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Subject: First gameplay ending was highly unbalanced rss

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Matthew Klure
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I will preface this with mentioning this was my first gameplay and the first game for 4 of the 5 players. I obviously need to play a few more times.

Here is the gist of what happened.

I was Crimean with the Agriculture Card

To my left was Saxony with the Patriotic board. (this seems like an overpowered combo)

I forget what board the other factions had, but the only person to have played before was playing as Polania.

Saxony starting with an oil producing hex next to home base was able to upgrade very quickly and they start pumping out Mechs, Polania was off chasing encounters in an effort to use his ability to get two of the three options and left one Hex unprotected, Saxony jumped on it and stole his resources, further bolstering him.

I got my first mech upgrade and jumped the water to nearest hex allowed and stockpiled some workers and one mech there to start harvesting resources(Oil) so i could work on Upgrades. I had just produced 4 Oil and Saxony was able to move in and beat me even though I used all 9 of my power with a 4 power card, he beat me by one. Then he parked two mechs there hamstringing me. The rest of the game

Nordic and russivet were basically having a cold war while polania and myself we stuck in bad spots trying to fend off Saxony.

In the end this is what final scoring looked like:
Saxony - 6 Stars - 60+ coins
Russivet - 2 Stars - 29 Coins
Polania - 1 star - 23 coins
Nordic - 1 star - 22 coins
myself - 1 star - 19 coins

To me that is not a balanced score at all. Did it all come down to Polania not protecting his resources well enough and allowing Saxony to take them and get ahead? I don't think I would of played any differently than I had, but I really want to play a few more times. Either that or Saxony was not always paying the price properly for his actions he was taking and we did not notice.

I enjoyed the game but I see one MAJOR flaw, being able to attack with zero popularity. If one is pursuing another avenue besides warfare they cannot progress with ZERO of any resource, Popularity, Power, Money... But Saxony can continue to progress with ZERO popularity.

Of course with this game under my belt I have a much better understanding of what people will be doing for end game and I will tailor my strategies accordingly.
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Sebastian Zarzycki
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Re: First game was highly unballanced
klurejr wrote:

To me that is not balanced at all, did it all come down to Polania not protecting his resources well enough and allowing Saxony to take them and get ahead? I don't think I would of played any differently than I had, but I really want to play a few more times. Either that or Saxony was not always paying the price properly for his actions he was taking and we did not notice.


All 4x games rely strongly on the whole boardstate. If one person plays really suboptimally, then he/she creates an advantage for neighbours. You just have to watch out for that.

It's also hard to believe that Saxony was constantly winning all the battles - they have to devote some time to regain their power, they cannot attack all the time and hope to always win.

klurejr wrote:

I enjoyed the game but I see one MAJOR flaw, being able to attack with zero popularity. If one is pursuing another avenue besides warfare they cannot progress with ZERO of any resource, Popularity, Power, Money... But Saxony can continue to progress with ZERO popularity.


You must understand, that getting stars is just a mean to end the game. If you see someone do that, do something else that will also score you points. Spread into territories, score for bonus goal, produce like crazy. They won't be so keen to quickly end then, because what's the point.

Also: you can only spend 7 power, not sure how you were able to select 9 on your dial. Return to the rulebook, maybe?
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Pete Martyn
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Re: First game was highly unballanced
I'm not surprised. There's a lot of things to figure out with four new players. From your last remark, I feel like your next game will be better balanced, and the one after that will be even more balanced.

I'd be curious to know how Saxony managed six stars as fast as they did...or what other people were doing instead of getting them! Also curious if any of the non-Saxony players made it to the higher tiers of popularity, or whether the Black Blitz hit everyone before they could get there.

Also wondering if you were misplaying the combats or if I'm just misinterpreting you. You mention spending 9 power and a 4-value card, but the maximum power you're allowed to spend in a combat is 7.

And for future games, in those situations, it's worth considering how far your opponent is willing to go to secure a victory in combat. If you think you may lose (and in my experience players don't tend to attack unless they're fairly certain they'll win), don't even commit power to the combat. Let them deplete their power and then hammer them back the next turn. They'll still get a star for beating you, but you can pick one up in return, and maybe even re-take your resources -- or hit a weak spot somewhere else!

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J
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Re: First game was highly unballanced
What you experienced is not uncommon when playing with new players. When teaching this game to new players I've often said to them:

"Imagine a game where you score 1 point the first 10 turns than 90 points on turn 11. All of a sudden you get someone who can get his 90 point payoff on turn 9 and end it. It might feel like his score is way ahead of yours but in reality your big payoff was just around the corner."

That's basically how this game works with new players. At it's heart this game is a massive efficiency game. When someone is able to get their engine running quickly and more efficiently than everyone else it will feel like they are running away with it and badly too.

That being said I don't think it is something you need to worry about once you get better and better. Recognizing where you are vulnerable and not making yourself vulnerable is a big part of this game and also building a fast functioning engine helps tons too.

Now there are some flaws with this game. For example the whole "Camping Crimea's one Oil spot" has occurred with us too and it's rather annoying if it happens early on. Additionally more and more some factions are appearing to be (slightly) underpowered as we all get better at playing the game which we are concerned about.

However for the most part the experience you described has not been occurring anymore as we've all gotten better.

Oh btw. As of Right now Saxony is one of the factions that we as a group feel is underpowered. Saxony's performance usually comes down to how easy/hard their 2 objectives are and/or how good the battle cards they draw are. Both are things they have no control over. Nowadays it is not possible for Saxony to build itself up sufficiently faster than the other factions (often times being just about as fast) and since they start power crippled, they've often failed at getting themselves in a position where they can jump opponents very easily.

As for the whole 9 power thing that everyone is jumping on, the Oil spot in question is on a Tunnel so if Saxony had his Disarm mech perhaps OP meant that he lost all 9 of his power in the fight.
 
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Pete Martyn
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Re: First game was highly unballanced
allstar64 wrote:

Now there are some flaws with this game. For example the whole "Camping Crimea's one Oil spot" has occurred with us too and it's rather annoying if it happens early on.


I don't want to derail this completely, but has this actually been a problem? I feel like it's pretty easy as Crimea to

a) Trade for wood, build a mine, head elsewhere
b) Wayfare to another corner of the map
c) Build up some power, Riverwalk that camper right in the face!
d) (super bonus advanced option!) Forget about oil completely and get that "Win with zero upgrades" achievement!

One of my favorite things about this game, and something the OP seems to be discovering, is that there's a number of ways to address challenging situations. At least in my experience.
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Mike B
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Re: First game was highly unballanced
I'll also jump in and suggest that this may not be a balance issue and it is probably a new player issue. Scythe is not a "point soup" like a lot of other games, but instead it really rewards a laser-like focus on a small number of things at one time. My big mistake in my first game was trying to do a bit of everything and I lost by almost that big of a margin.

And just another strategy point: sometimes it's worth bluffing out an opponent and getting them to spend all of their power when you spend very little, and then you can come out later and stomp them twice. Also remember that ties go to the attacker, so if you both have no power, it can be worth attacking them even if you don't have much.

Another thing is that you really need to do your best to do both actions on your board every single turn. The games where I have done the worst are the ones where I don't do both actions enough. To me, a mediocre double action now is better than a good double action next turn.
 
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Matthew Klure
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Re: First game was highly unballanced
Sorry for the lack of explanation for 9 power. I played 7 power plus my 4 card, but his attack option to -2 my power upon attacking me via tunnel (brought me from 7 to 5) territory gave me a total of 9 (5+4).

Thanks for the comments guys, This was just some observations from my very first game, I was expecting a much closer outcome.

I forgot to mention I had just built a windmill on that Oil Hex right before the attack, so that attack really hurt me.

All this said I cannot wait to play it again.
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Chris Laudermilk
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Re: First game was highly unballanced
AS the others have said: this sounds more like a new player issue. This game takes a few plays to get your feet under you--first just getting how the mechanisms work, then to see the better strategies.

I'm glad you still enjoyed the game and want to play again. I think you'll have better luck in future plays now that you have seen some of the things that can happen.
 
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Reverend Uncle Bastard
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Re: First game was highly unballanced
klurejr wrote:
Sorry for the lack of explanation for 9 power. I played 7 power plus my 4 card, but his attack option to -2 my power upon attacking me via tunnel (brought me from 7 to 5) territory gave me a total of 9 (5+4).

Thanks for the comments guys, This was just some observations from my very first game, I was expecting a much closer outcome.

I forgot to mention I had just built a windmill on that Oil Hex right before the attack, so that attack really hurt me.

All this said I cannot wait to play it again.


One additional clarification:

His -2 power ability (when battle takes place on a tunnel) doesn't take power from your combat dial. It happens before you select your dial power and/or card and comes directly off your track, not your dial (which shouldn't have been set yet).
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Reverend Uncle Bastard
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Re: First game was highly unballanced
Also, when Saxony was engaging in combat, did he "spend" the power he used on his dial (i.e. remove it from his power track)?

Given that both sides (winner and loser) need to spend the power they set their dials to, I am surprised Saxony had enough power to continue battling. In order to do so they would have to take a lot of bolster actions to keep their power track filled.
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Greg
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Re: First game was highly unballanced
People get better with more plays, unless they refuse to learn as they go.

You can get better at coming up with a plan early on based on your player board and faction combo. You can be more aware of opponents abilities, as well as their attacking range. Be more cognizant of tunnels. Never leave resources unattended, as that deserves to get them taken from you. Know when to recognize when you can or can't achieve an objective and don't go too far out of your way chasing an objective as it's only worth the points from a star. Don't be afraid to get 3 workers off your player board and having to pay a power when producing, as the power can be gotten back by bolstering. Etc. Etc.
 
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Re: First game was highly unballanced
Since we don't know the tempo of their game comments about how Saxony seemed to have too much power aren't helpful. It is very possible that Saxony either though luck or good planning had better tempo and thus had much more combat resources. Furthermore if players were spending a lot in futile attempts to defend themselves it wouldn't really matter how much Saxony was spending.

the pete wrote:

I don't want to derail this completely, but has this actually been a problem? I feel like it's pretty easy as Crimea to

a) Trade for wood, build a mine, head elsewhere
b) Wayfare to another corner of the map
c) Build up some power, Riverwalk that camper right in the face!
d) (super bonus advanced option!) Forget about oil completely and get that "Win with zero upgrades" achievement!

One of my favorite things about this game, and something the OP seems to be discovering, is that there's a number of ways to address challenging situations. At least in my experience.


Sorry I didn't mean to make it sound like it was a huge problem with the game. The example I gave was not so much "It's a consistent problem" as it is "Something that happened to us in a game with strong players." Admittedly it was a slightly anecdotal situation where Polenia got lucky off their first encounter and got the ability to rush 2 mechs to the field early. They then proceeded to park 3 combat units on that spot for a few turns to get oil before leaving it. They didn't really intend to trap Crimea (though they were aware they were) but it was the only oil spot on a tunnel making it the most convenient space for them to be on but gave Crimea few options move out.

The real flaw I meant was that Crimea has only 1 space they can river walk to which happens to be that oil space which happens to be a tunnel(every other faction has multiple outs) which when you consider their position (and ignoring their encounter) River walk has always been the method of choice to escape their peninsula, losing that spot hampers them really really badly.

As for your suggestions:

A. The mine has always been a terrible way for Crimea to escape. Crimea doesn't start with any wood spaces near them so they cannot produce wood normally. 2 of the boards require 4 wood to build which would force 2 trades. Of the 3 boards that need 3 wood to build (Thus requiring only 1 trade thanks to their ability) 2 of them link build to move meaning you'd be wasting actions trying to build your mine and you'd still be 4 turns away from escaping. You can do it but the loss of tempo would be pretty bad and possibly unrecoverable.

B. Wayfare has always struck us as Crimeas least useful mech especially in larger player games. It has only truly been useful (for us) at scooping up a stray combat star from someone near the edge. The Main issue is that standing on a base is pretty useless (I mean that IS the punishment for losing combat after all) so without speed it's a very unattractive ability and even with speed you cannot get very far. While getting easy access to out of reach parts of the board does have it's advantages, it's not very useful for fighting for the center nor does it allow territory grabbing particularly quickly.

C. Multi mech fights are very very risky. Neither side really knows the value of their opponents combat cards which are irritatingly luck based in terms of which they have (I've been Saxony with only 2s and 3s more times than I wish to count). As such facing an opponent with 3 combat units camped on your one escape hex is more or less a nightmare and you can easily waste several turns trying to prepare for such a fight.

D. While I personally think it is foolish to handicap oneself and hamper your game over an achievement especially since my group has been getting really really good at building quick, efficient and functioning engines and it likely won't yield a victory, the bigger issue is not the lack of access to oil but being clogged an unable to move towards the middle of the board.

So you see it's not so much that there are no alternatives for yellow but that most of them result in an annoying tempo loss over a flaw that shouldn't exist. Once you get really good losing 2~3 turns of tempo can be game determining. Every other faction has multiple paths to the center of the board from their starting peninsula in addition to their mine. Yellow has 1 good way and a few sub par ways so if that one good way gets blocked things become painful for them. In fact, in the game in question Yellow did very well getting 5 of his stars at the point where the game ended. He also used Wayfare to try and break out. However it was too slow at taking territory and when the game ended he came is a distant 3rd due to being unable to claim much territory.
 
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Brian M
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Re: First game was highly unballanced
Once thing to keep in mind about combat in Scythe is that, if one combat unit is attacking one combat unit the attacker has 7+ power (or more than the defender) the attacker can guarantee a win. If I attack you 1:1 and I spend 7 power and play a 5, since the attacker wins ties I will always win that fight.

If you feel I'm likely to go all in to win, the best thing for you to do is spend nothing at all (or just 1 to get a compensation power card). Then I spend a lot of power and you spend nothing, and you can come hit me back next turn when I will be a lot less defended.

Of course, maybe I'll assume that you will let me win, so I'll spend less assuming you won't spend anything...oh dear, therefore I clearly cannot choose the glass in front of you.

But going all in on defense when it will leave you a point or two short of winning anyway is probably a bad idea!
 
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Matthew Klure
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Re: First game was highly unballanced
Quote:
One additional clarification:

His -2 power ability (when battle takes place on a tunnel) doesn't take power from your combat dial. It happens before you select your dial power and/or card and comes directly off your track, not your dial (which shouldn't have been set yet).


Since we we both new players he brought it to my attention after I had committed my Card and set my dial. I was determined to win my position so I stayed at an all in type of move. Regardless of the order of things, the result is the same.

Quote:
Also, when Saxony was engaging in combat, did he "spend" the power he used on his dial (i.e. remove it from his power track)?

Given that both sides (winner and loser) need to spend the power they set their dials to, I am surprised Saxony had enough power to continue battling. In order to do so they would have to take a lot of bolster actions to keep their power track filled.


He attacked me with 2 mechs and had two higher point cards and only lost a little of his power. I on the other hand had one mech and lost all but 1 of my power on the track.
 
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Re: First game was highly unballanced
klurejr wrote:
Polania was off chasing encounters in an effort to use his ability to get two of the three options and left one Hex unprotected, Saxony jumped on it and stole his resources, further bolstering him.

This is mostly on the Polania player: In order for Saxony to reach Polania's home Island, they need to go all the way around, to the factory and come in from the North. This is at least 4 moves (after unlocking Speed), at least 7 turns. If Polania couldn't see this coming, or couldn't defend them self somehow, I feel that is their problem, and not the games imbalance. Obviously in your situation, it contributed to a lopsided game... but it sounds like that is almost entirely due to someone else's poor play, not due to imbalance in the game.
 
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Frank Hamrick
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Re: First game was highly unbalanced
Crimea's special ability is important here, I think. Crimea doesn't need to grab the Tundra across the river so quickly. Spend your time 1) building your food & metal to grab Enlist and build Mechs. Then concentrate on getting combat cards! Combat cards are resources - use them to get oil if you want to upgrade! (Of course, you can only use 1 CC per turn to count as 1 resource, but you can get oil via 'trade' and then use 1 CC to reduce the number of oil resources you need for your upgrade action). Grabbing combat cards to spend as resources is really beneficial for Crimea. Crimea can always escape Crimea via Albion or Tawara or any other unused faction home base to grab a Tundra elsewhere. Crimea may also benefit by building their Mech force (Speed, Scout, and Wayfare are all important for Crimea) before launching across your borders. Wayfare with Speed can get you into backwater areas quickly and the threat of Scout often keeps other mechs from attacking you.
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Barry Miller
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Re: First game was highly unbalanced

OP,

I really appreciate your OP post. But I must admit that I'm sensitive to people declaring a game unbalanced after only one play (as I went off the rails and ranted about in another thread). So as others have pointed out in this thread already - (I'm here only to add another voice) - it sounds like your first game experience is exactly that - an absolutely normal first game experience. And the fact that all the players were also new only compounds the degree.

I've played LOTS of "first" games where the scores are simply out of whack because of the newness of the game. But once you've got things figured out, the next game's scores tighten as the strategy and tactics make better sense. So instead of presenting your OP as a balance issue, you probably would've gotten more mileage by couching it as a "how to prevent a new player lopsided score" issue.

And even if you really did feel it's a balance issue, how does one explain all the games that Crimea does win? In the early going of this game's release, Crimea was a favorite faction.



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Matthew Klure
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Re: First game was highly unbalanced
bgm1961 wrote:

OP,

I really appreciate your OP post. But I must admit that I'm sensitive to people declaring a game unbalanced after only one play (as I went off the rails and ranted about in another thread).



Perhaps you failed to read all of my first post. I fully admitted why the game was unbalanced, not due to bad design or anything like that, but simply due to how our group approached the game.
 
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Greg
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Re: First game was highly unbalanced
klurejr wrote:



I enjoyed the game but I see one MAJOR flaw, being able to attack with zero popularity. If one is pursuing another avenue besides warfare they cannot progress with ZERO of any resource, Popularity, Power, Money... But Saxony can continue to progress with ZERO popularity.

Of course with this game under my belt I have a much better understanding of what people will be doing for end game and I will tailor my strategies accordingly.


You played the game once and declare a major Flaw?

Like many games, it can take a few plays for a group to figure things out and alter their play as they become more experienced.

Also, it doesn't matter if a group are "experienced" or "real" gamers as some people like to throw out there. Last night, 4 of us "experienced" gamers played Food Chain Magnate for the first time and the scores were $543, $260, $175 and $172. Nobody declared flaws in the gane, but rather discussed things that worked and didn't, as well as some ideas about better approaches to take and learning from mistakes to help in the next game. Even with another play, there will be mistakes made and better choices by some players. It's the nature of games.
 
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Matthew Klure
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Re: First game was highly unbalanced
Until I see a few more games, yes I see being able to attack without any penalty at Zero Popularity is a major flaw. Every other advancement in the game requires a payment to progress except for attacking at zero popularity. The said player won with only 1 popularity in the end. That is a flaw. Perhaps you can explain to me how it is not a flaw? No one at my table could manage to offer a good explanation.
 
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Barry Miller
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Re: First game was highly unbalanced

klurejr wrote:
Perhaps you failed to read all of my first post.

No, perhaps I did.

I read it all, otherwise I wouldn't have commented on it. Let's just say that it appears that we're thinking of different definitions when using the term, "unbalanced". That's all.


Edit: I'll expand... to me, the use of the term "unbalanced" indicates that there is a known design flaw which typically creates an unbalanced outcome between equal opponents. IOW, switch players and the outcome will usually favor the same faction over another. That's an unbalanced game.

Although your OP did a great job explaining how the game unfolded and why it went the way it went, your session sounded normal to me for a first game. I didn't see anything to substantiate the claim of unbalance, even though you declared it an unbalanced game in your subject line and later in the body of your post. That's only where I was coming from.

 
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Matthew Klure
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Re: First game was highly unbalanced
bgm1961 wrote:

klurejr wrote:
Perhaps you failed to read all of my first post.

No, perhaps I did.

I read it all, otherwise I wouldn't have commented on it. Let's just say that it appears that we're thinking of different definitions when using the term, "unbalanced". That's all.



You find this final score balanced?

In the end this is what final scoring looked like:
Saxony - 6 Stars - 60+ coins
Russivet - 2 Stars - 29 Coins
Polania - 1 star - 23 coins
Nordic - 1 star - 22 coins
myself - 1 star - 19 coins

??? That is what was unbalanced about my first game. The Final Score.
 
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Re: First game was highly unbalanced
klurejr wrote:
The said player won with only 1 popularity in the end. That is a flaw. Perhaps you can explain to me how it is not a flaw? No one at my table could manage to offer a good explanation.


And this is the mistake! Normally you should not be able to win with one popularity. Another player who increases his popularity and spreads his units (mechs AND workers) to conquer some regions should get a huge boost through the better multiplier.
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Re: First game was highly unbalanced
klurejr wrote:
Until I see a few more games, yes I see being able to attack without any penalty at Zero Popularity is a major flaw. Every other advancement in the game requires a payment to progress except for attacking at zero popularity. The said player won with only 1 popularity in the end. That is a flaw. Perhaps you can explain to me how it is not a flaw? No one at my table could manage to offer a good explanation.

If I understand you correctly, you are using "advancement" to indicate playing stars, as in advancing towards the endgame condition?
The flaw in your logic here, is that attacking DOES have a cost, mainly (usually) power and (usually) combat cards. Granted both of these are optional, but you only "advance" by winning combat, and thus, it is expected that you would spend some of one and if not both of these.
Another counter argument, is that popularity only plays a factor when there are combat unit(s) and atleast one worker on the territory being attacked... If there are just workers, or just combat units, then popularity is a none factor. In my experience, there have been plenty of combats that did not involve losing a popularity.

So what you see as a major flaw, I see as an intentional, thematic design decision that so far i do not believe to be imbalanced.
 
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Barry Miller
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Re: First game was highly unbalanced

klurejr wrote:

You find this final score balanced?
...
??? That is what was unbalanced about my first game. The Final Score.

Matthew,

Please see my edit to my post, directly above yours. (I had my reply open and was editing while you responded).

Bottom Line: I think we're using different definitions of "unbalanced", is all. No issue with me. All's good. I'll also add here, something that I forgot to mention above... it was refreshing to see you admit in your OP that you need to play a few more games before coming to any conclusion. I wish everyone else did that.

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