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Spheres of Influence: Struggle for Global Supremacy» Forums » General

Subject: Faction Abilities rss

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Josh Lamont
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LAST UPDATE - DEC 14

Hey everyone! We're going to handle all of the faction ability contributions, critiques and BETA testing here. The most important goal in this process is keeping the gameplay balanced. To that end, I'd definitely recommend someone have a good grasp of the rules before submitting any particular ideas, however, general ideas are definitely welcome. Also, if we could keep this conversation civil I'd really appreciate it!

BLANK FACTION CARD:
(this is for those of you who want a template to build your own):



So here's how the faction abilities are presently envisioned:


Each faction will have 2 potential abilities, with each ability being assigned a value of 1-3 or 4-6. At the start of the game, after players have picked their faction(s) they'll roll a d6 to determine which ability they'll get. If they roll 1-3 they'll have the first ability, while rolling 4-6 will grant them the second ability. Some of the abilities are one time effects, some of them are conditional, and some of them are persistent.


Here are the preliminary ideas:


BLACK - Communist/Soviet Themed:
1: Proletariat rule - During the mobilization phase, place 1 additional unit plus 1 more for every 10 points of regional production you control. - EDIT OCT 20
2: Iron Curtain - Whenever you defend a territory that makes up part of a completed sphere of influence, roll a bonus special die during each round of combat. - EDIT OCT 17



BLUE - Western Democracy/USA Themed:
1. Command of the Sea - Whenever your units are attacking from or defending a sea zone, roll 1 bonus special die during each round of combat -EDIT NOV 3
2. Capitalism - Whenever you complete a sphere of influence or take a capital city from an opponent's faction, draw a special card. - EDIT NOV 3



BROWN - Ottoman Empire/Caliphate Themed:
1. Rapid Expansion - On your turn, a single unit may perform a redeploy as a free action. Also, whenever you complete a sphere of influence you may immediately perform a bonus action. EDIT OCT 21
2. Asymmetric warfare - Whenever you are involved in a battle where both attacker and defender occupy territories, you may roll 1 bonus special die during the first round of combat - EDIT OCT 21



GREEN - Dynastic/Eastern Asia Themed:
1. Warrior Code - Whenever you discard a special card to initiate desperate fighting, you may roll 3 special dice instead of 1. - EDIT OCT 17
2. Imperialism: During the mobilization phase, you may place up to 5 of your new units into a sea zone adjacent to a territory you control so long as no other faction controls that sea zone. - EDIT Nov 27



PURPLE - Holy Roman Empire/Catholic Themed:
1. Holy Order - During the mobilization phase, place 1 unit on each capital city you control, with the exception of your original capital city. - EDIT OCT 19
2. Missionary Zeal - Once per round, during one of your turns, you may perform a free bonus move action so long as its to an unoccupied space - NOV 27



RED - Fascist themed:
1. Lightning war - Whenever you break an opponent’s completed sphere of influence or take a capital city from an opponent, you may immediately perform a bonus action. - EDIT OCT 17
2. Social Darwinism - Whenever you take a territory by winning a battle, you may place 1 new unit into the territory you just took. - EDIT NOV 19



WHITE - UN/European Union Themed:
1. Economic Union - During the mobilization phase, if you discard any special cards to gain any extra units, you may add 1 bonus turn card to the global turn deck this round. Also, gain 1 bonus unit for each special card you discard. - EDIT DEC 14
2. Innovation - Whenever you take a point of interest, draw 2 special cards instead of 1. Choose 1 of the cards to keep and discard the other. - EDIT OCT 20



YELLOW - Military Dictatorship:
1. Strongman - Begin the game with 1 additional unit. At the start of the first and second rounds, draw 1 special card. - EDIT OCT 20
2. Compulsory Service - Whenever you complete a sphere of influence by any means other than by annexing, place 2 units into the territory you just took.



ALTERNATE FACTIONS:

PINK - Maoist/Chinese Socialism Themed:
1. Harmonious Society - Whenever you pass, you may place 1 new unit into a completed sphere of influence or into your original capital city. EDIT OCT 21
2. Command Economy - On your turn to place units during the mobilization phase, you may place 1 less unit in order to take 1 card of your choice from among the top 3 cards in the special card discard pile and place it into your hand. - EDIT OCT 19



TEAL - Monarchial/Great House Themed:
1. Rivalry - Whenever you attack a territory that makes up part of a completed sphere of influence or contains a capital city, you may roll a bonus special die during each round of combat. EDIT OCT 19
2. Royal Decree - During a round of combat, you may discard a special card to cancel the effect of any special dice your opponent just rolled - EDIT OCT 20



Expansion Factions:

Orange - Hindutva/Hindu Nationalism:
1.DHARMA - Once per combat, you may reroll either all of the combat dice or all of the special dice you just rolled during round of combat. - EDIT NOV 11
2.RECLAMATION - Whenever you take a territory containing a point of interest, you may immediately place 1 new unit that territory. - EDIT NOV 27



Grey - Oligarchy/Secret Society Themed:
1. WORLD ORDER - Whenever you attack an opponent's city or take an unoccupied city, draw a special card and lay it face up on the table. You must use that card this turn or it is discarded. - EDIT NOV 30
2. Coup d'état - Twice per round, as an opponent's turn card is revealed, you may choose to ignore that turn. Instead, place that turn card at the bottom of the turn deck. - EDIT NOV 6

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Josh Lamont
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One other thing I'd like to mention.

There's been a proposal to have a faction ability system that has abilities which are tied to no specific faction. So here's how that might work:

There is a deck of faction ability cards. Each card in this deck has a single ability on it. At the start of the game, this deck is shuffled and placed face down. Each player then secretly draws 3 cards (per faction), and chooses 1 ability to keep. Once every player has made their decisions, the cards are revealed and the game begins.

I actually think this would be a very fun idea too. Although its less thematic, its offers more customization and possibilities. My goal is to simultaneously develop both ideas and see which gets the best feedback from the community. Once I have some designs, I'll post them on here so you can see what it might look like.

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Keith Scholes
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Just a thought, would it not be more appropriate to make red the communist theme and black the fascist theme, or are you being contrarian?
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JoshLamont wrote:
There is a deck of faction ability cards. Each card in this deck has a single ability on it. At the start of the game, this deck is shuffled and placed face down. Each player then secretly draws 3 cards (per faction), and chooses 1 ability to keep. Once every player has made their decisions, the cards are revealed and the game begins.


I'm not sure how to implement this idea, but you could also have abilities tied to starting locations. Perhaps the player has a choice between a faction ability or a starting location ability. Sounds a bit complex, but I wanted to float this idea for those who are better at incorporating ideas into games.
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keitharchaeologist wrote:
Just a thought, would it not be more appropriate to make red the communist theme and black the fascist theme, or are you being contrarian?


We definitely could have done that. When I was designing the cards, the fascist emblem I came up with just seemed to fit better with the Red faction, and so I went with that. From a design standpoint, I'm pretty married to the emblems and color choices I've made, so that won't be changing too much now.
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I like the deck of abilities idea, but I also like the thematic link to color and symbol. Feels good.

I don't like the roll-a-die to get an ability. I do like having two abilities per faction - that's quite nice. But I'd prefer to let the player just choose which one they want.
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JoshLamont wrote:
One other thing I'd like to mention.

There's been a proposal to have a faction ability system that has abilities which are tied to no specific faction.

Would this be materially different than randomly assigning factions with faction-specific abilities aside from the factor of choice? Factions aren't geographically or otherwise tied down, limited, or specialized, right? Without faction abilities they're just flavor, aren't they?

If I understand factions correctly, couldn't the same be accomplished by drafting factions with their corresponding faction-specific abilities?

I really like how thematic the abilities are, so while the disconnected abilities would work fine I think I'd prefer the abilities to stay faction-specific.

Have you considered penalties to go with the abilities? Not sure if that would make things easier or harder to balance, but it seems like some of the possibly stronger abilities could be mitigated by stronger weaknesses/penalties as well.
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I really like the faction specific abilities. To carry the theme, perhaps each should have an assigned starting location.

In order to avoid cherry picking the "best" faction, players could draw a random cube out of a bag to determine their faction.
 
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Springheeledjack wrote:
I really like the faction specific abilities. To carry the theme, perhaps each should have an assigned starting location?

That would be even more thematic but I think too restrictive. I like the semi-randomness of starting positions.
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Springheeledjack wrote:
I really like the faction specific abilities. To carry the theme, perhaps each should have an assigned starting location.

In order to avoid cherry picking the "best" faction, players could draw a random cube out of a bag to determine their faction.


You could use a couple of options. Depending on the "power" of the cards, it could even be a draw 3, pick 2, or a draft. A draft would work better if a lot of the abilities were more of a "one shot" deal.
 
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MentatYP wrote:
Springheeledjack wrote:
I really like the faction specific abilities. To carry the theme, perhaps each should have an assigned starting location?

That would be even more thematic but I think too restrictive. I like the semi-randomness of starting positions.


So how about a suggested starting position for the powered factions as an optional rule?
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The cards idea is interesting. I like the poker quality to the system. Each player choosing an ability and revealing them after everyone made a choice. Each player would have to bluff their choice while guessing everyone else's strategy. However, I still prefer your original concept. I like how the abilities match their faction and giving each faction more of a story and theme. Without the abilities each faction is indistinguishable from each other. You might consider combining the two ideas together. Give each faction several cards where each player chooses one ability and revealing them after everyone made a choice. This will keep the poker quality of the cards concept while still retaining the abilities's theme for each faction.
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I am curious. If the stretch goals are reached for the two new factions, what type of theme are they and what would their abilities be?
 
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Ok after having a good look here are my initial thoughts on the abilities with regards to balance. You have to bear in mind this is an initial look, really need to play the game to test them out fully, which i am really looking forward to.

BLACK - Communist/Soviet themed:
1: Proletariat rule - During the mobilization phase, place 1 additional unit.
2: Iron Curtain - Whenever you successfully defend a territory from being conquered by another faction, place 1 new unit into that territory after the battle ends.

1- Gives 1 unit per round no more no less.
2- Difficult to know how often this would apply could be a few in one round or almost never, largely decided by the other players.

Seems a good balance to start from.


BLUE - Western Democracy/USA themed:
1. Gunboat Diplomacy - Whenever your units are either attacking or defending a sea zone, roll a bonus special die each round of combat.
2. Capitalism - During the mobilization phase, place 1 extra unit for each sphere of influence you control.

1- This would give the player a potential massive advantage if used correctly, effectively you have a 66% chance of gaining 1 unit (via kill or defend) in each round of combat in defending or attacking. This would be easy to manipulate as the player would need to take and hold sea zones. But in a later round of play this could easily become several units advantage from attacks and defence. The down side is that you have to hold sea zones that give no bonus.
2- I would say getting 1 zone is not going to be that hard unless you are looking at lots of players. So assume 1 per round minimum but could be 2 or maybe 3.

Seems that this could be very powerful.

BROWN - Caliphate themed:
1. Holy City - You begin the game with 3 additional units on your original capital city.
2. Pilgrimage - On your turn, a single unit may perform a redeploy as a free action.

1- 3 units as a 1 off is not as many as some above but having them all at the start may be worth the sacrifice.
2- This appears to be weak on first impression, 1 unit is not likely to make a big difference.

Feels weaker than the 2 above.

GREEN - Dynastic/Eastern Asia themed:
1. Warrior Code - Whenever you discard a special card to initiate desperate fighting, you may roll an additional special die.
2. Rapid Expansion: After moving at least 2 units from a territory to a sea zone, you may remove 1 unit from that space in order to perform a bonus action with any of the other units you just moved.

1- Will this get used often??? There are not many special territories that award cards and you don’t start with any so it would appear that this would be a very occasional use ability that only gives a 66% chance of 1 unit.
2- Not sure if I fully understand this one. Which space is the unit moved from – the sea zone or the territory? If you are moving 2 to the sea zone and then can bring a 3rd along why not just move 3? Could this ability just be “when moving at least 3 units into a sea zone they may complete a 2nd action for free.”
This would need 2 or 3 special cards at the start to make ability 1 worth while. Ability 2 seems good.

PURPLE - Holy Roman Empire/Catholic themed:
1. Mandate - Whenever you take control of a capital city by any means other than annexing, place 1 new unit into that space.
2. Tithe - Whenever you discard a special card during the mobilization phase to place an extra unit, place 2 units instead.

1- This seems like an occasional 1 unit benefit.
2- Again seems very occasional 1 unit benefit.
I would make 1. 3 units due to its occasional nature.
2. again place 3 units and give the player 1 of these cards at the start.

RED - Fascist themed:
1. Lightning war - After breaking an opponent's sphere of influence by conquest, you may immediately perform a bonus action.
2. Nationalism - Upon completing a sphere of influence, you may immediately perform a bonus action.

1- Would be occasional but could be used to great effect.
2- Again very occasional but could be useful.
Possibly about right when used efficiently.

WHITE - European Union themed
1. Economic Union - During the mobilization phase, you may choose to place 2 less units in order to add a bonus card to the global turn deck.
2. Innovation - Whenever you draw a special card by taking a point of interest, once per turn you may remove 1 of your units from the board (while not emptying out any territory) in order to discard that card to draw a new one.

1- Interesting, not sure at the moment how big an effect this is.
2- Doesn’t seem great, very luck based and it costs you.
Point 2, Maybe change to discard a unit to draw 2 cards when you take a point of interest.

YELLOW - African themed:
1. Tradition - At the start of your first turn, draw a special card.
2. Population Boom - Whenever you complete a sphere of influence by any means other than annexing, place 2 units into the territory you just took.

1- Could be useful, bit luck based but would possibly give a good advantage in key battles.
2- Occasional but you do get 2 units as opposed to the 1 unit that similar effects on other cards give.
1, Maybe increase to 2 or 3 cards or have on each odd numbered round draw 1 special card.
2, Increase to 3 units to make up for how occasional it will be.

ALTERNATE FACTIONS:

PINK - Chinese Communist Themed:
1. Modernization - Whenever you take a point of interest, you may choose to perform a bonus action instead of drawing a special card.
2. 5-Year Plan - During the mobilization phase, you may contribute 2 less turn cards to this round's global turn deck in order to take 1 special card of your choice from the discard pile.

1- Occasional and has a cost attached.
2- Is a special cards really worth 2 of your turns??? Also you get nothing until a special card has been played which could be a while into the game.
1, should not have a cost get the card and the turn as it going to be occasional.
2, This seems to cost an awful lot, could you sacrifice 3 or 4 units re-enforcements to select the card instead.

TEAL - Monarchial Themed:
1. Rivalry - Whenever you attack a territory containing a capital city, you may roll a bonus special die during each round of combat.
2. Unilateralism - During the final round, you may contribute up to 3 bonus turn cards to the global turn deck (this only applies to the last round, not bonus-tie breaker rounds).

1- Occasional use but can be used multiple times when used. You would assume players will defend a capitol well, so the battle should be large and last a number of rounds. Each round you have a 66% chance of gaining a 1 unit bonus. This ability may only get used once or twice in a game but could give a 3or 4 unit advantage when used.
2- Very interesting could make you a huge threat in the last round, as long as you have amassed the troops ready for it. The downside is that other players do know you are going to get it and will do their best to prepare.
Seems like an interesting one that could fit well.

Conclusion:
I think there are interesting ideas, some of them give a consistent 1 unit per round bonus. Some seem to give what would appear to be a lower level of benefits, ones that give 1 unit on an occasional basis maybe should be looked at and give 2 or even 3 units instead.
Some of them seem to have a cost attached to them where the benefit should be enhanced to make up for the fact that other players are getting a free advantage.
Some also seem focused around you playing / using special cards – this is fine but the acquisition of special cards may leave them low and rarely used. Maybe these factions should start with a couple special cards?
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CiviliTalismaniac wrote:
JoshLamont wrote:
There is a deck of faction ability cards. Each card in this deck has a single ability on it. At the start of the game, this deck is shuffled and placed face down. Each player then secretly draws 3 cards (per faction), and chooses 1 ability to keep. Once every player has made their decisions, the cards are revealed and the game begins.


I'm not sure how to implement this idea, but you could also have abilities tied to starting locations. Perhaps the player has a choice between a faction ability or a starting location ability. Sounds a bit complex, but I wanted to float this idea for those who are better at incorporating ideas into games.


So I probably wouldn't tie the abilities to a certain location - on one hand, it seems a bit too limiting (though, like you said, this could be mitigated between the "choice" of start location ability vs faction), on the other hand it makes the proposed start location abilities that much more potentially unbalanced, since to me those could really get out of hand fairly easily - since I think it might be rather difficult to balance. Regardless of how we ultimately decide the powers will work (wether it'll be purely random, partly random, etc), I like the idea of seeing how the factions are going to play in different arenas based on which powers they get, and how those powers influence their strategies. For instance, typically if a player starts in one of Africa's 3 potential start locations, they generally try to colonize some other areas fairly early on, since Africa's regional production values are low (they don't produce that many units). That said, if Red or Yellow start in Africa, and if they get their powers related to completing spheres - they might instead be compelled to work on consolidating Africa first since it gives them a short term benefit. To me, the additional decision that this creates is what makes the abilities appealing.

adamw wrote:
I like the deck of abilities idea, but I also like the thematic link to color and symbol. Feels good.

I don't like the roll-a-die to get an ability. I do like having two abilities per faction - that's quite nice. But I'd prefer to let the player just choose which one they want.



I see where you're coming from. I think I might offer that as an alternative - players can roll OR if everyone is ok with it, they can just choose.

My rationale for the randomness of the powers is partly to reduce a faction's potential strength. I want the abilities to almost be just a fun afterthought, having some impact on the game (while not being decisive) but mostly satisfying that thematic desire that we all have. That said, by partly randomizing the power, my hope was to curtail an overly developed "ability based" strategy forming, since even though a faction might be chosen, the ability you get cannot be totally relied upon. It was also to encourage experimentation - I suspect that certain people will see certain abilities as better (regardless of how balanced and refined we ultimately get them). Because of that, they may be inclined to always choose power 2. With this system, we at least shake things up a bit, and maybe encourage them to try other factions entirely.

All of that said, I'm definitely not married to the random abilities (so I don't want you to think that), and I do think that there is validity to giving them an option, I'm just not sure yet (internally) if that'll be the main rule, or a supplemental one.

scubadawg1 wrote:
Springheeledjack wrote:
I really like the faction specific abilities. To carry the theme, perhaps each should have an assigned starting location.

In order to avoid cherry picking the "best" faction, players could draw a random cube out of a bag to determine their faction.


You could use a couple of options. Depending on the "power" of the cards, it could even be a draw 3, pick 2, or a draft. A draft would work better if a lot of the abilities were more of a "one shot" deal.


Although I think that could be fun, and part of me loves the idea of "assembling" a faction to try to streamline its abilities (a little like SmallWorld), I could definitely see some problems arising there (which aren't insurmountable, but they are there). For instance, potentially contradicting powers could arise. Or powers which are too perfectly streamlined. I can already think of one combination that would be epically devastating. For instance, if you had Nationalism - which lets you take a bonus turn upon completing a sphere, and Population Boom - which gives you 2 units upon completing a sphere - you could have the most epic early game ever (since you could realistically chain a couple of spheres between the first and second rounds - you'd now have both the units to pull it off and also the mobility). Again, part of me thinks thats awesome - but another part of me, the part of me that imagines facing that - worries it would be too powerful.

MentatYP wrote:
JoshLamont wrote:
One other thing I'd like to mention.

There's been a proposal to have a faction ability system that has abilities which are tied to no specific faction.

Would this be materially different than randomly assigning factions with faction-specific abilities aside from the factor of choice? Factions aren't geographically or otherwise tied down, limited, or specialized, right? Without faction abilities they're just flavor, aren't they?

If I understand factions correctly, couldn't the same be accomplished by drafting factions with their corresponding faction-specific abilities?

I really like how thematic the abilities are, so while the disconnected abilities would work fine I think I'd prefer the abilities to stay faction-specific.

Have you considered penalties to go with the abilities? Not sure if that would make things easier or harder to balance, but it seems like some of the possibly stronger abilities could be mitigated by stronger weaknesses/penalties as well.


So we're pretty much on the same page here. I'll probably still develop the unattached abilities since I do think its a pretty cool idea - actually, a lot of it could be handled by simply taking the existing abilities and putting them on cards.

And yes, some of the abilities do have negative side effects. For instance White and Green both have abilities which cost something/have negative side effects (since if they didn't those powers would be way too good). Those are definitely some of the more difficult ones to balance though, thats for sure. I'd be very interested in getting some feedback on those ones in particular as everyone gets the chance to play test them.
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I like the idea of the random choice with each faction card, it adds a unique element and forces players to change things up in each game they play.
 
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Springheeledjack wrote:
I really like the faction specific abilities. To carry the theme, perhaps each should have an assigned starting location.

In order to avoid cherry picking the "best" faction, players could draw a random cube out of a bag to determine their faction.


Great idea with the cube/bag idea. I was wondering how we'd handle disagreements between players concerning which faction they get - this goes a step farther and resolves that dispute before it ever arises. Previously, if two players both want Green, well, when one of them invariably can't be Green there isn't much of a loss, since the difference is only in the aesthetic. Once we introduce these abilities, there really are differences and disagreements can arise.

The question is - do we now make faction selection random across the board (the bag or something similar), or partly random (perhaps players draw 2 cubes out of the bag, keep 1 and place the other back in it - this would mirror the start location mechanic), or do we simply have a mechanic in place for resolving disputes and leave players with the choice?


As far as the assigned starting locations, when we play, sometimes we arrange them to do specific scenarios (like a WW2 themed game - you can imagine where each faction would be), but I would say that generally I'd probably still leave these random, with only the option to have a specific start spot.

NecroNuke9 wrote:
I am curious. If the stretch goals are reached for the two new factions, what type of theme are they and what would their abilities be?


I'll go ahead and post those ones later today, I really hope we get the Orange Faction at least since the theme is a lot of fun.
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To randomize the faction why not just shuffle the cards and deal them out, players could then select their start location as you have in the rules, then reveal faction and location at the same time.

This avoids having to supply a bag with the game, also it stays secret until locations are shown.
 
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Storgar wrote:

BLACK - Communist/Soviet themed:
1: Proletariat rule - During the mobilization phase, place 1 additional unit.
2: Iron Curtain - Whenever you successfully defend a territory from being conquered by another faction, place 1 new unit into that territory after the battle ends.
1- Gives 1 unit per round no more no less.
2- Difficult to know how often this would apply could be a few in one round or almost never, largely decided by the other players.


We play tested with this faction yesterday. The second power was what was rolled - it actually played really well. It makes attacking this faction a really big deal - as an attacker, you need to know you're going to win or you'll just make them stronger.

Storgar wrote:

BLUE - Western Democracy/USA themed:
1. Gunboat Diplomacy - Whenever your units are either attacking or defending a sea zone, roll a bonus special die each round of combat.
2. Capitalism - During the mobilization phase, place 1 extra unit for each sphere of influence you control.
1- This would give the player a potential massive advantage if used correctly, effectively you have a 66% chance of gaining 1 unit (via kill or defend) in each round of combat in defending or attacking. This would be easy to manipulate as the player would need to take and hold sea zones. But in a later round of play this could easily become several units advantage from attacks and defence. The down side is that you have to hold sea zones that give no bonus.
2- I would say getting 1 zone is not going to be that hard unless you are looking at lots of players. So assume 1 per round minimum but could be 2 or maybe 3.


Your assessment here is pretty spot on. The first power is very situational - in some games there is a lot of sea based combat, in some games barely any. Like you said, to take advantage of this ability you need to keep a fleet in the sea - which while threatening - doesn't gain you anything since holding sea zones have no value.

Storgar wrote:

BROWN - Caliphate themed:
1. Holy City - You begin the game with 3 additional units on your original capital city.
2. Pilgrimage - On your turn, a single unit may perform a redeploy as a free action.
1- 3 units as a 1 off is not as many as some above but having them all at the start may be worth the sacrifice.
2- This appears to be weak on first impression, 1 unit is not likely to make a big difference.


Brown is probably one of the most interesting teams... the extra 3 units means 2 things - on the first round, you immediately jeopardize any nearby faction, and secondly you are in a position where realistically you can expand however you want without the risk of someone following you up. For instance, sometimes there are games where two opposing factions starts in Mexico City and Washington. Both players want to grab Texas - its got oil and its worth 2, and its a space which jeopardizes both capitals. That said, in order to hold it, typically a faction must 2 units, since if they move only one, the other player, on their turn, might very well gamble to the 2 v 1 battle and take it. Having the extra 3 units means you start the game as the untouchable bully for at least the first and possibly second round.

As far as the second power goes - this is one at first glance would definitely feel very weak, especially if you haven't played the game too much. Its a little hard to explain, but we (me + my core play testers) consider this to be one of the most interesting powers of all of them, since it lets you do sneaky stuff, and since it can be employed on every single one of your turns (if you have 7 turns in a round, thats 7 free tiny actions that together might move around units in such a way as to create an unexpected army another player has to challenge).

Storgar wrote:

GREEN - Dynastic/Eastern Asia themed:
1. Warrior Code - Whenever you discard a special card to initiate desperate fighting, you may roll an additional special die.
2. Rapid Expansion: After moving at least 2 units from a territory to a sea zone, you may remove 1 unit from that space in order to perform a bonus action with any of the other units you just moved.
1- Will this get used often??? There are not many special territories that award cards and you don’t start with any so it would appear that this would be a very occasional use ability that only gives a 66% chance of 1 unit.
2- Not sure if I fully understand this one. Which space is the unit moved from – the sea zone or the territory? If you are moving 2 to the sea zone and then can bring a 3rd along why not just move 3? Could this ability just be “when moving at least 3 units into a sea zone they may complete a 2nd action for free.”
This would need 2 or 3 special cards at the start to make ability 1 worth while. Ability 2 seems good.


1. This one is surprising. I'd say during your average game you can expect to probably commit to desperate fighting 1-4 times per game, since there are battles that happen where you just need to win at all cost, and you'd gamble anything to accomplish this. That said, since the types of battles that you're just throwing away cards on are typically battles that have the greatest importance, anything that gives you an edge in that moment is surprisingly good (often these types of battles are being decided between 1 or 2 units living or dying). As one of the only abilities that has the possibility of shaping the outcome of a battle, it has a unique place and its a bit hard to measure its worth. I actually had this ability yesterday, and I love it.
2. I might need to word this one a bit differently, but here's how it works - if you have at least 2 guys on a land space and move them into a sea space, you can kill 1 of the units who just entered that sea space so that the remaining units who moved there can move again. This ability is maybe one of the craziest ones in the game, since you can go island hopping faster than anybody else (for starts like Australia, the Philippines, the UK or Japan, this power could be huge. Conversely, if you get an inland start, you probably won't be using it too much).


Storgar wrote:

PURPLE - Holy Roman Empire/Catholic themed:
1. Mandate - Whenever you take control of a capital city by any means other than annexing, place 1 new unit into that space.
2. Tithe - Whenever you discard a special card during the mobilization phase to place an extra unit, place 2 units instead.
1- This seems like an occasional 1 unit benefit.
2- Again seems very occasional 1 unit benefit.
I would make 1. 3 units due to its occasional nature.
2. again place 3 units and give the player 1 of these cards at the start.


1. This is one thats a bit hard to grasp its potential goodness. Since capital cities are pretty easy to grab, you can expect probably 3-5 extra units over the course of the game without combat, and probably 2-3 extra units if you account for times where you'll take a capital by violence. Since you get the unit in that moment, it also increases the likelihood of holding the space against retaliation.
2. This is another one of those abilities that hard to judge until you've played. I totally understand the rational for you're initial reaction, but I'd say that to get a sense of this particular ability you'd need to see how it could work in the larger framework of the game. So, to give you an example. Lets say you're playing with only 2 players. Each player controls 3 factions. Every time a faction grabs a card, the owner gets that card and can use it on behalf of any of his factions. What a player could do with this ability is go after cards above all else. Early game (1-2 round) between all of his factions he could realistically grab anywhere from 5-8 special cards if he made a concerted effort. Instead of using them to their normal effect, he could funnel all of those card through Purple and gain an additional 10-16 units. Now, all of that said, thats a lot of effort to pull that off, however, if successful, he has an incredibly impressive round 3 army. 3 units for this power would be simply incredible.

Storgar wrote:

RED - Fascist themed:
1. Lightning war - After breaking an opponent's sphere of influence by conquest, you may immediately perform a bonus action.
2. Nationalism - Upon completing a sphere of influence, you may immediately perform a bonus action.
1- Would be occasional but could be used to great effect.
2- Again very occasional but could be useful.
Possibly about right when used efficiently.


Totally agree with you here - extra actions are always good, its just managing how you'll take them.

Storgar wrote:

WHITE - UN/European Union themed
1. Economic Union - During the mobilization phase, you may choose to place 2 less units in order to add a bonus card to the global turn deck.
2. Innovation - Whenever you draw a special card by taking a point of interest, once per turn you may remove 1 of your units from the board (while not emptying out any territory) in order to discard that card to draw a new one.
1- Interesting, not sure at the moment how big an effect this is.
2- Doesn’t seem great, very luck based and it costs you.
Point 2, Maybe change to discard a unit to draw 2 cards when you take a point of interest.


1. So this power is very situational. There are certain areas of the world that are oil deprived but rich in unit production (China/India and Western Europe), where you have this massive armies but you don't have the mobility to use them effectively. This offsets helps to offset that. That said, if you're the Middle East or Russia, you probably don't care too much about gaining an extra action, since Oil really isn't there problem.
2. This is one of the abilities that I admit might have to be changed. Some people play all out for special cards - I don't, but one of our play testers, thats his thing. His early game is all about building a stock of powerful cards, which has 2 effects - psyching us out (who wants to go up against a guy with a handful of cards) and also giving him a lot of creative options. That said, for someone like him, this power would probably be his favorite one in the game, since for him, losing a unit isn't a bad deal to cycle through potential cards. My concern with just making it free to draw 2 cards is that, in my opinion, this would automatically be the best power hands down. I know it doesn't seem like that, but trust me - that would be an amazing power.

Storgar wrote:

YELLOW - African themed:
1. Tradition - At the start of your first turn, draw a special card.
2. Population Boom - Whenever you complete a sphere of influence by any means other than annexing, place 2 units into the territory you just took.
1- Could be useful, bit luck based but would possibly give a good advantage in key battles.
2- Occasional but you do get 2 units as opposed to the 1 unit that similar effects on other cards give.
1, Maybe increase to 2 or 3 cards or have on each odd numbered round draw 1 special card.
2, Increase to 3 units to make up for how occasional it will be.


1. I might need to change the wording on this one (which will probably make you like it even less) - this power only grants a special card on the faction's very first turn of the entire game, not their first turn per round. This makes it probably the most random ability in the game, but if they get the right opening card it could give them an incredible number of options.
2. This one is deceptively good (I'm looking forward to you actually getting to play so you can do more than take my word for it! haha). I'd be up for maybe bumping it, but I'd like you to see it first. An Africa opening, South America, or Island team faction would love this ability.


Storgar wrote:

PINK - Chinese Communist Themed:
PINK - Chinese Communist Themed:
1. Modernization - Whenever you take a point of interest, you may choose to perform a bonus action instead of drawing a special card.
2. 5-Year Plan - During the mobilization phase, you may contribute 2 less turn cards to this round's global turn deck in order to take 1 special card of your choice from the discard pile.
1- Occasional and has a cost attached.
2- Is a special cards really worth 2 of your turns??? Also you get nothing until a special card has been played which could be a while into the game.
1, should not have a cost get the card and the turn as it going to be occasional.
2, This seems to cost an awful lot, could you sacrifice 3 or 4 units re-enforcements to select the card instead.


1. The first power is a little hard to measure - I'd say one of the most popular cards in the game is Air Supremacy, which lets you take a bonus action - so this card is effectively "giving" you that (if you want) every time you take a point of interest. Its one of those abilities thats a bit hard to quantify, but I can't tell you how many times we've played where we take a point of interest and we are just begging to draw an Air Supremacy (either because we want to expand in the early game, or because we need just 1 more action to really hit a certain opponent).
2. I agree, this one might need to be made a bit cheaper (maybe like you said with units instead). The reason its so expensive is because you might be able to draw a Nuke or an ICBM from the discard pile at will, and while there are no "game winning" cards, there are definitely times when the right card can massively tip the scales.

Storgar wrote:

TEAL - Monarchial Themed:
1. Rivalry - Whenever you attack a territory containing a capital city, you may roll a bonus special die during each round of combat.
2. Unilateralism - During the final round, you may contribute up to 3 bonus turn cards to the global turn deck (this only applies to the last round, not bonus-tie breaker rounds).
1- Occasional use but can be used multiple times when used. You would assume players will defend a capitol well, so the battle should be large and last a number of rounds. Each round you have a 66% chance of gaining a 1 unit bonus. This ability may only get used once or twice in a game but could give a 3or 4 unit advantage when used.
2- Very interesting could make you a huge threat in the last round, as long as you have amassed the troops ready for it. The downside is that other players do know you are going to get it and will do their best to prepare.
Seems like an interesting one that could fit well.


Agree with you on both of these.

Storgar wrote:

To randomize the faction why not just shuffle the cards and deal them out, players could then select their start location as you have in the rules, then reveal faction and location at the same time.

This avoids having to supply a bag with the game, also it stays secret until locations are shown.


Definitely might do that. My only hesitation was that I was debating on making the cards double sided - with one ability per side (this would mean you'd no longer need a cube marker for track which ability you get and I'd have more room for larger text, and clearer descriptions for any powers which were confusing).
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Thank you for taking the time to reply to mine and others posts.

You have provided a lot of extra flavour in how these abilities work, and yes I will take your word for them, for now at least lol. I will definitely be printing these out with the game and using them from the word go, they should really add an interesting extra dynamic.

Not long now and we can get our PnP files and print it out

I can see your point about double sided cards, hmmm I really like the look of the cards you have shown though You will just have to do what you think works the best, if they can fit on 1 side that's nice, if not I sure that will be nice too.

As regards purple number 2 from what you have said above it would appear that this will greatly change depending on the number of players, from very good to not so good. Can you add something to games where you only control 1 faction, like a card or 2 being awarded at the start of the game.
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Storgar wrote:
Thank you for taking the time to reply to mine and others posts.

You have provided a lot of extra flavour in how these abilities work, and yes I will take your word for them, for now at least lol. I will definitely be printing these out with the game and using them from the word go, they should really add an interesting extra dynamic.

Not long now and we can get our PnP files and print it out

I can see your point about double sided cards, hmmm I really like the look of the cards you have shown though You will just have to do what you think works the best, if they can fit on 1 side that's nice, if not I sure that will be nice too.

As regards purple number 2 from what you have said above it would appear that this will greatly change depending on the number of players, from very good to not so good. Can you add something to games where you only control 1 faction, like a card or 2 being awarded at the start of the game.


You might have a point with Purple... let me think about it, (not trying to dismiss it, its just I have to play it out a little in my mind, haha).

Yeah I'm really looking forward to everyone having a chance to play, and for some feedback on the abilities. Plus, once everyone has had a chance to interact with the game, I'm sure some really great ideas will come out that I haven't though of yet.

Do me a favor though - before you use the abilities, play the game at least twice! Its not that I don't think you'll be able to handle it (I'd probably imagine that anyone posting on this thread is going to grasp this game very quickly), it just I want you (and everyone else) to experience the game first before the abilities color that experience. I'm painfully aware that these powers are in BETA and although I think we're onto something here, it would really upset me to find out that a couple of abilities are really over/underbalanced (which could easily happen) and people walk away from the game interpreting it on that level. I'm very confident with the base game of Spheres - we've played this game to death - but when it comes to these abilities we're definitely exploring uncharted territories. I'm going to try to get in a bunch of games before the PNP files get sent out using the abilities, so hopefully we'll be able to catch some of them that are way out there. As we get some more time with them, I'll be posting updates at the top level of this thread with changes.
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Roger Roger
Will play a few times with no faction abilities then introduce them.
 
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I really like the thematic abilities set forth, and I believe with a little creativity they could be adapted to the suggestions I've seen. If each faction card has the same back, they could be shuffled and dealt 2 at a time to each player. The player could then make his selection of which faction (and ability) we would like to control and take the pieces of that color. For those who wish to see geographic correlation to abilities/factions, a chart or map could be provided showing which capital cities correlate to which factions and abilities. This time, the player would be dealt location cards prior to choosing factions. Both of these could be implemented without redesign of the cards or loss of thematic elements of the game.
As a side note, some of the abilities seem a bit overpowered, such as Holy City and Gunboat Diplomacy. Have the abilities been play-tested to determine balance?
 
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SlayerOfTheStars wrote:
I really like the thematic abilities set forth, and I believe with a little creativity they could be adapted to the suggestions I've seen. If each faction card has the same back, they could be shuffled and dealt 2 at a time to each player. The player could then make his selection of which faction (and ability) we would like to control and take the pieces of that color. For those who wish to see geographic correlation to abilities/factions, a chart or map could be provided showing which capital cities correlate to which factions and abilities. This time, the player would be dealt location cards prior to choosing factions. Both of these could be implemented without redesign of the cards or loss of thematic elements of the game.
As a side note, some of the abilities seem a bit overpowered, such as Holy City and Gunboat Diplomacy. Have the abilities been play-tested to determine balance?


Yeah, I'm beginning to think having the backs be uniform would be good, since it gives us a fair amount of options.

At this point, we've only had a couple of days to play test the abilities, so only a few have seen any gameplay. We've already tweaked a couple, and a couple of others feel decent (so far), but they all need a great deal more attention. I'll be making adjustments to the forum post as edits are made (I'll make notations so everyone can see).

Also, of all the abilities that exist, I'm probably the most concerned right now with Holy City as presently the most overbalanced, so good call.
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UPDATE

Changed Browns 1st ability:
OLD - Brown began the game with 3 additional units. Although this doesn't seem like much, it gave him a moderate shot of knocking out another faction entirely on the first round (if a faction began too close to him).
NEW - Whenever Brown passes it'll be allowed to place 1 new unit in its original capital city, provided it still controls it.

Updated Green's 2nd ability:
Thought the wording was a little too muddled, hopefully its clearer now.

All of these changes are reflected on the original post.
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