Sunday, January 11, 2015

Messing Around with Amoeba Wars

This simple Avalon Hill game sits on my shelf, and I always want to use it as a light weight gateway game for people who may have never played "wargames" before.

Problem is, I've also found it to have some game flaws which I've really wanted to remove and make the game more enjoyable.

There are a few stabs at it on Board Game Geek, but all raise some issues just as much as they try to solve some of the game's perceived problems.

What are these problems? The biggest complaint about the game is "turtling", a strategy where a player makes no moves each turn slowly building up his space armada in his home solar system and then making a single late game push to the center and the win.

Another issue is turn order and how with 5 to 6 players there is much down time in between your turn. Some players have made stabs at changing the turn order mechanics to create more interaction amongst players around the board. For new players to the game I don't think this is much of an issue. The novelty of the game and figuring it out has a tendency to create interactive banter around the board. This issue is more of one for veteran I feel because the game, despite its evocative title, lacks some personality which can bring down the excitement for veteran players.

This is where I've decided to launch my attack on reviving this 80's nostalgia nugget from the grave and getting it on the table. To give the game some additional personality. Amoeba Wars attempts to create some personality for your colored counters with the inclusion of Special Power cards which, as an optional rule, each player gets to draw one randomly at the beginning of play. While drawn secretly, once you use it the rest of the players know what you are packing for the rest of the game and can compensate.

Instead of using XXII. Optional Player Powers rule as written, I propose you get to draw a Special Power card when you have captured production points. 

One production point gets you one Special Power, two gets you two Special Powers, up to four production points gets you three Special Power cards. Once the cards are all gone, no one can get them anymore. This should also have the additional benefit of making the Turtle Strategy less viable as a neighboring player can accumulate some significant power through expansion while the turtling player twiddles his thumbs. Power which can put this strategy farther out of reach of success, hopefully. 
You should be able to put the power into play as soon as the card is acquired, and acquiring new cards will keep opponents guessing on what one is packing. 

We will see.