Recommend
3 
 Thumb up
 Hide
18 Posts

Conquest of the Fallen Lands» Forums » General

Subject: Severe Turn Order Advantage in Three Player Game? rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Paul O'Connor
United States
San Marcos
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'm greatly enjoying this game but I'm starting to detect a significant disadvantage to going last. We've played the Advanced Game four times now -- three times the first player has won, and once victory went to the second player. In all four games the player going last has been cut off and surrounded by mid-game and basically had no chance for victory, finishing twenty or more coins behind the leader.

Our pattern of play has been to first carefully consider where to make our initial attacks, with an eye toward early combos and board position. The first couple moves build up bases of power, then it's a race to wall the other guy off from distant fields -- it is in this middle phase that the third player is inevitably surrounded, at which point his game is basically over. Then the final part of the game sees the two players with favorable board position trying to take out the last couple hexes in the most economical fashion possible, while the isolated player goes into a cash spiral, throwing money at flying actions to escape his trap, but not having the cash to match the momentum of the leaders, and thus having to play with a smaller card hand (and thereby fewer options).

I really like this game -- I like the pace, I like the decision points, I like the ease of play, I like the theme, and there's real satisfaction when you get on a roll and can put together combos to knock down two or three hexes in a row. I don't want to start house-ruling this design after only four plays, but this turn order thing is looking pretty serious.

Changes we're considering are:

1) Try a three-player game on the four player (small) map. This does the least violence to the game and is what we'll try first. Unfortunately this can't help but increase playing time, and one of the things I value about this game is you can finish it in under an hour.

2) Stay with the current map size but "snake" the turn order (so you go 1, 2, 3, 3, 2, 1, 1, 2, 3, 3 ...). My concern is that this will result in player #2 being crunched, instead of player #3.

3) Restrict the first (and maybe the second?) player to selecting one follower (rather than two) after examining his initial eight-card draw.

Any suggestions for how the third player in the three player game might improve their chances? Anyone else experiencing this circumstance?

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrei Burago
United States
Kirkland
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Well, the thinking behind the current Starting Rules in the Advanced game is:

- on the first round the first two players grab all the best positions, so naturally the last player is penalized;

- on the second round however, it is very different. You can still go anywhere on the board, and now you CAN use everybody's support. When it comes to the last player there is already a significant amount of support on the board. As the result, a good position can usually be taken.

We tried different ways to balance between the first and the last player, and this was the way that worked quite well in the playtesting sessions. I personally never mind going last.

This said, not all rules may work equally well for all board sizes. I admit that I have heard from people who were changing the turn order to 3,2,1,1,2,3,1,2,3,1... for 3-player games and liked it. So, you are not alone. Try it! and if it works for you, great!

In the Normal game everything is of course much simpler. You always go 3,2,1,1,2,3,1,2,3,1..., that balances the starting positions well and no more additional starting rules are needed.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jonathan Franklin
United States
Seattle
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
In the one game I played with 5, I moved last. For the first round, you are claiming locations and cannot, as I recall, place them next to other players. In effect, this means that in most cases the player going last cannot use support from multiple players early in the second turn the way players later in the turn often can. This was only one game, so it might have been abberational

The challenge for us was that as the game nears the end, players are often forced to set up one of the other players for a killing without being able to profit themselves. For us, kingmaking was a larger problem than turn order.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paul O'Connor
United States
San Marcos
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
adagio_burner wrote:
- on the second round however, it is very different. You can still go anywhere on the board, and now you CAN use everybody's support. When it comes to the last player there is already a significant amount of support on the board. As the result, a good position can usually be taken.


We haven't found the availability of support in the second round to be enough of an advantage to offset the leverage afforded by turn order. Players can take one or two hexes all by themselves on that first turn. Yes, those initial conquests offer support to all on the second turn -- but players one and two will have been able to take advantage of that support before poor player three gets a chance to use it, meaning that those "4" and "5" value hexes (prime targets on the second turn) get taken out early, and the third player is left with three or four points of support into hexes worth eight points or more ... and that's not much help, unless you've perfectly optimized your followers by that point and were fortunate enough to draw a knight card.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paul O'Connor
United States
San Marcos
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
grandslam wrote:
The challenge for us was that as the game nears the end, players are often forced to set up one of the other players for a killing without being able to profit themselves. For us, kingmaking was a larger problem than turn order.


I can see where this might be a problem in a five player game. It hasn't been a problem in what have essentially been two player games for us (three player games where one player is blown-out at the mid-point). The third player doesn't even get a chance to play kingmaker ... there's probably only one or two places they can afford to "fly" at all, and they're focused on trying to get back into the game, rather than promoting one player or the other for the win.

With my gang there generally isn't a "kingmaking" problem, anyway ... it's just not in our temperament. We'll happily kick a man when he's down or side with someone after some sleight, real or imagined. No one holds a grudge or gets worked up about it. So that probably reduces my sensitivity to kingmaking in the endgame (meaning it might be there in the 3-player game, but I've just never been sensitive enough to see it).
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jonathan Franklin
United States
Seattle
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
Interesting. In your three player games, does the blown-out party play spoiler, or has he/she ever been able to make a comeback? At least in thet five player game, the cost of 7 to spawn in a new location was way too steep. At the same time, I really like many aspects of the game. Part of me wonders if the support rules from the basic version might solve some of these late game issues. For the early issues, perhaps changing the hex distribution (rather than field size so that there are five 'zones of wealth' possible, rather than the existing mix, which tends to create two or three such zones.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrei Burago
United States
Kirkland
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
grandslam wrote:
At least in thet five player game, the cost of 7 to spawn in a new location was way too steep.


Hmm. When I fly I usually take a juicy hex (8 or 9 at least) that a winning player was going to take (and considered "safely his own") and I prevent that player from taking that hex, and at the same time a spawn a new location right in the middle of someone's backyard. Not bad for 7 coins...

Of course in real life it's not that easy because you also need mages and the field where you want to land might be too far away.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alexander Vaschillo
United States
Washington
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Well, this is an interesting thread, and it is interesting because all of you are right, but I think you will soon change your opinions ;-). At least this is what happend to me.

Yes, I thought having the first move is good, but after playing more games (15+) I realized I can come up with a strategy that allows me to use "being the last to move" as my advantage rather than disadvantage. Well, I should note that we usually played 4-person games and we played on a larger field. Smaller field gives you less space to first "prepare the battlefield" and then "overturn the leader". So try playing on a bigger field. Note, that in the basic game (normal rules) where strategies are not that deep, there is a special rule to balance the first round (3,2,1,1,2,3,1,2,3,... series). But in the rich advanced game this is not necessary - experienced players will find the right strategy for the third (last) player. And the advanced rules are meant for experienced players...

Kingmaking was happening in our games diring the first few games. However, we soon noticed that the player who looks like he is behind still has a good chance to win. Yes, this is counterintuitive, but this is what happens if you continue to fight instead of giving up. Being 20 points behind is not a definite defeat since at the end of the game it is not uncommon to score 25 in one move. Another key to success is to overcome the initial intuitive opinion that flying is expensive. Yes, you pay 7 points, but unless this is the last move in the game you gain access to a lot of juicy fields and may quickly gain the points back. Like I said, you can fly once to set yourself up to gain 25 points in the next turn. I have seen (and performed) a number of spectacular comebacks in the middle of the game that make a looser be a winner. Don't be greedy for 7 points to fly! The only real kingmaking I have seen with experienced players is with somebody using a flood to steal points from another player, but this only happens once per game at best.

The only immediate advice that comes to mind: try a bigger field when playing an advanced game.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrei Burago
United States
Kirkland
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
grandslam wrote:
Part of me wonders if the support rules from the basic version might solve some of these late game issues.


I think everyone needs to try the normal game. It is really a different game, NOT the advanced ruleset crippled by removing anything that was deemed difficult.

The Normal game is rebalanced in its own way, it plays differently, and it is at least as much fun.

As I said before, try the normal game, try advanced, and pick the one you like the best.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jonathan Franklin
United States
Seattle
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
Also, I only played one game, and it was with five. Given that the board with four and five is the same size (or so I was told), my experience might have been skewed. Of course, I still want to own and play more, so do not take the above comments as disdain for the game, just what I observed.

With five players, the jumps are often not to any great opportunity, but to get out of being trapped by other players. As such, you have no choice, but feel as if you are sliding backwards as you pay those seven.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paul O'Connor
United States
San Marcos
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
We just finished a four-player game on the large map. I volunteered to move last and did feel a bit pinched at times, yet managed to finish second (and might have won, had the third-place player not used the Magic Horn to snatch a high-value tile from my backfield). The player who went third ended up getting crunched, but I think that was due as much to his own play as board position.

The game still feels tighter than I'd like but given the differing views here on BGG I'm going to chalk that up as a problem with the gamers, rather than the game. I'd like to play it some more but it may be tough to get it additional table time with my group, who I think are ready to write it off as having too narrow a margin for error in a game so heavily dependent on the cards that come to your hand. I do think that with experience and the right mind-set a player can overcome some moderately poor luck and position ...

... but with all respect to the poster who suggested up thread that deeper strategies may not appear until the fifteenth play ... I'm sorry, but we just don't play single games that many times around here (although I wish we could). And we were alert to flying opportunities throughout the game, but found the combination of having to burn mages, tap follwers to pay for the troops, AND pay the seven bucks to fly was just too high a price to pay -- when you flew to a hex there might be two adjacent hexes open, but by the time your turn comes around again, those are invariably conquered by other players. So you aren't making a clever move to gain access to fertile fields so much as paying a lot to gain a little, and then finding yourself in an equally tight spot the turn after (when your opponents have benefited from the support you offer out of your airbridge to gobble up the adjacent hexes). On a tight map, flying still smacks of a desperation move. My opinion might change after fifteen plays (or on a more wide-open board), but I doubt I'll ever get there.

After feeling tight with four players on the large map, I can't really imagine playing with five ... but I suspect three players on the four player (short) map would be just right, so hopefully I'll convince the guys to give it one more go before fresher games shoulder their way onto the table. I do think this is an intriguing and fun game that could be successful with the right group, and I am happy to have it in my collection.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrei Burago
United States
Kirkland
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Oh... will you guys excuse me my rant again?

Paul, if you get your guys to do it again, you should play normal rules. Really. The advanced rules are for people who DO play it fifteen times and enjoy looking for very intricate strategies and nuances and don't mind the game being too "tight" once in a while. The normal game is much more casual, it does not feel tight at all (well, in my opinion ) and it is much better suited for a group that plays it only from time to time.

Believe me you don't really reap the benefits of the advanced game unless you play it ten times... and then those benefits are more of a taste issue. For example I myself prefer the Normal game (couldn't you gather this from my previous posts ) but some of my friends would simply kill me if we dropped the Advanced version from the final release!

Please see my post about the essential differences between advanced rules and the normal rules. Unfortunately it's easy to get consused, especially after you have played a few advanced games. Again, to summarize the differences:
- in Normal rules, you use only your own support
- in Normal rules, flight is free
- the only starting rule is that the first round is played counter-clockwise
- every unexpended mage gives you an extra card at the end of turn for free

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrei Burago
United States
Kirkland
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
goldenboat wrote:
I do think this is an intriguing and fun game that could be successful with the right group, and I am happy to have it in my collection.


Thank you very much Paul. This is my first published game ever (I hope it is not the last). I do apprecdiate the criticism! But, I do believe we published a good game after all, and every bit of praise make me feel oh so wonderful!

Thanks -- Andrei
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jonathan Franklin
United States
Seattle
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
There is no doubt this is a very good game. Maybe it is that BGG people are used to 'advanced' rules, so if they had been called Variant A and Variant B, this would not happen. The two rule sets are also easy to mix and match. You can play the advanced rules with support only from your own troops.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paul O'Connor
United States
San Marcos
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
adagio_burner wrote:
Paul, if you get your guys to do it again, you should play normal rules. Really. The advanced rules are for people who DO play it fifteen times and enjoy looking for very intricate strategies and nuances and don't mind the game being too "tight" once in a while. The normal game is much more casual, it does not feel tight at all (well, in my opinion ) and it is much better suited for a group that plays it only from time to time.


I like the game enough that I will take this advice ... we may not get the game back on the table until after the holidays, but we will do it. I'll let you know how it goes ...
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paul O'Connor
United States
San Marcos
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
It took two months, but Conquest did finally get back on the table with the guys. We played the basic rules with three players on the "small four player" map. Everyone found this a considerably better game using the basic rules, and the game has rescued itself from back-shelf oblivion and is going back in the rotation.

What I most appreciate about the basic rules is that is it easier to plan a move or two ahead. The advanced game is a swirling knife fight where you feel fortunate to benefit from the support of your own guys (we found rival players would vulture our support to pick up vital hexes before our turn could come around again). The basic game is more procedural, with players only rarely snatching hexes away on your frontier. I like this play pattern better ... I can map out a campaign over two or three moves with an eye toward flanking a juicy target, or walling off an opponent. Getting cut off is still very bad, but it's a bit easier to recover as you can effectively "fly" at any time to hexes beyond your frontier.

Despite the reduced chaos level, there are still plenty of nasty surprises when your neighbor pulls off a combo to take a hex you were lining up the conquer. The difference is that I felt I was beaten because the other guy had a better plan; there was none of the helpless feeling we experienced in previous games where the leader built a big cash advantage, then used it to cycle the deck and maintain momentum against the last place guy.

With the snaking first turn order of the basic game we detected no first player advantage. In fact our first player finished last by a significant margin.

I also find these rules less fiddly overall ... I prefer drawing extra cards based on unspent mages to paying for more card draws as seen in the advanced game.

The magic cards seem more powerful in this version, too. Without enemy support to draw upon, those magic swords and potions are much more important. And the magic horn card can rescue a position where all seems lost by allowing you to draw upon enemy support for a single turn with an eye toward establishing a distant bridgehead for expansion.

Overall, we found the basic game superior to the advanced rules, and we look forward to getting back to this one again. Conquest plays quickly enough that it's do-able over a lunch hour, so I can see this one really taking off with my group now that we have the rules dialed in where we like them.

I'm going to raise my rating a point and pretend I never saw the advanced rules. Big thumb's up.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
tim Tim TIm TIM TIMMY!!
Costa Rica
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
For someone who just played their first game, this is a great thread, a shame it only has 2 thumbs up and 1 is mine. I have learned a whole lot for my 2nd game. We played basic ( version 1 ).

Good stuff
Thanks
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paul O'Connor
United States
San Marcos
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Hendal wrote:
For someone who just played their first game, this is a great thread, a shame it only has 2 thumbs up and 1 is mine. I have learned a whole lot for my 2nd game. We played basic ( version 1 ).

Good stuff
Thanks


Enjoy the game, Tom. I wish we played it more frequently in my group. One of our three guys soured on it and it hasn't hit the table in some time. I hope to reintroduce it at some point.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.