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Build Your Own Scenario: The Two Keys to Successful Variants May 24, 2006

Posted by webofwebhead in Attacktix, CCG, CMG, Game Theory, HeroClix, Magic the Gathering.
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OK, so I've taken a lot of heat lately for suggesting Iron Man style Attacktix, but I think the lesson I was hoping to instill was that simple rule changes and game variants can greatly influence squad design.  To expand on that…there are two major dials you can turn to create new game variants, team/deck building and rule changes.  I touched on this before when we launched the Theme Park over on HCRealms, but it bears repeating here.

Let's say you enjoy the heck out of the minis game you are playing, but you don't feel that the gameplay reflects the source material as accurately as it could.  Or, you want to emulate the way your favorite video game plays in minis.  Or, your favorite CCG is starting to get repetitive because everyone always plays the same decks.  It's time to introduce a new variant to your gameplay.

A Variant can be purely game mechanics driven, or storlyine driven, or a combination of both, but essentially you will be tweaking or or both of the following: deck/squad/team building rules (themes) and rule tweaks (scenarios).

Any variation from the normal rules in either of these categories can produce a variant.  Let's take a look at some examples.

In Magic, you can play a max of 4 of each non-basic land card, and must have at least 60 cards in your deck.  That's about it for the rules of deck construction.  To create variants, you could change the max number of non-basic lands, for example, set it to one, a variant called "Highlander".  Or, you could up the minimum deck size to 120.  Or, you could only allow each player to play one color.  Or, you could force each player to play equal numbers of all colors.  And these are just changes to deck building. 

Let's switch over to Heroclix.  As a rules variant, you could simply increase the number of action allotments for a turn from 3 to 5.  This small change would vastly affect the game, as it would benefit teams with more, less expensive attackers and put teams with a single powerful figure at a disadvantage.

Finally, let's look at a full blown variant for Attacktix, changing both Squad Building Rules and the Basic Game Rules.  The Scenario will be Star Wars Battlefront style of play, and the theme will be the Battle for Kashyyk.  Player One will play the Kashyyk resistance.  Player Two will play the invasion force.

Squad Building Rules:

Each player starts with a 100 point squad, and may have up to 200 points of back-ups.

Player One must use only figures with "Wookiee" in their name.  Player One can choose one "champion" figure, Chewbacca or Tarrful.  Only one of the champion figures may be played.

Player Two must use only figures from the Droid Army.  The champion for player two is General Grievous, only one of the champion figure may be played.

Special Rules for the Game:

At the beginning of a players turn, they may put into play in their starting area any number of figures with a point value totaling the highest point total of any figure that was defeated on the opponents previous turn.  (For example, if your opponent knocks out one of your 30 and one of your 20 point figures, on your turn you can choose 30 points of figures to put back into play.)  Alternatively, a Champion figure can be brought into play instead, regardless of points or defeated figures.  All other powers and game rules remain the same.  Last team standing wins.

Obviously, there would be many ways to tweak this gameplay, but you can see how just simple changes (restricting squad builds and changing the way back-ups work) can vastly effect the flavor of gameplay.  Please feel free to share your favorite game variants in the comments. – B

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