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Twilight Imperium (Third Edition)» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Preparation for the GenCon Tourney yields valuable statistical data rss

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Christopher Halbower
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For those who saw my last session report, this will build upon that post. For those who may have missed that report, it may be fruitful to read the post and see my data along with CyberGarp's important analysis in the comments.

Previous session report

***
***

Saturday, June 6, 2015, 4:30 PM EST

It was Jimb0v's birthday. For his birthday he wanted to play Twilight Imperium. After CabinCon II, we couldn't find enough regulars to play an 8 player game of TI3. We mustered 8 players but we had four newbies. One newbie dropped out the day before. We ended up with 7 players for Jimb0v's birthday game. It was the best we could do. And Jimb0v was grateful for our effort.

At 4:30, Jimb0v began the rules explanation. Normally this task falls upon me so I was happy to have my burden reduced. Jimb0v did an exceptional job of rules explanation--probably the best job of explaining rules he's ever done. The three newbies ended up doing an exceptional job for their first game. And I credit Jimb0v entirely.

The rule set we used was the same for the upcoming tourney at GenCon. Jimb0v is participating in this and wanted the practice. The rules for this tournament are rather bizarre.
1. All the strategy cards from Shattered Empire except Bureaucracy
2. Imperial II with Age of Empires
3. No Imperium Rex card(!!!)
4. No Yssaril Tribes
5. No Gravity Drive or Transfabrication
6. Preliminary objectives
7. Most other options were "normal"

At 6:00 pm we began the game. ScionMattly (the Naalu Collective) was the Speaker. He chose seat "2" which in a seven player game gets 4 trade goods to start the game. I sat next to him (Xxcha Kingdom). To my immediate left was Jimb0v (Ghosts of Creuss). Jake Iams (first time player; Emirates of Hacan) was the next player on the left. The next player was wilsons9 (first time player; Baron of Letnev). Bill (first tie player; Winnu) was the next in clockwise order. Tr0xix (Clan of Saar) was in the last position.

The Naalu Collective had a ton of resource-rich planets surrounding their home system. They didn't know what to do with all those resources. I had an okay set of planets around me. Most players did. The game didn't have the usual groan from a player who bemoaned an unwinnable position because their corner of the galaxy was sparse.

Since we were playing with Age of Empires, all the objectives were face up. The mini Diversified objective was amongst them ("I have 2+ techs in 3+ colors). The Naalu took Tech to get himself started towards this goal.

I took Trade. I worked out a Trade triangle for me, the Ghosts and the Emirates. I allowed myself to be bribed to let the Naalu and Clan to trade their agreements as well.

We hadn't played with Preliminary Objectives in a long time. We were quite rusty with them in fact. While no one bemoaned their resources for their corner of the galaxy, Tr0xix complained incessantly about having the Preliminary Objective requiring him to build all his dreads. The early game was unusual in that players were doing weird things in order to complete their PO's--at least weird to me since I'm so rusty. When it was all said and done, all 7 preliminary objectives were scored including the three newbies.

Tr0xix took Imperial II during the first round you are allowed to score Stage II objectives. He scored a bunch of points and had 6VP--a two point lead over most of the rest of us. Jimb0v, typically the strongest player in our group, was lagging behind. What's up with that?

After slipping behind the Clan of Saar (Tr0xix), the Naalu Collective took Assembly in order to set himself up next round. The Ghosts (Jimb0v) took Imperial and controlled Mecatol Rex. He was finally going to make his move. I took Technology so I could score the mini Diversified objective.

Before the Ghosts could trigger Imperial II and score 1VP for controlling Mecatol Rex, I threatened to attack him. He promised he would move away from Mecatol and not trigger Imperial II. He honored his promise. He was not actually trying to score VP at this point anymore. The "I win" objective for having 4+ non-fighters in two enemy homesystems was in play. As the Ghosts, with Hil Colish and several wormholes in play, he was going to make this objective or bust.

As it turned out: it was a bust. Every player cowboyed up. That's how we do Jimb0v. Just ask him. He came a hair from putting 4+ non-fighters in the Winnu home system and the Naalu homesystem. He actually had the four in the Emirates homesystem too but, as I said, everyone cowboyed up and newbie wilsons9 as the Baron hurled some superfluous plastic into the Emirates homesystem, destroying the Ghosts chances for victory.

The Naalu scored 5VP with Imperial II and come up to 9VP total. As the Naalu, he was going to score first in the next Status Phase as well. His victory was all but assured. As the Xxcha, I had to hope the Clan and the Ghosts would smash the Naalu in order for me to squeak into victory.

That did not happen. I ended with 7VP.

The Naalu on their first action of the last Action Phase attacked the Clan of Saar's artifact: the Ancient Shipwreck. The Clan of Saar had 14 fighters protecting it along with a dreads and cruisers. But there was some friendly fire that reduced it to 7 fighters. And the Naalu had brought 14 cybernetic fighters of their own. They chewed up the Clan's fleet, landed on Corneeq, claimed the Ancient Shipwreck and won with 10 victory points.

Final scores
Naalu Collective 10
Xxcha Kingdom 7
Clan of Saar 7
Barony of Letnev 6
Ghosts of Creuss 3
Emirates of Hacan 3
Winnu 3


***
***

As you now know, we keep meticulous data regarding our Twilight Imperium games. Here is an update about what we have thus far tallied. We use an alternate method for race selection. We require players to play all 17 races before they can play the same race twice. This ensures even statistical sampling. It also helps with group-think.



The Naalu Collective won their second game yesterday. Congrats to Matt.
The strongest race in our group is the L1Z1X Mindnet. The Nekro Virus and the Federation of Sol are tied for second. With our group, you would have a strong showing with any of those races.

The weakest races in our group are the Embers of Muaat and the Sardakk N'orr. They cannot catch a break. Yet.


An outcome from the last session report was the importance of Deviation from Winning. How well you do is a function of how far you are from victory. If you win, the deviation equals zero. If you were one VP from winning, you're deviation equals one. And so on. This chart shows deviation by race. The Mindnet is, again, the strongest race. The Yssaril Tribes, interestingly enough, are 2nd. As any non-acolyte of TI3 knows, the Yssaril Tribes are regarded as the strongest race in the game. In our group (which plays 7 or 8 player games almost exclusively), this is NOT the case. Yet, the Tribes still make a good showing. It's interesting to note the Arborec are near the top in Deviation from Winning also.



The last session report also made me realize the importance of scoring your secret objective. It was a "Duh!" moment, I guess. But some races are just better at scoring them than others. We have only recently started accumulating secret objective data but there are some patterns budding already. Again, the Mindnet are just geared to score VP!



Some Secret Objectives are just easier to score than others. In our games, Threatening always gets scored. Industrial never gets scored. Is there a pattern to this data? What if break down the data into three broad categories: Mecatol Rex, Opponent and Control. If you need to control Mecatol Rex, then you have a Mecatol Rex Secret Objective. If you need to destroy your opponent's spacedocks, take his homesystem, etc, then we shall call this Opponent category. If you must have control of some subset of systems like Keeper of the Gates or Focused, then we shall call this Control Category.


The "Opponent" category gets scored a stunning 40% of the time. The "Control" category gets scored an impressive 32% of the time. Mecatol Rex based Secret Objectives: a measly 4% of the time. Our group will simply cowboy up and not let you score your MR SO. But we let you walk all over us with your Threatening SO. It's a group-think that we need to work through.

***
***

What's next for the Muskegon Area Gamers? We had some strong showing with one of our newbies. He was really interested in playing again soon. We are hoping to get a good rotation of 12 or so TI3 players so we can break out of group think and constantly find new ways to attack the puzzles of Twilight Imperium. And I'll post more statistics as this goal becomes reality.

-Chris, on behalf of the Muskegon Area Gamers

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Dustin Shunta
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Adam Lucas
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And I thought I was good at tracking game data. I never thought of tracking Secret Objective data, but I might start.

I'm just wondering, do you track the Preliminary Secret Objectives (I don't own Shards of the Throne) as well or just the regular Secret Objectives?
 
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Christopher Halbower
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We only played with Preliminary Objectives this one time. It's been ages since we've played with Preliminary Objectives. And I've only been tracking Secret Objectives for about the last ~8 games or so.
 
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I am suprised that Lizix Mindnet is so high on the list. I was expecting Yssaril Tribes as a top race - ability to stall during your turn is awesome thing to have. Alas, TI is so complex game, and each group got its own unique style of play, it is pretty hard to draw any objective conclusion.
My favourite race is Emirates of Hacan, their meaty 3/3 contracts and racial tech are made for metagaming and negotations.
 
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Michael Brettell
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We track all our SO completions as well, and adjust their VP based on % in play but not completed. For us, Regulator seems the hardest to achieve, so currently gets 4 VP. We always play with 4 people, so not sure if that's a factor. Then all the MR and Keeper of the Gates at 3VP, with all the remaining at the standard 2.

I think the MR ones are easier to stop because they are telegraphed. Objectives like Threatening you can achieve by outlasting your opponents in CCs.
 
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Christopher Halbower
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Embir wrote:
I am suprised that Lizix Mindnet is so high on the list. I was expecting Yssaril Tribes as a top race - ability to stall during your turn is awesome thing to have.


What you said is true. But we play with 7 or 8 players. In a 3 to 5 player game, the Yssaril Tribes are almost unstoppable unless everyone bands together. They have a quick start, they can stall and they have 5 influence to start the game. This means they can run the political scene for the first two rounds of the game in a 3 to 5 player game.
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brettellmd wrote:

I think the MR ones are easier to stop because they are telegraphed. Objectives like Threatening you can achieve by outlasting your opponents in CCs.


This has been my experience too. But I think now that we are tracking the data that people's strategies will adapt. You have to move to Mecatol Rex even if you do not have a Secret Objective for it. You have to be cagey about scoring your SO.

And if someone takes control of a system adjacent to your home system, you need to attack them otherwise you are just letting them score Threatening.
 
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I'm not quite sure how to handle victory point trading.

Victory point trading is better the more players in the game.Sure you give a VP to an opponent, but both you and that opponent increase your lead against the field at a small cost.

Age of Empires makes this worse because experienced players adapt their play so the objectives are hard to score. For example, you have to invade a player's planet with at least 1 GF? Players either have well defended planets or planets with no GF. You have to defeat at least 3 ships in a space battle? Players either have big fleets or fleets less than size 3. Trading VPs lets you score these difficult objectives while others at the table that don't trade, might struggle to do so.

I typically try not to trade VPs, because it feels unthematic, but I'm thinking it's just something you have to do in order to stay competitive.
 
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Jimb0v wrote:


I'm not quite sure how to handle victory point trading...
I typically try not to trade VPs, because it feels unthematic, but I'm thinking it's just something you have to do in order to stay competitive.


Our game didn't have much VP trading. Just Matt and Mongo. And Mongo got the raw end of the deal because he was not prepared for it. VP trading is annoying. But I don't think it's so bad you have to do it in order to be competitive.

In our game, Matt was going to score the "I invade..." objective either way. He simply coaxed Mongo into a deal so there would be no hard feelings.
 
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halbower wrote:
Jimb0v wrote:


I'm not quite sure how to handle victory point trading...
I typically try not to trade VPs, because it feels unthematic, but I'm thinking it's just something you have to do in order to stay competitive.


Our game didn't have much VP trading. Just Matt and Mongo. And Mongo got the raw end of the deal because he was not prepared for it. VP trading is annoying. But I don't think it's so bad you have to do it in order to be competitive.

In our game, Matt was going to score the "I invade..." objective either way. He simply coaxed Mongo into a deal so there would be no hard feelings.


My point is that the two players with the highest score traded VP. I do not know the exact situation over there - but I believe Mongo set up the VP trade by making an easy target for Matt to invade. Matt surely could have scored it even without the deal, but he would have had to spend more resources.

My options were limited. With you on my right offering absolutely no easy targets (no planets in range for me to invade with 1gf; no systems with 3 ships to attack in range)to score VP, and a newbie on my left that I did not want to abuse - it was very difficult to compete.

My point is that when there are only 2 players at the table trading VPs, its actually worse than when everyone does it.
 
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Christopher Halbower
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The situation can be bad. In this instance it wasn't bad, just annoying. And I believe it was Matt that offered the deal, not Mongo. Not that that matters at this point. But Matt was going to score that VP come hell or high water. Why make Mongo mad?

And Mongo agreed to it. And was not prepared to reciprocate. His response to score the VP himself failed. He had to attack Bill in order to get the VP. And that was a big setback for Mongo.

So we have several problems:
1. It's annoying when people trade VP--"I invade...", "I won a ...", etc.
2. It's stupid and annoying when people trade their -1VP promissory notes. This really sucks the fun out of the political process.
3. When making a deal, be sure you can reciprocate otherwise you will get the raw end.
4. If you prepare for several eventualities, you don't have to rely on trading VP in order to win. I don't think we've had a game where someone won the game because they relied on getting a VP traded. If this HAS happened, it was some time ago and people are now stronger players.
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halbower wrote:
The situation can be bad. In this instance it wasn't bad, just annoying. And I believe it was Matt that offered the deal, not Mongo. Not that that matters at this point. But Matt was going to score that VP come hell or high water. Why make Mongo mad?

And Mongo agreed to it. And was not prepared to reciprocate. His response to score the VP himself failed. He had to attack Bill in order to get the VP. And that was a big setback for Mongo.

So we have several problems:
1. It's annoying when people trade VP--"I invade...", "I won a ...", etc.
2. It's stupid and annoying when people trade their -1VP promissory notes. This really sucks the fun out of the political process.
3. When making a deal, be sure you can reciprocate otherwise you will get the raw end.
4. If you prepare for several eventualities, you don't have to rely on trading VP in order to win. I don't think we've had a game where someone won the game because they relied on getting a VP traded. If this HAS happened, it was some time ago and people are now stronger players.


Framing it as an annoyance isn't correct. I'm not annoyed they made the deal. What I'm saying is that it is objectively a good idea to trade VPs. You and one other player score points by expending less resources. This gives you more resources to score different objectives - which is exactly what Matt was able to do. He had more resources for his final push.

I'm not saying he could not have won without trading - but his road was easier than if Mongo had said - screw you I'm not trading VPs.
 
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Personally, I always offer to trade VPs rather than forcefully take them in those cases. It is easier to placate your neighbor with a VP and assume you can outrace them, than to earn their ire and have them turn on you.

It's the same reason I gave him TGs when I attacked him to score Traitor - it's a lot easier to not be mad about the agreement being broken when you got paid for the trade agreement anyhow.

and yeah, you are right, it's a lot easier to not have to trade. I'm just not very certain I'd have to expend more than I expended in the first place. It isn't as if he had a lot on the planet to begin with; four cyberfighters and a carrier could have chewed him up with little damage.
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Just curious. What kind of hair did JimBov come within winning by?
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bullseye008 wrote:
Just curious. What kind of hair did JimBov come within winning by?


It was short, curly and if I'm not mistaken: vaginal.

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halbower wrote:

2. It's stupid and annoying when people trade their -1VP promissory notes. This really sucks the fun out of the political process.

Make sure you're playing the exchange of promissory notes exactly per the rules. The notes can only be exchanged for votes, not for anything else, so they can't just directly swap them.

If the players are even slightly distrustworthy, a swap usually doesn't happen, as the first player to hand the note out has to trust that the second player will offer him/her the Support of the Throne when their turn to offer a note comes around. Nothing prevents the second player from just accepting the note from the first player and then not offering anything when his/her turn rolls around.

 
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Magesmiley wrote:

Make sure you're playing the exchange of promissory notes exactly per the rules. The notes can only be exchanged for votes, not for anything else, so they can't just directly swap them.

If the players are even slightly distrustworthy, a swap usually doesn't happen, as the first player to hand the note out has to trust that the second player will offer him/her the Support of the Throne when their turn to offer a note comes around. Nothing prevents the second player from just accepting the note from the first player and then not offering anything when his/her turn rolls around.


We've played Promissory notes correctly. The issue isn't with distrustful players. If you are not trustworthy, you may have an advantage in one game but then you lose the next several because no one trusts you. And since we play TI3 about 13 times a year, that means you will have to suffer the distrust of people for some time.
 
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halbower wrote:
Magesmiley wrote:

Make sure you're playing the exchange of promissory notes exactly per the rules. The notes can only be exchanged for votes, not for anything else, so they can't just directly swap them.

If the players are even slightly distrustworthy, a swap usually doesn't happen, as the first player to hand the note out has to trust that the second player will offer him/her the Support of the Throne when their turn to offer a note comes around. Nothing prevents the second player from just accepting the note from the first player and then not offering anything when his/her turn rolls around.


We've played Promissory notes correctly. The issue isn't with distrustful players. If you are not trustworthy, you may have an advantage in one game but then you lose the next several because no one trusts you. And since we play TI3 about 13 times a year, that means you will have to suffer the distrust of people for some time.


Thought I'd ask - I played with a group that was allowing them to be swapped for whatever. The first game they had to trust the others, the Support of the Thrown swap incidents went away completely.
 
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halbower wrote:
Magesmiley wrote:

Make sure you're playing the exchange of promissory notes exactly per the rules. The notes can only be exchanged for votes, not for anything else, so they can't just directly swap them.

If the players are even slightly distrustworthy, a swap usually doesn't happen, as the first player to hand the note out has to trust that the second player will offer him/her the Support of the Throne when their turn to offer a note comes around. Nothing prevents the second player from just accepting the note from the first player and then not offering anything when his/her turn rolls around.


We've played Promissory notes correctly. The issue isn't with distrustful players. If you are not trustworthy, you may have an advantage in one game but then you lose the next several because no one trusts you. And since we play TI3 about 13 times a year, that means you will have to suffer the distrust of people for some time.


Hm. This sounds Familiar.
 
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Alwin Derijck
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Absolutely love those the statistical analysis.
With only ~2-3 games a year it would take me ages to come op with something decent to look into, so I'm very glad you guys are doing this.

Thanks!

cheers,
Alwin
 
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halbower,
Not sure if you're even going to get this, or if I missed something, but can we get an update on the stats? I really find them interesting!

I might PM you if it looks like you are not subscribed to this thread.

Edit: the older two statistics threads are:
Nov 2014 post
Jan 2015 post
 
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Christopher Halbower
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Sorry to respond so late. Yes, we are still keeping statistical data from our games.

I have some more data if our resident statistician CyberGarp is willing to give it the once over.
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That's President Admiral CAG Tigh Statistician CyberGarp to you. Ready and able!
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Awesome! Looking forward to peruse the crunched numbers.
 
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Ooooh, yes!
 
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