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Subject: Automa & Luck versus Savvy rss

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Paul Kessels
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I received Viticulture & Tuscany last week. Awesome product!

Never having played Viticulture before, I decided to get familiar with the game first before adding any of the expansions. So I used the Automa and started playing.

First of all, Automa is great. A lot has been writen about it already, but it indeed gives you the impression playing against another player.

The main concern I still have is the randomness and the influence of the cards drawn. It took me about 10 Automa plays before winning plain Viticulture from Automa, primarily due to some luck drawing the right wine order cards in the last turn. I hit 19 twice before. Many times I had the experience it cost you your valuable worker to draw a card that doesn't match your strategy (even early in the game).

Jamey wrote in another post that a savvy player will always win from one that is pressing his/her luck with the cards. Maybe that is true, maybe not, too early for me to say. I also understand and appreciate the reason for the cards (so there is no single route to victory).

What is the Automa experience with experienced players? Do experienced players always win the game when playing Automa with plain vanilla Viticulture? I'm still learning, but would be interrested to hear more about strategies and tactics from people who consider the simplest version of Automa a piece of cake and subscribe to the opinion that savvy players don't need to have luck with the cards.
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Morten Monrad Pedersen
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paulkessels wrote:
I received Viticulture & Tuscany last week. Awesome product!

Never having played Viticulture before, I decided to get familiar with the game first before adding any of the expansions. So I used the Automa and started playing.

First of all, Automa is great. A lot has been writen about it already, but it indeed gives you the impression playing against another player.

The main concern I still have is the randomness and the influence of the cards drawn. It took me about 10 Automa plays before winning plain Viticulture from Automa, primarily due to some luck drawing the right wine order cards in the last turn. I hit 19 twice before. Many times I had the experience it cost you your valuable worker to draw a card that doesn't match your strategy (even early in the game).

Jamey wrote in another post that a savvy player will always win from one that is pressing his/her luck with the cards. Maybe that is true, maybe not, too early for me to say. I also understand and appreciate the reason for the cards (so there is no single route to victory).

What is the Automa experience with experienced players? Do experienced players always win the game when playing Automa with plain vanilla Viticulture? I'm still learning, but would be interrested to hear more about strategies and tactics from people who consider the simplest version of Automa a piece of cake and subscribe to the opinion that savvy players don't need to have luck with the cards.


Hi Paul

First of all thank you for your comment, I really appreciate getting feedback on Viticulture Automa (I'm the guy who designed it), and I'm very happy to hear that you like it, and that it feels like playing against another player.

Playing Automa with just the base game is hard, and Automa is actually intended to be used with at least one expansion (each expansion will increase the number of VPs you get). Rereading the rules now makes me see that this is not clear enough - sorry . (You can see it on the cards that can be used to control the difficulty level, and it can be inferred from the section on increasing the difficulty.)

This means that you've been playing at the edge of what's feasible for most players and so the amount of luck there is, ends up being very important in whether you manage to make it just past the 20 VP goal or not.

I strongly recommend that you add at least one expansion. Mama's and Papa's would be a good choice. There's basically no learning curve for that and it sets you off to a better start and gives you a more varied play experience.

The property expansion can also be a good choice for making things easier.

So either add one of those two expansions or lower the VPs of the Automa a bit.

Anecdotally I can tell you as the one who played Viti Automa the most I was also the one who got the best scores on average, which points to luck not being deciding. That said, then yes there's luck involved. I think that this adds to the fun and variability of the game, and solo variants with little or no luck easily turns into static optimization puzzles, which in my opinion is not much fun and bears little resemblance to the "real" game.

Cheers
- Morten
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barry Doublet
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I'm in the same boat as you, Paul. New to the game. Played against the Automa. Losing lots. But after every game you lose, you add additional tokens to the wake up track. So the next next game you can preform 2 bonus actions a year. This helps. Sometimes I have had 3 bonus token on each year just to get a win

Yes, playing the base game, no expansions is very hard. But if you start (as it says in the rules) with the Momma's and Pappa's and start uncorking the other add-ons, you will 1) find it a bit easier to beat Automa 2) find the game more fun. The game relies sometime on luck of the draw and be cut off to actions you need or drawing a card you can't use. But this is just like playing with other players.and sometimes I have had 3 bonus token on each year

I flew through the first tier and have come to a slow crawl through the second. And enjoying every moment. (I may make a video about it soon!) But I come bouncing back. I can't stop playing
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Morten Monrad Pedersen
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badgerthebrave wrote:
I'm in the same boat as you, Paul. New to the game. Played against the Automa. Losing lots. But after every game you lose, you add additional tokens to the wake up track. So the next next game you can preform 2 bonus actions a year. This helps. Sometimes I have had 3 bonus token on each year just to get a win

Yes, playing the base game, no expansions is very hard. But if you start (as it says in the rules) with the Momma's and Pappa's and start uncorking the other add-ons, you will 1) find it a bit easier to beat Automa 2) find the game more fun. The game relies sometime on luck of the draw and be cut off to actions you need or drawing a card you can't use. But this is just like playing with other players.and sometimes I have had 3 bonus token on each year

I flew through the first tier and have come to a slow crawl through the second. And enjoying every moment. (I may make a video about it soon!) But I come bouncing back. I can't stop playing


Hi Barry

Thank you for sharing your experience. Your enthousiastic words made my day .

It seems that you're playing the campaign mode, which to me is a very nice way to play if you have the time. If you make it all the way through I'd love to hear how many games it took.

Cheers
- Morten
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Dave Daffin
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badgerthebrave wrote:
I'm in the same boat as you, Paul. New to the game. Played against the Automa. Losing lots. But after every game you lose, you add additional tokens to the wake up track. So the next next game you can preform 2 bonus actions a year. This helps. Sometimes I have had 3 bonus token on each year just to get a win

Yes, playing the base game, no expansions is very hard. But if you start (as it says in the rules) with the Momma's and Pappa's and start uncorking the other add-ons, you will 1) find it a bit easier to beat Automa 2) find the game more fun. The game relies sometime on luck of the draw and be cut off to actions you need or drawing a card you can't use. But this is just like playing with other players.and sometimes I have had 3 bonus token on each year

I flew through the first tier and have come to a slow crawl through the second. And enjoying every moment. (I may make a video about it soon!) But I come bouncing back. I can't stop playing


This is all sounding brilliant, and I can't wait to play this when it eventually arrives in the new year.

Yes, Barry, please make a video!
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Paul Kessels
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@Morten & @Barry

Thanks for the feedback. Good to know it is not 'just me'

And yes, so far I find it very additictive too. I like being challenged in a solo game and have tried many (Friday as a solo game being the best experience so far). Great job Morten.

Gonna try the expansion now and will certainly start doing the campaign some time.

Cheers,
Paul
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Morten Monrad Pedersen
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paulkessels wrote:
@Morten & @Barry

Thanks for the feedback. Good to know it is not 'just me'

And yes, so far I find it very additictive too. I like being challenged in a solo game and have tried many (Friday as a solo game being the best experience so far). Great job Morten.

Gonna try the expansion now and will certainly start doing the campaign some time.

Cheers,
Paul


Thanks .

If you play the campaign, please let me know how it goes.
 
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Paul Kessels
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mortenmdk wrote:

Anecdotally I can tell you as the one who played Viti Automa the most I was also the one who got the best scores on average


Morten, would you mind sharing these average scores, so we know what's achievable and a good target / indication?
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Morten Monrad Pedersen
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paulkessels wrote:
mortenmdk wrote:

Anecdotally I can tell you as the one who played Viti Automa the most I was also the one who got the best scores on average


Morten, would you mind sharing these average scores, so we know what's achievable and a good target / indication?


Sure, though bear in mind that changes were made to the game during playtesting, so the scores might not be 100% comparable, also some were played with the "aggressive" variant, where you'll sometimes get lower scores, because you need to take actions that are less than optimal long term in order to survive here and now.

With 1 expansion my average score was 22.4 and for the rest of the playtesters it was 18.2

With 5 expansions my average score was 35.7 and for the rest of the playtesters it was 29.2.

With all of tier 1+2 plus Arboriculture my average was 37.8 and for the rest of the playtesters it was 33.

In all cases the playtester who played most after me (David Studley) got an average between the playtester average and mine. So the data indicates that those who played the most also got the best average scores and thus that skill matters more than luck.

Also remember that initially it was only (or mainly) me who played the game and since the game was still volatile at that point I saw no point in saving my scores, so the scores I've recorded from my own games was from after I had played 30-40 games and was thus very experienced, while for the playtesters I got data from their first game onwards, and thus got the results from when they were still getting trying to grok the strategy.
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barry Doublet
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Dave in Ledbury wrote:

Yes, Barry, please make a video!

I will tomorrow(if all goes to plan)....expect it by tuesday

...and watch me fail drastically
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mortenmdk wrote:


Hi Barry

Thank you for sharing your experience. Your enthousiastic words made my day .

It seems that you're playing the campaign mode, which to me is a very nice way to play if you have the time. If you make it all the way through I'd love to hear how many games it took.

Cheers
- Morten


Yes I am. Campaign mode is great fun.I have clocked 16 plays. 13 of them are solo play thoughts. It's Agricola light. Less set up. Quicker to play. Great fun as you uncork new rules. And a theme I can get behind.

Morten, I have unlock all tier 1 and the extended board plus the new visitors. Now I am stuck. Thanx for your input for the solo mode.
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Paul Kessels
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mortenmdk wrote:

With 1 expansion my average score was 22.4 and for the rest of the playtesters it was 18.2

With 5 expansions my average score was 35.7 and for the rest of the playtesters it was 29.2.

With all of tier 1+2 plus Arboriculture my average was 37.8 and for the rest of the playtesters it was 33.


Thanks! So it confirms that it is quite hard and I guess one (maybe even you) needs quite some extra games to complete the campaign.
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Morten Monrad Pedersen
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badgerthebrave wrote:
Yes I am. Campaign mode is great fun.I have clocked 16 plays. 13 of them are solo play thoughts. It's Agricola light. Less set up. Quicker to play. Great fun as you uncork new rules. And a theme I can get behind.

Morten, I have unlock all tier 1 and the extended board plus the new visitors. Now I am stuck. Thanx for your input for the solo mode.


Which expansion have you added as the first from tier 2? Are you playing with the cards that set the Automa VP based on the number of expansions?
 
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Morten Monrad Pedersen
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paulkessels wrote:
mortenmdk wrote:

With 1 expansion my average score was 22.4 and for the rest of the playtesters it was 18.2

With 5 expansions my average score was 35.7 and for the rest of the playtesters it was 29.2.

With all of tier 1+2 plus Arboriculture my average was 37.8 and for the rest of the playtesters it was 33.


Thanks! So it confirms that it is quite hard and I guess one (maybe even you) needs quite some extra games to complete the campaign.


I think that solitaires should be hard or they can easily become samey, and the wins won't feel sufficiently satisfying, so yes the game is intended to be hard .
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Eric Hogue
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I printed off the Automata cards and played with my regular Viticulture sets three times. I had to use a different strategy in each game, but managed to win all three (usually with 20-21 points). Experience and understanding some strategies definitely matter more than luck.
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Juan Crespo
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You must be really good, or lucky! It's really hard to beat Automa in the regular Viticulture.
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EricHogue wrote:
I printed off the Automata cards and played with my regular Viticulture sets three times. I had to use a different strategy in each game, but managed to win all three (usually with 20-21 points). Experience and understanding some strategies definitely matter more than luck.


Way to go - I'm impressed .
 
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juanma99 wrote:
You must be really good, or lucky! It's really hard to beat Automa in the regular Viticulture.


I'd like to believe the former, but life has taught me the latter is more likely.
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Paul Kessels
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I'm now doing the Automa campaign at level 6, opened up the new board. Whow, that turns it into a completely different game. Much more elements and opportunities and it requires a learning curve playing the new board as well (first game I spend most of my workers way before Christmas every year )
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paulkessels wrote:
I'm now doing the Automa campaign at level 6, opened up the new board. Whow, that turns it into a completely different game. Much more elements and opportunities and it requires a learning curve playing the new board as well (first game I spend most of my workers way before Christmas every year )


Yes, the new boards shakes things up in a nice way.
 
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Gary Barnett
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Glad I read this thread! After 4 solo plays and 4 defeats (best of 17) on vanilla Viticulture, it is clearly time to add an expansion or two!

(I was thinking I should try and beat the base game before expanding out - clearly not - though I'll have to take a look at those other medium/hard automata cards now which I didn't quite understand!)
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Connor Cranston
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Haha, I just tried my first attempt at Automa.

Read too quickly about the part it's better to include at least 1 expansion (mama&papa).

Do I start with 2 workers+grande worker as usually (without expansions) or also start with all my workers like automa?

Once a glass token is removed from the wake up chart, I can't choose that wake up spot anymore, right?

It felt harder to get cards, because the automa player isn't playing/discarding any and once a wake up spot giving cards has been used, I can't go there anymore. A lot of turns the draw 1 order winter action was claimed by automa.

In the end I managed to get 17 points, but it was a struggle.

Will definately use the mama+papa expansion next time I'll try.
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Morten Monrad Pedersen
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Khonnor wrote:
Haha, I just tried my first attempt at Automa.


Thank you for taking the time to try it out .

Khonnor wrote:
Read too quickly about the part it's better to include at least 1 expansion (mama&papa).


Playing without that makes it very hard. If we get to do an updated rulebook at one point, this should be highlighted in a better way.

Khonnor wrote:
Do I start with 2 workers+grande worker as usually (without expansions) or also start with all my workers like automa?


You start with the normal setup (2 workers+grande) - that is until you add Mamas and Papas.

Khonnor wrote:
Once a glass token is removed from the wake up chart, I can't choose that wake up spot anymore, right?


Right .

Khonnor wrote:
It felt harder to get cards, because the automa player isn't playing/discarding any and once a wake up spot giving cards has been used, I can't go there anymore. A lot of turns the draw 1 order winter action was claimed by automa.


I don't understand why the Automa discarding cards would help your card drawing ability in any meaningful way?

The grande and the bonus action tokens allow you to draw extra cards even if the Automa blocks the card drawing actions. But there's of course a trade off here, since you'd also like to use the grande and the bonus action tokens for other things .

You're completely right that the fact that you can only use each wake up chart spot once introduces some limitations that's not as strong as in the multiplayer game, in that it's tougher to pull off strategies based around doing the same thing many times on the wake up chart. In my opinion that's the weakest point of Viticulture Automa. It was a trade off in the design.

Khonnor wrote:
In the end I managed to get 17 points, but it was a struggle.


That's quite a good result in your first go without any expansions.

Khonnor wrote:
Will definately use the mama+papa expansion next time I'll try.


I'd love to hear about it.
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Martina Kessler
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Without any expansions used I reached 13 points yesterday - for me it was a little bit frustrating because of the random drawn cards, too.
But I like the feeling of the solo game, really great design, a lot of fun!
This was my first Viticulture to learn the rules. I can´t wait the next session, especially the multiplayer game. I also will try Automa again. meeple

I have one Automa question:
When taking a bonus action: Can I take ANY bonus action of the actual season or do I have to take the bonus action of the field I placed one of my workers? (I was confused about the word ANY in the rules.)
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Morten Monrad Pedersen
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lealuna wrote:
Without any expansions used I reached 13 points yesterday - for me it was a little bit frustrating because of the random drawn cards, too.
But I like the feeling of the solo game, really great design, a lot of fun!
This was my first Viticulture to learn the rules. I can´t wait the next session, especially the multiplayer game. I also will try Automa again. meeple

I have one Automa question:
When taking a bonus action: Can I take ANY bonus action of the actual season or do I have to take the bonus action of the field I placed one of my workers? (I was confused about the word ANY in the rules.)


Thank you for the kind words .

When using a bonus action token, you must take the bonus action of the action you placed your worker on.
 
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