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Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island» Forums » General

Subject: The food dilemma rss

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Volker Hirscher
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Hi everyone,

we played scenario 6 yesterday, two times, two players. Still, we did not succeed. That's fine, I like it when coops are hard. But RC might just be a little too much luck for us. One good example is the food dilemma:

- You start the game with 1 island, with one food source
- You cannot collect from that food source, because it already delivers in the production phase
- Let's say you do not start with the initial event card that gives you food
- This means, there is really NO way that you can get food in round 1
- By the way, there is also NO way to build a shelter in round 1

In both games, we started with a lot of exploring actions in turn 1.
Outcome game 1: We found a shelter and food (with the exploration tokens) - yeah!
Outcome game 2: We did not find anything useful.

This luck of draw makes a difference of 4 wounds, just in one round! Isn't that a bit much?

Like I said, I like hard coops (e.g. Ghost Stories). But while we play GS ALWAYS on the hell-level now and win about 30-50% (so we made a real progress in how we play), I do not see anything like this happen in Crusoe. You don't really get better, you only have more luck sometimes.

What do you think? There are so many reasons why I like this game, but these fact are close to ruin it for me
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Aleksander Idziak
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I agree that luck is a factor in Robinson but not that big and it fits theme perfectly. Like in life, there is nothing given for sure, the trick is to be ready for bad times and to use to the maximum those rare moments when you get lucky.
I can't agree that you're not getting better. In every game I lost it was because of my not perfect decisions. In later games I knew what I did wrong and didn't do same mistakes. Thx to this I managed to win scenarios I was loosing at the beggining.
Also I don't feel you were lucky/unlucky in your examples. Your draws impacted life of your characters but you didn't consider other factors. Looking just on wounds is analyzing the situation basing only on partial facts:
1. You sad that it was unlucky that you didn't find a shelter on first turn. I don't agree. Tiles with the natural shelter have worst sources and fewer discovery tokens than others. You can save some life but you will get less other resources.
2. You didn't find food on your discovery tokens and you said it was unlucky. Again, I don't agree. You found something else than could help you in different way.
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S. R.
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You are absolutely right, there is no way to gain food or shelter during the first round, if not for sheer luck.

Except when you play with the wreckage card providing you with 2 food (standard, see end of this post), and you start with less than 4 players (all would be fed). Except when you have the biscuits as a starting item.

The latter is based on luck, too, of course, but I thought I'd mention it.

Robinson Crusoe starts you off right in the middle of the deep sh&% pile. It doles out wounds already in the first round, and (if you don't go for enough food, or play a 4-player) provides you with a dilemma already - who is going to suffer the 2 wounds?

This sets the mood for the entire game - battling against overwhelming odds, hoping that your luck might change. This is the essence of the game - it is a little less "I know I can make it if I play my cards right" with additional "if the game is not totally against you"...
...and a little more "holy cow, we are already f&$§#d, and then this?" mixed with "how on earth will we ever survive that?"

The game rewards you with that special high IF you make it. And it is a less regular IF, which in turn provides a much more satisfying high when it happens...

RC is about the development of a story against overwhelming odds. Going into the fight KNOWING you got not even a snowball's chance in hell. And STILL trying to survive. It is about tragic heroes that might survive desaster - but that probably won't.


That said, it is simply not true that you do not get better in Robinson Crusoe. It IS true that you don't get so good as to be 100% to win a scenario - that will never happen! But you can come fairly close. You need to suss out the core strategy of each scenario, based on the player count you are at, and then not let anything else distract yourself. Only putting out additional fires if they are really important. Calculating risk/rewards, and one of the most important calculations is "how many wounds can we take - and who should take them?"
But once you sussed out the best possible approach, you are right, there is no getting better at the game in general. There is only calculating risk and mitigating bad luck.

I do have an average on how often I win this game:
- scenario #1 about 60% to 70% of the time
- scenario #2 about 80% to 90% of the time
- never won scenario #3, yet, but have only played it three or four times (haven't sussed out the best strategy, yet)
- scenario #4 about 40% of the time
- scenario #5 about 20% to 30% of the time
- scenario #6 about 50% to 60% of the time

Averages accumulate over many games, here. Scenario #5 I win 1 out of 5 times. That is not much, but to get to such an average, you have to at least play it 10 times...

That said, Robinson Crusoe provides you with quite a few options to tailor the impact of luck to your liking. Okay, it will not mitigate the luck in a better way, but it will provide you with more tools to stem the tide. That is not cowardice, it is a manner of taste on how you like your game.
Do you like chance having more sway over you? Put in more "book" events. You might know what you increased (i.e. the book effect), but additional instances of it make the things you do NOT know (the text of the event cards, the adventure cards, your luck of the dice) so much harder to deal with.
Do you want less impact of chance? Use Friday and/or the Dog. Additional manpower can go a long way towards putting out a few more fires, and making it easier...

But that said, RC is a game which has at its core the question: "I wonder what will happen to us today?" It is not "I know what will happen, just not the order in which it will happen to me" (like Ghost Stories). Being sure is something that happens to other games!

Now, it can be that this is not to your liking. That is perfectly reasonable, and noone will force you to spend time on a game you do not thoroughly enjoy. The game might be good for us, but that is no reason for you to HAVE to deem it a good game, also. It is all a matter of preferences and taste. Like, my wife really doesn't like the game. Played it once, never wants to play it again.

So, if it is not to your liking, or if you don't thoroughly enjoy playing it - then why not stop? There are hundreds of games out there that are brilliant. No need wasting precious free time on a game you don't enjoy. And this is not a snide remark - I genuinely feel that a game I do not enjoy has no place on my table...

That said - the wreckage card with Food on it is the standard card. You know that, right? Only use the other 2 if you want variation and can live with the added aspect of maybe lacking in food at the beginning of the game! And they are a lot more feasible with less players (solo or 2). Just imagine what it would mean playing with 4 players, and getting 1 food on turn 1 (no luck with exploring)...
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Volker Hirscher
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Quote:
But that said, RC is a game which has at its core the question: "I wonder what will happen to us today?" It is not "I know what will happen, just not the order in which it will happen to me" (like Ghost Stories). Being sure is something that happens to other games!


That was a very good summary! I guess I really like the second option you mentioned. That's why I like GS, Pandemic and so on.

I CAN accept the unknown in games like Arkham Horror, where story is everything. But because RC is at its core a Euro, I am not so sure if it feels right for me.

Sure, you get better, but it is rather about developing core strategies for the scenarios (as you mentioned). We rarely sit down after the game and discuss where we could have perfomed better. How should we know that another action would have been better, if we do not have any idea about the outcome...

Anyway, I still play the game, because apart from the luck factor which I do not like, I appreciate for the variety in scenarios. There is no other game I can think of which provides a similar variety in its scenarios, with so much impact in gameplay. I also own the expansion, maybe I try that.
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mavo wrote:
- Let's say you do not start with the initial event card that gives you food
Well, if you don't start with that card you made a conscious decision not to start with it, so why complain?

I agree that the luck factor is very high for the game. I've played several games I'd probably have lost no matter what I did - they were just a miserable string of bad and worse events. So far, I don't mind that.
 
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mavo wrote:
But because RC is at its core a Euro, I am not so sure if it feels right for me.
It doesn't feel like playing a Euro to me, and I think that's precisely why I enjoy it so much! (I'm a big fan of Arkham Horror, as well)

If I hadn't read on BGG that the game's at its core a worker placement game, I'm not sure I'd have ever realized it.
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S. R.
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mavo wrote:

I CAN accept the unknown in games like Arkham Horror, where story is everything. But because RC is at its core a Euro, I am not so sure if it feels right for me.


Many people would contest your claim that Arkham is a story game. We play it as some kind of roleplaying experience, but I feel that really a story does not emerge there. Certainly not one that is memorable.
That said, AH is one of my other very favourite games. And we win it about 80% of the time.
Go figure.
...take THAT, aspect of chance. IN YER FACE!

And while it might feel like an Euro game, Robinson Crusoe really is not. Or not ONLY an Euro. It is a hybrid between both worlds, and maybe that is what makes it so hard for some to love. Because they have to reconcile with the other part, that part that seems, to them, less fitting...

mavo wrote:

Sure, you get better, but it is rather about developing core strategies for the scenarios (as you mentioned). We rarely sit down after the game and discuss where we could have perfomed better. How should we know that another action would have been better, if we do not have any idea about the outcome...


That is true.
Robinson Crusoe is not a game where you can mull over what to do better next time. It certainly provides options for the "where it went wrong" and "what we misjudged" talks, though.
But Robinson Crusoe is not a game to talk strategy about. It is a game to talk story about. Sit down, and talk about what happened to your characters - let the events and situations form an image, a narrative, in your mind. That is what RC provides, and what it is supposed to.
The gut-wrenching plays where victory was at the tips of your fingers, but got snatched away by bad luck in the end, leaving everyone cursing (not the game, but) the storm, the tiger, the infected leg, or the ever-present rain and cold.
The glorious triumphs where you were starving and beaten and cold and nearly dead, when a stroke of luck got you off the island in the nick of time, to see it sink beneath the waves from your raft or boat...

Robinson Crusoe CAN provide that.
But you have to let it...
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Cameron McKenzie
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You can also get a food from the Cook's power if they arrange camp.
And going hungry for one turn isn't that bad.
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Volker Hirscher
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Quote:
If I hadn't read on BGG that the game's at its core a worker placement game, I'm not sure I'd have ever realized it.


Come on What else is it than a worker placement game? This is really obvious...

Quote:
Many people would contest your claim that Arkham is a story game.


Right, thematic game would have been more suiting. Still, I would compare it with one scenario of RC - not more, not less
 
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Darin Bolyard
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mavo wrote:
Come on What else is it than a worker placement game? This is really obvious...

Too many simplistic labels here...
"...just a Euro..."
"...just a worker-placement game..."
Robinson Crusoe is far more.
When did a game of The Castles of Burgundy ever end with anything other than a discussion about strategy? And who ever really talks about the people they starved half to death in Stone Age?
but...
Robinson Crusoe:
Dumon wrote:
...It is a game to talk story about. Sit down, and talk about what happened to your characters - let the events and situations form an image, a narrative, in your mind. That is what RC provides, and what it is supposed to.
The gut-wrenching plays where victory was at the tips of your fingers, but got snatched away by bad luck in the end, leaving everyone cursing (not the game, but) the storm, the tiger, the infected leg, or the ever-present rain and cold.
The glorious triumphs where you were starving and beaten and cold and nearly dead, when a stroke of luck got you off the island in the nick of time, to see it sink beneath the waves from your raft or boat...

Robinson Crusoe CAN provide that.
But you have to let it...

Well said!
 
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