Topic of the Week: Games you'd like to fix

First off, last topic until the new year. If someone wants to launch one next week, be my guest. I’ll be running around like a holiday chicken.

Second off, what I mean by this. What are games that aren’t quite right? Maybe three distinct directions this could take:

  1. What games have you houseruled? What did you change? Why? Or unofficial variants that you play?

  2. What games have you played and you just wish you were part of the playtest group and could have told them what was wrong and how it should be done? Or has a game done wrong inspired you to design your own game where it is done right?

  3. Or maybe you don’t know the solution. But there’s just a game that is good on paper and it… doesn’t work… in practice. What is the game supposed to be, and how differently does it end up playing?


It’s my favorite game but I still wish Power Grid was fixed to be less fiddly and removing all the weird, disruptive, and easy-forgotten upkeep rules.


First thing that comes to mind are games that do something great, but something else holds them back. Prime example: Shogun (Dirk Henn’s Shogun, the Wallenstein and Immortals family one). I remember loving just about everything about the game, but man did it stay on the table for like 4 hours. Hour many rounds are there? 8 I think? (2 each of Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter?) For the sake of easy math, that’s making interesting choices once every 30 minutes.

But that cube tower, though… that… damn… cube tower… I love it


We don’t usually do houserules–except

  • Space Base where we “simulate” player 3 and 4 when we play with two to speed up the game.
  • Not really a houserulle but we use some hand-wavium on the LOS and monster movement rules in *-haven because who on Earth can figure out how that really works?

Games that should be better:

  • I think Planta Nubo could and should have been a bit more streamlined. I don’t have the patience to playtest games. But if I had seen a prototype at last year’s SPIEL I would have jumped to play and given feedback.
  • I think Tindaya suffers from a terrible rulebook and wanting to put too much into the game.
  • I think Black Angel could have done with one less subsystem to give a more coherent game to play (though I need to replay it now that it has returned into my collection)
  • Tribes of the Wind: needs more card variety and combos.
  • Turing Machine should have been an app (It plays well on BGA), and so should Awkward Guests and all those "look up card X from stack Y and card A from stack B and card … you know what… let’s play something else.
  • Planet Unknown should have had a lid from the start
  • I won’t play Obsession multiplayer if we don’t remove the evil ruinous take-that tiles which I don’t remember what are but the one time I played my friend on BGA and he destroyed me with that and I later read that the designer said this was not working out as intended.
  • You shouldn’t need to feed people in Uwe Rosenberg games… ever. (Not true, I am joking, i’ve been staring at Agricola–which I have only played other people’s copy of–at various OLGS recently)

I think I first heard about this from @Chewy77 . For the win, yes. I assume you actually simulate 2 and 4, with the humans being 1 and 3?

Hard objection! I’m sure this will be discussed at length during Rosenberg week, whenever that happens. But Uwe Sandbox (Odin, Arle, Caverna) and Uwe Stressbox (Agricola, Le Havre) are two distinct and very important archetuwetypes. The feeding phases are a barrier to entry and make the learning curve steeper and more punishing, true. But once you’ve reached the zen of Agricola and made peace with the food engine, feeding is the turbo that gives the game it’s tireless replay legs :slight_smile:


We throw the dice between our turns… so yes 1-human, 2-simulation, 3-human, 4-simulation
It’s really the only big one I can think of that we have used on a game we really like because it so improves 2 player.


You did see the part where I said I was joking, right?


Dominion never worked as a card game for me - too much shuffling of decks too small to riffle shuffle. But it works great as wooden discs shuffled in a round-bottomed bag, so that is how I remade it.

In a similar way, Blood Bowl never quite worked as a miniatures game, because there are 2 different states of “fallen over” to track, and too much information unique to each miniature to reference. Works much better when each miniature is a cube with all the information on it and clear state markings on different faces, so that is how I remade it.

I can’t remember any house rules or variants for games worth mentioning. Maybe some obscure edge cases where no official errata or ruling ever appeared.


Wasn’t me. I’ve only played it with 3 or 4.

Games that I would fix… I can think of a couple.

Puerto Rico: Change the theme. Completely. Make it into just a farming game, and change the boat into a job search company.

Nemesis: Change the HP system for the aliens, from cards, to presets like in Cthulhu: Death May Die.

Monopoly: Make it just last until the last street is bought, or the first person goes bankrupt. Maybe even make it a Legacy game like that. Still not great, but it becomes bearable.

Terraforming Mars: I know it would really mess up with the game (and this could go also for Ark Nova) but give a sort of bank for cards that you may (or may not) build later. My main issue with these two games is giving away good ideas.

Betrayal at House on the Hill: Change the Monster mechanism, so it is sort of decided beforehand. “We have heard that the Frankenstein laboratory hides something”. “There are rumours that this mansion holds a dream changing demon”. If you sort of know what you are facing, you don’t get so disappointed? I don’t know if that would improve the game much, but takes away some random monsters that way that are a big let down.

The Pillars of the Earth: give it a re-vamp/ make it less beige. And change the cathedral for something less blocky.

Lords of Waterdeep: Incorporate the two expansions with the base game.

Splendor: design a smaller box that is not full of air and call it Travel Edition? And of course, lower the price.

That’s as much as I can think of right now


This is an interesting topic as I’m a very rules as written type of human. I’m more than likely to sell a game than house rule it


Me too. If for nothing else… if I houserule it and it becomes a game I like, I’m no longer playing the same game that other people are. The box may look the same, but the experience is different; and suddenly all interaction I have with other people regarding that game are now out-of-sync.

a la this, regarding a carrot cake recipe that someone posted a review of:


That is hilariously awful.

Oh, I remembered a great house-rule:

The originally suggested handicapping system in the rules for Galaxy Trucker were mostly pretty awful and dry. Something about giving beginners more time, or something equally unlikely to work as an actual handicap. Luckily an expansion came along with the rough road cards that, with a few exceptions, make for an excellent handicapping system.

I think that might even have been written into the latest edition of the game though, so not sure if it counts as a house-rule anymore.


My theoretical ideal version of Orleans/Altiplano has the gameplay of Orleans and the theme/art of Altiplano.

I don’t play Root with the Vagabond if I can avoid it. Perhaps if I played often with the same people, but I’ve taught too many games where the Vagabond player wins because nobody else took the advice to attack them seriously.

Lords of Waterdeep with the expansions, always.

A War of Whispers with the adjustment to the setup that makes it impossible for two players to have the same starting loyalties.

My house rule for Talisman is that it’s kindling rather than a game, but YMMV


I think this is a common misconception about the game. Due to the randomness of house layout generation, ability development and the trigger timing very few monsters are inherently flawed. The problem arises from the situations they are plonked out in. You can’t fix the game with pre done monster as the other stiff will still make them wonky on whatever frequency. Having played the legacy version where scenarios are more rigid I saw people on bgg complain some scenarios were unwinnable by a side where in our games that side walked it as an example. An easy example is I remember a werewolf scenario in base game where the jock with the highest physical stats found some great kit. When everyone else picked up injuries and didn’t have much and the jock became the monster which turbo charged them it was a really easy win for them. It doesn’t take much if a leap of imagination to see how that could have been a different setting with the same monster where it was a good, tense haunting that could go either way.

With Betrayal you have to take the rough with the smooth I think. When it hits it can be really great, but it can stink. It also wouldn’t hit the highs without the potential for the lows. Being at peace with that going in is the most important thing you need to play the game.


I say a similar but opposite thing when explaining Flash Point: there is no state that isn’t on the table. Your miniature fireman can’t be shown as carrying a victim or a ladder? That’s fine, because there is no state “carrying a victim”, there’s only “a victim is in the same square as you”, and someone else can pick them up and move them on just as easily as you could.

I would love to take the beautiful cards of Death Over the Kingdom and make an actual interesting game with them, but that’s not quite on topic.

Xia got a bunch of useful rule tweaks in the expansion, like limiting the amount of trade goods you can buy, and not missing a turn after your ship gets destroyed.

I very rarely use the special card powers of Red 7 (explicitly optional, but most people I know prefer to play with them).


I think the solution to Vagabond is to “git gud” and therefore win quicker. Which is enough not to have it in my plays.


Power Grid - you refill the current market from the future market first and then refill the future market from the deck. You DO NOT rearrange cards between current and future. The random draw and the card entering current market is a piss take

Terraforming Mars - player interaction for the sake of player interaction in this game is just bad. Take-thats that are shallow. I would rather have cards that allows synergy with other players. The Toll card where you increase your income based on the number of Space tags from other players is a nice one but those are rare in the deck. I would be putting more of those


I don’t tend to do much by way of house rules, there have been some that aren’t coming to mind right now.

However there are some games I’d like to see some better balancing in to give them longer legs. First up Gnomes of Zavandor. This was nearly an excellent game. There were a few issues though. First there were artefacts that had special powers that weren’t worth getting. The cost was too high and the VP limit meant the game finished too quickly to get use of them. This meant the game was less interesting. Secondly the market didn’t quite work with the multiple gems of the same type bonus. You had a sort of blind market where you’d get claims of 4 types of gem. If you had 2 of the same type then you’d gain a bonus. The game was always won by someone who got the gem bonus first if it was a turn ahead. Thirdly the market was so tempting but then flattened in a way that trading became uninteresting. Shame as it had so much promise.

Next is Expedition to Newdale the big issue here for me was that most of the chains were not up to snuff. There were 2 chains that you wanted early and many others were just inefficient in comparison. Fun game that got less fun as it went along due to running the same things repeatedly.


I don’t like the idea of modifying games (except for adding ducks lol). When I saw some chat around Ticket to Ride legacy where people want to “extend content” (play each game double) or keep the pieces pristine for “replay” that made me go “ew”.

With those two examples in particular it’s sort of comes from a place that if you shave off enough wrinkles you can end up with some ideal thing. What I think such thought process misses is that the wrinkles are the thing and sometimes adding work around to legacy components is labour that takes you out of the game or playing a twice as long campaign is just doubling the chance you won’t finish it.

Also I think often fixes to games can come from hyperlocalised perceptions of a game. It could be the game is busted because everyone has worn themselves into a local groove and it’s impossible to really get out of it. Patches to these I think don’t really solve a problem but bypass it.

I say NO to fixing and if the game is rubbish without the fix then just move on.


I think most my teaching games of Root end in someone winning because my recommendations to keep someone in check were seen as me kingmaking or trying to move the game in my favour (and were therefore ignored), rather than solid advice to stop a runaway winner. :joy:

People want to optimise their own game plan and play the best game they can. They don’t understand the value of inhibiting other players as they go along. It’s a weird concept to get your head around in Root in general IMO. Telling people to do their thing whilst also doing something to step on someone else’s thing is like telling them to pat their head and stroke their tummy.