Profile photo of Dallas By Dallas On January 27, 2012 Posted In Other

Alternate Unit Turn Rules: “Unit Dice Pool Simulation”

Profile photo of Dallas
January 27, 2012
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The aim of these alternate introductory rules is to introduce new players to Monsterpocalype with a focus on Monsters, their unique abilities, and some interaction with units while avoiding the often overwhelming and deal-breaking unit turns, ability referencing, planning, etc. These can also be used in any desperate attempt to get your friends to play Monpoc with you “if it just weren’t so complicated and fiddly.” The “Tag Team” monster only alternate scenario in ICN Strategy Guide is consistent with this aim but doesn’t allow any interaction with units. The base introductory rules in the Rise and Now rulebooks have an equally valid strategy of using “left-side” stats only, with full unit turns, but misses the very engaging and fairly unique triggers and abilities mechanic.

Rules Overview

Units are placed on the map but will never shoot, move, use actions, etc. Instead, the unit pool dice are used to simulate the goals and outcomes of a unit turn, while enabling the dice management and back-to-back turn mechanics. Monsters interact with units for power attacks (swats, rampages, stomps), actions (tow, TK, abduct, sacrific, etc), abilities, and movement. Building’s hazard and damaging triggers (spire, livewire) are the only building abilities that are in play (optionally, to maintain a really engaging aspect of the monster game with minimal need for referencing). Gameknave / Jugglerv’s reference cards/sheets are also key for this simplification strategy.

Setup
Quickly pull units (randomly or that you like the look of) and place them in your unit pool. On first turn, players take turns placing units on all objective spaces (except speed zones), similar to building placement.

– I tend not to focus on the unit defense values during placement, but this, like everything here, is optional.

Basic Unit Turn Simulation
Roll your action dice and generate 1 p-die for each strike rolled. Move dice to monster pool.
– This will average about 5 or 6 p-die a turn and simulates generating power through destruction and securing for a power up on the monster turn. This ensures enough power for dramatic throws and smashes and assumes that units can usually find some way to generate 3 p-die through destruction and 3 p-die from securing.
– For a lower power game, gain 1 p-die for each 2 strikes rolled, rounding up, which will average to about 3 p-die each unit turn, encouraging more building brawls, rampages, and stomps.

Advanced Unit Turn Simulation
The same basic mechanic is used to represent the different goals and outcomes of unit turns; Power Through Suppression, Secure Power Base, Disrupt Power Base, Damage Monster/Building/Unit. Action dice can be allocated to different purposes on the same turn.
– This level of abstraction does introduce a mechanic that does not directly carry forward into the full rules, but it does highlight for new players all of the purposes and decision points of a unit turn (except for screening).

1. Power Through Suppression
Roll up to 10 action dice. Gain 1-pdie for every 2 strikes rolled, rounding up. For each superstrike rolled, move an a-die from your opponents unit pool to a “neutralized zone” in the unit rectangle, which gets pushed to the monster a-die pool at the end of the next unit turn.
– For a slightly lower power game, try rounding down on the roll, but we found it was more fun and reliable to round up. Since the odds of missing are higher than the inverse of the odds of hitting, we often seemed to get rolls in the 2-3 p-die range.

2. Secure Power Base
Move up to 9 a-die to a “securing pool” in the monster rectangle. At least 1 a-die must be used or pushed to the monster a-die pool for the power up roll. On the monster turn, roll to power up as normal and receive 1 p-die for each strike rolled.
– It is simpler to just specify 7 for the securing pool and 3 for the power up, but this gives less options when using multiple a-die options in one turn. Rolling 1 a-die to get 1 or 2 power might be attractive if players have a few a-die to spare or to threaten a power up.

3. Disrupt Power Base
Roll up to 10 a-die and for every 2 strikes rolled, rounding up, move 1 a-die from your opponents “securing pool” to the monster a-die pool.

4. Damage Monster/Building/Unit(s)
Choose a target and roll up to 10 a-die, hitting as normal. Multiple targets or attacks may be taken.
– It is important to remind new players of the odds and that typically only a single attack can be made reliably. However, a viable strategy is to take several low odds attacks.
– This might result in unrealistically easy unit attacks on monsters, specifically; 10 a-die on defense 5 = 81%, v6 = 68%, v7 = 51%, which is pretty close to a 3*5 typical of many unit attacks. Anything lower than this leaves much lower incentive to go for monster or high def building damage, which doesn’t seem to reflect real games.

Parting statement
Okay, let the purging of the blaspheme begin.  This worked well for my most recent attempt to proselytize a new player. We tried the normal full rules first but he preferred these rules to start out for his first bunch of games and I still got to have fun practicing my monster game.  When we moved back to the full rule set he was much more familiar with the ability mechanics and purposes of the unit turns.  I hope this helps you angle in some new players!

  1. I think this is just too abstract. Part of the reason we are playing this game is a lack of abstraction or we would just play chess and call it monsters. I think it’s great it worked for you but I don’t see how it is any simpler than playing with simpler forces. Or with the understanding that you are going to lose at first, just like anything. I appreciate the effort to entice new players… perhaps there is something here I’m not seeing.

  2. Like Chris, my opening comment is that whatever works for you to bring new players into the game is fantastic.

    Now, for the rough stuff! :) Here’s more or less my thought-reaction to reading over them:

    Introductory…ok, more or less a basic rules version. Things will be simplified, some things will not be used.

    Basic version…pretty much spot on..Units are on the map, but I don’t do anything with the…I can do things TO them, and through the power roll, I know that you can do things on your unit turn to generate P dice. 1P per strike…there are going to be some unit turns where you generate 6-10+ p dice. That’s highly unrealistic. Unless your opponent is being very generous to your Chain Reaction, the most P dice any unit turn will generate is like 5…maybe if you capped that roll at 5P?

    Advanced simulation. Introductory Advanced Simulation? Here I think is where you lose me. I understand that you’re trying to abstract the unit turn, but why go this abstract? Isn’t it just as or more simple to limit the demo unit pool to 5-8 units, and ignore special abilities for the first few games? I play with my 6 year old, and he manages to play with that way just fine. He’s got no trouble understanding how to spawn them, how to move, attack, secure, hold objectives, etc. The advanced abstract, it seems to me, doesn’t avoid any of the pitfalls you’re seeking to avoid: New players still have to decide which option to use, and then how to spend their dice…same as if they were just taking a basic unit turn.

    1. It is reminiscent of what they are trying to do with tennis nowadays for beginners and children… they teach them to play on a smaller court with foam balls to prepare them to play tennis. All they really manage to do is teach them how to play on a smaller court and with foam balls and the jump to real balls and a normal sized court is generally too much of a change and they basically have to relearn an entirely different game.

    2. Thanks for the support of the Basic version Bobb :). I agree that 6-10p is too high for a unit turn, so to clarify, this is intended to represent both a unit turn and a monster power up.

      Honestly, I am ambivalent about the “Advanced” simulation for the reasons you and Chris mention. What my trainee found useful about it was that it really highlighted the different unit turn goals, decision points, and dice allocation/management. We probably played 3 or 4 games with the Basic version and then 2 or 3 with the Advanced before moving on to the full rules – and then still needed to keep the number or diversity of units small.

      1. I wondered about that, actually…6+P on a unit turn is high…6P between the unit and monster power is actually a decent point. Again, it’s an abstract, which I personally don’t like, but if it’s working for you and getting people into the game, go with it!

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