Recommend
3 
 Thumb up
 Hide
7 Posts

El Capitán» Forums » General

Subject: Play balance in El Capitan 4 players rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Julius Waller
Belgium
Brussels
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I have owned this game for a while but only recently got round to playing it for real (i.e. more than a test run against the SO and the kids). Although I havent recorded every play the original impression in my group was favourable. However in the 4 games played there was a real play balance issue.

In each case one player in the first round of playing managed to place all his warehouses and fortresses taking out only one loan. In every one of the 4 games we played (with four players) that player won the game by a large margin. The others all had scores that were real tight - now evidently as of game #2 everyone was playing to takeout onlyone loan in the first round but the way the cards fall (i.e. total chance) plays a very large role in this.

Is this a common issue with this game or have others found that a lucky break on the cards of round #1 basically means that player wins the game?

Any views welcome - the games were still enjoyable so please dont flame.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
I H
United States
Alexandria
VA
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
From my few plays of El Capitan (with 4-5 players), my impression is that it is not difficult to make it through the first round with only one [large] loan. Given that sailing and destination cards are refilled for each player, it has been straightforward to buy useful cards in advance and plan out the overall journey early in the round, regardless of turn order or number of players.

I do agree that El Capitan does not have much of a catch-up mechanism such that early mistakes can certainly limit a player's end-game score. However, I've found that board position matters more than merely being the first to go out, especially due to the large proliferation bonuses in this game.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Flannel Golem
United States
Bemidji
MN
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
As you have found, it is generally a big advantage in this game to only need to take one loan (and accordingly do most of one's building in the cheapest ports). I wouldn't be too quick to conclude that the winner is all in how the cards fall, however, as tickets are always available to get to any port one truly needs to reach; smart play generally seems to make up for most perceived card luck.
I just happened to play a 4p game this weekend with the wife and mother-in-law (a Capitán newb). The wife took an early lead at first scoring having only taken one loan, but came in far last overall, despite being a generally savvy player. I managed a win after having concentrated most of my efforts in cheap ports, but the MIL ended only five points behind after building a fair bit in Alexandria and Marseilles, so it's hard to say any one strategy is sure-fire.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Huzonfirst
United States
Manassas
Virginia
flag msg tools
designer
The Mets, after an eventful, but productive, trade deadline, find themselves on top of the NL East. Amazing!
mbmbmbmbmb
As far as a catch-up mechanism goes, you can easily target the leader by forcing his early warehouses to rust. I've seen come from behind victories in a lot of my games, simply because you can score so many points by being present in a lot of ports.

That said, I agree with the responders: if you have to take out loans more than once a game, you've made a mistake. One big loan at the start is sufficient if you're frugal enough. I've had some success with spending the first two turns taking out loans (so that I don't have to waste a turn going home); this allows me to go after some more expensive areas. But it's tough if you have to go back for more loot. I've seen players recover from that and win, but you should really strive to avoid it.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Julius Waller
Belgium
Brussels
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Thankyou all for these interesting replies - I am going to put this to use in the next games devil

Julius
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
quohog the great
United States
Tennessee
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
FYI,

you can't visit the bank on your first turn. Its listed somewhere in the rules. otherwise everyone would use that first turn to get a loan and the game isn't really challanging. because you can get your loan and plot your route and never be interrupted. so the challange is in timing your loan to get the max value in terms of route selection.

in the times i've played you can sometimes get by on one loan but often you'll need a large and a small.

remember too that everything is public knowledge in this game so blocking becomes possible.

in my last game i made a horrible miscalculaion, i started out putting out 2-3 warehouses and getting a 3 city route in which to place them. from there i banked twice for a large and small loan. while the 2 others only got a large and sailed again. thay managed to place their remaining stockpile and i was left with a warehouse and i maybe a fortress.

i opted not pay back the large loan extending payment to 30 paying the small one off so i would have at least some money. i was second in play order with the leader being last in turn order. i went about my business and start player had to bank again allowing me to gain 1 of my turns back from him. while finsihing player was left with a fortress just enough to place it in a cheap city (which had a ship there) and i had a fortress and warehouse left. knowing there was only one play i went to that city and placed my fortress forcing the finishing player to go to the bank while i was clear in my next turn to play my warehouse forcing end of round. and with the loan finishing player wasn't able to get a distination card and place the fortress so he had to bank on the final move incurring a total of $6 in intrest.

so a catch up mechanic does exist as i went from 1-2 turns behind and was able to force endgame while having all by one of my warehouses active.

i actually prefer 4 player to 5 as five usually makes round 3 far too long.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Lane Taylor
United States
Medford
Oregon
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I hadn't noticed the rule about not taking a loan on the opening turn.
From the rulebook:
Quote:
Please note: If a player does not want to erect a building
during her turn or is not able to do so she must sail with
her ship to the harbor space of the bank and is forced
to take a loan. No sailing card is required for such a
journey. Loans cannot be taken during the first round
of the game.

So we did that wrong in our last game, we all took a loan on the initial turn. There is a decent catch up mechanism, actually, in this game, and it only relies moderately on the luck of the destination cards.

In the game we played sunday night (4 players), I was in a distant 4th place in the first and second phases, but finished secont, 13 points behind the leader, with third and 4th about 8-12 points behind me. I had taken two large loans during the game, and did not pay back the first loan at the end of the first phase, either. Come to think of it, I don't think any player payed back their loan at the end of the first phase, choosing to not 'waste' the turn having to probably get another loan during the second phase, and banking on having that capital handy to pay it back.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.