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Subject: Too easy to beat on the leader? rss

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Billy McBoatface
United States
Lexington
Massachusetts
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I've played this game twice now, and there are things I really like, but a big issue that I don't. If you disagree, please tell my why the issue here isn't a big deal, so that I can like this game!

The problem is that it's too easy to beat on the leader. It's always pretty obvious, between the score track and just looking at who "owns" the most regions, who is in the lead. If the other two players decide that you are in the lead, there is nothing you can do - every traitor will wipe out a cube of yours in a key location, and every banishment will obliterate you somewhere.

In both games, the same pattern emerged: One player would pull ahead. The other two would pound him back. Then another player would pull ahead. Get pounded back. Etc. Finally the game ends, and whoever happens to be ahead at that moment is the winner.

In some games this would be fine, but San Marco requires a lot of thought and effort to do the splitting. It really sucks to put so much work into splitting the cards evenly, only to find that no matter how you split, you'll get pounded on. No matter how your opponent split, you'll get pounded on. Until finally you're in last place, then a new player to beat up is selected.

What's going on here? Why do other people like this game so much? Did we just bring the wrong attitude to this game? We're pretty competitive, and always play to win, which in SM seems to translate into "make sure that the guy in front of you doesn't get anywhere."
 
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Larry Levy
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I don't think it's a terribly good idea to get too many points early on in San Marco. Rather than grabbing the Doge in the first half of the game, I prefer picking up aristocrats and, particularly, bridges. Of course, sometimes you have no choice, but painting a bullseye on your forehead is usually a problem. The reason is exactly what you mention, that it's easy to smack down the perceived leader. A sound infrastructure usually isn't seen as as much of a threat, since it represents potential points, rather than actual ones. So bide your time, try to set up for the last half of the game, and remember that a great deal of the scoring comes at the end of the game.
 
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Brett Myers
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Madison
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Right on - like Power Grid, it can pay to stay in the middle of the pack. In San Marco it is usually better to take 2nd place in many regions than to take 1st place in a few.
 
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