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Subject: Best way tu use Advanced / Expert cards? rss

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Robert Olesen
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It's time to break out the extra cards, at least for a solo game. There are basically three ways to do it.
1) Just adding them (easy)
2) swapping them for cards of the same type (hard)
3) adding cards to keep (roughly) the same distribution between types.
The first one can give a severe imbalance in that much less than half of the cards from an age actually come out. You might play Persia and not see any colonies for quite a while, for example.
The second provides a heavier concentration of advanced and expert cards.
The third is in between.

What experiences do you have with these approaches?
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Jim Leesch
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I can say that option 1 seems to be a big mistake.

Going against recommendations, we tried the game for the first time last night with all the cards in play, and it was impenetrable (at least for me). The card balance was horrific, with us seeing 75% of the possible wars and only 30% of the possible wonders, with buildings and colonies doing about the same.

Fact is, more than one war in a tableau becomes an obstacle, since only one war will come out per round, so having all of them in the decks at once can be frustrating and crippling (as it was for us).
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Dan Schaeffer
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JimPAX wrote:
I can say that option 1 seems to be a big mistake.

Going against recommendations, we tried the game for the first time last night with all the cards in play, and it was impenetrable (at least for me). The card balance was horrific, with us seeing 75% of the possible wars and only 30% of the possible wonders, with buildings and colonies doing about the same.

Fact is, more than one war in a tableau becomes an obstacle, since only one war will come out per round, so having all of them in the decks at once can be frustrating and crippling (as it was for us).


I have to second this. At least for wars, the substitution approach would be much better. I think it might also be a good idea to seed the decks for a reasonably balanced distribution among the different card types. That would definitely be more complicated to set up, but having the decks be as unbalanced as they were in our play last night made the game no fun for Jim and less enjoyable for me and the other player.
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JonnyRotten
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We discussed this this other day, and we considered doing this:

As we get to the point of adding the other decks. Mix them all in, and then figure our a "max" number for most types of cards, and then discard any of that type that come out and replace them as we are re-filling the board.

For example, not actual numbers.

2 Wars
3 Golden Age
4 Battles

We even thought about doing this to a lesser extent with 2 players, as we have a few two player games in so far, and one game we went 3 turns without seeing more than 1 production building. This isn't a problem, and the game was still awesome with it like that.

I also thought about before setup, separating everything, and randomizing with the same distribution that is currently in the deck.
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Daniel Corban
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Even with just the basic decks, you will see swingy card distribution. Every single time I have played, there is at least one type of card not in the first card display, and this is with four players, so the display is almost full! I think the game is intended for you to just deal with it. This is a tactical game. If you want a civ game with consistent card distribution and complete balance, play Through the Ages.

Note that civilization choice is made after you see the initial card display. No colonies? Then maybe do not choose Persia. You will still have plenty of opportunities to get colonies over the course of the game, so I'm not sure it is significant.
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Peter Schott
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Having played several solo games, but only one "real" game, I tend to like the chaos the extra cards bring.
I must admit that I never cared about teh card tags anyway, and just started playing with all of then.
Though some games might be hard, it is hard for all of the players, and just adds replayability - as opposed to e.g. Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization, where every card will be seen in each game.
And I think this game needs this Chaos, as it is basically not very interactive.
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Dan Schaeffer
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dcorban wrote:
Even with just the basic decks, you will see swingy card distribution. Every single time I have played, there is at least one type of card not in the first card display, and this is with four players, so the display is almost full! I think the game is intended for you to just deal with it. This is a tactical game. If you want a civ game with consistent card distribution and complete balance, play Through the Ages.

Note that civilization choice is made after you see the initial card display. No colonies? Then maybe do not choose Persia. You will still have plenty of opportunities to get colonies over the course of the game, so I'm not sure it is significant.


I get that it's a far more tactical game than TtA. I think that when the cards are so wildly imbalanced, though, even tactical responses can become impossible. For example, in last night's game - admittedly our first, and a 3P - I picked up a couple of buildings early that allowed me to get a ton of Heritage points, which let me get way ahead on those points until the very end of the game. But I could never upgrade those buildings, in part because one of them was providing my only stability points, and there were no substitutes that would have provided me with stability. In fact, we saw almost no buildings in the last 3 or 4 rounds of the game.

As it happens, I won the game, but just barely, and not because I had necessarily made better plays or choices than my opponents. The cards just never came out that would allow them to challenge my Heritage lead (until the very end, when I made an error that almost cost me the game). And Jim got screwed by the fact that the early cards put him on a path, but the later cards effectively made that path untenable, and didn't offer a viable alternative. (See his comment about how many wars we saw, compared to buildings, colonies, and wonders.)

I think the game deserves more plays before it gets written off, but I think the card distribution needs to be balanced better than what we had.
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Kris Wiggins
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I agree with the "throw them all in" approach, or perhaps jgilmour's approach above of taking out drawn cards as needed when refilling the board. Although throwing everything in might or might not give a slight edge to X-Nation, history is full of unfair advantages and disadvantages for different nations, so just think of it as thematic. haha

Plus I just think it's too much trouble to root through all the cards beforehand and seed the deck "properly".

We've played one all-in 4P game so far and didn't see any real problems. Perhaps we got lucky, or perhaps it's not as big a deal as one might think.
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Dave G
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Golux13 wrote:
dcorban wrote:
Even with just the basic decks, you will see swingy card distribution. Every single time I have played, there is at least one type of card not in the first card display, and this is with four players, so the display is almost full! I think the game is intended for you to just deal with it. This is a tactical game. If you want a civ game with consistent card distribution and complete balance, play Through the Ages.

Note that civilization choice is made after you see the initial card display. No colonies? Then maybe do not choose Persia. You will still have plenty of opportunities to get colonies over the course of the game, so I'm not sure it is significant.


I get that it's a far more tactical game than TtA. I think that when the cards are so wildly imbalanced, though, even tactical responses can become impossible. For example, in last night's game - admittedly our first, and a 3P - I picked up a couple of buildings early that allowed me to get a ton of Heritage points, which let me get way ahead on those points until the very end of the game. But I could never upgrade those buildings, in part because one of them was providing my only stability points, and there were no substitutes that would have provided me with stability. In fact, we saw almost no buildings in the last 3 or 4 rounds of the game.

As it happens, I won the game, but just barely, and not because I had necessarily made better plays or choices than my opponents. The cards just never came out that would allow them to challenge my Heritage lead (until the very end, when I made an error that almost cost me the game). And Jim got screwed by the fact that the early cards put him on a path, but the later cards effectively made that path untenable, and didn't offer a viable alternative. (See his comment about how many wars we saw, compared to buildings, colonies, and wonders.)

I think the game deserves more plays before it gets written off, but I think the card distribution needs to be balanced better than what we had.



I was the third player in this one, and I second the sentiment from Dan and Jim that playing with all the cards seemed suboptimal. We all certainly made mistakes, as you will with a first play of any game, but the imbalance in the card display made it difficult to respond tactically to anything that came up, let alone build any kind of cohesive over-arching strategy. I'm not saying it's a bad game, I actually rather liked it, I just don't think there was a benefit to having the whole deck in play. YMMV.
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Brian Brokaw
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How about separating each card type (War, Battle, Building, Wonder, etc.) shuffling each set and then drawing a specific number from each type to be further shuffled for distribution on the progress board. If there are 20 total cards on the Progress board, then just figure out how many buildings, colonies, wars, battles, etc. you want to see and make sure that many comes out?
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Daniel Corban
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Playing with only the basic decks, I have seen exactly what is described above. Buildings with no viable upgrades. It happens. Sometimes the building you need does appear and an opponent takes it. It happens.
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Dan Schaeffer
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brokasaphasia wrote:
How about separating each card type (War, Battle, Building, Wonder, etc.) shuffling each set and then drawing a specific number from each type to be further shuffled for distribution on the progress board. If there are 20 total cards on the Progress board, then just figure out how many buildings, colonies, wars, battles, etc. you want to see and make sure that many comes out?


That may be a little too rigidly balanced. But you could decide on the proportions you want, pull an appropriate number of cards of each type to make a reasonably sized deck with those proportions, and shuffle them all together to make your deck for the age.
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Dan Schaeffer
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dcorban wrote:
Playing with only the basic decks, I have seen exactly what is described above. Buildings with no viable upgrades. It happens. Sometimes the building you need does appear and an opponent takes it. It happens.


What concerns me about throwing all the cards into one deck (per age) is that it's not clear that the advanced and expert cards are in the same proportions as the basic cards. For example, if there is X% of each basic deck that is War cards, but the advanced and expert decks are 2X% War cards, then the balance of War to other cards is going to be thrown off, and since there's only one war per round maximum, there are potentially going to be a lot of dead cards on the board. That's one of the things we saw last night.

I like the game. (Winning last night puts a rosy glow on it.) And I was able to make some pretty good tactical moves - while also making some egregious errors. But it was a long game, and I can see why Jim, who got screwed very early - mostly through no error of his own - and then never saw any cards that would let him recover, didn't enjoy it. Whether there's a solution to prevent that possibility is, I think, a reasonable question.
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Steven Durst
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I've played with all the cards included for all my games. I think it works just fine. Plus I'm just lazy and don't want to put cards in and/or take them out each game (by far the most annoying thing about my Lords of Waterdeep Scoundrels of Skullport expansion).
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Rafael Hannula
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dcorban wrote:
I think the game is intended for you to just deal with it. This is a tactical game.


I agree. In my opinion the game is more interesting with everything thrown in.

There isn't supposed to be fixed amount of certain card types. The shortages what makes this game interesting and different (in my opinion anyway).

I have played nine times thus far. Not a single game has felt like that the winner has been decided by luck (of course sometimes it can happen).

You think about risk/reward constantly.
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Dave G
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rayffis wrote:
dcorban wrote:
I think the game is intended for you to just deal with it. This is a tactical game.


I agree. In my opinion the game is more interesting with everything thrown in.

There isn't supposed to be fixed amount of certain card types. The shortages what makes this game interesting and different (in my opinion anyway).

I have played nine times thus far. Not a single game has felt like that the winner has been decided by luck (of course sometimes it can happen).

You think about risk/reward constantly.


There is a bit of that, and I think the frustration of losing is coloring some perception of this game for Jim and I. There is something to be said for the fact that we could have insulated ourselves better against some of the swings we saw. Jim could have spent the ore to get one more guy over to a stability building to make sure I couldn't pass him on the turn that cost him all that food. Dan could have done the same on the turn I bought the war that cost all those books. And I could have won if I'd been paying attention to the possibility on the second to last turn that he could buy a war AND pass me in stability with the resources he had left. If I buy the war on my last turn instead of passing, I think I win, or we tie.
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Mike Stevens
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Yes you can certainly House Rule or make up some variant for your game to play it what ever way you think plays best for your group. I have played one game with all of the basic, advanced, and expert cards thrown in and it was a great game. We had 5 players and none of us had ever played before. All 5 players enjoyed the game and all 5 of us had to deal with the card distribution the same way. You just make your best choice available based on what is out there on the Progress Board. We all thought that it made the game challenging. Nothing worse than needing a Battle to get some much needed resources and the person who goes before you buys the last one on the board. I think that is how the designer meant for the game to be played.

Since that first game we have played 3 more games with just the Basic cards since we always had at least 2 new players in the game. Sometimes the Progress board would be filled with a variety of card types and other times you couldn't find a Military card to save your life. I have to believe that this was done on purpose by the designer to force people to take different paths and make decisions on their turn based on what is on the board. While I only have 4 games under my belt, I get the feeling that this game is about balancing your Nation in both Military and Stability while building a healthy Resource engine through your worker deployment and card purchases as well as winning wars and events or at least not losing them each round. The person who is able to do that the best is going to win.

We usually try to play most games by the rules and instructions the game designer created for the game unless they are so poor that it makes the game not any fun for anyone. I think the Progress Board card distribution system was designed on purpose to make this game challenging. So far at least my group seems to like this challenge and has no complaints.

Please give this game a few more tries playing by the original rules before you start switching up the card distribution.
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Robert Olesen
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jgilmour wrote:
We discussed this this other day, and we considered doing this:

As we get to the point of adding the other decks. Mix them all in, and then figure our a "max" number for most types of cards, and then discard any of that type that come out and replace them as we are re-filling the board.

For example, not actual numbers.

2 Wars
3 Golden Age
4 Battles

I like this idea. I'l play it with all cards a couple of times first, but if I'm not satisfied with that tnen setting a max on certain types of cards in the display seem to be a good and simple way to go.
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Dan Schaeffer
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Omahavice wrote:
Please give this game a few more tries playing by the original rules before you start switching up the card distribution.


Keep in mind that one of the options in the rulebook suggests that when you decide to use advanced and/or expert cards, you substitute for basic cards, rather than just adding them all in, as a balancing mechanism. (Though I do note that they say when playing with 5 players, you have to use advanced and/or expert cards or you won't have enough. But there are also six more cards out per round, so that may mitigate the problems we had last night.)
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Michael Denman
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I've been wondering about this too because it seems to be giving even MORE of an advantage to the military players' turn order. I'm just using them all at once... and that's what the guys I play with clearly want... but I do wonder if the game might not play a little better with a little more balance. If the game was shorter, I really wouldn't care about this, but it can be frustrating to feel like you're getting screwed by the cards and not able to do anything about it.
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Ivan Myers Jr
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I've played with all the cards thrown together since my first play and haven't run into any issues. I think the fears of running into bad card combinations in a round are overblown. The only useless cards are typically excess wars, most I've seen of those on the board at 1 time are 3. Didn't really cause much of a problem, other than maybe a slightly shorter round.

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Dan Schaeffer
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MangaFox wrote:
I've played with all the cards thrown together since my first play and haven't run into any issues. I think the fears of running into bad card combinations in a round are overblown. The only useless cards are typically excess wars, most I've seen of those on the board at 1 time are 3. Didn't really cause much of a problem, other than maybe a slightly shorter round.



In one round last night - with three players, so out of 15 cards - we had something like six wars on the board at once.
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Dave G
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Golux13 wrote:
MangaFox wrote:
I've played with all the cards thrown together since my first play and haven't run into any issues. I think the fears of running into bad card combinations in a round are overblown. The only useless cards are typically excess wars, most I've seen of those on the board at 1 time are 3. Didn't really cause much of a problem, other than maybe a slightly shorter round.



In one round last night - with three players, so out of 15 cards - we had something like six wars on the board at once.


Not something like, it was seven. Two left from Age III and five from the first draw of age, ahem, II II.

Maybe it was spectacularly bad luck, but even if it was I'm all for a way to minimize the possibility of a similar problem again.
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Michael Denman
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I don't see a problem in having a lot of wars... or anything else. To me, the problem would seem to be a LACK of something. Like maybe only one wonder showing so first player gets it.
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Riku Koskinen
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The designer said in one thread - please excuse my laziness to dig it up - that the game is intended to be played with all the cards, but only when the players are reasonably experienced. When you play your 50th game, it will probably get a bit boring if the card distributions are always quite even.

I have played with all the cards with nothing removed since the beginning, and have seen a fair share of very uneven card distributions on the board. These are not a game over by any means, and they make the game quite fun indeed. You don't always buy several cards each round even if there are some playable options left, unless you are swimming in gold, so I see no problem skipping card buying entirely every now and then.
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