Destroyer of Worlds
[Heap] Variant damage rules!
I've been playing Heap with three coworkers, although we've not yet had a four-player game due to availability issues. After several games, we noticed that we hadn't repaired damaged parts unless we just happened to be stuck attaching a part with a Bodge box that allowed us to repair a damaged part. For the most part, players who were allowed to damage parts during the Bodge Vehicles step selected the best part on an opponent's strongest vehicle; players who were allowed to damage parts during the Rush the Heap step always selected the best part on an opponent's rushing vehicle if they could, and they usually focused on any piece that triggered on winning or completing the rush. Given the limited hand size at the start of the Bodge Vehicles step, players didn't bother repairing their damaged parts because:
- In the early stages, they could easily bodge another vehicle and rush it instead, barring a Challenge.
- In the middle and late stages, any vehicle with two parts received a third part to ensure it would go turbo, after which the players ignored that vehicle and rushed other, better vehicles instead.
- In the very late stages, any vehicle with three or more parts was ignored, and the players focused on making sure their other vehicles had three or more parts.
Accordingly, we maximized our chances of winning each rush by holding on to whatever cards we didn't attach to our vehicles.
Thinking this over, I introduced two house rules:
- If a player damages a part that is already damaged, that part is removed from the vehicle.
- Damaged parts do not count toward the number of parts attached to a vehicle. As a result, a player must have three or more undamaged parts on each vehicle to trigger the pileup, and any vehicle that does not have three or more undamaged parts on it will not go turbo during the pileup.
We played a three-player game earlier this week with these rules in place. The first rule didn't come up, in part because there were always better targets available, such as a Bigg Rigg with a second card that allowed the rushing player to haul two extra cards if he won the rush. But the second rule had a big effect on the endgame and its dynamics.
First, on the second-last turn, the player in the lead had the Instigator card and was able to end his turn with three undamaged parts on all four of his vehicles. Under the standard rules, the other player and I would have had only one recourse: spend our last Bodge Vehicles step either attaching two parts to a one-part vehicle or attaching one part to one or two two-part vehicles. As it turned out, I, as the last player of the turn and the one who was currently in third place, was able to attach a card that allowed me to damage one of the parts on the leader's vehicles. Had we been using the standard rules, the leader would have had four turbo vehicles, the second-place player would have had two, and I would have had one; instead, I was able to delay the pileup by a turn, which gave player #2 enough time to get a third turbo vehicle and me enough time to get to three turbo vehicles myself.
Or did it? Well, no, as it turns out! On the next turn, the Instigator card passed to the player to my right, which made the leader the last player to act during the Bodge Vehicles step. The player with the Instigator card brought a third turbo vehicle online, and I brought two more online. But the leader, who would normally have nothing to do during this part of the game using the standard rules, was able to attach a card that damaged one of my parts, thereby forcing my Scrap Hog to lose its turbo status and taking me from "draw 10, discard 2" to "draw 8, discard 2." It was quite a turn of events. In the end, the leader won the pileup to win the game.
Though it was only one game, this change did what I wanted it to: it put a solid emphasis on repairing vehicles, and it allowed us to target each other in the late game and cast doubt as to which of us would trigger the pileup and what the card count would be for the final round. The other two players discarded cards during the Bodge Vehicles step to repair vehicles, which none of us had done before, and all of us attached parts whose Bodge boxes allowed us to repair other damaged parts.
If you're looking for a way to spice up your game of Heap, give these rules a try, and then come back here to tell us what you think! Also, if anyone knows of any published variants like those for Zombies Keep Out in No Quarter No. 54—or even some unpublished variants!—be sure to post them in this thread.