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Spartacus: A Game of Blood & Treachery» Forums » General

Subject: Intrigue: Not intriguing rss

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Andy Day

League City
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Greetings,

I find Spartacus to be an enjoyable game, though there are a few nagging elements that keep it off of my favored game list. The most significant issue I have with the game is one of it's core elements: the Intrigue Phase.

In short, I find there to be very little intrigue in the intrigue phase. In the early game, if a player offers a few gold to help him play some mystery plot card, most gold-starved players accept without question. This isn't intriguing. It's doubly stupid because those who accept the bribe do so knowing full well that the person offering the money will make more money than they did, or get some other huge boon.

Mid game, the offers change to "if you help me, we can scr3w player XYZ." This offer seems to get accepted with almost no bribe attached.

End game, offers vanish because folks generally have enough influence to play the cards they want to play.

Long story short: this isn't 'intrigue.' 90% of the time players don't know what they're doing when they help an opponent with a card, the only criteria they care about is that they will profit or an opponent will suffer. I'm not saying that they are making the wrong choice or even a bad choice (though they often are). Ignorance is bliss... and reduces the whole intrigue economy to a rather silly, perfunctory level.

Disclaimer: I imagine this has to do with my group's metagame. I'm wondering if others have this problem. I'd appreciate it if you'd not comment on how my group should change the way it plays. This won't happen, so any such commentary is useless negativity. Constructive comments are good though! What I'm really wondering is if anybody really finds this part of the game to be nail-biting and exciting (aside from the last round when you go for the win, that is). Do you find there to be a good sense of betrayal and shadow-war that is fought in the show?

Perhaps more succinctly: would the game still be viable/fun if the intrigue phase was simply removed, and each player was given some amount of gold instead?
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Luke Heineman
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Hmmm,

I haven't had these problems, really. It sounds like your group is very focused on the gold aspect for soliciting help. I've found that gold is only one avenue to gain someone's assistance. Weapons, slaves, guards, etc, anything is fair game in negotiations. This is what I find truly interesting in the intrigue phase. I know you don't want to have negative commentary about your group, but I can see why you don't find a lot of interest in this phase if everyone playing just wants gold: especially in the beginning since there isn't much of it to be had.

Also, although someone doesn't have to reveal what scheme they are playing, people can demand to know what it is before helping. It doesn't mean the first player has to tell the truth, either. This inevitably turns into "show me the card", and someone showing one card and playing another.

I DO think the intrigue phase represents the show very well. I love the "take that" part of the game.
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Mordante Mordante
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I personally feel that showing the card shouldn't be allowed and stated in the rulebook or Make it a house and see if that changes things.

I'm a role player by intrest and I think that this background makes the game far. Better as its about interaction with te players and doing so making great stories which would put those of legend pale into shadow.
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Team Ski
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Dover
Delaware
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Wayne bridge wrote:
I personally feel that showing the card shouldn't be allowed and stated in the rulebook or Make it a house and see if that changes things.

I'm a role player by intrest and I think that this background makes the game far. Better as its about interaction with te players and doing so making great stories which would put those of legend pale into shadow.


I would agree with showing the card. I will be playing the game for the first time tomorrow now that I painted my figures. I would think that if you didn't show the card and a schemer lies, that would add to the intrigue.....once bitten twice shy.

I also agree that group symmetry will impact a game like this big time. I am hoping that my group, which is very prone to trash talk, will love the game and the backstabbing aspects to it. I am really excited to give it a try. Especially with the fact that I got the game for $2 at my local gaming shop dump sale.....

-Ski
 
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Luke Heineman
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There's nothing in the rulebook that says you have to tell what scheme you are playing (or that you can't show what scheme you are playing). Fair game to lie about it. It's in the spirit of the theme, IMO.
 
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Kevin 'Rocky' Robertson
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"I will play this *shows card* if you give me 2 gold, you will make 3 gold yourself"

Player hands over 2 gold

First player then plays another card that increases his influence

"Oops sorry, have a gold back"

All part of the game, but yes a lot of people forget that slaves and such can be traded so it can become a gold rush.
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Patrick Dettmar
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Ontario
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That sounds like a problem with the players, not the game. Be more creative with your deal making
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Mordante Mordante
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dettmarp wrote:
That sounds like a problem with the players, not the game. Be more creative with your deal making



Bingo..hit that nail on the head (holy mixed metaphors)
 
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Nushura
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I have to agree a bit with the previous posters that "the problem is with your group". Let me give a few ideas.

That is, indeed getting help is quite easy early in-game, and many players will be willing to aid in the beginning for 1 gold. Now can you even haggle it further down? how about "I help you and this card won't affect you/I will help you next time/I won't bid for one item you want in the market phase". Also, asking for help for a gold gaining card, and then reducing their influence is always a nice move.

Also, in the end you should be more aggressive. "Help me or I will injure your gladiator/cancel your scheme/kill your gladiator if he ever loses a match/..."

Now back to your group....try using these ideas next game. Surely your team will see the benefit and start using them
 
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Nathaniel GOUSSET
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[q="manfromtherock"]"I will play this *shows card* if you give me 2 gold, you will make 3 gold yourself"

Player hands over 2 gold

First player then plays another card that increases his influence

"Oops sorry, have a gold back"

All part of the game, but yes a lot of people forget that slaves and such can be traded so it can become a gold rush.[/q]

Except thoses trades can only be made in the following market phase, wich add a second layer of uncertainty and definitely doesnt incitate to trade.

Better a gold in the hand than 2 slaves in the bush.
 
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Bartosz DÄ…bek
Poland
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If somebody want's to help another player for 1 gold I often make an offer to helper "I give you 1 gold - for not helping him"

In early game standard value for support is 2 gold.
If I have to pay for support I always pay my gold for weakest player.
 
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Syn Egg
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I'm mostly in agreement with the opening post. My group has the most excitement during:

1) the arena, when blood flies and stuff dies

2) the market auction, with the anticipation of what cards will come up and the blind bidding war

The intrigue phase fits perfectly in terms of theme but it only gets exciting during the end game when everyone is calculating when they feel brave enough to make a burst for victory.

It's main function is for everyone to hate on the leading player and bring the game back into balance.

My group's mentality is very similar to the first poster in that the intrigue phase is all about earning gold. If player A uses a scheme on player B, potentially both A and B are weakened (intrigue cards are a source of revenue and keeping them in your hand is often more scary than actually playing them). On the other hand player C, D, E, etc now gain an advantage over A and B without doing anything. That is the philosophy behind why my group is generally passive/selfish.

That said the intrigue phase definitely has its moments, it is always hilarious when someone fails all their guard rolls to an innocent tax collector or a player holds a grudge from the previous turn and blows their entire load to bring someone down.
 
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