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Subject: First play of 456 rss

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arry -
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It was a late evening 3-player game of 504. It was my fourth game total, the previous three being in the world of 123. The other two guys have just finished a 123 game, so it was a second game for them.

Rules explanation was weird, because I've read the rules and made a one-player test-drive a long time ago. So it was a lot of looking at the rulebook and jumping from topic to topic: Here you do this, and wait, there are roads, and also military works like this, but with residents you also can move, but when you explore they die, blah-blah etc. In the end, after one round of actual turns, it all fit into place, and we played smoothly, but with occasional questions of what's the road price for this or that.

The first half of the game was boring and random. We went a couple of rounds just exploring and exploring (sometimes building a road). It was mechanical and not strategical: you obviously go to explore as much as you can. One opponent got all the fields (with own settlement + resident), another a mix of forests and grasslands (own settlement), and I got all the mountains (one militia). We didn't fight militia at first, so in a couple of new-found cities we couldn't place a militia because the red residents were all on the map.

In the second half the fights started. The player who got the most free residents was almost asleep during the exploration phase, but once he got a massive attack on my poorly-defended borderlands, it awakened him. I then attacked him out of a couple of hexes, and the other guy mounted a surprise attack on my capital. (He did have two residents near my capital: they've built a road to his lands which were all connected, and an easy 7-resident army invaded my defenseless capital.) That put an end to my poor empire, which transfered its allegiance to him and gave him the victory.

In summary, the first part was too long, the second too short, and if you explore only mountains you're out of luck. It was enjoyable at the time, but what exactly was fun about it I cannot now remember.

A couple of rules questions:

1) When you find a settlement during exploration, do you get the income +5 token? We played that you did, but the rules can be understood both ways. They say something like, "When you place a new settlement on an empty hex during Residents phase", and exploration happens during Residents phase so you do place a settlement then... But it can be argued that the phrase means only when you make a settlement out of your own resident during movement. Maybe without this income we'd be more even, and I could've had more of a chance at defense.

2) Is the attacking army limited to 7 residents? The closest I could find in the rules said that you can have 7 residents in your settlement. But it didn't say anything about the hexes without your settlement, as is the case during attack.

3) If you run out of militia, you don't place them in found hexes, do you?
 
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Sophia Lechner
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1. Nope, this is unfortunately a bit ambiguous in the printed rules, but clarified in the FAQ. Automatic settlements from exploring do not give income.

2. Yes, you're limited to 7 residents on a tile even during the residents action phase.

3. I guess you don't place them. Seems unlikely, though? Mountains are usually worthwhile to attack for the extra $20. (this would have been more true with the correct answer to #1, of course). Cities are not so worthwhile since 6.III doesn't reward them like some other third modules do, but 5 VP is still not too bad for the cost.
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Richard Dewsbery
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456 didn't wow me either; the luck of the draw determined the winner (perhaps because we hadn't read the FAQ, and were giving the +5 to a player who kept exploring and finding settlements), and roads added nothing (in fact they're a dangerous distraction). But I still love the idea behind 504, and I really want to continue to explore strange new worlds.
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Travis Dean
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arry1 wrote:
3) If you run out of militia, you don't place them in found hexes, do you?


I would find a proxy to place. It was a mistake to put fewer components in the box than intended.

I suppose with 2 or 3 player, you have an additional unused player color that's not likely to run out of pieces.
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Andrew Schoonmaker
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Dolus wrote:
arry1 wrote:
3) If you run out of militia, you don't place them in found hexes, do you?


I would find a proxy to place. It was a mistake to put fewer components in the box than intended.

I suppose with 2 or 3 player, you have an additional unused player color that's not likely to run out of pieces.

Friedemann pointed out in the second 456 PBF that you can use the orange pieces for this purpose (and also confirms that militia are intended to be unlimited).
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Travis Dean
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NeonElephant wrote:
Dolus wrote:
arry1 wrote:
3) If you run out of militia, you don't place them in found hexes, do you?


I would find a proxy to place. It was a mistake to put fewer components in the box than intended.

I suppose with 2 or 3 player, you have an additional unused player color that's not likely to run out of pieces.

Friedemann pointed out in the second 456 PBF that you can use the orange pieces for this purpose (and also confirms that militia are intended to be unlimited).


Which is why I suggested a proxy of using the other colors.

I had a question in the back of my head about possibility of running out with module 9.I or 9.II in play as well, and without thinking about it, it's a possibility, albeit more unlikely, but I'd still say find a proxy. You just won't have any of the five colors available to be that proxy.
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Ryan Keane
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Oops, we just played that wrong as well, giving players $10 each time they explored and got a settlement out of it (forests/fields/meadows IIRC). We had to call our 456 game (2nd game of 504) - once we had explored all the tiles but a few deserts left, there was no way for anyone to get enough money to build enough residents to end the game through either turtle-build up or capitol assault. We probably didn't play well strategically, but the fact that the natural second game combination of 456 can fall into an unending game is unfortunate. Still excited to try more combinations, but not so much trying out combinations randomly to see if they're good or not. Feels too much like playtesting to find the gem combination of rules amidst the complete design space. 504 seems ideally suited for game designers to take combinations and add additional rules and real theme to create new games.
 
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Sophia Lechner
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Ryan Keane wrote:
Oops, we just played that wrong as well, giving players $10 each time they explored and got a settlement out of it (forests/fields/meadows IIRC). We had to call our 456 game (2nd game of 504) - once we had explored all the tiles but a few deserts left, there was no way for anyone to get enough money to build enough residents to end the game through either turtle-build up or capitol assault.
It sounds like you played wrong in another, even more important way: exploring and building new settlements don't give you money, they give you income tokens which produce money every turn. So income can only go up, and pretty soon someone will be able to buy all their residents or get out all their settlements. (Capital victory probably shouldn't happen except in games with module 2 or 8, which make residents in a hurry.)
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Ryan Keane
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JemL wrote:
Ryan Keane wrote:
Oops, we just played that wrong as well, giving players $10 each time they explored and got a settlement out of it (forests/fields/meadows IIRC). We had to call our 456 game (2nd game of 504) - once we had explored all the tiles but a few deserts left, there was no way for anyone to get enough money to build enough residents to end the game through either turtle-build up or capitol assault.
It sounds like you played wrong in another, even more important way: exploring and building new settlements don't give you money, they give you income tokens which produce money every turn. So income can only go up, and pretty soon someone will be able to buy all their residents or get out all their settlements. (Capital victory probably shouldn't happen except in games with module 2 or 8, which make residents in a hurry.)


Doh! Ok, that explains it. We missed the clear explanation of this on pg 19.

I am amazed at how FF was able to create this amalgam of rules that works in so many combinations, but to be honest, it is still kind of a mess, requiring you to reference many places to make sure you're applying all the rules. I'm sure it will become easier once we've mastered the rules for all 9 mechanics.
 
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