is probably ok for this scale of game.

I think we'll try playing with some open dragon runes near the middle of the board to fight over. That will put more runes into the game. Even with that, the play time may be killer. Really a snail's paced game that could easily have been made faster with better mechanics and design (the dials, for example, could have avoided the need to continually re-count resources, but were implemented in a way so they don't. Dumb, dumb!)



#12 Steve-O

Steve-O

    Member

  • Members
  • 4,638 posts

Posted 02 January 2011 - 06:23 AM

Zabulus said:

And: do you have to have a certain number of points before you can quote? *wonder*

No, but the forum software is finnicky and prone to exploding. Most of the regulars are quite annoyed by it. It also has a curious habit of dropping the word "drop" right out of the middle of your sentence (even though you KNOW you wrote it) when you publish. Also, I've caught it erasing "erase" and deleting "delete." So it helps to proof-read your posts after publishing.
 

StormKnight said:

I guess you and I have differing definitions of "obfuscated."

Needing to roll a 3+ on a D6 is obvious odds. A deck of uncertain composition isn't.

That's what I meant by differing definitions.  To me, a deck of cards you're allowed to count isn't hidden at all.  You just need to do the math.  If you were forbidden from sifting through the discard pile, then the odds would be obfuscated.

That said, it's easy enough to build house rules that use dice if you prefer dice.  In fact I'm pretty sure i've seen one or two such ideas floating around on BGG.  Lord knows not everyone around here was happy to hear RW used cards for combat resolution.  Personally I was ambivalent and resolved to wait and see how it worked, and in the end I'm satisfied well enough.






© 2013 Fantasy Flight Publishing, Inc. Fantasy Flight Games and the FFG logo are ® of Fantasy Flight Publishing, Inc.  All rights reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Contact | User Support | Rules Questions | Help | RSS