AAR - DIAS(Dog,Monkey,Rabbit, Rat, Dragon)

12 player variant with special powers on a map of China. Devised and GMd by stalin 813. DIAS: cs (Rat), BobMyYak (Rabbit), UpQuark (Dragon), attitudes (Monkey), BigRob (Dog)
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AAR - DIAS(Dog,Monkey,Rabbit, Rat, Dragon)

Postby stalin813 » 19 Feb 2013, 03:28

Great Game for everyone involved. Sorry sometimes the deadlines went a little long. Can't wait to hear everyone's insight.
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Re: AAR - DIAS(Dog,Monkey,Rabbit, Rat, Dragon)

Postby cs » 19 Feb 2013, 03:41

Overall, great game, and I think stalin did a great job of GM'ing a difficult game. Some of the deadlines went a bit long, but that's inevitable--the important thing is that we never lost momentum, and the game went on.

I like the map, I like the powers, and I like the game in general. I do have three suggestions:

1. I think starting positions should be tied to powers. Some powers just aren't that useful if you end up in the wrong location (imagine if Rabbit started in Dog's position, for example); there needs to be a way to bid on them both together so you don't end up with a power that is negated by your starting position.

2. The rules for Rat, especially around what it means to "control" another unit, need to be clarified. (And the bit about not controlling a SC if you occupy it while flooded--guess that's Dragon.) I suspect the same was true for other powers. In general, we ended up with some confusing interpretations that affected gameplay. Inevitable when you're experimenting with a variant, so I don't blame anyone. Just feedback on how to make this variant better.

3. Dragon's starting position was not well-designed. Basically, unless that starting position ends up in the hands of Dog or possibly Goat, the only viable option for expansion is through my (Rat's) territory. Dragon didn't play it that way, and he bogged down as a result (congrats to him on still getting a share of the win).

Just my thoughts--thanks to everyone for playing!
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Re: AAR - DIAS(Dog,Monkey,Rabbit, Rat, Dragon)

Postby UpQuark » 19 Feb 2013, 04:08

I agree with Rat (cs) on this one.

My starting position is flawed from 2 chokes: the singular line through to the west is a stalemate spot - anyone can stop progress through that gap. It should be widened perhaps. Otherwise there is only one direction for this position to expand, and that is east.

I chose - at great expense and peril - to stick with my alliance to Rat, and this is likely why both Rat & I are still around. It was tempting, over so many years, to give in and turn on Rat. But I think we worked well as a team in this one and by not deviating from that plan and creating a strong alliance, we were in good position should the game have continued. He could have just as easily turned on me and pushed me into the corner, and I appreciate his steadfastness as well - knowing the pressure I was under to push out, it must have been a bit torturous some turns wondering if I was on the brink of an attack... and as he was facing our enemies directly (Tiger, then Dog), with me sitting there idly behind him... My focus, however, was to break onto the river - and only by the grace of Rabbit did I succeed.

A different approach would be to locate a build center for Dragon 's position on the river. The sea zones were as much of a stalemate line as the western approach - good for defense, perhaps, but extremely limiting in opportunity. The river formed an impenetrable wall - it was only by the great generosity of Rabbit that I was finally able to get across, at which point my initial targets were digested (Tiger & Ox).

There are complementary powers in this game - Dog/Dragon, Ox/Tiger... so perhaps fixed starting positions with consideration for their placement could be considered.

All of the special power rules should be reexamined for balance - they were interesting, but some are scarier than they might at first appear. Rabbit for instance had an incredible power, and so I made sure I was friendly. I'm not sure Snake or Pig got much out of their powers. Dog is very strong too.

The map focused the conflict into the center, and so the center powers may feel surrounded (as they are). Note the survivors all started on the edge with defensible terrain/ability to focus their strength. The river was perhaps a way to try and alleviate that (and certainly the center powers were almost immune from attack from the south it turns out), but maybe the circle should be solidified - put everyone around the edge. Or make the center stronger with unit quantity or distribution (put Ox there with units spaced to defend strongly).

I'll have to think of some specific ideas. This one has promise. It is hard to balance a new variant even without special powers.

But certainly I was very frustrated in my corner, though it was fun casting floods all over the map in aid of my allies. I think, however, that the floods were somewhat muted by the retention of the SC by the original owner by default (which may be ok if other powers are balanced to it - subtle, less strong powers are probably preferable to strong, even limited use, power).

So besides frustration, I survived in fear... of Dog and Rabbit mostly...

Thanks to all of you for this interesting experience.
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Re: AAR - DIAS(Dog,Monkey,Rabbit, Rat, Dragon)

Postby haroonriaz » 19 Feb 2013, 10:32

Thank you for moderating the game, stalin813. Terrific map.

I played Snake and was eliminated fairly early, surrounded by dominant powers. I guess I survived longer than I expected.

Snake had a nothing power really, of sneaking behind the enemy lines. Sounds cool in real warfare, but not much on this map. But wait, we bid for the powers too I guess, so it's a total roll of dice. Though perhaps someone else could have used this power in a better way, not writing off that possibility. But considering dog with amphibious units was its neighbor and Goat that jumps over river spaces, it badly unbalanced the scenario for the Snake in this particular case, because it ultimately becomes a defense issue than attack. I guess it's a pretty great variant apart from the chance power unbalance.

Monkey and Dog played exceptionally well for me and it shows in the final map. Thank you Dragon for offering your deluge powers to me for a season. Also, 5/12 sounds a decent result, but maybe they could have gone on to have a 4 way too.

I may play this variant again if I have the opportunity. Congratulations to the winners.
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Re: AAR - DIAS(Dog,Monkey,Rabbit, Rat, Dragon)

Postby bigrob » 21 Feb 2013, 19:10

Thanks Stalin for a great game, I would definitely play this again, it was very enjoyable.

To mirror what others have said, the powers were not balanced, some powers were very strong, others not so useful. I didn't predict ahead of the game how strong Rabbits jumping power would prove to be. Further regarding the powers, some rule clarifications need to be thought about again. In addition to the controversy of dislodging ones own unit when controlled by Rat, I was surprised Rabbit could jump a fleet over a landlocked unit to land in the opposite river. I would have thought Rabbit could not jump over any unit if he could not move into the province of the unit he was jumping over.

I agree with UpQuark about some positions being hemmed in. I was sure I could get him to turn on Rat, because there was nowhere else for him to go, but he stuck it out and full marks to him for loyality. Similarly Monkey felt hemmed in in the North, and luckily for me he too stuck by his alliance. At the start of the game, I felt I had no choice but to attack Pig in Korea, otherwise I too would be hemmed in. And I'm glad I wasn't a power in the centre of the map, centre powers need more choke points, edge powers less.
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Re: AAR - DIAS(Dog,Monkey,Rabbit, Rat, Dragon)

Postby BobMyYak » 21 Feb 2013, 21:48

Aye - It was a great map, albeit with a few minor problems.

I did feel that I had an amazingly strong power, which only an alliance against me could realistically stop. If the game had continued, I was hoping the Dog would take out the Rat! Why? Because for a win, I couldn't be facing the Rat / Dragon alliance - as I think their combined powers could have stopped me sauntering southwards. It was this thought which sent me to the middle rather than continuing South into what appeared to be an easy war with the Dragon.

Hats off to Dylz for letting me back into the game after taking over a rather messy position. I know I should have stabbed sooner, but my loyalty to your earlier help made me want you to succeed!

I think the surviviors all played a strong game - making the most of their alliances and powers.

I would definately play again, although maybe not as the Rabbit this time ;)


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Re: AAR - DIAS(Dog,Monkey,Rabbit, Rat, Dragon)

Postby Dylz » 25 Feb 2013, 04:27

You were a good ally, Bob. I'm glad you came aboard. You were such a mainstay for my game that I had actually forgotten that you were a replacement.

This one was of the first games where I was able to pull off that kind of intense alliance. Not only did we work together quite well against multiple opponents, but I'm amazed you didn't stab me while we waltzed out of alignment from conquering Bluestreak Soccer and into more sensible, defensible borders.

And hats off to Stalin813 for running what was not a simple game.

Regarding the balance: for such an eclectic and inventive range of powers, I think that some imbalance was to be expected, and it's a testament to the design that none of the powers had an overwhelming advantage. The shear novelty it gave the game was enough to make what balance did exist entirely worth it.

One point of balance that I noted but haven't heard anyone else comment on: the large number of supply centers on the board. It felt to me like the board got crowded by the third season, and a lot of my pieces were often left with nothing to do. It might have also been the rivers funneling advancing armies along particular routes. Granted, my power, the extra movement, only really worked on an open board, so I may have been more sensitive to the crowding than other players.
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