Posted by: gschloesser | October 1, 1970

Princess Ryan’s Star Marines

Optional Rule for this Avalon Hill ‘Rescue the Princess’ game.

One of the problems mentioned by several gamers is that, according to the rules, the lowest valued marine played during a skirmish is the first to suffer a casualty check if one is called for.  This results in the highest valued marine usually being insulated from most casualty checks.  Thus, barring the play of the ‘Jagged Piece of Metal’ card or the Guard’s use of the ‘Sniper’ special card which calls for the marine C.O. to take a casualty check (or the rare event wherein all marines undergo a casualty check), it is extremely difficult to dislodge the current marines C.O. from command.

This has several drawbacks.  The marine who plays the highest valued marine (marine flag value + weapon value) earns the promotion points for defeating the Guard.  Also, he gets to draw a dispatch card AND gets to ask a question of the Guard players as to the whereabouts of the princess.  This honor will all-too-often go to the C.O., since he has the highest flag value and, all things being equal, will usually play his strongest weapon cards to insure he wins the skirmish.  Thus, what easily happens is the player who draws the highest valued marine card at the beginning of the game can easily dominate play.A suggestion was made on the internet which alters the rules to call for the highest valued marine (+ weapon card) to be the first to undergo a casualty check.  This would cause the player controlling the highest valued marine to think long and hard before committing him to every battle.  After all, he would be the first to suffer any adverse effects.  This would allow more opportunities for other players to ‘win’ skirmishes and reap the benefits.

We have played with this variant several times and do find it much better than what the original rules state.  Highly recommended.

Another variant appeared in an issue of Avalon Hill’s General which would ‘spread the wealth’ in regards to the spoils of a marine victory.  Following a combat round in which the marines are victorious, in the basic rules only the high ranking marine gets to enjoy the spoils of gaining the Promotion Points, asking a question as to the Princess’ whereabouts AND drawing a Dispatch Card.  In The General variant, the high-valued marine would get his choice of ONE of the three benefits … either obtaining the Promotion Points, drawing a Dispatch card, OR asking a question as to the Princess’ whereabouts.  After he makes his selection, the second-highest value marine gets his choice of the remaining two options.  Finally, the third highest valued marine played in that round gets the final option.  In this way, the spoils of the battle are better shared between the victorious marine players, and this will likely help avoid a situation which occurred in several of our games wherein one player never had the opportunity to ask a question concerning the location of the Princess.

Finally, Ted Cheatham has suggested the following idea in regards to Casualty checks.  Following a battle, a die is rolled.  On odd number rolls, the lowest value marine played in that battle was forced to undergo the Casualty check.  If an even number was rolled, the high valued marine underwent the check.  An interesting concept which added more variables to the game and varies the marine at risk during a battle. 

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