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OddVille» Forums » Variants

Subject: Rule change to Cheater and Bookkeeper rss

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Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
Zaandam
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Edit: I've come to the conclusion that the suggestion below is a symptom of a broader and deeper issue in OddVille, and that the suggested house rule would only be effective in a handful of cases. As such I no longer believe it necessary to include this rule change.

After seeing another game going down the drain thanks to a horrendously powerful Cheater - Bookkeeper combo, which is nigh impossible to stop because of its terrible efficiency compared to anything else the opposition can throw against the combo's owner (this includes money-giving characters, or building other Rooster guild symbol-bearing buildings), I am proposing to houserule these two characters slightly. Their abilities stay unchanged, but using either of these two cards counts as a full game turn. You may therefore not use a regular worker, nor build a building from your hand, if you use the Cheater's or the Bookkeeper's special ability. This change brings the characters' power in line with the often much weaker other characters—there is simply no competition against spending 1 coin to grab any building from the open card row per turn in addition to still having a regular turn. With my proposed rule change, Cheater and Bookkeeper are simply defined as being 'a regular turn'. They are still useful cards to use and own, but cannot skew the game so heavily in their favour anymore.

The only characters which would remain truly additional to the regular turn are the Traveller and the Benefactor. The Traveller is just a detached tradeoff; the Benefactor only yields one coin per turn which is nowhere near as influential as the above two. The Tax Collector only collects upon payment of others, which is not all that often. All in all, I think the balance here is fair.



An alternative idea is to discard a random worker alongside the Cheater and the Bookkeeper to make it look like you're modifying a worker action. But I'm not sure that this doesn't make the characters too expensive to use.
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Maarten D. de Jong
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Okay, first game with above modifications (at 3 players). The Cheater-Bookkeeper combo was not used, because Rooster guild cards were not entering the game until late; and the winner and runner up made very effective use of adjacency bonuses, netting them vast amounts of resources. I'd been focusing on enclosed cul-de-sac cards hoping to make up in points, but halfway through the game I realised this was a lost cause. I could never obtain the Lamplighter which is imperative for a cul-de-sac strategy; the other players did and could so more or less cement their resources-begets-buildings-begets-more-resources plan. I did obtain the Cheater at one point, but against the onslaught of resources the others had the rule change I'd concocted seemed awfully weak. My end score was nearly half of theirs—not surprising considering I had only occupied 3 buildings as opposed to their 5 and 6.

It was interesting to see a game end in something other than a victory for the owner of the Cheater-Bookkeeper combo; in addition it was the first time in which someone who had built 5 meeples won from the person who had built 6.

Mulling it over the only thing I can conclude at this point is that OddVille remains curiously brittle. The game feels like you're being made to run before you can walk, with shortcuts giving you extra stuff outside of the money-building-resources-build cycle ranging from friendly to very powerful. There is so much multiplexing going on in such a short time that someone grabbing a building card with a particular set of resources you were saving up for is already putting you at a distinct disadvantage; even more so if the building spot you were hoping to fill gets taken by someone else. There are few, if any, plan B's in OddVille, only plan A's. (Which is precisely why the C-B combo is so powerful, by the way.) I'm beginning to wonder whether my initial rule change suggestion is not a symptom of a deeper and more widespread issue, one which unfortunately cannot be solved by simple rule changes.
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Maarten D. de Jong
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Several more games played in which I relaxed my above suggestion to the point where it just was vanilla OddVille. Instead I stressed the importance of grabbing buildings first, and resources second, unless you had no option (due to for example getting a lot of resources bonuses) because you can always get resources to match your buildings, but not the other way around.

What I discovered was that OddVille turns out to be a strongly skewed game at times, and that a Cheater-Bookkeeper combo is just one of the ways in which this skewness can make its appearance. For example in the last game I played to date (with 3 players) I'd been saving up for a good dose of building bonuses when two more or less careless prior builds from my opponents forced me to build those cards without an open street leading to another card, or forego nearly every action up to that point. Adding insult to injury, my cards had open streets again, which were immediately (ab)used by my opponents. It netted them several character cards too, whereas I got none. Effectively it meant that I was now one full building cycle behind them, putting me quietly out of the competition with 2/3rds of the game remaining to be played. Houseruling the Cheater and Bookkeeper (which were both present at the time) would have led to exactly nothing; the problem was simply elsewhere.

There is, I think, very little to do about this nasty side of OddVille. The issue appears in a (mathematically) chaotic and thus not-quite predictable fashion; perhaps the best defense is simply to break off the game early under such circumstances and start anew. There truly is little point in continuing at such a time: the leading player has every incentive to finish matters as soon as possible, and there is simply not enough time to turn matters around for the others.

So for better of for worse, I'm retracting the suggestion above.
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EXTRA AVOCADO! Sonderegger
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Perhaps my positive opinions and more stolid opinion of Oddville occurs simply because I've never played with more than 2, and, for some reason, the elasticity and nastiness of a game system is much more forgivable, and even enjoyable, with 2.
 
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Luke Piefer "Luke Luke The Orange"

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I think the bookkeeper is just over-powered, period.
 
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