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Author Topic: how to use deckbuilding mechanics with copying dominion: Roborally  (Read 340 times)

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weesh

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I'm a veteran of the original roborally, it's many expansions, and of the reboot. 
If you haven't played, it is a fantastic game of pre-programming robots to run a race course full of traps and lasers and pitfalls...
You try to push and shoot the other racers while trying to avoid the same from them.

It is complicated, and has a barrier to entry due to requiring the players to be able to think 5 steps in advance, and be able to see in their mind what their robot is going to do after they've programmed it...and also anticipate the other player's robots in your planning!

One of the biggest changes from the original to the reboot was a very light deckbuilding theme.  instead of all the players drawing program cards from the same deck, each player has their own deck of 20 cards, and these decks can be junked by your opponents, or improved by buying specialty cards.  This was a huge improvement to the game, because:

1) the junking is roughly half as effective as in the base game, which is good because junking in the first game was VERY harsh, and increased the barrier to entry.
2) it opened design space for purchasing good cards to add to your deck
3) it ensured that everyone would get the best cards in their deck regularly, rather than possibly watching as other players got all the move 3s and you randomly got none.

The game is not a deckbuilder, but it's a phenomenal application of the technology. 

How you guys feel the deckbuilding works in roborally, and also, what other game do you like that have a deckbuilding element without feeling like someone tried to copy or "fix" dominion?
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Kuildeous

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Re: how to use deckbuilding mechanics with copying dominion: Roborally
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2018, 01:30:03 pm »
+1

I'm glad to see love for the new Robo Rally. While it's not perfect, I like in general what they did, but from what you hear from disgruntled veterans, you'd think this was the worst game ever.

I agree that the individual decks are an improvement. I remember in the original getting a hand of all moves or all turns. Some people loved it because it was more chaotic, but I didn't find it that fun.

The one thing I really miss from the original central deck was the priority numbers. I understand why they couldn't use priority numbers on individual decks. And I think the addition of the priority antenna fills that gap nicely, but it does remove some of the uncertainty. Is that robot going to play Move 2 and beat your Move 1? Or will he play a lower Move 1 than you? Although now that I think of it, you could house rule that the faster moves go first with ties being resolved by the priority antenna.

I love using viruses for damage, though I wish the virus cards didn't match the green deck. Makes it take longer to disassemble the green deck. I do miss locking registries, and I've dabbled with combining both damage types. You take damage chits, but you don't reduce your hand size. After four damage chits, your registers start locking. When you blow up, you remove the damage cards except for two spams. Basically the number of viruses you have equals the number of damage chits. The alternate rule that keeps you from discarding your viruses makes the game more intense.
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weesh

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Re: how to use deckbuilding mechanics with copying dominion: Roborally
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2018, 01:53:22 pm »
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The one thing I really miss from the original central deck was the priority numbers. I understand why they couldn't use priority numbers on individual decks. And I think the addition of the priority antenna fills that gap nicely, but it does remove some of the uncertainty. Is that robot going to play Move 2 and beat your Move 1? Or will he play a lower Move 1 than you? Although now that I think of it, you could house rule that the faster moves go first with ties being resolved by the priority antenna.

yeah, the loss of priority numbers is sad, but understandable.
I REALLY liked that if you had a higher move (3 vs 2, or 1 vs turn), it was guaranteed to go first in the old version, and it seems a reasonable house rule to restore that, if you are playing with veterans of the old game that are amenable. possibly that adds unnecessary complication to a complicated game that is so beautiful because of how much complication it removed.  also, giving priority to the robots furthest behind is a nice touch that maybe we want to keep, since it prevents the leader from sprinting out of trouble.

you know what i don't miss?  comparing all the priority numbers so often.  good riddance to that.

One of the other great things about the new version is that it has many decent pre-set board setups to use. 
This made me realize that pretty much ever board I ever designed was more complicated than it needed to be, since you can still have fun and be challenged on much simpler boards.
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Kuildeous

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Re: how to use deckbuilding mechanics with copying dominion: Roborally
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2018, 02:21:39 pm »
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also, giving priority to the robots furthest behind is a nice touch that maybe we want to keep, since it prevents the leader from sprinting out of trouble.
 

I don't think the priority antenna gives any benefit to robots falling behind. Sometimes you want priority, sometimes you don't. It depends if you will move into a spot and push a robot out of the way or if that robot instead pushes you into a pit.

That's where the priorities based on cards were nice. If I was between a robot and a pit, I would try to play a high priority so I could move out of the way before the robot pushes me. You had some control over what happens to you. That control is lost with the antenna. Now if I'm in that situation, I know I'm safe if I'm closer to the antenna. If I'm not, then all I can do is hope the other guy didn't draw the right move card to end me.
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weesh

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Re: how to use deckbuilding mechanics with copying dominion: Roborally
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2018, 03:06:01 pm »
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also, giving priority to the robots furthest behind is a nice touch that maybe we want to keep, since it prevents the leader from sprinting out of trouble.
 
I don't think the priority antenna gives any benefit to robots falling behind. Sometimes you want priority, sometimes you don't.

Fair...
but it's usually to your advantage to have priority.
You get first pick of the options, and sometimes there is only one new one, or there is only one great one in a new set.
 
It's your prerogative to:
 1) get out of the way
 2) push off course
 3) perform a delaying action to trick people into your line of fire.

Yeah, almost every game someone would prefer not to have priority when they do, and end up squandering a register phase, or WISHING they could squander a register phase.

It's not perfect, but it's simple, and works as a catch-up function which partially addresses the very real problem of leaders advantage in the original.

I'd argue that it makes the game more fun...

What's the best part of roborally?
It's the interaction.  if not for the interaction between the robots, it's just a simple race.
A mechanic that suppresses the leaders, and pushes the trailing robots makes it more likely that the robots will get shot or be pushed, and increases the odds of a photo finish.  My games with the new edition have been closer than the games I played with the original. Many more situations where the leader is surpassed in the last two turns.

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Kuildeous

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Re: how to use deckbuilding mechanics with copying dominion: Roborally
« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2018, 03:16:44 pm »
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but it's usually to your advantage to have priority.
You get first pick of the options, and sometimes there is only one new one, or there is only one great one in a new set.
 

That's true. Priority is important here.

But at least in my games, the priority antenna doesn't necessarily punish the leader. I often encourage interaction by having the robots fight on one or two squares. I may have four flags on the board forcing robots to cross paths over and over again because I also think that clusterfucks are more amusing than runaway leaders. That's not to say I won't make a linear path, but I like doublebacks and crossovers in my maps. In these cases, the person in last place may get first pick of the options, or the leader might, depending on where they are in their flag-capturing.

This prompts another possible house rule. Option priority is first given to the robots with the fewest touched flags. Ties are broken as normal. This way, the leader likely always picks last. Damn house rules.

I've contemplated another map where I place 4 boards in a grid, but I shift them so that there is a single empty space in the middle. That space has the priority antenna. That also wouldn't benefit last place without that house rule in effect.
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weesh

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Re: how to use deckbuilding mechanics with copying dominion: Roborally
« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2018, 03:37:31 pm »
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but it's usually to your advantage to have priority.
You get first pick of the options, and sometimes there is only one new one, or there is only one great one in a new set.
 

That's true. Priority is important here.

But at least in my games, the priority antenna doesn't necessarily punish the leader. I often encourage interaction by having the robots fight on one or two squares. I may have four flags on the board forcing robots to cross paths over and over again because I also think that clusterfucks are more amusing than runaway leaders. That's not to say I won't make a linear path, but I like doublebacks and crossovers in my maps. In these cases, the person in last place may get first pick of the options, or the leader might, depending on where they are in their flag-capturing.

This prompts another possible house rule. Option priority is first given to the robots with the fewest touched flags. Ties are broken as normal. This way, the leader likely always picks last. Damn house rules.

I've contemplated another map where I place 4 boards in a grid, but I shift them so that there is a single empty space in the middle. That space has the priority antenna. That also wouldn't benefit last place without that house rule in effect.

funny how roborally fan minds think alike...

when we were trying to fix the runaway leader problem in the old game, we tried causing players to take a permanent point of damage each time they hit a flag, which works on the same cause and effect of your priority model.  the other thing we did was erase taking damage for death, since that tended to take a player out of the game coupled with loss of options and going back to the last point.

also, we have done offset boards...it seems a better idea in theory than in practice.  when you offset boards, a lot of them have conveyor belts facing each other in a way that would never happen with perfectly lined up boards.  it's not clear what to do in that situation, and it's hard to navigate.
IIRC, we had to offset 4 spaces and pick boards judiciously to get an offset that wasn't broken.  the new boards are simpler than the old boards, so perhaps it's easier to do a 1 space offset?
if you put the antenna in the middle, where would you start the circle?  just pick a point to start i guess. less elegant than it starting at one edge of the board though.
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Kuildeous

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Re: how to use deckbuilding mechanics with copying dominion: Roborally
« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2018, 11:19:58 am »
+1

I usually start the sweep wherever the antenna is facing.

The older boards line up nicely, which is a problem for the offset. It seems like the new boards are less reliant on conveyors on the edge like the old one. I prefer the older boards anyway. If I felt spunky, I could use the boards with teleporters and portals and oil slicks. Definitely something to bring up with veterans though.
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weesh

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Re: how to use deckbuilding mechanics with copying dominion: Roborally
« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2018, 11:55:51 am »
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I usually start the sweep wherever the antenna is facing.

Brilliant.  I'm gonna do that as a reminder from now on, even if it starts on the edge of the board.

The older boards line up nicely, which is a problem for the offset. It seems like the new boards are less reliant on conveyors on the edge like the old one. I prefer the older boards anyway. If I felt spunky, I could use the boards with teleporters and portals and oil slicks. Definitely something to bring up with veterans though.

The new boards are definitely simpler, and look less sexy...but when I was experimenting with offsets a few months ago, it seemed to be almost a similar level of challenge to create a navigable situation that had more than 1 logical option to cross boards.

Having played extensively with both sets, my conclusion is that the new boards are more accessible to new players, and still challenging and fun to veterans.  I thought that I was going to miss crushers and trap doors and flame blasts and slicks and jump pads and teleporters...

But actually, I don't.  In fact, the game is STILL delightfully complex.
The board itself is simpler, but there is increased robot interaction due to the catch-up mechanic, and increased option complexity due to there just being more of them since they are so much easier to get.
And navigating cannery row alone is neither as interesting or as challenging as navigating conveyors and lasers in close proximity to other robots.

And more importantly, the game has exchanged bad complexity for good complexity.

Situational complexity: "can you understand how the things work"
Strategic complexity: "given your understanding of the situation, what is the best plan of attack"

messing up situational complexity makes people feel stupid.
having your plans messed up by the clever moves of an opponent is exciting, and predicting and countering an opponent is more satisfying than safely navigating crushers.

That said, I do miss the pushers.  They were pretty easy to understand, and often had interesting implications. 

Do you know if anyone is making new boards?  one interesting effect of making all the boards smaller is that they now fit on an 11x17 piece of paper, and are thus easier to reproduce in a simple printer.

---

Somewhat on topic:
have you considered any changes to the decks?
I don't like having two repeats, and I don't like having only 1 reverse.  Thinking about taking a sharpie to my cards.
I'm also thinking about trying to create better movement options.  an additional repeat seems like a waste of a card, and is thus prime for rewrite.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2018, 12:02:14 pm by weesh »
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Kuildeous

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Re: how to use deckbuilding mechanics with copying dominion: Roborally
« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2018, 12:28:10 pm »
+1


It never occurred to me that the deck composition would need tweaking.

Since it never crossed my mind, I guess I'm okay with it. It never bothered me that there are two repeats. I feel like they add some versatility in case you need it. Say you want to 180 and move 2 but got neither of those cards. If you had both repeats, then you could move 1 twice and turn left twice.

And it is satisfying to see repeat paired up with a useful card. Repeating a move 3 on a straightaway is great. Repeating the power up a couple of times while you hitch a ride on the conveyor is also really handy. You could even back up 3 times conceivably. And I do like how you're probably going to get on average 1 repeat every other hand or so.

I did have some ideas for integrating my old set with my new set. Wait, I posted that on BGG some time back. Here it is: https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1700904/incorporating-old-rules-new

Obviously I now need to add the bit where we discussed giving option priority to players with fewer flags, though that's not really about incorporating the old rules. Oh hey, I did suggest basing priority on movement speed way back then. What a genius!

Oh yeah, and rereading that post, I am reminded why having older boards be offset was a problem. The walls line up perfectly, and offsetting them can create some weird gaps. Could be done intentionally though.
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weesh

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Re: how to use deckbuilding mechanics with copying dominion: Roborally
« Reply #10 on: March 14, 2018, 01:27:54 pm »
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It never occurred to me that the deck composition would need tweaking.

Since it never crossed my mind, I guess I'm okay with it. It never bothered me that there are two repeats. I feel like they add some versatility in case you need it. Say you want to 180 and move 2 but got neither of those cards. If you had both repeats, then you could move 1 twice and turn left twice.

And it is satisfying to see repeat paired up with a useful card. Repeating a move 3 on a straightaway is great. Repeating the power up a couple of times while you hitch a ride on the conveyor is also really handy. You could even back up 3 times conceivably. And I do like how you're probably going to get on average 1 repeat every other hand or so.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with two repeats.  But only one reverse does kill some functionality.  And if you are going to make another reverse, you need to change something, and there isn't a better candidate than the second repeat.

It's impossible to reverse - turn - reverse, for example.
That was an extremely frequent maneuver in the old game that I miss in almost every game.
and reverse is the best way to handle poor shuffle luck when you get the wrong turns.
It was a very defensive and fun way to get around, and not at all replicated by reverse-repeat-repeat.

And why you would want to add a THIRD repeat to your deck with an option is beyond me. I've never seen it purchased. It just sits there until the option board is clogged with undesirable cards and gets wiped away, every time.

The game is so cheap though.
Maybe I'll buy another set so that i can modify it without taking out the repeat. would give me boards and options to modify as well.
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