Balance and Take One for the Team!


I had some trouble with balance in Sidekick Saga.  In a couple of ways:

  1. Issue 2 was too easy.  At a playtest in Las Cruces, the players just walked through it.
  2. The more players there are, the easier the game

After tweaking the game a little, I had a playtest the other night.  And it went AWESOME.  I am so happy with the game right now.

Issue 2 Balance Issues

Issue 2 was too easy, so I stepped up the difficulty by replacing as card or two, and added another “Ice-a-cane” (Thanks to Cristina Mamar for the art!)


The interesting thing about this card: it can’t be hacked, attacked, put into disarray or anything.  The only thing you can do is (a) wait it out or (b) suck it up and barrel in.  With two of these on the board, the players were able to wait out one of them, but someone had to make the supreme sacrifice for the second one!  (If you don’t, you have no way to attack the main Villain and you will lose).

IT WAS AWESOME!  The players “argued” about who should make the supreme sacrifice!  And then in the end, one player did it before the other!  It totally reminded me of a “Teen Titans” comic where Cyborg and Raven argue about who’s going to make the sacrifice for the team … and then Robin does it while they arguing!

This is EXACTLY what I want in a comic book game!  Players arguing over WHO will make the sacrifice!   This is great. The only thing that would have made this better was popcorn. 🙂

Balance Overall


Early playtests led me to believe the game was much easier when 3 or 4 players played. Why?  It seemed in like a 2 player game, the characters are much closer to death, whereas in a 4 player game, the characters were all very healthy.  The game gets the same number of actions (total), Bad News cards (total) and actions, regardless of the number of players. So why the difference?

Because I didn’t vary the Hit Points.  With 2 Players at 12 Hit Points each, there are a “total” of 2*12=24 Hit Points for the Bad Guys to inflict to win.  At 3 Players, that’s 3*12=36 Hit Points. At 4 Players, that’s 4*12=48!

I learned one great lesson on balance from the “Warhammer Quest Adventure Card Game”: the number of hit points a character has diminishes as the number of players goes up.  My original playtests showed that making this exactly 24 Hit Points each time was TOO restrictive.  (4 Players would just DIE quickly as 6 HIT POINTS each was no where near enough).  Why?  Because of imperfect communications, sharing of cards is less direct, and you usually don’t do “perfect” strategy when you have more players.

So, this seemed like a good compromise.

At 2 Players: Each Player gets 12 Hit Points

At 3 Players, Each Player gets 10 Hit Points

At 4 Players, Each Player gets 8 Hit Points

That seems to keep the game balanced a little better.  Thanks Warhammer Quest!

Final Thoughts


I feel like Sidekick Saga is ready. I saw the closest game of Sidekick Saga I have ever seen the other night: Only 1 player was alive and she went in and just barely defeated the main Villain.  The Sidekicks won in the very last Act, even though the other 3 players were defeated.  It was Epic, Tense, Fun, Cooperative!  (And we got some new art … see above!  Each City Location has its own art now!)

Be on the lookout on Kickstarter March 5th!

Oh yes, we have a Board Game Geek entry as well.