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Subject: Stronger farmland scoring rss

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Maarten D. de Jong
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My partner and I are grizzled Cities-players, and when we sat down to put offspring Limes through its paces, we quickly came to the somewhat puzzling conclusion that the yellow farmland scoring appears really rather weak compared to the other methods. Farmland is very susceptible to there being a farmland double in a region, otherwise due to the card topology you won't manage to reach more than 3 or 4 VP (with as many cards). Fishermen too need doubles, but some water areas on the cards are flanked by more than one hut, thus increasing their relative VP efficiency, thus ultimately decreasing the need for double water areas. In the final game we played, my partner didn't even bother with farmland, and squeezed 42 VP from her finished tableau without even trying hard: that's 6 VP per meeple on average. 6 VP is only very rarely attainable with farmland.

Although there is no real need to alter the scoring rules (as the game is in making do with exactly the same cards), I find it a bit saddening that the various methods do not appear all that balanced with respect to each other. I would suggest an update to the farmland scoring, for example based on a triangle number: a field of n yellow areas scores T_{n - 1} VP. In words: 1 yellow field = 0 VP; 2 fields = 1 VP; 3 fields = 3 VP; 4 fields = 6 VP; 5 fields = 10 VP; etc. This method has the benefit of starting at the same practical score under the original rules (noone in their right mind scores a 1- or 2-area farmland field), and then diverges rapidly. Thus increasing the incentive to hold out for a yellow area.
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Martyn F
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Hi Maarten,

Thanks for your input. You are right, that farmland scoring needs double farmland to be interesting. There are 4 tiles with double farmland in the game, so the chances of at least one tile showing up are good. The chances of 2 tiles showing up are less of course, but it happens enough times.

With one double farmland tile, you can score 6 points. With two you can score 9 points. That is more than your average scoring indicates.

Using your scoring system, I fear it would be disruptive to the game. Have you actually tested it?


Martyn F
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Maarten D. de Jong
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Errr... 9 VP is not possible using triangle numbers, as the sequence is fixed: 1, 3, 6, 10, 15, ... . So I don't quite understand how you arrived at the 6 and 9 VPs in your reply. A singular double farmland area scores 1 VP, and two of these joined together 6 VP.

I did a quick calculation about the odds of drawing the double farmland cards and arrived at the following numbers:
0 doubles -> 0,7%
1 double -> 8,4%
2 doubles -> 31,6%
3 doubles -> 42,4%
4 doubles -> 17,1%

which is a distribution with an expectation value of 2,66 doubles, and a variance of 0,785; i.e., the standard deviation is 0,9. So we do expect anything between 1 and 3 doubles to appear in the course of a game. That is okay; these things get used. The problem is that you don't know when they will appear, yet are absolutely crucial to scoring but a little more. The other scoring methods may actually yield not that much more points, but are less dependent on when particular cards are drawn, and thus easier to derive VPs from. Viewed in that light, I'm not so certain that my suggestion would imbalance the game. For one thing 'balance' in Limes is a bit tricky, as players all get exactly the same cards to use, in exactly the same order. Only layout and meeples are different. So any balance here has to be relative towards the possibilities of the suit of 16 cards, and not towards the other players. (Hence me stating that the variant is not really necessary to begin with; it's just for elegance's sake that you'd like all methods to be equally enticing for that maximises playing and puzzling fun.) My suggestion leaves the dependency on when the double farmlands appear intact, but lets the players decide whether they will wait for the triangle numbers to increase to interesting values (and thus place other cards sub-optimally with respect to their scoring potential), or simply follow a strategy of mild ignoration.

That all said, I haven't tested out my idea yet; the original post was meant to serve as a starting point for discussion, and having an anchor to attach session reports to.
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Martyn F
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cymric wrote:
Errr... 9 VP is not possible using triangle numbers, as the sequence is fixed: 1, 3, 6, 10, 15, ... . So I don't quite understand how you arrived at the 6 and 9 VPs in your reply. A singular double farmland area scores 1 VP, and two of these joined together 6 VP.


Sorry, I calculated that in my head. The max score with one double is 7. The max score with 2 doubles is 11. As you can see in the picture below.

So if you play it right, you score already more points with one double farmland than the average of 6 points per meeple you scored in your games.

There is more to games than math...




cymric wrote:
The problem is that you don't know when they will appear (..)


True, that's the fun of the game. I always plan for 2 double farmland to appear and keep spaces open (almost) till the end. Just as I plan for 2 double water to appear and 2 double woods to appear. Usually I score above 50 points.
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