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Subject: Magic the only path? rss

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Rob McCord
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Does anyone else feel the race to get the level 5 magic is too much of a driving factor? I normally don't bother with the tower since its pretty expensive and I'd lose out on all the cool abilities. And rapid expansion only helps me to gather mana faster. Basically I've never had a game yet end by level 6 tower or 7 deployed meeples. Any thoughts?
 
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Keith Smith
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I just think that's your particular group's metagame. If everyone is fighting over mana, that means lower-hanging fruit (like ore) is relatively easy to gather and utilize.

The Tower is much more efficient at gaining VP than the other methods. It's only downside is it doesn't give you fun abilities to play with during the game. But try comparing the VP you get from the final level of the tower to how much VP you can get from your 5th magic level (which also technically has no in-game utility). Maybe then you'll see why the Tower is worth going for.
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Rob McCord
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Skeith27 wrote:
I just think that's your particular group's metagame. If everyone is fighting over mana, that means lower-hanging fruit (like ore) is relatively easy to gather and utilize.

The Tower is much more efficient at gaining VP than the other methods. It's only downside is it doesn't give you fun abilities to play with during the game. But try comparing the VP you get from the final level of the tower to how much VP you can get from your 5th magic level (which also technically has no in-game utility). Maybe then you'll see why the Tower is worth going for.


Hmm good incite. The 10 of the tower compared to the 5 of the magic is true, thought I normally get a few extra points on my level 5 of magic due to some level 5 bonus, like orcs +2 if no one else is in my home territory.
 
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Keith Smith
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On average, each level of the Tower provides 1.67 VP (10 VP divided by 6 levels).

Without meeting any special requirements, each level of Magic provides 1 VP (5 divided by 5 levels).

IF you can get to Level 5 Magic and fulfill its special requirement, you can score 1 to 3 extra VP (a few races can potentially earn more, but that's very tough).

If we go with the average of that, and say level 5 Magic earns you 2 VP more, then you earn 1.4 VP per Magic level (7/5).

So as you can see, the Tower is still the most VP bang for your resource buck. But it's the racial powers that make that tradeoff fair for getting Magic. In any case, if people are literally killing each other for that Mana, grabbing more Ore safely to jump up the Tower is a decent bet, especially if you think you can end the game that way before they have a chance to reach level 5.
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Julius Besser
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I believe the fact that you have to take all of (or almost all of) the actions every cycle will help with encouraging people to grab low hanging fruit. Every cycle, someone is likely to take a build action. If you are prepared, you can take the opportunity to turn that build action in VP. If you aren't then you only get resources instead of VP.

Additionally, magic is a more precious resource than ore, because magic is worth more for War. So you can use the tower to turn a "cheaper" resource into VP and reserve the "more expensive" resource for War.

Plus, if you grab the Tower enough times, you can get ahead of people and end the game by getting to the top of the tower.

Personally, I've actually seen a number of games end with 7 deployed meeples. Often, I prefer to go with lots of meeples when playing as Human. I have no doubt that deploying lots of meeples is a strong strategy, since that makes collecting resources so much more efficient, which means that every other action, including and especially war, are more efficient.
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Ruben Schlüter
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Skeith27 wrote:
So as you can see, the Tower is still the most VP bang for your resource buck.


Uhm... No. Not as clearly and universally as you state it here. Cause it's not levels that count, but reached levels and necessary resource utilization.

To get to Magic level 4, which is worth 4 VP, you need to spend 10 Mana (1+2+3+4). To get to Tower level 4, which is worth 4VP, you need to spend 10 Ore. The difference between Magic and the Tower is that magic gives less and less bang for the buck the higher you go, whereas with the tower it's just the other way round. If you can get to level 5 or 6, you have a good or even great deal at about 2.1 resources per VP. If you get stuck at level three, you have spent 6 resources for 2VP, same as with magic level 5. so if you're not prepared to give the tower the attention it deserves, you'd better have stuck with magic, which gives you bonus abilities, and with Mana being the deterrent it is (2 for war) it seems an even better idea. Of course, this is all part of the design, and reason why it is so brilliant. ;-)
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Aaron White
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This is all really interesting, because war was so common for my games that the magic tree was hard to climb. Early game we would get the first few levels, but after that we were at each other to prevent getting the higher levels.

I do find the tower hard to invest in, primarily because of the slow victory point climb. Sometimes it is better just to go for food and population instead because it can actually do something for you. The tower is this static thing that only affects the end game.
 
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Ruben Schlüter
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Rook96 wrote:
This is all really interesting, because war was so common for my games that the magic tree was hard to climb. Early game we would get the first few levels, but after that we were at each other to prevent getting the higher levels.

I do find the tower hard to invest in, primarily because of the slow victory point climb. Sometimes it is better just to go for food and population instead because it can actually do something for you. The tower is this static thing that only affects the end game.


So how did your games end, then?

Not by reaching level 5 magic, due to everybidy fighting each other.

If there are a lot of wars, population will suffer, so population will also probably not have been the game ending event.

Finally you say you find the tower hard to invest in, so it doesn't seem to have been the game winner, either.

Uhm...
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Aaron White
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Alpha-Omega wrote:
Rook96 wrote:
This is all really interesting, because war was so common for my games that the magic tree was hard to climb. Early game we would get the first few levels, but after that we were at each other to prevent getting the higher levels.

I do find the tower hard to invest in, primarily because of the slow victory point climb. Sometimes it is better just to go for food and population instead because it can actually do something for you. The tower is this static thing that only affects the end game.


So how did your games end, then?

Not by reaching level 5 magic, due to everybidy fighting each other.

If there are a lot of wars, population will suffer, so population will also probably not have been the game ending event.

Finally you say you find the tower hard to invest in, so it doesn't seem to have been the game winner, either.

Uhm...


Congratulations, you got me. My games never ended. We are still playing because we are constantly at war.

This devolves into the Warhammer universe because we would not trigger the end game. Even 40,000 years into the future we have not completed the tower, resulting in the Warhammer 40k universe.
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Ruben Schlüter
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But really, one of the appeal points for me was that games would be short. From your experience - are they?
 
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Aaron White
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Alpha-Omega wrote:


But really, one of the appeal points for me was that games would be short. From your experience - are they?


About an hour, but we do a lot of drinking when we play. We also might not be the most strategic bunch.
 
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Rainer Ahlfors
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Every game I have played thus far has taken about 15-20 minutes.
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Stephen Eckman
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All of my plays have been about an hour long and that includes teaching the game to 1-3 new players each time. Our games usually end by reaching Magic level 5, but we have also had the top Tower level built and all 7 meeples deployed. We have had Elf, Orc, and Dwarf victories but yet to have a Human victory (once they were tied but lost the tiebreaker to the Dwarf faction). I also haven't managed to print all of the new races yet.
 
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Raithyn
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Two player: 15 min, Tower finish, tie - victory to Dwarves on tower (vs. Elves)
Three player: 20 min, Magic finish, Human victory (vs. Dwarves & Orcs)
Two player: 20 min, Magic finish, Dwarven victory (vs. Elves)

Only the last was unevenly matched in tactical skill. My opponent that round isn't a gamer and I was surprised (based on past experience) that he picked up the game fast enough for us to finish in 20 minutes. I expect him to put up more of a fight next time.

The three player game had a war most every patrol action after we reached four units each. That slows down the game, but if everyone has the flow, you just keep going and it doesn't actually take that long. Collecting enough resources to win could easily be done in 5 minutes without wars. More players = more war, but also more potential collect actions per round. I think that evens out.

I want to play some of the other races and see how they stack up, but I hadn't printed them off at the time.

tl;dr: 15-20 minutes fits my experience.
 
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Ryan R

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It surprises me that no one has mentioned the obvious racial advantages to each path -- Dwarf-Tower, Elf-Magic, etc.

Everyone's going to want a little magic, certainly, but beyond that, race will often play a big role in deciding which path is best.

Even the Tower isn't necessarily an all-or-nothing proposition. Getting it up to not-too-difficult goal of level 4 is the break-even point (compared to other paths), so it's definitely worthwhile to get it that high if you can afford the ore. Going all the way to 6 requires you do more than double your ore expenditure, so a partial Tower can be a much more reasonable strategy for anyone. Except Dwarves. Dwarves should always be building.
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Greg Gresik
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Not just racial abilities influencing victory path (which is spot on) - but also it's important to keep in mind what has already been pseudo-implied (although not quite directly stated) - that is, some of the decision process in "best path" is determined by what everyone else is doing, and what the territories look like.

If you look closely, not all territory cards are the same (some have two mana forests, some one, others have 2 ore, and still others only 1 mountain for ore). We found in a recent 3 player game that the Dark Elf bonus at magic level 5 was partially useless, as we had all (except the dark elf) chosen home territories with but 1 forest - so there were only 4 mana areas in play - not the 5 needed to max the dark elves level 5 magic bonus.

Incidentally, myself and the other player allied in one of them, making it impossible for the dark elves to roll up too much mana. At that point I had gone too far up the tower (being construct helped - but dwarf would have worked too).

The point, imho, is that the combination of varying powers, varying territory cards and varying strategies definitely make the "best" path to victory highly variable game to game.
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Nathaniel Hobbes
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My group usually follows the "magic only" path. Most of our games have ended that way. On the other hand, in my last game, I taught a new player who ignored both magic and the tower, and just hoarded mana, expanded, and went to war. It was amazing. He kept expanding all over the map and attacking to keep us short on resources and meeples. I won because he made a rookie mistake on the last turn. He could easily have taken a capital city and beat me. The experience taught me that my group's habit is neither the only nor the best way to win, it is just our style. Those faction abilities seem too tempting for us to resist, but that's not a law.
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Ryan R

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As a quick anecdote, I'll mention a recent game where I introduced some friends to TEK. Two of them noted that a single-minded focus on the tower would score the most points.

This is absolutely true if you are in a group of non-aggressive people. As we were in such a group (I was the only one who messed with either of them in any way), they easily ran away with the game, coming in a distant first and second. (I had chosen to go all-out magic, just to test the "magic is best" theory.)

So I feel safe concluding that the best path very much depends on a number of factors, including (but not limited to) the personalities of the players involved.
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