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Subject: Amount of randomness? rss

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Jocelyn Robitaille
Canada
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Hey folks,

I've just backed the project two days ago, because the theme is really appealing to me and I saw that funding was uncertain at best. The thing is, I'm still somewhat on the fence about it because I have a hard time gauging the amount of randomness involved.

I'd like to hear a bit more about this from people who've played the game, or are just downright better at analysing games just by reading the rules than I am. Once it's all said and done, how random is this game? Is there usually a large spread between the the scores of the different players, so that being screwed over by luck is a rare thing, or are we looking at a game where the scores are usually pretty close to one another (which kinda makes it a victory based on luck of the draw)? Is there anything else I need to know to judge the actual impact of luck in the game?

As a point of reference, I don't mind "input" randomness (Alien Frontiers, Troyes, Castles of Burgundy) but I have a harder time with "output" randomness (Settlers of Catan).
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Xenothon Stelnicki
United States
Gainesville
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Well, you have the luck associated with the range of nuggets in each claim. You have control over this by purchasing better claims and through camp and gear purchases, as can your competitors. You'll see an example of this in Rahdo's videos.

The order of hardship tiles pulled is random, but the allocation of hardships is intentional and the sequence and selection is determined by the players.

The order of auction components coming up is random, but the selection of what you're building and how much you have in your coffers and how much you're will to pay is your decision.

To me, it balances out to be a more directly-competitive Alien Frontiers kind of level, which for my tastes is really fantastic. In AF, yes the dice are completely random, but the player's can directly influence this to a large degree by controlling regions and purchasing Alien Tech. The effect here is similar, but imagine each round players can bid on Alien Tech cards and are restricted to two at a time. Now imagine your victory points are the currency used in those auctions and if you have the most, other players can mess alter a die when you roll. That's kinda where you're at, although those are obviously not the actual mechanisms.
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Patrick Nickell
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Bothell
WA
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In all the games that I have played the grouping of the scoring is pretty tight. For example I taught a 4-Player game tonight in which I was only coaching and the final score was 17, 23, 25, 27. This is pretty close. For every thing that is random in the game there are cards and tiles to offset or mitigate "bad luck"

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Treebeard
United States
Joshua
Texas
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I am building Pay Dirt as my first print and play. I have everything printed and am sleeving the standard sized square cards. I have Pyrite that I plan to use for the nuggets and should be able to get the rest of the pieces needed to play together today. Once done my wife & I will play a few games and I will take it to my FLGS to get in a four player game or two.
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Treebeard
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Joshua
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I got one four player game in and my wife and I are going to play later this week (our schedule changed).

Since I have only played once take what I am saying with a grain of salt.

The elements of randomness are: what is available in the auction, what is available at the gear store, the hardship cards and the pay dirt tokens. The auction field randomness is mitigated by everyone being able to bid on what is available. Knowing what to pay for something is very important. What is at the gear store is random, but available to all players (as long as someone in front of you does not purchase what you wanted). The randomness of the hardship cards is offset by the draft that takes place by the players (last place to first).

The pay dirt tiles is most likely what you are asking about. There are three categories: baron, promising, and rich. Each tile has a range of nuggets that it provides 2-4, 3-5, and 4-6 respectfully. The personal, equipment, gear and claims all effect what pay dirt you will have access to, how fast it is processed, and how much it will be worth. For example: one of the players in our game got a classifier that added one nugget to baron pay dirt so he was getting 3-4 for each, I had a drill that let me look at one pay dirt that was on a claim and discard it and draw a new one if I wanted, and another player upgraded his equipment to one phase, two phases, and one phase so he could process one pay dirt a turn and repair his equipment.

I plan on doing a full review after some more plays, but I hope this helps.
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Scott Nelson
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Draper
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I've played a lot of different games, and this did not feel like luck had much to do with anything. Getting a good upgrade mattered more than the 1 more or less you get from a gold tile. The gear and upgrades mitigate the luck you might have. I do not believe that luck had anything to do with me getting the win, but timing of when to auction off stuff and when to win an auction; two distinct things there. Scores were tight my first game, and the second place player was only 3 behind me, and remembered a play that might've got him closer if he had done A instead of B. Hindsight is always 20/20 though.

Going into it, I thought it would just be another conveyer belt game, but the mechanisms involved push it ahead of that. Timing is crucial, when to buy, to upgrade, to move tiles, what mine to work on, when to sell, when to remove wear; so many options bring it to a deeper depth than something that feels like "the lucky player wins". Pay Dirt doesn't fire any other games, it is its own standard. Very thematic and very fun.
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