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For the Crown (Second edition)» Forums » General

Subject: Help me make this shorter rss

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A. Mandible
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My partner and I have played this game three times now, and it keeps getting *longer*. Are there any variants which make it shorter (fewer supply piles? smaller starting decks?), or strategy tips which might help two (extremely) bad chess players press an attack more effectively? It seems like the middle gets clogged with pawns, and then defense becomes much easier than offense and we never get to sleep.

[Edited to add: It turns out that among other things we had a rule wrong that was slowing the game down. See here: N/A. While this only affects certain cards, it's been relevant in every game I've played so far-- we thought Consort couldn't teleport in newly deployed units; we didn't realize Actions could move pieces that had been the victim of False Orders; we didn't think a piece could march and then be morphed with Destiny, etc.]
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Joshua Gottesman
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I think it's tough to keep the game to the one hour mark unless someone makes a big mistake. If my opponent is trying to clog the board with pawns, I'm going to get a few bigger pieces out there to run circles around them.

This does not mean I'm against recruiting a bunch of pawns just to thin out my deck.

I've been in 3 hour games of FtC, and they become very tense, because the game tends to go to the guy who doesn't make a mistake first. Once some of the big cards are out there, small mistakes can be fatal.
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R. Eric Reuss
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Here are two play dynamics and a variant; perhaps one of them will help:

1. Realize that uneven trades carry a much smaller cost than in standard chess - in vanilla chess, busting up a pawn barrier by sacrificing a knight or bishop requires a keen understanding of strategy or you're torpedoing yourself; in FtC the loss will be offset in short order by higher-powered new material coming onto the board.

2. Similarly, there is nearly always one player for whom making trades is advantageous - sometimes due to material advantage on the board (forcing trades increases proportional advantage and prevents the opponent from deploying bigger pieces), sometimes due to deck/barracks (if you have more investment in pieces that benefit from an open board, or just more material in general, or better ability to deploy while also moving pieces). The trick is realizing it.

3. If you're not already doing so, I'd recommend closing the store (no more cards can be acquired by any means) after N supply piles are empty. If you set N too low, you undercut the above dynamics (and render the game vulnerable to blitz store-closing), but this variant prevents midgame super-slogs against opponents who are evenly matched. I personally use N = 6, but 5 works, and if you're specifically looking for a short game then 4 might as well (though you may then close out before you get to higher-tier pieces).
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Donald Walsh
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The learning curve is longer than 3 games. Learning the game myself it was an exercise in deck bloat, drafting all cards in all decks, and slogging it out on the board.

I can only say it gats better. But I can state, and I'm only like 15-20 games in, that if one player wants to defend, and draft heirs if available, then the game can be forced into going long. Because a big, draw a lot deck can still be effective. But on the next level, lean decks and big pieces can/do prevail.

As noted above, trades are not symmetric, and the bloat deck will gladly give up value to the small deck so as to run them down.
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A. Mandible
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darker wrote:
1. Realize that uneven trades carry a much smaller cost than in standard chess - in vanilla chess, busting up a pawn barrier by sacrificing a knight or bishop requires a keen understanding of strategy or you're torpedoing yourself; in FtC the loss will be offset in short order by higher-powered new material coming onto the board.


Ha. Um, now that you mention it, I realize that I frequently ruled out moves early in a turn's thinking by saying to myself, "I may not know much about chess, but I know I'm not supposed to trade my bishop for her pawn".

That seems like it should help.

Quote:
3. If you're not already doing so, I'd recommend closing the store (no more cards can be acquired by any means) after N supply piles are empty.


I remembered your suggestion of closing the store late in this most recent game (though I couldn't remember what you'd said for N). I will definitely try it next time!

Do you find that it's (ever? sometimes?) wise to skip your buy phase?
 
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R. Eric Reuss
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grasa_total wrote:
Ha. Um, now that you mention it, I realize that I frequently ruled out moves early in a turn's thinking by saying to myself, "I may not know much about chess, but I know I'm not supposed to trade my bishop for her pawn".

That seems like it should help.

*nod*

A third dynamic which might help is learning that early board pushes can be staggeringly effective. This combines two things:

a) Early-game boards tend to be very open relative to vanilla chess, so early Rooks (and to a lesser extent, Bishops) are quite strong. Try training the very first Rook you can, rather than keeping it for Gold. (This runs strongly counter to Dominion instinct.)

b) I've often seen games decided by a player getting enough of a board advantage (in material/positioning) that they're able to frequently - or constantly - check the opponent's King. Every turn the opponent must move a piece is a turn they can't deploy. (Barring shenanigans.)

On a lightly-populated board, if you have a Rook in play and another in your barracks before your opponent has trained one, you're in a really good place, even if their deck is buying much better cards than yours.

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Do you find that it's (ever? sometimes?) wise to skip your buy phase?

I can't really speak to whether it's wise; I've only played around a dozen times? Practically speaking, I've rarely done so unless I had 2 or fewer money - my deck usually isn't so good that I'll pass up a Bishop. I could imagine it in a variety of cases, though: wanting to keep my deck super-focused so a particular card/combo comes up frequently; not buying with only 4 money because the small piles are running out and I don't want to close the store; wanting to train the card which gives me enough money to buy something useful to my deck.

I find the difficult question is much more often "do I spend my Action on training?", either because training lowers the quality of this turn's Buy substantially, or because I have some other Action I'd like to play (less common these days; I'm leery of terminal actions because they promote deck bloat).
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Jeremy Lennert
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grasa_total wrote:
Do you find that it's (ever? sometimes?) wise to skip your buy phase?

Yes. It's rare in the early game, but increasingly common the longer the game runs. I've seen lots of newbie games where players clogged their decks with cards that they never played just because they didn't want to waste a buy.

Some cards are safer than others, though. Cards like Stables or Patronage are rarely a bad buy because they give you a replacement card and replacement action, so playing them is sort of "free" (though they can still sometimes hurt you if the card you draw was needed in your order phase). The worst offender is Champion, which can be a good early card but becomes really bad in the late game (because it always costs an action to play, and you should have better things to do with your action in the late game).
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Joshua Gottesman
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darker wrote:

a) Early-game boards tend to be very open relative to vanilla chess, so early Rooks (and to a lesser extent, Bishops) are quite strong. Try training the very first Rook you can, rather than keeping it for Gold. (This runs strongly counter to Dominion instinct.)


This is always such a tough call for me. I agree that an early rook can be very powerful....and giving up $3 is tough!
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A. Mandible
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darker wrote:
I personally use N = 6, but 5 works, and if you're specifically looking for a short game then 4 might as well (though you may then close out before you get to higher-tier pieces).


We played tonight with N=5 and it went well. The store closed right around when it started to feel like we were stuck. Thanks!
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