Ideal Player Numbers

mica
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Ideal Player Numbers

Postby mica » Mon Nov 12, 2018 6:36 am

What do GM's consider the ideal number of players for Torg?
What issues do they encounter with the mechanics at different player numbers and how do they deal with them?

To kick start:
The best sessions have been with three players. Pace is fluid, plenty of lime-lighting by each character and niche abilities. Each encounter feels like a challenge and exciting.

Issues with 5 players:
Half the drama deck is in play (almost invariably a Glory is played due to the sheer number of actions).
Churning through the drama deck at a rate of knots.
Grinding combats due to ability to trade cards and multi-actions. A few round's combat can take half an hour.
Presence of opponent fails, second chance invariably in play from the start due to alertness, leadership, seize initiative along with negation perk etc often turn combat in accountancy, the result a foregone conclusion just a case of number crunching.
Huge committee meeting at the start of scene as cards are traded (and often debates over who gets to do what due to the meta-game).
Vast amounts of player poss due to cosm cards, dumping subplot cards along with starting poss.
Considerable amounts of overlap between characters as well as covering all the bases with high skills (combat interactions) and the ability to waste multiple villains at once leaving characters thumb-twiddling.

I personally think that these are largely scaling issues though how to scale and keep things fair is another matter. There really shouldn't be more than 12 possibilities/cards in play but I have found that unless as GM I'm going out of my way to burn player possibilities (which can feel like victimization) there can be as many as 30 held by the players and 35+ cards to divvy up before discard following a couple of rounds of combat (followed by drawing another 5 for consideration if at the end of a scene).

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Gargoyle
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Re: Ideal Player Numbers

Postby Gargoyle » Mon Nov 12, 2018 7:58 am

mica wrote:What do GM's consider the ideal number of players for Torg?
What issues do they encounter with the mechanics at different player numbers and how do they deal with them?

To kick start:
The best sessions have been with three players. Pace is fluid, plenty of lime-lighting by each character and niche abilities. Each encounter feels like a challenge and exciting.

Can confirm, game runs great with 3 players using RAW.

Issues with 5 players:
Half the drama deck is in play (almost invariably a Glory is played due to the sheer number of actions).

Destiny deck you mean. But yeah, it gets out of hand quickly, especially once they learn to play the system. I used to have a "ghost hand" to represent the pool from two more players, so I had the same problem, probably a little less of an issue due to action economy, but I still had to cut it down to one extra hand. Also I house ruled early that Glory cards don't increase your hand size by more than +1, which is now official errata, so make sure you're doing that.

Churning through the drama deck at a rate of knots.
Grinding combats due to ability to trade cards and multi-actions. A few round's combat can take half an hour.
Presence of opponent fails, second chance invariably in play from the start due to alertness, leadership, seize initiative along with negation perk etc often turn combat in accountancy, the result a foregone conclusion just a case of number crunching.
Huge committee meeting at the start of scene as cards are traded (and often debates over who gets to do what due to the meta-game).


There is no official rule about whether cards are to be kept secret or not, so I ruled at my table with the same guidelines as given in oTorg (don't ask me where I read this, but I know I did): Player's hands are secret until they put them in their pool, and cannot be traded until revealed. To make it easier to enforce and limit bigger groups further, I'm going to restrict it a bit further and not allow them to trade at all hand to hand, only pool to pool. (Edit: Note for clarity: by RAW you can trade from hand to hand outside of rounds, but when you start flipping drama cards you can only trade between pools. I'm talking about restricting it outside of rounds as well, so that you can never trade hand to hand.) It speeds things up and forces them to play the hand they are dealt a little longer, and nerfs the larger groups. It also makes the non-combat scenes more interesting IMO, as people will consider playing things like subplots that they might not normally play.

I do require them to show their Cosm cards as soon as they are dealt though, so that the ones that are to be played immediately can be processed, and to give me a heads up on what they might play so I can plan a little on the fly.

I also purchased another deck and use two destiny decks, minus half the Glory cards. I'm thinking of removing another Glory too, maybe even just keeping one or two in there. They've gotten to be less special as players have figured out how to stack drama,hero, possibility, to get the one big roll they need, and that's fun sometimes, but it's getting to be too often for my tastes.

It's funny, I have yet to see a Rally card played IMC. In oTorg that was THE best card in the deck.

Vast amounts of player poss due to cosm cards, dumping subplot cards along with starting poss.
Considerable amounts of overlap between characters as well as covering all the bases with high skills (combat interactions) and the ability to waste multiple villains at once leaving characters thumb-twiddling.

Action economy and a flood of cards at work, plus small skill list. I think if you cut back on the trading as suggested above it won't be as bad, but the other thing to do is just start throwing harder stuff at them. There are also some good suggestions on increasing difficulty on this designer diary: http://www.ulisses-us.com/torg-eternity ... uary-2018/

The game has a high skill cap. New players struggle, but as they learn the system, they often get very powerful, and more players increase this exponentially IMO due to the larger card pool.

I personally think that these are largely scaling issues though how to scale and keep things fair is another matter. There really shouldn't be more than 12 possibilities/cards in play but I have found that unless as GM I'm going out of my way to burn player possibilities (which can feel like victimization) there can be as many as 30 held by the players and 35+ cards to divvy up before discard following a couple of rounds of combat (followed by drawing another 5 for consideration if at the end of a scene).


I do work a little bit to burn possibilities, but I find that currently it's acceptable. More players means more power for them though and I know it will get harder to run. I'm hoping to increase my group from 3 to 5 players soon, and I know that it's going to be difficult to challenge them without being too mean. I think right now if I restrict trading to cards in pools that four players would be ideal. Five is going to be powerful anyway due to skill overlap and number of actions, cards, and possibilities, and I'd never run six without some more house rules to lower hand sizes and possibilities.
Last edited by Gargoyle on Mon Nov 12, 2018 11:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ideal Player Numbers

Postby Sunrunner » Mon Nov 12, 2018 8:37 am

I personally have found that once you get to 5+ Players you need a second drama deck. You dont need the extra for the drama deck but it does not hurt to mix them up, But you absolutely need the extra destiny deck to pump up the card pool to combat the players having access to half the deck at any one time. Also if your worried/bothered by frequent glories pull a couple out. Going to double size deck and pulling all the extra glories out so you only have the base 4 makes the glories rare and the players will stop taking them for granted. I can say I personally have limited glories and specifically not allowed them to be played on a few occasions because I did not feel the situation was heroic enough and or inspiring enough.

Like alot of games the larger the party the more challenging it can be to build encounters as the party gains more and more resources and people can start to specialize more and more in one area. If you find your fights are not challenging then add more bad guys or buff up your guys a little bit. I had great success with just a little buffage. For instance when my party was romping through Pan Pacifica on one occasion they managed to get involved in a very high priority operation from Kanawa and as soon as things started going south the onsite guy called upper management and screamed for help and i figured Kanawa would send one of their special ops teams. These guys are basic Kanawa troopers with like 2 extra stat points and like 3 or 4 extra skill points, and 2 possibilities each. I also decided they had any equipment they felt they needed so a couple of them were packing the riot suppression sonic cannons. 10 of these guys were the 1st time my players ever ended the 2nd round of combat with players down and in full retreat and wondering how they were going to disengage and run away successfully without leaving the down PCs behind.

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Re: Ideal Player Numbers

Postby mica » Mon Nov 12, 2018 8:47 am

Cheers for the comments. Yeah, meant destiny deck (seem to recall the single deck from oTorg was the Drama deck so that is probably why I fail to differentiate).

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Re: Ideal Player Numbers

Postby Kuildeous » Mon Nov 12, 2018 8:51 am

mica wrote:Churning through the drama deck at a rate of knots.
Grinding combats due to ability to trade cards and multi-actions. A few round's combat can take half an hour.
Presence of opponent fails, second chance invariably in play from the start due to alertness, leadership, seize initiative along with negation perk etc often turn combat in accountancy, the result a foregone conclusion just a case of number crunching.
Huge committee meeting at the start of scene as cards are traded (and often debates over who gets to do what due to the meta-game).


My biggest question here is: Are the players having fun with this, or is it tedious for them? If the former, then let them engage in the meta-play and watch the cards fly. If they're bored with the cards and multi-action, then there's a problem to correct.

As for the Possibilities, ramp up the difficulty. It's not being mean; you're providing a suitable challenge. You're keeping the game from getting boring. This will result in longer combats, but it should keep the Possibilities flowing out as quickly as they're flowing in. In addition to the designer diary entry posted above, consider these ideas.

* Use more minions but in waves. If the group is in a spot with corners, ridges, or other hard cover, then there can be reinforcements just out of sight. Don't throw in 40 minions at once. Have 10 of them attack in the first round Then throw in 10 more each subsequent round. Maybe they were far enough away so that they have to run to get there and suffer -2 to their actions. This provides the minion-killers moments to shine and to keep on shining. And even if they can't keep up with the minions, after having 3 or 4 cards in their pool, they likely can.

* Buff up the minions if you have to. Shocktroopers have a toughness of 8 and no armor. They fall to most weapons. But maybe this batch has a toughness of 10. They're just a bit stronger. Don't use this all the time. Or maybe you do. Mobius's troops get culled pretty easily, so only the toughest survive later in the war.

* Roll individually. While many-on-one actions are a great time-saver, damage doesn't increase that much because of it. You may get +1BD or even +2BD, but with an average roll of 4, you might add a wound to a paltry hit. Sometimes you'll get lucky (did 35 damage to my wife's character with a minion), but for the most part, you're going to see minimal shock. So let that shock add up. Don't roll once for 5 minions. Roll 5 times. I started a thread about this. Short version: Rolling once deals damage only once, but rolling five times might deal damage two to four times. If you can do 6 shock to a PC, then he's over halfway to unconscious already. Imagine making a player choose whether he should try to soak 2 shock. You might even dish out two wounds in a single round which makes the player feel like these minions are threatening. I like this one because it lets me scale according to character strength. I roll individually against my combat monkeys, but I roll once for the people with a 7 toughness.

I have six players in my group. They're rather overwhelming, but we're all having fun. I've had to put them in their place when they got cocky enough to attack Mobius directly, but I think they also figured they would just get captured due to where they were, so they really simply handed me a new story to play out.
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Re: Ideal Player Numbers

Postby TorgHacker » Mon Nov 12, 2018 9:30 am

Gargoyle wrote:There is no official rule about whether cards are to be kept secret or not, so I ruled at my table with the same guidelines as given in oTorg (don't ask me where I read this, but I know I did): Player's hands are secret until they put them in their pool, and cannot be traded until revealed. To make it easier to enforce and limit bigger groups further, I'm going to restrict it a bit further and not allow them to trade at all hand to hand, only pool to pool. It speeds things up and forces them to play the hand they are dealt a little longer, and nerfs the larger groups. It also makes the non-combat scenes more interesting IMO, as people will consider playing things like subplots that they might not normally play.



Just in case there was some confusion, if you're in round play, you can only trade pool to pool anyways.

Unless you meant not allowing trading of cards outside of round play.
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Re: Ideal Player Numbers

Postby fougerec » Mon Nov 12, 2018 10:43 am

Sunrunner wrote:I personally have found that once you get to 5+ Players you need a second drama deck. You dont need the extra for the drama deck but it does not hurt to mix them up, But you absolutely need the extra destiny deck to pump up the card pool to combat the players having access to half the deck at any one time. Also if your worried/bothered by frequent glories pull a couple out. Going to double size deck and pulling all the extra glories out so you only have the base 4 makes the glories rare and the players will stop taking them for granted. I can say I personally have limited glories and specifically not allowed them to be played on a few occasions because I did not feel the situation was heroic enough and or inspiring enough.


I play with 4, sometimes 5 players (depending on work schedule) and I'm definitely looking at picking up another deck. I've noticed a definite flow change with that one extra player as well.

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Gargoyle
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Re: Ideal Player Numbers

Postby Gargoyle » Mon Nov 12, 2018 11:17 am

TorgHacker wrote:
Gargoyle wrote:There is no official rule about whether cards are to be kept secret or not, so I ruled at my table with the same guidelines as given in oTorg (don't ask me where I read this, but I know I did): Player's hands are secret until they put them in their pool, and cannot be traded until revealed. To make it easier to enforce and limit bigger groups further, I'm going to restrict it a bit further and not allow them to trade at all hand to hand, only pool to pool. It speeds things up and forces them to play the hand they are dealt a little longer, and nerfs the larger groups. It also makes the non-combat scenes more interesting IMO, as people will consider playing things like subplots that they might not normally play.



Just in case there was some confusion, if you're in round play, you can only trade pool to pool anyways.

Unless you meant not allowing trading of cards outside of round play.


Yeah, that's what I meant.
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Re: Ideal Player Numbers

Postby ZorValachan » Mon Nov 12, 2018 9:12 pm

I agree with the multiple deck, with reduced glories.

Actually i love a simulated Old Torg deck using that ratio of cards and my roll20 deck is that. I play with 6 players and myself and my OT inspired deck works wonderfully.

Remember the cosm card that offer 1-3 pos for threats are based on the difficulty they gave the group. If the group rofl-stomped 5 t-rexes, they get 1 pos each. Law of decay shouldn't be giving 3 pos for secondary weapons. Etc.
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Re: Ideal Player Numbers

Postby Count Thalim » Tue Nov 13, 2018 2:08 am

I four players to be best for my games. Though I have worked in a range of 3-6 in the past.

The main issues I have with three players is logistical rather than mechanical. If one player can't make a session then that session is out, Unless you have planned for it two players doesn't have a workable dynamic. For me anyway.
With Four players you can get away if someone can't make a session as three still works, not ideal but better than no game.
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