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Subject: What this game needs is a session report... rss

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John Bradshaw
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...so here it is!

Preamble

Norman, myself (John) and Steven arrived chez Chris for our usual Thursday evening games get together last night. I had suggested Madeira, and everyone was keen, so that glorious board was laid on the table and we set the game up. I do like to be organised with regard to these things - the player's starting goods are ready packed, together with the player components in individual cartons, so set up was a breeze and I began the rules explanation which I can do now in approximately 30 minutes. A quick description of the various features of the board, a detailed description, with examples, of how to satisfy each of the 5 different types of Crown requests - the main point scorers in the game - and then a run through the structure of the turn with some pointers to the elements that might influence a strategy. Do you get your ships out early and earn money and points with them - but have to pay wood for the rest of the game? Do you pass early and get a good choice of Guild Row next time or secure a vital action in passing - or do you take as many actions as you can to build up an engine of resource gathering, city building and guilds acquisitions? Do you use pirate dice to gain extra actions and possibly hinder an opponent at the same building - how are you going to maintain your ships, earn the money to pay for your Actions, and will you attempt to feed a growing workforce or keep the numbers down for ease of maintenance? Crucially - which of the 3 regions do you feel you want to be represented in, in order to take advantage of the Building Actions - etc etc and so on.

Round 1

Chris was first player with Guilds(G), Norman next with Expeditions (Ex), followed by me with Market Routes (MR) and Steven with Wealth of the Nation.(WoN)

At end of round 1, both Chris and Steven cashed in WoN for the full 15, I got a modest 8 with Ex, and Norman slipped up with Urbanization (Urb) managing only 5.

Round 1 scores - Chris 20, Steven 16, John 14, Norman 5.

Round 2

I was concentrating on Region 2 and the Capitania and bringing in the money and bread etc using the Mayor to good effect. Norman began concentrating on Region 3 using both buildings to get Guilds flipped and a City Watch presence, Region 1 - the easiest to take dice actions in was slightly neglected - Steven and Chris were more evenly spread. Steven got a couple of guys into colonies to set up a steady Goods income. Round 2 is a non-scoring round (ie no Crown Requests), so there were no big changes

Round 2 scores Chris 21, Steven 17, John 17, Norman 10, Norman making up some leeway by taking the "Honour" in the City Watch

Round 3

As round 3 developed, the full awesomeness of this game was dawning on everyone - the difficulty of the choices - there were several "Oh no!" head-in-hands moments, as players realised that workers would not be fed - or buildings would not be paid for, or goods would not be available for shipping - or a desperately needed Action was now blocked with 4 dice etc etc! I felt comfortable with my Urban strategy being able to produce the stuff to maintain my ships and feed my workers etc - but I wasn't harvesting enough to be able to cash in on shipping. Norman and Steven were the big scorers as the Crown Requests were satisfied - Norman a massive 18 (Ex) and 10 (G), Steven with 16 (MR) and 15 (G). I had 12 (Urb) and 11 (MR), Chris 14 (MR) but a modest 5 (G)

Round 3 scores. Steven 49, John 43 Chris 42, Norman 41.

Round 4

Another non-scoring round - indeed a round in which Norman and I scored no points at all. I passed early, keen to ensure first choice in the final turn - when "all the tat" (as Chris put it so eloquently) would be left to choose from in terms of Crown Requests!

Round 4 Scores. Steven 50 Chris 46 John 43 Norman 41

Round 5

Round 5 opened with me choosing the remaining Ex. I already had 2 ships in the "6" slot for this one and an 18 max looked possible. Everyone was worried about Pirates, except Norman who had the Constable who was rounding them up and sending them back to the tray with monotonous regularity. The whirring of brains was almost audible - certainly the groans of despair were, as desired shipping landing slots disappeared, Actions were blocked, and previous moves bitterly regretted!

In despair about a final move, I finally noticed a single Guild character that had not been taken - the Scout. Of course! He can move a worker into the City Watch and lose me 3 pirates! (Norman had already grabbed the Passing Action for this one.) That had my Pirates down to a hopeful level - we cashed in our final set of 3 Crown Requests thusly Steven 48!(MR 18, G 15, WoN 15) John 44 (MR 11 Urb 15, Ex 18), Chris 41 (G15, MR 13, Ex 13) and Norman 37 (Urb 10, Ex 14, WoN 13)

Round 5 Scores Steven 98, Chris 91, John 91, Norman 81

Norman added 1 for remaining reals - I added 6 - and then the all-important Pirate count!

Norman had a big fat zero - me 6 Chris 9 and a dejected Steven, in the lead for so long, 13!

Final scores :-
John 93 Chris 83 Norman 82, Steven 82.

The breakdown of total points earned, per the different Crown Requests was :- MR 86, Ex 81, WoN 69, G 60, Urb 42 (but note there are only 4 Urbs and 5 of each of the others.) Other than Crown reqs, 22 points were scored at the Capitania (sending guys to the city) and 20 "Honour" for the City Watch majority.

Playing Time 3.5 hours approx excluding rules explanation. This could be reduced by at least 1 hour I think with experienced players.

I had feared Norman's low pirate strategy, but then that's one of the things that this game is about - a trade off between scoring the points and dealing with pirates - and maybe Norman had over-concentrated on the latter at the expense of the former. I felt sorry for Steven as well - leading for so long and then that massive -16 - is it too much? Who am I to question the brilliance of Paulo and Nuno who designed this masterpiece?!

I liked my urban strategy but felt I should have done more harvesting. I had just the 2 Guildspeople, the Lord (you are paid up at a building of your choice) and the Miller, who got me high enough on the Windmill such that bread was a minimal issue.

I must just say - wow - this is an awesome game. It's a game that has kidnapped my brain (sorry guys the ransom will be very low!) ever since I read that rulebook. I'm thinking, during the day - how would it work to concentrate on Region 1 and build up some goods income from Colonies? How would it work if I used Guilds more - how would- etc etc . etc. The game is a rich feast of options, and has a great narrative as you develop your economy and churn out money, ships, workers whatever is needed at a point in time.

Bear in mind - the game IS heavy. I found it hard to get through the rulebook initially - but once you "get" it, the whole thing is really quite straightforward. The fact I struggled with the rulebook initially is not a fault of the rules by the way - they are VERY well written - it's just that there's a lot to plough through. I'd say reading the rules was about on a par with Terra Mystica - but I can play Madeira without looking back at the rules - I usually find I need to consult them for TM. This game is very playable, and it appears that it will scale well for 2 or 3 players also.

If you're on the fence about this wonderful game, do yourself a favour and give it a try!
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Scott Nelson
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Thanks for the session report. I feared trying to write one up for this game. If anyone is having trouble with the rules, check out Rahdo's runthrough on it. I pretty much learned exactly how to play the game from the runthrough alone. But, mainly, after watching the video I was able to read the rulebook with ease, catching the little things that come up that the runthrough never had come up. I think it plays better with 2 and 4; 3 was not the best game for my group (that could be partially due to the people involved in the game). I gave the game a 10 with 2, then played it with 3 and it felt like it was going to not be a keeper; then played it with 4 and it shined again. I think a well-informed group is best, so they use the pirate dice effectively and understand all of the consequences.
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Bernhard W
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Thanks John for the session report,
our first game was a great experience and I can't wait to play it again (we also took roughly as long as you did).

I've got a few questions on your round 1 scoring. I find it extremely hard to get money in this game and the fact that Chris and Steven had both 15 coins to spend makes me wonder how they achieved this. Can you please go a bit more into that detail as I dismissed WoN for a round 1 scoring in my 1st game (went for 15 points for Urb)?

1) As far as I can see, you can only get lots of money from the market if you've got at least 3 (4 corn) of the same resource, which is hard to achieve in round 1 as there's lots of wood everywhere. You start the game with just 1 worker per region and 1 of each resource, so would need to harvest twice (+ double corn in region 5 to get enough), and then ship (3 wine/sugar or 4 corn) to get over 10 coins to add to your starting money (5 coins). If you do this, you'll end up broke and with at least 3 pirates, which leaves you a bit short handed for the building actions (which C+S couldn't do in round 1 to keep the money) in the next turns. (EDIT: You can get a few extra coins for passing of course).

2) As for you and Norman, did you put a worker into the cities via capitania or any of the others by passing (#2) to get Norman to only score 2nd place in the cities? Ties are broken by the worker furthest to the right, so he should have been able to get the full points for 1 of the cities if he planned to score Urb. But well, there's always someone to mess with your plans in this game, which makes it great.
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Jacob Lee
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ropearoni4 wrote:
I gave the game a 10 with 2, then played it with 3 and it felt like it was going to not be a keeper; then played it with 4 and it shined again. I think a well-informed group is best, so they use the pirate dice effectively and understand all of the consequences.
Scott, do you think it was the number of players that hurt the game with three or that they were not a well-informed group? It just surprises me a game would only be great with 2 or 4. What is it about having an odd number of players that hurts this game? I tend to only play heavy games with three.
 
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Scott Nelson
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EmperorJacob wrote:
ropearoni4 wrote:
I gave the game a 10 with 2, then played it with 3 and it felt like it was going to not be a keeper; then played it with 4 and it shined again. I think a well-informed group is best, so they use the pirate dice effectively and understand all of the consequences.
Scott, do you think it was the number of players that hurt the game with three or that they were not a well-informed group? It just surprises me a game would only be great with 2 or 4. What is it about having an odd number of players that hurts this game? I tend to only play heavy games with three.
Maybe something to do with the urge to get the use of the pirate dice was heavier in the 3 player since every player could get one if they chose them first. It is not as planned if 4 play since one will always not get one.
 
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John Bradshaw
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BeloW06 wrote:
I've got a few questions on your round 1 scoring. I find it extremely hard to get money in this game and the fact that Chris and Steven had both 15 coins to spend makes me wonder how they achieved this. Can you please go a bit more into that detail as I dismissed WoN for a round 1 scoring in my 1st game (went for 15 points for Urb)?
Yes - I apologise for the lack of detail - (and absence of pictures!) - a session report wasn't exactly planned but this was a first outing for my score sheet (see files section) - and I thought I'd be able to reconstruct some record of the game from that - but clearly it lacks a lot of detail. Maybe I now need to design a game log sheet...

BeloW06 wrote:
1) As far as I can see, you can only get lots of money from the market if you've got at least 3 (4 corn) of the same resource, which is hard to achieve in round 1 as there's lots of wood everywhere. You start the game with just 1 worker per region and 1 of each resource, so would need to harvest twice (+ double corn in region 5 to get enough), and then ship (3 wine/sugar or 4 corn) to get over 10 coins to add to your starting money (5 coins). If you do this, you'll end up broke and with at least 3 pirates, which leaves you a bit short handed for the building actions (which C+S couldn't do in round 1 to keep the money) in the next turns. (EDIT: You can get a few extra coins for passing of course).
Frankly, I can't recall the detail for those two big 15 point WoNs. It seems well within the realms of possibility though. Your starting money is more than 5 coins remember - it's 7/8/9/10 for 1st/2nd/3rd/4th player. A double harvest on the empty Fortaleza nets you 2 sugar (or wheat) which, with your starting one, nets 11 or 9 at the market. Further, you could swap 2 goods for 1 at the windmill and net 14 or 12 reals for 4 sugar or wheat respectively. The mayor could also bring in at least 5, and there's passing too as you say, so 15 isn't too daunting I think.

BeloW06 wrote:
2) As for you and Norman, did you put a worker into the cities via Capitania or any of the others by passing (#2) to get Norman to only score 2nd place in the cities? Ties are broken by the worker furthest to the right, so he should have been able to get the full points for 1 of the cities if he planned to score Urb. But well, there's always someone to mess with your plans in this game, which makes it great.
As if! What are you saying? We're all gentlemen - who would do such a thing?! devil

Erm - yes - I notice I scored 3 points at the Capitania on Round 1, so I must have messed up Norman's plans by moving 2 guys into the city at that point. I'm sure it was done inadvertently!

Hindsight re the session report. Even without a log sheet, it should be possible to give a fairly detailed report by completing the score sheet AND taking a photo of the board at the end of each round. I'll try and get round to that next time. This time I did have the additional burden of "managing" the game, with rules reminders and explanations throughout.

Much is made of the game's weight and complexity. "Is it more complex than that Terra Mystica we played the other day?" asked Chris at the start. "Chris", I replied, "Terra Mystica is Snakes and Ladders compared to this"(!!) That's NOT true of course! Indeed, as I said earlier, I never need to look up any rules for this game. For TM, due to the way you have 14 different factions, I find there's often a rule to be looked up. Learning the Madeira rules at the outset isn't the easiest task I agree - but the rules are extremely well written, very clear, and leave very little scope for misinterpretation - perhaps one or two Guild characters could be better explained, but considering the depth of the game the rule book does a great job. Once you "get" it, it's all easy to recall and the complexity is in your strategic and tactical choices, NOT in the rules. Look at those icons - what could be simpler? Move 2 ships - put 2 guys into the fields - buy a guildsperson - the complexity is how we select from those actions to produce the optimum result, not in understanding how the rule is supposed to work.

This is a brilliant game and joins Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization and Colonial: Europe's Empires Overseas in my all time top 3. Masterpiece!

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Bernhard W
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Seghillian wrote:
Your starting money is more than 5 coins remember - it's 7/8/9/10 for 1st/2nd/3rd/4th player.
Oh how I hate this rulebook. I totally read over point 7.4 and handed out the money listed in the home supply section (2). Thanks!
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Bernhard W
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Seghillian wrote:
...Indeed, as I said earlier, I never need to look up any rules for this game. ... Learning the Madeira rules at the outset isn't the easiest task I agree - but the rules are extremely well written, very clear, and leave very little scope for misinterpretation - perhaps one or two Guild characters could be better explained, but considering the depth of the game the rule book does a great job. Once you "get" it, it's all easy to recall and the complexity is in your strategic and tactical choices, NOT in the rules. Look at those icons - what could be simpler? Move 2 ships - put 2 guys into the fields - buy a guildsperson - the complexity is how we select from those actions to produce the optimum result, not in understanding how the rule is supposed to work.

This is a brilliant game and joins Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization and Colonial: Europe's Empires Overseas in my all time top 3. Masterpiece!

Thanks for the clarifications. My oversight of the additional money players get will make a big difference and makes the WoN a good 1st scoring option especially for players that come later in turn order.

As for the rulebook, it is clearly written, but the arrangement for the Initial Preparation makes the setup for someone who "knows" the rules cumbersome. Maybe it's my preference to first setup the board completely with general tokens, then put the player pieces down. Let me explain. In Madeira, the setup is allover the place and starts with the Base supply for the players (2).,Then you place some tokens on the board, then players get more coins (7.4, hidden under "Starting Crown's Request" but would be better at point 14!). Next put some meeples on the board (9.3 & 10), continue to setup the board before you place more meeples under a section called "Initial player setup" (14, which should include 2, 7.4, 9.3 and 10), but is just one more thing to put down for the players.

Anyway, as you said, once you know how everything works together the rules are making perfect sense and there's no need to go back and search the rules (I guess I have the setup now sorted ).

Madeira is a great game that is en par with TM in complexity and instantly became one of my top rated games. I even find TM harder to learn due to the usage of the faction powers (and initial choice of them), which are not as straight forward as everything in Madeira. Thanks again for your report! It made me think of my next session...
 
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John Bradshaw
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BeloW06 wrote:
As for the rulebook, it is clearly written, but the arrangement for the Initial Preparation makes the setup for someone who "knows" the rules cumbersome...the setup is allover the place
Lol! Well after me saying how good the rule book is, you've made a liar of me there and I agree with you about the setup!

To get round the problem, I printed the following onto a piece of card and go through this point by point at game start :-




Madeira – Set Up

• Place Game Board + select appropriate Guild board. Place Wood onto fields on board as indicated

• Player’s supply – 1 Wheat, Sugar, Wine, Wood, 4 Bread, 5 Reals. Marker on Score Track at zero. Marker on Space 3 of windmill.

• Deal Starting Crown’s Requests. Most crowns as 1st Player. Players place disks on Passing Column of Guild Board in I/II/III/IV player order

• Deal 20 Crown Requests on Guild Board face up.

• Deal 3 “A” and 3 “B” King’s Reward tiles onto the Colonies.

• Deal 4 Guild Favours and place 1 neutral citizen onto each of the 3 cities.

• Place 2 workers each in City Watch.

• Neutral Citizen on each city.

• In reverse T/O each player places worker on an empty city space.

• In Reverse T/O each player places TWO workers onto fields.

• Give 2/3/4/5 Reals to 1st/2nd/3rd/4th player.

• Begin Phase A
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