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Byzantium» Forums » General

Subject: A feature, not a flaw rss

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Eric Poolman
United States
Portland
Oregon
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I want to suggest that the ability to end the two-player game suddenly is actually an attractive feature of the game, rather than a flaw to address with house rules.

The victory conditions in the three- and four-player games are effectively as follows:

1) Have the most points once all players have run out of resources in era three (which is the only reason for everyone to pass in the many-player game.)
2) Have the most Arab points if Constantinope falls.

The two-player game affectively adds a third:

3) Have a lead of more than one (two) turn in the third (second) era.

I think the extra victory condition adds tension to the game. Consider that the only way for the game to end according to victory condition #1 during a two-player game is if at no time during the entire third era did a player have a decisive lead. That is, only during an amazingly close game. Blow-outs end early.

It reminds me of two other games. Liberté, not surprisingly -- it's similar to the alternate victory conditions there, which I also enjoy: you have to balance gaining points with hedging off the instant Loyalist victory condition with hedging off the Radical Landslide. The choices are tough in Byzantium two-player because you have multiple things to worry about: how to set up for more points later while not falling too far behind in the moment, and without leaving yourself vulnerable to the sacking of Constantinople.

It also reminds me of Go, and maintaining "sente". You want to maintain the initiative, to keep your opponent's options limited by forcing them to attend to very particular goals that you impose (in Byzantium, keeping exact pace with your score.) So some tactical aspect of the game is never giving your opponent the breathing room to turn the tables on you. Which makes Byzantium a different game than we might expect in the two-player version: it's not just about choosing a strategy that will pay off by game end, but tailoring it to keep your opponent off-balance throughout.

I think the biggest difficulty with the extra victory condition is that not everyone expects it -- we don't expect that big a functional change between two- and three-player games. I think if both players appreciate the condition going into the game, it actually improves the game. You just need to know ahead of time that you can't have a grand strategy for the third era that does not account for the alternate victory condition (any more than you can ignore the potential for Constantinople to fall.)
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Jared Boyce
United States
Unspecified
California
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Hi Eric!

I think that I can summarize your position as follows (and let me know if I'm wrong):

1) The two-player version of the game effectively has a new victory condition.
2) This, in effect, makes it in some way a significantly different kind of game.
3) This new kind of game is worth playing on its own merits.
4) Therefore, the two-player game is in no need of "fixing".

My position (which may be the position of other people who have voiced similar opinions) is currently (and may change with more experience with the game):

1) The two-player version of the game effectively has a new victory condition.
2) This, in effect, makes it in some way a significantly different kind of game.
3) This new kind of game is significantly less enjoyable and interesting to me than the three- and four-player versions of the game.
4) Therefore, the two-player game is in need of some kind of "fixing" to maintian its playability on a two-player level.

I can definitely understand why someone would like the two-player version of the game as it stands, and I think that you present that side of things quite well. For myself, while I can see why people would like that kind of game, it isn't really my cup of tea.

Best,
-Jared-
 
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Alex Sorbello
United States
Albuquerque
New Mexico
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It's usually easy in round 1 to prevent the fall of constaniople since the bulgars need 2 moves minimum to attack (only 2 actions in a turn) and when the leader picks the first you can pick the second for another attack to score points. (especially in a 2 Player game)
In round 2 and 3 it's a slighty different story but remember that levies can still defend Constantinople, as can a field army but less usefull... Also constantinople does 2 hits for every 4,5,6 thrown and throw 5 dice resulting in possible 10 hits, should be 5 (50% chance), this does make it possible for a small levy (plus city) to hold off the bulgars.
With a 50% chance of rolling hits (4,5,6 on the die) the bulgars should not be able to take over the city (5 dice, 50%, 2 hits equals into 5 hits) the bulgars can only attack with a max of 10 so 5 hits is 5 bulgars remaining vs 5 city for constaninople is a win for the defender. so a small levy should turn the odds in your favor... remember you can always use the second action for the bulgars to prevent a second shot...
 
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