Maarten D. de Jong
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— Where do the hoplites of the event card 'Age of Pericles' (deck 4) come from? Are they magically created from Sparta's stock, or do they have to be legally moved there from some province? (There are other such cards too, by the way, I now notice.)

— May you intentionally starve cities so as to induce population growth in others for Megalopolis and (in the next round) construction purposes?

— What is the point of carrying over completed projects with cities which no longer bring in VP at the end of the game? There don't seem to be events dealing with completed projects, and most don't give a play advantage as well. It would seem to me they can simply be discarded...?

 
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Jeremy Martin
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cymric wrote:
— Where do the hoplites of the event card 'Age of Pericles' (deck 4) come from? Are they magically created from Sparta's stock, or do they have to be legally moved there from some province? (There are other such cards too, by the way, I now notice.)

— May you intentionally starve cities so as to induce population growth in others for Megalopolis and (in the next round) construction purposes?

— What is the point of carrying over completed projects with cities which no longer bring in VP at the end of the game? There don't seem to be events dealing with completed projects, and most don't give a play advantage as well. It would seem to me they can simply be discarded...?



- The hoplites indeed are "magically created" from the stock.

- Correct, you are under NO obligation to use your wheat. You can choose to not feed a city (thereby losing it), even if you are NOT inducing population growth somewhere else.

- Projects without end-of-game VP stay in the city for only thematic reasons, or perhaps for the sake of simplicity, so you don't need a separate rule for it. But you're right, they don't have any other game purpose.

EDIT: On that last point, do any projects give points for OTHER completed projects? Makes me want to create something like that and add it in!
 
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jergarmar wrote:

- Correct, you are under NO obligation to use your wheat. You can choose to not feed a city (thereby losing it), even if you are NOT inducing population growth somewhere else.

EDIT: On that last point, do any projects give points for OTHER completed projects? Makes me want to create something like that and add it in!


While your answers are correct regarding questions 1 and 3, this one, unfortunately, isn't.

You are never allowed to NOT feed a polis.
If you have enough wheat to feed all of your poleis, you must do so! There is no way getting around that. Intentional starvation of poleis is impossible!

Things get a bit more lenient if you cannot feed all of your poleis. Then you can choose to either
- pay the difference (wheat you have : wheat you need) in Prestige or
- give up complete poleis until you CAN feed all the remaining or
- mix both possibilities (i.e. give up poleis until you are willing to pay the rest with both Wheat and Prestige

However, there is no possibility to take population cubes out of poleis at this point.



Regarding your own question, interaction between projects does not exist in this game (yet). It might be interesting to explore, but it could also upset the balance of the game. It should, therefore (I think), not provide to big an advantage if a player manages to get ahold of "both" etc.
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Maarten D. de Jong
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Dumon wrote:
You are never allowed to NOT feed a polis.

Dagnabbit. Everything that allows for a little flexibility in this game seems to have been designed away into oblivion. Oh well. Thanks for the insights—you did a good job on the German rules.
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Well, that is certainly a way to look at it.
But since building a league is really what it's all about, I think it is a good thing they designed it so that you couldn't play fast and loose with this part of the game. It is also quite thematic, actually...

If you can accuse the game of something, it is that the asymmetry of Sparta and Athens comes with certain directions in which you need to go while playing the game. It IS possible to stray from these paths, but it is hard to make it work.
...that is, in the beginning of the game. To "set yourself up", there are better options and worse options, and non-options, in increasing numbers. But once you get to the second or third round, all bets are off, and the directions the game can take are numerous, indeed.

Of course, it is a matter of taste, whether you like constrictions or not. And the game certainly is built to make you think within the borders of what you can and cannot do. It limits your freedom to make the game more challenging.
And it is not like it would totally skript the game you are playing. It might feel that way during the first round, but starting the second one, your options to play well increse exponentially.

And thanks a lot for the compliment. Always doing my best, even if not always succeeding...
 
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Dumon wrote:
It limits your freedom to make the game more challenging.

I totally disagree with this statement. Games limiting freedom nearly always succumb to temptation to take away more than is good for themselves as well as the players. Games limiting freedom very quickly feel railroaded where players are simply actors in a play which plays out fine on its own. In contrast games which do not limit freedom are vastly more challenging and replayable. They are also more difficult to learn and master.

Quote:
And it is not like it would totally skript the game you are playing. It might feel that way during the first round, but starting the second one, your options to play well increse exponentially.

Frankly, I doubt it a little at this point. Yes, of course not every game will be the same. Battles will be here rather than there, resources will be raised here instead of there, etcetera. But this game is ultimately about wheat and prestige, and there are but a few ways of getting it... in amounts which, all things considered, are limited. You cannot increase the efficiency of those processes beyond a limited amount; and the demand will steadily increase as your population goes up necessitating walking down one other avenue in order to meet that demand. Defending against raging barbarians costs both population and prestige, so the balance becomes more precarious. That to me is courting with the designation of 'a railroaded design'.

There are other hints of such a design methodology in Polis. You cannot start a fight in round 3; and if your opponent doesn't play along because of shortage of resources, nothing much happens in round 4 as well. Military actions, important in curbing the other player as well as simply gathering resources, cost significant amounts of prestige... which has to come from somewhere. Besieging cities has been designed such that more population-rich areas only have a reasonable chance of being taken over in the last two rounds (and adding insult to injury the matter would be totally random under the original rules unless you pony up considerable amounts of silver which eat into the already tight resource budget). You yourself mention the predominant ways of how to play Athens and Sparta. What kind of ingenuity is left for the players when all this is added up...?
 
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Well, to be honest, I cannot answer you in a way that would satisfy you. I have played the game 12-15 times, now, and it never fails to fascinate - even IF the first round plays similarly each time. There are enough options (for me), enough ways to play it.

That said, there are others who have played the game far more often, and might chime in here.

It might also be that the game is too restrictive for you. In comparison, for me Fields of Arle, which doesn't limit options at all, is far too open. Especially since I can do most anything, and win with near any path I go - if I don't make mistakes, that is. And the neck to neck here, to me, feels a lot like "ah, well, he got a few more points, so what?".

There are probably better examples, but this was the one that came to my mind just now. I hope you will have fun with the game, but I somehow have a little doubt that you will, in the long run. Thinking a game too restrictive, you will always see the restrictions and limitations first. And they are there, always.

That said - regarding battles, if I play Athens, I make a habit of NOT going to war with my opponent as often as possible. Because wars are not the important factor in the game. And because they can be devastating...
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Maarten D. de Jong
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b a n j o wrote:
To say most projects don't give you a play advantage is absurd.

You seem to be harbouring a misunderstanding of what I meant with 'play advantage'. Jeremy and Simon got this meaning just fine, though.
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True. But let's not get bogged down in minutiae. Banjo, I value your fervor and enthusiasm very highly, you know that. And for me you are the person on the Geek I KNOW OF that has probably played this game to bits and then some.

Still, there are different tastes in games. Some like restrictions (me) and paths to follow, with leeway, but still, with directions, too. Others like more openness. Cymric has, at least for me, made it quite clear what he misses in the game, what it lacks for him to enjoy it. I don't think he really criticises the design decisions (even if he states it could be "flirting with railroading"), they are just not what he likes in games.

Polis is like a flowchart, or rather, like a tree structure, where each branch develops multiple branches, and they develop multiple branches again, etc. We know and love that, the restrictive setup in the first round, the widening of the options in the second, and the all-in of the third and fourth. Others (like cymric) might not.

And the projects really don't provide any advantage OVER their rewarding of Prestige. So, once they offered their prestige, the ones who don't offer Prestige for posteriority are practically worthless.
That's actually what he meant.
If they DID, however, there would be even more incentive to go after specific poleis, in order to get those. If, say, the temples and statues provided bonuses in battle or trading, theatre provided bonuses in feeding the population, etc.
...which could actually be a really intriguing idea...
 
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b a n j o wrote:
Unfortunately, I apparently broke the game, according to Richard Breese. He subsequently removed a path to victory (the larva depletion strategy) from the game. For me, that is an example of a railroad design. I think Reef Encounter is wonderfully designed game, but the designer punished ingenuity.

That's an unfair comparison, and you know it. First, the rule change is minor; the game is not in depleting larvae. Second, you also know very well that the rule was included more or less as an afterthought:
Richard Breese wrote:
I can confirm that the rule was originally included simply to address the (what I considered unlikely) situation where all of the larva cubes of a particular colour ran out. It was not intended that creating this game end condition should become an objective of the game itself.
Thus, thirdly, meaning that you being clever is simply abusing the game in a way it was never meant nor designed to go. Had the rule been in the book from the beginning you wouldn't have complained. And fourth, the game is completely open in how you want to grow and manipulate your corals. You can win with just one massive coral. You can win with tiny ones. It all depends on how you manipulate the coral strength tiles, and how quick you eat the corals. Depleting larvae cubes just adds an unnecessary timing element.

And frankly, I don't quite yet see the same level of ingenuity nor creativity in Polis. I do however see a lot biting restrictions which never seem to 'give way' to some clout and souplesse with military deployment. Mind, I'm not looking for the mindless stuff that is Risk; Polis is/ought to be much more than that. But rest assured, I will give the starting scenario (which is a single Round 5α) a few fair shakes to get a feel for the large scale operations of this game without getting bogged down in the initial phases. I immediately add that these may be just as important to position yourself for the big push that is coming in 5α and 5β, but at least I get to experience some action, and will likely aid in winning over my opponents to spend more time with the game.

I may be a clueless critic from time to time, but I do honestly attempt to make games work the way they're supposed to.
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As my crazy mind started spinning, due to cymrics statement that projects don't have any inherent value after they have been built (apart from Posteriority), and I came up with an idea for Project Effects. It's early stages, and not playtested, but I think something like that could really work, as a variant...

...just wanted to mention it, since it was part of the debate, here...
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I'm sorry Cymric so clearly views Polis as a game that limits freedom of action and feels railroaded down certain paths. All I can say is that he is totally entitled to his opinion, but that other players like Banjo and myself find it neither scripted nor railroaded.

In fact, Dumon sums it up in his simile
Quote:
like a tree structure where each branch develops multiple branches, and they develop multiple branches again,
That multiplicity of branches and ability of one action to counter another which leads to a counter-counter ad infinitum is what has currently put Polis at the top of my list of favourite games.

That is why I find it difficult to understand Cymric's stance and would urge gamers contemplating buying the game to take the plunge and find out for themselves the engrossing pleasure of the interactions of Polis. You might just come to the opinion that is shared by me and many others that this is a gem of a game.
 
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