Monday, May 2, 2011

Death Mesa: Player Aid

EDIT: The Aid has been edited to include the new 1.03 Patch rules. Last Testament explanation was also added.

EDIT: I fixed some typos and wording issues to the player aid. Thanks to the BANG! fans who have helped catch the errors.

I mentioned yesterday that I was working on a player aid for Death Mesa. I wanted to have a document that would be much easier for BANG! players to take to the game versus an unwieldy, full-color, 13-page PDF document.

Anyway, I finished the player aid today. The aid is a simple 2-sided trifold document that is designed to fit right inside a BANG! box (I am sure it will fit inside the Bullet as well). Just download the aid and print it out. Then cut along the edges, and fold the document along the lines. The aid provides a basic explanation of the rules, cards, and adjusted victory conditions. Here are shots of the 2 sides of the aid:

Death Mesa BANG! Player Aid Side 1

Death Mesa BANG! Player Aid Side 1

Download the Death Mesa Player Aid

15 comments:

  1. I'm a little confused about how to read this. At the bottom of the third panel, under the Schfflaw Victory rules, it trails off, saying "up to his char-". Where does this sentence pick up? No panel that I can find picks up with "acter".

    Also, the previous sentence says "same amount of life points AT". I suppose that should be "as"?

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  2. Well that was an embarrassing error in the player aid. It should be fixed now. Yes, that at was meant to be an as; the char- should now follow to the next page. Thank you for the catch!

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  3. With the new correction there is now a new mistake. In the Scofflaw Victory section it now says: "whom the Outlaws (and other Renegade) must now eliminate. Inow eliminate."

    Sorry for all the corrections; just want this to be perfect before printing it. :P

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  4. Good idea. I will comb through the whole thing tonight and make sure there are no errors. I am getting sloppy.

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  5. I have made the changes you listed, and also reread the document. I fixed some typos, and also reworded some card explanations. Hopefully it is better now.

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  6. Hi! I recently bought a copy of Death Mesa, and I have a few criticisms that I hope can help you decide on revisions. I come from a very nerdy college where most people pick up games like Bang very quickly, but some aspects of Death Mesa are a tad too confusing to explain quickly, even to those that I play Bang with weekly. I didn't get a chance to play too many times with the expansion yet, but when I did, here's what I noticed:

    1) The ability for ghosts to actually ACT, while potentially balanced to avoid overpowering, is a bit tough to grasp. When the dead don't have other dead opponents with them, they need to play 2 cards instead of one, or pay attention to the value of their cards and only play high-value ones. This can get a bit frustrating for some people, since it means they can only play cards every 2 turns, and as such they are ALWAYS tempted to play something when they can. I noticed this happening when there WERE opponents too. Since people only picked up one card each turn, they often just played it immediately, no matter what it was, so they had something to do. I was in a scenario once where there were 3 or 4 ghosts, and nobody ever had the opportunity counter anybody else because nobody ever had hands out of turn. Even if they did have hands, they would then need to pay attention to the color of the card being played (black/red), and the value of said card, and counter with a card of opposite color with higher value (in the off chance that they had such a card), or add another card of similar color to increase the value of the counter, then it could be re-countered by the ghost, or the counter could be added to by teammates... It just becomes too confusing for everyone playing casually to pick up. We found ourselves constantly going back to the player aid and rereading it slowly, word-for-word, to figure out exactly what we could/needed to do.

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  7. So while you may certainly use or ignore these criticisms in any way you see fit, some general suggestions would be as follows:
    1) Change the countering system. Instead of having you compare card VALUES, maybe just say "counter with any card of opposite color". Then it can go around like a duel, where the person who played the most cards of their color gets their way. Or perhaps make each suit counter-able with a specific other suit. Or, my personal favorite idea, make a card for countering and put a lot of them in the deck. This solves 2 problems: 1) it makes it very clear-cut how to counter, and 2) like a Missed card, you can't PLAY them on your turn, so it deals with the issue of every ghost playing EVERY card they pick up so that they have something to do. I understand that completely changing the entire countering system probably won't be your choice, but as it stands I have never seen a card countered, because people don't hold onto cards and it's just too much work.
    2) Give ghosts a reason to hold onto cards. Maybe when ghosts die they immediately get a card, or they draw 2 per turn, and they can only play 1 each turn, so they often have an extra. There has to be an easily recognizeable incentive to hold onto cards instead of playing them.
    3) Change the "last person attacked by" and "last person attacked" variables to something less memory dependent. It's cool in concept, but in the end not everyone remembers these things.

    The rest of my points can be used at your discretion. I love the idea of ghosts that Death Mesa brings to the table, but the fact that it can't just be picked up and played by Bang veterans without a lengthy explanation of the countering, playing and ghost-human interaction rules has already turned off several of my friends from using it. Simplifying these systems a bit could make this a standard in any game.

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  8. Um... It removed the middle 3 points, so I'll split them up and repost them here. Sorry about that.

    2) There are many extra variables that need to be kept track of that make play difficult. If everyone in a standard game of bang were to put down their cards out of turn and an entirely new set of people were to take their places, they could theoretically just pick up the cards and continue the game with no additional information needed. Only one or two explanations would ever be needed, such as telling Vera Custer who she is for that round. This is not so with Death Mesa. In Death Mesa, several cards require you specifically to target the last person you attacked while living, or the last person who attacked you, or the last person who did X or Y, and not everyone always remembers these things on the fly. It means that when you're alive you ALWAYS have to keep track of who you last attacked and attacked you, just in case you die. It's not THAT bad really, but unlike Vera Custer, who manages her own ability, EVERYONE has to remember a LOT of extra information, just in case those cards come up, and it can slow down play a bit.

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  9. 3) The value and suit of cards becomes significantly more important. As pointed out before, the whole countering and playing aspect of things revolves heavily around the suit and value of cards, which in the regular deck is only really important for "draws" and with one or two characters (e.g. the Apache Kid). It's almost always only a big deal with "draws", and since those just use a randomly discarded card from the deck, the fact that cards even HAVE values and suits can often safely be ignored. While using these values more can certainly add to strategy, it adds difficulty and confusion to gameplay, and makes things hard for casual players. It seems somewhat contradictory to the spirit of the initial game to put such an emphasis on these values.

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  10. 4) Buried goods, while cool in concept, seem of little value. Dying players can often only hold one or two hand cards, and rarely have much in front of them (as otherwards they'd be harder to kill), which seems to result in buried good piles of only 1 or 2 cards in size. Yes, there are ways to get more, but they are often the leftovers of living players and rarely seem worthwhile to take. Living players can also depleat these piles quite easily, if I'm not mistaken, and the ghosts can't even USE them, so when living players have a choice of taking something from a living opponent or a ghost, the obvious strategic choice seems to be from the living player. And with cards like Cemetery, which give out an obscene amount of goods (does each player only get 1/2 or does it go around until they are ALL gone?), it's unlikely that the goods piles will stay present for very long at all.

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  11. I appreciate this excellent, thoughtful, and lengthy criticism of Death Mesa Alpha. Many of your ideas were great, and I appreciated you not just complaining about what you didn't like, but coming up with suggestions that could solve the problems you raised. One of them is so perfect, I don't know why I didn't see it sooner: Ghosts draw 2 cards a turn, but can only play 1 on their turn (so that Warn! is not included). This might hurt the Renegade a little, who may want to store up for an attack, but perhaps he can discard another Dead Men's Deck card to play another on his turn? Maybe that is too irritating/hard to remember? I am just concerned about keeping the Renegade involved in the game. I also like your idea of them Drawing a Dead Man's Deck card when they die. Kudos to you, I will be add these rules to the Death Mesa 1.02 Patch immediately. If the Renegade ends up being OP, then I can nerf him later. Thanks! Let me address your other criticisms point by point:

    1) I could see why you would think that the countering system is complex. The difficulty is in establishing a system that is fair for all of the roles. If you create a Duel-like system, this seems to greatly favor the Outlaws in many games, who can easily gang up on a dead Renegade/Deputy. You could make the "dueling" only work between 2 ghosts, so if the ghost overcomes the duel counter, no other player can pitch in. That might work. And you might adjust it so that the Renegade can join either side in the duel, to help him in his role.

    A countering suit system isn't a bad idea either. You could have spades counter hearts that counter clubs that counter diamonds that counters spades. Then, if a player played a Dead Men's Deck card, another player could discard a card with the countering suit. To avoid the counter, the ghost or the Renegade could discard the suit that counters that card. This would make it much more difficult for the original ghost who played a card to respond back, however. The chance of having that other suit is 25%. Of course, having a negating suit is only 25% too. So maybe cards just get negated more successfully. The question with the countering suit system is whether only 1 other ghost (+Renegade) can be involved or not. Allowing more than 1+Renegade seems to make it very difficult for the ghost who originally played the card. I think I would keep it to the 1+Renegade. I would like to see both of these new countering systems playtested. I don't really like the counter cards idea, as I would like the Dead Men's Deck cards on the whole to focus on affecting the living. I will place the other ideas in the Death Mesa 1.02 patch as new countering systems to try out.

    As an aside I am a little surprised that you never saw a counter (in Death Mesa called a negation)--in my play tests negations happened quite often. I am a recent college nerdy grad myself, and I guess my group was less "trigger-happy" than yours, waiting for opportune moments to use the cards and intervene. We find the value system quite easy to use, but I suppose we play tons of card games where such thinking is needed all of the time. Card-counting works quite well with Death Mesa since it is basically a special playing card "poker" deck. Nonetheless, I should work to make the expansion more enjoyable for you and your friends. If some of them are "turned off" by the counter system, then it needs to be worked on. Thank you for your frankness!

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  12. 2) This is a fair criticism for the Unfinished Business card. I can imagine people either getting used to this or writing things down on a pad of paper. The latter is really irritating to have to include because people are used to playing BANG! without pen and paper I admit. The former may not realistically happen. I think most people can remember whether or not they have killed someone (Guilty Conscience; I question their ability to play BANG! if they cannot remember that), and ghosts should remember who killed them (In Memoriam), but Unfinished Business might need some work (remembering who you attacked last). Perhaps this could be adjusted to (1) apply to any player you attacked, OR (2) simply targetting any player you can deductively prove you must kill to "draw!" What do you think?

    3) I respect your dislike of the card values, but I think using the values adds to the game since they are already there. Regardless, it could be that using them as much as I do in the countering system is too much.

    4) I would recommend checking out patch 1.02 for changes on gathering and disseminating buried goods, which should fix this problem (you probably did not check this before making your comments; it was posted today). Your first interpretation of Cemetary was correct, BTW. The ghost picks one living player who draws 2, the rest only draw 1.

    I would love to work with you further on improving Death Mesa. What is your e-mail? Perhaps we could correspond further on tweeking the expansion? You can write me at martinpulido2 at gmail dot com.

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  13. After some consideration, I think I will make the discard a card to play another card a rule for all ghosts. Otherwise, very few ghosts will want to play some of the Dead Men's Deck cards ever (such as Syphon).

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  14. I sent you an email with some contact details.

    And another idea to throw out there, as another option to your proposed rock-paper-scissors suit-countering idea, would be for each suit to have an opposite suit that can counter it AND that it can counter. So, for example, perhaps Hearts and Spades counter each other, and Clubs and Diamonds counter each other. While it would probably result in the same probabilities for actually HAVING the correct cards at the correct times (since it's still a 25% chance of having any specific suit), a set of two pairs of "opposites" would probably lend to memory easier than a specific chain of counters.

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