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Popular Variable Player Powers Board Games (Mechanic)

These are the board games with the Variable Player Powers mechanic.
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ooh I like this topic! I think I've really only played #Dune and #Root where you could be considered a faction with special abilities. Things like #King of Tokyo: Power Up add some variable player powers, but it doesn't change up your gameplay too much. #Scythe is kind of the same way, as are plenty of other games which give you mildly variable player powers.

So out of all the factions I've played, it's got to be a tie between the Firemen and the Bene Gesserit in #Dune. If you're playing the "advanced" rules of the game, both of these factions get big boosts over their abilities in the basic rules, in which they're kind of weak. 

In the advanced rules, whenever you are fighting a battle, you must pay spice to have your soldiers fight at full strength, otherwise they fight at half strength. Not so with the Fremen. They are the strongest fighters in the Imperium, their soldiers do not require spice to count at full strength. Fighting against the Fremen is very expensive. In addition to this, since they know the planet so well, they know how far the storm will move and can use that information accordingly. But possibly the coolest ability that doesn't come up as often is that they get to ride the sandworms! Under certain conditions, when a Shai Hulud card is revealed during the spice blow, they can ride it and control where it goes!

As for the Bene Gesserit, they are sort of the puppet masters of the Imperium. These sneaky witches don't start with much of a presence on the board, but they can act as "spiritual advisors" and ship down to the planet along with any of the other factions forces, slowly building up a presence across the board. They can make use of "The Voice" in battle, which makes them scary to fight, and their allies can benefit from that as well. The most fun ability of theirs, in my opinion, is their special win condition. Before the game, they will predict a winner and a round, and if that faction wins the game in the predicted round, the Bene Gesserit steal the victory, as they are trying to manipulate the Imperium for their own purposes.

All games I decide to buy (to play with my wife) are with the solo mode in mind, so they're always solid! My favorites so far are #Pax Pamir (Second Edition), #Root, #Architects of the West Kingdom, and #Clans of Caledonia. I honesty haven't played enough to get to a point of tiring myself out from them, but I can say that it's not likely to happen soon because:

  1. Either the AI is really tough to beat or there's a high ceiling cap in terms of skill (Clans is somewhat like this)
  2. I typically acquire games with lots of variability (either in setup or through variable player powers)
  3. There's never enough time to get in a play so I'm usually just hoping that my schedule will clear off so that I can finally get in a session

I had a dice phase some months ago when I was on the lookout for the perfect game with dice workers! And I agree with you, I really enjoy the perfect mixture of strategical thinking and tactical decisions you make when trying to deal with the bad rolls.

The only ones I've played are #The Voyages of Marco Polo, #Atlantis Rising (second edition), and #Camel Up (second edition)

Marco Polo bears some resemblances to Coimbra I believe. In MP, you have a set number of dice workers that you can place on various spots. You can spend resources to hire more workers or get re-rolls. The big catch in MP is (1) when taking an action that requires more than one die, the "power" of your action is determined by the lowest numbered die and (2) when you want to place your workers on an already occupied spot, (1) you have to pay to take that action. The amount you pay is determined by the lowest numbere die. This makes it so that low numbered dice are just as important when you're really needing to take actions on populars spots without breaking your bank for it. Besides this, this game features highly unique variable player powers where one character doesn't even need to roll dice haha 

For #Atlantis Rising (second edition), it's a co-op game where players work together to gather different resources from different peninsula that jut out from the center of the island. The probability of gaining a resource increases the further you go out to the end of the peninsula but you also run the risk of not being able to take that action if the location you're standing on happens to flood away. You roll dice to determine if you obtained a resource. You can mitigate bad luck by spending "Mystic Energy"


#Camel Up (second edition) is a racing game and each die corresponds to a camel of the same color. To be honest, I think this is my favorite out of these three games. I absolutely love the random, silly, chaotic fun of it even though there's very little strategy involved.

I'd love to try out #Troyes. I feel like it would be one of my favorites within this category. I also have #Root that uses dice but it's not the biggest part of the game.

I tend to agree with this and have heard similar thoughts from notable game designers in past interviews. I think each mechanism tends to evoke a unique feeling and the gameplay can lead the audience in a very different way depending on which mechanics you give more emphasis to in the design.

For example:

Worker placement - I think this is one of the easier ones to identify. It's structured and very tidy, and makes players put on the hat of a manager.

Variable Player Powers/Asymmetry - Increases the level of immersion and places players in the shoes of the character.

Dice rolling and press your luck - Summons the gambling spirit in us all!

Engine building - This one covers a wide range of mechanics but overall, it makes the players take on the hat of an engineer to analyze/evaluate and develop a complex system.

Point to point movement - You feel like you're on a journey. The more static the game, the more of other stuff/mechanics needed to generate that story element. 

OOOH I've been waiting for this one to come out. So I assume that the solo deck is included in the box this time around? Also, are they planning to work on expansions at all or will it entirely depend on the reception?

As much as I like Mico's artwork, this is quite a nice cleaned up version. Definitely better than my first impressions. And I adore variable player powers in games.

The most recent game I taught was #Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale! I actually found it an easier teach than #Welcome to... even though it offers a slightly deeper gameplay. Another reason why it's my favorite "roll & write" now.

I actually can't think of a game that was especially tough to teach so far. I think it's because I typically avoid games that are way too complex to explain lol. Now, I do have several games I'll need to teach my wife soon, and they are #Pax Pamir (Second Edition), #Brass: Birmingham, and #Star Wars: Rebellion. Of those...

  • Brass -  Shouldn't be too bad and it'll be one of those teach as you play kind of games
  • Pax Pamir 2E - Will be hard. The rules themselves aren't too tough to learn but as a beginner to the genre, my wife will probably have a difficult time grasping the meaning of her actions
  • Star Wars: Rebellion - I've done zero homework on it so far so I have no idea how tough it will be. Complexity rating is slightly below Brass but games with significant variable player powers/asymmetry tend to take more effort to teach

The easiest teach? #Just One or #Skull

Personal approach? I just study the heck out of the rulebook, watch a video or search google for clarifications if needed, and teach when I feel confident enough to make it the easiest experience for my wife. It sure is hard though. I've done a lot of volunteering at church and at schools as a teacher, and I'm pretty comfortable with being able to convey the heart of a message. But when it comes to gaming rules, it's so easy to get caught up in the details :(

I prefer being taught so that I can avoid getting past the laziness. But I gotta say, as someone who's thorough in going through the rules, it's hard when the teacher is someone who's known to miss significant rules very often. Makes me feel like I need to double check!

Barrage ticks at least two of their criteria. Worker Placement and Variable player powers. Not super variable but it changes your game enough!

I'll jump in. Always open to good suggestions from others.

A brief intro to you as a gamer.  Been playing enthusiastically for about 3 years, but lots of off and on gaming for decades prior. My wife is my most consistent gaming partner, so anything that you recommend has to be very good with 2 players, but higher player counts are OK too, so long as they' re good with two.

Top 3 Favorite Games:  Gloomhaven (I've pledged for Frosthaven), Yokohama, Concordia. Let's go for five favorites: Five Tribes (I suck at it), Viticulture: Essential Edition.

Top 3 Favorite Mechanics: Worker placement, hand management, variable player powers.

Top 3 Favorite Themes:  I like themes, but any well-done theme will do.

Most Played Game: Pandemic. It's my wife's favorite game. We've played it 18 times this month alone. That's unusual, and is a by-product of the quarantine. I would prefer for Gloomhaven to be the most played.

Heaviest Game:  Gloomhaven. Maybe Mistfall: Heart of the Mists.

Lightest Game:  Love Letter

Sector of gaming you wish to explore: I need some alternatives to Pandemic. My wife can play it forever, but I need more variety. Here's what she likes about it and what I need in an alternative game to get her to play frequently: easy setup and teardown, plays in less than an hour but has interesting decisions, player interaction, cooperative is nice but not mandatory.

Let me add another categories here.

Games that I already own, but have never played: Mage Knight: Ultimate Edition, Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition, Eclipse, Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, Arkham Horror: The Card Game, Hyperborea, Earth Reborn, Scorpius Freighter, The 7th Continent.