TaoPhoenix, I'm honored that you found my game worthwhile enough to mention it here. I'm even more honored, though, that you found it engaging enough to keep playing until you got a run where two miners survived, given that this is something that I haven't even managed to accomplish yet. I'd actually be really fascinated to hear more about the strategies you have developed/are developing, since my limited time making the game has left me without much time to actually master the strategies myself.
You've also made some very worthwhile critiques, and I really appreciate that you did so. As for the less-than-random generation, this is a bug that I was actually just about to look into, and you've saved me a bit of time by confirming that it exists. Turns out that I needed to set a seed for the number generator to use so that it's outputs would actually be random, which I was not aware of. I'll fix that A.S.A.P. and update the link on my compo page.
The bug with not detecting all actions being spent, I believe, is probably a result of having time leftover to open up to more miners. I had considered letting the player skip using these without getting a warning, but decided that it is still useful to know about the problems of one additional miner, even if you can't do anything about them. That extra info can come in handy the following round.
The question of difficulty, I'm afraid, isn't one I have an answer to just yet. I'm struggling to find a sweet spot where it's actually possible for everybody to survive while still constantly having the threat of complete failure. I'm going to keep at it, though, I assure you that much.
Yee ha! The dev is here!
This is one of my favorite sites precisely because devs like you engage from your "expert" point of view with humanities types like me. That's a great post, so let's see what all is going on.
I had a 1-miner run too, but I messed up the screen shot. How often have you had those? I only got that once as well. The rest of the time like the LD commenters, I was just getting skunked (or I ditched the run early when it was a bad draw.)
I'm sure the math types will say I am getting the "math/strategy" slightly off in this next section, but here goes!
Randomness bugs aside, the first thing I do is within the first two rounds (sometimes three if I see a really unusual spread of comfort actions) is to determine which miners like what consolations. I believe that barring flukes the only winning combo is 2 2 1 on the "appreciated" side and also 2 2 1 on "not appreciated".
The first round you can usually nullify all three miner's problems that you picked. But since you are adding "two items of problems" to all five miners, that leaves the other two with their first round untouched. So for round two, they each now have "four items of problems". Where the difficulty starts to kick in, is that for example whichever consolation type is the "singleton" (such as only miner number 5 likes discussions) and you only get one point of action available in that type, and miners 2 and 4 hate discussions ("Not appreciated"), then miner 5 now has four points of problems often of four different kinds, and you have a max of 7 healing points for him less the hated type (miner 5 hates hugs and you got a 3 2 1 spread with 3 hugs 2 listens and 1 discuss). So if you inefficiently burned 4 of those all on miner 5, you can't possibly go all around to the other miners.
Okay, so what does all that mean?
Now we have to look at the "plexing" of the ailments. My numbering was/is slightly different than yours because I laid mine out like a base 3 numbering pattern. So Confused Afraid and Lonely are "Plex 1" and hit only one of the metrics of Sanity, Security and Social. Hallucinating, Angry, and Unprotected are "Plex 2" and hit two of the metrics.
So of all the stuff that miner 5 has, you have to try to take out the Plex 2 ailments and just let the Plex 1 ailments just sit there.
The other two consolation types preferred are "duals" (not the "singleton") and therefore you have more flexibility spreading your so suppose for example on round 2 miner 4 landed Afraid level 2, Confused level 1, and Unprotected level 1. You're gonna get a logjam on the red Security. You use one of your 2-point consolations to cancel the Afraid level 2, a single pointer on the Unprotected because it's Plex 2 and *also* hitting red Security, and then you ignore the Confused level 1 for now.
Rounds 3-5 everyone's problems start to pile up. That's where you need to get really smooth spreads of draws for consolation actions. One round you want a 2 2 2, the next you might want a 5 0 1 so you can pull miner 2 that you've ignored all game back from the dead because he really likes hugs and you just got 5 of them. But because of those inefficiencies, you "waste" all your 2-point hugs that miner 2 likes so much because he's got five separate problems all at 1 point each or something. Then next round you get 1 1 4 with 4 discussions but miners 1 and 3 hate them entirely.
I don't quite have the math skills to prove it, but my hunch is from these couple types of inefficiencies, it's not currently possible to save all five miners even with a perfect draw. At the very end you also don't get to talk to all three miners left after two die, and you get fewer points to spread around. So you try to make sure to barely keep all your miners alive as long as possible to have the full spread of possibilities, and only let say 3 of them die at the very last minute.
I think it's quite easy to toggle a couple of factors to create "Easy/Medium/Hard/Brutal" difficulty choices. Read up on my notes about "Phoenix Easy" - I/you want that one to be so easy that it takes a lot of mistakes before miners finally die. Medium is what it sounds like - bad overall strategy and a couple of blunders are enough to sink the current game. Hard could be requiring good strategy and maybe only one mistake, but it should be possible to save all five miners with all but the absolute worst of consolation action spread draws. Then what you have now might be the Brutal level were you can't even save all five, and it's really hard to just save 1 or 2 and very possibly 3 miners.
The easy points to toggle for making it easier to me are the following:
1. Only adding "1 ailment per round per miner" instead of the current 2. (Though I don't like this one as much, because the other options are modular on a sliding scale.)
2. More consolation actions per round. Easy would be 12, Medium would be 10, Hard is 8, and you're at Brutal with the current 6.
3. Fewer rounds until the rescuers arrive. I haven't tested this one but you're at 12 now so Hard is 11, Medium is 10, Easy is 9.
4. "Dice ReRolls". Easy is 6 per game, Medium is 4, Hard is 2, and you're at none right now.
From what little I know about programming, those could be "only an hour" to put in because instead of a hard coded number, you can just have the user input a level choice then it just looks up the values for that level.
I'm not sure if this is rude now at this point, but how difficult do you think it would be to make me a custom beta to try these out?
Whew! A lot of words! But it's because I was so impressed and I think scaling levels is the final touch.