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Subject: Preventing the starving strategy. rss

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Carlos Soto Power
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Hi everybody,

We (me and my gaming group) have ruled that players lose 10 points for each person they don't feed at the end of each round (instead of 10 VP in total), this in order to prevent the "starving strategy".

Yes, I know that some SA players here on BGG thinks that this is a valid strategy, but I sincerely don't find it an accurate historical adaptation: it simply doesn't fit with the game's theme. How could a starving tribe survive on a so hard to manage environment as the one of the primitive stone age? And, as if it weren't enough, they not just survive but are rewarded with the laurels of victory! Make not sense at all... at least, not for me! angry

What other reasonable solutions are you applying to prevent the "starving strategy"? (If you dislike it as much as I do, of course.)

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Edited for typos
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FinrondFelagund wrote:
Hi everybody,

We (me and my gaming group) have ruled that players lose 10 points for each person they don't feed at the end of each round (instead of 10 VP in total), this in order to prevent the "starving strategy".

Yes, I know that some SA players here on BGG thinks that this is a valid strategy, but I sincerely don't find it an accurate historical adaptation: it simply doesn't fit with the game's theme. How could a starving tribe survive on a so hard to manage environment as the one of the primitive stone age? And, as if it weren't enough, they not just survive but are rewarded with the laurels of victory! Make not sense at all... at least, not for me! angry

What other reasonable solutions are you applying to prevent the "starving strategy"? (If you dislike it as much as I do, of course.)

---
Edited for typos
It seams your definition of "reasonable" is to completely make it a losing strategy choice. That's fine, if that's the path you want to take, but why go through all these hoops?

If you don't want to allow it at your table, just don't allow it. Situation resolved.

Adding in a layer of rules to do this is a waste of time.
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It is not difficult at all to defeat starvation. If they want to go for it, let them. I'll still crush them.
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FinrondFelagund wrote:
What other reasonable solutions are you applying to prevent the "starving strategy"? (If you dislike it as much as I do, of course.)

To crush that opponent and beat him/her silly in the scoring. How dare they try to game the game!

In all sincerity, I think that is the best strategy to get them to stop that. Just keep winning and enjoy their loss.
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neuroblast89 wrote:
It is not difficult at all to defeat starvation. If they want to go for it, let them. I'll still crush them.

I understand your point perfectly and I know it is perfectly possible to win against oponents using the SS. To me the problem is not the starvation strategy itself, but the thematically ilogical aspect of make your people starve and, even then, have the chance to win. As I exposed above, I find it absolutely absurd and incoherent with human primitive period.
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FinrondFelagund wrote:
neuroblast89 wrote:
It is not difficult at all to defeat starvation. If they want to go for it, let them. I'll still crush them.

I understand your point perfectly and I know it is perfectly possible to win against oponents using the SS. To me the problem is not the starvation strategy itself, but the thematically ilogical aspect of make your people starve and, even then, have the chance to win. As I exposed above, I find it absolutely absurd and incoherent with human primitive period.

Your gaming table; your rules. Do whatever you'd like to make the game more fun/better suited to your group.
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Wil
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FinrondFelagund wrote:
neuroblast89 wrote:
It is not difficult at all to defeat starvation. If they want to go for it, let them. I'll still crush them.

I understand your point perfectly and I know it is perfectly possible to win against oponents using the SS. To me the problem is not the starvation strategy itself, but the thematically ilogical aspect of make your people starve and, even then, have the chance to win. As I exposed above, I find it absolutely absurd and incoherent with human primitive period.


Yeah, I'm on the other side of the fence. I don't play the starvation strategy but I find it quite valid and also in theme with the game. Starving workers to get them to perform better and once they do to get the reward of being fed has been a common theme throughout history. I don't play it myself as I'm more of a carrot then a stick kind of guy, but it fits the game in my opinion.
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Alex Drazen
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I'm on the fence, although I lean toward seeing it as valid. The rules explicitly allow for it.

I don't normally play a pure starvation strategy. However, I have used it as an option on some turns. If "starvation" gets me a 1-7 "?" hut at 30+, maybe that's worth it to me on a particular turn.

One strategy I like to use is early starvation, followed by rapid farm/food expansion with the bigger tribe (bonus-roll cards, argriculture cards, good food cards). It's probably not optimal, but 10 points per guy not fed is outrageous.

Especially in 4P, if you have to feed your guys every round, you're wasting a lot of resources on food. Let's say you only have 5 guys and one farm -- to get four food, you still have to roll an 8 or better, which is less than the expected value of 2 dice. And you still lose all your food if any guy starves. For six guys, you'd need five food and thus to roll a 10. Basically you only get 3 guys to do other stuff with.

The real question is, why don't players starve their tribes MORE?
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The real problem with the starvation hunger strategy is that the player to the left gets an agricultural advantage and wins easily.
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Jason Gische
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If you're going to make the starvation strategy illegal, you had better do something to make up for starting position, because otherwise player 1 has a sizeable advantage.
 
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gische wrote:
If you're going to make the starvation strategy illegal, you had better do something to make up for starting position, because otherwise player 1 has a sizeable advantage.

You're right.
Give less food to the start player, as in Agricola.. Could it work? Well, we'd have to try it...
 
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In one of the Stone Age rounds I played at WBC, one player tried the starvation strategy and got clobbered. Mostly, he was blocked from the various huts after building his tribe and acquiring resources. He kept losing points and barely made it beyond zero at game's end. I think the starvation/hunger option is valid on occasion, but it's not hard to defeat it as a full-game strategy.
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Richard Pickman
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You could play with the following variant:

At the end of every round, each unfed meeple is removed from the player's hand and placed in the player's available supply. (So it can be brought back into play by dedicating two meeples to making babies, but not otherwise.)

Is it harsh? Yes. But I think it would achieve the effect that you're looking for, plus it's entirely thematic.
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Graham Dean
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We played SA recently in which one player tried Starvation/Hunger strategy and won, after which we had a discussion of it as as a strategy. One of the players suggested an alternative which I thought I'd post for discussion purposes.

The idea is based around the fact that players can feed their workers with resources, so if they need an extra food that can hand in a wood, brick, etc. on a 1 for 1 basis. The rule change would be that players must feed their people insofar as they are able to. So for example if they end the turn needing 6 food, and have 3 food, 2 wood and 2 stone, they would have to hand over six items. Similarly if they had no food and five wood, they would have to hand over all their wood and then still take the penalty for not feeding all their workers.

This would make the starvation/hunger strategy difficult to achieve as players would not be able to carry resources forward from turn to turn, and thematically it can be justified as your tribe becoming desperate with hunger and getting as much food as they can, any way they can, even if it isn't enough.

This is offered to the forum for discussion - I'm not really interested in taking sides on whether to allow the starvation/hunger strategy or not. I'd appreciate thoughts on game impact, though. We haven't tried this yet, but it's an interesting idea.
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neuroblast89 wrote:
It is not difficult at all to defeat starvation. If they want to go for it, let them. I'll still crush them.
What are the best ways of defeating starvation strategy?

General question to all - not just neuroblast89.

I tried taking the bonus on workers multipliers and the 1-7 buildings but that still wasn't enough.
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Uncle G wrote:
neuroblast89 wrote:
It is not difficult at all to defeat starvation. If they want to go for it, let them. I'll still crush them.
What are the best ways of defeating starvation strategy?

General question to all - not just neuroblast89.

I tried taking the bonus on workers multipliers and the 1-7 buildings but that still wasn't enough.

Were you taking the farm every turn?
 
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Larry Welborn wrote:
Uncle G wrote:
neuroblast89 wrote:
It is not difficult at all to defeat starvation. If they want to go for it, let them. I'll still crush them.
What are the best ways of defeating starvation strategy?

General question to all - not just neuroblast89.

I tried taking the bonus on workers multipliers and the 1-7 buildings but that still wasn't enough.

Were you taking the farm every turn?
Yes. I wound up with 9 Farm by the end, and so was able to boost my workers as well once the Starvation strategy player had got up to 10.

I was thinking the best way of dealing with this was for other players to get an extra worker as well, but neither of the others did. I was busy getting Farm, so the Starvation player was able to accelerate to ten workers very quickly. Is it advantageous to slow him/her down?
 
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Uncle G wrote:
Larry Welborn wrote:
Uncle G wrote:
neuroblast89 wrote:
It is not difficult at all to defeat starvation. If they want to go for it, let them. I'll still crush them.
What are the best ways of defeating starvation strategy?

General question to all - not just neuroblast89.

I tried taking the bonus on workers multipliers and the 1-7 buildings but that still wasn't enough.

Were you taking the farm every turn?
Yes. I wound up with 9 Farm by the end, and so was able to boost my workers as well once the Starvation strategy player had got up to 10.

I was thinking the best way of dealing with this was for other players to get an extra worker as well, but neither of the others did. I was busy getting Farm, so the Starvation player was able to accelerate to ten workers very quickly. Is it advantageous to slow him/her down?
Take workers when you are first. Then the starving player will take something besides the farm, because he doesn't need food. Then for your second turn, take the farm. Now you have the same number of workers, but you are feeding yours fairly easily.
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Graham Dean
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crambaza wrote:
Uncle G wrote:
Larry Welborn wrote:
Uncle G wrote:
neuroblast89 wrote:
It is not difficult at all to defeat starvation. If they want to go for it, let them. I'll still crush them.
What are the best ways of defeating starvation strategy?

General question to all - not just neuroblast89.

I tried taking the bonus on workers multipliers and the 1-7 buildings but that still wasn't enough.

Were you taking the farm every turn?
Yes. I wound up with 9 Farm by the end, and so was able to boost my workers as well once the Starvation strategy player had got up to 10.

I was thinking the best way of dealing with this was for other players to get an extra worker as well, but neither of the others did. I was busy getting Farm, so the Starvation player was able to accelerate to ten workers very quickly. Is it advantageous to slow him/her down?
Take workers when you are first. Then the starving player will take something besides the farm, because he doesn't need food. Then for your second turn, take the farm. Now you have the same number of workers, but you are feeding yours fairly easily.
Thanks for this. This is probably where I (and the other players) went wrong. I didn't compete for extra workers to slow him down, and neither of the others competed much for any of the upgrading spaces. In fact neither of the other two put any effort into denying useful cards, buildings or upgrades to either of us - I was the only one adapting my play to what my opponents were doing.

I don't know what we'll decide next time we play. I'm happy to play with the rules as written, but if the group decide different it's whatever is most fun. If we play with the compulsory must feed variant I posted above I'll come back with any affects it had on gameplay, if any.
 
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Uncle G wrote:
Thanks for this. This is probably where I (and the other players) went wrong. I didn't compete for extra workers to slow him down, and neither of the others competed much for any of the upgrading spaces. In fact neither of the other two put any effort into denying useful cards, buildings or upgrades to either of us - I was the only one adapting my play to what my opponents were doing.

I don't know what we'll decide next time we play. I'm happy to play with the rules as written, but if the group decide different it's whatever is most fun. If we play with the compulsory must feed variant I posted above I'll come back with any affects it had on gameplay, if any.
So I see this comment and I cringe. If two players are completely ignoring what one player is doing, then that player is likely to win no matter what strategy he chooses, so I wonder why you're looking to change what has been proven to be an extremely well balanced game.
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I have assumed that you must already pay all your food and resources even if you can't complete the feeding requirements and then lose 10 points.

However, I like the idea of losing one man for each food short. You couldn't fall below 2 though otherwise you could never procreate.
 
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gische wrote:
Uncle G wrote:
Thanks for this. This is probably where I (and the other players) went wrong. I didn't compete for extra workers to slow him down, and neither of the others competed much for any of the upgrading spaces. In fact neither of the other two put any effort into denying useful cards, buildings or upgrades to either of us - I was the only one adapting my play to what my opponents were doing.

I don't know what we'll decide next time we play. I'm happy to play with the rules as written, but if the group decide different it's whatever is most fun. If we play with the compulsory must feed variant I posted above I'll come back with any affects it had on gameplay, if any.
So I see this comment and I cringe. If two players are completely ignoring what one player is doing, then that player is likely to win no matter what strategy he chooses, so I wonder why you're looking to change what has been proven to be an extremely well balanced game.
Played a 3P game last night where the player to my right played starvation strategy. I went on agriculture and we all worked to block starvation, after the first round of placements on the second turn but still got absolutely hammered. Please could someone outline in more detail how to beat this. The player to my left made one bad placement on the second round and that was it. We had two players adapting their entire game to prevent starvation and couldn't do it.
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Uncle G wrote:

Played a 3P game last night where the player to my right played starvation strategy. I went on agriculture and we all worked to block starvation, after the first round of placements on the second turn but still got absolutely hammered. Please could someone outline in more detail how to beat this. The player to my left made one bad placement on the second round and that was it. We had two players adapting their entire game to prevent starvation and couldn't do it.
Hi Graham. This is exactly why I opened this thread: because, in my opinion, the fact that anyone playing the SS (starvation strategy)is almost unstoppable, and I think that's a flaw of this game.

So, please consider use my variant (exposed in the first post).
 
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Alex Drazen
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Take the 2x and 3x meeple and hut cards, the wildcard huts, and don't let someone who opens with breeding get breeding on a subsequent round if you can help it. Drill one hut pile quickly. If all cards are bad, try to snag the cheap ones so he can't cycle them quickly. If everyone does their job, a starver loses. Badly.
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Graham Dean
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I'm reaching the conclusion that while SS is not unbeatable, it is the most powerful strategy which can only be beaten if all players know how to beat it and choose to do so.

This is just my opinion and (for anyone reading this) I don't want to get into a discussion about that.

The group I play with are getting into a discussion about a house rule, and I'd like to start a discussion about the relative pros and cons of different house rules. One of my group (my Dad) had a stroke several years ago and while he can still play most games and is pretty active, I can't rely on him always realising how to stop SS, and I can't do it on my own.

1) As originally posted, all food removed and then lose 10 points per unfed worker.
2) All food utilised to feed workers, and all resources converted to food at a 1-1 conversion rate and utilised to feed workers, and then lose 10 points total if any workers are unfed.
3) As 2), but lose 10 points per unfed worker.
4) As 1) but lose 5 points per unfed worker. This would allow tactical or partial starvation.
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