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The Voyages of Marco Polo» Forums » General

Subject: Minor Gripe on Balance of Route Cards rss

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Mark C
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Ypsilanti
Michigan
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After getting this game to the table maybe a dozen times with about as many players, I noticed something about the winner's hand of route cards that led me to believe they aren't well balanced.

First off, there are 4 routes across to Beijing, each requiring 7 movement spaces.

Second, route cards have cities on 2 different routes, six movement spaces apart, with points values from 4 to 8.

Large city cards will change the value of destinations, but on balance, Beijing is obviously an important destination, for the 10 points awarded to the first player, and 7/4/1 for other players. Small cities are generally more important for their persistent benefits, and statistically, Sumatra will typically be an important city for the 3 large city action spaces it provides.

The northern-most route (call it route #1) has 1 small city & 2 large, and costs 8 camels OR 5 camels & 5 coins
The next route #2 has 1 small and 2 large, and costs 14 camels
The next route #3 has is interesting in that it can easily add Alexandria at a slight substitution of 7 coins for 3 camels. Assuming you do so, it's still only 7 spaces total, but gives you 2 large and 2 small cities, for a total cost of 6 camels and 7 coins (9 camels and 0 coins if avoiding Alexandria).
The southern-most route #4 has 2 large and 2 small cities, but at a whopping cost of 6 camels and 25 coins!

The route cards that seem to be really valuable are the cards that use a city in the fairly inexpensive route#1, then drop down 1 space to Xian. While the 3 Xian cards score 4 points, they are much easier to fit into a strategy of crossing over to Beijing, and need only 8 spaces total. The low scoring is more than made up for by being getting quickly to Beijing, and being able to fulfill a higher unique city bonus. For example, if you get 4 cities instead of 2, simply because it is much less expensive to do so, you will make up 7 additional points (10 for 4 cities, vs 3 for 2 cities). This will be even greater if it means you got to Beijing quickly. The Sumatra/Anxi card is also quite good, requiring 9 spaces total, but also allowing you to use route#1. It scores 8 for the card, and gets you into the really valuable (usually) city of Sumatra. Sumatra/Ormuz is significantly worse, requiring route #3, but can be tenable.

Our games have generally been tight, and fulfilling routes is most often the difference that puts the winner over the top. Having 2 of the cards I mentioned above is generally a winning hand, and in a 4p game, it's actually quite probable when drawing 16 of 18 cards, that 1 player gets 2 of them.

The best route #1 cards per above seem to be really strong, and among roughly equal players, it seems to me they've accounted for far more wins than any other tactic or strategy I've seen.

Would be interested to hear from experienced players their thoughts on the what they've noticed about different card draws and whether they've found there are "good" hands and "bad" hands.
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Ïzi Requin
France
Versailles
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After 30+ games i think i agree with you.

Route #1 is definitely the one i prefer.

I have won games where i choose to go "Oversea" and it worked pretty well. But i must admit that route #2 and #3 are not often my favorite.

If u really think there is " Good hands " and " Bad hands " u should do a draft system.

Sometimes, with my playing partners we do it to reduce " luck factor "

U draw 2 * Player number + 2 Cards. And U draft them starting from the last player.

This is very good because u can " FOCUS " easyly on a strategy with Route #2 or #3 because u will be able to take 2 Cards that are nice together.

U should try.


 
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Mark C
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A draft sounds ideal, but for a slightly faster start, we marked the 5 best cards per above with a little circle from a post-it note, and dealt one of those to each player, then took the remaining 3 cards from the rest of the deck. That seemed to work pretty well, as no player got 2 of the best, and no player got none of them either.
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