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Subject: We just played our first game (2 player) and the game didn't quite click rss

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Andreas Becker
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I love the art and the general feel of this game, and the storytelling was a lot of fun. The gameplay itself didn't quite click for us, on a few fronts - maybe these things are normal and part of the experience, but thought I'd check here:

First, do you get a lot done in this game? We both ended up buying about 6-7 buildings, and I had maybe 5 empty cave spaces, while my SO had about 3-4. Seems like the first couple rounds are all about getting an extra person and maybe an extra bed or key building?

Second, does it feel like there is a particular goal? We didn't get very far along the advancement track, and scored 5 and 9 points, respectively. I didn't see how it was feasible to get all of the spaces covered! We also each only got one of the star buildings during the game, although I picked up one in the last round just to get an extra 4 points or so.

Third, does it feel short? I think that the size of the game led me to believe it would be longer - or feel longer, at least - and I was surprised how quickly the seven rounds went by.

Fourth, does the last round just seem like a point grab? We were just trying to grab a building or two (or whatever would let us get points based on our scoring tiles), etc. This, plus the fact that the first round (and more) felt somewhat scripted, made the game feel really short.

Thanks!
 
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Peter Hazlewood
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FightOnGoBlue wrote:
I love the art and the general feel of this game, and the storytelling was a lot of fun. The gameplay itself didn't quite click for us, on a few fronts - maybe these things are normal and part of the experience, but thought I'd check here:

First, do you get a lot done in this game? We both ended up buying about 6-7 buildings, and I had maybe 5 empty cave spaces, while my SO had about 3-4. Seems like the first couple rounds are all about getting an extra person and maybe an extra bed or key building?

Second, does it feel like there is a particular goal? We didn't get very far along the advancement track, and scored 5 and 9 points, respectively. I didn't see how it was feasible to get all of the spaces covered! We also each only got one of the star buildings during the game, although I picked up one in the last round just to get an extra 4 points or so.

Third, does it feel short? I think that the size of the game led me to believe it would be longer - or feel longer, at least - and I was surprised how quickly the seven rounds went by.

Fourth, does the last round just seem like a point grab? We were just trying to grab a building or two (or whatever would let us get points based on our scoring tiles), etc. This, plus the fact that the first round (and more) felt somewhat scripted, made the game feel really short.

Thanks!


1. For me, no you never get quite enough done in this game. But that's part of what I like about it; it's always a challenge to come up with a strategy and try to deliver it. You'll get better at this and accomplish more in future games.

2. I suppose the goal is to get the most points, but there are lots of ways to do this, key buildings and advancement track the main ways. We haven't had many games where all/most of the slots get taken up. But there have been plenty of times when we eventually got 4 or 5 of 1 particular good and manage to get it into the 3 or 4 point space slots.

3. The 2p game feels very short; it obviously doesn't go as quickly with more players. Also, depending on your strategies that can speed up/slow down the game. If you do lots of adventuring, it's going to take longer. If you try to build around harvesting recurring goods then that's quicker. For me, this is an advantage; the game does not outstay its welcome and sometimes we go right ahead and play again.

4. Yes, the last round is all about finishing off the strategy you've been working at, gaining as many points as possible. Or, it can be about going adventuring and attempting to get one more good to put on your advancement track.

This game clicked with my group and with my wife, so maybe give it another couple of tries. I think it's definitely better with 3 or 4p but still like it 2p.
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Kim Williams
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FightOnGoBlue wrote:
We didn't get very far along the advancement track, and scored 5 and 9 points, respectively. I didn't see how it was feasible to get all of the spaces covered!


It's been rare for us to get to the very end of the advancement track, but more often someone get to one or two spaces from the end. It's particularly nice if you've been harvesting like mad throughout the game, and then in the final round dump 6 fish on a far along space netting a load of points.
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Neil Biggs
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entwife wrote:
It's been rare for us to get to the very end of the advancement track, but more often someone get to one or two spaces from the end. It's particularly nice if you've been harvesting like mad throughout the game, and then in the final round dump 6 fish on a far along space netting a load of points.


Off-topic, but I love your profile pic - is that from the Lost Gardens of Heligan?
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David Jones
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FightOnGoBlue wrote:
First, do you get a lot done in this game? We both ended up buying about 6-7 buildings, and I had maybe 5 empty cave spaces, while my SO had about 3-4.
I'm not clear on what the intent of the question is. You start the game with one building. Based on the description of your end state, you had to have built at least one building every round and probably explored once per round. Are you asking if this is normal or are you saying that you think you didn't do enough? That said, I think your experience is close to the normal of what I've seen in my games. Some players explore more than others.

Quote:
Seems like the first couple rounds are all about getting an extra person and maybe an extra bed or key building?
The first rule of any action selection game is to find out how to get more actions. This game is no different. The only thing that stands out here is I'm wondering if you stopped at just one extra person. If you end the game with only four villagers, you probably didn't enough actions in.

Quote:
Second, does it feel like there is a particular goal?
In some sense, the goal is whatever you want to make it. Do you want experience the story? Do you want to have a large village? Do you just want to play to maximize points? I hesitate to say that this is a sandbox game because your choices are not as open ended as they are in games like Merchants and Marauders or Runebound, but I think the game is open enough that you can set your own goals.

Quote:
We didn't get very far along the advancement track, and scored 5 and 9 points, respectively. I didn't see how it was feasible to get all of the spaces covered!
I don't think its possible to fill this without a fair bit of luck. I doubt you could build the eight buildings you need to harvest each resource. I got up to spot seven on one game and that required some luck from quest rewards but also by making some shrewd trades with other players. Its just a way to turn resources into points. I don't think you are meant to fill it out. I've never heard anyone complain that the didn't ship one of every good in Le Havre. Having said that, 5 & 9 does seem a bit low. As I will comment below, maybe you didn't explore enough?

Quote:
We also each only got one of the star buildings during the game, although I picked up one in the last round just to get an extra 4 points or so.
These are so expensive I wouldn't expect anyone to build two per game. Its simply a means of augmenting your goal with more points. You don't have to build two monuments to win a game of TZolkin.

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Third, does it feel short? I think that the size of the game led me to believe it would be longer - or feel longer, at least - and I was surprised how quickly the seven rounds went by.
I've not played a 2P game, but my 3P and 4P games have been near the three hour mark. My only guess here is that you talked about getting an extra worker in the early stage. You really should have at least six villagers by the end of the game, maybe more. When you can go exploring twice and still have workers to build/harvest, the turns start to get longer.

Quote:
Fourth, does the last round just seem like a point grab?
Sort of. But if you go exploring, the results of your encounter might change how you go about doing that. Again, if you can explore twice, your last action isn't necessarily scripted. Your endgame can change depending on your reward. So yes, the last round of the game is your last chance to score, so you need to maximize that accordingly. However, a lot of games end with point grabs, so I have a hard time accepting this as valid criticism.
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Andreas Becker
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Quote:
The first rule of any action selection game is to find out how to get more actions. This game is no different. The only thing that stands out here is I'm wondering if you stopped at just one extra person. If you end the game with only four villagers, you probably didn't enough actions in.


We didn't stop with one extra person - I think I ended up with 6-7 (also picked up the star building that had that as a goal, so it worked well for me). My question related more to the fact that the first round seems a bit scripted - although this is often true in worker placement games, it seemed more stark here given that you're using two of three people to get a new building and a new worker, and that's one of seven rounds. This definitely feels like one of those games where the first few rounds are short and where it is hard to get much done in those rounds, but it just felt more pronounced here.

Quote:
In some sense, the goal is whatever you want to make it. Do you want experience the story? Do you want to have a large village? Do you just want to play to maximize points? I hesitate to say that this is a sandbox game because your choices are not as open ended as they are in games like Merchants and Marauders or Runebound, but I think the game is open enough that you can set your own goals.


No, definitely agree with this, and I got that sense. I was motivated more to just have fun in this than my usual desire to win, win, win

Quote:
I don't think its possible to fill this without a fair bit of luck. I doubt you could build the eight buildings you need to harvest each resource. I got up to spot seven on one game and that required some luck from quest rewards but also by making some shrewd trades with other players. Its just a way to turn resources into points. I don't think you are meant to fill it out. I've never heard anyone complain that the didn't ship one of every good in Le Havre. Having said that, 5 & 9 does seem a bit low. As I will comment below, maybe you didn't explore enough?


We did explore quite a bit, but I just ended up getting more money and reputation than goods, and we didn't have a lot of outposts with goods on them (could have rotated them more, which we eventually did).

Quote:
These are so expensive I wouldn't expect anyone to build two per game. Its simply a means of augmenting your goal with more points. You don't have to build two monuments to win a game of TZolkin.


Good to know - yeah, they are pricey and I can see sticking to one as a way of framing your goal in the game.

Quote:
I've not played a 2P game, but my 3P and 4P games have been near the three hour mark. My only guess here is that you talked about getting an extra worker in the early stage. You really should have at least six villagers by the end of the game, maybe more. When you can go exploring twice and still have workers to build/harvest, the turns start to get longer.


Definitely felt longer near the end - maybe it felt "quick" more than "short," but this was also a learning round, so we'll see how future games are!

Quote:
Sort of. But if you go exploring, the results of your encounter might change how you go about doing that. Again, if you can explore twice, your last action isn't necessarily scripted. Your endgame can change depending on your reward. So yes, the last round of the game is your last chance to score, so you need to maximize that accordingly. However, a lot of games end with point grabs, so I have a hard time accepting this as valid criticism.


I'm not criticizing the game, just trying to understand people's approaches to it. I'm fine with point grabs at the end. My point was just that it's limited to 7 rounds, so you have 1-2 rounds with very few actions, and a final round that's a point grab, which leaves less room for exploration and experimentation in the middle. Just observations!
 
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David Jones
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FightOnGoBlue wrote:
I'm not criticizing the game, just trying to understand people's approaches to it. I'm fine with point grabs at the end. My point was just that it's limited to 7 rounds, so you have 1-2 rounds with very few actions, and a final round that's a point grab, which leaves less room for exploration and experimentation in the middle. Just observations!


I'm not really sure how to address this. A lot of eurogames like Luna, Egizia, Princes of Florence, and Trickerion have a very low number of fixed rounds. But these games also allow you to accomplish a lot and still fill out a respectable play time. To kind of tie this back to all the other points, I have to admit that it does somewhat script the game. You have to focus on growth early, target an end game strategy in the middle, and then execute it at the end. "Experimenting" outside that mold might be possible, but its not going to leave you with a good score. As mentioned earlier, I think you can be a bit more "sandboxy" with the game than what you are describing as long as you don't care about your final score. I have to admit that, with respect the gather resources and build mold, A&B is really not that innovative. Without the story book, A&B would come off as rather plain city building type game. So I guess the way that I approach the game is I realize I am playing a rather typical euro, but there is one particular action in the game that dramatically increases the theme.
 
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C&H Schmidt
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Re: Advancement track.
Of course it depends on your strategy, but 6-9 points sounds very low -- I am sure that in your future games, you'll find ways to do better with this.
The advancement track is one of the major point scoring opportunities in the game; if you go for a good-based strategy, you can expect to get about 30-40 points from the advancement track alone.
Of course it depends a little on getting the right variety of goods from exploration.
General tip: Don't put all the common goods into the first spots of the advancement track. Try filling the early spots with rarer goods. Then try to get lots of one common good and put them all in one of the high-scoring slots at the end of the game.
 
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Shawn Mann
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davypi wrote:
Without the story book, A&B would come off as rather plain city building type game. So I guess the way that I approach the game is I realize I am playing a rather typical euro, but there is one particular action in the game that dramatically increases the theme.


This is true. It's like Agricola lite, with super nice art, and a neat hook with the storybook. But I do think it stands on its own - limited turns and the "can't do everything you want" is just standard fare for euro style games that might not appeal to everyone, especially since this game doesn't *look* like a euro.
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Kim Williams
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ViolentSilence wrote:
entwife wrote:
It's been rare for us to get to the very end of the advancement track, but more often someone get to one or two spaces from the end. It's particularly nice if you've been harvesting like mad throughout the game, and then in the final round dump 6 fish on a far along space netting a load of points.


Off-topic, but I love your profile pic - is that from the Lost Gardens of Heligan?


Only just checked back to this thread, but yes it is, well spotted
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Chuck Mitchell

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davypi wrote:
You really should have at least six villagers by the end of the game, maybe more. When you can go exploring twice and still have workers to build/harvest, the turns start to get longer.


Played my first game today with four. Felt very clunky to all of us. None of us had six villagers by the end (several had five).

Why?

Because what's the point of investing in six villagers when you cannot get them out every round? If I can't get cider or beds because the cards for them are not coming up or someone else takes them, then I have no way to PLAY six villagers in a round. So I may as well be spending my very limited actions elsewhere.

It all felt much more limiting and out-of-control than I expected. I knew the story element was going to be somewhat random, but my inability to "handle" the need for cider/beds to recycle characters ... was very frustrating.

I won with 42 points. Is that a decent score? What's a typical winning score?
 
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Mathue Faulkner
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chuckm1961 wrote:
davypi wrote:
You really should have at least six villagers by the end of the game, maybe more. When you can go exploring twice and still have workers to build/harvest, the turns start to get longer.


Played my first game today with four. Felt very clunky to all of us. None of us had six villagers by the end (several had five).

Why?

Because what's the point of investing in six villagers when you cannot get them out every round? If I can't get cider or beds because the cards for them are not coming up or someone else takes them, then I have no way to PLAY six villagers in a round. So I may as well be spending my very limited actions elsewhere.

It all felt much more limiting and out-of-control than I expected. I knew the story element was going to be somewhat random, but my inability to "handle" the need for cider/beds to recycle characters ... was very frustrating.

I won with 42 points. Is that a decent score? What's a typical winning score?
That's a low winning score. Experienced winning scores are usually in the 60s, and can be in the 70s or 80s. My wife routinely seems to hit the 70s, even when playing without the score boosting promos.

We played tonight, both had six villagers at the end, and she won 75-65.

A lot of beds did come up, however, and not every game is like that.
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Peter Hazlewood
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chuckm1961 wrote:
If I can't get cider or beds because the cards for them are not coming up or someone else takes them, then I have no way to PLAY six villagers in a round. So I may as well be spending my very limited actions elsewhere.


Agreed it can adversely affect the game when no bed buildings come out. Try to make use of the pay 1 gold to wipe all the buildings of one type and you can increase the chances of more helpful cards coming out.

Also, it's all relative. You won the game with, admittedly, a fairly low score, but were able to best deal with the game as it happened to all of you. I don't see that the end result is a game that is out of control or limited; it's just different every time you play it.

Obviously, it's random which storylines you get but I feel that the risk/reward is well balanced and you can often tell whether something is going to help or hinder your reputation.

Hard to say what a typical winning score is but in our games it would usually be in the 50s or 60s.
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Ramalingam Raghavan
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You can use the free action to refresh buildings by paying a coin.
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Chuck Mitchell

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Thanks, we never used that. Should help.
 
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chuckm1961 wrote:

Because what's the point of investing in six villagers when you cannot get them out every round? If I can't get cider or beds because the cards for them are not coming up or someone else takes them, then I have no way to PLAY six villagers in a round. So I may as well be spending my very limited actions elsewhere.


One of the more interesting elements of the game was how you can injure villagers for an extra lantern on encounters. So I have 6 villagers but only 3 beds, but I basically have up to 3 villagers each turn that are expendable for injuring. Don't know if that's a winning strategy over just grabbing as many bed buildings as I can, but it's more fun.




davypi wrote:
As mentioned earlier, I think you can be a bit more "sandboxy" with the game than what you are describing as long as you don't care about your final score. I have to admit that, with respect the gather resources and build mold, A&B is really not that innovative. Without the story book, A&B would come off as rather plain city building type game. So I guess the way that I approach the game is I realize I am playing a rather typical euro, but there is one particular action in the game that dramatically increases the theme.


That's the main problem I have with the game. By far the funnest part is exploring and reading the encounter book, and making choices about whether to send more than 2 villagers to hit the really high lantern #'s, to injure villages, to always go for the choice that will likely raise reputation. The rest of the game is just basic city building/set collection, and while that's the main way you get points, it's boring and done much better in other games I could be playing. So do I just say screw it, I'm not trying to win and I'll just end the game with like 11 empty caverns and whatever rewards I happened to get? If you're maximizing lanterns and consistently getting the best rewards, is that a viable strategy?

One thing I really wanted to be more common was selling/trading discs between players to maximize set diversity. This wheeling and dealing between players, in combination with encounters, seemed the most interesting part of the game, but it just didn't happen much at all. How often does this happen in your games?
 
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David Jones
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Ryan Keane wrote:
So do I just say screw it, I'm not trying to win and I'll just end the game with like 11 empty caverns and whatever rewards I happened to get? If you're maximizing lanterns and consistently getting the best rewards, is that a viable strategy?


Not entirely. The large bonus buildings are big point grabs. Its difficult for me to see how somebody can win without building at least one of them, but I must admit I've never tried to play a game without acquiring one. However, with an "explore only" strategy, you have to take actions to support that engine. You have to buy more explorers and also the beds to be able to activate them every round. I think my highest scoring game was done by getting a fish building the first round of the game, holding all six fish, and then dropping them at the end of the resource queue on the last round. So even sparing a person for resources can be more efficient than exploring. So is it a viable strategy? Probably not. You still need to do a little bit of the other things to maximize your score.

Quote:
One thing I really wanted to be more common was selling/trading discs between players to maximize set diversity. This wheeling and dealing between players, in combination with encounters, seemed the most interesting part of the game, but it just didn't happen much at all. How often does this happen in your games?


Almost never. I think part of the problem is the stupid trading rules. Somebody can't put something up for sale unless its their turn. You can only trade coins and it has to be three. It really is one of the more stupid, convoluted, and unnecessary rule sets I've ever seen added to a game. Trading might become more liquid if you could just agree to whatever trade you want provided one of the traders is the active player. The bigger problem is probably in that nobody wants to make a trade that gives the other player more points. Usually around turn four you can see who is going to have more varied resources and who isn't;its hard to push a deal on another player when then can clearly see they won't come out on top. Its easier to get these trades in the early game, but you also have fewer resources to trade at that point.
 
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Ryan Keane
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Thanks David for the quick responses. Yeah, that helps support my and my wife's conclusion that we really just want to purchase the game so we can take the encounter book and make our own game around it (to just play with each other). She actually asked me yesterday if there was a pledge level for Near and Far for just buying the new encounter book. She already fleshed out a lot of her ideas to me in the car yesterday and it's very exciting that A&B inspired her to get into game design.
 
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Mathue Faulkner
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Ryan Keane wrote:
Thanks David for the quick responses. Yeah, that helps support my and my wife's conclusion that we really just want to purchase the game so we can take the encounter book and make our own game around it (to just play with each other). She actually asked me yesterday if there was a pledge level for Near and Far for just buying the new encounter book. She already fleshed out a lot of her ideas to me in the car yesterday and it's very exciting that A&B inspired her to get into game design.

I will say that our highest scores almost always rely HEAVILY on exploration. We often have a TON of empty caverns. The key is doing little things here and there to amplify that strategy: beds, more villagers, a building here or there, etc. Exploration is definitely the best way to get resource variety. Without promos, my wife routinely hits 70+ points and she always relies heavily on exploration. With promos, she's hit 90+ points. She's better at the game than I am...or luckier.

As for trading, it's really rare that it works in a 2p game (assuming that's what you're playing based on the thread and your comments)...
 
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