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Argent: The Consortium» Forums » Variants

Subject: Marks rss

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Thorsten Schleer
Austria
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Yesterday we finished our first game of Argent. I love the game and hope to play it again soon.
It was a three player game with the proposed standard layout.

Before we played I read the FAQs and some discussion here at BGG. I was sure that I would love the game, but the discussions about the marks gave me something to think about.

Ahead of all I have to say: The player with the most marks won the game.

He placed four marks and by that knew 50% of the win conditions.
The two other players placed no marks and so did know only 3 out of 12.
Player 1 preferred to go for most spells (and therefore for wisdom, intelligence) and he got the opportunity to pick up many vault items which seemed like a very effective combination.
He won 4 voters (The one only he knew + 3 others that weren’t very contested)
Player 2 had by far the most mana and most gold (both turned out to be no winning condition).
He only won 3 voters (including the one only he knew) and lost 3 tie-breaks against player 3.
Player 3 knew due to his starting mark about the most diversity voter. He went for Supporters, Influence and some spells. From the 4 marks he placed, he only won 2 voters. It very much felt like, that he only won the game because of most influence an not because of the information he got with the marks.

Generally the marks felt a little strange to our whole bunch.
They are the only resource you can’t use to influence anything.
You do have the hard ressources gold/mana – easy to come by, but you have to spend them to get an effect (normally board presence)
You do have the soft ressources intelligence/wisdom – spend them to improve your possibilities to effect your board presence via spells and additionally you don’t have to use them to benefit (win/win resource)
Then you do have spells. They have a great synergy with intelligence/wisdom and have a very good chance to fulfill a winning condition you don’t know (Diversity/Dominance/INT/WIS maybe Mana).
Supporters seem to be comparable to spells lacking the synergy with INT/WIS but having the advantage that they are always at least one winning condition. Both spells and Supporters grant you possibilities to effect board presence. Same for Treasures/Consumables.
Influence is indisputable a crucial resource. Granting merit badges (again board presence) and as Tie-breaker.
And there are the marks…
You can’t do anything with them to influence the board. You can’t do anything with them at all. You just get a little bit more of the information to win the game…
You need to know as much as you can as fast as possible. By turn 4 and later marks seem to be quiet useless… but maybe not. Maybe they provide just the information you need. If there a two win conditions on the edge and you learn that one of them really is a win condition you have the chance to focus on that…

But still. They do feel a little detached from the rest of the game.
My first ideas for the marks where these:
1.) If only your mark is on a voter and you place a second mark on him, than by the end of the turn (last belltower card taken) you can decide that this voter withdraws (his winning condition is taken out).
Advatage: Make the knowledge count something. You won’t hurt the plans of an other player because nobody except knew about this winning condition, so they wouldn’t actively try for it. But you do have a possibility to actively improve your chance of winning (like with all of the other resources)
2.) Mark as a Tie-Breaker for the winning condition of the voter it marks.
Thought: Tie-Breaking is important. Influence has two advantages via general tie-breaking and granting merit badges. Seems unfair
This option was discussed on BGG before I think.
3.) Marks as Jokers
Use (discard) a mark on a voter to trigger the option the voter grants you:
Most Gold – Draw a Vault card
Most Mana - Cast a Spell without paying it’s mana cost
Most Consumables – Draft a Consumable from the board
Most Treasures – Use a Treasure from the board without owning it
Most Intelligence – Immediately gain 1 INT
Most Wisdom – Immediately gain 1 WIS
Most Research – Immediately gain 1 Research
Most Divinity/Planar/Natural/Sorcery/Mysticism/Technomancy – Draft a Supporter from the board (according to the school). Or maybe Divinity-Heal / Planar-Shadow / Natural-Move /Mysticism-Banish…
Most Diversity – Wild-Card for Supporter-Draft
Most Marks – Steal a mark from an other player

I guess we will play a couple of game without any changes and observe how strong marks really are when used as intended. But I would be very glad to hear about your opinions about my ideas (especially how these changes would influence/destroy the game balance). Thanks
 
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Miguel Duran
United States
Seattle
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I'm all for house ruling something if you feel it'll be fun for your group. That said, it's my experience (and apparently yours) that more Marks, even without any added bonus, tends to mean more likely (although not certain by any means) to win the game. Given that winning is what you want to do, what more incentive towards buying Marks do you need? Late-game Marks can still provide crucial information.

I also don't understand how your #3 would work as by collecting those benefits before final scoring, you're revealing the nature of the voter to anyone who doesn't have a Mark there.
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Trey Chambers
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I have seen people ignoring Marks and still winning, but it is extremely rare. Knowing the goals of the game are, unsurprisingly, usually very important to winning the game.
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Alexander Griffard
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Meridian
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Hedgehamster wrote:
And there are the marks…
You can’t do anything with them to influence the board. You can’t do anything with them at all.

This isn't true, and I think you don't realize it because you've only played the game one time. Use the information you have to make your opponents think a Voter is in or out of play.

In my most recent game, I placed a purple mage during round 5 on a spot that gave gold. I knew that the most gold voter wasn't in play, but my opponent did not. I used a purple mage because I wanted it to be knocked out by my opponent's red mage or spells. They assumed that I was trying to get the most gold, so they fell for my trap. I then used the infirmary bonus for influence, thus gaining a benefit and making my opponent waste a mage, an action, and mana.
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Darrell Goodridge
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Windsor Locks
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HyperionHuxley wrote:
Hedgehamster wrote:
And there are the marks…
You can’t do anything with them to influence the board. You can’t do anything with them at all.

This isn't true, and I think you don't realize it because you've only played the game one time. Use the information you have to make your opponents think a Voter is in or out of play.

In my most recent game, I placed a purple mage during round 5 on a spot that gave gold. I knew that the most gold voter wasn't in play, but my opponent did not. I used a purple mage because I wanted it to be knocked out by my opponent's red mage or spells. They assumed that I was trying to get the most gold, so they fell for my trap. I then used the infirmary bonus for influence, thus gaining a benefit and making my opponent waste a mage, an action, and mana.

I did that once too, although quite by accident. I was playing Technomancers and the Blue side B was also up, so I needed lots of money to research, merit badge, and cast my spells. So I was snatching up all the money and mana every turn. Someone else thought I knew something, and started bumping me off all the gold and mana. Little did he know, or myself for that matter, that neither one were a vote. Once I saw I couldn't beat him for mana, I burned about half of it on a major tear, and he was "You really don't know do you?" I was laughing so hard.

On topic, I'm one of those players who goes with what's likely to be out there, and/or base my strategy on my one mark. I won the first game like that, and I had all the right pieces in the second game, just not enough of them.
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Anthony Martins
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Eugene
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JaydedOne wrote:
I'm all for house ruling something if you feel it'll be fun for your group. That said, it's my experience (and apparently yours) that more Marks, even without any added bonus, tends to mean more likely (although not certain by any means) to win the game. Given that winning is what you want to do, what more incentive towards buying Marks do you need? Late-game Marks can still provide crucial information.

I usually win when I play this (I'm almost undefeated). I also usually have full mark-coverage.

The key is that you only need ONE more of any given thing than the next player. Also, you have limited actions. If you know what you are going for, you can target those resources precisely; winning by one in multiple categories will seal the deal in this game.
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Tomi Mononen
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Kuopio
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Shampoo4you wrote:
I have seen people ignoring Marks and still winning, but it is extremely rare. Knowing the goals of the game are, unsurprisingly, usually very important to winning the game. :)

I have won most of the games I have played and never get marks.
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Trey Chambers
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Tjolmir wrote:
Shampoo4you wrote:
I have seen people ignoring Marks and still winning, but it is extremely rare. Knowing the goals of the game are, unsurprisingly, usually very important to winning the game.

I have won most of the games I have played and never get marks.

My experience is anecdotal, but I have played lots and lots of people who have tried this strategy against me.

Incidentally, I used to try this strategy myself all the time, and I would usually lose with it.

Now I try to get Marks and haven't lost a game in about 2 years.
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Anthony Martins
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Tjolmir wrote:
Shampoo4you wrote:
I have seen people ignoring Marks and still winning, but it is extremely rare. Knowing the goals of the game are, unsurprisingly, usually very important to winning the game.

I have won most of the games I have played and never get marks.

Going for high influence while grabbing up lots of supporters, a player will do pretty well.

I think the reason that marks are so helpful is just that there are so many measures - a dozen just in the base game.

Just to invent a simple game to demonstrate:

Every turn you take a chip. There are six chips: Blue, Green, Red, Orange, Purple, and Yellow. You get four turns.

At the end of the game, whoever has the most of the secret color wins. You can also take a turn to discover the secret color.

Here are some players' games:

Sandra: check - blue - blue - blue
Tommy: blue - yellow - yellow - blue
Clara: red - red - red - red

In this game, the only thing that could have beat Sandra would have been an unlikely blue - blue - blue - blue.

Argent is a really complicated version of that. Because you have limited turns, knowing what you're going for is just so valuable.

I do think you can win without it, of course (especially depending on how the others are playing).
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How do people find the time to use Marks?
They usually take one action right?
I find that this is a huge sacrifice since there are a lot of purple and grey mages getting on the board quick
 
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Steve Scothern
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You place a mark on a candidate as soon as you get it - you don't keep them around for later (so no need to use an action).
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You need to use an action to 'get' the mark though right?
E.g. Common ways of getting marks are using 'Action' supporters, and placing on Council chambers, both which cost 1 main action.

I played my first game of Argent on the weekend and to me, it seemed like I never had a free Action to do this. Especially with purple and grey mages flying around fast. Do other people have this problem?
 
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Greg Wilson
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xe191 wrote:
I played my first game of Argent on the weekend and to me, it seemed like I never had a free Action to do this. Especially with purple and grey mages flying around fast. Do other people have this problem?

Well, what were you doing with your actions that meant you couldn't spare any for marks? How did you know that the actions you were taking were worthwhile?
 
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Thats what I would like to know. I've only played one game and am unable to judge the value of using an action for a mark.

In the game I played, the rounds went by fast due to the purple player placing quickly. Most of our actions were used on placing mages to gain mana, draft vault and supporters ("Draft" is free, correct?) and research spells.

I feel like we overbuilt our engines, as I bought a lot of treasures and consumables that I didn't have time to use (mainly because I didn't expect the pace of the game to go so fast, and free (draft) engine cards seemed like a good deal).

I ended up with about 6 or 7 Consumable+treasure cards total, 3 supporters, 4 spells at around level 1-2. There were a few cards and spells that I never got to use (e.g. Treasure - Action: Tap for 1 mark). Mana was very tight, since only the 8/4 Gold/Mana room was on the board, and in the later rounds another player was locking it down (is mana always tight in this game?)

I wasn't able to use most of my stuff because the purple player would have his 5 mages cleared in about 2 rounds. I bought a 6th mage early (is this ever a good idea?) and in the later rounds I was only getting about 2 or 3 on the board each round. Didn't have time to use any of my other stuff.

Am I somehow playing it wrong? What is a good number of marks to place for a 3 player game?

TLDR: Purple player playing fast meant that I could only get half my mages down each round, didn't even have time to think about getting marks or IP
 
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Greg Wilson
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It is certainly possible for someone to rush their mages onto the board, but that often leaves them vulnerable to being wounded or banished and losing those spots.

Also, if a single player does this, they'll then end up taking bell tower cards for several rounds while everyone else places more mages or uses items and supporters. In a three-player game, a player who gets all mages placed in two rounds still has to spend three more rounds taking bell tower cards to actually end the round.

As you've said, taking items that you don't have the actions to use or spells that you don't have the mana to cast might have been a mistake. I'd happily have given up an early action or two for marks, so that I knew which supporters and resources I should be trying to get.
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Trey Chambers
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Right, if someone puts all their resources into rushing mages, you should try to make them hurt to nullify that advantage. Target them when you can. Acquire Fast Actions of your own when possible.

If someone is really rushing, it can be hard to find time to gain Marks, but in the first couple of rounds it will almost always be worth looking at a Mark that no one else has looked at. Later on, you have to balance the risk of looking at Marks it might be too late to win, and accomplishing goals you are already aware of.

It can be a lot to process on the first play, but in subsequent plays all of this stuff will seem more apparent. And you'll find creative ways to deal with players who rush their mages out.
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