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Subject: not digging the big map or the way the game ends :( rss

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Justin
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as discussed before, i like the "score as you go variant"

- it gives you an immediate sense of the players' positions
- it doesn't cause an early lead to run away as much because of double scoring (if you have 12 points worth of land in the first half, you get those same 12 points again in the second half)
- it eliminates one of the two painful/annoying "let's see how many rounds we can go without taking the last animal card" situations

i've played this a couple times now, once with 5 and no variants, and once with 3 and variant #2 (score as you go). both on the asymettrical board.

in the 5-player game the board was congested, and more prone to "natural blocking" (not particularly targetted blocking, just a good move that happened to block). with 3, as with many other multiplayer games, one can be disinclined to attack somebody because they may not be a clear leader and it could let the non-conflicting player quietly solitaire away a victory.

to compare to what must have been an inspirational game, through the desert, this game offers less advancement opportunities to somebody while blocking. in TTD you are still extending a caravan if you move to block, you can still score points just as easily, etc. in hacienda, it's a key point that blocks of land don't score until they become a group of three. that means that i have much less incentive to spend money (from cards) and turn actions to block somebody from getting to three when it's not going to net me any points. the only time this seems remotely practical is when you go for a singleton land piece and then animal out to a market from it. it certainly doesn't help things that you REALLY want long chains of land in the game if possible too (for maximizing hacienda points, market cash, and harvest cash).

i haven't played a 2-player game, but the map is gigantic. i'm not hot on the concept because it seems like you could easily end up not running into each other or turn the game into nonstop back-and-forth conflict with little personal advancement. from actual play 3 doesn't seem to be a good number for creating natural congestion either. i would hate to think that the game needs 4 or 5 to open up.

maybe what i'd be hoping for here would simply be a TTD-style "map reduction" based on the number of players. a custom map could work too, but i like playing with officially printed/mounted stuff, and i suppose i'd want to calculate the card distribution per type to ensure the land situation is equal to the standard game.

it's particularly painful to have to deal with the situation at the end game where nobody wants to draw the last card. in my last game i was in first place, the guy to my left was a fairly close second, and the last player was in last place. if i took the animal card with one of my actions, it would give the guy to my left the opportunity to outscore me. if he took it, he would lose, so he wanted to advance on points. ditto the third guy. so we sat there for a while at the end harvesting, buying water, etc while 1 card remained in the deck.

i'd love new official maps, but i don't think that's going to happen. reducing the land requirement so that each piece would score (instead of groups 3 or larger) would seem to encourage blocking more, anybody think that would work? what about putting a card in the deck union pacific style (randomly shuffled into the last N cards) to determine when the game ends, and end it at the end of that player's turn? the players could get cards or cash bumps at the beginning of the game to offset first player advantages if that became a factor.

i love the production of the game - the look, the double-sidedness of everything, etc. i want to like the game, but it's making it hard for me.
 
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Chad Winter
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I'm pretty sure that the end game is what ruined it for me as well. The first round through the animal cards gave us an intense race for land and it seemed there were as many choices to make as we could have hoped for. The second round through the cards on the other hand was just plain boring. Choice was limited and became nearly non-existent at the end of that second round. It seemed we were simply waiting for the game to end, scoring points wherever we could.
 
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Dave Kudzma
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There's a very nice map editor that the Westpark gamers have on their site.

www.westpark-gamers.de/

There's some new maps here on the geek too...
 
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Justin
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here's what i'm thinking for an all-in-one variant:

- score as you go (standard variant #2). reasons cited above. i also forgot to note another effect, which is that you can always count down the board to see if the scores are correct. another plus for it.

- you get 2 points per land tile, period. they don't need to be in blocks of three. i think this will promote a lot more conflict and blocking. frequently you'll have a land mass, some adjacent piece or two of land for which you don't have a card, and then a land card for "after the gap". meaning it's like MFS (mountain, forest, swamp) and you have a swamp card. ordinarily, you would be inclined to seek out the mountain and the forest to extend your group. with this variant, i know i would be inclined to drop the swamp in on somebody to block their expansion if i could actually get a couple points in the process.

- seed a card randomly in the bottom 3rd of the animal deck to trigger end-of-game scoring at the end of that player's turn (no "finishing the round"). this will add tensionand often reduce the length of the game, which i think would be fine.

- in a 3-player game, the first player only gets 2 actions on their first turn. in a 4-player game, the first 2 players only get 2 actions on their first turn. in a 5-player game, the first 2 players only get 2 actions on their first turn, and the 5th player is given an extra land card. this is to offset turn advantage.
 
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Justin
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Quote:
In regards to "blocking".. you technically don't score points.. but a well placed block will prevent an opponent from scoring.. which in my opinion.. is scoring.


in a 2 player game, that is always true. in a 3+ player game, that is not necessarily true. if the game is fairly advanced and there are players that are decidedly in 1st and 2nd place, it is an easy decision for either of those players to block points from each other. if the scores are tighter, it is an expensive and risky proposition to spend actions and resources to block somebody, even if there are ancillary positional benefits. if points were offered for every piece of land, i think it would become a more worthwhile endeavor.

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Players should have done more to prevent the winner from adding to his/her lead after the interim scoring round.


ok, so let's suppose that player 1 looks like he's leading and 3 players roughly equal behind him. player 2 spends a turn and some cards blocking player 1. players 3 and 4 can now advance their position closer toward the 1st place player, leaving player 2 in last place. thanks, player 2! the effort can be jointly negotiated, but i play games to have fun, and this is not the kind of game where diplomacy is fun for me.

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You know in advance that the game will end when the last animal card is removed from the face-down supply.. so plan accordingly to maximize the potential of the situation.


as described this in my original post, i did plan accordingly and i won the game. i didn't have a lot of fun doing it, though. this is why the "nobody takes the animal" card situation resulted: if i take it, the 2nd player wins. if the 2nd player takes it, i win, and the 3rd place player gets closer to him. if the 3rd player takes it, i win, and his score is even lower for it. i have a gigantic disincentive to blow one of my 3 actions taking it, and the other players remain motivated to improve their positions as much as they can.

Quote:
I've read a lot of people complain about the original scoring method.. and it makes me laugh.

instead of changing the game to work with your strategy.. why not change your strategy to work with the game?

Hacienda is not Through the Desert.. it's an entirely different game...If you want Hacienda to play like Through the Desert.. why not just play Through the Desert?


i think your opinions would be more valued and welcome if you adopted a less hostile/insulting tone. do you have something to prove...about a board game? i'm only trying to increase my enjoyment of it, and based on the responses so far it seems i'm not the only one that feels this way. i'm interested in productively discussing the topic, and i am willing to give things a fair shot. but whatever words you use can't make me go back in time and suddenly enjoy elements that i did not enjoy. if your point is just that you disagree, your opinion is duly noted
 
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Travis Bridges
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Wow, Jeremy wasn't very helpful. Natural competition is a function of the game. Blocking (not natural competition) to keep people from scoring points is for people who should probably be playing Settlers or a 2 player game instead. It rarely works in this game. Sorry to burst your bubble.

I understand where you are coming from, Justin, with the endgame mechanic. I have had games end like this as well, especially when half of the table is neglecting market scoring. There is very little you can do after the halfway mark to change your strategy to this type of situation. However, you should not despair, since this type of land first strategy will not help a player win the game, because after lands have been placed and people are scratching for points, these players run out of choices for peripheral point scoring opportunities (haciendas and water) and must resort to hoarding cash, which doesn't offer much for points. This is much harder to see, especially for new players, and so games end up slowing down horrifically until people find out that they can only get points with money. The longer the game goes, the more they start to lose, and then the game finishes. They seemingly don't understand that the game cannot end until all the animals have been bought, and choose not to control the pace of the game or when the game will cease until the very end, where by that time they are in a huge hole. They also don't care about the shape of their lands (a key tactical point of the game, IMHO) and rarely get the most out of water. Once people have played this once or twice, they will find that this is a difficult strategy to play and will choose what in my opinion is intended by the game, to be balanced. The game just doesn't tell you that, and leaves things for the players to figure out. The balanced market/land chain strategy has always worked for me, regardless of the pace of the game, and as of now, I haven't lost a game of Hacienda yet.

Having played this a bit, for 4 or 5, you might consider the first variant, as it also makes this strategy not only unplayable during the game, but keeps people from venturing on this strategy at the beginning. It then becomes a very tense game. It may seem a little strange, but it works. As for the second variant, I'm not a big fan, because it allows people to excuse vicious moves, which as I said before, don't really work, but instead may ruin another player's enjoyment of the game. It also keeps people from jumping too far into the lead, because they become a target, and makes for a rather bland game.

I will agree with Jeremy's post that this game is much different than TTD. In TTD, you have a few developing strategic choices in the game based on the tactics on the board... focusing on Oases, gathering caravan bonuses at game end or surrounding areas. These aren't exclusive by any means, because the majority of the game is tactical. In Hacienda, your long term strategy should be basically balanced from the get go, but short term strategy and tactical placement take center stage. This doesn't mean blocking (this is separate from natural competition) but looking ahead to draft certain cards and grab points in certain areas before others have a chance. There is much more short term planning in this game. TTD is a much more pure game, and I appreciate it more, but find less and less that it is that much like Hacienda other than in one of it's mechanics. I believe that it is much more like China, where you basically cannot win without emissaries, but also cannot win without chains, so you are better off grabbing points and grooming your future turns with card drafting to take advantage of point scoring opportunities as they present themselves while acknowledging that certain plays require priority based on point gain.

In both games, TTD and Hacienda, vicious plays rather than natural competition will guarantee you most likely an (n-1) place finish, where n is the number of players. Gee, isn't that enjoyable.
 
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Justin
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thanks for the comments. i am curious about how variant 1 changes the game as well, and i wouldn't mind trying it sometime.

just to clarify, i don't find the game to be a clone of through the desert, and i don't want it to become one. i only used through the desert as an example because it is a popularly compared game, and it is easy to see how one can block in it while simultaneously advancing themselves (as opposed to blocking and not doing a whole lot for themself).
 
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Paul Hackman
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I enjoy the way the game ends. The game is not that long and turns move fast so playing an extra round or two waiting for the last card to be drawn is usually exciting.

I haven't tried score as you go but my group has liked the scoring rounds where everyone finds out how well their moves paid off, sometimes surprising themselves with their midgame position.

I also like the midgame scoring round as it encourages the purchase of haciendas or waterholes early in order to double your investment.

If each land tile was worth two points I don't see why you would ever want to block someone. I guess you could stop them from getting an additional point or two from a hacienda and take away a few pesos from a market, but right now blocking only seems valuable if it keeps someone from turning a one or two landtile chain into a three. My group always makes a few blocking moves each game, though not so many it becomes annoying.

I'm not arguing against any changes, just pointing out that with the group of people I play with I haven't found any of these problems. In fact the things others dislike, we like.
 
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Daniel Corban
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astroglide wrote:
it's particularly painful to have to deal with the situation at the end game where nobody wants to draw the last card. in my last game i was in first place, the guy to my left was a fairly close second, and the last player was in last place. if i took the animal card with one of my actions, it would give the guy to my left the opportunity to outscore me. if he took it, he would lose, so he wanted to advance on points. ditto the third guy. so we sat there for a while at the end harvesting, buying water, etc while 1 card remained in the deck.


I don't understand why player 2 didn't end the game and win. You claim player 2 would outscore you if you ended the game. This suggests that he would be able to outscore you even if you didn't end the game. Therefore, he should have ended the game. If he didn't end the game, thinking that player 3 would outscore him, then player 3 should have ended the game (since player 2 could outscore you and player 3 could outscore player 2).

In your example game, someone definitely should have ended it. If player 3 doesn't end it when there is only one animal card left, then the next round, player 2 should end it if he is beating player 1. This is based on the idea that since player 3 didn't end it, he didn't have enough points to win, therefore player 2 can assume (or be tricked into thinking) that player 3 cannot beat him at that moment. Likewise, if both player 2 and player 3 do not end it, then player 1 should end it for the same reason.

The basic idea is this: There is always someone who will benefit from ending the game. This is the similar to the situation in Power Grid, when no one wants to build the 7th city connection. It only seems like a stalemate because the player who benefits from progressing the game either isn't paying attention or isn't smart enough to see it.
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Alex Carr
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dcorban wrote:
astroglide wrote:
it's particularly painful to have to deal with the situation at the end game where nobody wants to draw the last card. in my last game i was in first place, the guy to my left was a fairly close second, and the last player was in last place. if i took the animal card with one of my actions, it would give the guy to my left the opportunity to outscore me. if he took it, he would lose, so he wanted to advance on points. ditto the third guy. so we sat there for a while at the end harvesting, buying water, etc while 1 card remained in the deck.


I don't understand why player 2 didn't end the game and win. You claim player 2 would outscore you if you ended the game. This suggests that he would be able to outscore you even if you didn't end the game. Therefore, he should have ended the game. If he didn't end the game, thinking that player 3 would outscore him, then player 3 should have ended the game (since player 2 could outscore you and player 3 could outscore player 2).

In your example game, someone definitely should have ended it. If player 3 doesn't end it when there is only one animal card left, then the next round, player 2 should end it if he is beating player 1. This is based on the idea that since player 3 didn't end it, he didn't have enough points to win, therefore player 2 can assume (or be tricked into thinking) that player 3 cannot beat him at that moment. Likewise, if both player 2 and player 3 do not end it, then player 1 should end it for the same reason.

The basic idea is this: There is always someone who will benefit from ending the game. This is the similar to the situation in Power Grid, when no one wants to build the 7th city connection. It only seems like a stalemate because the player who benefits from progressing the game either isn't paying attention or isn't smart enough to see it.



Exactly. I was going to say the same thing. However, your Power Grid example is misleading as some players may not have the actual ability to end the game (at least without humongous cost), whereas in Hacienda, anyone can buy an animal card.
 
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Justin
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Quote:
You claim player 2 would outscore you if you ended the game. This suggests that he would be able to outscore you even if you didn't end the game.


i don't see how that is suggested. i had more points than him, and we were both scoring on each turn. if either of us spent an action drawing a useless card, it would have given the game to the other.
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