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Scythe» Forums » General

Subject: Faction/Player Mat Combo Balance rss

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Chris Palmarozzi
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I've played Scythe 5 times now. We're having trouble with Rusviets like some others, but I hope/think that's because their strategies are a bit more obvious. After all, the data suggests all factions are roughly balanced.

What I'm skeptical of is whether the faction/player mat combos are balanced. Through 5 games, it seems like having a board that favors actions which coincide with resources in the home base is a big advantage. What are other people seeing?
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Barry Miller
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Only curious... have you played the Rusviets using each of the five different Player Mats?

If so, what were your observations with each mat?

I assume some mats felt more opportunistic or powerful than others?
And also that some of the Player Mats felt too weak?

If either of the above is true, then does the fact that both the Faction and Player mats are dealt randomly at the start of the game, bear any consideration in the overall assessment?

(I have never played the Rusviets otherwise I'd offer my own experience).

 
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Don Sombrero
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Mu thoughts exactly - produce + home resource lower action gives you a great boost at the start.

Even more - if both move and produce are matched with available resources, you will have it much easier.
 
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Barry Miller
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Don Sombrero wrote:
Even more - if both move and produce are matched with available resources, you will have it much easier.

OK, that makes sense... but then doesn't it have to be asked, "how long?" does that advantage last till the player has to start making good decisions regardless, in order to have a good chance of wining the game?

To use a sports car racing parlance, just because you start in Pole Position doesn't mean you're going to win the race! You still have to use your smarts and skill to stay out in front!

And while your mat combination may be starting with an obvious benefit, just about every one of the other 124 possible mat combinations offers their own initial benefit ... it's just that some are more subtle than others. I think it "all comes out in the wash" by the end of the game!

Just my personal opinion, though!

 
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Chris Palmarozzi
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I personally have only played Rusviets one game. I've played Saxony thrice and Polania once. It's hard for me to give observations on everything so I'll say what I can and hopefully others can fill the gaps.

I had Rusviet/Industry recently and won by over 40 points. The last time someone else had Rusviet/Industry, they also won by about 30. It's a great combo to get the engine going, though it hurts movement. The other winning combos were Rusviet/Patriotic (by ~20), Saxony/Industry (by ~5), and Saxony/Industry (by ~5).

There are all oil/steel focused starting spots and player mats. They're also all upgrades/mechs which our group is probably overvaluing. That's why I'm not saying anything is "broken". But I could see it being an issue because Rusviet and Saxony have performed much more poorly in their rankings without them, often by similarly skilled players.
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Chris Laudermilk
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Yes, Rusviets have an obvious strategy and a mat that speeds deployment helps with that. I think different mats synergize better with different factions, though I have not spent the time to analyze which is which. I will say that my last game as Nordic/Industrial ravaged the neighboring Rusviets with Engineering--and I haven't liked the Industrial mat much in the past. I don't currently feel there's an auto-win combo; victory still is in the hands of the players & who adapts to the game state best.

 
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Reverend Uncle Bastard
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claudermilk wrote:
victory still is in the hands of the players & who adapts to the game state best.



This! I am 22 games in and it really seems that the balance in this game is exquisite. I play with a regular group and the only "auto win" seems to be the best player in the group usually wins. As we are all getting more experienced, our final scores are within 3-5 points of each other regardless of mat/faction combos. Now that we've had a chance to get familiar with each of the factions we are not seeing anyone win with a large lead in points.
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Paul Ferguson
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I find that some action boards work better than others. In most cases it comes down to what race starts with which resources in their starting hexes and how that compliments the action board. I last played with polina and I think I had the patriotic action board. As they start without iron and oil I focused on structures and recruits and didn't get my first mech on the board till 2 of the other players had all 4 of their mechs out. I won the 5 player game in about an hour. I have used polina before with a different action board and didn't have the same efficiency, but still managed to win.
 
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fortheloveofdice
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I find the Rusviets the hardest faction to play.

It's too easy to go after an immediate and obvious goal (whether at the start or partway through) at the expense of planning to get multiple things going on in parallel.

There will be an occasional killer two turn streak, sure. And if you build yourself a powerful engine and get set up and time it just right and no one foils your plans that could make for a powerful game ender. But the other factions have crazy powerful abilities too.

I've actually never thought, during a game (among 14 to date), that someone had received an 'easy' pairing at the start. More obvious, maybe. But my opponents continue to surprise me with where they go with things.

Last time I played someone put all 8 workers out right at the start (turn 3 I think!), and took a long time to build their first mech - and then finished second by one point in spite of my being pretty certain they'd produced their workers too soon.
 
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Kara S
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I've played 15 times and of those, Rusviet has only won twice and both times with different player mats. Polania seems to be our "winningnest" faction, *especially* if they end up with the Agricultural mat, which favors the grain resource that is in Polania's home territory.

I think Rusviet on its own has a very straight-forward strategy that is easy to grasp and thus run with as you're learning Scythe and thus seems to "play nicely" with all of the player mats. Other factions take more time to learn how to play, especially with certain faction/player mat combos. My group had the hardest time with Saxony, but once people figured them out, they became the faction to watch out for.

I do think some faction/player mat combos feel like powerhouse combos (Polania/Ag, for instance) and according to my own game recordkeeping, Agriculture has won WAY more than the other player mats. HOWEVER I think this is a result of our group figuring out the Agriculture strategy, much like folks seem to figure out the Rusviet strategy first. Because Agriculture doesn't always win, I think it ultimately comes down to individual player efficiency and strategy regardless of the mat combo.
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Jamey Stegmaier
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I love hearing that kind of data-driven input, Kara! Especially after so many plays. Thank you for sharing. Very soon you'll have two new player mats and two new factions to add to the mix.
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Gavin Kenny
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I have seen Pollania / Patriotic win twice.
 
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Jordan S
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This game is quite a bit more complex than I initially gave it credit for, and it's taken several plays to get a general grasp of optimal play. I've now played 15 times and just recently won twice with Saxony, which had yet to be done in my playgroup.

The more and more I play the game, I marvel at the time and thought it must have taken to design this game and balance it appropriately.
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No Way
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The Rusviets are really good for beginners because it's hard to do the complex multi-stage planning on landing both upper and lowers while switching off actions when you first start the game, but what I tend to notice is that the more the game is played with experienced players, the Rusviets start to float back down to Earth. I'd even say a danger with the Rusviets is that their ability can make it so that a player playing them focuses too much on narrow strategies because of their ability, and consequently they fail to make a well-rounded engine.

As for player mats... I think Polina really takes it hard if they have a player mat that makes it really difficult for them to build mechs.
 
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corum irsei
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After four games my favorite is Patriotic Crimea. Crimea's ability is incredibly good since you can use it almost every turn and it seems that with the Patriotic board, it's especially easy to ensure your supply of combat cards never gets exhausted while gaining another three coins with every bolster action.
 
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I play games for fun and pursuing the goal to win the game is fun! :)
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jhaelen wrote:
it seems that with the Patriotic board, it's especially easy to ensure your supply of combat cards never gets exhausted while gaining another three coins with every bolster action.


I assume you are referring to the three coins the bottom-row action under Bolster yields? That is not only the case for the Patriotic mat, but for pretty much all of the player mats in the base game. (Except for the Mechanical mat, which doesn't have a 3-coin action, but it allocates its maximum 2-coin action instead.)
While Bolster's bottom-row action changes, it is always the one with the 3 coins (or at least maximum coins).

This will change for the two new player mats 2A (Militant) and 3A (Innovative) in the expansion, though: Bolster will have one bottom-row action with 0 coins and one with 2 coins there (in spite of both mats also having 3-coin actions).
 
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Don Sombrero
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Darador wrote:
jhaelen wrote:
it seems that with the Patriotic board, it's especially easy to ensure your supply of combat cards never gets exhausted while gaining another three coins with every bolster action.


I assume you are referring to the three coins the bottom-row action under Bolster yields? That is not only the case for the Patriotic mat, but for pretty much all of the player mats in the base game. (Except for the Mechanical mat, which doesn't have a 3-coin action, but it allocates its maximum 2-coin action instead.)
While Bolster's bottom-row action changes, it is always the one with the 3 coins (or at least maximum coins).

This will change for the two new player mats 2A (Militant) and 3A (Innovative) in the expansion, though: Bolster will have one bottom-row action with 0 coins and one with 2 coins there (in spite of both mats also having 3-coin actions).


I believe jhaelen is referring to Enlist just under production and (with recruit giving a card) and upgrade under movement.

We played 5 games so far - thw only one I won was using that combination and the game flow was brilliant.
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