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Subject: Understanding the flow of the game rss

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MGS
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Chuff Ape (Keyforge)
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Played a demo at GenCon - had bought the game earlier in the day. The person demoing the game had never played before and we learned on the spot. We also played both Lost Legacy games. Definitely fun.

We had some trouble understanding the endpoint in this game. Especially he endgame triggers. The triggers are actually pretty clear. If an Anomaly card is played, everybody get a turn and the game is over. If the draw deck runs out, same thing.

The problem was that since a discarded card goes to the bottom of the deck, it did not seem the deck was run out anytime soon on our 2-player game. My opponent had both anomaly cards and since he was behind in points for the majority of the game, he wasn't playing them.

How is gameplay supposed to flow and drive the game to resolution? How can this 5-minute fun game not drag?

I feel there is a pretty good game here although I think our first and only game so far could have been better. I would like to understand it a little more before introducing it to my wife and play group.

Thanks
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Michael Tunison
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The two player game has a slightly different feel since you do put a card back in the deck each hand (with 3 or 4 players you just pass to the left and right) so triggering the end game by running through the deck can take longer. Also keep in mind that you don't need to have three cards in front of you to trigger the end - you might be best of to play the Cypher card with only one card in play, then use its ability and your final turn to get one or two more out there. Timing is a huge element in this game because of the way some of the cards interact, so more plays and getting familiar with the abilities can certainly help determine when it could be best to trigger the end.

And yes, there is a pretty good game here
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Michael Tunison
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Hmm, I missed the part about your opponent holding on to the Cypher Anomaly. I guess they could hold 1 for awhile and if they happen to keep drawing and discarding the other one, the game could drag on a bit. This doesn't seem like a great strategy - maybe if someone was new to the game and wanted to look through the cards or was holding out for something specific.
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It is actually worse than you describe. In the 2-player game, each player retains 2 cards at the end of the turn. Therefore, my opponent was holding both anomalies and, since he was behind, the game just dragged. It seems to me that a player should not be allowed to keep 2 anomalies after discarding down. But, I don't house rule and I wonder if this is a situation that is intended.
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Victor Aldridge
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The rules specifically state that once the end-game trigger is reached the game will end, even if cards are replaced and/or another player has an Anomaly.
 
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Michael Tunison
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Ronaldo wrote:
It is actually worse than you describe. In the 2-player game, each player retains 2 cards at the end of the turn. Therefore, my opponent was holding both anomalies and, since he was behind, the game just dragged. It seems to me that a player should not be allowed to keep 2 anomalies after discarding down. But, I don't house rule and I wonder if this is a situation that is intended.


Right - I forgot about drawing two cards in the 2-player game and ending with two cards. I'm trying to figure out if holding both Cypher cards would normally be a good strategy. Playing this card to trigger the end is fairly powerful since it allows you to immediately draw and play another card, then also get the final turn. Ideally you would want to do this if there's a good card in the display and you also have another good card in your hand for the final turn. However, triggering the end while holding both Cyphers is likely not the ideal plan - you're either going to pass the second one to the other player and give them two additional choices of cards to play on their last turn (display card or top draw card) or keep it yourself for the final turn, which might work out well as long as a good card comes up. I could maybe see holding on to both for a bit until you get a better setup in your play area and hand, but even this should only typically take a few hands since you're churning through the small deck fairly quickly. If someone is hoarding the Cyphers in order to wait out a very specific setup, it could drag out a bit and they're likely discarding cards which would ultimately be more useful. In my several plays of this (I helped David with some of the playtesting), I've never seen this happen so there could be something I'm forgetting to get around this.
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MGS
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It just happened during my only play. It makes sense that if you are losing and have both Cyphers, you hold on until you have a reasonable set up and some chance of winning. I think it would be a nice touch to disallow holding both Cyphers but I could be missing the whole point here. This is the kind of game that you don't want to drag. This is a specific feature of the 2-player game because in the other player counts you only keep one card.
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David Short
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Thanks for your inquiry, Ronaldo. Glad that you had an opportunity to try the game at GenCon.

This is a great question. In your scenario the game could end in two very different fashions (one likely, and one very unlikely):

1. (Likely) The player hoarding both Cypher cards would continue to upgrade his play area and finally feel confident to play Cypher to trigger the end of the game.

2. (Very unlikely) The player hoarding both Cypher cards continues to do so, which forces the other player to drive the end of the game by killing cards with the Extractor. This would indeed be a slow drip (and probably not fun), but I have never seen/heard of a game coming to this.

What I would suggest for your opponent, who for some reason felt compelled to hold onto both Cyphers, is to instead hold onto 1 Cypher and bury the other one under the deck. That way they have some control over the end-game trigger without passing their opponent the other Cypher. By the time the buried Cypher surfaced at the top of the deck again, hopefully they would feel better about their position in the game.

Hope that helps. Enjoy the game!!

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Thanks for the response. I was able to use the extractor once or twice. Worthy to note that my opponent was one of the AEG demo guys.
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David Short
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Ronaldo wrote:
Thanks for the response. I was able to use the extractor once or twice. Worthy to note that my opponent was one of the AEG demo guys.

Ah. Well, to be fair at a humongous convention like this not all demo people know the game as well as they probably should. Hopefully your future plays let the game show its true shine!
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And I apologize for sounding negative. I had a good time at the booth. The demo guy was great and as I said above, we played Cypher, Lost Legacy and Flying Garden. I just have to be aware in the 2-player game, I am sure the subsequent plays will be really good.
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MGS
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Played for the first time since GenCon tonight. Two player games with my wife. She thought the game was really interesting and she voiced that she thought it was a lot better than Love Letter and Lost Legacy. She likes that Cypher is a deeper game requiring interesting choices. We played 6 games in a row and could have played a few more. Nobody was hoarding Cyphers and the games flowed very well. While I don't want to be around the day somebody uses the Extractor to remove both Cyphers from the 2-player game laugh, I think this is a fun, well-designed game and I am happy to have found it at GenCon.
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David Short
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Ronaldo wrote:
Played for the first time since GenCon tonight. Two player games with my wife. She thought the game was really interesting and she voiced that she thought it was a lot better than Love Letter and Lost Legacy. She likes that Cypher is a deeper game requiring interesting choices. We played 6 games in a row and could have played a few more. Nobody was hoarding Cyphers and the games flowed very well. While I don't want to be around the day somebody uses the Extractor to remove both Cyphers from the 2-player game laugh, I think this is a fun, well-designed game and I am happy to have found it at GenCon.


I couldn't be happier to read that. Thanks for sticking with the game.
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Ben Stanley
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Our first game of Cypher had this same issue, only worse. My wife led with high scoring upper class cards, and was hoarding Technomancers in her hand to protect them from me while she searched through the deck each turn for the Cypher Anomalies.

I had a slightly lower score, so I was trying to control the end of the game and had used the Extractor early to remove one Cypher Anomaly and was holding on to the other, looking for a Technomancer!

The sound and intuitive strategy in a two player game had us both searching for what the other was obviously holding. I really love the game, but I do have a few concerns about possible stalemates.
 
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MGS
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While I don't disagree with you and if I was playing in your game I would just have called it a draw, the way you played the game may have contributed to the issue.

If your wife ever had the cypher anomaly and discarded it to favor keeping other cards, she did forego control over the end game. If she never saw it then can't really blame her. By pushing for the stalemate, you may have pushed to have a suboptimal tableau.

And, you definitely pushed for the stalemate when you extracted one of the Cyphers.

As pointed out above, I had a similar problem in my first game but it disappeared entirely once I started playing better.

I am not one to blame the player, my usual response is to blame the design and I think that depending on how the cards come, it is sometimes possible for one player to push for a stalemate in the 2-player game.

Having said that, I think that if the players know what they are doing and making good plays, it will rarely happen.

I don't mean "good plays" in the sense of the "spirit of the game". I mean good plays that enhance your odds of winning the game.
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Ben Stanley
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I believe our plays were strategically sound. We did not know, however, what degree of certainty one can hope to have in the game (since it was our first play) and we wanted to be SURE of the win regardless of what our opponent did, rather than give them some opportunity on their final turn, so we were playing cautiously.

I did not extract a Cypher to encourage a stalemate, I simply thought I ought to reduce the chances she would have to dictate the end of the game, and make sure I had that power alone. I fully intended to end it as soon as I had a Technomancer. That was just not going to happen.

I will add that we have played several games since, continue to love the game, but take some risks and keep it fast, ending the game when we think we have reasonably good chances at maintaining (or gaining) a lead in everyone's final turn (even though we are sometimes wrong and lose as a consequence. I do worry that the very best strategy -- tournament level play and being positive of the ability to win before ending -- would tend to lead to the stalemate possibility more).
 
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Don Riddle
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This happened in my very first 2 player game of this. I'm going to come right out and say that this is a FLAW in the game. The player who gets the Anomalies just needs to hold on to them until the game state favors him/her winning. The deck, which is constantly replenished by "discards" will never run out BECAUSE you can only have 3 cards in play. Though I haven't tried it, maybe raising the cards-in-play limit to 4 or 5, or doing away with it altogether, in the 2 player game may fix it since the deck would run out... ? Either that, or to simulate the reduction of cards in the deck that other players would cause by playing them, have the end-of-turn discards actually be discarded out of the game and not returned to the deck?
 
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It happened on my first game and this is what motivated me starting this thread. But, it never happened again in many games. At this point, I am blaming that on my inexperience during that first game. I don't feel the need to play a variant of the rules.
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Don Riddle
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Ronaldo wrote:
. I don't feel the need to play a variant of the rules.

But I do.
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Darth Sasquatch
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Iv played this game so many times, its a hit at work with 4-3 players.
Enough that iv been pondering print/play expansion cards to add more players/variation. Because the game feels less than optimally designed for 2 players i usually avoid that. But upping the in play limit may be the best fix for 2 players.

But i just played a 3 player game where one player forced a stalemate by extracting one anomaly and hoarding the other.
Watching his plays i know he could have used it to win if he had as much experience as i have, but its still buggs me that even in a 3 player game it can force a draw.

Its the only time iv seen it happen, but it would be nice if the game was designed so that a couple new players cant control the game like that by making poor plays.

Could change the rules so that if a player empties the deck on their draw that triggers the end game, Even though they end up putting a few back? Would make the game end too soon for my tastes but its a possibility.
This could also solve the rare problem of a 4 player game ending by deck empty and some players not getting to start with 3 cards.

On the print/play expansion thread, cards that have more targeted effects, like hand swapping would help prevent stalemates. Im considering giving the Android this ability since, at least in our meta, it's the least used card. Maybe "When played, choose a card from your hand, exchange it with a random card from another players hand"
Because extractor exists it'll never be impossible to prevent, but the more cards than can stop it the less likely one player gets to force a draw. Another possibility is removing Extractor or adding a card that cycles a random extracted card back into play. Hopefully there's still enough interest in this game to get some thoughts back.

Im possibly breaking an internet rule about posting to threads that are too old.
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Good ideas.

Thread resurrection is a long honored internet tradition.
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We had a stalemate that was causing the game to last very very long. Two different players had extracted an anomaly each. In order to end the game the deck would have to be empty at the end of a turn, meaning no card left to be discarded. This would mean repeated playing of the extractor until there were no cards left. That is hours. After the game started to drag the two players were like... wait a second, and we figured it out. I'm not sure how you avoid that situation.
 
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