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Author Topic: [Apocalypse Girl] The full-game playtest report  (Read 10389 times)
Unco Lober
Member

Posts: 22


« on: November 22, 2005, 04:04:30 PM »

For those not familiar with the subject:
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=17632.0
http://www.1km1kt.net/rpg/Apocalypse_Girl.php

-

At last we have played this promising game and have much to tell. There were three players, just as proposed in the rules, and we were mostly following written rules,though not once we had to add something on the fly or add something uncovered in the original text.

Overall reaction was quite favourable. After having finished the 3-hour game we felt like playing again, each of us. The fun seemed to consist of narrativist roleplay : boardgame as 5:4 or such. Several characters were established, and as the game was progressing, it reflected their relations. I am going to describe this further.


Concerning the rules.

I

Main thing we had to change after all (which troubled us during the first half-game yesterday, and starting from the scratch today we applied it after all) was lack of instant use of free dice. In the rules it is stated, that one can throw dice during his turn. This proved to be super-restricting. Without the smallest arguments we introduced a set of rules for using free dice outside of one's turns:

1. One can use free dice instantaneously, in response to another's dice (and thus possibly preventing their results) or just by itself.

2. One cannot throw dice for stacking a pile outside of his own turn, be it a pile upon his own Engines, or those controlled by other players.

3. Therefore, one can only use instant dice to cancel other's stacked dice (via the x-1 sides rule), or one's just thrown dice before they came to effect.

4. If a player (the owner of the turn) throws several dice, instant dice may be rolled in responce to that amount of them, that was originally used. Eg.: A rolled 3 dice against B's Core's Meaning, and B countered them with any number of his own dice, but only that, and not the separate counters against each of dice. This means, rolling a group of dice is deemed here as one action, and not several split actions.

5. One can cancel stacked dice by instant rolls. Eg.: a player may save free dice, and just before his turn use those Free dice to finally cancel dice stacked on one of his engines. If A has several dice by B stacked on one of his Engines, he can save the cancelling procedure (the x-1 sides cancel on d6, with x - the result number) up until the end of his last opponent's turn, so that he could have free dice for some emergency countering while other players play their turns.

II
The gun, it's use and effects of it's use were not defined enough. There we had an argument, but at last settled with the following.
1. Gun's Power rises every full round at the beginning of the first player's turn.

2. During one's turn that player's use of gun takes priority. Eg.: its A's turn; B wants to use 3 of the Gun's 5 dice, but A was into using those himself. The A prevails, for its his turn.. A doesn't have to state his intentions concerning the Gun until he wished so (but he can't just take the gun's dice and keep it: if wants B to keep his hands off all four of Gun's dice, he has to use them all himself, though at any point of his turn).

3. Gun recoils just as it is stated in the original text. Why I comment that at all is that it wasn't really clear from the start if the original mechanic will work fine. It seemed to do just well. But...

4. But Guns recoil doesn't take effect immediately after the guns use. We finally agreed that recoil should be the thing happening just after the end of the turn, in which the Gun was used. Thus, if either A, or b, or C use the Gun during A's turn, it explodes just after A says "I'm over".
Point 4 is not for nothing here. Guns recoil has great impact upon, mostly, Cores (for they have high Attributes), and thus on turns 3-4 its nothing to wreck everything, throw in some dice and end the game without any work at all. Math is simple: each of, say, 3 Gun dice used to cover enemy Core's Meaning (in order to capture it), would also have blaster 3 more loyalties (and that's the stat responsible for easiness oa capture). Now every Core produces 5 dice even from the start, and at turn 3 each player has 2 or 3 Engines, some of them even probably upgraded to power 2 or 3. Thus, anyone needs to wait until one player spends his dice, kill the other (which would have been that easy, as described) and win, having more dice (remember, that one of the players lost his dice - that was the moment, and the other - anyone! -  was wrecked). If I wasn't clear enough, ask and I'll go into further details on this.
Now the, is one's turn ends BEFORE the Gun ricochets, game doesn't end: you can't capture Engines or Cores during other player's turns. Only if player with his Core damaged and Conflict dice-littered hesitates enough for the full round to pass, would the game end. It should take more tactics, than brute force and chance, to win.

5. Gun's dice-pool recharges at every player's turn start ("upkeep" as we called it). That's just normal and fair.


More following...
« Last Edit: December 08, 2005, 01:11:02 PM by Clinton R. Nixon » Logged
Unco Lober
Member

Posts: 22


« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2005, 04:18:52 PM »

More concerning game mechanics.

III

Easiness of Engine creation and capture was once thought to be too much. Well, it proved to be OK. If one wants to keep his Engine, he has to strengthen it's Loyalty, and that was just what we used to do. Also keepeng 2 or 3 free dice for means of countering became customary.
Engine destruction, though never occured during our play, was always being taken into account and considered as means of possible tactics. Well, sedice it or shoot it in the head was also a choice. They all died of the war, which Dragon's beloved character struck upon the world, but that paparazzi was always walking on the edge even before the big 4-die recoil conflict, you know.

Whats still an issue, is what happens to the Engine, if it's Loyalty if decreased to 0. Power 0 kills it, OK, but does Loyalty 0, too? We thought of the Engine lose its Loyalty and become a small weapon-like free engine, just that it deosn't grow each turn and does no recoil. Anyone can use dice generated by it every turn, but that smal loyalty-less Engine can neither be captured, nor upgraded - just deastroyed, possibly by overlapping it's strength or even it's mere 0-dice Loyalty. That wasn't thought well, for situation didn't arise yet in actual gameplay. But rising Power without rising Loyalty is considered a tactic, and then its somewhat vulnerable to, most of all, Gun damage (players would probably capture it then painfully decrease it's Loyalty through its upgraded strength).


See some table examples next.
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Unco Lober
Member

Posts: 22


« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2005, 04:54:54 PM »

And thats how it all turned out.

The game finished after 5 rounds (4 full, and 1|3 of the 5th).

Order was: Dragon, Girl (that happened, and I lost {:{)=- ), World.
On his forst turn the Dragon spawned the Engines, one of which was a character. We didn't think of a rule for instant dice, so he didn't keep any and thus used some of his free to upgrade something in his new Engines. Then the Girl spawned an Engine and upgraded it to be 2/2, which took, obviousely, 4 free dice + 1 to spawn the Engine itself. World spawned and Engine, and also stacked something ot Girl's Core's Meaning.
Then there was some powering their Engines up on the second round. Girl cancelled some of the World's dice on her Core's Meaning (but not the 6, whch can't be cancelled, as it turned out: indeed, you need to roll a 7 on d6 to cancel a 6 :) ). Some dice capture also took place. Girl tried out placing some dice upon World's Meaning. World cancelled some of the Girl's dice, captured some also, and then captured the Dragon's best Engine - his character one. The event gave both the World and the Dragon some Chrages - as per the original text. Then, on his nearest turn the Dragon captured his Engine back and upgraded it (him, actually, us being roleplayers) to be 3/3 power/loyalty. Well, it never kept one from being captured by the Girl (oh the narrations) on her next turn (Girl and Dragon both got their Charges). Keeping her (well, his - my) charge, the Girl battled some of the Worlds dice stacked upon her Core's Meaning, and kept three of them (2 core and 1 Charge) for defence. World wasn't able to capture the character, though he tried. But then Dragon did it with his fresh powers, both him and the Girl getting charges again. Now the, the Girl had troubles with bringing the strong Engine back, for Dragon battled it ferociousely. World was into piling some dice on Girl's Core's Meaning (having really much 6es there, which can' be cancelled, only captured if I rolled a 6 for the matter myself). Well. Too bad for everyone the world didn't try to recapture or otherwise demoralise the 3/3 character..
Now, on the beginning of turn 5, Dragon captured (for some still unknow reason - not even narration) World's character (by that time World had two Engines, second of which was a character), and then he decided to end it all. He tried and shot 5 of the Gun's dice at Girl's Meaning, piling them there. Then he threw in his for then free Core's dice, four more from the Charge, two more from another Chrage, and two more from the second Engine the Dragon controlled. Well, weakened by World's attacks, the Girls succumbed after all, her Core (being a character itself, sole Core-character in the game) captured. The game ended. Now then, even though Dragon accumulated quite a much Charge dices (last one was very lucky - dice were even, so he got all 4 of them), it wasn't known that he could end the game, untill the Girl started to roll ones for her counters. That tremendous massive attack, using up all of free charges, and the power of upgraded Engines, could have been in vain if only the Girl managed to counter mere two of the dice. It is harder to win in AG that in may seem.
Now then, neither World nor Dragon had any dice left. Well! Who won? We diceded that Dragon wins, for he had definitely more engines at the end of the game (remember that he captured one at his fifth turn, that being 3 against World's 1).

The narration, briefly, following.

 
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Unco Lober
Member

Posts: 22


« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2005, 05:37:49 PM »

What I said in second post was somewhat around 50% of the game. Believe it or not.
Ofcourse, all three of us are roleplayers. The game was not tested on non-roleplayers yet. But I think, that  the main point of the game is telling _how_ things happen, not what dice are being rolled. You're so cool rolling your Core dice against my character, then tell me how it's Meaning influences him at all. Well, the last can always be done. But it makes people think different. It makes your game easier if you establish a logical, realistic structure. Well,proved, if one delves into dice relations too deep, it won't be that easy for him to explain how his engine influences the other, or even the other Core, or counters some Charge-dice.And that makes the game! That is 50 or even 60% of the gameplay, being the equal tactical difficulty,  a thing to be seriously considered for the purposes of winning. Not mentioning the aesthetic pleasure (hope its okay to say "aesthetic pleasure" in English...) the game itself gives if played correctly.

 I can't stress enough how were tactical decisions influenced by he meaning of game elements outside the dice-card mechanics.

 The Dragon created his Engine, and that Engine became, as we afterwards saw, the kind of a main character in the story. Well, he was just into making nothing of the world. Then there were World's designs against this. There was bad weather and cold, and then that reporter, who also said the world was nothing, but meant something different. "Anomalies are nonexistant," was his idea. Everything is just as it is, and its nothing to be considered of valued. Things just happen. And soon the Dragon's character, that dark personality, stopped making difference between his nihilistic ideas and that one of the reporter's. Then there steps a Girl. Wasn't that the time when the nihilist thought of philosophy and religion? Whatever: she wasn't a godling she seemed, she caught cold and that paparazzi spoke of her, simplifying and vulgarizing everything to the Dragon's chosen tool. That didn't change his attitude. What did was the memory of his old thoughts, however strange this may sound... indeed, his past thought, though forgotten, now trampled upon him. He felt the Dragon once again, and that made him become what he was. He made steps, which would later do more harm that could be ever anticipated.
The Girls sees peoples destinies. She knew what would follow. She tried to stop that. She used the wrong methods, and then it was late.
Well, the world worked as it does often. Until the war broke out. And then the simple reporter was called by his friend, the chosen of the Dragon. And the journalist thought at last, that outstanding exists. He forsook his idea (and his Idea forsook him).
Next was the girl. Gods many things have happened. She forsook her ideas for the one's of her heroe's; she saw fate and succumbed to it. She tried to tell him, but that was no longer her, for the Girl ceased to exist, she gave in.

Well, what happened afterwards? Many dreadful things. Reporter was... shot. If not for his relations to the - well, the one who gave Dragon his victory died himself. A hero of flames and hate was devoured by both. On the ruins of the war-crashed world the girl alone remained, wounded and broken, and a faithful tool of the Dragon.


-
That's would conclude it. All the, well, "story" narrated above was fully generated as an only mean to roll the dice :). Well, that was the first game, and also an enjoyable one. Hope this report was helpful, and happy to help more. We are going to play some more games this week, again. Indeed, a good roleplaying session is one that makes gamers ask when 's the next one.


P.S. Forgive my English. I tried to be as clear as I could. Forgive the "story" as well. It was fun playing, but probably not so fun reading, but I just had to illustrate this for example purposes. No, really.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2005, 06:46:23 AM »

Dude, I don't have any comments at the moment other than that you have nothing to apologize for. That was an awesome write up.

Mike
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Sydney Freedberg
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Posts: 1293


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« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2005, 10:56:36 AM »

Unco, that's marvellous, thanks. Do send me a personal message with you & your friends' real name in full so I can put you in the credits for the next revision as the first-ever playtesters!

I'm travelling for the Thanksgiving holiday and have almost no Internet access, so I'm going to print this out, ponder it, and post in a few days. The only immediate thoughts that come to mind are:

1) Very good point about what happens when Engines go to Loyalty = 0. The current draft says, "uh, they can't go below Loyalty = 1, sorry," which is frankly lame. I think your idea that such Loyalty = 0 Engines become "detached" from any one player and move out into the middle of the table for anyone to use, like the Gun, is a very good one.

2) , how were you reading the "only roll dice on your turn" rule? What I meant that to say was "on your turn, you get to roll one and only one die from any of your Engines or Charges," so play goes around the table with each person rolling one die at a time. If you were misreading that rule letting each person roll as many dice as they wanted on one turn without anyone else getting to respond, that would be a problem, definitely. On the other hand, you could've been reading the rule right and just thinking that one die a turn is too bloody slow, which it probably is.
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Unco Lober
Member

Posts: 22


« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2005, 02:30:34 PM »

Sydney,

Oh, seems we played the game somewhat different than it was originally stated in the rules concerning the amount of dice to be rolled. But why split turns that much? And how does one use his, say, 5 Core dice if he can use only one?

So, thats either:
Roll dice in turns untill everyone spends their dice, then reset dicepools and "upgrade" the Gun;
Or:
Use all the dice, except for some saved for emergency countering ("cancelling") during each player's seperate turn (with a full circle of turns being a Gun-strengthening, etc. "round").

I have just talked to fellow players (with whom we played AG yesterday), and both said that they'd absolutely prefer second variant. Possibly you were right when you said that it would slow the game.
Btw, it seems that both ways of rolling dice are still quite close to each other in terms of gameplay; differences seem to be minor at this point. Still, possibly, the full-turn way is IMO nicer.

But yet again, single-dice-turns arise some nteresting opportunities for cross-narration. Hm...
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Unco Lober
Member

Posts: 22


« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2005, 12:15:47 PM »

A couple of small proposals after the second game (today).

1. Its only fair to disallowdice countering on the first full round. That is because the first player will always have no one to oppose his, well, doings, because everyone else are yet without dice. In his turn, after upgrading his first engine himself, he'll mess with other's upgrading procedure. It would have been fair, if not for the tactical advantage: the first player can always have his first engine upgraded, but successive ones - if only they get lucky in countering. Whether player 1 wins countering upgrades or not, he loses nothing except for the free dice which he would have lost at the start of his turn anyways.

2. Today, seeing the terrifying power of the Gun, and remembering that once we were into allowing to using of the Gun at other player's turns, we got terrified. Use of Gun should be absolutely limited to one's own turn (otherways the losing player can blow things up too many times in a row - his own turn of massacre on round, say, 5, is always of great consequences itself).
Eg.:
If player A blew things up at his turn and even still thought that it wasn't enough, he should wait the full round until he has another opportunity. Other players may, of course, shoot the Gun if they wished, which they probably won't.

3. It is advisable to players to not create too many engines. Around 5 is just more then enough! Better upgrade some, or capture the other players' engines, than create the 6th one: this may possibly stall play. (We, by the way, used to create 2-3 engines each and then go capture opponents' engines so that they couldn't benefit from them on their turns.)

4. Odd/even dice Charge creation mechanic is just great; but dice capture mechanic probably seems to be too obscure to control, leave alone enjoy. Though, other than dice-capture there is no way of getting rid of 6s (whether that's good or bad).
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Sydney Freedberg
Member

Posts: 1293


WWW
« Reply #8 on: November 27, 2005, 12:42:22 PM »

I've had a chance to sit down with the printout of your playtest reports, circling key points and scrawling comments in the margins like a mad copyeditor. I never imagined I would have such rich data to work with just a few days after writing the game! I can't thank you enough.



1. It works! It works!

Which is what I raced around the room saying after I read your reports carefully. [self-congratulation] That these rules are sufficiently clear, and the mechanics sufficiently robust, that people who've never met me (who aren't even native English speakers!) can understand the game and have this kind of fun with it, is tremendously gratifying. [/self-congratulation] Especially this:

World cancelled some of the Girl's dice, captured some also, and then captured the Dragon's best Engine - his character one.....then he [the Dragon] decided to end it all. He tried and shot 5 of the Gun's dice at Girl's Meaning, piling them there. Then he threw in his for then free Core's dice, four more from the Charge, two more from another Chrage, and two more from the second Engine the Dragon controlled. Well, weakened by World's attacks, the Girls succumbed after all, her Core (being a character itself, sole Core-character in the game) captured. The game ended....On the ruins of the war-crashed world the girl alone remained, wounded and broken, and a faithful tool of the Dragon.

These are exactly the kind of dramatic reversals ("snaps") that I hoped these mechanics would produce.

and this:

the main point of the game is telling _how_ things happen, not what dice are being rolled. You're so cool rolling your Core dice against my character, then tell me how it's Meaning influences him at all....I can't stress enough how were tactical decisions influenced by he meaning of game elements outside the dice-card mechanics.

This is exactly the kind of mindset I hoped to inspire.

I'm bouncing gleefully in my chair as I write this.

Now! On to all the bits that I need to fix:



2. How many dice to roll at once? A fruitful error

So, thats either:
[1] Roll dice in turns untill everyone spends their dice, then reset dicepools and "upgrade" the Gun;
Or:
[2] Use all the dice, except for some saved for emergency countering ("cancelling") during each player's seperate turn (with a full circle of turns being a Gun-strengthening, etc. "round").

As the rules are written, it's the first one: the Girl rolls one die (from her Engines or the Gun), the Dragon rolls one die, the World rolls one die, repeat until everyone's out of dice or passes, refresh dicepolls & upgrade the Gun, start going round again. But I was uncertain about this approach when I wrote the rules (q.v. the original design thread, in this post); now your playtests have taught me that allowing multiple players to roll multiple dice all in one turn is not only (a) more exciting but also (b) tactically more interesting as well, because it creates a dilemma of "I really need these dice to do this thing here now, but if I don't save enough I might lose that other thing there later." And I especially like the dynamic back-and-forth created by letting people roll "counterattack" or "instant defense" dice on each others' turns, which I hadn't even thought of until you suggested it. (Having copied Capes in so much, and in fact having proposed to Tony letting Abilities and Attitudes be used as Reactions during the design work, I should have known this lesson already).

So, technically, you "played it wrong," but I would consider it a fruitful mistake, like a beneficial mutation in an organism's DNA. That said, I probably won't use your five rules above ("1. One can use free dice instantaneously, in response to another's dice..." etc.), because they feel a little too complicated to me; I'm trying to come up with a simpler rule that creates the same complex results. This might tie in nicely to my desire to add rules for how different Engines are connected to each other in a network: Perhaps the more connections your Engines have with the Engine being fought over, the more dice you can throw at once, if you dare -- which makes Engines with lots of connections both easier to attack and easier to reinforce.

(Design arcana: The model for this "I roll a die or two, you roll, he rolls, repeat" mechanic is Vincent Baker's brilliant Dogs in the Vineyard -- but I don't think it translates. Dogs is a Western, and that genre is all about the "slow burn" of escalation: This game is about sudden, wrenching reversals.)



3. The Gun's Ricochets - too strong!

I realized the the Gun's randomized side effects were way too powerful soon after I wrote the rules, and once again, your playtest proves the problem is real. Your idea of having only the highest Gun die rolled on a given turn count for ricochet effects is a good one (you first mentioned in here), since I am almost certainly going to allow multiple dice per turn. I also am considering simply downgrading the effect of each Gun die: e.g., I roll a Gun Die, I get a 4, now I roll an additional "ricochet die" against each and every Engine whose Power or Loyalty is 4 or higher (first proposed, again, in the original design thread).

I'll have to make sure to prevent any one player from shooting off all the Gun dice every turn and never giving anyone else a chance, though. That said, I'd like to allow every player to do that sometimes, though: It tempts people to grab the gun before someone else does!



4. Can Engines use their dice to improve themselves? Another fruitful error!

Whether an Engine can use it's dice upon itself or not. Well. Probably this is it (and maybe not): none except the Cores can throw it's dice upon itself for any purpose.

Now, this I had not thought about at all until you mentioned it. The current rules make no such prohibition -- which would allow the very boring strategy of sitting in a corner, never creating new Engines or taking anyone else's, and simply rolling all your dice into becoming stronger and stronger. I think a "no bootstrapping" rule might be necessary, even (perhaps especially) for the Core itself. (If I can make the networking/connections rules work, that might do enough to encourage people to interact instead of sitting in a corner, but I doubt it).



5. Power and Loyalty - redundant?

If one wants to keep his Engine, he has to strengthen it's Loyalty, and that was just what we used to do.

And indeed I note that all the Engines you gave stats for were balanced: 2/2, 3/3, etc. Now, this implies a problem: Is it so obviously necessary to build up Power and Loyalty side-by-side, and so obviously foolish to concentrate on just Power or just Loyalty, that there is no point to having separate ratings at all? I think the story of the game would be more exciting if the tactics of the game encouraged you to have highly Powerful but weakly Loyal Engines -- or even low-Power, high-Loyalty Engines. But the current rules may make that stupid strategy. Or am I reading too much into your reports, Unco?

Again, good network/connections rules might do the trick: A high-Power, low-Loyalty Engine could be "behind friendly lines" and protected from direct attack by other, more Loyal engines (until the enemy stages a "breakthrough" by destroying or taking one of the shielding Engines and can attack the low-Loyalty Engine directly); a low-Power, high-Loyalty Engine might be a shield for something else or a reliable guard on a key location. But all this is still unformed in my mind as yet.

And, further, the Power/Loyalty tradeoff may simply be broken, regardless. I eagerly welcome suggestions on how to make each Aspect more useful on its own, and on how to make an unbalanced Engine a risky-but-valid tactic instead of risky-and-stupid.



6. Loyalty = 0 means what?

what happens to the Engine, if it's Loyalty if decreased to 0. Power 0 kills it, OK, but does Loyalty 0, too? We thought of the Engine lose its Loyalty and become a small weapon-like free engine, just that it deosn't grow each turn and does no recoil. Anyone can use dice generated by it every turn, but that smal loyalty-less Engine can neither be captured, nor upgraded - just deastroyed, possibly by overlapping it's strength or even it's mere 0-dice Loyalty.

This is an intriguing suggestion. The rules as written simply make it impossible for Loyalty to drop below 1; I'd thought about making the dice on a Loyalty 0 Engine unusable by anyone; but I like better your idea of a Loyalty 0 Engine becoming a tool for any player to use (like the Gun).

The problem is mathematical, of course: If I want to increase or decrease the Power of such an Engine, I need to add...zero dice? Does that mean I can increase or decrease a Loyalty 0 Engine's power infinitely with a single die? I could simply forbid changing the Power of a Loyalty 0 Engine, but that makes them strangely strong. Again, suggestions are immensely welcome. (But no imaginary or infinite numbers in my game, please!)



7. Destroying an Engine - too hard? Or just right?

Engine destruction, though never occured during our play, was always being taken into account and considered as means of possible tactics. Well, sedice it or shoot it in the head was also a choice.

This balance is probably just fine: The possibility of utter destruction is always there, but capture & betrayal are so much more interesting, and add depth to the story instead of just taking something away. However, the threat should be real. More playtesting is clearly required on this point, probably with someone actively trying a "destroy all Engines!" strategy to see if it works.



8. Dice capture & cancellation -- please explain the problem?

Its only fair to disallowdice countering on the first full round. That is because the first player will always have no one to oppose his, well, doings, because everyone else are yet without dice.....[And the] dice capture mechanic probably seems to be too obscure to control, leave alone enjoy. Though, other than dice-capture there is no way of getting rid of 6s (whether that's good or bad).

I'm not sure I understand these two related problems.

8a) Everyone's Engines should start with a full Ready Pile of dice before the game begins, so why can no one counter or capture the dice of the first player? Perhaps the rule as I wrote it was unclear? Or am I just missing something?

8b) What's "obscure" about the dice-capture mechanic? Is it too unpredictable and jarring? Or is it something else?

This is the one set of issues on which I'd beg for more data.



9. Fast play!

After having finished the 3-hour game....

That's fast! A whole game easily in one evening is an advantage, but I'd like to make it possible to play several sessions of apocalypse girl if people so desired. What made it go so quickly? Do you think that if you played again, having more experience in the strategy, and with the Gun less powerful, the game would take significantly longer? I'll definitely have to make sure all playtests are timed.



10. Endgame oversight

Now then, neither World nor Dragon had any dice left. Well! Who won? We diceded that Dragon wins, for he had definitely more engines at the end of the game (remember that he captured one at his fifth turn, that being 3 against World's 1).

Very sensible. I should have considered this possibility when I wrote the rules, and your interpretation will be the official solution in the next draft.



Again, a thousand thanks for your enthusiasm and insight.
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Unco Lober
Member

Posts: 22


« Reply #9 on: November 27, 2005, 03:55:30 PM »

Believe it or not, but we were around as happy with the fact that AG works as You were! Now, though, its already a past thing - game works and thats a solid fact.
One question remains open at the moment: whether it works for non-roleplayers. We shal zee :) as I have plans for that, not so swift as the roleplayer group was organized, but still. Interesting to see how they'll react to that kind of (in a sence, intellectual :) ) gameplay.

-

"3. The Gun's Ricochets - too strong!"
and
"9. Fast play!"
are strongly related.

We enjoyed the rules for the Gun (every dice recoiling separately), even though we thought otherwise for the start (before we used the Gun in actual play). But. The first game ended in 3 hours, the second one in 2. That seems to be a rule for now: up to the point where gun gets strength 5 or so, there is always a small player who wants to blast everything else by sheer brute power. He doesn't necesary win, though: current Gun is a chance to win in expence of further endangering self.
It was nice with the Gun. We really liked it. It was whats called "cool" in its essence. But it makes games go really fast.

One possible way of making games less swift is limiting Gun's progression. And just now an idea struck me: why not let those who want it to use some of their powers to stop Guns progression or to temporarily disable it? Just as character-engines, there could be gun-controller-engines (possibly, one for a side if they wish to bother at all): each side decides whether they wish the Gun to grow, or to diminish, or to halt.



"Power and Loyalty - redundant?"
Not really! In the second game we already practiced both strengthening all engines attributes and, for example, upgrading Power and keeping some dice to protect the engine from attacks by dice-countering. In different situations different choices prevailed (though defining that would need more games). SOmetimes we upgraded Loyalty so that enemies would rather try and capture other player's Engines, than throwing more dice on your ones and leving themselves defenceless.


Loyalty=0 Engines.
We thought of those Engines as being impossible to control or change, only use or destroy. Possibly just overlapping it's power should be enough for destroying it. I imagine loyalty=0 Engines as ones that have _lost_ their Loyalty attribute at all. Those lost sheep.


"Destroying an Engine - too hard? Or just right?"
In short, it seems OK as it is, as I believe.


"Dice capture & cancellation"
We did:
if dice are _piled_, and another players _rival-piles_ his dice on same Engine, if player B rolls a a number, and player A has just those numbers in his pile, those go to him.
The problem is, as we thought, thats "kinda unnatural or whatever". Dunno, we somehow, not even disliked it, but tended to think of it kind of less. It just "felt" somewhat wrong or unnatural.
That probably was just us - and I mean that, it may probably be just us. At least I have absolutely no explanation of that currently.


"8a) Everyone's Engines should start with a full Ready Pile of dice before the game begins, so why can no one counter or capture the dice of the first player? Perhaps the rule as I wrote it was unclear? Or am I just missing something?"

Now, we played it this way: dice piles are refueled (or fueled for the first time at all) when current player's turn starts. And those started in a sequence: the first one, the second, then the last; round over; first one's pile refueled and his second turn starts - and so on. Player's free dice are lost before his new turn is started: when player C says "i'm over", player A's dice kept for wicked are lost for naught.
So, when the first player starts his turn, he's the only one having dice on the table yet. He can do whatever he wishes. If he keeps his dice, his strategy is enforces on other players: their upgrades may get thwarted, though they had no chance of twarthing player A's upgrades at all.


-
I have some thoughts on Engine capture, and some overall thoughts that I deem to be of meaning, but sorry - its already late here. I'll continue tomorrow. Please comment on the current post for now, if You would like to do so.
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Sydney Freedberg
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« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2005, 05:01:58 PM »

One question remains open at the moment: whether it works for non-roleplayers. We shal zee :)

With revised (i.e. better written!) rules, I think this could be precisely the kind of boardgame/RPG hybrid with a strongly structured story and scenario that non-roleplayers could get into. Remember how many assumptions have to be explained about such RPG basics as "the GM" and "my character" and "roll to hit."

"3. The Gun's Ricochets - too strong!" and
"9. Fast play!" are strongly related. ....where gun gets strength 5 or so, there is always a small player who wants to blast everything else by sheer brute power. He doesn't necesary win, though...One possible way of making games less swift is limiting Gun's progression. And just now an idea struck me: why not let those who want it to use some of their powers to stop Guns progression or to temporarily disable it?

Interesting idea. I'd thought of making the rate at which the Gun gains Power a "dial" that a group can turn up or down for a faster or longer game; but I hadn't realized, until now, the most basic change would be to remove some or all of the Gun's immunity from being changed like ordinary Engines.

SOmetimes we upgraded Loyalty so that enemies would rather try and capture other player's Engines, than throwing more dice on your ones and leving themselves defenceless.

I hadn't thought of that, either. So increasing an Engine's Loyalty is rather like an insect making itself poisonous and bad-tasting: "Don't eat me! Eat the other guy!"
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Unco Lober
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« Reply #11 on: November 28, 2005, 01:17:57 AM »

"So increasing an Engine's Loyalty is rather like an insect making itself poisonous and bad-tasting"

Sure thing a better protected Engine is less prone to becoming a capture target. Also creating a group of Loyalty-overpowered crawlers (with Power 1, because that would cost too much to upgrade power if Loyalty is high, and vice versa, as is known) is a tactic: they give you 1 die a turn, and they are solid with that.
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Ramidel
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Posts: 54


« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2005, 02:40:22 PM »

My group of five played one game of Apocalypse Girl, with two Worlds and two Dragons, and one very confused Girl. Here are the players and results, in player order:

"Amanda, the Girl." Played by Geneva. Built up one engine of her own (Fluffy the Cat) and snatched a few other engines through "a little sniping," defending them through diplomacy and a few winks and smiles. Core enslaved by Lucifer during Ascension of Darkness.
"Liberty, the World." Played by Kara. The idea of human liberty as opposed to either divine or diabolical right. Tended to carefully nurture and defend a few personal engines (Green Party, the high school itself, and a couple of overly-nice and fuzzy people), provided a lot of defensive support to Prosperity and Amanda. Survived until the Ascension of Darkness.
"Satan, the Dragon." Played by Ryan. The Prince of Lies, manipulator of man's darkest nature. Relied upon a momentum strategy, snatching engines and not defending or building them much, but instead building Core loyalty and snatching more engines in a perpetual motion machine. Survived until the Ascension of Darkness, but displaced by Lucifer in the final outcome.
"Prosperity, the World." Played by Michael. America's consumer culture with no place for God (quite a place for the Devil but that's by the by). Relied heavily on low-power high-loyalty "crawlers," including a lot of CIA agents and politicos. Survived until the Ascension of Darkness.
"Lucifer, the Dragon." Played by yours truly. The Fallen Angel, cast out for Pride. Relied on a degenerate strategy of building a huge number of minor engines (drug addicts, terrorist cells and lecherous schoolkids), -really- hurting Satan when he tried to snipe them ("Vengeance shall be swift, certain, and entirely out of proportion to the crime") and a grandstanding finale. Won the game.

Rules used:
Multi-dice on your turn. (We considered allowing multidice turns -with- "any number of turns till we all pass," but decided it was too complicated.)
Gun may -not- be used to create engines (after Lucifer does it the first time).
If Core is captured, all engines ruled by the Core are also captured (never came up).
At Armageddon (or lack thereof), compare the two surviving sides' strength as a whole, then compare the winners' players if two remain.

The Narrative:
The plots were a struggle in America between the established government and a wave of activists, terrorists and foo, and the girl's personal life in an undefined American high school that somehow seemed to always attract media attention or otherwise change the fate of the nation and the. The actual national conflicts were rather dry but made a good backdrop, the high-school antics lightened the tone, and the mixes tended to provide the heroism and drama (and occasional nihilism). Geneva gets the star for narrative goodness with this memorable scene, however:

A political debate had ensued and a member of Congress was about to switch sides, thanks to the American Nazi Party candidate under Satan's control, when Fluffy the Cat got ahold of the mike, tangled in some wires right in front of the camera, and broadcast a feline plea for help to the world (completely spoiling the yelling match in the process). "Meow?!?"

(Okay, so we stretched realism a bit. Geneva's funny enough to get away with it. Besides, we needed to get out of the angst mode.)

The Gameplay, most of the game (using character names since that's our habit):
The brawling early on was mostly between Amanda, Satan and Prosperity with some rocking-the-boat by Liberty and core-attacks from me. There were no gunshots after I used the gun to make an engine (and -that- wasn't- done again), mainly because nobody wanted to damage their precious core loyalty. Generally speaking, Amanda and Satan did most of the stealing while Prosperity did a mix of theft and sniping. Liberty and I mostly built, and Kara was prime territory to -be- stolen from when she didn't leave enough for defense against concentrated Satan-fire. When Amanda and Satan tried to either reform or further corrupt my little beasts, I tended to respond with a mixture of stealing them back and damaging core loyalty, at the expense of expanding if need be. By the end of Turn 6, I had a collection of little killing machines numbering 15 or so, but nothing heavier than 1/1, with a 5/12 core (in other words, I was the weakest in total dice). The strongest non-core machine was Amanda's 6/6 death toy, Pink Puff High School, which had been taken over from Kara in 5 by Satan and now stolen by Amanda (and defended against a Satan charge). Satan had 3 Charges left, Amanda had 4, I had 7 (I never used any, yet), Kara 3, Michael 2. Then, on my turn, I lowered the "What the?" boom.

The Ascension of Darkness:

I grabbed all 6 Gun dice and held them for dramatic emphasis, looking at everyone with a cross between an evil grin and an angry snarl. Then, I commented, "I'm taking over Amanda." Each die started clattering, ricochets started to fly, everyone Looked At my horde of little engines that didn't care about the ricochets. When the dust settled, Amanda was a 1/3 Engine, with 6 marks on her. Amanda started defending, but she only got 5 of my dice removed before she ran out, and I calmly tossed down another two dice from my pile. With Amanda enslaved and everyone exhausted (while I was still pretty much fresh), I had more dice lying around than the rest of the bunch together. Everyone groaned. I finished with Fluffy's noble tear-jerking death and Amanda's collapse into despair, followed by her falling for the Lord of Evil, and we called it a day. (The way the mood was going after that final cheap-shot, though...I honestly considered having Fluffy fall victim to a random car. Decided against it.)

Conclusions:

Gun ricochets are overpowered, -waaay- overpowered. We knew that much. Also, because of gun ricochets, there's no point in building powerhouses when they're just going to die when the gun gets fired. Little one-piece toys become the ultimate bang for one's buck. We are not sure about the optimum number of players, but if Illuminati and other vampire games have taught us anything, more players mean more targets to feed from.

Narrative-wise: Mixing high-school humor and epic struggle is a very good way to keep the plot moving, as anime writers have often discovered. It's probably best to focus on character-driven scenes, but make sure to run a few Big Illuminati-Esque Political Events to provide a backdrop for the struggles before Armageddon. Above all, no meaningless, nihilistic angst, but I'm sure we knew that much. A normally grim tone is good, a dark gray background makes the light have that much more effect (as Fluffy the Cat discovered).
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My real name is B.J. Lapham.
Sydney Freedberg
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« Reply #13 on: November 30, 2005, 06:47:14 PM »

Wow. Five players! That doesn't just require filling in holes in the rules (e.g. who wins?); I'm pleasantly surprised the system held up at all. How long did the game take to play?

Yup, rolling multiple dice on one's turn = more fun. How did you all limit max dice rolled (if at all) and "counterattack" dice rolled by defending players?

And yeah, the Gun is way overpowered. I'll have a rewrite of the "ricochet" rules up soon -- people should badger me if I don't have it by Tuesday. (Deadlines turn out to be a great motivating device). I do like how grabbing for the Gun is such a dramatic moment, though; I need to preserve that without making it too over the top.

I'm also very interesting at the "crawler" strategy; I'll want to make sure it's still viable even with a lower-powered Gun.

I'll review all these notes. more carefully and come up with more questions. Thanks for such detailed notes! It's a huge help.
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Ramidel
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Posts: 54


« Reply #14 on: December 01, 2005, 12:22:30 AM »

Even with a weakened gun, pumping out a huge flow of 1/1 engines, particularly for the last player in order, is an ultimate strategy in terms of bang for your die...

1. One die gets you another die next turn. 100% return-on-investment.
2. If someone steals it, you lose...all of one die, as opposed to 4 dice if a 4-point Power beast is stolen. You also might get a Charge out of it.
3. Building up loyalty means you are not directly cranking dice into dice supremacy. (A spread of defensive dice may be better.)
4. End of your turn, if the final player, you get all those dice off your cute little killing machines. (Which you may have stolen from other players who used this strategy without defense...)
5. Weakened/less dangerous Gun=more incentive to use the little toy of doom. (Something of a balance towards the first player, if -he- uses a crawler fleet...)
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My real name is B.J. Lapham.
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