Influence and Dominance expansion ideas

Share big alternative variants (similar to and expansion), or maybe just talk/discuss small alternations to the official rules for better balance!
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Joined: 01 Mar 2022, 19:03
Favorite AGOT House: Lannister

Sharing a few ideas I’ve had of ways to shake up how influence tracks work. I don’t think there’s any serious issue with the way they currently work, but I thought it was an interesting topic, so I’m giving it a go.
These are supposed to be expansions, not rebalances. I think this game’s balance is driven by player action so I’m intending to give more options, without overloading the mechanics. More options should lead to a more balanced game on its own I hope.
Numerical tweaks are easy enough to add in if something is properly broken. I’ve done a few I thought were necessary, but there will be some needed ones I’ve missed so feedback is encouraged.
These are also supposed to be buffs all around. I don’t like taking things away when adding new features, these ideas should work in addition to what’s already there but they could also be taken as replacements.
I also haven’t considered all of the implications of the house cards on this so some cards, mentioning no names (except for Martell), might be better off tweaked to accommodate. I prefer to leave them all as they are and fully immerse into the Doran roleplay, where chaos is a snake or whatever.

The Iron Throne track and token
Starting off here with the dominance token, an interesting idea would be to allow the holder of the Iron Throne token to reclaim tokens during bids. This would be a power the token holder can use during every bid to reclaim tokens up to the value of their bid, reducing their bid by the amount reclaimed, before determining the result.
This will let the Thone holder safely overbid on the tracks, then adjust to the level they prefer. It’s hard to unseat a king after all, it will take a level of conspiracy and an investment of power to weaken them enough to force a new claim.
It would also result in the Thone holder holding onto a few more tokens, which they can use as gifts as peer the MOD power gifting, helping them to keep others onside. I like the way this interacts with the Targaryen feature, two claimants offering power to forge allies.

Now an idea for the track. The track determines turn order by allocating turn order based on track position, e.g position 1 goes, then 2… looping around, and you go when the turn order position matches your position on the track. What if instead, you could offer your turn to another player?
A few things to be said here. Firstly, it’s broken to be able to force the turn onto someone, the other player has to be willing. Secondly, a player must take the turn, so if nobody else wants it you have to go. Thirdly, there are two ways to implement this. Either you only get to offer the turn out if you have a valid order to resolve, or you can always do it when the track passes your position. I like the 1st one better. Lastly, this would be a major shake up, and I’m not sure about all of the consequences, but it’s just an idea.

Fiefdoms and the Blade
One of the issues with Fiefdoms is that it’s relatively bland. Other than the blade holder, nobody has an active ability they can use based on their position, so something could be added here.
There is a little deck of cards in the box that some of us may love, some of us may hate, and some of us have forgotten about. I could do a whole thing on different ways to use the tides of battle cards, (morale system, hireable mercenaries, anything that isn’t random…), but I’ll stick to the Fiefdoms track today. Also, using the cards to do something else doesn’t block them from being used in the regular way, you’d just draw from the remaining cards.
One way to use ToB cards for this track is a draft. At the beginning of the game, then after each Westeros phase, the holder of the Blade draws a card for each player, chooses one, and passes the remainder to the next on the track for them to choose one and pass on. The cards can be drawn openly or secretly, I prefer openly. I’d also stick an extra card in the draft to give the last player some option (Which plain 0 do you want? Tough decision).
Hand limit of 1, discard down after the draft. The T is for tides not Tsunami. This allows a player to save a card for a later round, or hold onto a good card if they didn’t get an opportunity to use it.
The card can be used in combat to add its strength and combat symbols. It also needs to be determined when the card is added. My favourite resolution is to allow the player to attach the ToB card to their house card during the Choose and Reveal House Cards combat step (they are conveniently small enough to hide).
It could also be done after the reveal and during the Use Valyrian Steel Blade step, with some method of determining the order they are applied if not simultaneous. It might be worth ruling something like ‘the loser gets their card back’ so they aren’t wasted as easily, or to resolve other timing issues, however it’s also fine to have bluffing or forcing someone out of their ToB card as another layer to consider.

The Blade should work into this new system. It could be used to make another player draft randomly, swap their card with one from the deck, swap with another player, swap with the leftover card, block their card choice in favour of another, or block them from choosing a card entirely. If you did secret drafting, the blade could be used to reveal another player’s ToB card to everyone. This is too much altogether, so mix and match to get the features you like, or ignore all of these and do something else like I would.
My actual pitch for a new Blade feature, would be to give the holder the power to cancel a ToB card when played. Once per round they can flip the Blade to detach any player’s, including their own, ToB card during the Use Valyrian Steel Blade step of any combat. This gives the Blade holder a power that can be used over the whole board, and adds a new layer of diplomacy. If you think that’s too much add more limitations to the use.
This is also where I would throw in a balance tweak, Greyjoy should not start with the Blade, they are swapped with Tyrell. Greyjoy maintains their advantage over Lannister by having a higher position without the power gap widening too much, and Tyrell now has something that can protect them properly in the early game, while making them more politically relevant. Also do this in MOD.
I don’t see a need to change the order in AFFC or DWD, but perhaps there is one. I’d like to make as few changes like this as possible, this one felt glaringly obvious.

King’s Court and the Raven
Start this off with the track, I’ve seen it suggested many times that there should be some change to position 5 in base to give something, and I think it’s a good idea. Position 5 is given a half star, which allows the placement of a star order during the orders phase. After the Use Messenger Raven step of the order phase, any player who placed a star order using a half star must pay 2 (exactly 2) power tokens. If they cannot then the order is discarded.
A full star can be converted into two half stars, with each half star played forcing the player to discard 2 power tokens, or discard the order if unable to. Essentially, each star order is paid for using stars on the King’s Court track. Using a full star means the order costs 0 power tokens, using a half star causes it to cost 2. A player cannot place more star orders than they have half stars, and they cannot discard a half star order unless they do not have enough tokens to be able to keep it.
Depending on the Raven power, the rest of the track for games with 6+ players would be the same, or position 2 would get 2.5*. Games with 5 would use the 4 player overlay with a half star in position 4, or not played at all because 5 players. Games with 4 or less use the 4 player overlay unadjusted.

To extend the raven power a bit, the holder may check the Wildling deck for free as part of the Use Messenger Raven step. They also already have the ability to remove a half star before being forced to pay by using their standard order replacement power, or add an extra star if they can afford to. Another power we can give them is to allow swapping orders between two territories of their territories.
These are fairly modest but I think they are enough. If you want to go really crazy then you can allow them to force the order placed in any territory to be swapped for another one from that players reserve, or another on of that players areas. The player the order belongs to should choose which order they swap into the chosen area, otherwise this is a ridiculous power.

If you got the end of this, thanks for reading. If nothing else I hope you found it interesting.
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Thank you for the useful information, I am sure many will find it useful, very grateful.
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Joined: 28 Apr 2021, 19:18
Location: Argentina
Favorite AGOT House: Arryn

I think some of your ideas are very powerful...

The Iron Throne
The throne player already decides ties, and then you are giving them the option to overbid. That is enormous. With that the Throne player can basically put all tokens into play, then save them for later round... They could easily get the 3 tracks.

I liked the direction of your idea about turn order. I would simplify though: Throne holder can choose if he moves first or passes his turn until all the rest moved.

Valyrian Steel Blade
People will not buy into that... Tides bring randomness, and that's something most people dislike. Besides, the sword IS very powerful as is.

If you want to add something I'm thinking "cancel 1 tower or sword of your enemies card". That gives you an strategic decision, save a unit, kill a unit or keep the blade strength to another battle.

I did not fully grasp your idea... but what I understood seems complicated. In my opinion the track is powerful and there're too many stars. What would I personally do is reduce some stars, and maybe put a limit on sea order in there. Biggest position, less sea order. Lower all sea orders. (to close the gap you mention).

About the raven per se, I thinking checking the Tides of Battle deck would be cool. Or checking some of the Westeros Deck, but that would need a token fee because it could be huge.

In general, I try to always give this opinion: Be simple, not a lot of changes. 1, 2 or 3 small tweaks that people can try easily. Otherwise you run the risk of people not really willing to try them.
"Many people have died for their beliefs; it’s actually quite common. The real courage is in living and suffering for what you believe"
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Joined: 01 Mar 2022, 19:03
Favorite AGOT House: Lannister

Thanks for the feedback Hope. I'm aware that what I proposed is powerful, but that's also because I wanted it to be meaningful. I think it's difficult to really judge the balance of anything that can't be calculated, because a huge part of the game's balance relies on player behaviour, so different mechanics should lead to different behaviour, and therefore bring things back into balance.

With the throne, yes there would be a genuine fear of the throne holder taking all 3 tracks easily, but if one other house puts a big bid on each track, the throne holder won't have the tokens to cover all of them. It's for the players to work out how to unsettle the power during the clash. I also like the way this power interacts with the Targaryen bidding ability, as it give the impression of the two claimants to the throne trying to orchestrate the power balance against each other.

I like your other suggestion for the throne token, that it can be used to pass a turn. Simple and sensible, but adds a nice layer of complexity to the gameplay. Same for the VSB idea, but I have to be semantic here and say it should let you add one sword and fort icon to your card. Adding stuff just sounds better.

I don't think I explained my other VSB I clearly enough. It doesn't use the tides of battle mechanics, I'm suggesting to repurpose the tides cards for another game mechanic, like using them as a 'Fiefdoms deck' for example. There isn't any randomness other than which cards are drawn in the draft. After that everyone chooses one in Fiefdoms order to adds it to their hand of house cards. It doesn't get automatically played in combat, the player chooses to put it in with a house card, and once it's been played they don't get another one back until they draft next round.
In short, it's supposed to be a once per round buff to one of your house cards, played out of the player's hand if they choose to, not drawn from the deck during combat. The other players would know if you have it in your hand or not, and need to act accordingly.

Raven I made sound even more complicated, but the general idea is to let players pay PT to use stars if they don't get them on the track, with some extra limitations.
I think using the sea orders as another way to balance the King's Court track is a great idea. It does miss out one one point, and that is the lack of mustering power some houses have. However, this is something the Iron Bank is supposed to balance. You've also given me the idea that the Iron Bank sea order could be used as a muster in some way, for example if it's played in a port you can pay PT to muster 1 unit from the connected castle, or instead of that you can gain one ship in that port.
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Thanks for sharing this information. It sure helps us. Regards
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