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Subject: some impressions after a 3 player game rss

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Shoosh shoo
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Hey all

I played this game with 2 others today. I was teaching the game and although it was a little bit shaky we started getting into it. I was a resto player along with one of the other guys vs. 1 loyalist. I played like garbage and made quite a few serious mistakes

A comment was brought up afterwards as one guy mentioned he wasn't too keen on how assassinating or hiding tips off everyone as to what faction you are. I think he did his first assassination about 15-20 mins into the game so after that we assumed he was resto. My first question is....at what point is it good to assassinate someone? Thinking back now I guess one strategy could be to make an "alliance" with this player. If you are Loyalist but the resto player is unsure...maybe the Loyalist could mess with him somehow and take actions that make it seem like hes an ally? I'm not too experienced though so I don't know how effective it is to bluff in this game. Every time you bluff those are actions you are taking away from other possibilities you may want to do.

Another criticism was the way end scoring works. One player seemed to dislike that the faction with the lowest scoring player loses. He brought up a point...let's say in a 4 player game, what if it ends up 3 vs. 1? It would be hard for that 1 player to lose because all he has to do is ensure he is in AT LEAST 2nd last place in order to eliminate the opposing faction. Does it not make sense then to just deal out 2 loyalist and 2 resto cards at random?

What seems clear to me is that the nature of this game changes drastically according to the number of players. A 2 player game could end up being an "I grab this and you take it back" session, whereas this type of battling would rarely happen in a 5 player game I imagine. I'm thinking that 4 or 5 players is the ideal number for this game.
 
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Kolby Reddish
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I think the endgame scoring is brilliant. Even in a 3v1 game, because there is only one winner, the outnumbering team should be fighting between themselves so much, it gives the 1 a chance, but it's surely not a guarantee.

I'd say if this was game number 1, give it another go. The game has a lot of subtleties to the brilliance of its design.
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Shoosh shoo
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But in a 3 vs 1 game how much fighting would the 3 players do? There seems to be plenty of ways to get enough points that they could gang up on the single player and still have a chance to come out as #1 on their team.

I don't know I will definitely have to play this more because I don't fully understand the game. I mean I know the rules but I just don't see how it all comes together yet. I need more playthroughs to see it. I was just wondering what kinds of sessions others have had....was there anything that stood out during your session and why?

In this session I played, I didn't do any assassinations so I kept my identity pretty much secret. The other players were unsure as to who I was fighting for right to the end. I understand this is very powerful to do....and it probably would have gave me a great advantage If I didn't make so many stupid mistakes. For one thing, I got into some major bidding wars a couple of times where I spent 8 or more cubes to get a card. It may have been better to stop and make the other player waste all their cubes. Another thing I did was spend too long in one city to try to assassinate a royal, but because I had no more cubes in my supply (they were all in Limbo) I was not cycling through my deck fast enough and getting the bombs needed.
 
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Kolby Reddish
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Well... If they want to actually win, not just have someone on their team win, they should be fighting quite a lot.

Try it again.
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Morten K
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Sounds like this game might not be for you. Your critique points are pretty much what sets it apart from other games and what makes it special
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Jim Marshall
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reddish22 wrote:
Well... If they want to actually win, not just have someone on their team win, they should be fighting quite a lot.


Exactly.

This is not a team game. If you lose, you lose period - it doesn't matter whether the winner was of the same or opposing alignment.

There's a certain degree of chaos built into this game, with the hidden alignments, hidden double-agents, and different cards coming out each game.

I've had the most success with this game with people who enjoy managing uncertainty and predicting/reacting to what the other players do, the least with those who like having a fixed set of circumstances through which they can plan the most efficient path to victory.

There's scope for efficient point gathering in this game, but on it's own it may not be enoigh to win.
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Shoosh shoo
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I will definitely be playing this game again. I've only played it with 3 players. As I said we were all new and there is certainly a lot to do in the game. One of the guys said "there seems to be a lot of options but I don't know how many of those options are actually worth while". He was referring to a lot of the permanent effect cards that came up. He said you could easily win by taking over cities and just moving up the war/revolution track. If you can cycle through your deck quickly this could be done. I told him that if other players see someone going for a bunch of cities they should counter by taking them back. I don't know how convinced he was though.
 
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Lawcomic
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The biggest mistake people make with this game is believing it is a team game.

It is.

But it also very much is not.
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Hardboiled Gregg
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I can see how a three-player game might be trickier. I've never actually tried it with fewer than four.

The main things to focus on are building up 'an engine of cards' whereby you can have your more powerful abilities and icons easily reachable if possible (increase hand size, free actions to draw more cards or simply through keeping your deck lean) and reacting to other players. The rest comes down to identifying when you can end the game.

It definitely helps to start by playing it neutral, not really taking actions to tip off anyone, until you've gotten into a reasonable position. There will be a lot of jostling back and forth, though perhaps not as much with only three players.

Bluffing is a valid tactic, but it does come down to timing and viability. It can come in various forms.

Maybe place a cube down on a card that clearly benefits one side more than the other, even if you don't want it. In that instance you'll probably have another player bid against you, which might actually reveal their allegiance, or they'll place a blocking disc, which could equally reveal their allegiance to be the opposite (they don't want the card). Subtle clues and hints to pick up on.

If you're concerned about no one competing and having to claim the card, consider doing it for an agent who clearly favours one side over another. Prince Kropotkin with his +2 to Revolution track and 1VP aren't that useful if you're a Loyalist, but he still has a gold and cube icon, as well as functioning as a bidding point/tie-breaker and you could point out that he's a buffer against main agent assassination (a Restorationist's big fear). Plus, in theory, you've kept him out of a Restorationist's hands. A lot of the bluffs depend on how you sell it to the other players so it's worth considering all the angles.

Another option is to straight up murder someone's non-main agent at the first available opportunity, since that can still be a useful action even if it scores you no VPs in the end. Depending on whether or not you are a Restorationist/Loyalist, you could 'present' it a certain way to others. Claim that you did it to prevent that agent from blocking you on getting cards or boldly state that you did it for the points. Sowing confusion is always helpful if you should ever find yourself in last place (which can happen with all the to and fro).

Yet another option is to assassinate/hide royalty for no gain. Trickier to do the opposite for a Restorationist, since you have to get the card, but doable for a Loyalist. You start with a card with that assassinate action, and could target the easier, lower-scoring royalty (Madrid, Constantinople, Cairo) so the hit isn't so bad. It might not be worth the cost, however, since you also lose that card, which could've been used on a rival agent and also carried 2 bomb icons. Could be that there are some better cards already out on the board that make it more viable though.

And another option involves the Revolution/War tracks. Firstly, because of the gaps between the score values, moving one doesn't always result in a bonus/reduction (if it's one space above '2', going down one space still means it awards 2). Since you can move as many as you are able to in a single action, you could get a few cards and combine them... or go back and forth on separate turns to confuse people. Later on, you can then try and tip the balance. A Loyalist might want the Rome and Vienna city cards because they can bump up both tracks simultaneously or alternately, then later switch purely to the War track once they feel confident they can pull ahead. Obviously, you might find players are fighting you for those cards anyway.

There are all sorts of little things you can do and claim it for certain reasons. It all depends on the state of the board and other players.

My own experiences:

In my first four-player game, it was a tense affair, with the expected squabbling over cities. The 'problem' with my group is that when it comes to games with hidden identities, there is one player who struggles to keep it concealed (though good at One Night Ultimate Werewolf). Soon enough he had made it clear he was a Restorationist, like myself, so I just had to wait and see if any of the other players reacted. No big clues came and so the jockeying for position continued until a bit of confusion and a massive blunder by the sole Loyalist.

One of the other (unconfirmed) Restorationists had pulled into the lead, but left himself wide open to main agent assassination... which the Loyalist gladly obliged despite a) being in last place by a few points himself and b) not being 100% sure. Game ends. Restorationist dies for the win

I'm not entirely sure what the Loyalist player was expecting. My best guess is that he thought he'd earn a big points shift, or an auto-win for killing a rival faction member... or thought they were a Loyalist and wanted to reveal them. Dumb move either way, but it was a first game.


In another five-player game it was a nice, tense and chaotic affair. Sadly, it was the poor chap who can't remain incognito who essentially lost everyone else the game. Everyone's efforts were split across multiple things (sidenote: the board looks really pretty with all the coloured discs and cubes over it) and since others were still wrapping their heads around the game, maybe they weren't wise to what was ultimately occurring.

Unfortunately, I'd suffered a setback in that of the three agents I'd managed to claim, two were double agents belonging to the same bloody player and then that same player killed someone else's double agent I'd claimed (though this was null anyway because of a rules error, but fortunately the agent was never moved, didn't affect card-claiming nor final VP positions). As a Restorationist in 2nd place, it meant I was running from potential danger and to find myself a 'buffer' agent should a player come for me next/again.

All the while, someone who I suspected was a Loyalist (the same one who ended that first game prematurely) was in the lead and had put a cube on the Change of Heart card very early on. I could see exactly what he was planning that next turn. Problem was, I was pretty much powerless to stop it and the out-and-out Restorationist he had his eyes on was trapped or blind to it, too busy fighting for cities he'd just lost rather than protecting himself.

So, there we were, a Loyalist in the lead, myself 1 VP behind, the other Restorationist a few points behind me, a suspected Loyalist far behind that and then a pretty much guaranteed Loyalist (hid Royalty as well as killing my Agents) way behind him. The Loyalist in the lead was still unsure about my allegiance, but he knew there was nothing I had that would've closed that agonising 1VP gap (thanks to someone stealing/killing my VP-awarding agents!) so he was safe to proceed.

I was unable to get a cube/disc down to block the Change of Heart card and the Restorationist was in the same city as two of the Loyalist's agents(!) so I could only watch as the inevitable happened.

The player claims the Change of Heart card then assassinates the other Restorationist's main agent. Identities are revealed to be what everyone suspected and the two Loyalists remain a few points behind everyone else, meaning the newly-switched Loyalist-to-Restorationist wins... by killing his new brother-in-arms.

Still a very enjoyable game and there are many moments where it could've gone either way, even just taking my own potential actions into consideration. If my cards had been different for that one turn, if I hadn't stolen that city off that player and divided their attention at that critical moment, if I hadn't waited to reveal that double agent...

It's a wonderfully varied experience that creates stories and will play differently each and every time.
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Shoosh shoo
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That's the kind of thing I'm talking about....this game sounds potentially very chaotic and secretive when players understand the game and start to mess with each other's minds. Unfortunately you need the experience first, but after playing it for a few times this game seems to get much better the more you understand it (which could be said about pretty much any game I guess).

I plan on introducing this game to other people and when I teach a game I don't like to leave everyone high and dry. I like to suggest possible strategies or bring up examples which illustrate the possible types of situations. I feel that this way they're not going into the game blindly and having no idea what they should do. I think one of the things I should mention is don't be so quick to assassinate or hide a royal for the sake of tipping everyone off. It might be better to wait till you have some good cards or sown some confusion among the players first. I read of some people assassinating royalty although they were Loyalists, just to confuse other players, but to my understanding.... a loyalist doesn't get to keep the points if he assassinates a royal correct? Also, if a Resto player hides a Royal, they don't keep the points, AND hiding still causes you to draw a sanity token which could potentially kill you. These risks may not be worth it.
 
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Victor Lesperance
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I just played the game for the first time. I wrote a quick review, but its been a few hours and I haven't seen it appear, so I'll just recap very briefly here, since my experience mimicked the OPs.

I played a 4 player game. It ended up being me vs. 3 others. It was the worst 3 hours I've spent playing a game in years.

To summarize 3 hours in just a couple sentences:
One guy goes all in, killing old ones. His team is obvious. The next player gets a card instantly that lets her look at other loyalty cards. She checks mine, then blocks every move I make as if her life depends on it. She checks the last player and ignores that person. So, within a few turns all 3 players now know its me vs them. They each take turns blocking everything I do. If I put 3 influence somewhere, one of them puts 3 in the same place then the next one locks the square. If I pull off the lock and add more influence, they repeat as needed. If I give up and go somewhere else, they gangrape me there as well.

I bought 3 agents. Between them they played the right 3 double agents and took them from me before I could use them. One of my agents was the one that could steal double agent tokens. So, they took my double agent, then proceed to take all my double agent tokens too.

I bought 3 city cards throughout the game. They each picked one of the cities and took them from me. One guy spends an action removing 2 of my cubes, the next guy takes my cards.

Rinse and repeat.

I don't care who you are, you can't fight a 3 front war. Every round I got 2 actions. At the same time they - as a collective team - spent 3 actions guaranteeing that I ended each turn worse than I started AND still had 3 more actions between them to get more powerful.

I think its naive to assume that game balance will be ensured by all 3 people on one team playing a cut throat game allowing the 4th player to join in on the fun. Some people are not cut throat. 2 of the players were a husband and wife. They were just fine as long as either of them won. Am I supposed to throw a tantrum and say they cheated? No. They played the game. They enjoyed themselves. But they set up a dynamic that made this game an absolute misery to endure. And the last player was happy to come in 2nd. 2nd out of 4 was good enough for her. Am I supposed to yell at her that she's a complete loser like me? No.

Because, in a sense, they were right. They said that if anyone opened up the smallest window for me to score a point, all three of them could lose. They didn't want that. So, they all worked like a well oiled machine.

For 3 hours I scored nothing. I did nothing. The only time a won a card, it turned out that it was because they could take it from me and add to their own decks.

I was a good sport. I just played my turns as quickly as I could so I didn't draw it out. But it was 3 hours of watching others play a game that I'll never get back. In fact, I watched 20 people having fun, because games were being played all around us. I so wanted to say, screw this, and play any thing else with another group.

And I'm actually a generous person. I've given up my spot at a gaming table so a little kid could play, even if it meant standing around for 2 hours waiting for another game to start. I've GM'ed RPGs where my only concern is maximizing the fun of others.

But in those cases, its a choice, not an ambush. And I can't fault the other 3 players. I would win if I was anything other than last place. They knew that. So they had great incentive to keep me so buried down that I had no hope of scoring anything. That gave each of them a 1 in 3 chance of winning. They liked those odds. They buried me. And the game completely supports that strategy. And yes, 3 hours later the game ended and I had a single victory point. Woo hoo.
 
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Kolby Reddish
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Well thats a bummer. Certainly doesn't sound fun. While I agree and wouldn't say that the players were cheating, I'd definitely say that they weren't playing in the spirit of the game. I think for it to really work, the people playing have to really want to win - not just have someone on their team win. There are actually very few hidden points in this game once the teams are basically revealed. It's not actually that hard to know what you need to do to assure victory on your own, though accomplishing it may be far more difficult.

You're a better sport than I. The game I played where it was 2v1 - one of the other players did the same thing you mentioned of just stopping any progress I had. I promised him that for doing that, I'd end the game when the other player was in the lead, and under the threat of doing that, he eased up a bit and I was able to pass the third player, taking the win in the end.

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Hardboiled Gregg
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Sorry to hear you had such a miserable time. That game sounded like a mixture of very bad luck, and a not so sporting group.

If there are new people I will go easy on them, even help them out if I can because I'd rather everyone enjoy the game over securing a victory for myself (my own session report should stand testament to that). Really, by turning off any new players, you're just narrowing your potential group for 'high-level' games you might wish to have in future.

I'm sure myself and others could try and suggest things you should've done differently, etc. but it was your first game so I wouldn't expect you to have known better. It's a somewhat steep learning curve and probably wasn't the best of situations for you to be in.

Burtsev is definitely something you want to block/eradicate asap. Otherwise, it's that tricky social deduction aspect where you try and sow confusion and get the other players doubting what they're being told/led to believe by the Burtsev-owner. Definitely a tough task for a new player, as well.

vlesperance wrote:
One of my agents was the one that could steal double agent tokens. So, they took my double agent, then proceed to take all my double agent tokens too.

From reading the other thread, in addition to getting the Double Agent interruption rules wrong, it sounds like they also made an error here. I'd have to double check the rules to be sure, but I don't think you're allowed to take someone's very last Double Agent token. So, yeah, they really messed up your game there, too.
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Jack Francisco
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Some of these experiences lays out to me why this is such a great 5p game. You are guaranteed of a 3v2, so even if people decided not to play in the spirit of the game, they can't gang up on one person.
 
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J M
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You can still be hosed if anyone on your faction either is playing very poorly, or not in the spirit of the game, especially if you're on the 2P faction. It is a game that really needs everyone at the table to understand how to play, and be reasonably effective at it.
 
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Tyler DeLisle
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I've only played he game once, getting ready to introduce it to my game group. I'm curious after reading some of these bad first experiences with unbalanced teams, would it not be smart to fix he team odds? At least on initial plays. Seems like it might be best to play the game initially with 4 players and randomly assign 2 from each team, at least to prevent this kind of ganging up until people realize how teams work.
 
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J M
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You'll lose the delicious uncertainty about how many other players are on your faction, but I don't think it would harm the game too much. If it makes it easier for people to learn the game through a positive experience, then I say go for it.

These days I'm more inclined to leave out the permanent effect cards too.
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Shoosh shoo
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do not teach them that this is a team game i think it creates a wrong impression if u mention team. then ppl start playing cooperatively.
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Kristian Petersen
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I played in my first three player setup a couple of weeks ago. Previously it's been 4 or 5 player games. Two of us knew the rules (3+ games) and the last was a rookie.

We made sure that the new guy was aware, that it is not a co-op game, even if you are on the same side. The new guy completely fooled us. When the game ended, both of us experienced players were 100% certain, that the player was a restorationist. Turned out he wasn't.

He didn't win (I did!), but it was really well played and the whole ganging up on one players was not an issue. And allthough I still prefer the game with more players, it worked better than I expected with 3.
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Tyler DeLisle
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shooshoo wrote:
do not teach them that this is a team game i think it creates a wrong impression if u mention team. then ppl start playing cooperatively.


Hah, good point. After reading the rules again, it makes more sense. My first play I didn't understand teams, goals, or how to win so I was really lost. I think I can stress enough how the scoring works and that you can be on the same side, but you're not on the same team.
 
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Shoosh shoo
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Somebody mentioned in a thread that thematically the allied sides represent different revolutionary factions that dont necessarily agree with each others methods so whike their overall goal is to get rid of the old ones they dont agree on how to do it. and the loyalists just dont like each other or anyone for that matter
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J M
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The loyalists are each trying to be eaten first.
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Kristian Petersen
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The Loyalists factions in this game are to each other, what the People's Front of Judea are to the Judean People's Front... not to mention to the Campaign for a Free Galilee.
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birchbeer
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I'd equate it to the ancient axiom, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."
 
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Rauli Kettunen
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bamonson wrote:
I'd equate it to the ancient axiom, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."


I prefer "enemy of my enemy is #2 on the to-kill-off list" laugh .
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