Arda Minion

Goblin King
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Re: Arda Minion

Post by Goblin King » Wed Sep 05, 2018 4:03 am

Here are notes from a weekend of extensive play testing in 3 sessions.
First some notes from Tradewindsrider:
"My initial impressions are quite favorable:

- We played two games, one Friday night and an even longer one on Saturday night. Our group is generally less familiar with minions and the hazards that can be played against them, let alone the “flip side” of the sites that now include Darkhavens and Freeholds that are very dangerous to minion companies, so some time was spent in familiarizing ourselves in this new environment.

- The initial choice of Ringwraiths and the draft are, obviously, critical to one’s chances in the game. Especially in a game with fewer players, choosing the Ringwraiths that can have Ringwraith followers is a no-brainer. I do favor Adunaphel’s canceling abilities combined with a covert company, and did okay in the first game with some favorable draws for the MP cards, but not so well in the second game as the covert company proved underpowered. By contrast, the second game was won by a newer player who chose Dwar the Ringwraith and was able to draft two Lieutenants—that company was beefy right from the get-go and, due to Prone to Violence being in effect from the beginning, was a threat to the other companies as well.

- Having the mode cards available to each Ringwraith (instead of waiting to draw them from the 600+ cards of the event deck) was a very useful option to have—some players still preferred to have their Ringwraiths squat or merely travel between Darkhavens, but certainly they add a lot of value by bringing to power to bear to their own missions.

- We still need to think about how to best handle minion characters who are also agents. I believe the ability to choose an Open to the Summons in lieu of a starting minor item is very nice option, but a fair number of the emerging roving characters are agents as well, which makes them difficult to recruit during the game.

- Finally, I really enjoyed the fact that rings are at the forefront of the possible missions in this environment. The Ringwraith’s auto-test and the separate ring draw pile certainly facilitate this aspect, and it certainly makes rings quite a bit more noticeable that in our Hero Arda games."

Goblin King
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Joined: Sun Feb 19, 2012 4:49 am

Re: Arda Minion

Post by Goblin King » Wed Sep 05, 2018 4:15 am

Now here come my Notes from the Labor Day weekend of playtesting
The first thing we noticed is that drafting is much more difficult and important than in ARDA. This largely comes down to the large number of minion agents in the character pool and the difficulty of getting them into play. But it is also impacted by all of the special rules over drafting companies.
There are the racial restrictions (Dunadains, Dwarves and Elves won’t party with Trolls and Orcs) and the leader restrictions (Orc leaders or Troll leaders won’t party with each other) to keep in mind, which would almost be enough on its own. But then you throw in so many minion agent cards (25 out of 117 total characters) and so few Open to the Summons cards, and suddenly drafting a decent starting company can be a real challenge. I’ll talk about some possible solutions later after I’ve covered the main points.
Second thing that came out to me was the fact that Ringwraiths themselves are both powerful and weak. Any time you draw a ring that you can test into your Treasure Hand, it is very easy to pop over to Gladden Fields in Fell Rider mode for a quick and easy testing. You avoid some nasty corruption tests this way. On the downside of operating a Ringwraith are the limitations on movement and company composition (you can never let you Ringwraith head to a non-Darkhaven with someone other than a Ringwraith follower). And when Ringwraiths go somewhere, they have to go straight back to the same Darkhaven afterwards. Add to this the fact that a card like Enchanted Stream can block most Ringwraiths (because few are rangers) for one turn and bow them out for a second turn and there is a frustration factor involved. But even with the frustration, it is thematic and so just try getting used to it instead of making up special rules.
Third observation is that there are clear cases where a player can get a winning draft and will be unstoppable. This doesn’t really happen in ARDA, does it? But it can here, and did. We had one game where a player drafted Dwar as his Ringwraith and then drew two Lieutenants in his draft pool. He also dropped an I’ll Report You, put him in complete command of the game. The other two players focused everything they had on the guy and didn’t even slow him down much Not entirely sure what to do about this issue.
Beyond those things there were a lot of cards that were suggested to be moved out of the pool and some suggestions on things to be moved in.
Looking at stuff that we are taking out for the time being:
Some spell cards. Yes, a lot of Ringwraiths use spells. But few minions do and some minion agents do too. We are trying to leave the better spells in and take out the more specialized spells that won’t see much (or any) use.
Deeps and other shortcut cards: These are cards like The Ash Mountain Deeps which allow you to treat two regions as if they were close together if you tap a ranger. More importantly, they can be used to reduce the hazard limit by 2 in specific regions. But because they are so specific, we never saw anyone play any of them in any games.
Small drakes and Hurons: They are just too easy to kill.
Black Horse: With the availability of Black Rider mode cards at any time, this card only creates a liability for the person who uses it. So I’m pulling all 9 out for now.
Coastal cards: Pirates and Sea Serpents are a waste of card space because drawing one means you didn’t draw a card you could play this turn. I saw one coastal move in 3 games.
Something we are considering putting in:
Dragons and dragon or drake buffing cards. Either the actual unique hazard creature or the At Home versions of them. There just need to be some more big creatures in the deck to threaten the big orcs and Ringwraiths.
Thieves and pickpockets. The southern Free Domains are supposed to be risky because they are Wizard Country. But with only five in the deck, they are pretty safe to stomp around. So a couple more hazards in that area that makes you lose your cool stuff would be good.
Those are the major changes. There are a few others. I will write them all down at some point and update the spreadsheet.
Meanwhile, let’s get back to the issue of drafting starting companies and the Minion Agent challenge.
I started trying to get around this issue first by just giving people more choices in the draft: Instead of 2 cards with 6 Mind, make it three or four. Instead of 9 characters in the last part of the draft, make it 12. Another suggestion was that there should be unlimited copies of Open to the Summons usable during the company draft stage of the game. I may try both of these options at the same time.
Another option that I think Gene was starting to throw around was to pull the Agents out of the initial draft pool of the game. Initially this sounded like a very bad idea to me because it would mean that only four players would get a 7+ mind character. There are only 4 Minions with high mind (three lieutenants and one Mouth). This would mean, if the game has more than four players, someone comes up short.
But I’ve since done some thinking about it and there might be a way to make it work.
What if nobody had access to a 7+ mind character initially in the draft?
What if the only way to bring them in was by randomly revealing them in the character pool and then recruiting them?
If I do this, the pressure is now off to give everyone a big character. I can then put all of the Minion Agents into their own card pool completely outside of the character pool.
By creating an Agent Minions Deck, the recruitment could be another aspect of the game. You can recruit any available Minion
Agent, you just have to go to their homesite or Bree to do it.
That might be a fun approach.
But it does raise a rule question: Can a Ringwraith at a Minion Agent’s home site (or Bree) recruit that Minion Agent during the Organization Phase? Is this a violation of the Ringwraith company rule when at a site other than a Darkhaven?
I guess I will need a rules scholar to weigh in on this one before deciding whether to try it or not.

TradewindRider
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Re: Arda Minion

Post by TradewindRider » Wed Sep 05, 2018 3:11 pm

Greetings All,

Ah, didn't realize there was an ongoing discussion here! Will post more here shortly.

Kjeld, long time no see! As I mentioned in the post on our StrategiCon activities, we are planning to be at Great Escape Games in Sacramento on Thursday, 20 Sept. Gandalf Gene and I are planning to be there around 11:00 and will stay until closing--would be great if you can join us!

TradewindRider

Goblin King
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Re: Arda Minion

Post by Goblin King » Thu Sep 06, 2018 3:00 pm

A Ringwraith at a Minion Agent’s home site (or Bree) CANNOT recruit that Minion Agent during the Organization Phase. This a violation of the Ringwraith company rule.
So it appears we are going into the realm of special rules for this version of the game. Having 25 characters in the game who can only be brought into the game with Open to the Summons or by sending a Minion with high direct influence to their home site is super limiting and no fun.
I'm inclined to just put all Minion Agents into the draft pool and just treat them all as regular minion cards. Remove Open to the Summons from the game and carry on.

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Shapeshifter
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Re: Arda Minion

Post by Shapeshifter » Thu Sep 06, 2018 3:13 pm

Goblin King wrote:
Thu Sep 06, 2018 3:00 pm
Having 25 characters in the game who can only be brought into the game with Open to the Summons or by sending a Minion with high direct influence to their home site is super limiting and no fun.
Don't forget about We Have Come to Kill. Moreover any character with enough DI (maybe extended through the use of rings etc.) may bring in an agent character at the agent's home site.

TradewindRider
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Re: Arda Minion

Post by TradewindRider » Thu Sep 06, 2018 4:13 pm

Greetings All,

I think it would still be possible to retain the Agent characters’ special abilities in the environment, and especially use them as hazards, either for stand-alone detainment attacks or to enable other hazard creature at certain sites, as outlined in the rules:

(1) Each player who is dealt one or more Agents among the starting characters still has the option of playing Open to the Summons in lieu of a starting minor item;

(2) The remaining Agents are thrown into the draft pool and come up for possible recruitment as roving characters;

(3) When an Agent is in the pool of 4 roving characters:

(a) The Agent can be drafted by an existing character at the Agent’s home site via DI (per Shapeshifter), or drafted via an Open to the Summons or a We Have Come to Kill drawn from the event deck;

(b) Alternatively, since Agents are considered characters for the purpose of Ringwraith deck construction, we can install an optional rule that we can play an Agent in the draft pool as a *hazard* and operate the Agent under normal Agent rules; we can certainly talk about this and we might have to put some limitations on how often this can be done, but I think it would add a lot of flavor.

Goblin King
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Joined: Sun Feb 19, 2012 4:49 am

Re: Arda Minion

Post by Goblin King » Thu Sep 13, 2018 4:11 am

Shapeshifter wrote:
Thu Sep 06, 2018 3:13 pm
Goblin King wrote:
Thu Sep 06, 2018 3:00 pm
Having 25 characters in the game who can only be brought into the game with Open to the Summons or by sending a Minion with high direct influence to their home site is super limiting and no fun.
Don't forget about We Have Come to Kill. Moreover any character with enough DI (maybe extended through the use of rings etc.) may bring in an agent character at the agent's home site.
Shapeshifter, we didn't forget about those two options. But even with both of them, in the four games we played, we saw one Agent Minions brought into play with We Have Come to Kill. They were just too much of a bother. What was worse was that they were clogging up the Random Character Draft deck.

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