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Subject: What did I do wrong in this game? rss

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Kris Rhodes
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If you're on BGA, you can see my game number 923277 (http://en.boardgamearena.com/#!table?table=923277) and replay it.

I'm curious to know how I screwed up in this game. I went first on every turn, and to me right now (having just learned the game two days ago) it seems to me that should be a crushing advantage. But I apparently squandered that advantage, because the game ended up being a tie. I don't know what I did wrong, either in the overall strategic sense, or in the tactical sense of "I should have done X on turn Y." (One exception: I think I would have had one or two extra points had I done my final "build" action a turn earlier. Math fail on my part.)

My opponent got an early large privilege. I do have a stubborn tendency to try to avoid that strategy, as it seems to be one a lot of people think is a "cheap win." I like to try to prove such judgments wrong. But perhaps in this game I should have gone for one when my opponent did?

Anyway, I'd be interested to hear what people think I did wrong in this game to lead me to tie despite having the move advantage in all 12 rounds.
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Chris Linneman
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Well, I only watched the first turn. But it's fairly obvious to me you should have bought the privilege. If you don't, you are basically taking worse persons (to get the turn order advantage), and then letting your opponent take the best action. So your opponent gets the best of both worlds.

The balancing of the privilege is that you need to go first to get it. So you have to make some sacrifice in the quality of your persons to do so. If you want to "avoid" that strategy, which I don't recommend because it is indeed a strong play (and not a strategy in itself, but more of a tactic), you should take really strong people in setup to make up for it. For example, builder is really good early on.

I note it's funny BGA limits the number of privileges available. I believe it's mentioned in the rules that components are not meant to be limited (except the persons).

Next point: Why did you take rice 3 turns in a row? This left you without an empty spot for a new person. You even didn't build when you had a builder! Extra palaces are really strong because they are as good as half a privilege, but cost food instead of money. Plus they let you hold more people, which is really important early on. I understand you want to block your opponent from taking rice, but you can do that AND build when build and rice are in the same group.
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QBert80 wrote:
I note it's funny BGA limits the number of privileges available. I believe it's mentioned in the rules that components are not meant to be limited (except the persons).

I think you misunderstood what it says in the rules:

Note: We do not intend the game to run short of pieces, except for those relating to the person tiles, (such as money, privileges, palace floors, rice, fireweorks, etc.)
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Chris Linneman
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What other pieces are in the game?
 
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Chris Linneman
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I dug up this thread: http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/250097/are-supplies-limited

I think it's a translation error, as privileges are not, in fact, "relating to person tiles." I think it means:

We do not intend the game to run short of pieces -- except for person tiles -- by pieces we mean money, privileges, palace floors, rice, fireworks, etc.
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Kris Rhodes
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QBert80 wrote:
Well, I only watched the first turn. But it's fairly obvious to me you should have bought the privilege. If you don't, you are basically taking worse persons (to get the turn order advantage), and then letting your opponent take the best action. So your opponent gets the best of both worlds.


But you're not saying, are you, that every first player, always, should take the large privilege?

If not, what is it about the specific setup you saw which made you say "this is a game in which the first player should take the large privilege"?

Quote:
The balancing of the privilege is that you need to go first to get it. So you have to make some sacrifice in the quality of your persons to do so. If you want to "avoid" that strategy, which I don't recommend because it is indeed a strong play (and not a strategy in itself, but more of a tactic), you should take really strong people in setup to make up for it. For example, builder is really good early on.


So I guess you're saying if one takes weak persons, one should get the privilege, and if one takes strong persons, one then need not do so. I don't know, though, what a "weak person" and a "strong person" are. Is it possible to rank them? And what makes some strong and some weak?

 
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Andrew Foerster
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Taking the large privilege on your first turn is worth 24 points, and is a strong move (and thus should always be considered). I think the key item that Chris was talking about is that you also want to get a good person tile out upfront. So, really, the first true move is deciding who will get to go first (and thus have first crack at the large privilege). If you manage to get a decent person to start the game AND get to go first then you're in a great position. Your opponents should either 1) make it really painful for you to get that first move (by forcing you to take a crappy person to get first move) or 2) if they recognize you're likely to get first move, cede that position and get a really strong person upfront.
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Andrew Foerster
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To add:

As far as "strong" and "weak" persons ... that's subjective and contextual. If you've had both of your plagues then the apothecary is "weak". On the last turn the mistress is "weak".

In an objective sense, though, the game has been balanced with the valuations. The higher a persons "Person Number" (the number of spaces you advance on the "Person Track") the "weaker" that person is deemed to be.

Obviously, the "elders" are stronger than their younger counterparts, and consequently have a lower person number.

On the first turn you can't take an elder person but, in later rounds, if you're giving up on the turn order track, you can hire elders to get a stronger benefit for your actions.
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QBert80 wrote:
What other pieces are in the game?

Money and palace floors are the first that come to mind.

QBert80 wrote:
I dug up this thread: http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/250097/are-supplies-limited

I think it's a translation error, as privileges are not, in fact, "relating to person tiles." I think it means:

We do not intend the game to run short of pieces -- except for person tiles -- by pieces we mean money, privileges, palace floors, rice, fireworks, etc.

There seems to be considerable difference of opinion on that thread, and I suspect the website you mentioned enforces the limits because they believe they are correct. I'd be fully convinced if the designer had given the answer, rather than the importer, but as it is, I think I'll continue to play with limited privileges. It adds pressure to the decision to take them early, and it plays very well that way.
 
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Chris Linneman
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Speusippus wrote:

But you're not saying, are you, that every first player, always, should take the large privilege?

If not, what is it about the specific setup you saw which made you say "this is a game in which the first player should take the large privilege"?


Actually, I pretty much am saying that. They are so strong on turn 1, if I go first I can't think of any reason not to buy one.

Quote:

So I guess you're saying if one takes weak persons, one should get the privilege, and if one takes strong persons, one then need not do so. I don't know, though, what a "weak person" and a "strong person" are. Is it possible to rank them? And what makes some strong and some weak?


The persons' utility varies depending on the stage of the game and event ordering. A monk is virtually worthless early on, hence its high person rating of 6. A builder is extremely valuable, allowing you to expand your palaces twice as efficiently. Palaces both enable you to house more people and score you VPs, and the earlier you build the more VPs you get. So they are immensely valuable early on.

Generally, the person points correlate pretty well to the strength of the person, so if you are going first, you probably have weaker people than your opponents. This isn't quite true late in the game, but it's pretty accurate at the start.

Privilege opening is so strong, a common move is to open 6/5 with a Monk and a Warrior, regardless of the events. This forces opponents to either concede first position to you, or take Monk/Pyrotechnist, which is far inferior to Monk/Warrior on most boards.

Because privilege is stronger than many players at first realize, they fail to properly evaluate the price the start player should pay for buying one. This leads to them running away with the game and claims that privilege is unbalanced or unfun, when in fact what happened was they let that player get it too cheaply, and didn't prioritize getting it for themselves.

Early on, the stronger people are Builder and Tax Collector. In the middle are probably Warrior, Farmer, and Doctor, and the weak opening people are Monk, Pyrotechnist, and I suppose Scholar and Court Lady, although I've never actually seen anyone take the latter two to start with. Court Lady is probably strong in theory, but the 1 person point is too big of a drawback to make her viable.

You'll note that, in general, the stronger people have lower person points: 2 and 3 for Builder and Tax Collector; 5, 4, 4, for the middle three, and 6, 5 for Monk and Pyrotechnist.
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Kris Rhodes
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If there's a single first move that's always the best every time, I'd say that's a weakness in the design of the game. Not necessarily fatal though.

But that aside, though I'm sure this is very situationally specific, I wonder if you'd be willing to outline for me an example of a case in which someone takes large privilege as their first move, and the other player(s) are able to make sure that he didn't get it, as you said, "too cheaply". How do you punish him for taking it? Do you mean like, attempting to block his access to gold afterwards? The reason I'm not sure what you mean is--if he went monk/warrior and took privilege, he's got the first move, basically, for as long as he wants it, doesn't he? In which case I don't know how it's possible to "punish" him, so to speak, for taking LP.
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Chris Linneman
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The cost of taking the privilege is getting some of the weaker people up front. That's what I mean by forcing that player to pay for it. In the game you posted, your opponent got a Builder AND privilege, which is a really strong opening, even if he's behind in turn order.

If your opponent does take Warrior/Monk and gets the privilege, it's probably a good idea to keep on his tail in the turn order. Unless he takes the single highest person points available to him every turn, you should have an opportunity to overtake him in turn order, due to the tie-break rule favouring the player who was previously later in turn order. The point I was trying to make was that, even if he stays ahead in turn order, if you are close, you have the opportunity to force him to make plays he might not want to make if he wants to stay first.

On the flip side of the coin, if you have invested in person points to go first, you want to make the best use of these turns possible. I believe collecting rice was not your optimal move on at least two of the three turns you did it. If you don't make good use of your turn order advantage, you might as well not have the advantage, and invest in better people instead.
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Steven Backues
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Speusippus wrote:
If there's a single first move that's always the best every time, I'd say that's a weakness in the design of the game. Not necessarily fatal though.

But that aside, though I'm sure this is very situationally specific, I wonder if you'd be willing to outline for me an example of a case in which someone takes large privilege as their first move, and the other player(s) are able to make sure that he didn't get it, as you said, "too cheaply". How do you punish him for taking it? Do you mean like, attempting to block his access to gold afterwards? The reason I'm not sure what you mean is--if he went monk/warrior and took privilege, he's got the first move, basically, for as long as he wants it, doesn't he? In which case I don't know how it's possible to "punish" him, so to speak, for taking LP.


You can think of the initial person drafting as sort of a once-around auction for the first privilege. If someone bids very high (like warrior/monk) then they can get it, but they have paid a significant cost. You have already "make them pay" in the fact that they have pulled two nearly-useless people, whereas you have grabbed someone of more utility.

If one player is absolutely determined to go first each turn, and drafts only the highest numbered people, then they can probably do that. But they won't necessarily win because of it. You can also do well from behind if you have more useful people.

Also, while the opening privilege is strong, and worth doing, it doesn't by any means guaranty victory. If the other player can take a privilege the second turn, that is worth only 2 points less. And/or if he can build a new palace the first turn (generally the second-best move), that is worth 12 points for the game and provides extra space for people, also very valuable.
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Kris Rhodes
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Very VERY helpful, guys.

I'm going to reexamine the game and look at my rice buys. At the time they felt necessary, not in the "must preserve all people" sense (I know that's not a good way to play) but in the "must keep a modicum of necessary people around" sense. But with what you guys have said in mind, I'll take a look at those moves and see what I think I maybe should have done instead.

I understand what you mean now about privilege, move order etc. I am to the point of being able to slap my forehead concerning letting the guy get both builder and privilege. At the time I was like "meh, no big deal!" Now I see how wrong that was.
 
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Chris Linneman
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Another way of "keeping necessary people around" is to build more palaces, allowing you to have more people at once. Although it's nice to get all your rice up front and never have any more need for farmers, I find there are more important things to do early in this game.
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Todd Redden
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bearing in mind, of course, that if you take the privilege tile first you are destined to a game without much $$ in your pocket. My decision is often dependent also on how early on the taxation occurs.
 
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Chris Linneman
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tmredden wrote:
bearing in mind, of course, that if you take the privilege tile first you are destined to a game without much $$ in your pocket. My decision is often dependent also on how early on the taxation occurs.


You can always skip an action phase to get enough to pay for 3/4 of taxation, so I think it's still worth it to get the privilege even with early taxation. You're basically spending two action phases, $2, and a person to get 24 points, which I think is worth it.
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Steven Backues
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QBert80 wrote:
tmredden wrote:
bearing in mind, of course, that if you take the privilege tile first you are destined to a game without much $$ in your pocket. My decision is often dependent also on how early on the taxation occurs.


You can always skip an action phase to get enough to pay for 3/4 of taxation, so I think it's still worth it to get the privilege even with early taxation. You're basically spending two action phases, $2, and a person to get 24 points, which I think is worth it.


I generally agree. The only time that I ever saw a first turn privilege buy hurt someone is when there was tribute on turn three immediately followed by famine on turn four. It was a 2-player, and I got ahead on the track and made sure they couldn't get rice for the famine.
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Bernd Altmann
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Sphere wrote:
QBert80 wrote:
I dug up this thread: http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/250097/are-supplies-limited

I think it's a translation error, as privileges are not, in fact, "relating to person tiles." I think it means:

We do not intend the game to run short of pieces -- except for person tiles -- by pieces we mean money, privileges, palace floors, rice, fireworks, etc.

There seems to be considerable difference of opinion on that thread, and I suspect the website you mentioned enforces the limits because they believe they are correct. I'd be fully convinced if the designer had given the answer, rather than the importer, but as it is, I think I'll continue to play with limited privileges. It adds pressure to the decision to take them early, and it plays very well that way.


The designer has given the answer in the original German rules:

Quote:
Es ist nicht vorgesehen, dass in diesem Spiel außer den Personenplättchen Materialien (wie Geld, Privilegien, Palastteile, Reissäcke, Raketen etc.) ausgehen. Sollte dies aber doch einmal geschehen, sollte kurzfristig ein geeigneter Ersatz benutzt werden.

The main statement translated is: Only person tiles are limited.
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Alan Kwan
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QBert80 wrote:
Speusippus wrote:

But you're not saying, are you, that every first player, always, should take the large privilege?

If not, what is it about the specific setup you saw which made you say "this is a game in which the first player should take the large privilege"?


Actually, I pretty much am saying that. They are so strong on turn 1, if I go first I can't think of any reason not to buy one.


And if there is any such reason, it should revolve around the unwillingness to spend all one's starting money. In which case, there is no reason not to take build instead, which costs no money.

The objective of the game is VPs. Privilege and build are the VP actions in the early game.

 
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Alan Kwan
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Sphere wrote:
I'd be fully convinced if the designer had given the answer, rather than the importer, but as it is, I think I'll continue to play with limited privileges. It adds pressure to the decision to take them early, and it plays very well that way.


Unlike PR or such, in this game resources (actions and money) are much tighter, and the game inherently rewards earlier privileges by having them score more VPs. There is no need to undermine later privileges further by ruling them out, and that serves only to disadvantage the tax-money strategy, which is not particularly strong to begin with.

The strongest privileges are the ones bought with the starting money (instead of later tax money), and it is bad to give them a further advantage by giving them a monopoly.
 
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Chad Ellis
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FWIW, I not only don't think that turn-one privilege is automatic I'd say it's my second-favorite choice (behind building a third palace) by a significant margin.

Let's say I'm ahead of my opponent on PP and build/privilege are divided. I choose build and my opponent chooses large privilege. He's now 12 points ahead of me (by the end of the game), but he's also out of money. On the next turn I may choose build or privilege or potentially some other action that is in the same group as build. Now his palaces are filled and unless he chose a tax collector and was able to tax he either skipped his action to get three gold or else he's still unable to build. That's a pretty awkward position to be in, especially if there are other needed actions coming.

Of course there are a number of ways my opponent can fight back; my point is merely that the 12-point advantage of large privilege vs. build is compensated for by substantially greater flexibility. Year of the Dragon is a game of relative gain, not absolute. I think too many people buy a large privilege when they have the PP lead because that's the most powerful move for them but I think the best relative gain often comes from building.
 
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