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Caverna: The Cave Farmers» Forums » General

Subject: Does this suffer from "Familiarity Syndrome"? rss

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Bruce Gazdecki
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Yes, this is a term I made up. Basically it means that those who have played a game a lot have such a significant advantage due to the knowledge of combos and stuff over people who haven't played the game much that it's almost not worth playing unless you can find others of the same experience level. I know all games have this to some degree, but some are worse than others.

Agricola to me has this problem, due to the food building engine and cards. Another prime example to me is Dominion(on top of the fact that it's not a very good game IMO).

I was just curious if Caverna suffers from this as well? Thanks.
 
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Jeff Kayati
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Yes, but doesn't any game "suffer" from that?
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Chasseur d'Ours
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only good games suffer from that !
and it's a quality, experience paid not luck !! whistle
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If "Familiarity Syndrome" = "experience" then yes, of course. I even get better at life the more experience I have of it. So yes it does: much as I suffer from eating, breathing and sleeping.

Experience counts even in Noughts and crosses: up to a point, anyway.
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I would think that the only games that don't favour player experience of any kind are games like Snakes and Ladders which are 100% luck.
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Bruce Gazdecki
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I agree that experience helps, but in a game like Power Grid, no matter how many times you've played it, you could get beat by someone who's only played it a handful of times (it may not be likely, but it's at least possible). I will never beat an experienced player at Dominion. It's just not possible. They know all the combos to run thru their entire deck every turn (it's happened) while I'm stuck barely getting an extra action every couple of turns.

 
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Dennis de Vries
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I also agree that experience will help you beat any unexperienced player at any game (except the 100% luck games). But I get your point and I think that Caverna is probably one of the 'worse'with this 'syndrome' in your book.

I played it a lot more than most of my opponents and I know most of the available furnishings (tiles). They are all open information, but to get to know them you have to play the game a couple of times. So, the one with knowledge of/experience with the furnishings and their interactions will always have a higher score. I try to make it hard on myself to counter/challenge my experience (I try to do it different than other times, different furnishings, different approach like 'no quests'/no furnishings, etc.). So there is a way to have fun with 'casual gamers'. That way they can explore the game and maybe even win.
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Yes, if losing your first few games playing against people who have played a lot more than you puts you off of Caverna, don't buy it.

Dominion also has this same deal, where if you know what you're doing, you'll see patterns much more quickly.
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Of course, the solution to this is to gently guide newbies to avoid sub-optimal strategies/choices rather than using your experience to grind the worthless slugs into a slushy slimy mess underfoot. Cough, sorry. Got carried away.
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Bruce Gazdecki
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Terwox wrote:
Yes, if losing your first few games playing against people who have played a lot more than you puts you off of Caverna, don't buy it.

Dominion also has this same deal, where if you know what you're doing, you'll see patterns much more quickly.


I kind of figured as much. Now I'm not sure if I want to get it.
 
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Bruce Gazdecki
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enoon wrote:
Of course, the solution to this is to gently guide newbies to avoid sub-optimal strategies/choices rather than using your experience to grind the worthless slugs into a slushy slimy mess underfoot. Cough, sorry. Got carried away.


The problem is I'd be one of the worthlesss slugs. One of the guys in my gaming group is very much into buying new tuff, so we rarely play games multiple times.
 
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Bruiser419 wrote:
enoon wrote:
Of course, the solution to this is to gently guide newbies to avoid sub-optimal strategies/choices rather than using your experience to grind the worthless slugs into a slushy slimy mess underfoot. Cough, sorry. Got carried away.


The problem is I'd be one of the worthlesss slugs. One of the guys in my gaming group is very much into buying new tuff, so we rarely play games multiple times.


Ohh, yeah, that's different. This is definitely a game that warrants repeat plays, not having that option freely available certainly limits things.
 
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That's a shame really. Sometimes the most enjoyment comes after that initial learning process. Having said that, my "curve" is normally U-shaped. First time out I do quite well following a simple strategy, next few games I'm experimenting and do really badly, then I improve to mediocrity - at which point I start to enjoy the game knowing I'm unlikely to win, but I'm not getting humiliated either.
 
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Terwox wrote:
Bruiser419 wrote:
enoon wrote:
Of course, the solution to this is to gently guide newbies to avoid sub-optimal strategies/choices rather than using your experience to grind the worthless slugs into a slushy slimy mess underfoot. Cough, sorry. Got carried away.


The problem is I'd be one of the worthlesss slugs. One of the guys in my gaming group is very much into buying new tuff, so we rarely play games multiple times.


Ohh, yeah, that's different. This is definitely a game that warrants repeat plays, not having that option freely available certainly limits things.


Yes - but that's a 'group' problem, not a 'game' problem. Maybe the group needs to decide that some games need to get more frequent plays rather than letting someone unwrap their shiny new toys!
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Bruce Gazdecki
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enoon wrote:
Terwox wrote:
Bruiser419 wrote:
enoon wrote:
Of course, the solution to this is to gently guide newbies to avoid sub-optimal strategies/choices rather than using your experience to grind the worthless slugs into a slushy slimy mess underfoot. Cough, sorry. Got carried away.


The problem is I'd be one of the worthlesss slugs. One of the guys in my gaming group is very much into buying new tuff, so we rarely play games multiple times.


Ohh, yeah, that's different. This is definitely a game that warrants repeat plays, not having that option freely available certainly limits things.


Yes - but that's a 'group' problem, not a 'game' problem. Maybe the group needs to decide that some games need to get more frequent plays rather than letting someone unwrap their shiny new toys!


True, I agree it's more a group than game thing, but unfortunately this is the main way I get to game, other than online, so sometimes sacrifices have to be made.
 
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Bryan Thunkd
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enoon wrote:
If "Familiarity Syndrome" = "experience" then yes, of course. I even get better at life the more experience I have of it.
If only there were a word to describe the effect of getting better at something with more experience... oh wait, there is. Skill.

Yes, this game suffers the skill problem. Players who play more, get more experience and develop skill at the game. This gives them an unfair advantage over those who haven't yet learned the game.
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Pete Goch
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I think the OP is referring to something over and above just skill at playing a game gained by experience. I know some people who can excel at a game on the first try simply because they've played so many board games that they can assimilate a new one rapidly and do well.

However, some games, particularly card and tile games, require knowledge of the various properties of the tiles and cards and how those properties bend the rules in some way or another. Simple knowledge and understanding of the rules and a general ability to "see the possibilities" in a game won't suffice. Player's who have a more complete knowledge of all the little ins and outs (the combos and synergies of the cards and/or tiles) will have an even greater advantage than normal.

It just makes being the newbie playing such a game even more daunting than other games. Race for the Galaxy springs to mind as an example.


//edit//

And, of course, Caverna to some extent as well. There are a huge number of furnishing tiles to familiarize yourself with and seeing how they work together will take time. It's not something most gamers would be able to just take in in 10-15 minutes of reading through the all the various tiles and be able to formulate a strong strategy.
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Bryan Thunkd
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TheOneTrueZeke wrote:
I think the OP is referring to something over and above just skill at playing a game gained by experience.


TheOneTrueZeke wrote:
Player's who have a more complete knowledge of all the little ins and outs (the combos and synergies of the cards and/or tiles) will have an even greater advantage than normal.

Learning all the specifics of a game is part of becoming skilled at it.
 
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Pete Goch
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Thunkd wrote:

Learning all the specifics of a game is part of becoming skilled at it.



It's definitely part of learning the game but I don't consider memorization to be much in the way of a "skill". And, for that matter, someone can commit to memory the text of every single rule and exception granted by the cards and tiles in a game and still be crap at the game. The skill lies in being able to synthesise all that information into a strategy based on the setup and responding to the other player's actions accordingly.

In any event the distinction is still clear. In games where a great deal of the rules are encoded on cards and tiles a new player is going to be at that much more of a disadvantage than other games. Unless, of course, you think it's a good idea, as part of teaching a game, to give everyone ample time to study all the cards or tiles before starting...

Ultimately, it just takes longer to learn such games.
 
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TheOneTrueZeke wrote:
Thunkd wrote:

Learning all the specifics of a game is part of becoming skilled at it.



It's definitely part of learning the game but I don't consider memorization to be much in the way of a "skill". And, for that matter, someone can commit to memory the text of every single rule and exception granted by the cards and tiles in a game and still be crap at the game. The skill lies in being able to synthesise all that information into a strategy based on the setup and responding to the other player's actions accordingly.
There is no information to synthesize if you don't know the tiles. I never said that memorization alone would get you anywhere, merely that knowing the particulars of the game is part of becoming skilled at it. No matter how good the player, if they don't know the cards, tiles, etc. of a game they will lose to an equally good player who does. And when you talk to skilled players you'll see that they know the particulars of the game... the concept of a skilled player of Caverna who doesn't know the cavern tiles is one that doesn't make sense.
 
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Pete Goch
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Which has what to do with the point I was making? It's still not much of a "skill" in and of itself and it's still a barrier to new players over and above other games that don't have a substantial portion of the rules encoded onto cards or tiles. This is neither inherently good or bad. It's just yet another factor that people might want to take into account when deciding on what new game to play.
 
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Bryan Thunkd
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TheOneTrueZeke wrote:
Which has what to do with the point I was making? It's still not much of a "skill" in and of itself and it's still a barrier to new players over and above other games that don't have a substantial portion of the rules encoded onto cards or tiles. This is neither inherently good or bad. It's just yet another factor that people might want to take into account when deciding on what new game to play.
The point is that it's just part of getting better at the game. In most games the players who are have more experience with the game know how to play it better. The "familiarity problem" can be renamed the "learn how to play" problem.
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Pete Goch
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Thunkd wrote:
TheOneTrueZeke wrote:
Which has what to do with the point I was making? It's still not much of a "skill" in and of itself and it's still a barrier to new players over and above other games that don't have a substantial portion of the rules encoded onto cards or tiles. This is neither inherently good or bad. It's just yet another factor that people might want to take into account when deciding on what new game to play.
The point is that it's just part of getting better at the game. In most games the players who are have more experience with the game know how to play it better. The "familiarity problem" can be renamed the "learn how to play" problem.



And having more to learn in the form of rules on cards and tiles makes that a longer process and gives a larger than normal advantage to those already familiar with the game.

Believe it or not there are those who can, on their first play of even a fairly complex game, do quite well and hold their own against experienced players. That doesn't happen nearly as often in games with a plethora of cards and tiles with rules changes/exceptions/scoring. It's, as I've said, an ADDITIONAL barrier. One that not everyone might want to put up with.
 
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TheOneTrueZeke wrote:
Thunkd wrote:
TheOneTrueZeke wrote:
Which has what to do with the point I was making? It's still not much of a "skill" in and of itself and it's still a barrier to new players over and above other games that don't have a substantial portion of the rules encoded onto cards or tiles. This is neither inherently good or bad. It's just yet another factor that people might want to take into account when deciding on what new game to play.
The point is that it's just part of getting better at the game. In most games the players who are have more experience with the game know how to play it better. The "familiarity problem" can be renamed the "learn how to play" problem.


And having more to learn in the form of rules on cards and tiles makes that a longer process and gives a larger than normal advantage to those already familiar with the game.
We agree. People who have learned the game have an advantage over those who have not.

TheOneTrueZeke wrote:
Believe it or not there are those who can, on their first play of even a fairly complex game, do quite well and hold their own against experienced players. That doesn't happen nearly as often in games with a plethora of cards and tiles with rules changes/exceptions/scoring. It's, as I've said, an ADDITIONAL barrier. One that not everyone might want to put up with.
Believe it or not, it often takes many people a play to figure out the strategy and quirks of a new game. I'm not sure what your point is... Are you saying that we should judge whether a game is good by whether it's possible to win on your first play? Are you saying we shouldn't have games that have lots of cards?

Fact: If a game has a lot of cards and tiles you're going to need to learn those before you'll be as competitive as players who already do. But that's just the combination of the fact that players who have more experience with a game tend to do better than players who don't because they know it better and that there's more to take in when you have lots of cards/tiles/etc. So yeah there's more to learn and the players who already have get a head start. If you want to call that a "familiarity problem"... feel free to do so, but I don't think it really adds anything doing so.
 
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Pete Goch
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Thunkd wrote:
Fact: If a game has a lot of cards and tiles you're going to need to learn those before you'll be as competitive as players who already do. But that's just the combination of the fact that players who have more experience with a game tend to do better than players who don't because they know it better and that there's more to take in when you have lots of cards/tiles/etc. So yeah there's more to learn and the players who already have get a head start. If you want to call that a "familiarity problem"... feel free to do so, but I don't think it really adds anything doing so.



I'm not calling it a problem. Some people find that aspect very frustrating, though, and prefer to play such games in groups where everyone is on an equal footing. Not all games with cards and tiles do this. Some manage to only add only a handful of new rules/mechanics with the cards or tiles (e.g. Tigris and Euphrates). It's those games where the rules per se are barely even half the game (i.e. a good portion of the rules are only on the cards or tiles themselves) that present that problem for such people. Hence, it's useful to know which sort of game Caverna is.

Just because you (or for that matter I) don't find it an issue doesn't mean others can't or won't.
 
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