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Saloon Tycoon» Forums » General

Subject: Tycoon Cards Thought rss

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Kirk
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Commerce Twp.
Michigan
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After several plays, let me first say that I am really enjoying this game a lot! More than I had anticipated even after backing it on KS. My friend that I often play with is considering purchasing it as well now as he likes it very much too. I hope to introduce it to my game group in a couple weeks as well.

However, from a balance standpoint, it does seem like the Tycoon Cards (receiving 2 per action)is awfully powerful and adds maybe a bit too much luck?

First, am I off base here or do others feel this way too?

I had a thought to try to mitigate the luck factor of some of the powerful cards. I have not yet implemented this "house" rule but I wanted to get some feedback on it from other players as well.

My idea is that instead of drawing 2 cards blindly, 2 cards would be flipped over visible to all players and the remaining in a blind draw pile. The player could then take the action to pick one (and only one) of the 2 face up cards OR take 2 cards blindly. My feeling is that the temptation for a card you need would often preclude you from taking 2 cards randomly and hopefully minimizes the luck factor of strong, perhaps unbalanced, Tycoon cards.
 
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Matt Smith
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Orion
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To me, some cards are better than others. If you draw 2 of the better cards in one action, that can be seen as unbalancing.

That being said, I think the "draw 2" action is there to help the player who has the drunk lady villain (Moonshine Angie?), as she requires you to discard 1 card each time you play a card.
 
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Ryan Feathers
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Plover
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I've been enjoying this game more than I thought too. I tend to prefer the heavier/more strategic/low luck Agricola's and Puerto Rico's and Power Grids of the world. This I thought would originally be too random or too little strategy. It is pleasantly more in the middle than I would have thought.

My biggest issues thus far stem from two main things. One, the secret objectives often seem quite imbalanced, and the points on some make litlte sense to me. But that's for another thread I suppose.

My other issue is indeed in the tycoon cards. There are a wide variety of tycoon cards, and while loosely all are hypothetically pretty balanced, there are clearly some that are much better than others, and depending on your current situation there may well be certain ones you would really prefer to have.

To begin with, the standard tycoon card offers you 6 gold worth of stuff. The Prospector literally gives you six gold. Gold rush gives you 8 gold, while giving your opponents 2 gold each, so it nets you six gold above your opponents. No-Good Troublemaker gives you a free bribe a character action, which normally costs six gold. The Homesteader gives you three supply cubes, which cost six gold normally. (Now if you have Pillbottom at your saloon, this card effectively becomes worth nine gold to you which is nice).
Other cards like Frontier Justice are a little harder to evaluate. In a two player game this also is effectively six gold since you gain three and your opponent loses three, so you net six on the exchange. But in a four player game you could take one from each of your opponents. So you'd net only four compared to the other players. That's clearly less powerful than the other cards.

Stuff like The Store keep also seems about correct. Given that we've now established most Tycoon cards effectively give you six gold of stuff, earning 3 gold and drawing another tycoon card seems about correct. Normally the cycle is spend an action, draw two tycoon cards, the spend two later actions playing those cards earning 12 gold of stuff. (Important to note that this cycle is three actions worth 4 gold per action--this shows how in general the action to earn 2 gold is not a good deal. You are almost always better off grabbing Tycoon cards). Instead you can draw two cards, play a storekeep and another card and you'll have 9 gold worth of stuff but an extra tycoon card leftover. So this seems about fair too.

Now of course we have to accept that straight up gold is typically better though. The flexibility to use it to buy buildings, buy supply cubes, or bribe characters is nice. So I'd argue stuff like Gold Rush allows you to more quickly purchase the buildings you need, getting you the citizens you might want faster, negating the need to bribe characters as much. So there is clearly something to arguing that Gold Rush and the Prospector are just better than many of the cards.

Of course there are yet other Tycoon cards that are even better. Supply Wagon simply seem miscosted to me in a bad way. 4 gold and 2 supply cubes is an effective 8 gold and is far better than the other cards in terms of this ratio. We've also established above that a cycle of draw 2 tycoon cards, play both nets you 12 gold worth of stuff, so we can value an action at about 4 gold usually. This makes cards like the Builder, that grant 4 gold and action also seem quite suspect. In my experience this is another Tycoon card that is just strictly better than most. If we took an action to only be worth 2 gold (given that earn 2 gold is one of the action choices) then this card would be fair, but as we've shown that just isn't really the case.

Cards like the Stagecoach too then reveal they are better. This card gives you 2 more actions, which is also usually worth an effective 8 gold using these numbers. This card can also allow for some pretty wild combos going on, especially once we start working into account finishing bonuses from tiles.

Finally, we've yet to cover a couple of the Tycoon Cards. The Gambler lets you draw 2 tycoon cards and play 1, discarding the other. This is another good card as it gives you a better than usual shot of playing something worthwhile. You have a nice chance of pulling something useful like the Prospector or the Builder, although you do risk drawing some bad stuff too. Overall this card seems just fine and is a welcome one to get.
The Outlaw is just bad though. You do a similar action--look at 2 tycoon cards, but now from an opponent. You keep one, and return the other. This is pretty bad. You are just replacing your Tycoon card with one of your opponents. So now your opponent is down one Tycoon card, while you still had the same number you started with. You just have one that actually does something good now hopefully while your opponent has been a bit waylaid. Once again, admittedly this might be pretty good in two player where anything you do to your opponent means net gains for you, but in 3 or 4 you are just slowing down one player, while your other opponents are not being hindered and you're essentially just exchanging your Tycoon card. Not that good.
Finally, there is the Preacher card that allows you to spend an action to build, but ignore a prerequisite. This one is very hard to value since it is entirely dependent on your strategy and the claims in play to determine how important that is. Sometimes it can be a real lifesaver, but in general it is a pretty bad card that you don't really want to use.

So I'll agree after doing this analysis that many of the cards are a bit unbalanced, but I'm not sure by just how much. Usually I think I'd still want to just grab two random cards than just taking one card I know I'll want. The deck is mostly filled with pretty good cards, I don't think it usually would be worth the action disadvantage in most cases. Additionally you'll have to create some rule to clean out the face up ones, otherwise you'll eventually see two Outlaws sitting there or something, and nobody will be drawing from the face up stacks to keep them cycling.

I have been contemplating suggesting drafting hands to start. It would add a few more minutes to the start of the game, and like most draft games would only be worth it with more experienced players. But an opening draft where you each grab like six secret objectives and six tycoon cards, and then go around drafting hands of six each, and then discarding down to 2 secret objectives and 3 tycoon cards would probably allow people to craft a bit more of a coherent strategy and would at least mitigate two of my bigger issues with the way the game plays out. The Tycoon cards throughout the rest of the game would still be a bit of an issue, but at least the opening few rounds where actions are most important to build up the engine you want, well at least those rounds things would be more fair where everyone would hopefully have a few Tycoon cards they really want to use. I can also see stuff like the Preacher really being more important since you could purposefully take a Secret Objective that needs a building with a prerequisite while you are drafting to set things up well for you.

I also like the idea of a draft for secret objectives just so players can put together a pair of objectives that mesh will together and will get them good points. Furthermore they might be able to avoid certain Secret Objectives that require citizens that someone else may also need (or they may be able to draft all the objectives that require a specific citizen so no one else is going for them).

My one other final thought would simply be to remove The Outlaw and Frontier Justice from the deck since they are easily the worst two cards in 3 and 4 player games (which is what I usually play) and also represent the most "take that" type cards that I'm not the biggest fan of in the first place either. Would at least help mitigate those really bad draws you get at the cost of having a bit smaller Tycoon deck.

Let me know how anything goes that you do try. I'm really curious to see what type of house rules people may find works well for this game.

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Kirk
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Thanks for that thoughtful reply!

I too have thought about how to clear the face-up cards. Made one slides off back to the bottom of the deck at the end of each round...

I also like your idea of secret objective drafting, although it would make one of them not so secret. More of an issue for 2 player games though.
 
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Ryan Feathers
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Indeed, the drafting of secret objectives would likely change the feel of the game significantly as you'd know what your opponents are taking and potentially keeping.

So it may not work at all. I may just need more experience with the game. But currently it seems pretty clear to me some of the secret objectives are just strictly harder or worse than others.

Take for example the one that gives you like 12 points if you have at least 20 gold at the end of the game. Well in general you can spend 2 gold on a supply cube. Supply cubes are effectively 1 VP each. So 20 gold is 10 VP's if you just turned it into supply cubes and could place those cubes. Plus you get the finishing bonuses that that provides, which may enable you to get even more points. So clearly the value of that secret objective is nothing.

Other secret objectives require you have a specific character, or building. If you fail to get it, you get none of those points. Compare to some of the objectives that just require you to get so many roofs, total tiles, or build the entire side of a street on your board. These can all be completed with any combination of different tiles and you cannot be blocked from completing these types of objectives. However, many of them earn the same if not more points than the other objectives! Why would I ever keep the risky objectives when I could just keep ones that grant similar or better points and offer greater strategic flexibility without the risk of getting screwed?

Some rounds I feel that my opponent has won simply because he drew better secret objectives while I drew 4 that all require specific characters/buildings that don't overlap, and I am essentially pigeonholed into playing a very set strategy and hoping I can get everything I need.

That's why I do somewhat want to draft cards--just to prevent this type of outcome. I may otherwise just experiment with a deal six, drop 4 type arrangement or something. As is, I think the secret objectives are fairly weakly balanced also and can lead to some unfair outcomes. Then again this is not meant to be a highly strategic deterministic game so perhaps I need to just accept that. But if I can house rule it to tailor the experience to be better for me or my group, I probably will try a few of these things.

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Mike n Phyllis Snedeker
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Nevada
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Our House Rule with Secret Objectives...

We split the 9 or less cards from the 10+ cards. You get two from each pile. You may keep ANY two (knowing that completing two 10+ cards WILL be more difficult). I got the idea from Ticket to Ride contracts...

We found it balanced the objectives and gave the player ad better choice in going for Objectives vs. More buildings scores.

Mike S.
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