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Erik Anderson Sundén
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Hi!

I'm preparing to play Merchant of Venus (standard game) for the first time this weekend. The rules are read and I have some eager players that are willing to join me in a race to ship Melf Pelts over the galaxy. All three of us are new to the game.

After I've read the rules I realize that there are several alternative ways of playing the game with the various optional rules in the end of the rule book and now I'm asking for some advice on how to start.

Would you recommend us to let our first game be of the shorter kind (i.e. using the optional shorter game version) or play a full game? The epic game just have to wait, I think... I see some hate on the fuzzy dice techs - do you tweak the rules of these tiles or do you recommend me to play as is?

Other things to consider for the first play through?

Thank you!
Erik
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Chris Laudermilk
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Re: What version of the standard game should three new players choose?
Consider the time you have. It is a long game however you cut it, and with all new players I can go on quite a while.

That said, there are some (now myself included) that would say the correct answer is: None, play the Classic game. whistle
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Shane
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Re: What version of the standard game should three new players choose?
None, play the Classic game.

(couldn't resist, but I do agree)

I think if you play the standard game, at standard length (not short, not epic) you'll need 4-5 hours with all new players (you're saving some good time though by playing with only 3).
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Erik Anderson Sundén
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Re: What version of the standard game should three new players choose?
Why do you prefer classic mode? It seems to me like the standard game adds some interesting story moments.
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chris thatcher
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Re: What version of the standard game should three new players choose?
I always play with the standard rules (Classic looked boring) and ive only ever played it 2-3 player. Our 3 player standard games are long, about 5 hours, but we do have 1 AP prone individual.

Great fun game though.

Re: Fuzzy dice. We do not double ALL fame. That just seemed to ridiculous to me.

I also have a simple player combat variant (see variants)

I always, no matter how hard i try, read it as Milf Pelts blush
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Erik Anderson Sundén
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Re: What version of the standard game should three new players choose?
Does nostalgia play any role in your choice of classic mode?

And, most importantly, is classic mode shorter than standard mode?
 
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Scott Lewis
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Re: What version of the standard game should three new players choose?
pastej wrote:
Why do you prefer classic mode? It seems to me like the standard game adds some interesting story moments.

I made a homemade copy of the AH version, but not too long after the FFG version came out, so while the classic rules were my first exposure, I can't say I have a lot of nostalgia.

I personally didn't mind the Standard mode, but I felt it dragged on a bit more than it needed to, and felt less balanced to me. The events were kind of cool, but sometimes were very swingy and undpredictable. There also seemed to be a bit more luck involved with the dice rolling. Classic mode uses some luck, too, but it tends to be a bit less drastic, in my opinion.

I do like the market shifting in Standard mode, though, although Demands from classic mode kind of offset that. (I can't remember if you use Demands in standard mode "officially").

Given the choice, I'd play Classic mode just because it plays quicker, and I don't think it really loses much. But I personally wouldn't say no to Standard mode if everyone else wanted to play it that way.
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Aaron Bredon
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Re: What version of the standard game should three new players choose?
pastej wrote:
Why do you prefer classic mode? It seems to me like the standard game adds some interesting story moments.


The standard game has some cards that can be nice, but at the expense of several things - here are some of them:
First, it sacrifices the economic demand engine that is supposed to drive the flow of the game. The demand cup/bag is a single simple mechanism that does 3 things very well with almost no chance of making a mistake:
1. simulates the ebb-and-flow of demand with cheaper goods having more price volatility but a lower profit to size ratio. (the Standard game gets this backwards by a high/medium/low market where the price swings on higher cost goods are higher)
2. brings goods back into the game (handled in the Standard game by easy-to-miss icons on event cards)
3. provides reasons to change trading plans midstream, meaning that players will not necessarily always keep repeating the same trade route loop. (The only reasons to change plans in the Standard game are depletion of supply and missions)

Second, it gives up on the size-versus speed tradeoff that the classic game has. In the classic game, you can have a fast, but small ship competing against a huge, but slow and expensive ship. (In the standard game, there is no reason not to make your ship as big as possible)

Third, it replaces deterministic hazards with dice-rolling, creating incentives to hold back on exploring hazardous areas until one has fully upgraded the ship. In the classic game, hazards merely cost money or cause your ship to stop moving that turn - your choice. Players often explore hazardous areas early, giving up safer trading for the chance of getting rare artifacts that could win the game. In the Standard game, a ? space could be a pirate that you can't deal with, so early exploration is discouraged.

Fourth, Merchant of Venus is an economic pick up and deliver trading game, and the Standard game tries to add Missions, Titles, Mining, and Events to it, which tend to function either as distractions not worth the time it takes to deal with them or as free points (if a player draws a mission they have already fulfilled the conditions of)

The Standard Game isn't bad, it just has a lot of extra changes and chrome added on that some people don't like. There are a lot more special cases and rules in the Standard game than in the Classic Game, so the Classig game is easier to learn.
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Erik Anderson Sundén
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Re: What version of the standard game should three new players choose?
Thank you all! You have persuaded me to try the classical mode for our first run, despite the tempting chrome of the standard game.

Again, thank you! This community is the best!
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Shane
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Re: What version of the standard game should three new players choose?
pastej wrote:
Does nostalgia play any role in your choice of classic mode?

And, most importantly, is classic mode shorter than standard mode?

It is not nostalgia for me, as I only played the original (on a pnp copy) 2-3 times before picking up the FFG version. However, the fact that I played the original first, may contribute.

I've mostly played the classic version 2-player, playing to $3000. We finish in under 3 hours. I believe it is faster.

Also, I think the classic version already has just the right amount of "bumps along the way", where the standard version adds more, unnecessary and convoluted "bumps along the way".

I also much prefer the race to a goal amount, rather than a fixed number of turns. I don't always prefer that in other games, but in this one I do. It bugs me watching the turn counter "tick" away while I spend my turn stuck in a nav circle or something.

I also prefer the draw cup/demand chit system of the classic.
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Chris Laudermilk
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Re: What version of the standard game should three new players choose?
There have been a couple of great descriptions of the differences up thread.

I have zero nostalgia for the game (I do recall seeing it on store shelves back in the day, but never got a chance to ply). My first exposure was the FFG Standard rules. It was fun, but seemed to have a lot of unnecessary chrome on it & the market was fiddly and difficult to remember to manage correctly.

Listening to some podcasts (most notably Eric Summerer's enthusiasm for the classic game), and a little reading in the forums convinced me to try out the Classic rules. While I won't refuse a game of Standard, I far prefer the Classic for the reason listed before me. It just works smoother & quicker; you really don't miss the chrome--notably the ship tech upgrades, missions, and random encounters.
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Nathan Milbrath
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Re: What version of the standard game should three new players choose?
I think the biggest thing for me between the standard and the classic edition was the fact that in the standard edition there was literally no reason to not upgrade your ship. You suffered no downsides to doing so. In the classic one, you have a tough decision of getting a bigger, but slower ship or one that's much faster, but holds less cargo. Choosing between the two is critical and all depends on your situation in the game.

I do also really like the demand "cup" in the classic version as it provides a nice ebb and flow to the demand, it's not so mechanical as it is in the standard version.
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Black Bart
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Re: What version of the standard game should three new players choose?
If you go classic I'd start with a game for $2000, the default length in the rules of the original Avalon Hill version (I believe the FFG classic game is not identical to the AH game but close to it). Once you get the hang of it, $3000 is a nice target for later plays (inexperienced players are much less efficient so need more turns).
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Chris Laudermilk
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Re: What version of the standard game should three new players choose?
FFG has several target, the shortest at $1000. The normal game is $2000 and they have a $3000 and $4000. That said, you can really just set any target sum you want. Higher target value = longer game.
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