The State of Balance

Discussion in 'Puzzle-Strike: Bag of Chips' started by ChadMiller, Aug 9, 2010.

  1. ChadMiller

    ChadMiller Well-Known Member

    So, the question of whether any more balance changes should be made came up in chat last night. Sirlin asked me to post today so I figured I'd give as comprehensive and opinion as I can.

    Characters: I think the balance of the game looks something like this:

    A+ tier: Lum - Top tier according to nearly everyone. No longer crazy broken; I think Chump made a good comparison when he called it "Metaknight tier," in that maybe he's the best character and too good but he's definitely beatable. In other words, maybe justifies tournament banning but not the end of the world in casual play (except he's also easy to play so maybe casual players will have trouble countering him?).
    A tier: Grave, Rook, Arg, Setsuki, Val - Other top tier candidates depending on who you ask, I have yet to see anyone disagree that any of these is either top or upper mid
    A- tier: Degrey - No one I have encountered thinks he is really good or really bad, nor am I hearing any complaints about him from anyone about anything.
    B- tier: Midori - I don't think anyone puts him top, some people think he's mid
    F+ tier: Geiger - Most people put him as bottom/unplayable with a few dissenters putting him as mid
    F tier: Jaina - Almost universally agreed unplayable

    Community chips: All seem to be in a good place, except Secret Move (which seems to be worthless) and a few chips that have maybe a little too much synergy with individual characters (Arg/RA, Sets/RM, etc). Nothing worth even looking at changing in my opinion.

    Balance philosophy: I'm surprised balance changes are even being considered, or I would have mentioned a lot of this stuff sooner. My attitude is still that changes should not be made unless absolutely necessary, and since they will presumably be done without testing, absolutely nothing whose effect cannot be gauged almost 100%. So, with that in mind:

    Lum: The money question. The possibility that Lum is unacceptably powerful is the only reason I would even consider any changes at all. Poker Winnings is a little too simple and elegant to change, and I think Panda's Bargain has already been nerfed as far as it can go without fundamentally changing the chip. Living on the Edge, on the other hand, is too consistent. It happens every game and 8 or 9 is still far enough from death to reliably save him, either that turn or on the next (since he will see, like, his entire deck in that time). The idea is supposed to be a "exciting save me from death" chip but instead it's "engine piece that always comes online in the endgame." If I had a time machine, change #1 is to Make Living on the Edge work at pile 10 instead of 8.

    A tier and Degrey: Do absolutely nothing. All of these characters are fine, and I don't think anyone has changes in mind for any of them that are guaranteed improvements to the game.

    Midori: Maybe he's underpowered, but he's also weird and has been on both ends of the spectrum in testing. No one has come up with a buff that's not too dangerous to give him blind, so I think we have to just live with it.

    Jaina: Giving a red arrow on Burning Vigor would make her play better with Stolen Purples, Really Annoying, and Mixmaster, which is fine. Chump hates that she's still dependent on reds, but I think it's too late to care about that. Suggested change: Burning vigor has red arrow

    Geiger: We know that an ideal Geiger is somewhere between what he is now and that god-tier version where all of his chips kept parity. Future Sight ends his turn (without forks of course) and is therefore the safest chip to buff. Right now he just runs out of cards and usually pitches his character chips to each other because he can't keep enough of a hand to buy anything otherwise. Having him put one chip fewer back is safer than letting him draw extra chips, and I am suggesting these changes without any testing, so safer is better. Suggested change: Future Sight puts one chip back instead of two.

    In conclusion, my suggestion for the next printing is one of the following:

    If Lum is at an acceptable level, no change
    If Lum is too good but we are going for an "as little as possible" approach, then LotE threshold becomes 10.
    If Lum is too good and the attitude becomes "three changes isn't much worse than one," then nerf LotE, and buff BV and FS just to give the bottom tier a little welcome help.

    EDIT: After some discussion in chat, I endorse: Dragon Form makes crashes unreactable (thus stuffing Gemonade and Stone Wall). If replacement chips are not going to be reissued, this is a minor "bug fix" that I think wouldn't draw major complaints from people with existing sets, nor would it break anything from a balance standpoint.

    EDIT2: While I still don't care about the chip, I've been convinced that Secret Move Cost 3 is probably for the best balancewise but logistically maybe not worth it.
  2. ChumpChange

    ChumpChange Well-Known Member Staff Member

    A+ tier is less of a problem if the character has tricky nuances, but Lum is also the easiest and most boring character; autopilot Lum doesn't win 100% but is depressingly consistent with LotE.
  3. ApolloAndy

    ApolloAndy Well-Known Member

    In tourney play according to the rules we used (loser gets char change, bank swap and chooses who goes first) I don't think Lum was that devastating. I saw a lot of Arg/RA and Sets/RM and got my RH's taken away every time (I played Lum all six games that I was around for) and went 2-1 and 2-1. So I don't think Lum was going to dominate the tournament in its current format.

    That said, in casual play or rand/rand/rand Lum is both boring and dominant. Instead of having 1 or 1.5 chips that he has a particularly strong synergy with, he has 3 or 4 or possibly 5 (*RH*, ICT, CAH, MP, OoE). And basically you can just play him on autopilot: "Buy the biggest engine piece you can or a combine." Coupled with the fact that he almost never has less than $4 means that he can ignore the entire pool except his synergy chips. This probably wouldn't be as big a deal if LotE didn't save him every single time he got close to the top. (Boring is okay, and dominant is okay, but boring and dominant is a really bad combination).

    Another thing, which may just be the flavor of the character is that Lum is very dependent on his opening draws. (i.e. does he get a $6 draw, which happens about 50% of the time).

    So prioirty changes:
    Lum definitely needs a nerf. Even if there are tournament formats where he's not God tier, in casual play he is, which is bad.

    The issue is that he is 50/50 excellent/good early, excellent late no matter what, and decent midgame. I think LotE->10 is a good move and will severely weaken his late game, but I think it's on the conservative side. Because of the power of his early game, my guess is he'll still be top tier which means he may still end up being good and really boring, though not dominant in casual play. I have no idea what you could do about his early game without dramatically changing the nature of the character or introducing some crazy ass flavor mechanic (like you have to flip a coin to get poker winnings to pay out) which is probably too dramatic a change for our purposes.

    I completely agree with the change to Jaina. One of her biggest problems is that actually playing burning vigor turns out to be a lot harder than it seems which means that unstable power is a lot weaker than it seems. +Red arrow is exactly the change that I would propose. The other possibility was to leave it as it is, but allow her to expunge more than 1 wound (possibly creating more than [1] ante) so the reward for getting it out is greater. Without more testing, Red Arrow is probably the safest bet. I suspect it won't move her up that much (though I think she's playable in her current state. I would give her a C-, honestly). +black would probably be too much because they it's basically just a free chip every time.

    Geiger - I don't get him, I don't like him, I don't play him so my opinion is meaningless on this one. When I do play him (in random) I just go monopurp and only use Future Sight when I have nothing else to do. Henry proposed just giving him +drawx2, +pigx2 so the put backs are optional.

    Other changes:
    I may be in the minority on this, but the pig mechanic seems pretty weak. Secret move is the primary example, but OoE is the weakest $6 (IMO), and the TD pig is like a spoiler on a car - looks nice, but doesn't really do anything. I also personally never use the pig with Grave or Val. I do use it with Sets.

    One change which may be too dramatic - pigs don't count against your draw for the next turn. From a real world cost standpoint, the nice thing about this is it doesn't change any chips - just a line in the rulebook. It may still leave Secret Move in the waste bin though.

    Maybe just implement that mechanic for SM somehow (Ongoing: current pig, +O with your draw, if you do).

    The other possible buff for SM is to have it come directly into play when bought instead of needing to cycle and taking up an action.

    Pigs in general are weak, but not game wrecklingly so. However, in its current incarnation, SM might as well be an empty spot in the bank to me so I definitely think it needs a buff of some sort (whether it be mechanical or specific to the chip).
  4. Fry

    Fry Well-Known Member

    LotE is definitely the source of Lum's power, and I'm kind of amazed it didn't get changed at some point after "draw more at the end of your turn" Height Bonus got added to the game (which was right after I stopped testing, frown). If we were still in a testing phase I would recommend changing threshold 8->9 *or* draws 4->3 as baby steps to see if that mitigates the problem. Since we are in "game is already shipping", what a pickle. I don't have any good suggestions.

    Tier list feels about right.
  5. Fry

    Fry Well-Known Member

    Why flip a coin? Flip the chip itself. :D
  6. Sirlin

    Sirlin Steward of the Realm Staff Member

    Would people be mad if a second printing had those changes? Or would it be better to do them?
  7. ChadMiller

    ChadMiller Well-Known Member

    it used to work this way and I think that version lasted about 30 minutes. With Setsuki in particular I had 8 card hands, like, every other turn to every turn.

    Geiger, I cannot stress enough that he used to be god-tier with surprisingly little difference. Making all three of his chips lose chip parity hit a kind of critical mass where he can never assemble a hand, but letting him, say, buy 12p and then TftP it back and use Future Sight to draw with no drawback is, frankly, scary. It turns out you can do a lot of horrible things when you have two tutors and a draw chip. Making FS +2 draw +2 pig in addition to pig change would make him far worse than lum is now, guaranteed.

    I buy Training Day as Jaina and definitely wouldn't if it didn't have +pig. I also think OOE is better for Jaina than RH for the same reason. Also, it comes up with Val quite a bit, I actually did it 3 times in one game (even I was surprised at how useful it was turning out). Secret Move, meh. It was introduced when pig mechanic was introduced, it got buffed twice and still never ended up playable, but honestly, fixing it enough to make it good is a substantial change to the game's ecosystem with one of the game's least understood mechanics (pig was added very late) so I can't get too enthusiastic about fixing it.
  8. Boco

    Boco Member

    I have played multiple games where cards had balance errata (notably Vampire, as Magic just makes functional reprints and bans the original card). It's not too much trouble to remember the change, but it's a lot of trouble to inform people about the changes.
  9. Alhazard

    Alhazard Well-Known Member

    Having different versions of the game, I think, would be a business ending PR disaster.

    Unless you offer to sell the updates at a very cheap price, but it would be ugly to have people playing different versions of the game.
  10. ApolloAndy

    ApolloAndy Well-Known Member

    One interesting side effect of change Geiger's Future Sight to +drawx2 +pigx2 is that I think it removes the "top of bag" mechanic from the game.

    As for Geiger's Time for the Past, one of the reasons I can't play Geiger is it seems like this chip is too restrictive:

    1) It has a brown arrow (instead of black)
    2) You have to trade a chip for the one you get
    3) You can only retrieve a puzzle chip

    If you only had 2 out of these 3 restrictions, and the +drawx2 +pigx2 for future sight I think Geiger would be more playable and more enjoyable for me.
  11. ChumpChange

    ChumpChange Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Well, that is why huge changes are out of the question - 1-3 changes that the average person likely wouldn't notice unless the chips were side by side seems like it could be fine, though?
  12. ApolloAndy

    ApolloAndy Well-Known Member

    Interesting historical notes.

    I actually don't have a huge problem with any char or any chip being severely underpowered. It would be nice if Jaina and Geiger got a buff, but I enjoy playing Jaina as an underdog (I don't really enjoy playing Geiger).

    The pig mechanic is probably fine the way it is, given its history, but if there is one pool chip that needs some kind of change, I think it's SM and I think it needs a fairly substantial buff.

    Any thoughts on SM plays automatically when you buy it?
  13. ApolloAndy

    ApolloAndy Well-Known Member

    I know Pandemic had a change in the bits in a second printing and I think it had some slight rule changes (I also know Matt Leacock has had to some clarification of edge cases retroactively). Then again, Pandemic is a cooperative game, so you're not going to encounter too much fuss about people who have played different version meeting each other.

    You may want to check ask in the board game design forums over at BGG since they are almost certainly more qualified to answer than we are.
  14. Ham

    Ham Member

    If the updates were complimentary (maybe +shipping), minor and few it wouldn't be a big deal; most players wouldn't notice the difference, and the competitive players with an older copy would likely be informed enough to know about the chip replacements if they wanted to be up to date.
  15. SillySod

    SillySod Active Member

    Been meaning to start forum discussion on character tiers for a little while now. But first...

    Are you referring to the discussion between me and Sotek? (or Soteeek) If so then its worth mentioning that neither of us are expecting the game to change. I think we were just discussing changes for the fun of discussing changes.

    Here are the tiers as I see them....

    Tier 1 - Arg, Lum, Rook, Setsuki, Val
    Tier 2 - Degray, Grave, Geiger
    Tier 3 - Jaina, Midori

    Tier 1 doesnt have a standout best character. Not yet. Lum is dull and easy to play but he can be beaten. Note that Lum lacks alot of the subtle but powerful tricks other characters can play using +pig and +draw. Setsuki is hard to classify.

    Tier 2 has two characters that look Tier 1 and one character that looks Tier 3. Degray and Grave both have some pretty good chips but lack a killer edge. They can take on the tier 1 characters but dont perform quite as well overall. Geiger is reasonably good against most characters but really struggles against some of the top characters... I guess you could argue that this makes him Tier 3 although he is pretty decent in alot of his matchups.

    Tier 3 has the two characters who are most likely to get randomly screwed. Jaina and Midori are both pretty scary to play against.... if they dont fall flat on their faces. Midori has a sluggish start (purge removes buypower, chips lack arrows) which Rigorous Training rarely compensates for. Dragon Form is quite powerful but incredibly tricky to play, especially if Midori facing a poke-heavy character. Midori also has to be able to tap the power of the dragon earlier than his opponent contructs their engine otherwise dragon form is kind of moot. Jaina is dangerous but her chips have to come out at the right time. Alot of the time Burning Vigour is useless because it turns up alongside the crash or in a woundless hand. Drawing the double crash at the wrong time is harsh too because it comes with such a hefty price. Playing With Fire is ok but definately not the best chip around.

    If we're talking changes...

    Playing With Fire - gains +pig, this gives Jaina a tool with which to rearrange her deck and mitigate some of the disasterous draws she is prone to.

    Lum - something to make him less boring. Replace LOTE with some kinky panda version of gem essence. Maybe ditch pandas bargain in favour of a +draw/+$ chip (very useful if he has a built in fork). Literally anything to make him fun and characterful.

    Geiger wants more chips, both Research & Development and Its Time For The Past reduce the number of chips you can actually use. Future Sight only replacing one chip seems like a great change.

    Dragon Form - make all crashes unreactable. Being stonewalled in Dragon Form isnt funny.

    Purge Bad Habits - add a black arrow. This card feel slow because it doesnt give you the money straight away (actually it usually removes money you did have) and you cant do anything else productive while you play it.

    (as I said, I'd only implement these changes in an ideal world where money was no object and the pixies roam wild and free)
  16. ChumpChange

    ChumpChange Well-Known Member Staff Member

    This thread is for discussing things that are actually feasible to do. Chad's post is a reflection of several hours spent in the chat specifically discussing why various suggestions you're reiterated are bad and completely unfeasible to put in without extensive testing.

    edit: That goes for anyone talking about Secret Move too.
  17. vivafringe

    vivafringe Moderator Staff Member

    I am already pretty cheesed that I spent a lot of money on a game with bad printing and bad balance, but further changes to fix an admitted mistake would not make me more angry. Mistakes that the developer chooses to fix are preferable to mistakes that the developer refuses to acknowledge.

    A "just in case" suggestion: what about Stolen Purples? Especially in multiplayer games, the chip seems to warp how the game is played. Stealing a person's Crash Chip can be almost the same as killing them in some cases. As you add players, it becomes more and more likely for this to happen even if no one buys any Combines. For better or worse, it is also a hard counter to the standard "mass-Combines" strategy that seems to dominate most Puzzle Strike play.
  18. SillySod

    SillySod Active Member

    In that case, if the discussion was truly serious....

    I'd either make a proper set of changes or not make any at all. Puzzle Strike balance is by no means terrible, we have at least 5 contenders for "best character". If you wanted to make changes then you could bring out the next print as "2nd edition" or Puzzle Strike 1.2 or something. This wouldnt really be a problem for people because they are likely to play with just one set. Just make sure that "1.2" is clear on the box so they can figure it out if it ever becomes an issue.

    We certainly shouldnt be looking at a solution where people play with chips that dont do exactly what they say they do.
  19. ChadMiller

    ChadMiller Well-Known Member

    FWIW I've heard the manufacturer is offering to replace bad printings for free, so if there are significant problems I would talk to Sirlin about that.

    I will fight tooth and nail against a change along the lines giving Midori any arrows at all. Not at all safe to add without testing.

    Stolen Purples, used to only discard and not steal then was bad, then stole one and didn't self-trash but was broken. I think countering mono-purp is good, and making people buy an extra crash if they are afraid of it doesn't seem bad. Do you have a suggestion in mind, viva?

    I wonder how 1st edition buyers would react if they got 2nd edition Print and Play for free as a way to apply these changes (either by pasting over the existing chips or using the supplied blanks)? Is that even an option?
  20. Sirlin

    Sirlin Steward of the Realm Staff Member

    There you go again about bad balance vivafringe. I think you're way off base in how balance goes in all other asymmetric games. Have some perspective here. You got a game way, way above the par for balance (for example, more balnaced than probably most capcom games), with a free update mailed to you at my expense. As for printing problems, that really sucks, and you'll get free stuff mailed to you to fix that too. And if those new chips don't fix the printing problems, you'll get more free chips and more free chips after that until it's fixed.

    Anyway BOTH of those issues are a derailment of the thread. The real question is whether it's better to do no changes or more than no changes. I see a couple people answered.
  21. vivafringe

    vivafringe Moderator Staff Member

    Again, I am not sure if the chip is a problem. Still, to me it seems to currently be the most game-warping and the most possibly unbalanced community chip after ICT at 6. It feels like Pirate Ship from Dominion; borderline overpowered depending on the other chips in play and radically game-warping. In the same way that there are "Pirate Ship games" and "non-Pirate Ship games," I predict that matchups and chip composition are going to vary wildly based on whether SP is in play.

    On one hand there is nothing automatically bad about this - in fact the whole purpose of differing community chips is to change the game a bit. But when you have such a drastic change as SP, it opens up potentially degenerate situations that are easy to miss. For instance, you might decide that Grave vs. Valerie is even, only to later discover that when SP is in play Grave becomes a huge favorite.

    The safe change off the top of my head would be to make SP cost 5, so that it costs as much as a Crash Gem. That way by the time people are buying SP, they can also defensively build Crash Gems. But again I don't know if this is necessary or not. I'm just saying that someone should test SP a lot so that it doesn't become PS's second skullclamp.
  22. ApolloAndy

    ApolloAndy Well-Known Member

    Andreas Seyfarth (designer of Puerto Rico) once said in an interview that if he had to do it all over again he would make one building cost $1 more and one building cost $1 less. Since the community had sort of already agreed that they were overpowered/underpowered respectively, I know a lot of people have adopted that as an official house rule (and I personally think it makes the game more balanced). I have no idea whether the change is used in tournaments or not since I only play Puerto Rico casually.

    Any possibility of doing something similar? Have a (very short) list of "Designer sanctioned changes" that players can implement if they so choose?
  23. vivafringe

    vivafringe Moderator Staff Member

    I answered as well. To reiterate I am angry about other things but would not be angry about some changes for next printing.
  24. ChadMiller

    ChadMiller Well-Known Member

    If such a thing existed, it seems like this would be the perfect reason to have an "errata PnP set" that consisted of the chips in question with the recommended changes applied, available to anyone who has purchased the game.
  25. Lenbo

    Lenbo Member

    "We create premium, designer games. Years of care go into these game designs to make sure they strike the right balance of depth and elegance and to make sure the characters are balanced against each other. Each game features 10 characters with different gameplay, so find the character that suits your personal style."

    With this sort of mission statement from on the front page, Sirlin and anyone who purchases his games would want them to be as balanced (as good) as possible. If it's feasible to improve the game, then I think it should be done.

    I personally have no qualms with these kind of changes. In the same way the best developers patch their games to improve them, I think Sirlin Games should be known for the same support.
  26. hitogoroshi

    hitogoroshi Active Member

    You wouldn't even need a check to make sure anyone had "purchased the game". Just make it a free download with only the errated chips.

    My two cents: if the next printing is going to be cheaper and on different material, I think putting in the balance changes and calling it "second edition" plainly is the way to go, with free PnP errata. It'll be clear on the front whether or not you're getting the balance changes. This marginally shafts the early adopters, but at least in my case, the ease of fixing the problem (I can sticker the errata over the chip, put it on a blank, or just remember the change as I do for some other games) isn't as bad as the "cool factor" of having a first edition copy of puzzle strike.
  27. vivafringe

    vivafringe Moderator Staff Member

    Some perspective: Yomi is a well-balanced game. I'm a bit sad that it is not quite perfect, however, as I think just a bit more tweaking (8-9 switch on Midori, 40 damage AAA on Grave, etc.) would have made it one of the most well-balanced asymmetric games evar. If a good Midori change ends up going through, I think Yomi balance will be excellent (it might be enough to bump Yomi from 9/10 to 10/10).

    OTOH, I think the analogy of Lum being Metaknight tier is pretty close to the mark. Few people would claim that SSB:B is "way above the bar" in balance. That is why there is a "Balanced Brawl" thread on this site. Similarly Puzzle Strike is maybe fine for casual play (I had a few fun games where I gave Lum to my Mom), but is currently bad for tourney play. So I stand by my remark that PS balance as it stands is "bad." Remember, I never said Yomi balance was bad.
  28. Sirlin

    Sirlin Steward of the Realm Staff Member

    Oh ok, we just wildly disagree on when to apply the label "bad" then. We're both looking at the same thing and I think it should be called "great." A tiny change can make it "even better." I just think you have no sense of perspective here. Like SF4 sagat is similar to Lum probably and that game, while bad, derives like none of its badness from Sagat's power level.

    So yeah I disagree with your use of the word bad to describe the situation and I hope others also disagree and post as much to counteract your posts, frankly. We're talking about improving a good thing here.

    EDIT: Also Stolen Purples "warping the game" is just negative framing on a positive thing, too. It's doing exactly what it's supposed to do. Forever, attacks sucked. Chump has some pause too until he realized his concern was "hmm, an attack that could actually win the game, wait is that allowed?!" Answer: yes, it's allowed so that attacks are worthwhile. Better to discuss things within the ballpark of reasonable to change, if there are any changes. That list so far seems to be exactly Chad's list with no other crazy stuff being thrown around here.
  29. vivafringe

    vivafringe Moderator Staff Member

    If changing SP from 4 to 5 is not reasonable, then ok. I definitely support all of Chad's suggested changes.
  30. caraigger

    caraigger New Member

    Having just bought the game, I would feel a little cheated if I did not receive the chips that should have been implemented in the game. I'm also all for changing the chips to improve the balance as that is exactly why I got this game in the first place. So if there was some cheap option to obtain the replacement chips, I'd still be a happy customer.
  31. Sirlin

    Sirlin Steward of the Realm Staff Member

    caraigger that's the tricky part. The game is fine as it is, so we could just leave it. There is no such thing as "the chips you should have gotten" unless you also feel that SF2, SF:CE, SF2:HF, SSF2, ST, SFA1, SFA2, CvS1, CVS2, SF3, SF3:2I, SF3:3s, SF4, and SSF4 all fit into that same category. Really, it's a question of whether to make a thing better or not. But no matter what the true case, you might very well perceive that you are slighted by the game improving. I know that many people who bought an ipod feel slighted when a new ipod comes out. Reasonable or not, they feel that way.

    Making replacement chips for version1 sounds kind of infeasible. There is no way I can do that for free, and if you have to pay for it, you will perceive that there was some big problem, even if there wasn't and it's just minor improvements.
  32. Sotek

    Sotek Well-Known Member

    I would at this time say "free errata PnP, plus balance changes is the way to go".

    I have given my thoughts on balance changes some already.
  33. Bridger

    Bridger Member

    Are you out of your mind? Damned near every board game I've ever bought had some kind of errata or a second edition printed later with changes to make the game better. We have to assume that if 20 people are testing a game they are going to miss something that 1000 people are not. Therefore, once a game is out in the wild, some special combination or whatever will become too strong/weak, and require change to keep the game entertaining. That's why there are errata put out for board games and patches for video games. To stand up and say "the entire industry is doing it but for PS it's going to be a disaster" is a bit pessimistic to say the least.

    As a (future) owner of the deluxe version which is printing now, I do not have a problem with the game being updated for a new version. I would expect to have the errata'd chips available for download so I could print them out and stick them to the chips with some wood cement.

    SP is a pain in the ass, and it can definitely win you the game (or at least knock out someone else). Near the end game is when it is at it's most powerful, as discarding all purples is pretty devastating to someone who is over 10 for the turn. On the other hand, this makes any character or puzzle chips with +draws to be much more useful in any game with SP.

    I am torn over the concept of changing it to 5. I am certain I would still buy it at 5. At 4 it seems like a no brainer whenever I play (I always buy it when I would otherwise buy my first combine). I don't feel there's anything wrong with it necessarily, but I do feel the game might play a little less messy with it at 5. The feeling you get when all your plans become worthless due to someone playing SP is not a good one. Other chips will hurt you in predictable ways and will still let you execute your own strategy. SP restricts your turn and often causes you to lose because you aren't able to do what you wanted to. There seems to be a tangible difference that gives a hint of the "that's BS!" vibe.

    Like I said, I'm torn :)

    Re: Char chip edits:

    I never really had a problem with geiger, but I haven't played him much so I'll bow to others conclusions. I think the simplest method is give him the two +pig and eliminate the whole "on the bag" thing since that's exactly what the pig mechanic is anyway.

    Re: Secret Move

    Why not let SM work differently than pig. SM lets you take a chip from your hand that was used this turn and keep it/place on bag. That would make it much more interesting (price may need to be adjusted, as would ongoing status). This is a fairly fundamental change, but I can't think of any small tweaks that would make me want to buy it.
  34. ApolloAndy

    ApolloAndy Well-Known Member

    I don't know how SP even got into the discussion, but I am completely against changing it at $5. Reds are already tricky to play (trying to juggle pile control and attack power), especially for a char that doesn't already have red tendencies. Having a high powered red ender (sadly Mixmaster does not fit that bill) is key to getting a red strategy to work. It's also a crapshoot and sometimes you just end up with a combine (which is good but only marginally worth the effort) and sometimes you end up with nothing but a wasted turn.

    And yes, now that I think about the board games I own and play, the vast majority of them have some balance tweaks or rule tweaks in a second edition, second print run, or expansion.
  35. vivafringe

    vivafringe Moderator Staff Member

    It seems like the reasoning that SP is ok is that there are other red chips that exist, and they are bad. Should that really matter here? If a chip is too good, it is too good regardless of whether there are similar chips that are bad.
  36. Sotek

    Sotek Well-Known Member

    SP is fine, and if SP was not fine, making it cost five would not fix any problems with it.

    (So says the guy who has used SP on T2 to steal a crash...)

    SP warps the game around itself, but that's ok. MP can too, just differently. It is good for game longevity that certain pool chips drastically change the game.
  37. ChadMiller

    ChadMiller Well-Known Member

    In truth it seems rare to not be able to spend 5 on a crash unless you've been actively trashing your money, especially with pile bonuses.
  38. ApolloAndy

    ApolloAndy Well-Known Member

    Do you think playing SP solo is really that strong?
  39. ChumpChange

    ChumpChange Well-Known Member Staff Member

    You're not putting my reactions in context. The 'whoa what reds can win games??' occurred back when every single red chip (except Combo Practice, I think) was also bad. Then red chips were upgraded.

    Thinking on it a little more, I'm willing to throw support behind red arrow on BV.
  40. caraigger

    caraigger New Member

    Okay, I will admit that I have not played the game enough to know if these improvements are warranted. So I'll take your word for it that the game is fine as is. I have faith in you as a game designer, that's why I shelled out the cash.

    All I simply want is: if you do go ahead and make changes to the game, that I have the option to buy the chips that you make those changes on. I don't want to have to print out the changes because in the end, I want that finished game feel (I suppose my motives are aesthetically driven).

    But if that is unfeasible, then I will have to accept the free errata route. And thanks for being so quick with feedback.
  41. ChumpChange

    ChumpChange Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Supporting all of these in descending order, for the record.
  42. garcia1000

    garcia1000 World Champion Moderator (old) Staff Member

    Here is a suggestion:

    Only change is LOTE to 10. Include an insert, mentioning that LOTE should be 10 but it was 8 because of some problem. Also provide a link on the insert to the web, where you can download the corrected version if you want the finished game feel.

    This is probably the most cost-effective change. Having two bad characters and a bad chip is ok because that's a fun valuation test and you can have the job of discovering something is bad. The LOTE change is needed, though, because it affects everything.
  43. icewolf34

    icewolf34 Well-Known Member

    I kind of agree with garcia.

    Actually, if you believe that this is as balanced as "SF2, SF:CE, SF2:HF, SSF2, ST, SFA1, SFA2, CvS1, CVS2, SF3, SF3:2I, SF3:3s, SF4, and SSF4", I would just leave it be. For the record, the game seems very reasonably balanced to me by board game standards.

    I think that board games like these gain popularity by being fun and playable at parties, not through high-level tournament play. Good players can play Midori, newbies can play Lum. If people are frustrated, they'll just house-rule ban a character anyways -- people have done this with plenty of games I've played with little ill effect. Probably much much better to spend effort on promotion, advertising, distribution, or any of a dozen things that will have a much greater impact on sales and exposure.

    People are saying "it's normal to do some re-balancing for a second edition", but it's important to remember that we're really (seriously) barely at a first edition. Seems like if you're limited by time, money, other resources, you should prioritize getting to the second edition in the first place. If (when) the game starts to get tournament play, you can release a Tournament Edition with a few small tweaks -- then it looks like attention to detail and dedication, rather than looking like a botched/hurried ship.

    Game is great. I think it's balanced above industry standard. It's already out the door. Really, I think it's best to do all of the things that will really make the game a success, instead of just second-guessing rebalancing because that's what we know how to do.
  44. Bridger

    Bridger Member

    I agree that having the ability to get replacement chips would be nice also. Other places have "upgrade" kits that will allow first edition gamers to get the changes from the second edition.
  45. Sirlin

    Sirlin Steward of the Realm Staff Member

    icewolf, those are good points. A possible counter-point would be that the number of units I have to print is ridiculously large compared to what's happened so far, and it's so expensive to do that it should be the best it can be, instead of intentionally withholding known improvements for some social reasons. Does that convince you, or do you stick with your original points?
  46. icewolf34

    icewolf34 Well-Known Member

    I stick with original points, I think. It's true that printing cost is weighed in that direction, but I also think that such a quick errata puts a damper on early adopter enthusiasm (which is an additional cost). Upgrade kit for the second or tournament edition five years down the line is great.

    If it costs less than, say, $1500 to print new Lum chips and swap them into existing sets and upcoming ones, including sending out to people who already received their sets and including time cost, this could be a feasible change. I imagine the actual cost is greater than this, so just ship the reasonable existing version. Worst case is Lum is known to be too good, gets house-rule-banned and only newbies are allowed to play him (didn't kill HDR).

    I think having early-adopters bummed that they have internet-printout chips instead of wood-printed ones is too big of a cost. I think spending more than $1500 on replacement instead of marketing or other promotion is too big of a cost. That's like, 30 review copies you could send out blindly. Or 30 copies you can give away as prizes, or open demos, etc etc. I don't know your financial situation, but it seems like cost is a real constraint here (though I think it'd be better to eat the cost of replacement than have sad early adopters).
  47. ChadMiller

    ChadMiller Well-Known Member

    Combo Practice.

    Also, here is a story about Magic: The Gathering. Once upon a time, when developing a set some guy built a deck that was killing everyone on like turn 3. They made the key card more expensive. Then he started killing everyone on turn 3 slightly less often. They made it even more expensive. Then he started killing everyone on turn 4. Eventually they solved the problem.

    And then, when the set went to print, the M:tG playerbase ended up asking, "Why the hell is Sway of the Stars 10 mana?!??"

    There's a parallel with Geiger here.
  48. ConsoleCleric

    ConsoleCleric Member

    Couple of points:

    -I'm surprised Jaina is considered bottom tier.
    -Tiers in this game are very erratic; thanks to the random bank.
    -An update is unneccessary; it will cause more problems than solutions.
    (For example, Dungeons and Dragons 3.0 edition-->3.5 edition was a nightmare.)
    (Another example, Diablo II Build 1-->Build 2 was just pure "hell.")
    -If you DO decide to make changes; do it with the emphasis of making the game better instead of individual characters or bank chips.
  49. Bridger

    Bridger Member

    I agree that changes don't NEED to be made for a second edition, but why not? There's no real downside to improving the game; especially if people who ordered the first edition can get the fixed chips cheap or PnP.

    I don't think you guys realize just how common it is for this kind of thing to happen. GMT just released the Deluxe Edition of it's best selling game "Twilight Struggle" from 2004 (I think?). They made some tweaks to some cards and updated it with 6 new (optional) cards. But RIGHT out of the gate they posted that 3 of the optional cards they included had incorrect text or were missing icons that indicated they were only used once.

    So they sent out the 3 fixed cards to everyone free of charge 3-4 weeks after the game shipped. Everyone was grateful. There were no hard feelings of "this should have been right the first time!" People were happy the publisher was fixing mistakes, not that the mistakes had been made to begin with. If GMT (the largest wargame publisher there is right now) can make this mistake with it's best selling game, I think you'll be ok (especially if you can afford to send people replacement chips for cheap/free. I don't know how much that would cost you. I would certainly prefer to have a fixed game than a not fixed game, even if it means PnP and sticking onto the chips with wood cement).

    Those examples involve significant changes. As far as I can tell, we are discussing minor tweaks to some characters. Whether people play with the updated chips or not isn't huge. Here's the way I see it:

    -Shows people you are interested in supporting your games (puts you on par with the best board game publishers out there like the GMT example above)
    -Getting these kinds of changes in early will be easier than getting them in later (when many more players who buy the 2nd printing already have memorized the old chips)
    -Fixes issues that only some people will appreciate, and will prevent an "open game, get smashed by lum 3 times in a row and say "This is BS!" and never open game again"

    -If including physically errata'd chips - will cost money (not sure how much, this one has to be weighed by sirlin)
    -If not including physically errata'd chips, will lower people's opinion of the "deluxe-ness" of sirlin games (which is a selling point if i'm not mistaken).
    -May cause some confusion (but will cause less if fixed earlier rather than later).

    So I guess after writing that out, I would recommend replacing physical chips or waiting to update in a later edition I guess. Even if this meant charging me shipping to get the new chips, I would personally prefer that over not getting the balance changes.
  50. Fry

    Fry Well-Known Member

    Maybe include updated chips when Expansion One comes out, like Race for the Galaxy

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