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Subject: Is 5 points for most pyramids a huge swing? rss

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Steven Chen
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I don't know if this has been asked before but I had a quick look through the forum and didn't manage to pick it out. Do let me know if indeed such a discussion has previously taken place.

So I'm 1/3rd of the way through my third game of Amun-Re (I discovered spielbyweb last month and went crazy signing up for 9 games - 3 Amun-Re, 3 Santiago, 2 Tikal and 1 Reef Encounter. And I'm glad to say they are all still up and running i.e. no abandoned games), with my first game close to finishing and midway through my second. So as I understand it you get 5 points for owning the most pyramids on each side of the river, 3 points for a set of pyramids in all your provinces in addition to a single point for each of your pyramids.

I may not be playing wisely, but I seem to find that the 5 points for having the most pyramids on one side of the river a huge swing. Say if you go last (or you don't even have to be last, as long as you're after the player or all the players who have a shot at out-pyramiding you) you can outbuild your neighbour by one building stone, and if somebody on your side builds an enormous amount of pyramids then you can spend your money on other things that benefits you, say power cards. But of course the offering comes next and you try to madly deduce what the other players are sacrifing and there will be a maximum swing of 3 building stones. But if that happens isn't it cruel to lose out completely on 5 points just because you have a building stone less? (say 3 pyramids and 2 building stones vs 3 pyramids and 1 building stones). And presumably because you're stacking up pyramids on one side of the nile you're not concentrating on other provinces to rack up the 3 points for a set of pyramids either.

So... yeah... a newbie Amun-Re-er needs advice. There might be ways to go around this that I haven't yet discovered or that I'm not aware of.

P.s. Oh and I just reread the rules and noticed it said having the most gold at the end of the new kingdom gains you 6 points. WOW. That's going to have a huge impact on how I end my game. I better make sure I own one of those camelly places.

 
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Well... clearly there is a level of risk involved when you go for most pyramids on one side, which is why the VP reward is so great. Or is it that great? It depends on how much it costs you to attain it.

Generally in the first half of the game there isn't much contention for most pyramids- one player on each side usually decides to build all of his pyramids in one region (as you hinted at, this is usually the player to build last on a side during round 2). Engaging in a building war in the first half of the game is suicidal since money is considerably more important than VP's going into the second half, so usually once one player declares his intent to get most pyramids by building a second pyramid in the same region (assuming as mentioned above that he was in the position to do so) nobody is going to compete. This player will tend to at least put himself 4 stones ahead of anyone else (which means 2 pyramids and 1 stone, although often I see players just building all 3 pyramids, typically depending on whether they draw any master builders); this way nobody can tie him and also get the VP's just by sacrificing the most on round 3.

Sometimes a player will try to go for most pyramids AND a set in the first half, but I think this is rarely a good idea unless it comes very cheaply since money is more important than VP's in the second half as abovementioned.

The second half of the game is usually where competitions for most pyramids arise; I think the VP rewards system is well balanced- going for most pyramids entails a great reward (not only explicity as the 5 VP's but also implicity as someone else NOT getting them) but it entails risk and one must always make an evaluation of how much it will likely cost to obtain it. One pitfall is to go for most pyramids when one is poor relative to other players, as other players WILL catch up and pass you if they feel that they can.
 
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I'm going to side with verandi. Those seeking the largest pyramid bonus in the old kingdom frequently must spend bonuses from the offering or nearly all of their money on stones. They will be left with either the 5 points for the most pyramids and a modest ammount of money and power cards or the 5 points plus a complete set but short on money and power cards. The second option leaves them severely weakened for the new kingdom, and they frequently do not recover. By the time the new kingdom comes around, a weakened player is often left uncompetitive, and the minor advantage, if they had one after power cards and temples, quickly disappears. If the point value were any less than 5 points, the bonus would be nearly useless.

Because exerting so much focus on pyramids can weaken a player in other aspects of the game, we do see ties on one side of the river frequently, leading to three players getting the bonus, since people spend some of their resources to build up power cards and money.

One problem we ran into in our first few plays was having one player get both largest pyramid bonuses. This puts them at a distinct advantage which cannot always be overcome in the new kingdom. But after a few plays, this never happened.

The one thing our group hasn't yet figured out how to bid on is the provinces with temples, specifically Damanhur. The 2-8 points from the temples can often be had much cheaper than the bonuses from building pyramids, either sets or most on one side.
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Jeremy Carlson
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Nate and verandi are dead on. In the old kingdom, the person who gets the most pyramids on a side, spent a ton of resources to get there, and are left dead in the water because they have no money left, in the New Kingdom part of the game. The New Kingdom is where it gets really fierce. Money is a huge concern in the second part of the game.

Also, the two provinces with the temples...going for these in a 4-5 player game is not going to get you many points...usually. Cause most people are stealing from the offering so their camel provinces get the cash. The only time I actually put money into the offering is when I am going for the most pyramids, so I can get some free stones. I don't think the most pyramid thing is unfair either. Why? Because the people who didn't get it, usually spread their resources out to have a set, and have a decent amount of cash for the rest of the game. That 6,4,2 points for gold is a lot of points, and they can equal out the most pyramids bonus.

This is one of my favorite games to play, and I'm on spielbyweb.com all the time playing this one. Extremely balanced with 4-5 players. The less players there are, is where you are going to see the offering track really take off. In the games I play though, that track is either 1 or 2. Rarely, and I mean rarely, does it get to 3.

If you have little money compared to the rest of the players, in the second part of the game, you are screwed. I can't stress that enough.
 
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Billy McBoatface
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hughthehand wrote:
Also, the two provinces with the temples...going for these in a 4-5 player game is not going to get you many points...usually. Cause most people are stealing from the offering so their camel provinces get the cash.
...
In the games I play though, that track is either 1 or 2. Rarely, and I mean rarely, does it get to 3.
I've only played a few games of Amun-Re, all 5 player (I think), and I've noticed the same thing.

It really bothered my that it was so hard to get the offering track to go anywhere. In the last round, for example, the player with the most temples wants the offering track to go high, but it's just impossible to get there! Everybody else has fewer temples, and they don't want to put a lot of cash into something that helps another player more than themselves. Meanwhile all the camel traders are stealing every penny they can grab. So you end up with the "temple player" needing to put in a bazillion gold just to get an extra 1 or 2 points per temple they own, and it's never worth it. The players going for pyramids, or power card combinations, or just most gold at end of the game will walk all over the player trying for temple points.

This bothers me mostly because it seems like a pretty neat system, but out of balance. But Knizia is famous for doing tons of playtesting to get the balance just right, so I have to assume that it is operating the way that Knizia wanted it to.

I assumed that with more plays, with better players, I'd see some way that the offering made more sense, but Hugh's comments make me think that I wouldn't. Any other opinions?
 
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Steven Chen
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Quote:
I don't think the most pyramid thing is unfair either. Why? Because the people who didn't get it, usually spread their resources out to have a set, and have a decent amount of cash for the rest of the game.


Yeah that's actually what I was getting at. In the event that you do go for most pyramids and then have somebody surpass you by one building stone and you're left with nothing - no bonus points for most or a set of pyramids, no money because you've spent most of it on the stones and no power cards for the same reason.

I can see where the rest of you are coming from - there IS a huge risk in building the most pyramids. And if you think for even one second that you might not get it then don't go for it, instead rack up points for a set (which nobody can stop you doing). The 5 points make a lot of sense that way, but not every game is going to have player A building 3 pyramids on the west side and player B building 3 pyramids on the east side and player C,D & E going for a set.

So from what's posted above the conclusion I reach is that if you're going for most pyramids, well then you better make damn sure you get it. Because if you don't then you're effectively out of the running for the rest of the game.

I hope that's correct at least to some extent
 
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David McLeod
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"So as I understand it you get 5 points for owning the most pyramids on each side of the river"

Hope it doesn't sound like I'm nit-picking here but that's not exactly how the scoring goes. It is the Province with the most pyramids on each side of the river that scores the 5 points not the highest total of all provinces for each player. Here is it from the manual:

"For the Province with the most Pyramids, both west of the Nile and east of the Nile.
The owner of the Province earns 5 Points. If there is more than one Province with the highest number of Pyramids, the number of Building Blocks in the Province is counted. If there is still a tie, then all tied players receive 5 Points each."

Perhaps this is how you're playing it but I know we were counting all pyramids on each side for each player and later discovered we were playing wrong. We also found that scoring the 5 pts. this way changed the way we played the game. At least for me.



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We must not see as many people stealing from the offering as other groups. We generally find one person stealing while the others donate to get the favors. However, the offering still rarely gets over 2, and we have only seen it at the 4 level once. Along with that, the offering is generally not at 1, since that would give cheap favors to 1 or 2 people with 2 people stealing. Another case of different groups putting different values on things.
 
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Steven Chen
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Quote:
It is the Province with the most pyramids on each side of the river that scores the 5 points not the highest total of all provinces for each player.


lol I know how scoring goes!! Yeah that was really what I meant. I must not have worded myself properly though being on spielbyweb I don't have much choice in how scoring is implemented (I really like this smiley).
 
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Philip Thomas
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re: the sacrifice. This is why the game is better with 5 than with 3

I have never seen anybody not go for a set in the Old Kingdom...and in that context most pyramids is quite good for the guy who pulls it off. Sometimes just with 2 pyramids!
 
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Robert Birks
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hughthehand wrote:

In the games I play though, that track is either 1 or 2. Rarely, and I mean rarely, does it get to 3.


I remember once surveying a pile of games on SBW to see how often it reached level 3, as I also had the perception that it was rarely.

The results were quite surprising. In over 100 games, the temple track reached level 3 at least once in the 3 rounds (first half of the game) in about half of all games. It only takes reaching level 3 once for the value of the caravan provinces to be brought back to earth.

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Robert Birks
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In response to the original question, the answer is no, it is not.

The 5 points is quite important, and not be be given away lightly, but you can win without it.

You can indeed be caught in a tough position if you are playing first in the last round, where you need to build enough to make yourself safe from competitors if you can. And, when you do that, they do get the chance to redistribute their stones to score points in other ways. It's all part of the battle, and it's very rarely a game defining factor. Importantly, you have complete control over whether you choose to take part in such a battle anyway.

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First off let me say Robert aka Kanga is a great Amun-Re player who much to my dismay is trouncing me in our league game.

About the sacrifice level- I have a theory that players underestimate the value of sacrificing, or at least they have a mental disconnect between resources acquired during phase 3 and resources acquired from sacrifice that if brought into perspective would motivate people to sacrifice more.

Let's say you want 3 of each item. You can spend $18 to get it during phase 3, or you could spend $9 to get 2 of each and then sacrifice $6 during phase 4 (which is equivalent of spending $18 since you are foregoing stealing $3). Supposing that $6 will get you the reward for largest sacrifice, you've spent the same amount of money and gotten the same stuff.

BUT MOREOVER, you've prevented someone else from getting those 3 rewards (a big deal), and if you were interested in seeing farmers prosper then you've really made a great move since you've upped the amount of the sacrifice by $9 relative to what you would have done to it by stealing - REMEMBER that every level you push the sacrifice up represents a boost to your income equal to the number of farmers you have - do people overlook this when making decisions sometimes perhaps?

But I get the feeling that players don't typically think of budgeting this way, because they see the items acquired at sacrifice somehow as "additional"- supplementary rather than complementary. This is in part because one's reward from sacrifice is uncertain, and that is certainly a drawback to being a sacrificer, but I think people underrate sacrificing.

I think that it's natural for the sacrifice level to be at 1 in rounds 1 and 4 because there isn't enough investment in farmers to merit a large sacrifice by anyone, but depending on what provinces come up the sacrifice level can certainly get to levels 3 and 4 in later rounds, and I've seen it happen several times in one game.




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Steven Chen
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Quote:
REMEMBER that every level you push the sacrifice up represents a boost to your income equal to the number of farmers you have - do people overlook this when making decisions sometimes perhaps.


This is a good point and I do keep that in mind when sacrificing. But at the same time I am very much troubled by how much of a boost that would give to each of the other players (leaders first then the next and the next). And if somebody has say both a camel province and a non-camel province chocked full of farmers then that makes thing very messy lol And in a 5 player game up to 3 players can possess such a combination.

Also say if only one person steals from the sacrifice, to reach level 3 you need to achieve 13 gold (I think....), so thats an average of 4 gold per other 4 players. And that's quite a bit..

Quote:
About the sacrifice level- I have a theory that players underestimate the value of sacrificing, or at least they have a mental disconnect between resources acquired during phase 3 and resources acquired from sacrifice that if brought into perspective would motivate people to sacrifice more.


But the explanation for this is pretty good stuff. Can't wait to try it out. I'm in a game with kanga myself so I need all the help I can get
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Patrick Dignam
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wmshub wrote:
I've only played a few games of Amun-Re, all 5 player (I think), and I've noticed the same thing.


I have only begun to appreciate this game after many, many plays with a varying amount of players. Presently I like this game more as a 3 player than a 5. You can overspend to reach the most pyramids, then lose out points to not getting the high point temple real estate and the most money at the end of the game.
 
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Andy Latto
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If "most people" (that is, 3 out of the 5) are stealing, then you can get two favors for one dollar. That's a great deal, much better than stealing 3 dollars. You can build 5 building stones for a total of only 7 dollars. If the thieves want to build 5 building stones, they have to spend 15, and get 3 of it back at sacrifice time, for a net of 12.

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Mark Haberman
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jentinma wrote:
I'm going to side with verandi. Those seeking the largest pyramid bonus in the old kingdom frequently must spend bonuses from the offering or nearly all of their money on stones. They will be left with either the 5 points for the most pyramids and a modest ammount of money and power cards or the 5 points plus a complete set but short on money and power cards. The second option leaves them severely weakened for the new kingdom, and they frequently do not recover. By the time the new kingdom comes around, a weakened player is often left uncompetitive, and the minor advantage, if they had one after power cards and temples, quickly disappears. If the point value were any less than 5 points, the bonus would be nearly useless.


I totally disagree. I've almost never seen the bonus take more than 3 pyramids and most often it's 2. In other words, 99% of the time it costs less to get the 5 point bonus than the set bonus.
 
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I have a different experience. In 3 player games, we generally only need 2-3 pyramids to get the bonus, and people will frequently get both this bonus and a set bonus. However, with each additional player we need about an additional 2 stones, with the winner of the bonus in a 5 player game frequently having more than 4 pyramids in a single province, making it virtually impossible to get both the set bonus and the 5 point bonus. As a result, in 4 or 5 player games, players almost never get both bonuses.

One of the effects of this differnce is on the values of provinces in auctions in the second round. We will frequently have multiple provinces with no pyramids and a couple with 3 or more, making the values of the provinces vastly skewed in the second round.
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The answer is: it depends (don't you hate it when people say that).

I will generally build a pyramid without using a master build card in the first round and then see what happens, so I have flexibility. Hopefully you are a bit later in the turn order in round 2 and then you can take a look at what other people are doing and decide whether to make a bid for most one or other or both sides of the Nile. In my last game it became clear that everyone else was building sets, so I made a play for both sides and very nearly made it. I got one side and missed the second by one stone - it would have been a game winner if I'd pulled it off and as it was I scored only one less than if I'd gone for sets.

If during the second round it looked like there was a battle for most pyramids on both sides I would leave it well alone and build a modest number of pyramids, probably just one each on the provinces and save my money for the New Kingdom.

This is a great game that has much more player interaction than people generally give Knizia games credit for.
 
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