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Subject: Serious problem - running into loops rss

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Lines J. Hutter
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Munich
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We played three 2-player games yesterday and - unfortunately - ran into problems:

Around the middle of the game(s) we ran into loops where player 1 does his actions and player 2 just reverses the situation with his actions.


Example 1:
We had the Infiltrator next to the Temptress in one Faction, both showing in different directions. The most rewarding move for my opponent was to use the Temptress twice to get complete arrows showing in his direction.
In my move I figured the best I could do was to use the Infiltrator (next to the Temptress) twice to use the Temptress´ command and turn the arrows back, facing me and giving me the points.
We kept going because for some time no one wanted to do a costy move to break this circle.
At one point I was so annoyed I played a Gunner and killed the Temptress. Not only did I give my opponent 3 IP, since playing the Gunner took one action I wasn´t able to reverse the initial situation back to my favour.
Next thing my opponent did was to extract the dead Temptress to his hand and place her back in the place where she was before...

Example 2:
My opponent had a lucrative Mission on one of his Facions. I played The Strategist, removed his Mission and re-placed it at the same Faction to get the IP myself. My opponent bought the Srategist from the discard, played it, removed the Mission and re-placed it again, got the IP, and so on.
We did the math and figured how many turns this would go on and who´d be the winner. Not very exciting...
So it´s the predicted loser´s job to break the circle, but we both had a feeling that creating and breaking loops is not a fun game element at all and hopefully not intended.

We realized that there are of course strategies to break an existing loop, but usually the player doing it would lose too many IP (or leave too many to his opponent).

We both like the concept of the game (at the moment I´m still backing...) but stopped playing halfway through the third game because the loops were pretty annoying and not interesting at all.

We also had the feeling that the Infiltrator is way too powerful.
Not only can he be placed anywhere, even inside a Faction. He can also "copy" commands facing your opponent.

Personally I´d love to see more Faction agents and less Free agents. The Factions are where the exciting gameplay takes place. The Free agents are very usefull, but more "one-shot" cards.

Saar, what do you think?

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Tucker Took
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Example 1: I agree with you that in a two player game there can come points where your best move is to undo what your opponent just did. But in those situations you are correct it becomes the losing players job to break the cycle, and this should be done the moment that situation comes up. Like you said you played the gunner to kill the temptress, good call, that was one of your two actions to end the cycle you could then also use a second of the two to reactivate the gunner and kill of some of those points or what ever. But in that situation you ended the cycle and still had an action left to you. Where your opponent who extracted and replaced the temptress wasted both of his actions to do so. In that situation once gunner hit the table every turn you would be able to kill the temptress and have a free action to do other things. Or you could even use the temptress first to get the points facing you then kill her. You opponent on the other hand had to use both each turn to keep her alive, a very loosing situation for him.

Example 2: You spent one action on the Strategist to remove the troublesome mission. He was forced to pay 2 of the 5 you game him to remove it, and waist both of his actions to get it back. Giving you 5 points, and again wasting both action of your opponents turn. I have played nearly a hundred games at this point and almost every time it comes down to the final turns. By playing the Strategist and using your other action to help secure an unrelated plot for yourself, you give yourself 5 points in addition to what ever else you were scoring, and set your opponent back a full turn. Every time this situation has come up in a game that meant almost certain defeat for the player set back.

At the moment i do agree missions can be a bit overpowered and tricky to work with. Some at this point are just to hard to break up where others you sneeze and they fall apart. This isnt a design flaw by any means and for the most part i have found all the missions seem to balance out somewhat ok, though there are some we fight over and some we skip. But the good news is that the expansions should help with this tremendously and even the base Kickstarter exclusive set should help to even the odds if you are playing strictly two player.At the 3 and 4 player levels situation like the two you described rarely come up as you are not the only person interested in taking those power structures down.

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Lines J. Hutter
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Tucker, thanks for you answer.

As mentioned in my OP I'm aware that there are ways to break up the loop.
But they can be very expensive.

I mean, I was lucky I had the gunner (althoug in the end it didn't change the situation). But what if I hadn't any useful card?
I'd have to spend my actions and IP to draw agents until I find a useful one while my opponent gets his points (because I didn't reverse the situation) plus he can use his actions for other stuff.

I was highly motivated to play the game and was looking forward to our session yesterday. And running in such situations twice in the first few games was very frustrating and disapointing.

Again, I really like the concept but I don't think a game should let players run in such situations. In my opinion my actions should be about moving forward and improve my situation instead of tryinng to break out of a loop. Especially if breaking the loop would be costy and give advantage to my opponent while staying in the loop would give me the most IP I could get in this turn.
 
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Luke Butler
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Lines42 wrote:

Example 2:
My opponent had a lucrative Mission on one of his Facions. I played The Strategist, removed his Mission and re-placed it at the same Faction to get the IP myself. My opponent bought the Srategist from the discard, played it, removed the Mission and re-placed it again, got the IP, and so on.
We did the math and figured how many turns this would go on and who´d be the winner. Not very exciting...
So it´s the predicted loser´s job to break the circle, but we both had a feeling that creating and breaking loops is not a fun game element at all and hopefully not intended.


I don't see these scenarios as an issue personally. You knew before making that move that he would seek to get the mission back, and you gave him the chance to do just that by leaving The Strategist in the retirement pile. You could have played The Strategist, stolen the mission, played the mission, then immediately bought The Strategist back yourself. In another scenario, you could have played The Strategist, stolen the mission, played the mission, then played another free agent from your hand (if you had one), covering The Strategist. There are multiple ways to deal with these things and that's what makes the game great.

Another thing I like about this game is that it promotes "counter-play". You are working towards you're 40 points, but you have to be aware of what your opponent is trying to do the entire time, and be prepared to throw a quick wrench into his plans, or lose. You can use try and plan out your moves 2-3 turns ahead but the game can change so fast and so drastically that it's not much use.
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J P
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+1 and a thumb for Nicodemus! Them's good nostalgia!
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Saar Shai
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Hi Lines,

Thanks for picking up on this phenomena. Indeed, sometimes (rarely, I've found) there are situations in which players are caught in a loop where one simply reverses the other one's moves. I'm trying to find a work around.

As for example #1 - I see you've eventually broken free from the loop, but I guess not to your satisfaction. Did you feel obligated to break the loop, which was the reason for your downfall.

As for example #2 - yeah, that happens sometimes with the Strategist. Like I said, I'm looking for a solution.

As for the Infiltrator - The thing is that while the infiltrator copies commands from adjacent agents, you can position it inside a faction so that it gives you a completed token. So while it is powerful, it is balanced against itself. But I'll definitely look into what you've mentioned.

As for Free Agents - we're trying to keep a good balance between Faction and Free Agents. Free Agents are essential for an interesting gameplay, but especially for 3 or more players, because they have some social factor to them, so we wouldn't want to give them up, but of course not have too many of those compared to Faction Agents.

I appreciate you sticking with us and I hope to solve all (or at least most) of the remaining issues with the game.

Let me know if there are any other matters. Also, I'd love to get your feedback on a 3 or more players game.
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Nushura
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Hei there,

After thinking a bit in the game I thought on the following "anti-loop" rule: how about forbidding changing a card just placed? That is: any time you play an agent or mission into a faction, or change the facing of an agent in a faction, place a deployment token on that card. A card with a deployment card cannot be stolen, or reversed (but it can be killed).

At the beginning of your turn, remove any deployment tokens that you previously placed.

 
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Lines J. Hutter
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Saar and all the others, thanks for your replies!

I read your solutions for the loops and am a bit embarressed we didn´t find them ourselves. And we both are experienced gamers. On the other hand it just didn´t feel good/right.

Maybe it was bad luck in the first games, maybe it is basically a 2-player phenomenon, maybe I had different expectations.

I´ll try this some more as soon as I found a new opponent.
I´m playing 2-players for 80% of my time so I don´t know if I manage to get a 3+ group together soon.

I hope Saar finds an elegant "solution" for this, I´m still not a fan of spending my turn and IPs on breaking loops... but that´s personal taste.

About Free agents. I didn´t mean to remove them. I just think that the Faction agents are the more interesting ones and wished the balance would be shifted a notch more into that direction. But that´s just a sidenote and not really important.

@ Nushura: Yes, I thought of something like this, too. This is the easiest solution but I don´t think it´s an elegant one. The game deserves better ;-)

@ JP: Yeah, nostalgia *dreaming*. Same for your avatar. Man I watched this movies a million times.
 
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Nushura
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Lines42 wrote:

@ Nushura: Yes, I thought of something like this, too. This is the easiest solution but I don´t think it´s an elegant one. The game deserves better ;-)


Note to be an a**, but do you find chess or go non-elegant games? I say so because both games have the potential game of running into loops, and in both games they added a rule that says "you cannot return a board to a player exactly as it was 2/4 moves ago".

The equivalent of that rule was adding the tokens, since this is not a 2-player game
 
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Lines J. Hutter
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Of course these games are good. They are classics. But they are also very old. So is the rule of resolving loops simply by not allowing to reverse a move the opponent just did.
Games and mechanics changed during the last decades. Such a ruling today would be rather old fashioned than what I call a nice and elegant sulotion.

Of course this solution popped up in my head immediately when I stumbled over this issue. But I think a great and modern game design like The Agents should avoiy it in a more modern way.

 
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Lines J. Hutter
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TheAgents wrote:
Indeed, sometimes there are situations in which players are caught in a loop where one simply reverses the other one's moves. I'm trying to find a work around.

Let me know if there are any other matters. Also, I'd love to get your feedback on a 3 or more players game.


Saar, any news on this?
Unfortunately this will decide If I'll back the full game or not.
I'm mostly playing 2 player and I really want to like this game!
So I hope to hear any news on your workaround.
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Saar Shai
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Hi Lines - The only way I could eliminate this loop is by foregoing the abilities to buy a card back from retirement. This slightly simplifies the rules and solves this issue, even if at the price of reducing the strategy level associated with it. In order to avoid other types of loops, where one player simply reverses the steps made by the other player, I'm actually recalling a period when we played with this rule:
"once a player has more than 30 points, that player can only perform 1 action on their turn". This actually broke any loops because there was no way to reverse a 2 actions turn with 1 action. I'm not sure I want to re-introduce this rule, but it's a thought.

So any way, I can't say that I have an elegant solution yet, but I'm definitely working on it. I also don't want to have such loops in the game. I'm sure I can figure something out, but it's up to you if you want to wait for it.
 
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Lines J. Hutter
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Saar, thanks for your answer and you effort!
It's great to hear you're working on it. Please keep me / us updated!

Of course I will wait. Still 16 days to go :-)
 
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