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Subject: Buildings too strong? rss

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John Sugden
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Gargoyle wrote:

Surely player 2 should have 3 quests at this point? He/she is picking up one when re-assigning the harbor agent.
Yes. Edited to correct
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There are too many unknowns here to really comment on this in any more detail. What are the lords for each player, what are their quests, what Intrigue cards are they holding, what quests are currently open, what buildings are there to pick from during next round...? And why did players 1 and 2 give player 3 an opportunity to build two of the most potent buildings (how convenient for your example, by the way!) in this game so easily?
We're testing here to see if buildings are overpowered... That is why we're assuming 1 player got to build them.
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That being said, I'd happily take you on with that setup, playing either 1 or 2 against your player 3.
Randomly fill in the blanks above by assigning lord cards, dealing quest cards, etc... with the resources and play it out yourself. I just did. There was a clear resource advantage for player 3. And yes, 3 would have won, but the winner of 1 simulation is far from a proof. We'd need a lot more simulations to offer a proof with any merit.
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Have you actually played the game? Despite all your claims, the economy is not as simplistic as you say, but many quests have extra effects that make it fuzzier.
6 games versus real foes, 5 simulated games.
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If the economy truly were that linear, there would be no need to worry about which quest to pick or which to complete, but they'd all be essentially equal.
There are other things that impact victory. I've listed a few things that impact victory in addition to making buildings, such as efficacy of quest solving order, using buildings in place rather than inferior preprinted locations, intrigue cards efficacy, types and amounts of resources not converted to quest points at the end of the game, etc...
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I'd say (I'm not going to assume anything about anyone else's opinions here) that's definitely not the case, but understanding synergies, recognizing opportunities and getting your priorities right is very important for playing efficiently.
Agreed.
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And all this is very much randomized, both by what you have, what the game offers to you, and what the other players are doing/needing.
Not agreed. There are random factors, but they are not as potent as you're making them out to be.
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And even if we assume, for argument's sake, that everything you say is true-- how exactly would it prevent this from being a great game, considering how much most people seem to be enjoying it?
As I said, I consider this a very solid game. However, one of the limitations of the game is the very standardized economy and the limited and linear nature of deviations from it.

In my experience, the top Euro games are top because there is no single simple substantial strategy that provides a significiant advantage in every game. You need to adjust strategy in every game to what is occuring to maintain advantages.

I am NOT - I repeat NOT - saying that early buildings will guarantee you a win. They give you a very strong leg up, and if you play well from that point on you'll have a substantial advantage that must be overcome by other players. I am saying the game would be better if this advantage was less predictable or less substantial. And just because a game could be even better does not mean it isn't good.

My basic strategy for this game:
* Build buildings early,
* gather resources and 4 to 5 quests through turn 5 without solving quests (except for a few quests with substantiual early solving benefits),
* solve quests beginning in either turn 5 or 6 in a proper order to maximize the efficiency of resolving them - with a goal of solving them all by the end of round 7,
* use adventurer and/or gold buildings whenever possible in rounds 1 through 5 or 6 (being diverse where possible, but not passing on a building that provides adventurers or money just because you already have those resources),
* select quests primarily for the way that they interact with your acquired resources (and for the resources they will provide),
* begin being selective in which resources you aqcuire starting around round 6,
* generally hold intrigue cards until rounds 5 through 8 (although there will be exceptions), and
* use the 'Lord Bonus' provided for quest types only as a tie breaker when deciding between quests - maintaining efficiency in resource use when solving quests is more important than these bonus points.
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T C
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So far we haven't found the buildings to be too strong. Sure they are useful, but early leads tend to make you the target of intrigue cards. Of course the game plays significantly different with different numbers of players and most of our games have been 3 player. Perhaps buildings are more powerful with more or less people? I haven't played enough games with 2, 4, or 5 players to say. I don't think anyone claims this is the deepest Euro game on the market, but my group has enjoyed it and has not found any blatant balance issues so far.

Also IF early buildings are overpowered, then the value of first player is amplified and you cannot count on keeping it. If early buildings are too strong, then your opponents are making a mistake by letting one player get multiple early buildings. Meaning the power of multiple early buildings should be balanced out by good play denying those multiple buildings to one player. There are lots of games where if you let one player take the "best" worker placement spot multiple times in a row you are giving them a big advantage, and I don't really see a difference here even if we proved that buildings was that "best" spot early on.
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Mike Spartz
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We're testing here to see if buildings are overpowered... That is why we're assuming 1 player got to build them.


Just making this one assumption sort of invalidates your whole theory. Even if buildings WERE better than every other action on the board, that fact simply means someone else would take init and remove your ability to take buildings on your next turn. at BEST you could trade it back and forth with one other person and then it would balance out by the end of the game (since your theory implies all same actions are equal in the long haul).
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Chris Ruf
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You may gain an overall profit off of early buildings, but your opponents do too by building their own. If you build on round 1 and an opponent builds on round 2 and so on, then your edge is negligible because your opponent(s) are gaining a similar edge, although one less round's worth. You could easily lose too varience in the quest and intrigue cards.

Seemingly, the only reason buildings are too strong is that the first player to build gets a slight advantage over later builders, assuming the later don't let the former build more than one in a row. Seems like a very negligible issue too me. And again their is enough varience that early building aren't a guarantee of anything. In a 3 player or above game, the other people could just gang on the early builder via intrigue and not lose much value because they don't lose their worker placement. Their are just too many variables in the play of the game. Which is a good thing because it makes it more friendly than say Caylus, where a skilled mathematical player will destroy a weaker opponent.

Isn't the point of a game to just have fun anyway? Leave the analysis to the designer and focus on why we got into gaming in the first place. Tearing a game down to the barebones math can ruin the experience of a good game.

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John Middleton
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The usefulness of any building and any other space on the board is entirely dependent upon the specific circumstances of the current game in play. Sometimes they will be valuable and sometimes they will not be.

You are assuming that, just because you believe a building will be valuable, the other players will think so as well, and grant you benefits by utilizing it every turn. In the early game, when you contend most buildings should be built, it can often be that initial resources that were hard sought become less so a turn or two in. This will immediately limit the players using you building, if the resources are no longer strongly desirable.

In fact, players will often choose NOT to utilize another player's building even if it provides an extra resource or so, specifically to prevent the owner from gaining any benefit. Your calculations of worth are based upon other the other players valuing the action spaces and resources exactly as you do and this is never the case.

I fail to see how there is a lack of random elements in this game. Every single aspect of the games aside from the starting board spaces and the number of agents you have are entirely random. Let us list the random elements to be sure.

- Random starting quests
- Random starting Lord with victory quest bonuses
- Random starting Intrigue cards
- Random starting available buildings for construction
- Random starting four quests at the Inn
- Random Intrigue card draw when the action is taken
- Random Quest card replacement when one is removed from Inn
- Random Quest card replacement when all are Reset
- Random Building available tile after a building is constructed


Couple this randomness with the variability of player strategies and the possibility of a player performing mistaken or ill-planned agent placements and you have a game that is continuously variable by design.

What would you suggest we do to add more randomness to the game. Maybe a Percentile Die roll table that randomly assigns an outcome for every action space on the board? That way you are never sure what benefit an action will actually grant you.


OR I could play Mythos cards from Arkham Horror instead of Intrigue cards and try to make the other player's close gates while I build buildings, maybe that would work.

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Mikko Karvonen
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jgsugden wrote:
I am NOT - I repeat NOT - saying that early buildings will guarantee you a win.


I guess that settles it, then: the buildings are not overpowered.

jgsugden wrote:
They give you a very strong leg up, and if you play well from that point on you'll have a substantial advantage that must be overcome by other players. I am saying the game would be better if this advantage was less predictable or less substantial.


I'd say that the buildings need to be rather powerful for Lords of the Waterdeep really to function. Otherwise the players wouldn't build them as there would be no real benefit in doing so, and things would start to break down when the extra agents come into play and there wouldn't be enough action places for everyone. The buildings are there for a reason: they make the whole game more dynamic and thus more interesting.

All in all, I find it quite telling that you are using probably the two most powerful buildings in your example. It twists the whole argument into the strange realm of "if the other players play stupidly and allow one player to run away with things, this happens".

Out of curiosity: how would you change the benefit to be less predictable? Sounds like something that would make the game much more luck-based in a rather annoying way.
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Chris Berger
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In two games so far, one player built the most buildings both times. In both games, he came in 3rd (once in a 3p, once in a 5p). Circumstantial, but that suggests to me that buildings aren't overpowered.

There are a few things at work that even things out, I believe.
a) They are a long term investment. Investing 2 "units" on turn 1 for the possibility of 4 "units" pay back is good, but the longer term nature of it requires that it be better than an even trade.

b) They can be uncertain. If I, as the building owner, don't need 2 rogues every turn, then I won't be using my building that produces 2 rogues and 2 gold. Whether or not someone else uses my building depends not only on how much other people need those same resources, but also on whether they are comfortable with giving me the owner benefit. If I am winning, they may find another way to get the resources they need. If you build a building first turn, you will probably get 3 or 4 units of benefit out of it, but you can't be certain.

c) Using the building yourself isn't as great as it looks. So every spot in the game gives you a default 1 "unit" per activation, as you say. But the game isn't about just plodding along and getting the average pay off. You have to be getting extra payoffs. That comes in the form of using intrigue cards wisely, completing quests that give you a 4pt bonus from your Lord and/or that chain into other quests saving you activations, from making the most of your plot quests, and yes, from using buildings that provide 1.5 units per activation. Getting 1.5 units of benefit out of 1 placement is good, but it's not abnormally good. It's what you have to be doing as often as possible to get ahead in the game. Using your own building for 1.5 units of benefit is a bonus, but is it enough, and can you use it often enough, to make the building worthwhile without the owner benefit? I don't think so. Now, having someone else give you .5 units of benefit for no activations of your own... that can be awesome. Do nothing, collect profit = win.

d) Someone else using the building isn't as great as it looks. So, to contradict what I just said... sure, it looks like you get .5 units of benefit whenever anyone else uses your building. But that person also gets 1.5 units of benefit for an activation. In a 3 player game, if each other player uses your building once, you've gotten +1, and each other player has gotten +.5. You're only ahead of each of them by +.5. To take it to the extreme, if you built the building on turn 1 and it got used 4 times by player 2 and 4 times by player 3, you've gotten +4, player 2 got +2, and player 3 got +2, so you only got 2 units of benefit out of your 2 units put in (1 activation + 4 gold).

e) To combine c & d - it's not really apparent to me whether you should use your own buildings whenever possible (but if you really need those particular resources to complete your quests, then yes, you should), or hope that your opponent does. But we can say, if your opponents activate your building every time, you don't get any more benefit from your turn 1 activation than you would expect from your formula. And if you want to activate it yourself everytime, you're at the mercy of your opponents jumping on it before you can get to it, plus you have to really need a lot of the resources it produces.

f) This all applies for an early (turn 1 or 2) building. A late building on the other hand, pretty much has to pay for itself by allowing you to get the last pieces necessary to complete a big quest. There's no other real way for a turn 7 or 8 build to be worth the money and action you spend on it, unless you're the Lord that gets bonus points from buildings.
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John Sugden
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Sparticuse wrote:
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We're testing here to see if buildings are overpowered... That is why we're assuming 1 player got to build them.

Just making this one assumption sort of invalidates your whole theory. Even if buildings WERE better than every other action on the board, that fact simply means someone else would take init and remove your ability to take buildings on your next turn. at BEST you could trade it back and forth with one other person and then it would balance out by the end of the game (since your theory implies all same actions are equal in the long haul).
I don't follow. How does testing the hypothesis by putting it in play invalidate it?

I said having two buildings early would give you a substantial advantage, especially Yawning Portal and an 8 cost building. I suggested a test of that claim by putting that very advantage in the hands of a player in a simulated game. All we're doing is testing the hypothesis. I don't see how testing a hypothesis invalidates the theory behind it.

If my hypothesis is true, then we'd expect to see behaviors like you describe from players using optimal strategy.

To address two other concerns raised by others:

There was a question about me assuming that other players will use the building every turn. First, as buildings are more efficient at providing resources, players will generally want to use them. I point out that if a building is not being used by other players, you'll want to make use of it yourself (which is harder to do in a 5 player game - but again, it is a fall back position as most buildings tend to get used every turn in games I've played or seen played in video reviews). When you use a building you created, you get the same advantage that someone else would gain from using it in terms of surplus resources - but nobody else gets the surplus resources, making it even better for you. You won't be able to fully utilize 8 turns of most buildings in most games (although the ones that directly provide VPs as an owner benefit are more easily fully utilized), but you can come close if your gameplan involves selecting quests that use the surplus resources you're gaining from buildings.

Others suggest a necessary implication of my suggestions is inserting luck/dice into the game. That is not true. I do consider it ONE valid technique, but if we decide to preserve the lack of dice/luck elements in this D&D based game (which there are good arguments for and against), the uncertainty could be inserted via other mechanics. It could be inserting a second level of decision making into the resource game.

Let's look at Power Grid - Another great game. There is one pure luck element in the game: The deck of Power Plants. However, there is a high level of uncertainty in the game design that limits the 'single optimal strategy' problem. Decisions on which plant to buy influence, but do not control, the resource purchases to fuel those plants, which in turn impacts the decisions in the next round of power plant auctions. A cycle of decisions influencing decisions. A cycle.

There is a substantially (but not entirely) linear progression of resources in LoW. I use a turn to collect resources. Those resources will (primarily) be used to power quests. There is a slight cyclical element where quests provide resources back, but for the most part those are equivalent reource returns. If I perform a quest that requires X 'units' worth of resources, that quest will return a combination of points and resources that is equivalent to the amount I put in. You can use the cost equivalency I put above and look at the quest cards to see the equivalency/cost structure in play. Regardless, the path is clear: Resources turn into points, and once they become points they no longer do anything else in the game except be your score. They have a linear progression with some small loops in the middle of the line. A linear progression.

If we wanted to make a model of a LoW game with more uncertainty that didn't involve increased raw luck, one method would be for completed quests to impact the acquisition cost, availability or quality of adventurers.

An example of how we could impact the quality of resources via the completion of quests: Let's say we take 10 fighters, 10 rogues, 5 clerics and 5 wizards. We write LG on them. They are our lawful good adventurers. We then take the same number of unlabeled cubes and put N on them. They're neutral. Then we label the remaining cubes CE for Chaotic Evil. When you take cubes from the supply, you can take any cube you want. If you complete a quest with all LG cubes, you get bonus points. If there are any CE cubes in your group you get reduced points from the quest. This has obviously not been playtested and is just off the top of my head, but we now have a cyclical element in the quest and resource supply elements. In general, resources degrade in quality as more are taken out of the supply, but they are infused with higher quality replacements as quests are completed. Completing quests increases the efficiency of the available resources. Do you delay solving a quest to gether the right LG cubes? If so, you're hoarding, and that will drive us deeper into the neutral or CE cubes. How long do you hold them before risking that you'll run out of opportunities to solve quests before the end of the game? Do you grab the resource you need right now that has dipped into the neutral cubes - or grab the last LG wizard you do not yet need? Do you go for the Lieutentant quest early and put those higher quality cubes back in the supply, even if you can't complete the lieutenant with all LG cubes?

That is a simple example (and I already see a few flaws in it), however it does not involve more raw luck - the new elements involve decision making. It is less linear (although there is still the linear 'endzone' of turning resources into points).
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John Sugden
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Is 150% substantially better than 100%?

If so, using a building that provides 150% of the resources is substantially better.

Using your own building means you get a surplus while nobody else does - you're better off denying resources to others by using your building whenever it will benefit you.

Not all buildings are created equal. There are advantages to different beuildings that change between games. If all the Warfare Quests are at the top of the deck, the buildings that provide fighters will be in unusually high demand for use, meaning they may get bonus reuses.

Finally, if you choose quests to suit the bonus resources, you can usually put them to full use over the life of a game. It is harder in a 4 or 5 player game where you get fewer agents, but it is still (usually) possible. In a 5 player game last night I played New Olamn (Benefit: RRW, owner benefit R or W) on turn 2. I used it 4 times over the rest of the game (8 rogues, 4 wizards) and someone else used it 4 times (4 wizards). That gave me 8 wizards and 8 rogues. I prioritized quests with wizards, and to an extent rogues. The big ones I played (amongst other quests) were Recover the Magister's Orb (RRRWW), Research Chronomancy (WWGGGG -> W), Prison Break (RRRRWWGG -> FF) and Study the Illusk Arch (CWW). I had a few other rogue using quests (meaning I had to go elsewhere to get additional rogues) and I do not recall where the other wizard went (possibly lost to an intrigue card). It wasn't like I took all of the Wizard Quests that came out, either - but I did prioritize getting the ones using multiples once I had New Olamn out and I had no trouble using all those resources.
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Chris Berger
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jgsugden wrote:
Is 150% substantially better than 100%?

If so, using a building that provides 150% of the resources is substantially better.

Using your own building means you get a surplus while nobody else does - you're better off denying resources to others by using your building whenever it will benefit you.


Are you responding to me? If so, maybe you could quote what you are responding to, since you only addressed half of one point. Most importantly, I dispute your claim that other people using your building gives you half a "unit" for free (in a 3 player game, it basically gives you a 1/4 unit for free), since they get that same half unit. If they always beat you to your building, then you get no more benefit out of a turn 1 building than you would out of a turn 1 Plinth or anything else.

And since a build gives everyone else the chance to use your building first, and you're probably going to build more than one building over the course of the game (most of them will not be on turn 1), you'll never ever be able to monopolize them all, even if you think that doing so would always be an advantage.
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John Sugden
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I was responding generally, but here is how the economics work.

Using the Plinth in round 1 will exchange one agent placement for 1 cleric. There is no continuing benefit.

Let's say I buy Northgate on turn 1 instead. I give up 4 coins and 1 agent placement to do so. What do I get in return - only 1 VP immediately, but the right to collect the 'owner benefit' anytime it is used throughout the rest of the game by another player is the main benefit. The House is now in play.

Someone else is likely to use it that turn. Why? Because it provides more value (1 of any cube + 2 coins) than any of the basic spots out there on the game board. If nobody else uses it, I lose out on that turn's benefit and no other player gains an advantage relative to each other. That provides an argument that their cumulative best tactic is to not use it. However, on an individual basis, each player is better off using the spot. It is unlikely that all other players will pass on using it. So, on that first turn, the most common result is that I will collect the user benefit once. 2 VP.

What is 2 VP worth to me? To figure out how resources and VPs relate, we can look at the game board and quest cards. I standard agent placement on a fresh board can get you any of the following: 2 cards, 1 wizard, 1 cleric, 2 rogues, 2 fighters or 4 gold. These are essentially equal commodities during the game. Not only is this reflected on the board, but we can see it on the quest cards as well. If you turn the above equivalent resources and call each of those 1 unit, you can see a trend in the quest cards: The VPs offered by a quest that don't provide an unusual benefit (Lieutenant, building, etc...) are generally equal to four times (the cost of the quest in the above units less the rewards fo the quest in the units above). This tells me that 4 VPs are worth about as much, during the game, as an agent activation or a wizard. In other words, those 2 VPs are about the same in value as if someone gave me a fighter and allowed me to turn it into VPs at a rate equivalent to what we find when we use a quest card. At the end of round 1, I am likely to have recovered 3/4 of a 'unit' in value for spending 1 action and 4 gold. If we follow the logic that 1 activation can generally get me 1 unit of value, I gave up 2 units and earned back 3/4 of a unit at the end of round 1.

On round 2, I might be the one to use Northgate or someone else might. The same is true of rounds 3 through 8. For the same reason discussed above, it is unlikely it will not be played as it is better than our default options on the board.

Let's say someone else plays it every turn from rounds 2 to 8. That is like getting 3.5 more units in value back. That gives me a total of 4.25 value in units in exchange for giving up 2 units. It doesn't require me to use any agents to get that value, either.

Using the equivalency we identified before, that would translate to 9 VPs. It might even be more if it is used more than once per round through the use of some of the 'pull an agent' or 'use space with opponent' opportunities.

Let's instead say that others do not wish to give me the 'free' value. Instead, they let me use it. They use other options. When I take it, the space offers me 1.5 units in value (2 gold is a half unit and 1 cube of any type used efficiently will be a cleric or wizard worth 1 unit). I can easily use 7 wizards or clerics throughout the game if I get to use this space 7 times. Rather than using the Plinth or some other basic space which provides 1 unit of value for 1 agent placement, I am getting 1.5 units of value for 1 agent placement - the same 0.5 surplus.

In other words, a building like this placed on turn 1 and used every turn for resources that are efficiently gathered and used will have a cost of 2 units (1 action, 4 gold) and a return worth 4.25 units. If the building gets extra uses, your benefit increases (at no extra cost), and if it goes unusued you lose 1/2 unit of the benefit for each round it is unused. You also lose 1/2 unit of benefit if *you* use it to gain a rogue or fighter (but not if someone else does). However, if you're forced to use this to take a fighter or rogue more than once, you're likely not making good decisions on when and how to execute quest completion and collection.

The same analysis applies to 8 cost buildings. Let's say that I get to buy the Tower of Luck on Turn 2 (and it was out on turn 1, but nobody could buy it). I pay 8 gold and 1 agent placement and get an immediate payback of 1/2 unit. I start off 2.5 units in the hole. However, every time it is used, I generate a surplus value of 1 whole unit. There are seven more turns left. That generates a potential value for me of 4.5 units which translates to 18 points. However, every time I take a rogue rather than a cleric as an owner benefit I reduce that surplus by 1/2 unit - and if the building went completely unused for a round for some reason, it would reduce the surplus value by 1 full unit. As long as I focus on quests that require clerics I will likely have no trouble using up the clerics provided to me in a 2 or 3 player game and only a little trouble in a 4 or 5 player game. If I do, I may end up with an extra cleric while will be worth only 1 point at the end of the game, a 3/4 unit loss (during the game 1 cleric should turn into 4 points, so we're only getting 1/4 of that value when we trade it in at the end of the game).

Right now, I keep seeing people describing having too many clerics or wizards as a result of owning some of these buildings. I think that will change as people realize they are likely solving quests too early, and are asking what value they need at the moment, not what they'll need during the rest of the game. By delaying quest resolution to create smoother flows of resources via quest rewards feeding other quest costs, you'll find that in most games (2, 3, 4 or 5 players) we are using up 7 or more clerics and or wizards in a game, especially when you factor in ones that are taken from us with intrigue cards like Arcane Mishap, Lack of Faith, Free Drinks, Summon the Faithful, Research Agreement and Mandatory Quests (which make up over 1/4 of the intrigue deck).

Early buildings are high surplus value moves. If I could trade in my agents every turn for 9 points, I'd win in a landslide (in a 4 or 5 player game where I get 20 moves, a score of 180 would be ridiculous and that is what I'd get at 9 points per agent placement for 4 rounds of 2 agents and 4 rounds of 5 agents).

It isn't that easy as later buildings are not as profitable and we do compete for buildings, but it is a 'strong' play that is almost always available to the first player (as opposed to some of the other strong plays in the early game which are conditional upon drawing the right quest or intrigue card and on people allowing me access to the right resources).

Regardless: The game scoring is pretty straight forward. We start off with X agent activations as resources. We trade those agent uses for resources. Those resources are traded for points. The ways we score more points in the game are: 1.) Add more agents, 2.) Get more resources per agent activation, and 3.) Get more points per resource. Everything that results in a higher score is a factor of one or more of those three activities. 2 and 3 are really the same thing if you define an agent activation as a resource. Buying an early building is a very strong method of turning resources into a high surplus of value.

There are a number of quest cards with the potential to also give you a lot of net scoring opportunities (+2 VP per type plot quests can be, the building creation quests, lieutenant if completed early enough, plot quests that trigger when you take an action providing X resource can be, and Defend the Tower of Luck can also be). Intrigue cards can also cause a shift in points. Mandatory quests cost the victim 1.5 units of resources. Most intrigue cards trade a half unit in the form of a card for a full unit in the form of a unit of cubes at a limited action cost. A few other quests break the 4 VP per unit of resource mold. Using up all cards, gold and cubes at the end of the game is huge. Beyond late game mandatory quests that deny massive number of points, buildings are the biggest point bringers in most games.
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Mikko Karvonen
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You sure are persistent and wordy for someone no-one seems to agree with.

What do you make of the point that there needs to be a clear incentive for building the buildings for the game to function in the first place? No reason to build --> no-one is building --> you play the game with only the basic buildings, making all the moves closer to being equal than they are now.
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James W
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Gargoyle wrote:
You sure are persistent and wordy for someone no-one seems to agree with.

What do you make of the point that there needs to be a clear incentive for building the buildings for the game to function in the first place? No reason to build --> no-one is building --> you play the game with only the basic buildings, making all the moves closer to being equal than they are now.


There are clear incentives to build new buildings though.

First, it is extremely slow to complete Quests without additional sources for adventurers.

Second, if no Buildings are purchased, the options for good assignments is very limited. Wise players will buy Buildings to avoid being forced to take inefficient turns.

Finally, as soon as at least one player starts buying multiple Buildings, every other player needs to be on alert. That player may very well be Larissa, and so, they must prevent that player from purchasing too many buildings.
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John Sugden
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Gargoyle wrote:
You sure are persistent and wordy for someone no-one seems to agree with.
you have NO idea. And I don't worry about how many people are on my side - I worry about what I believe to be true. If anybody provided an argument that made me believe I am incorrect in my assessment that early buildings are substantially stronger than most of the other elements in the game, I'd back away from my position. so far, I still see early buildings as high reward / low risk options that are primarily available based on turn order. That is one of the few weaknesses of the game to me.
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What do you make of the point that there needs to be a clear incentive for building the buildings for the game to function in the first place? No reason to build --> no-one is building --> you play the game with only the basic buildings, making all the moves closer to being equal than they are now.
James hit most of the key points, but I'll add a few things from my perspective.

We want buildings in the game because they are one of the primary variance factors that makes games different.

If we didn't want there to be too much of an incentive to build them, one option would have been to add a building at the end of the round - unowned - if no player built ay that round.

However, I want one of the players during round one to say, "The best thing I think I can do is make a building." I want a player to say that every round for at least the first 4 or 5 rounds. You want players to be thirsty to make their move and feel good about it doing it - but how thirsty do they need to be?

To have that incentive, the benefit of making a building needs to be greater than the benefit of taking any of the other remaining options in the eyes of the player building it. However, that player does NOT need to think, "This is an overwhelmingly good option". Instead, the player can be thinking, "This is a bit better than the rest of the options."

As people accept the math involved and see it more clearly, and see the mid-game tactics that let them take full advantage of owning a building even when it produces a lot of Ws or Cs, they will begin to say more of the former than the later.

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Jeff Jensen
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jgsugden wrote:
Gargoyle wrote:
You sure are persistent and wordy for someone no-one seems to agree with.
you have NO idea. And I don't worry about how many people are on my side - I worry about what I believe to be true. If anybody provided an argument that made me believe I am incorrect in my assessment that early buildings are substantially stronger than most of the other elements in the game, I'd back away from my position. so far, I still see early buildings as high reward / low risk options that are primarily available based on turn order. That is one of the few weaknesses of the game to me.
Quote:
What do you make of the point that there needs to be a clear incentive for building the buildings for the game to function in the first place? No reason to build --> no-one is building --> you play the game with only the basic buildings, making all the moves closer to being equal than they are now.



I have been quite entertained by this thread. We all know buildings are powerful, however that does not make them overpowered. In my last game, I was Larissa and had 7 out of 10 buildings and built early and I also completed a fair number of quests. I expected my score to steamroll the opposition and be very high. I did win but it was by a very small margin. I would have lost if I had completed just 1 less quest.

I am of the opinion others have provided enough argument illustrating math cannot account for how best to win the game or that buildings are overpowered when bought early. Others have stated having few to no buildings and still winning. The game focus is on completing quests for the best VP income. I get a very small benefit compared to what my opponent receives for using my building. My opponent used my House of Good Spirits, she received 1 cleric and 1 fighter and I receive 1 fighter as the owner. According to what I understand by your math, I came out ahead on the transaction. However, my opponent was able to use the cleric and fighter to complete a 20 VP quest. I had no use for the fighter and at the end of the game I only receive 1 VP. The value I get as owner solely depends upon if I have a demand for the item received. In practice, who actually benefited most from using my building? It certainly wasn't me!
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John Sugden
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Once again, I am not saying that early buildings make you bullet proof. I am saying they provide a large advantage that can reasonably be managed into quest points to provide 9 or 18 points. How many games have someone win by 9 points? By 18? Most of the games I've seen had less than a 9 point difference between first and second.

Are there things more important than an early building in determining success? Yes. If you fail to turn a lot of resources (adventurers, gold, or cards) into ponts, you're notgoing to win. If you get nailed with a mandatory quest late in the game it can prevent you from completing one or more quests, possibly costing you 20 or more points (unless you plan your quests to get those done earlier, in which case it might cost you a smaller quest). The Lieutenant coming out on turn 1 (which can happen in a 2 or even 3 player game) can provide a lot more benefit than the buildings as Lieutenants like to hang out at the harbor, and intrigue card use is another way to get a nice surplus value going (so repeated uses of the Lieutenant can really get your value clock flowing). Some of the plot quests that grant you bonuses whenever you collect something can turn into huge point advantages. In a 2 player game the '+2 VP per X type quest' quests can score you a lot of bonus quest points (my wife managed to do all warfare quests in a 2 player game when she was teaching a friend and her +2 VP per warfare quest was her first quest out of the blocks - more than 20 bonus points and 4 bonus VP is breaking even on those quests).

Regardless, each of those situations can be managed through strategy and you have to draw the right card or set things up the right way to establish it. This advantage is something available to the person going first with there being nothing that anyone can do to deny it. That is my biggest concern - it puts the first player in an advantageous seat.
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Mikko Karvonen
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So, your argument is actually closer to certain buildings giving the first player too big advantage? You could have a better case with that than declaring all the building over-powered.

I don't think anyone is actually disagreeing with your basic observation that the buildings give their owners benefit, especially when built during the first 3 rounds or so. That much is obvious. The disagreement is on whether this means that the buildings are over-powered or how significant this advantage actually is. To me, the advantage is crucial for the buildings to be relevant in the current form of the game.

Reading your messages I'm starting to suspect that we simply have different definitions for something to be over-powered. To me, it would mean that buying early buildings would be the only way of doing well in the game. You've said yourself that this is not the case, so it must mean something else to you. All I can say is that until someone starts to consistently win against me by relying heavily on early buildings, I'm not convinced.

For my final argument, consider the following:
1. Would you build The Yawning Portal or any other building for that matter if there would be no owner's benefit?
2. Would you build them if there would no owner's benefit, but you'd get to use the building yourself immediatelly after building it?
3. With the current owner's benefit rules in place, would you build as your first action if the starting three buildings were a selection of the following: any cumulative building (one for each hero type, one for gold, one for VPs), The Stone House (1G for each building built) or Heroes' Garden (complete quests in the inn for extra 4 VPs)?
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Chris Ruf
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Nearly every game could be said to have optimal opening moves. Just because there is one does not make it unbalanced or over powered, because long term everyone gates to make that move.

You need to define how big an edge overpowered is. The lower the percentage, the more varience. And varience is not always a bad thing because it helps generate some needed defense against more skilled opponents. Even with the optimal opening building like Y Portal, how big of an edge do you really get? Is it enough to overcome varience in less than 100 games? 1000? 10000? Your edge could be smaller if the opening buildings are weak.

I hope you, the OP, don't waste too much time telling your game group about how buildings are key. While some mathy types like me might find it interesting, it is ultimately pointless in the enjoyment of the game unless the strategy is dominant over all others. And anecdotal evidence from several plays by others indicate that the strategy is not. So sit back and just have fun, and don't over analyze.
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Anthony Gambatese
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WOW ... um I decided to visit this link because I was curious about the discussion topic ... I got more then I bargained for !!
To break a game down mathmatically like that seems a border line anal rentitive ... do you also calculate how many sheets of toliet paper you are going to use based on what you had to eat earlier that day ?? :

Seriously though I am just kidding. But I do agree that, as with most games your strategy has to change depending on what phase of the game you are in ... early, middle, or late.

Early on buildings are powerful but as mentioned by another bgg'r if they were not then no one would waste the resources or the limited knights to build them. And although I agree that they become less usefull in the late game I give this example ...

Last round of the game ... many of the good building spots have been filled, I have no quests to solve, no cubes, only two gold, and three meeples left ... I picked up a quest and two gold with one meeple, (which required two 4 gold, two wizards and a cleric to solve), with my second me I purchased a building for three gold that gives me one cleric and one wizard , and placed my third meeple on that building which (because I had a plot card that gives me one extra wizard every time a do an action that gives me a wizard) I received one cleric, and two wizards , ... enough to solve the quest worth 8 VP (and 4 more because of my leader ability) ...... enought to pull out in front and win the game!!
So while every game is different (and thats my point) you never know when those building purchases will come in handy!!

I think the game is very well balanced ... with 6 plays under my belt, my group has tried many different stratagies to win and they have all paid off.

Bottom line ... dont over-analyze ... it doesnt always come down to simple mathmatics as you put it! And this is coming from me, someone who teaches advanced mathmatics to electricians for a living!!
JUST HAVE FUN >>> :whistle:

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Chris Berger
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jgsugden wrote:
I was responding generally, but here is how the economics work.

Using the Plinth in round 1 will exchange one agent placement for 1 cleric. There is no continuing benefit.


Maybe I missed it in your giant wall of text, but you still haven't addressed the part where your math is blatantly wrong. If you never get to use your own building (an extreme case), and it gets used exactly 8 times, you do not get 4 units of benefit. You're counting the benefit you get yourself, but you are failing to take into account the benefit you give other players. In a 3 player game, where each other player uses your building 4 times and you never use it, you get 4 units of benefit compared to 2 extra units for each other player, for a net 2 units of benefit in exchange for one activation and 1 unit worth of gold. So 1 activation for 1 unit. The exact same as using any printed location on the board, except that it takes you until the end of the game to realize that benefit instead of immediately.

That means you only break even on a turn 1 building in a 3p game. Barely. The rest of your math is garbage because you don't take this into account.

In order to do better than break even on a building, you have to use it yourself. The more you use it, the more benefit you get, but you have to need the resources it produces in great quantity or it doesn't help that much.

If I go first and am the lord that requires Piety and Skullduggery quests, and the only 4 cost building available is one which produces Wizards, then it's not at all clear that I can count on more than 2 units of benefit over the course of the game from building that building.

The math changes a little for a 4 or 5 player game, but it's still not "you gain .5 benefit every time the building is activated, no matter who does it."
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Mike Stevens
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I only have 2 games under my belt. A 3-player and a 5-player. I drew the Lady Lord Narissa that gives you 6vp at the end of the game for each building you have. In the first gme I also started with an Arcana Plot Quest that once completed gives me 2 additional vp for each Arcana Quest I complete. Even though I didnt really know what I was doing in that first game, I concentrated on Buildings, Arcana Quests, and other Quests that gave big vp rewards and gave Adventurers that I needed as part of the Quest Reward. Even though I got 5 buildings and 30 points from my Lord bonus at the end of the first game, I only won by 7 points. In Rounds 7 and 8 I knew I wouldnt be able to complete anymore of my Quests so I just started snatching vp anywhere I could get them. Sort of like buying Duchy's or even Estates in a close game of Dominion toward the end.

In the 5-player game I also drew Narissa but never got a Quest Plot card. I bought buildings early and often and ended up with 6 of them at the end of the game. I won that game by 5 points I think. I also tried to stockpile as many Adventurers in my Tavern toward the end game and that gave me an additional 10 vp. In Rounds 6, 7, and 8 I did try to snatch vp anywhere or way I could get it.

I dont think that the buildings are overpowered in the game even though they certainly helped me in my first two games. Your math and theory on the value of each action, purchase, and placement was interesting but gave me a headache. I think if you pay attention to what you need and what your opponents need to complete Quests and what is available on the board at the time, you will do just as well in the game as doing all of those math calcualtions. In the second game there was a 20 point Quest card available that the player to my left had enough Adventurers and Gold in his Tavern to complete. At that time I had nothing in my Tavern as I had just turned in an expensive Quest. Knowing that he would probably take that Quest on his next turn, I went to the space that allows me to Reset the Quest cards and then pick one. While that turn gained me nothing in your math calculations it stopped him from being able to complete a 20 point quest. As it turned out, he was the guy that finshed in 2nd place 5 points behind me.
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John Sugden
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There has been a good point made regarding the extra benefit derived by others using your buildings.

Let's say I put a 4 cost building into play on turn 1 that is NOT one of those progressive buildings. I immediately get 1 VP. I give up 1 agent placement and 4 gold. At that point, I'm down 7 VPs effectively, but I get back 2 VPs every time the building is used. If it is used 8 times, I go bac to +9 VPs.

However, every time the building is used by another player, 0.5 value is collected by that player. If one player used it every turn, the player would spend 8 agent placements and gain 48 VPs of resources, which is 16 surplus VPs over basic expectations. At first blush, the other player with 16 surplus VP is much better off than you with your 9 bonus VPs.

What has not been factored in here is the number of agent placements used to generate surplus value. The person using the building used 1. The other player used 8. What does the person that built the building do with their other 7 agent placements? That gives them 7 opportunities to do things like use buildings, make more surplus value buildings, use the intrigue spaces, etc... If we assume that the player doesn't do anything to generate surplus value with those 7 placements, then the guy using the buildings comes out way ahead of the owner. Of course, anyone that does nothing to generate surplus value is going to lose pretty much every game. The player using the building gets a 2 VP benefit per use - you get 9 per activation for 1 activation. Your average is starting out much higher.

Further, In a 2 player game we get 36 agent placements. In a 3 player game 28. In a 4 or 5 player game 20. The player using that building 8 times is devoting somewhere between 22% and 40% of their activiations to use that building, providing limited diversity in their actions - and in most cases you need to have some diversity in your resources gained through your agent placements directly (as opposed to 'free' resources from owner benefits which come without the expense of additional agent placements, leaving more opportunities for diversity in resources through additional agent placements.

There is also the times when you use the building you own, meaning that there is no excess benefit going to any other player that round.

The thing I like about this whole discussion is what it pointed out to me about using your own buildings:

If I buy a 4 cost / 6 VP benefit / 2 VP owner benefit building on turn 1 and I never use it (but it is used 8 times), I get 9 VP of surplus benefit. 1 agent placement, 9 VPs. The other players spend 8 activations for 16 bonus VPs for an average of 2 VPs per agent placement.

If I buy is and use it 8 times, I get 17 VPs benefit and spend 9 agent placements - meaning I average 1.9 VPs per agent placement.

In other words, you are reducing you advantage per activation by using your buildings. Nifty. Of course, this does not mean that using your own building may not be the best move at certain times - it just - in some ways - undercuts the efficiency of you purchase.
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Bob Flaherty
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Without buildings and their owner rewards this game would blow.
I have tried to follow the OP's math and as many people have stated, I think it is flawed. It has been said in other places, LoW is not a heavy game. If this type of analysis is important to you and you need it in a game, LoW is likely not the game for you. If you need some complex non-linear economy, LoW is likely not for you. This is a lite worker placement game that is loads of fun. If that is what you are looking for, just play the game. Or not.
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Adam Kazimierczak
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I understand the need to analyze, but unlike Agricola LoW has an extra variable that confounds point counting: DIRECT CONFLICT! Well, maybe not 4X level of conflict but there is enough screwage to defeat math most of the time. I see the uber-building early advantage playing out thusly:

Player 1: Score! I got (insert unbalanced building) on turn 1! You're all toast!

Players 2-4: Hmmm...I guess now I know who to play my mandatory quests on...

Player 3: Stop Player 1! He might be getting +6 extra VP per building from his Lord!

(Take That carnage ensues leaving Player 1 screwed for the rest of the game.soblue)

Player 3 (in his head): Now I can start gobbling up buildings unopposed and getting +6 VP for each! Muwahahahahaha! devil
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jgsugden wrote:
If I buy a 4 cost / 6 VP benefit / 2 VP owner benefit building on turn 1 and I never use it (but it is used 8 times), I get 9 VP of surplus benefit. 1 agent placement, 9 VPs. The other players spend 8 activations for 16 bonus VPs for an average of 2 VPs per agent placement.

If I buy is and use it 8 times, I get 17 VPs benefit and spend 9 agent placements - meaning I average 1.9 VPs per agent placement.

In other words, you are reducing you advantage per activation by using your buildings. Nifty. Of course, this does not mean that using your own building may not be the best move at certain times - it just - in some ways - undercuts the efficiency of you purchase.

I hadn't planned to post again here, but I can't resist. What if it isn't used 8 times? Other people are playing to win, not to lend support to your theory.
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