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Subject: Replayability? rss

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badalchemist
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I see a lot of buzz surrounding this game as making Agricola completely irrelevant. It's my understanding that this game has zero player cards and sets up the same way every time. Won't this lead to eventually finding the "optimal" strategy and playing the same way every time? I'm interested in this game, but I'm not sure if near-non-random setup is going to hurt its long-term replayability.
 
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Grant Holzhauer
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I think the key here is to purposefully not play the same way every time. There are a ton of ways to achieve victory, so instead of gunning for a foolproof strategy (as you might do in the solo game), try different avenues with each play.

I understand that some people might not like that approach, of course.

Also, when playing with other people, they might take a room that you need for your strategy, thus making you change your plans on the fly.
 
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Mark De Lorenzo
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There are SO many ways to achieve victory with the Buildings that are available in the market. My wife and I have felt the game was different every time we play. And like Uwe Rosenberg's other games... especially Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small... I believe there will be expansions that will supply more building types.
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Dirk Maier
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The 12 rounds are divided into 4 phases of 3 cards. The 3 cards of each phase are in random order, so you can't play the same optimal strategy all the time.
Also, as with other workerplacement games, you can only play your strategy if the other players let you and don't go for the same actions.

I only have 5 plays yet, but the replayability seems quite high so far and it's necessary to adapt your strategy according to other players choices.
 
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Max Lampinen
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Way too early to ask. Initially people were overwhelmed by O&L but now many agree parts of it can be 'solved'. Ask again after Essen 2014...
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Michael S
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I have played a handful of times already and one thing I can say is this game does lend itself well to different strategies. One time I went heavy in farming and tried to see how high of a score I could get by going all out farming and just basics in the cave. I have tried the opposite as well and even within the cave there are rooms that you could build a whole strategy around like building the room that gives you vp for ore then going crazy on ore production, next time try the wood and ruby route.

On top of that throw in another player or two that are grabbing a tile you may have wanted and you have to switch your plan mid game. I see a pretty decent amount of replay in this one especially for the curious type that think things like "Hmm I wonder if I can pull off a win doing it this way this time"

 
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badalchemist
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reckoner wrote:
I have played a handful of times already and one thing I can say is this game does lend itself well to different strategies. One time I went heavy in farming and tried to see how high of a score I could get by going all out farming and just basics in the cave. I have tried the opposite as well and even within the cave there are rooms that you could build a whole strategy around like building the room that gives you vp for ore then going crazy on ore production, next time try the wood and ruby route.

On top of that throw in another player or two that are grabbing a tile you may have wanted and you have to switch your plan mid game. I see a pretty decent amount of replay in this one especially for the curious type that think things like "Hmm I wonder if I can pull off a win doing it this way this time"



If you are only playing this with 2 players, does that diminish the effect of getting your actions stolen?
 
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Grant Holzhauer
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With fewer players, there are less action spaces overall (and obviously, with more players, there are more action spaces). I should think that this evens the playing field. However, I have only played with 1 and 2 so far.
 
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Al Washburn
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badalchemist wrote:
I see a lot of buzz surrounding this game as making Agricola completely irrelevant. It's my understanding that this game has zero player cards and sets up the same way every time. Won't this lead to eventually finding the "optimal" strategy and playing the same way every time? I'm interested in this game, but I'm not sure if near-non-random setup is going to hurt its long-term replayability.


I agree with the sentiment that right now the correct answers are "it's to soon to tell" and "maybe"…but even if that does end up being the case I think it's probably a pretty easy fix with an expansion kind of like how All Creatures feels scripted and stale after a while, but adding more rooms with the expansions really helps...
 
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Jason Reid
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Quote:
I see a lot of buzz surrounding this game as making Agricola completely irrelevant. It's my understanding that this game has zero player cards and sets up the same way every time. Won't this lead to eventually finding the "optimal" strategy and playing the same way every time?


Usually not for any well-developed game. Many games have even less randomness than Caverna and rely on "other players" to provide the different situations from game to game.

If you and I do the same thing every time, and you win 75% of the time, then it's time for me to search for a new strategy. And vice versa.
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Josh
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Without bashing the game I think it would be fair to say that Caverna has a lengthy 'exploration' phase where people puzzle out how all the gears work, followed by few surprises after that. It lacks the 'my little puzzle' aspect that the hands of Agricola offer. This doesn't mean there won't be variety to plays, just that there will be little to 'discover' after tue initial period, not withstanding new tiles.
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Michael Carter
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It is much too soon. I can't imagine that the game doesn't have an optimal path. Especially since the playtesters missed an obvious infinite ore loop that should have been caught quickly. I'm sure there is an optimal path. What that could mean, though, that people would be having to hit their timings earlier and earlier to jump on it, and thus weakens the path enough that other means of victory are valid.

I think this game will take close to a dozen plays to really flesh out the different paths and another dozen to figure out which paths are optimal.
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Christopher Watkins
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I played it yesterday and I'd play it again
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mathew rynich
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My group also worries that it won't have the same staying power of Agricola (in regards to staleness not necessarily being "solved").

I think as long as at least some of your game group is interested in playing the game differently every time it should be enough to juggle things up a bit. We should all have this conversation again in a couple months.

Some ideas I had for forcing people to branch out on their strategies:

- It's possible that if you want to have a more random game you could probably do that out of the box by randomly selecting rooms to put in the pool rather than putting them all out (if expansions add more rooms this will be a more interesting option). Perhaps taking a subset of each type of room out randomly.

- Maybe you could randomly deal people each a hand of rooms that they could build from. That would make it more like Agricola. You could do that with maybe jut a subset of rooms possibly (like the parlors and storage type rooms that offer bonus victory points).

- Perhaps even just randomly assigning a bonus victory point room to each persons empty cavern before the game starts would be enough to force people to take different routes.

If it becomes a problem I'm confident it will be fixable. I'd like to see something like the improvement/occupation mechanic in Agricola appear in a Caverna expansion though. It does feel like that's the only thing missing.
 
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Clyde W
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mlcarter815 wrote:
It is much too soon. I can't imagine that the game doesn't have an optimal path. Especially since the playtesters missed an obvious infinite ore loop that should have been caught quickly. I'm sure there is an optimal path. What that could mean, though, that people would be having to hit their timings earlier and earlier to jump on it, and thus weakens the path enough that other means of victory are valid.

I think this game will take close to a dozen plays to really flesh out the different paths and another dozen to figure out which paths are optimal.
Assuming one can even figure out and prove that a path is optimal (and I very much doubt one can do this in our lifetimes...for instance, no one has yet to be able to do it with chess, and that is played by millions of players around the globe at an extremely high level, plus computers have been chugging away at solving it for many years and have yet to come close)...so assuming this, it would still be up to other players to block any such optimal path. With 4 players, there is going to be a lot of blocking, in many directions.

(Also this game will need to be "solved" at each player count, 1-7, since there are different actions available at each count.)

Finally, as mentioned above, you will need to solve taking into account the 7 harvest tokens that are placed randomly for each game. That is a whole lot of solving, and a whole lot of memorization. Do you honestly believe we'll ever compute any of these solutions, much less memorize them?

If you can solve this game after two dozen plays, I will tip my hat to you.
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Jason Reid
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clydeiii wrote:
If you can solve this game after two dozen plays, I will tip my hat to you.


In my experience, some folks use the words "solved" or "played out" to mean something other than "proving out an optimal path". To them, a game is "solved" as soon as they've seen the same strategy win 2 or 3 times in a row.
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Darth Ed
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It seems to me that a lot of the complaints (from die-hard Agricola fans) about Caverna's lack of drafting could be solved easily with a variant (or expansion) for Caverna that adds drafting of certain tiles. Basically, do the drafting at the beginning of the game, same as with the cards from Agricola. The tiles you end up with after the draft then can only be built by you during that game. Just need to figure out which tiles should go in the draft, but that should be fairly obvious, I think. I would just do the ones that add end-of-game bonus scores. What do you think? Has anyone tried playing this way?
 
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Adam Kazimierczak
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Comparing Caverna to Chess in terms of longevity and replayability is a little premature.

I agree that the missed infinite ore loop shows sloppy playtesting, and a game doesn't have to be "broken" to be played out in a particular group. I for one am waiting at least a year before buying in, and there are plenty of other games to play in the meantime.
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Alberto Verduzco
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Well, first of all I think is to soon to know if this game will have a lengthy life, I know that I will play it with my sons and my grandsons (if they let me of course). I usually play with my wife and we love to play the games that give us choices, lots of them (O&L, AtGoL, Terra Mystica, Agricola, Le Havre and ACBaS with both expansions) mainly because we try different things each game, sometimes for wining and sometimes just for fun, sharing a good laugh laugh , a good story or just because we want to see who is going to wash the dishes

Caverna is going to arrive soon to our home (before Friday, I hope) and I know we will play it a lot, don't know if its going to be because the game is replayable per se but I know that is because we want to make it replayable just because we want to be together, to have fun and mainly because we love to spend time together playing.

All this to just say that every game is replayable as long as you want it to be. If there's a bullet proof strategy, few choices, non-randomness or something else that keeps you trying new things or wanting to play again a game, I think that the only problem is the people playing it.

Peace.

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Michael Carter
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clydeiii wrote:
mlcarter815 wrote:
It is much too soon. I can't imagine that the game doesn't have an optimal path. Especially since the playtesters missed an obvious infinite ore loop that should have been caught quickly. I'm sure there is an optimal path. What that could mean, though, that people would be having to hit their timings earlier and earlier to jump on it, and thus weakens the path enough that other means of victory are valid.

I think this game will take close to a dozen plays to really flesh out the different paths and another dozen to figure out which paths are optimal.
Assuming one can even figure out and prove that a path is optimal (and I very much doubt one can do this in our lifetimes...for instance, no one has yet to be able to do it with chess, and that is played by millions of players around the globe at an extremely high level, plus computers have been chugging away at solving it for many years and have yet to come close)...so assuming this, it would still be up to other players to block any such optimal path. With 4 players, there is going to be a lot of blocking, in many directions.

(Also this game will need to be "solved" at each player count, 1-7, since there are different actions available at each count.)

Finally, as mentioned above, you will need to solve taking into account the 7 harvest tokens that are placed randomly for each game. That is a whole lot of solving, and a whole lot of memorization. Do you honestly believe we'll ever compute any of these solutions, much less memorize them?

If you can solve this game after two dozen plays, I will tip my hat to you.


You can't compare Caverna to Chess just because it is a board game. Plus, I said nothing about solving the game. I was talking about optimal paths.
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Jason Reid
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mlcarter815 wrote:
Plus, I said nothing about solving the game. I was talking about optimal paths.


These things are synonymous in many folks' minds. What's the difference in your view?
 
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badalchemist
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jasonwocky wrote:
mlcarter815 wrote:
Plus, I said nothing about solving the game. I was talking about optimal paths.


These things are synonymous in many folks' minds. What's the difference in your view?


If I may speak for mlcarter815, in my mind, the difference is that an optimal path is a strategy proven to succeed, whereas "solved" implies a fundamental flaw in the game where you can win 100% of the time (think Connect Four or Tic-Tac-Toe, where first player can never lose).
 
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Michael Carter
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badalchemist wrote:
jasonwocky wrote:
mlcarter815 wrote:
Plus, I said nothing about solving the game. I was talking about optimal paths.


These things are synonymous in many folks' minds. What's the difference in your view?


If I may speak for mlcarter815, in my mind, the difference is that an optimal path is a strategy proven to succeed, whereas "solved" implies a fundamental flaw in the game where you can win 100% of the time (think Connect Four or Tic-Tac-Toe, where first player can never lose).


Correct. Optimal paths are general strategies. An optimal path would be a combo of furnishing tiles and a certain tableau focus; maybe it would also include standard starting moves. Then it is up to the player to efficiently execute that strategy. A solved game, though, is one in which you can explicitly define a string of actions that will win you the game. Or, a solved game is one in which you can accurately predict the outcome of the game as long as the players all play perfectly. Chess is actually a partially-solved game but it isn't likely that it will truly be solved any time soon.

My worst case for Caverna is that there is one optimal path that is stronger than the rest and the game will become just fighting over a superior position on that path, making a good chunk of the tiles meaningless.
 
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Jacek Deimer
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mlcarter815 wrote:


My worst case for Caverna is that there is one optimal path that is stronger than the rest and the game will become just fighting over a superior position on that path, making a good chunk of the tiles meaningless.


I think this will self balance in larger games (4+)!

Generally inferior but uncontested path can be more succesfull, than optimal but highly contested one.


In my opinion long term replayability depends on expansions. Players got spoiled by Agricola, because it contains 2 expansions in base box (E&K decks). That was and and still is unusuall aproach in board game market.

If Caverna gets at least one expansion that offers variable setup (like ACB&S), replayability won't be an issue!
 
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Michael Carter
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Reid666 wrote:
mlcarter815 wrote:


My worst case for Caverna is that there is one optimal path that is stronger than the rest and the game will become just fighting over a superior position on that path, making a good chunk of the tiles meaningless.


I think this will self balance in larger games (4+)!

Generally inferior but uncontested path can be more succesfull, than optimal but highly contested one.


In my opinion long term replayability depends on expansions. Players got spoiled by Agricola, because it contains 2 expansions in base box (E&K decks). That was and and still is unusuall aproach in board game market.

If Caverna gets at least one expansions that offers variable setup (like ACB&S), replayability won't be an issue!


That's quite possible. Though I'm hoping it is true with 3+ players because I don't have any interest in playing it with more than 4 players. I feel that the downtime would become too long.
 
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