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Subject: Victory Condition Thoughts rss

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Scott D
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Liberty or Death is a fun enough game. Though I have not found it as compelling to play as Fire in the Lake (I've not played the other COINs), LoD has a great theme and outstanding components.

However, the more I play the game, the more I find the victory conditions to be flawed (at least from the perspective of a COIN game). The shared victory condition of Support-Opposition is the main culprit. This really contributes to a lack of variability in the outcome and is very swingy (not uncommon to go from +5 Support to +5 Opposition in one or two cards, even more during Winter Quarters). Most problematic for me is that it causes the winning Faction to be largely determined by whether the gap in Forts-Villages is greater than the gap in Rebellion-British casualties. This is unfulfilling to me and doesn't seem like a very convincing way of determining the "winner" of the Revolutionary War. For instance, why do the Patriots "lose" simply because the British took heavy casualties? How can the British have firm ideological support in nearly every colony/city, military control of most provinces, and "lose" because the Indians built a ton of villages in Canada, Florida, and the Southwest?

Thoughts?
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Justin
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As far as I'm concerned, the victories are basically shared between the alliances regardless of which one actually "won". Isn't this, at its heart, a team game?
 
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Matt D
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joestin wrote:
Isn't this, at its heart, a team game?

No. The COIN series are not traditionally team games.
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Scott D
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Burning Monkey wrote:
joestin wrote:
Isn't this, at its heart, a team game?

No. The COIN series are not traditionally team games.


That's basically my point. The beauty of COIN is the idea of "allies" that are ultimately working for their own individual benefit. That's mostly missing in LoD. The shared victory condition turns this into too much of a team game with the "winner" on the team decided by a measure of tenuous actual importance. I've seen a criticism elsewhere with which I have to agree: there is little motivation for allies to work at cross-purposes other than for "gamey" reasons (for example, the Patriots deliberately getting slaughtered in a battle to narrow the CBC-CRC gap--obviously not something that would ever have happened in real life).
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Joshua Yearsley
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Scottland wrote:
Burning Monkey wrote:
joestin wrote:
Isn't this, at its heart, a team game?

No. The COIN series are not traditionally team games.


That's basically my point. The beauty of COIN is the idea of "allies" that are ultimately working for their own individual benefit. That's mostly missing in LoD. The shared victory condition turns this into too much of a team game with the "winner" on the team decided by a measure of tenuous actual importance. I've seen a criticism elsewhere with which I have to agree: there is little motivation for allies to work at cross-purposes other than for "gamey" reasons (for example, the Patriots deliberately getting slaughtered in a battle to narrow the CBC-CRC gap--obviously not something that would ever have happened in real life).


On the gamey example, I'd argue that it's often very hard for the Patriots to do something like that because of the Win of the Day rules. It's also a very risky move because of how hard it is for the Patriots to get troops on the map. The Brits often should be able to swarm the map the second a slaughter happens.
 
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Rex Stites
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Scottland wrote:
Liberty or Death is a fun enough game. Though I have not found it as compelling to play as Fire in the Lake (I've not played the other COINs), LoD has a great theme and outstanding components.

However, the more I play the game, the more I find the victory conditions to be flawed (at least from the perspective of a COIN game). The shared victory condition of Support-Opposition is the main culprit. This really contributes to a lack of variability in the outcome and is very swingy (not uncommon to go from +5 Support to +5 Opposition in one or two cards, even more during Winter Quarters). Most problematic for me is that it causes the winning Faction to be largely determined by whether the gap in Forts-Villages is greater than the gap in Rebellion-British casualties. This is unfulfilling to me and doesn't seem like a very convincing way of determining the "winner" of the Revolutionary War. For instance, why do the Patriots "lose" simply because the British took heavy casualties? How can the British have firm ideological support in nearly every colony/city, military control of most provinces, and "lose" because the Indians built a ton of villages in Canada, Florida, and the Southwest?

Thoughts?


I don't think you can directly map "victory" and "loss" in the game to the historical situation. The support/opposition basically determines whether the colonies achieve their independence or not. The French doing better than the Patriots in their secondary victory condition and winning does not mean the colonies are still subjects of the crown.

Conceptually "victory" just means that a faction has done better at achieving its goals in the war than anyone else. In essence, the winning faction is in the best position going forward. Indian/French victory doesn't mean that the Patriots/British have "lost" the war.
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Jim F
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Just a small but very important point, support cannot be changed by spending resources during Winter Quarters until after the victory check. This happens first.
 
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Scott D
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Ashiefan wrote:

Just a small but very important point, support cannot be changed by spending resources during Winter Quarters until after the victory check. This happens first.


Yes, of course. But that doesn't change the fact that Support-Opposition is extremely swingy.
 
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Ron A
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Scottland wrote:
For instance, why do the Patriots "lose" simply because the British took heavy casualties? How can the British have firm ideological support in nearly every colony/city, military control of most provinces, and "lose" because the Indians built a ton of villages in Canada, Florida, and the Southwest?

Thoughts?


You have to think in relative terms. The Broncos won the Super Bowl. Do they all get paid the same? Do they all have the same endorsement opportunities? Some of them are more 'winners' than the others. It's not a perfect analogy, but it makes the basic point.

If I have any beef with LoD it's that each faction does not have equal (or sometimes ANY) control over their primary victory conditions. The French cannot directly affect Support/Opposition at all. They are completely dependent on the Patriots driving Opposition. The Indians at least can lower Opposition, although they cannot raise Support. Only the Brits and Patriots have complete control over their destinies. For me (YMMV), this arrangement of power makes LoD less attractive than say, AA and/or ADP.
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Scott D
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One of the other problems that I have with the secondary victory conditions is that they are unbalanced, largely because of ceilings on the one that aren't on the other (or are at least much higher). For example, the Patriots can never have more than a 6-0 advantage in Forts-Villages (so a 9-point edge there accounting for [Forts+3-Villages]) while theoretically the French can have a huge advantage in casualty disparity. In my most recent game, the Patriots had something like a 5-2 Forts advantage at game end, but the French had about +12 CBC-CRC. Sure, that involves good French play, but the mere fact that the secondary victory conditions allow the French and British to score more maximum points from theirs than the Indians and Patriots can from theirs is uneven. This is to say nothing of the relative ease of generating large numbers of casualties at once and the disparity between the British and Rebellion in terms of generating those casualties (i.e. all British units count toward casualties, only Continentals (as far as units go) count for Patriots, and French Regulars normally aren't even around for half of the game).
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Rex Stites
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Scottland wrote:
One of the other problems that I have with the secondary victory conditions is that they are unbalanced, largely because of ceilings on the one that aren't on the other (or are at least much higher). For example, the Patriots can never have more than a 6-0 advantage in Forts-Villages (so a 9-point edge there accounting for [Forts+3-Villages]) while theoretically the French can have a huge advantage in casualty disparity. In my most recent game, the Patriots had something like a 5-2 Forts advantage at game end, but the French had about +12 CBC-CRC. Sure, that involves good French play, but the mere fact that the secondary victory conditions allow the French and British to score more maximum points from theirs than the Indians and Patriots can from theirs is uneven. This is to say nothing of the relative ease of generating large numbers of casualties at once and the disparity between the British and Rebellion in terms of generating those casualties (i.e. all British units count toward casualties, only Continentals (as far as units go) count for Patriots, and French Regulars normally aren't even around for half of the game).


The theoretical possibility that one side has a higher potential margin over its ostensible ally doesn't make the game unbalanced. All that matters is whether the game, as played, is balanced. If the Pats consistently max out their 9 point edge (and could have done more if they had the opportunity) and lose to a French side that has a much higher casualty differential, then the game would be unbalanced. But I seriously doubt that is the case, especially against competent players. (It might be an issue with two experienced rebellion players against two newb royalist players, but that begs the question of why you'd assign sides like that in the first place).
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Matthew Miyares
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In my plays, a high CBC>CRC margin generally means that Washington has kept his Continentals paired with the French, and they both have gone on a Tory-Killing rampage, which generally only helps one of them win. At some point, the Patriots have to launch a major campaign against the Indians (which does nothing to increase CBC), which generally means disengaging their major forces to go village-burning in Indian Territory. This, then, leaves the French at the Tender mercies of the British regulars...

Point is, you have to remember that the Patriots have 2 enemies, not one, and that they can expect little help from the French to fight Indians. This is basically why they tend to be at cross-purposes; if the Patriot Player doesn't push his own agenda enough, then that will probably hand the game to the French or Indians. It would be wise, also, for the British player to "helpfully" remind his erstwhile opponents of that fact.
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Scott D
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True. I'll concede that. Still, like I said, it's easier to get large casualty margins than large village-fort margins.

I'm going to play again while trying to avoid (as much as possible) comparisons to other COINs. I actually really like how the French and Indians handle, so I'm going to give the game another go.
 
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Justin
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Burning Monkey wrote:
joestin wrote:
Isn't this, at its heart, a team game?

No. The COIN series are not traditionally team games.


Of course. I like that this one is, though. At least that's how I prefer to think of it.
 
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Scott D
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Rackenhammer wrote:
In my plays, a high CBC>CRC margin generally means that Washington has kept his Continentals paired with the French, and they both have gone on a Tory-Killing rampage, which generally only helps one of them win. At some point, the Patriots have to launch a major campaign against the Indians (which does nothing to increase CBC), which generally means disengaging their major forces to go village-burning in Indian Territory. This, then, leaves the French at the Tender mercies of the British regulars...

Point is, you have to remember that the Patriots have 2 enemies, not one, and that they can expect little help from the French to fight Indians. This is basically why they tend to be at cross-purposes; if the Patriot Player doesn't push his own agenda enough, then that will probably hand the game to the French or Indians. It would be wise, also, for the British player to "helpfully" remind his erstwhile opponents of that fact.


Perhaps this was the issue. I was the Patriots for the first time my last game, and the FrenchBot won easily. I was likely too focused on the British. I think I'll take a whirl as the Patriots again, build up some Continentals, and invade the Indian Reserve.
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Mike Bertucelli
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Scottland wrote:
Liberty or Death is a fun enough game. Though I have not found it as compelling to play as Fire in the Lake (I've not played the other COINs), LoD has a great theme and outstanding components.

However, the more I play the game, the more I find the victory conditions to be flawed (at least from the perspective of a COIN game). The shared victory condition of Support-Opposition is the main culprit. This really contributes to a lack of variability in the outcome and is very swingy (not uncommon to go from +5 Support to +5 Opposition in one or two cards, even more during Winter Quarters). Most problematic for me is that it causes the winning Faction to be largely determined by whether the gap in Forts-Villages is greater than the gap in Rebellion-British casualties. This is unfulfilling to me and doesn't seem like a very convincing way of determining the "winner" of the Revolutionary War. For instance, why do the Patriots "lose" simply because the British took heavy casualties? How can the British have firm ideological support in nearly every colony/city, military control of most provinces, and "lose" because the Indians built a ton of villages in Canada, Florida, and the Southwest?

Thoughts?



Scott, let me ask you how many times have you played the game?
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Scott D
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I've played FitL quite a bit, but LoD just a handful. Definitely not enough to have statistical significance. I was simply commenting on some trends I was noticing. My goal was to see if others were noticing similar patterns. That said, my perspective is largely based on the game just *feeling* quite different than what I've seen from other COINs. (I admit that Support-Opposition is easily affected in FitL, too, but the comparison approach in LoD exacerbates the swingy-ness.) I think it's mainly that LoD feels much more team-oriented than FitL (and AA, CL, ADP from what I've seen--not personally played those, only seen videos and read reports).
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Joshua Yearsley
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SBGrad wrote:
The French cannot directly affect Support/Opposition at all. They are completely dependent on the Patriots driving Opposition.


Again, don't forget about the Win the Day rules. One battle can shift a space up to three levels, which means a potential swing of up to six support/opposition. Even if the French is whittled down to a few Regulars, they can as much as double their force count by bringing along Continentals moving ("Continentals accompany French Regulars at the French’s option"), and can force Patriot units to participate in battles ("Decisions in the Battle Procedure are always made by the executing Faction unless otherwise specified."). The French certainly have less control than the Patriots, but to say they can't directly affect it is wrong.
 
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Scott D
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I did just consider that the shared victory condition actually creates an interesting dynamic. In Fire in the Lake, your relationship to your ally is much more of a "marriage of convenience," so to speak. The ARVN-US alliance is especially tense, and you can sometimes get away with basically forgetting about helping your ally (although sometimes this strategy hands the game to the other side). In LoD, no matter how badly your ally screws you over, you absolutely need him or her because of the shared victory forcing cooperation. This is especially true for the British and Indians in my limited experience, as the Indians need the British to raise Support, and the British get crushed if the Indians aren't proactive about antagonizing the Patriots.
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SBGrad wrote:

If I have any beef with LoD it's that each faction does not have equal (or sometimes ANY) control over their primary victory conditions. The French cannot directly affect Support/Opposition at all. They are completely dependent on the Patriots driving Opposition.

Not so. French blockades reduce Total Support, and it's only the comparative totals that matter. The British generally can't get more than a 6 point swing with a single Muster Command, which the Indians can match more cheaply and flexibly by Raiding three spaces.

My view is that the victory conditions are fine. The nature of the victory conditions causes the Patriots to spend time attacking Indians, the French to seek battle with the British, and the British to rely largely on their Regulars for offensive operations, which is all decently historical. I also haven't seen an Indian victory, or anything like an Indian victory, without plenty of Villages inside the Twelve Colonies.
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Harold Buchanan
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Scottland wrote:
Liberty or Death is a fun enough game. Though I have not found it as compelling to play as Fire in the Lake (I've not played the other COINs), LoD has a great theme and outstanding components.

However, the more I play the game, the more I find the victory conditions to be flawed (at least from the perspective of a COIN game). The shared victory condition of Support-Opposition is the main culprit. This really contributes to a lack of variability in the outcome and is very swingy (not uncommon to go from +5 Support to +5 Opposition in one or two cards, even more during Winter Quarters). Most problematic for me is that it causes the winning Faction to be largely determined by whether the gap in Forts-Villages is greater than the gap in Rebellion-British casualties. This is unfulfilling to me and doesn't seem like a very convincing way of determining the "winner" of the Revolutionary War. For instance, why do the Patriots "lose" simply because the British took heavy casualties? How can the British have firm ideological support in nearly every colony/city, military control of most provinces, and "lose" because the Indians built a ton of villages in Canada, Florida, and the Southwest?

Thoughts?


Hey Scott

I’m glad you played the game and found it to be fun. That said, games can’t work for everyone and if you don’t like it overall I have no problem with that either. That’s not something we can debate – enjoyment is a matter of opinion and I won’t pretend to try to change yours.

I do disagree when you say that the Victory Conditions are “flawed” so I will make a few points. Please note many of these points are made in the Designer’s notes in the play book which may also be informative.

Liberty or Death covers a conflict where Factions had common enemies but very different goals. The solution was the competitive goals rather than measuring against static numbers. I think it does a nice job addressing the conflict at this level of abstraction – that was the goal – not using prior victory constructs.

Regarding the charge that the game doesn’t fit the COIN model I never felt restricted by prior COIN games and didn’t want to play Andean Abyss on a map of the Colonies. I will take that as a compliment.
As for “swingy” I assume this means high volatility in outcomes. I would suggest the majority of games (as was true in play testing) do not end with Support vs Opposition difference greater than 10. I am comfortable with that level of volatility – especially since it is driven by player’s choices and actions.

To say that the Secondary Victory Conditions are not balanced just because Casualties aren’t limited but Forts and Villages are is a reach. Player’s choices keep this in check. I can’t protect players from the game. It is a rare game when this gets out of whack. When it happens I usually observe a player or players not paying attention to Victory Conditions.
I have heard the observation from sophisticated COIN players that LoD can be unforgiving of players of differing quality. I see that. An excellent Indian player can be held back by a first time British player. This doesn’t make the game “flawed”. It’s just a reality and one I suggest we need to pay attention to as we assign Factions.

I hope you keep playing – maybe you will find something there you didn’t see the first few times. But if not, I am glad you enjoy FitL and expect you will enjoy some of the new COIN fare coming through the pipeline.

Best

Harold Buchanan

EDIT: Spelling...
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Joel Tamburo
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The thing to remember about the LoD Victory Conditions - and a place where they are very different from the rest of the COIN games - is that they boil down to a series of "matchups". In each matchup all of the player powers are involved, with two of them being the primary drivers of the matchup and the other two secondary drivers. These are:

a) Support vs. Opposition: British and Patriots are the Primary Drivers and the Indians and French the Secondary Drivers.

b) Forts vs. Villages: Indians and Patriots are the Primary Drivers and French and British are the Secondary Drivers.

c) Casualties: British and French are the Primary Drivers and Patriots and Indians the Secondary Drivers.

The British and French win based on matchups A and C, while the Indians and Patriots win based on matchups A and B. What this means is every player has one victory condition they are primary on and one they are secondary on - but they need both to win. Hence successful play in this game will involve actively partnering with the other player on your side.

One other thing to remember is that Victory before the final WQ card has a "coattails" effect. If one player achieves such a victory their partner is automatically assured no worse than second place. This again encourages active partnering.
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Scott D
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hankhankhank wrote:
Scottland wrote:
Liberty or Death is a fun enough game. Though I have not found it as compelling to play as Fire in the Lake (I've not played the other COINs), LoD has a great theme and outstanding components.

However, the more I play the game, the more I find the victory conditions to be flawed (at least from the perspective of a COIN game). The shared victory condition of Support-Opposition is the main culprit. This really contributes to a lack of variability in the outcome and is very swingy (not uncommon to go from +5 Support to +5 Opposition in one or two cards, even more during Winter Quarters). Most problematic for me is that it causes the winning Faction to be largely determined by whether the gap in Forts-Villages is greater than the gap in Rebellion-British casualties. This is unfulfilling to me and doesn't seem like a very convincing way of determining the "winner" of the Revolutionary War. For instance, why do the Patriots "lose" simply because the British took heavy casualties? How can the British have firm ideological support in nearly every colony/city, military control of most provinces, and "lose" because the Indians built a ton of villages in Canada, Florida, and the Southwest?

Thoughts?


Hey Scott

I’m glad you played the game and found it to be fun. That said, games can’t work for everyone and if you don’t like it overall I have no problem with that either. That’s not something we can debate – enjoyment is a matter of opinion and I won’t pretend to try to change yours.

I do disagree when you say that the Victory Conditions are “flawed” so I will make a few points. Please note many of these points are made in the Designer’s notes in the play book which may also be informative.

Liberty or Death covers a conflict where Factions had common enemies but very different goals. The solution was the competitive goals rather than measuring against static numbers. I think it does a nice job addressing the conflict at this level of abstraction – that was the goal – not using prior victory constructs.

Regarding the charge that the game doesn’t fit the COIN model I never felt restricted by prior COIN games and didn’t want to play Andean Abyss on a map of the Colonies. I will take that as a compliment.
As for “swingy” I assume this means high volatility in outcomes. I would suggest the majority of games (as was true in play testing) do not end with Support vs Opposition difference greater than 10. I am comfortable with that level of volatility – especially since it is driven by player’s choices and actions.

To say that the Secondary Victory Conditions are not balanced just because Casualties aren’t limited but Forts and Villages are is a reach. Player’s choices keep this in check. I can’t protect players from the game. It is a rare game when this gets out of whack. When it happens I usually observe a player or players not paying attention to Victory Conditions.
I have heard the observation from sophisticated COIN players that LoD can be unforgiving of players of differing quality. I see that. An excellent Indian player can be held back by a first time British player. This doesn’t make the game “flawed”. It’s just a reality and one I suggest we need to pay attention to as we assign Factions.

I hope you keep playing – maybe you will find something there you didn’t see the first few times. But if not, I am glad you enjoy FitL and expect you will enjoy some of the new COIN fare coming through the pipeline.

Best

Harold Buchanan

EDIT: Spelling...


It is totally possible that my initial impressions are based on an (inappropriate) expectation that there would be more similarity to other COIN games than there appears to be in LoD. That certainly is an unfair standard by which to measure LoD, which I will readily admit. I am willing to concede two further points:

1. My play of the game is likely not even close to optimal, which would definitely impact how the game plays out. This will become more clear the more I play the game.

2. The game has numerous elements in its favor: the unique nature of the French and Indian factions, the conflict being modeled, the high quality of the bots, the relative ease of play compared to FitL, the event variety and balance, etc.

Let me clarify my concern about the casualties vs forts/villages. It is not so much the ceiling itself as the comparative ease with which you can increase the casualty gap. It can take many turns to gain a gap of just 2-3 villages/forts, while battles can easily increase the casualty gap by 3-5 in a single turn. Sure, there's volatility here in that it is easy to revert it back, but if you know the WQ card is coming up (especially the final one) it's much easier to quickly create a large casualty gap. Plus, it seems *very* difficult to win a solo game as the Patriots or Indians unless CBC/CRC is in the favor of your enemy. Especially having enough of a village gap as the Indians to overcome the [Villages - 3 - Patriot Forts] and still be ahead of the CBC-CRC difference by 6+ is incredibly tough. This is precisely where the ceiling on the forts/villages gap hurts.

That said, I'll definitely still play the game and enjoy doing so.
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Scott D
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Actually, Harold, a question, if I may: when you play, what tends to be your overall strategy for ensuring that you not only meet your victory conditions, but you also do so "better" than your ally? I ask because I think the victory conditions being so closely related is the largest change from previous COIN iterations, and I want to make sure I am approaching the play of the game in the manner best-suited for the ways in which the game is unique. I mean when I say that I really want to enjoy the game because it is by far my favorite theme of any of the series (including the upcoming).
 
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Harold Buchanan
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Scottland wrote:
Actually, Harold, a question, if I may: when you play, what tends to be your overall strategy for ensuring that you not only meet your victory conditions, but you also do so "better" than your ally? I ask because I think the victory conditions being so closely related is the largest change from previous COIN iterations, and I want to make sure I am approaching the play of the game in the manner best-suited for the ways in which the game is unique. I mean when I say that I really want to enjoy the game because it is by far my favorite theme of any of the series (including the upcoming).


I hear you Scott - no worries with me - I know everyone won't like the game.

Do you play solo or with other players?
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