Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Subtle Balancing Tweaks

Boardgames are like Movies.  You have a few blockbusters, and a lot of flops.  You might take pity on the flops, but what about the blockbusters?  Those few games are going to be played over and over until every little wart shines through.

Looking back at thousands of plays can often give new insight that wouldn't show up without that much testing.  And sometimes, some simple changes need to be made.  Here I've compiled just a couple of those subtle changes that people have come up with for some true classics:

Tigris and Euphrates - The player going first has a very high chance of winning.  I'm pretty sure it was over 30% in a 4 player game.  The easiest and most applied fix is:  Have the first 2 players take only 1 action on their first turn.  It's just the same as Through the Desert for just the same reason.

Dominion - Again, the first place player has a higher chance of winning.  The silly rules have a balance of the prior winner going last.  I applaud them for trying something new, but still think this rule is stupid.  Much better and simpler is to borrow from Puerto Rico:  Just continue play until everyone has had an equal # of turns.  Allow people to buy "Ghost Provinces" if they have run out.  Makes for a much closer game IMHO.

Puerto Rico - This was actually what inspired the list for me.  The players that start with Corn tend to kick the Indigo players' asses.  It's true at all player counts.  Hell, in tournaments they often bid 2-3 VP to start with corn to balance things out.  I came across a thread on BGG that showed a much simpler balance for the corn players: Corn players start with 1 less doubloon.  It slows them down just enough in buying the first mid-range building that scores balance out almost perfectly.  Alternatively, you can view it as giving the poor indigo saps a buck to buy their indigo plantation.  Source:


So, are there any other minor balance tweaks for much played classics you have used?

1 comment:

  1. I'd like to see some stats on Dominion. I at first thought this too, but after 160 games I couldn't say first place has won the most often.


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