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Succession: Intrigue in the Royal Court» Forums » Variants

Subject: 5-player variant rss

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Barry Figgins
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Woodland
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When playing with 5 players, I find that resources in Succession are far too stretched. Each player gets a bunch of money and a card on their turn, but after that, nothing - maybe nothing for another half-hour until the game comes back to them.

With a 3-player game, this is fine. With 4, it can work. With 5, though, it gets pretty thin.

So, here's my variant.
Each turn, rather than all the candidates paying one player, one candidate pays every player.

So if it's Arianna's turn to pay, every player gets their income from Arianna. So most everyone is getting 1-3 gold per turn.

How to decide who plays when? Here's an easy rule. Galahad pays on the Squire's turn. Ulysses pays out on the next player's turn, then Arianna, Archie, then Venetia. You should be back to the Squire, and Galahad.

You can still decide who goes first randomly, and everyone still gets their normal starting patronage.

Additionally, we find the Taxman too weak in a 5-player game. Instead of his normal ability, I propose he just receives an extra 1 gold each turn. I'm not sure if anyone else needs to be tweaked.

As another variant, I found that drawing one card every five turns is really quite a stretch. I recommend this: every player starts with 1 card in hand. On your turn, draw one card at the start of your turn, and one card at the end. So, after you take your turn and play your cards, you'll still end up with one card in hand. I think starting with only 1 card in hand may be pretty limiting, but it's necessary to keep the game length close to the same.

So, those are my thoughts.
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Chad Ellis
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Interesting ideas!

There's no doubt that resources can get tight, although it's debatable whether this is good or bad. One of the things I like about Succession is that it's not "just" a negotiation game and that the scarce resources of money and cards really ARE scarce. This is an important aspect to the strategy of assigning credit and blame, because you have to balance the changes you'd like to make to the game state with the need to replenish your resources.

In other words, if you go all-in on a big intrigue and have credit for four candidates and blame on the fifth to assign, the scarcity of resources gives you a strong incentive not to just take the credit and assign blame to whoever is in the lead. Instead you'll probably want to syphon some of the other player's resources in exchange for sharing the good with them.

On the tweaking of abilities, I'll just share a story from the launch of Succession back at GenCon Indy '04. We ran a $1,000 tournament with free qualifiers, so we ended up with seventeen people (IIRC) who won their individual qualifier game in order to make it to the finals. Before starting I took some rules questions and we talked about the game. A few people said that they thought the Player Character abilities weren't balanced and that they'd won in large part because of which character they got, so we took a quick poll to see who had won with which character. It was as perfect a distribution as possible, with no character having less than 3 wins or more than 4.

That's not a huge N, of course, and it's certainly true that the turn-triggered abilities (Wizard and Taxman) are relatively strong in 3-player games compared with 5-player games, but I'm not convinced they need to be changed. (That said, if you're adopting your variant it may make sense and just be easier to track to have him gain one extra per turn.)

I'm taken with the idea of drawing a card at the end of a turn. While I like resource scarcity in general, it's certainly true that players with no cards in hand can end up feeling like they're not really playing -- empty hands also contribute to the few circumstances where a player can safely win a big intrigue on the cheap. My main hesitation on this one is that the Wizard's ability seems a lot less powerful if everyone is drawing two cards per turn. What has your experience been?

Best,
Chad
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Michael Van Biesbrouck
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I think that the effectiveness of the variant depends on the players. Some groups have all of the players bid modest amounts all of the time (which I think was intended) but in other groups players bid big or small/not at all, saving their cards for the big win (which ends up pretty random and not fun for those that rarely draw good cards and then use them on the wrong bid). I think that this variant works for the latter type of group. (And if more than two players play that way, then everyone needs to do so.)
 
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Barry Figgins
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I haven't actually tried this variant yet, but I'll see if I can do so soon. You're right about the Wizard being potentially weakened, but it might not be a huge problem. An extra card is an extra card, and most of them are worth at least 3 gold, if not more.
 
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