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Subject: Goons!?!? rss

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Clay
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Stunna wrote:
fteplin wrote:
It's balanced in that everyone has an equal chance to buy it.


That's a terrible argument in terms of justifying the card. In my attempt to derail the thread here (which started from a terrible original post with no thought or information), I'll add quotes from the secret history:

donaldx wrote:
- $5; Forge. No "in coins" clause.
- $5; King's Court. No "you may." Yes, Forge and King's Court both originally cost $5. Those did not turn out to be good guesses.


donaldx wrote:
- $7; Forge.
- $7; King's Court. At last these two ridiculous cards have their proper expensive costs.


Gee, why would Donald change the card costs if everything is balanced, since all copies of the card cost the same? Obviously, because cards still need to be balanced for a given cost.

I've seen this argument in several other threads and it just shows a lack of thought. I've seen some pretty thoughtful posts (not this one) "rebutted" with the equal cost = balance argument, which is promptly thumbed in a lovely example of groupthink.


Not to continue the derail, but I think the problem is people working with two definitions of "balance" and using them interchangeably. The first definition is "Mechanic does not tilt the game in favor of any one player" and the second is "Mechanic does not needlessly overshadow other game mechanics."

The first definition of balance is violated when a mechanic gives one player a clear edge, like a space in a worker placement game that only fits a single worker per turn, ensures that the player goes first next round (so they can take it endlessly) and is the most efficient route to victory. The second is violated when a mechanic becomes "the whole game" when it wasn't intended to do so but doesn't create an imbalance between the players, like if the space from the previous example were adjusted to fit all players. None of them would pull ahead by virtue of that space alone (Since they would all be using it) but the other spaces would become neglected by anyone who understood the "good" strategy.

The argument that a card in Dominion is balanced so long as all players are given equal opportunity to purchase it is a sound one by the first definition, as there is no imbalance created even if the card is a 0 cost +18 VP tokens atrocity. However, the argument does nothing to comment on the second definition of balance, since a card may overshadow the utility of other comparable cards in the game. If the previously mentioned example card existed it would be one of the only things that anyone ever bought.

So that's my barely on-topic ramble for the day. Whether or not Goons is "overpowered" relative to other cards is debatable (To an extent, at least. I'd argue that it doesn't appear to be barring specific circumstances).

tl;dr: People need to clarify what they mean by "balance" or it becomes extremely difficult to discuss coherently.
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Matt E
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The Message wrote:
The second is violated when a mechanic becomes "the whole game" when it wasn't intended to do so but doesn't create an imbalance between the players, like if the space from the previous example were adjusted to fit all players. None of them would pull ahead by virtue of that space alone (Since they would all be using it) but the other spaces would become neglected by anyone who understood the "good" strategy.

The argument that a card in Dominion is balanced so long as all players are given equal opportunity to purchase it is a sound one by the first definition, as there is no imbalance created even if the card is a 0 cost +18 VP tokens atrocity. However, the argument does nothing to comment on the second definition of balance, since a card may overshadow the utility of other comparable cards in the game. If the previously mentioned example card existed it would be one of the only things that anyone ever bought.

Thanks for articulating this. Well said.

Quote:
Whether or not Goons is "overpowered" relative to other cards is debatable (To an extent, at least. I'd argue that it doesn't appear to be barring specific circumstances).

The problem is that these 'specific circumstances' are quite common. All you really need available to make Goons work is a card that gives +2 actions and a card that gives significant card draw. To date, 11 out of 116 Kingdom cards reliably give +2 Actions, and there are other ways to accumulate Actions that I'm not counting (Throne Room, King's Court, Golem, Tribute, etc.). There are even more cards that increase your hand size. Some are more effective than others, but the potential is there in the majority of sets. So a set that contains Goons is fairly likely to contain the tools that allow you to play multiple Goons cards in a turn.

When that happens, the game is turned on its ear. In most sets without Goons, you accumulate VP at the cost of a dead card in your deck. At some point in the game, you decide that your deck is resilient enough that you can start buying Provinces (or Colonies, or Duchies, or whatever) and you start making your deck worse, attempting to end the game before your opponent can take advantage of the fact that your engine is running down.

With a multiple-Goons deck, just the opposite is the case. You want to continue to buy more cards that give you +2 Actions, cards that give you big card draw, and copies of Goons. You accumulate more and more VP every round you do this, but instead of slowing down, your deck gets faster and faster. The wacky part is that Goons itself facilitates this by providing you with +2 coins and +1 Buy.

"But wait!" I hear you cry. "A competent opponent (or set of opponents) should be able to end the game before you have time to build such a huge draw engine." Wrong again. The Goons deck has two advantages in this regard. First, your opponents are going to have to play a three-card hand every turn thanks to Goons. Secondly, your opponents are going to have to buy out all 8 or 12 of the Provinces or Colonies by themselves, because it's not to your advantage to ever purchase Victory cads that might slow your deck down. Ever tried to buy all 8 Provinces in a two-player game while getting hit with Goons every turn? It's a losing proposition.

The fact that the game is so wildly different for sets that allow multiple-Goons decks is not in itself a negative thing. It can be a welcome change of pace. However, I see two problems with it. First, the player that gets their engine going first has a huge advantage, thanks to Goons' attack component. As we all should know, this is often more a factor of luck than anything when the players are all competent. It all depends on whether you get the right distribution of Treasure in each hand and which of your cards miss a shuffle. "Well, that's nothing new," you say. "The player to get to 5 or 6 first naturally has an advantage." Too true. However, Goons takes this phenomenon to the extreme. Not only will the attack component slow the other player(s) down, but the +2 coins and +1 buy will speed the Goons player way up, allowing them to buy out the draw engine cards with incredible rapidity, all the while accumulating VP. With other sets, you can often recover from an opponent's lead if you adapt your tactics to theirs. To me, this adaptation is one of the best parts of Dominion. It's very fun to grab a come-from-behind victory using Duchies, etc. You will not pull this off against a Goons-engine. There are two many factors against you.

The second problem is the one I posted earlier. A Goons-engine (or multiple such engines), when played correctly, is very likely to shoot past the entire stock of 76 Victory Point chips that came with the game. Although substitutions can be used, of course, this suggests to me the possibility that the full potential of Goons was not realized during playtesting.
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Matt N

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The Message wrote:

Not to continue the derail, but I think the problem is people working with two definitions of "balance" and using them interchangeably. The first definition is "Mechanic does not tilt the game in favor of any one player" and the second is "Mechanic does not needlessly overshadow other game mechanics."

The first definition of balance is violated when a mechanic gives one player a clear edge, like a space in a worker placement game that only fits a single worker per turn, ensures that the player goes first next round (so they can take it endlessly) and is the most efficient route to victory.

The argument that a card in Dominion is balanced so long as all players are given equal opportunity to purchase it is a sound one by the first definition, as there is no imbalance created even if the card is a 0 cost +18 VP tokens atrocity.


Well I'd argue that any card can be unbalanced due to the presence of opening splits, where players can have a 4/3 or the more rare 5/2. A trading post that trashed up to four cards and gave you a silver in hand would be an example, or a five-cost goons. The effect is much more limited for 6+ cost cards, but there are ways to quickly and reliably achieve 6 that work much better with a given opening split (typically 4/3).

A card that costs 2 or less and is useful in multiples would automatically be balanced by your definition, yes. Either way, I think it's not helpful to only debate the matter of equal availability.
 
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Dave Daley
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LastFootnote wrote:

The second problem is the one I posted earlier. A Goons-engine (or multiple such engines), when played correctly, is very likely to shoot past the entire stock of 76 Victory Point chips that came with the game. Although substitutions can be used, of course, this suggests to me the possibility that the full potential of Goons was not realized during playtesting.

I have thought this myself almost every time Goons is in play. They MUST have seen this coming!

I usually come to the conclusion that they probably did KNOW that it was likely that VPs would run out (thus they mention substitutes), but the economics of producing the game wouldn't let them stamp 500 pts wort of them. Maybe that's exaggerating, but I don't think it's exaggerating to say that you need more than 200 points worth of VPs in a heavy goons game. I've seen Goons games where 2 players are well over 100 pts (total, not just VP), which is just crazy.
 
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Chris Edwards
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elkabong wrote:
LastFootnote wrote:

The second problem is the one I posted earlier. A Goons-engine (or multiple such engines), when played correctly, is very likely to shoot past the entire stock of 76 Victory Point chips that came with the game. Although substitutions can be used, of course, this suggests to me the possibility that the full potential of Goons was not realized during playtesting.

I have thought this myself almost every time Goons is in play. They MUST have seen this coming!

I usually come to the conclusion that they probably did KNOW that it was likely that VPs would run out (thus they mention substitutes), but the economics of producing the game wouldn't let them stamp 500 pts wort of them. Maybe that's exaggerating, but I don't think it's exaggerating to say that you need more than 200 points worth of VPs in a heavy goons game. I've seen Goons games where 2 players are well over 100 pts (total, not just VP), which is just crazy.


I haven't played very many Goons games, but in many of the Bishop games I've played, I've ended up with a whole stack of the round coin tokens on my play mat representing 25 points each. You don't have to go very far to find substitutes!
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Nakamura
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You even can get well over 100 victory points each without Goons, for example in a very long game (32 turns) with Bishops trashing Peddlers (5 VP each time) etc.

116-111
http://dominion.isotropic.org/gamelog/201102/05/game-2011020...
 
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David desJardins
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chun1702 wrote:
You even can get well over 100 victory points each without Goons, for example in a very long game (32 turns) with Bishops trashing Peddlers (5 VP each time) etc.

116-111
http://dominion.isotropic.org/gamelog/201102/05/game-2011020...


But that game has only 68 VP tokens, and the game comes with 76 VP tokens, so maybe the designer and publisher anticipated exactly this scenario.
 
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DaviddesJ wrote:
chun1702 wrote:
You even can get well over 100 victory points each without Goons, for example in a very long game (32 turns) with Bishops trashing Peddlers (5 VP each time) etc.

116-111
http://dominion.isotropic.org/gamelog/201102/05/game-2011020...


But that game has only 68 VP tokens, and the game comes with 76 VP tokens, so maybe the designer and publisher anticipated exactly this scenario.


Agreed. Our highest total of VP came in a Goons game with King's Court and Worker's Village.

129-126 VP points
with 56-57 VP tokens

http://dominion.isotropic.org/gamelog/201102/04/game-2011020...
 
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Matthew Alexander
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People are aware that multiple Goons don't stack for additional VP tokens, right?

You only get one token per bought card while any Goons is in play, not one for each instance in play.
 
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David desJardins
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malex wrote:
You only get one token per bought card while any Goons is in play, not one for each instance in play.


Wrong.
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Dave Goldthorpe
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Quote:
You only get one token per bought card while any Goons is in play, not one for each instance in play.


Not true. It would probably improve the card though if it was played that way.
 
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Matt E
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DaveGold wrote:
Quote:
You only get one token per bought card while any Goons is in play, not one for each instance in play.


Not true. It would probably improve the card though if it was played that way.

Agreed. If I were to try to 'fix' the card, that is the first change I would try.
 
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Nate S
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LastFootnote wrote:
Agreed. If I were to try to 'fix' the card, that is the first change I would try.

"We don't like Goons, so let's neuter the most interesting thing about it."

No, thanks.
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Michael Brandt
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malex wrote:
People are aware that multiple Goons don't stack for additional VP tokens, right?

You only get one token per bought card while any Goons is in play, not one for each instance in play.
While a Throned or KC'd Goons won't give multiple VPs, playing more than one actual Goons card does. That's because when you buy a card, each Goons card has to resolve, so each Goons card you have in play gains a point. If it said "While you have any Goons in play..." then you'd be right, but instead it says "While this card is in play..."

By the way, this exact thing is in fact covered in the Goons FAQ in the Prosperity Rulebook.
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David desJardins
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ghorsche wrote:
"We don't like Goons, so let's neuter the most interesting thing about it."


It seems pretty clear that the people who don't like these big combos, also don't find them interesting.

I think he suggests a reasonable variant for people who want to keep the card playable but not have it push the game in the direction of massive combos.
 
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Dave G
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DaviddesJ wrote:
ghorsche wrote:
"We don't like Goons, so let's neuter the most interesting thing about it."


It seems pretty clear that the people who don't like these big combos, also don't find them interesting.

I think he suggests a reasonable variant for people who want to keep the card playable but not have it push the game in the direction of massive combos.


Only if you think "variants" are a reasonable thing to do in the first place. He's welcome to play the game wrong however he wants, but I think Nate has every right to be dismissive about it. Some of us like to play the game as designed rather than change the rules every time a strategy that we don't "like" emerges.
 
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Matt E
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djgutierrez77 wrote:
Only if you think "variants" are a reasonable thing to do in the first place. He's welcome to play the game wrong however he wants, but I think Nate has every right to be dismissive about it. Some of us like to play the game as designed rather than change the rules every time a strategy that we don't "like" emerges.

Whoa, calm down. I never play with variants either, including this one. For one thing, my comment started with "If" for a reason. In addition, it was meant to be more along the lines of, "If I were the game designer and were playtesting the game before release, I might make this change."

The only change to Dominion I would gladly use is to change Throne Room to read, "You may choose a card from your hand," and that only because Donald X said he'd make that change if he could. Likewise, if he came into this thread now and said, "Yo guys, I didn't realize in playtesting that Goons could so easily be abused to eat up all the included Victory chips. If I had a time machine, I'd go back and change it so that you'd only ever get 1 VP per Buy," only then would I actually advocate playing with this variant.
 
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Nate S
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There are only 2 changes I would make to any cards:

1. Some suitably-playtested nerf to Minion's attack. My best idea so far is to allow the victim a choice of either discarding and drawing a new 4-card hand OR discarding down to 3 cards from the current hand.

2. Modify Sea Hag to say "Each other player may discard the top card of his deck..."


I'd be open to playtesting Goons at $7 as well but I'm highly skeptical that it would be an improvement. I haven't heard any other suggestion for Goons that strikes me as even remotely reasonable enough to be worth playtesting. Killing the prospect for playing multiple Goons for multiple VPs per buy is just a terrible idea. That possibility is the thing that makes Goons an especially interesting card that leads to novel, non-boring strategies. Limiting to one VP per buy reduces a second Goons to nothing but a Woodcutter.
 
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Dave Goldthorpe
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Quote:
Killing the prospect for playing multiple Goons for multiple VPs per buy is just a terrible idea. That possibility is the thing that makes Goons an especially interesting card that leads to novel, non-boring strategies. Limiting to one VP per buy reduces a second Goons to nothing but a Woodcutter.


I can see where you're coming from but I would have to disagree. The accumulation of points from goons is novel but ultimately exploitative to the point that it can exclude all other strategies. You would still be able to use additional buys for additional purchases for additional points, so that a strategy that can currently pull in 48 point turns can still pull in 12 say. This is still a lot, more than a colony, and only seems paltry compared to the exploitative scoring that occurs currently. Even without other extra buys or extra actions in a kingdom, goons can still score more points than a colony over an entire game.

You would still have to play a smart game, mixing up some point scoring and green cards to win, not just following a single thread strategy of vp point collection. If bishops and monuments become higher points scoring cards than goons then I don't see this as a problem, since these cards do not have an attack component that prevent opponents from competing with alternative strategies.
 
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David desJardins
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djgutierrez77 wrote:
Only if you think "variants" are a reasonable thing to do in the first place.


Yes, of course I think that variants are a reasonable thing to do in the first place. You don't have to play with variants, but if you seriously believe that anyone who sometimes considers variant rules is an unreasonable person who doesn't deserve the time of day, then what are you doing on this site? Every game has an entire subforum for Variants; the site is as unreasonable as it gets.
 
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Dave G
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It is totally unreasonable, I've just blocked "variants" in all my game subscriptions. Mostly keeps them out of notice and I can pretend those forums don't exist. To be fair, I feel the same way about people who eat ketchup--they're totally incomprehensible and a little frightening, but as long as I pretend they're not there I can get on with my life.
 
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Dave G
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DaviddesJ wrote:
djgutierrez77 wrote:
Only if you think "variants" are a reasonable thing to do in the first place.


Yes, of course I think that variants are a reasonable thing to do in the first place. You don't have to play with variants, but if you seriously believe that anyone who sometimes considers variant rules is an unreasonable person who doesn't deserve the time of day, then what are you doing on this site? Every game has an entire subforum for Variants; the site is as unreasonable as it gets.


Also, I believe many things, but I try not to be serious about any of them.
 
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Matt E
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djgutierrez77 wrote:
He's welcome to play the game wrong however he wants, but I think Nate has every right to be dismissive about it.

djgutierrez77 wrote:
It is totally unreasonable,

djgutierrez77 wrote:
Also, I believe many things, but I try not to be serious about any of them.

Try harder.
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Nate S
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DaveGold wrote:
I can see where you're coming from but I would have to disagree. The accumulation of points from goons is novel but ultimately exploitative to the point that it can exclude all other strategies. You would still be able to use additional buys for additional purchases for additional points, so that a strategy that can currently pull in 48 point turns can still pull in 12 say. This is still a lot, more than a colony, and only seems paltry compared to the exploitative scoring that occurs currently. Even without other extra buys or extra actions in a kingdom, goons can still score more points than a colony over an entire game.

You would still have to play a smart game, mixing up some point scoring and green cards to win, not just following a single thread strategy of vp point collection. If bishops and monuments become higher points scoring cards than goons then I don't see this as a problem, since these cards do not have an attack component that prevent opponents from competing with alternative strategies.

You're using the word "exploitative" by fiat, and I simply refuse the premise. There is no inherent virtue in winning with green cards that makes any other path to victory an exploit.
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Dave G
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LastFootnote wrote:
djgutierrez77 wrote:
He's welcome to play the game wrong however he wants, but I think Nate has every right to be dismissive about it.

djgutierrez77 wrote:
It is totally unreasonable,

djgutierrez77 wrote:
Also, I believe many things, but I try not to be serious about any of them.

Try harder.


If you took those all so seriously, I apologize. I sort of assume everyone realizes they're reading a webforum and that nothing said here should be taken seriously at all, ever. I do think variants are pointless and silly, but I'm not going to seriously argue with anyone about it--I'm just going to say so and (hopefully) get a few laughs in the process. Of course everyone is welcome to play however they want, why should anyone give a shit whether or not I think it's silly?
 
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