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Subject: Two big problems with Thurn und Taxis? rss

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Dan Edelen
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Played Thurn und Taxis for the first time this evening and noticed two problems with the game that significantly lowered its appeal for me:

1. One mistake, and you're done - It felt to me that the game is a giant optimization scheme. True, many Eurogames have this feel, but in watching the other three players, it became clear that one missed opportunity early on, and that player was out of the running. Which leads to the second problem...

2. Runaway leader - Despite calls to "ruin" the leader's card selection, no good way to do this exists since routes are not exclusive (as in the case with Ticket to Ride {TtR}, the game against which TuT is most often compared). Couple this with the ability to spawn routes in multiple directions from most cities, plus the constant awarding of the leader with higher bonus point potential, and catching the leader becomes a lesson in futility. It seems to me that if someone gained a carriage card and the other players were not able to also gain that same card before the leader's next turn came around again, then the game was pretty much over at that point, no matter how many carriage cards remained.

With no way to recover from a single bad round and no way to invoke "take down the leader" actions, an exciting, close finish between all players seems out of reach. That is definitely not at issue in TtR.

Am I wrong in my assessment?
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Scot Ryder
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There is rarely a single "leader" for all of the regions, so I assume you mean for the longer route bonus chits? I've never seen much of a runaway leader problem in my games (just got trounced by my wife two days ago after I took an early lead.)

I'll admit I'm no expert at the game, but I've never had the problems you listed.
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Brad Miller
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Nor have I.

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edelen wrote:
Played Thurn und Taxis for the first time

So why are you making judgment calls on strategy after one play? Are you really that good or just think you are? Seriously, the rest of this becomes just fluff.

edelen wrote:
this evening and noticed two problems with the game that significantly lowered its appeal for me:

1. One mistake, and you're done - It felt to me that the game is a giant optimization scheme. True, many Eurogames have this feel, but in watching the other three players, it became clear that one missed opportunity early on, and that player was out of the running. Which leads to the second problem...

2. Runaway leader - Despite calls to "ruin" the leader's card selection, no good way to do this exists since routes are not exclusive (as in the case with Ticket to Ride {TtR}, the game against which TuT is most often compared). Couple this with the ability to spawn routes in multiple directions from most cities, plus the constant awarding of the leader with higher bonus point potential, and catching the leader becomes a lesson in futility. It seems to me that if someone gained a carriage card and the other players were not able to also gain that same card before the leader's next turn came around again, then the game was pretty much over at that point, no matter how many carriage cards remained.

With no way to recover from a single bad round and no way to invoke "take down the leader" actions, an exciting, close finish between all players seems out of reach. That is definitely not at issue in TtR.

Am I wrong in my assessment?


Yes. Play 20 games and come back here and discuss what you discover. No offense, but you have not qualified yourself to make such an assessment.
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Henry Allen
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I'm not an expert by any means but it seems to me that there is a fine balance between efficiency and scoring carriages. It sounds like perhaps you are fixated on the carriages since you think the game is over if someone gets a carriage ahead. I have gotten a carriage behind in several games and won. If I can start out with a 7 length connection, especially an efficient one that is touching many different colors, I will do it. This will often get me a carriage 'behind' but I'm ahead on houses out and regions touched and I have a bonus point chip.

Also, just in case you missed the rule, you do not get points for all of your carriage cards. You only get points for your largest carriage card.
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Sebastian
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There are many different roads to victory in TuT.
ONE of them is a "quick Carriage game" (with help of the wagon builder).
Many others are there.

What is true is one thing: In an expert round you're usually lost when you have to abandon a route longer than 2 cards (and therefor loosing 2 or more turns). But usually you see the risk and have possibilities of avoiding or taking it - so its not pure luck.
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Jason Lott
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TermiGator wrote:
There are many different roads to victory in TuT.
ONE of them is a "quick Carriage game" (with help of the wagon builder).
Many others are there.

What is true is one thing: In an expert round you're usually lost when you have to abandon a route longer than 2 cards (and therefor loosing 2 or more turns). But usually you see the risk and have possibilities of avoiding or taking it - so its not pure luck.


I'd agree with this. I've rarely seen any mistake become a game-breaker - if you're paying attention, there's usually a way to bounce back.

As for a runaway leader, it's rare in my experience. All players start on equal footing and as long as you're progressing through your carriages at a steady clip, no one can pull far ahead.

The only danger in this game is to waste your time doing "mini-routes" where you're focusing on trying to score a color bonus chit. I only do a route shorter than what's needed for the next carriage if:
a) I plan to use the Cartwright privilege, or
b) I can't get the cards needed and don't want to abandon a route.

I'd recommend playing a few more times, maybe on Yucata to get a better feel for the game. TaT is a very solid light strategy game that has held up very well and is by no means "broken."
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Dan Edelen
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markgravitygood wrote:
edelen wrote:
Played Thurn und Taxis for the first time

So why are you making judgment calls on strategy after one play? Are you really that good or just think you are? Seriously, the rest of this becomes just fluff.

edelen wrote:
this evening and noticed two problems with the game that significantly lowered its appeal for me:

1. One mistake, and you're done - It felt to me that the game is a giant optimization scheme. True, many Eurogames have this feel, but in watching the other three players, it became clear that one missed opportunity early on, and that player was out of the running. Which leads to the second problem...

2. Runaway leader - Despite calls to "ruin" the leader's card selection, no good way to do this exists since routes are not exclusive (as in the case with Ticket to Ride {TtR}, the game against which TuT is most often compared). Couple this with the ability to spawn routes in multiple directions from most cities, plus the constant awarding of the leader with higher bonus point potential, and catching the leader becomes a lesson in futility. It seems to me that if someone gained a carriage card and the other players were not able to also gain that same card before the leader's next turn came around again, then the game was pretty much over at that point, no matter how many carriage cards remained.

With no way to recover from a single bad round and no way to invoke "take down the leader" actions, an exciting, close finish between all players seems out of reach. That is definitely not at issue in TtR.

Am I wrong in my assessment?


Yes. Play 20 games and come back here and discuss what you discover. No offense, but you have not qualified yourself to make such an assessment.


Notice that I am asking questions about my statements. I am looking for clarification. The title of this post and the final line are both questions. Understood in that way, I would have thought it obvious that I am not storming in here and declaring a Spiel de Jahres winner "broken." I'm asking for someone to help me understand how the two items I noted are not true.

I know the game is not broken. I just can't see a way around what I saw play out. Maybe it is there, maybe we were playing wrong, or maybe there's some fine point that I'm not seeing.

Someone else explained the rules to us. She had played the game before, but the other three of us had not. We were assuming she told us the rules correctly. I can see already that there was at least one rule (points only for the highest carriage received) that we were not playing right, though it seems to make little difference in final scoring.

Regarding my comments:

It seems from the rules that the first person to naturally score a 5, 6, or 7 gets the top bonus chits (the ones under the 6-card tableau). I don't see how that can be countered to prevent a runaway leader situation. Assuming that the rest of the players randomly split route-color-completion chits (which seems to me to be likely), overcoming the carriage completion bonus seems very hard to do. Or were we not playing this correctly?

Let's say a player gets a natural 5-carriage before anyone else. That player gets the highest bonus chit for doing so. If the other players cannot also get a 5-carriage in that round, then if the rest of the game is played reasonably smartly by all players, the person who took that 5-carriage first will always have at least a 2-point lead on everyone and will most likely gain an additional 3-5 by being the first person to get a 6-carriage and 7.

Others have said that wiping the tableau is one way to stop a leader, but that may backfire against the other players, as it may wipe their best city card pickups. Playing to attack the leader seems a certain way to prevent the attacking player from keeping pace in completing their own routes and carriage pickups. This seems counterproductive in a "stop the leader" play. The penalty on the attackers seems too high for what might be gained.

How else can a runaway leader be prevented?
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Lars Wagner Hansen
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edelen wrote:
Am I wrong in my assessment?

One question.

One answer: Yes!
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Henry Allen
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Being the first to get a 5 length route in no way helps you to be the first to also get 6 or 7. Perhaps there is another rule being played wrong?
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edelen wrote:
I can see already that there was at least one rule (points only for the highest carriage received) that we were not playing right, though it seems to make little difference in final scoring.



This makes a massive difference.

If I have the 7 route carriage, and you have the 6, then the scoring should be 10 - 7 for me, only 3 points, not a huge difference.

However if we are counting all of the carriages, then I have 27 points and you only have 17, a 10 point difference, which is huge in this game.
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Dan Edelen
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KlydeFrog wrote:
Being the first to get a 5 length route in no way helps you to be the first to also get 6 or 7. Perhaps there is another rule being played wrong?


Perhaps. I didn't have an opportunity to read the rules, only have them explained to me.

But it seems to me that if the cards play out in an average manner, any mistake a player made early on in carriage development will perpetually put them behind in keeping up with the others in carriage length. The opposite seems true for the leader.

One player in our game was able to get a 6-carriage, but as that turn went around, none of the rest of could match. She took the highest bonus chit for a 6-carriage and was off to the races on her 7-carriage, the rest of us still working toward 6.

At that point, unless the cards turned totally against her, I could not see a way to slow her from getting to her 7-carriage before anyone else.

So she got the highest bonus chit for 6 and for 7, plus the bonus for being the first to 7.

All her carriage-length bonuses and first-to chits blew the game open at the end. As the person in second, I could see no way to slow her down. We'd been neck and neck until she managed to get a 6-carriage first and I could not match her in that turn.

People keep telling me that this is not a forgone conclusion, but no one has told me how to counter.

Those chit bonuses really add up, and if both first and second play their cards wisely, no mechanism exists to overcome this. We played for another 20 minutes after I realized she was going to get that 6-carriage before I could, and it felt like the game was lost right there. The final 20 minutes were just slogging through the inevitable.
 
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Jared
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Thurn and Taxis rules, PDF posted on Rio Grande Games website:

http://www.riograndegames.com/uploads/Game/Game_188_gameRule...

Also, quoted from RGG site regarding the rules:

"Errata:
At the top of page 3, there is a small typographical error in the example. It should read: Example: a player has a route that includes Carlsruhe, Stuttgart, Nürnberg, and Regensburg. The player wants to add Innsbruck. As Innsbruck is not directly adjacen" (yes, that's where it stops)
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Jon Harper
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You seem to be connecting being able to take a chit with completing the carriage of the corresponding length. It is not necessarily a given that when someone gets the 6-carriage that the highest chit is in the pile or that any chits are even left in that pile. You could close a 6-city route as your first route and take the top chit from that pile along with your 3-carriage.
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Scot Ryder
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Score properly next time. But I have a gut feeling there won't be a next time since you're refusing to hear what people are saying that disagrees with your initial assumptions.
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Henry Allen
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There is no bonus chit for the six carriage or any other carriage.
There IS a bonus for 5, 6, and 7 length routes but only if you get them naturally (e.g. Without using the +2 length for carriage bonus).

So to answer your question, you can use the +2 bonus to quickly score carriages but it will mean you are not getting any bonus chits. You can counter this by building longer routes for bonus chits which will also give you a better chance to get down more houses and touch more locations for more possible bonuses.

Also, I'll repeat that it would be worth looking at the rules.
As mentioned, scoring for every carriage card instead of just your best can really make a huge difference. I also wonder if your teacher knew to subtract points for left over houses at the end and that using the +2 bonus to get to a carriage does not also count towards claiming bonus chits. I could see how messing up any if those rules would leave the impression you have.
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Dan Edelen
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jharper921 wrote:
You seem to be connecting being able to take a chit with completing the carriage of the corresponding length. It is not necessarily a given that when someone gets the 6-carriage that the highest chit is in the pile or that any chits are even left in that pile. You could close a 6-city route as your first route and take the top chit from that pile along with your 3-carriage.


Ah, there's the rub. The person who explained the game said you had to build the routes in length order.

Your comment tells me she didn't explain the rules right.

That makes a HUGE difference. Thanks!
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Dan Edelen
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KlydeFrog wrote:
Also, I'll repeat that it would be worth looking at the rules.

As mentioned, scoring for every carriage card instead of just your best can really make a huge difference. I also wonder if your teacher knew to subtract points for left over houses at the end and that using the +2 bonus to get to a carriage does not also count towards claiming bonus chits. I could see how messing up any if those rules would leave the impression you have.


While she did explain the +2 bonus correctly, she did not explain the leftover houses. Thanks!
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Dan Edelen
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Bean-Boy wrote:
Score properly next time. But I have a gut feeling there won't be a next time since you're refusing to hear what people are saying that disagrees with your initial assumptions.


Dude. Seriously.

No one is refusing to hear anything. Only now am I getting some good explanations for what the problem might be. And now I understand the rules explainer, who has been great with most other games she has taught, didn't get the rules right.

Will make me a little more questioning on future games she explains.
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Sven Teuber
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edelen wrote:
I can see already that there was at least one rule (points only for the highest carriage received) that we were not playing right [...] Ah, there's the rub. The person who explained the game said you had to build the routes in length order.


It seems that you played an entirely different game than TaT is meant to be. How on earth can someone come up with that last rule mentioned above!? :-P
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Matthew Eder
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Figilano wrote:
edelen wrote:
I can see already that there was at least one rule (points only for the highest carriage received) that we were not playing right [...] Ah, there's the rub. The person who explained the game said you had to build the routes in length order.


It seems that you played an entirely different game than TaT is meant to be. How on earth can someone come up with that last rule mentioned above!? :-P



You DO have to build the carriages in order, but you can claim them with a route that is greater than or equal to the carriage size (or less with the cartwright). So, you could build a 7 length route as your first route and claim the "3" carriage. But, you would get the top chit in the "7" pile.
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To make sure, we're all talking bout the same game: Quick scoringoverview:
- At anytime in the game At the end of your turn you can score a route with at least 3 cards.
- For the first route you'll get the 3-carriage. If at anytime later you build a route at least 4 length you get the 4-carriage if after this you build a route of at least 5 length you get the 5- carriage and so on. The round someone gets the 7 carriage is the last (or someone built his 20 houses whichever is faster.
- If your route is (without Cartwight bonus) at least 5 (6,7) long, immediately take the chit with the highest points for a 5-route (6-route, 7-route). You'll get only one chit (A 7 route will not get you 3 chits, but if there are no more 7s you can take a 6).
- If your houses on the plan fulfill a chit criteria immediately take the chit.

Points at game end:
Sum of all your chits - leftover houses + highest carriage.

At no point in the game it matters what another player achieved in the same round. There is no such thing as a runaway leader in the game unless all players try to go for the chits in the same order.

Normally there are several good strategies some are (Spoiler if you want to find/develop them yourself):
Spoiler (click to reveal)
- Build a 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 route (the later with Cartwight) while trying to get some chits in order to end the game quickly without letting other players fulfil their big plans.
- Go for the most rewarding "one house in each" chit
- Go for the nearly as good bavaria chit
- Go for the 7-route chits from the beginning
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Dan Edelen
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TermiGator wrote:
To make sure, we're all talking bout the same game: Quick scoringoverview:
- At anytime in the game you can score a route with at least 3 cards.
- For the first route you'll get the 3-carriage. If at anytime later you build a route at least 4 length you get the 4-carriage if after this you build a route of at least 5 length you get the 5- carriage and so on. The round someone gets the 7 carriage is the last (or someone built his 20 houses whichever is faster.
- If your route is (without Cartwight bonus) at least 5 (6,7) long, immediately take the chit with the highest points for a 5-route (6-route, 7-route). You'll get only one chit (A 7 route will not get you 3 chits, but if there are no more 7s you can take a 6).
- If your houses on the plan fulfill a chit criteria immediately take the chit.

Points at game end:
Sum of all your chits - leftover houses + highest carriage.

At no point in the game it matters what another player achieved in the same round. There is no such thing as a runaway leader in the game unless all players try to go for the chits in the same order.

Normally there are several good strategies some are (Spoiler if you want to find/develop them yourself):
Spoiler (click to reveal)
- Build a 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 route (the later with Cartwight) while trying to get some chits in order to end the game quickly without letting other players fulfil their big plans.
- Go for the most rewarding "one house in each" chit
- Go for the nearly as good bavaria chit
- Go for the 7-route chits from the beginning


Excellent scoring overview. Thanks!

In this game, because of the way the rules were (incorrectly) explained, everyone was racing for the first of the spoiler strategies. That also set up a runaway leader, I believe. Otherwise, I think I would have tried a few long routes early and taken those 5, 6, or 7-length route bonuses.
 
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Russ Williams
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The rules are short. It's really worth your simply reading them instead of everyone playing "20 Questions" to figure out all the rules that your rules teacher got wrong.
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Lowell Kempf
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edelen wrote:
jharper921 wrote:
You seem to be connecting being able to take a chit with completing the carriage of the corresponding length. It is not necessarily a given that when someone gets the 6-carriage that the highest chit is in the pile or that any chits are even left in that pile. You could close a 6-city route as your first route and take the top chit from that pile along with your 3-carriage.


Ah, there's the rub. The person who explained the game said you had to build the routes in length order.

Your comment tells me she didn't explain the rules right.

That makes a HUGE difference. Thanks!


WHOA! No wonder you had a bad experience!
 
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