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Subject: Rule change to prevent collisions on inventions? rss

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Norbert Chan
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Playing our third and fourth games of Leonardo da Vinci, our gaming group discovered something that really bothered us. When two or more people attempt to finish the same invention, they get less money, and they have to bid on the card to try and get that card for diversity points at the end. This appears to be a random aspect of the game that will slow down people who work on the same invention, and it is through no fault of the players. Below, I will describe our third and fourth games, then a member of our gaming group has suggested a new rule to minimize the impact of colliding on the same invention.

Game 1: Greg took an apprentice, upgraded his lab to 5 spaces (taking a brick) and took 4 components (2 wood, 2 glass). Trevor upgraded his lab to 5 spaces (taking a rope), took an apprentice and a mechanical worker. I upgraded my lab to 5 spaces (taking a tong), took a mechancial worker and 4 components (2 wood, 2 glass). Jean upgraded his lab to 5 spaces (taking a brick), took an apprentice and a mechanical worker.

Now Gerg and I were at a Mexican standoff. We both looked poised to work on invention #12 (2 wood, 1 glass). The last time I played this game, I went after invention #12, thinking that no one else would go after it. No one did, but after I spent all my effort on it, I had nothing left for turn 3. So I thought I would optimize by working on a small invention (#1 or #3) with the master and the mechanical worker, and get more goods or apprentices with my remaining 3 apprentices, then I could work on invention #12, and while that was going on, have some spare workers to get my other lab up and running. We both knew we had the same components for invention #12.

On turn 1, I produced invention #1, Trevor produced invention #3. Jean did not start an invention.

On turn 2, no one finished an invention, and I started worked on invention #12.

At the end of turn 3, I produced invention #12. Jean, Greg and Trevor had all produced invention #9! Greg had avoided the foreseen showdown with me to go for invention #9, but so did the other two people. Trevor bid $3 for the card, and at this point the other three wanted to start another game. They figured I had too much of a lead now. I did have a slight lead, but the other three really looked demoralized.


Game 2: Jean absolutely wanted a rule change (Note, this is not the rule change suggested in the title of this session report). He wanted everyone to reveal the invention that they were working on to prevent the same players from colliding on inventions. We settled for only revealing your first invention. Going first, I wanted to give my last game build up the same try, so upgraded my 5 space lab, taking a rope, took a mechancial worker and took 4 components (2 wood, 2 glass). Jean took 4 components, upgraded his 5 space lab and took a mechanical worker (same set up as me, but slightly different components). Greg upgraded to his 5 space lab, taking a brick, took his 4 space lab and took an apprentice. Trevor took his 4 space lab, 4 components, and an apprentice.

Using Jean's rule, I declared invention #3,Jean declared invention #1, I think Greg declared #8, and Trevor started two inventions, but Jean's rule said you only had to declare 1 invention, and Trevor declared #3, which of course was bad for me. At the end of turn 1, Jean finished his #1, while Trevor and I both finished #3. Trevor had seen me spend $3 for another apprentice, so he bid $4 to win the card (he had an idea in mind, since I thought he overpaid for it). Okay so Jean's rule makes it a disadvantage for the first player, which was me, since the last players can pick and choose which ones to produce to either produce a conflict or not.

At the end of turn 2, Trevor produced invention #8, using invention #1 to get 2 weeks off it. That was why invention #3 was so important to him. I began work on invention #12.

No one started any inventions on turn 3.

At the end of turn 4, I declared finishing invention #12. Jean also declared it, but he had the wrong components under his lab! But Jean took a mulligan saying he put the wrong components under the card. (I have been gaming with Jean for 11 years or so, so I trust him that it was an honest mistake). So he put the right component in (he had put in a rope, instead of the required glass, which he had). We both bid $3 for the card, but since Jean had the Leonardo da Vinci marker in front of him, he won the bid. Now I was the one that was feeling demoralized.

At the end of turn 5, Trevor produced #2, while Greg, Jean and I produced invention #4. Jean bid $5 for it and won it.

At the end of turn 6, Jean produced invention #10.

Nothing was finished in turn 7. In turn 9, Jean finished #19 by himself and #18 with Trevor; Jean bid $5 for it to win it.

Final scores:
Jean 50 ($30 Florins + 5 diverse inventions for 20).
Greg 38 (1 invention)
Norbert 37 (1 invention)
Trevor 35 (3 inventions, no diversity points)

That's the first time I have ever seen anyone with 5 diverse inventions!

Trevor then had a really good idea: Rather than reward luck on who chooses what inventions, how about giving everyone a copy of the card when you finish work on it? This even applies if you finish the work later. So this would reward the person producing the most inventions, and do away with the luck factor of colliding on inventions.

We all really like the aspect of using workers to get resources, assign them to labs, then a certain number of weeks have to pass to get credit for the invention. But we don't like the random aspect of two or more people simultaneously working on the same invention. It slows those players down, and gives them less money.

Yes, you can argue that you can use the ability in the council to look at upcoming inventions so you can potentially get a head start. But collisions on inventions are still inevitable.

Perhaps this game plays really well with 2 players, where you can optimize your position and avoid the other person.

In our gaming group, we prefer to reduce the randomness of collisons on inventions. Perhaps other people enjoy that aspect of the game. Any comments?
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jbrier
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When several players complete an invention at the same time and no one has already completed it a previous round, then they ALL get the full amount of money. What they blind bid for is the card, which confers disount advantages and potentially a VP reward for diversity. I don't think this is so important that it makes "collision" notably detrimental to both players...
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Alexander B.
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verandi wrote:
When several players complete an invention at the same time and no one has already completed it a previous round, then they ALL get the full amount of money. What they blind bid for is the card, which confers disount advantages and potentially a VP reward for diversity. I don't think this is so important that it makes "collision" notably detrimental to both players...


Agreed. If you don't like the bidding deal, then simply reduce the bonus for having diverse inventions: this would not hurt the game, and make bids low as they'd only help a bit to complete others. I'd be fine playing it that the bonus was only a few florins for diversity.

I'd do it like this for diversity: 0, 2, 4, 6, 8 for 1 through 5 diversity. That would take the luck factor mostly out, while bidding few almost always worth it.
 
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Jerry Hagen
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IMO part of the depth of this game is in trying to keep track of which resources your opponents have pulled, and thus which inventions are most advantageous to complete yourself.

This is a skill, albeit one that is damned difficult for those of us with brains that run on gray matter instead of Intel.
 
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Jonathan Degann
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In an earlier post on the Geek, I made a proposal which admittedly I haven't playtested.

Players may use excess workers to complete an invention "early", and ties are broken by the number of excess workers.

Suppose that you need 3 more weeks to finish and I need 4 more weeks to finish. You put 3 workers on the invention, but I put 5 workers on the invention. By needing 4 weeks but providing an extra worker, I completed the invention mid-week, and take the card.

If we had both put an extra worker on, then the player who was closest to finishing wins. So if you put 4 workers (3 needed) and I put 5 workers (4 needed), you win the card.

If it's still a tie, then go back to bidding.
 
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jbrier
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Jonathan Degann wrote:
In an earlier post on the Geek, I made a proposal which admittedly I haven't playtested.

Players may use excess workers to complete an invention "early", and ties are broken by the number of excess workers.

Suppose that you need 3 more weeks to finish and I need 4 more weeks to finish. You put 3 workers on the invention, but I put 5 workers on the invention. By needing 4 weeks but providing an extra worker, I completed the invention mid-week, and take the card.

If we had both put an extra worker on, then the player who was closest to finishing wins. So if you put 4 workers (3 needed) and I put 5 workers (4 needed), you win the card.

If it's still a tie, then go back to bidding.


This is a clever idea, but I ultimately don't like it because:

1) There are still cases where an auction is needed

2) For the 15 week inventions you can't use this tie-breaker
 
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Norbert Chan
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John (verandi):

Thanks for pointing out the rule where simultaneous finishings of the same invention still pay the full amount of money. We were actually playing that right in the frist two games, then somehow overestimated when you collide with someone else to the point where we made it worse!

I think the main thing that our gaming group dislikes is having to bid for the card afterwards. I'll have to check the mood of the gaming group before bringing this out again :-)

 
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Roberto Corbelli
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Hello,
having players not competing for the actual cards representing the inventions would reduce the opportunities to interact, driving the game to a multi solitaire, which was not intended as far as game design was concerned.

Ciao!
Roberto
 
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Matthew M
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roberto wrote:
Hello,
having players not competing for the actual cards representing the inventions would reduce the opportunities to interact, driving the game to a multi solitaire, which was not intended as far as game design was concerned.


I really don't see the case for that. How are people not interacting constantly with their decisions on how to place workers?

-MMM
 
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Scholle
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I certainly enjoy the extra interaction the original race mechanism provides. It can't really all be put down to luck, rather you have to keep track of the resources your opponents have obtained throughout the game and those they've spent so far. What I most enjoy most in the game is the race to produce the invention first. The sacrifices you have to make to get your invention out a round earlier than your opponents (bidding for the council to take the card action, placing extra apprentices or your master on your laboratory rather than on the board, upgrading your laboratory, winning/buying that extra mechanical man in a turn, spending apprentices to block the cheap resource bid of another player, going the same invention type strategy route, etc), these are the very things that make the game so interesting to me and set it apart from games like Princes of Florence.
Then for those instances where you don't win the race the decisions to be made are interesting too - do you cancel your invention if you're not going to get the card and therefore the different invention bonus? - what's the card worth to you and to your opponent(s) if you finish on the same turn. The race is what makes the game just that little extra special and different to the other games it's being compared to. I'd prefer to keep playing the original way because of these reasons, but obviously if you want less interaction, maybe a little less luck and less steam coming off your head I could see how you might want to gentrify the rules.
 
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Scholle
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Octavian wrote:
roberto wrote:
Hello,
having players not competing for the actual cards representing the inventions would reduce the opportunities to interact, driving the game to a multi solitaire, which was not intended as far as game design was concerned.


I really don't see the case for that. How are people not interacting constantly with their decisions on how to place workers?

-MMM


I think Roberto chose his words carefully. He specifically said "...reduce the opportunities to interact...". I sure from that we can imply that he recognises players will still interact, just less than before if the players play with the proposed changes.
 
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Norbert Chan
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Hi Roberto,

I think there is a lot of interaction in the game now (as Matthew pointed out). Our group just doesn't like the fact that two or more people could work on one invention, while another person gets an invention card for free so to speak, while everyone else has to bid for another invention. I know one player who collided on three inventions, and disliked that part of the game.

Our group really wants to play where everyone gets to share the diversity of the card (whether by handing out tokens or someother means).

But as I mentioned before we really enjoy those the tough decisions on whether to go to the lab, go tothe council, get more apprentices, etc.
 
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Matthew M
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Scholle wrote:

I think Roberto chose his words carefully. He specifically said "...reduce the opportunities to interact...". I sure from that we can imply that he recognises players will still interact, just less than before if the players play with the proposed changes.


I recognized that, however the bidding for simultaneously completed inventions is such a minor part of the interation I feel he's really overstating things to say removing it pushes the game towards solitaire.

It really does feel tacked on in comparison to the rest of the game. I'd be interested in trying a variant utilizing tokens so all players involved in the tie get credit for the symbol. That would seem easiest to implement.

-MMM
 
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Jonathan Degann
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Quote:
Our group just doesn't like the fact that two or more people could work on one invention, while another person gets an invention card for free so to speak, while everyone else has to bid for another invention.


This weekend I came up with a very simple fix - one which changes the game much less radically than my original suggestion of enabling people to put extra workers on a project in order to break ties.

Simply put - you still hold the auction, however instead of having the high bid paid to the bank, have it shared equally to the other players who completed that invention on that turn.

The basic problem that Norbert identifies is that it is so much better to be uncontested on an invention. There are no extra costs associated with completing that invention and taking the card. However, on a contested invention, *money leaves the game*. Indeed, in some cases, if getting a card is worth 8 points, a player would bid 7. That means that among all those who completed the invention, there was a net gain of only one point - while a comparable uncontested invention had 8 points go to a single player.

If the high bid pays the others, no money leaves the game. The "value" of the card is shared, but at least the *full value* is shared.

This means that the losers get compensation and the winning bid is likely to be lower.

If two players are in contention for a card worth 8 points, you would never bid 7. If you did, you'd gain 8 and lose 7 for a net gain of 1. Your opponent would take your 7 florin bid and gain 7! At most, you would bid 4.

I think that this is a slam-dunk change and intend to play this way next time.
 
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John Weber
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Jonathan, not sure why you consider this a "slam dunk change." Most of the time, the invention is completed by just two players, so your change takes just about all the suspense out of bidding. It actually may hand a "windfall" type reward to the player who loses out in the bidding over all the other players in the game, if a situation occurs where the player he is up against is desperate for the patent rights to get to 4 or 5 different types. I personally don't see any reason to tinker with the rules in this way -- the game plays fine as is.

As far as "taking money out of the game," this happens all the time when people pay 2, 3 or even 4 florins extra when they are not taking the first action at Locations B - H. I think this is a game where money is supposed to be real tight, where you have pressure on you to complete inventions early instead of sitting back and collecting cards and setting up for the last two or three turns.

Again, don't see why any change is necessary.
 
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Jonathan Degann
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There is no windfall to anyone. At most, an incremental card is worth 8 Florins. There is consequently no reason to bid more than 4 (in a 2 player split) as I explained.

While other mechanisms of course take money out of the game (that's what money is there for - to spend!), the issue is mentioned specifically in comparison to another player completing an invention uncontested. In this case, that player gets all the benefit of the card. In the case of a contested invention, the players collectively share in *less than* the value of the card. One player gets the card but pays money, and the other player gets nothing. Another way to look at it is that in the first place, one player gets 100% of the value, in the other case each player gets less than 50% of the value on average - maybe more like 25% or even less. It is this 100% windfall that I am trying to avoid. Too much relative benefit goes to the player who happens to be uncontested.
 
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John Weber
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Jonathan, sure but is that (the advantage for those with the uncontested invention) a bad thing? As one earlier poster noted, part of the strategy of the game is to figure out what others are likely to be working on and to try to be the UNCONTESTED first inventor. That is one reason, for example, to go to the Council and re-order the upcoming inventions for the next turn so you can put yourself in that position.

Again, as noted previously, I see no reason to tinker with the rules in this area. The only adjustment I might recommend is adding the Marketplace expansion with the additional rule that the marketplace refreshes to one of each component at the start of every turn, so players have a way to re-adjust their holdings to prepare for the final two "pure research" turns if they are short a component or two.

I also recommend as a player aid using a large chart keeping track of inventions that have been completed, are being requested, and remain in the deck so everyone knows what is likely to be coming up in the future.

I have played the game about 10-15 times now, and think it is one of the best new releases in the last few months, if not the best new release. Please note that I have not played with the variant that lets you move other people's apprentinces.
 
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Jonathan Degann
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Quote:
but is that (the advantage for those with the uncontested invention) a bad thing? As one earlier poster noted, part of the strategy of the game is to figure out what others are likely to be working on and to try to be the UNCONTESTED first inventor.


Clearly it's a matter of taste - and it depends what you want to emphasize in the game. Norbert expressed a specific thing he disliked in the game, and this is an effort to mitigate that.

Personally, I don't care for games with much memory element, certainly not in an otherwise strategic game like Leonardo. In order to effectively avoid building what others are working on, you need to track the cards people are picking up. I just don't want to be bothered with that. In my proposed variation, the cost of sharing an invention is that you get about half the total value. In the game as written, on average you get less - maybe much less. So this mitigates the effect. If you really like the challenge of finding the invention that nobody else is working on, then you wouldn't want to mitigate the penalty for co-inventing.
 
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Charlie K.
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One possibility would be to play with the cards in the lab face-up instead of face-down, so that all the players know who is working on which invention. Granted, this variation wouldn't eliminate all collisions. However, it would let players prepare and maneuver around this possibility, while retaining the competitive spirit of the original rules. Mostly it removes the pressure to memorize what resources people are grabbing. And as a bonus, you'll never have to deal with newbies who accidentally put the wrong ingredients under the lab.
 
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Since I've entered the business of coming up with alternatives, here is yet another.

It is similar in spirit to allowing players to put excess workers on an invention, and awarding the card to the player with the greatest surplus.

The card is awarded to the player who was furthest along on the prior turn.

So when you finish an invention - don't move your marker up, but note that the invention is complete. If it's a 12 week invention (I forget the denominations), and your marker was at 10 but mine was at 8, you get the card. This maintains the element of a "race". As in the earlier idea, it forces you to keep up the pace on assigning workers, but alleviates the problem of wasted workers.

Of course, ties are still possible, which would need to be resolved with money. I maintain that I like the idea that in a bidding war, the losers share the bid of the winner.
 
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Jennifer Schlickbernd
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Kartafilos wrote:
One possibility would be to play with the cards in the lab face-up instead of face-down, so that all the players know who is working on which invention. Granted, this variation wouldn't eliminate all collisions. However, it would let players prepare and maneuver around this possibility, while retaining the competitive spirit of the original rules. Mostly it removes the pressure to memorize what resources people are grabbing. And as a bonus, you'll never have to deal with newbies who accidentally put the wrong ingredients under the lab.


This seems easy and elegant. I think I'll try this one next time I play. Thanks!

Jennifer (Hi Jonathan!)
 
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Kartafilos wrote:
One possibility would be to play with the cards in the lab face-up instead of face-down, so that all the players know who is working on which invention. Granted, this variation wouldn't eliminate all collisions. However, it would let players prepare and maneuver around this possibility, while retaining the competitive spirit of the original rules. Mostly it removes the pressure to memorize what resources people are grabbing. And as a bonus, you'll never have to deal with newbies who accidentally put the wrong ingredients under the lab.


This seems easy and elegant. I think I'll try this one next time I play. Thanks!

Jennifer (Hi Jonathan!)
 
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