Monday, November 2, 2020

Robbers' Roost: Interrupts - Gameplay Changes

The goal behind interrupts was to make BANG! more enjoyable out of turn: reducing boredom and deepening strategy through increased interactivity and teamwork. Interrupts are event-triggered cards that could only be played out of turn. When you think of it, cards of the Missed! family function this way.

Triggering Event: *You are banged!* (not necessarily out of turn, but primarily -- Julie Cutter's ability and Backfire changed this)

Effect by playing: Missed! for oneself

This was an extension of that concept, except that most interrupts only indirectly help you. Mostly you further another player's goal that happens to coincide with yours. However, there problems arise by enabling this:

a. Just like Missed!, your hand can get cluttered with cards you can't play, because the triggering events have not occurred. Yes, you can discard when over your card limit, but this is not great because:
  • This still clutters your hand until you are at your card limit
  • The point is not to discard interrupts, but to play them
  • It empowers Gary Looter and weakens Suzy Lafayette even moreso
To solve for this, the first version of Robbers' Roost allowed you to store any number of interrupts, so they did not contribute to your card limit. But this negatively allowed a player to store up potentially too many interrupts. True, they did have to wait to use them, but it could allow them to do a lot out of turn. The bigger problem with storing interrupts was it combined with the substitution function below.

b. Aiding other players no longer makes sense in a game where your allies are killed and in a game that can easily get down to just 2 players (player elimination). To obvious solution for this was to find a way so that interrupts do not "get in the way" when your team is eliminated. How would this be executed, however?

The first version of Robbers' Roost did this via a substitution function when certain conditions (state of currently roles) were met (such as for an Outlaw when the other Outlaws were dead). The interrupts could then be played as a different card. As I reflect on what I did:

 - This effectively revealed your role when you substituted, although I felt at the point that you could unlock the substitution function, the roles were very easily understood. That said, it could negatively impact a Renegade.

- Secondly, the substitution combined with the fact that you didn't have a card limit impact on interrupts, enabled the substituting player with a significant way to do a lot on their own turn (in ways they could not before). Perhaps this was seen as a way of adjusting the game a little more in that player's favor, which isn't all bad. But I hate OP sheriffs, which this made worse. I just felt it was creating loop holes I didn't like.

- I had to still create tack on rules for Suzy Lafayette. The cards became busier with the substitution function.

I now propose a more elegant solution:
  • Once on their turn, players during the play phase may freely discard an interrupt and draw another card from the deck. Any role may do this; roles remaining/# players has no effect on this capability. It is open to all.
    • Note how this will help Suzy from getting blocked at least on her first interrupt. The question will be if that is enough.
  • Players can store 2 interrupts as a card that does not contribute to their card limit.
  • I have also eliminated cards where the triggering event simply took too long to occur to want to store it -- I'm looking at you, Stand Off (Duels just aren't that common).
The only risk I see here is players not valuing an interrupt enough to not just discard it for the chance of getting a card that benefits them more directly. Yes, that other card would contribute to their hand limit, but what if it's that much needed blue or equipment card? I feel like the interrupts are powerful and have enough applicable conditions now that one won't immediately do this. They are a deterrent against some player actions when they see the extra interrupts on the table, and they allow players to coordinate with others in a way they couldn't easily before. But that is the risk. Would love to hear any feedback on this approach.