I am getting very excited to show Magistrate to people at GenCon … and I leave early tomorrow morning. So, last night was my final chance to run through a couple of recent tweaks to the game — mainly around how the 2-player game works.
Magistrate really shines as a 3- and 4-player game, because the player interaction is very key in how everything comes together. It also works as a 2-player game, but has shown that a player that gets a quick jump on developing can run away with the game. To combat this potential run-away feeling in the 2-player game, I’ve been modifying the way a few things works and giving special “in a 2 player game” rule adjustments.
First, during “Influence” there is now some random/system-generated movement of the Judge Pawns, so that they aren’t completely player-action controlled. This automated movement is stronger in a 2-player game and very light in a 4-player game (since you have 4 opposing forces already playing on those pieces). This means that instead of having different starting positions for the Judge Pawns based on the number of players, they will always run the full length of the Judge Track.
Second, I’ve increased the length of time needed to trigger the end-game conditions for 2-player games. Normally, the game ends when a player has either gained more than 20VPs or has gained 3 different colored rings that show they had been the top scorer in that area during one of the scoring rounds … and a player can not have more than 1 of each color ring. With a 2-player game, now a player may have up to 2 of each color ring, and must collect 5 rings to end the game.
My hope is that this will extend the game enough that someone with a slow start will still be able to recover and catch-up later in the game. My test of these new rules (as shown in the pic above) showed that this might be working. Blue jumped out way ahead with top scoring in all 3 areas during the first scoring round for each. But Red had recovered enough to have won the next People scoring round and force a tie in the Agent scoring round … and was positioning itself very well to have the best score when the Military Judge Pawn hit the end of the track in the next couple of turns.
Of course, this may all fall apart (including the shiny 3- and 4-player games) once I get it on the table in front of motivated game-breaking players! 😉