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Viceroy» Forums » General

Subject: Infinite gems are too good - science tokens the opposite rss

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Carlos López
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Hi folks. I got this game in a recent mathtrade, so far I love the pyramid system. I'm not so happy about the blind auction and I'll probably end up houseruling that, but thats another subject.

The thing is, the more I play, the more concerned I get about the balance of the different effects. Please bear in mind that I'm no expert at the game yet, so my opinion might be completely correct. Here are the 2 things that worry me the most:

-On my first play I didn't know that infinite gems could only be used once per turn and that was obviously broken, but after several plays with the correct rules, they seem too good anyway (just not as much). 1 gem discount per turn in addition to the points at the end (also affected by the color circle bonuses) is indeed among the best things you could ask for. I find strange too that theres no reminder of using those discounts, (the only thing keeping count of each used on a certain turn is your memory), and some friends have had issues remembering that.

-Science tokens don't seem very powerful, specially in comparison with infinite gems. Their benefit is much more situational (I only pass about 2 or 3 times per game) and they have more requirements to score.

So, what do you guys think about this? Would it be okay to tweak those things a bit trying to balance them out? I don't usually like houserules, but I like this card system so much I think the game deserves it.
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To remember that a gem was used, I slide it down to the corner and then "reset" after that phase.

As far as being broken or overpowered, they are definitely good; however, they are available to everyone equally (barring the start cards). The fact that there is an auction makes it perfectly "fair". The crux is that because they are good and everyone knows that they are good; if players start hitting heads early on and losing gems in an auction, the culprit is probably an infinite gem that everyone is competing over. If you didn't go after the infinites, you might actually be better off --sit back and let others hit heads over them.

You could also grab sword or two early on and take the ones you really need.

Personally I think that cards that give card draw are the most powerful. It is hard to quantify the value due to the unknown cards that you will receive; however, like infinite gems, cards themselves offer several opportunities for VPs. Because there are more opportunities to play cards into the pyramid, than there are opportunities to acquire cards at auction. Regardless of strategy, cards seem to be the best bet.

In summary, the infinite gem is double edged --if you are after them, you will lose many gems to acquire them. Although you could change the rules of the auction to something that is not as punishing, I think it alters the dynamic of the game that provides the best balance. As soon as you remove the consequence for refusing to yield in an auction, then you also need to remove the cards that are deemed better than others. If you attempt the half measure of a traditional auction where the loser doesn't lose anything, the hardest decision in the game goes away.
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Slow Motion Walter
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I agree with Carlos on both counts. Infinite gems have tended to be more than worth whatever we're forced to spend on them, and science tokens rarely pay off.

Disclaimer: I too have fewer than a dozen plays logged.
 
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Darrell Goodridge
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When we play, one player has the strategy of 1. Get all the gems with the first few cards, then 2. Win every viceroy and infinite gem due to mere THREAT of wasting gems futilely, 3. Profit.

It works almost every time, because why bid blue 3 times in a row if you know he has 6 of them? You're not going to win the bid, and you're not 'taking one for the team', you're just down 3 blue gems and a card.

He usually has about 4-6 infinite gems at end game with 4 from the viceroys so they are incredibly useful and worth a bunch of points. I also think there was an oversight in making them worth more than the science tokens as well.
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Carlos López
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When we play, one player has the strategy of 1. Get all the gems with the first few cards

I've also seen comments about the possibility of exploiting the limited gem supply. Since with fewer players you leave some gems in the box the game seems designed to allow that. Even though I don't like that neither, I think thats harder to fix, anyway the problem are the players disposed to use those cheap tricks. Come on, its so lame!


Anyway, we're talking about infinite gems. Yeah, you could argue that its balanced because everyone can fight for them, and maybe it is in terms of nobody having a clear advantage. But (I think) if one resource (or strategy) is clearly better than other, everyone will always pursue the same things, all games will always be the same, and variety will jump out the window.

About getting cards, they're obviously a very good option if only because they're so scarce, but I guess it depends on what card you draw. Anyway, probably extra cards are only good as long as you're able to put them out, which is directly related to infinite gems.

So, if I intended to tweak these things a bit, what would you suggest? Infinite gems don't score? How to improve Science tokens? Any ideas?
 
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Brandon Brockway

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I've only played a few games, these are observations from those plays only, not agreeing or disagreeing with the OP.

- The rulebook advocates for an early science token or two if you can't acquire infinite gemstones and I agree. Early science tokens can provide a small gem advantage and also make blocking at the auction a little more palatable (e.g. block someone else from getting an infinite gemstone and draw more gemstones than them as a result). I wouldn't reach for science past the 3rd or 4th round though.
- While I agree infinite gemstones are powerful, I've also scored a lot of points via magic and seen some big swings from attack tokens.

Given my experience, I don't think the game needs to be tweaked... in this type of game you have to watch what others are doing and you can't allow one person to take a strategy, be it infinite gemstones, magic or attacking, unabated.
 
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Darrell Goodridge
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That's just it though. Infinite gems promote the "other" strategies by providing basically free upgrades. In my last game, I was completely unmolested on getting scrolls and scroll modifiers. They knew what I was going to bid on and didn't stop me. Didn't matter though because the player with the infinite gems had 2 cards on tier 5. If you can't pay for your buildings, you pass a lot and lose card advantage. Infinite gems keep and grow card advantage, making the card draw cards that much more attractive. What's the point of drawing more cards if you can't pay for them? It all circles back to how overpowered the IGs are.

I don't think the "everyone can bid for them" is fair either because it's usually all-in for one person while being merely inconvenient for the other. Thanks to Brandon for pointing out a early science to block bids idea.

I think one fix is to remove the Viceroys. I believe they are the only IGs above level 2 and are doubles. That alone would remove 8 IGs from play, thus freeing up 8 gems available to players. Then the scoring for IGs would be much lower, making them more "fair" since they support every other strategy.
 
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Brandon Brockway

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I never play with the Viceroys, they're overpowered promo cards (I got them through the kickstarter). I believe the general consensus is to not play with them or provide one to each player at the start of the game.
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Bryan Thunkd
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Edgecrusher100 wrote:
I never play with the Viceroys, they're overpowered promo cards (I got them through the kickstarter). I believe the general consensus is to not play with them or provide one to each player at the start of the game.
It's hard to believe they're at all balanced. The idea of giving each player one at the beginning of the game is interesting.
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Carlos López
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I agree that magic is maybe the best way to go in terms of score, and because of the way it scales (and how common magic symbols are on most cards), it can end up giving so many points that opponents must actively try to prevent you from getting them. But after all, they're only points, while infinity gems provide a much useful benefit during the game, to the point that any good strategy will need some of them.

I also agree that Viceroys are overpowered, but I don't mind those because I don't think they actually encourage any particular strategy. They're just very good cards, and its not that bad having some better characters just so people can fight hard for them (provided you are OK with the auction system or have homeruled it to your liking, which many people have done). Or you can also take them out of the deck or give 1 to each player, it that suits you. So its something much easier to fix.

But infinite gems.......man, those are like a spine in my mind. Gotta do something about them.
 
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I find that infinite gems are not overpowered at all, especially because they can be fairly dependent on the costs of the cards you need to build, I've had games where they were hardly used at all. Science tokens don't have as useful an immediate benefit, but they score much better end game that many of the infinite stones do.
 
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Carlos López
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Thats interesting. I wouldn't know how to compare infinite gems with cards or magic for example, because they're so different. But Science tokens are kind of similar in that they generate resources. The thing is, with each infinite gem you can potentially "save" a gem per turn, you just have to chose the right card to build. Science tokens can generate an extra gem too but you must pass on the auction (giving up a card), and that seems a much costly requirement to me.

Regarding score, you could say that each Science Token gives you 4 points (12 with a shield and a scroll) but for that you need the whole set, and I don't think its easy to get many trios of those. Infinite gems on the other side will usually be on the lower levels so they won't give many points by themselves, but if you have any circle bonus that matches the color of a infinite gem, that one will be worth roughly as much as a Science Token.

Are Infinite gems overpowered? I can't compare them with other stuff, but I think they're way better than Science Tokens. I could be wrong because I have only played half a dozen times, but so far I've always seen winners making good use of infinite gems, while those using Science tokens didn't fare that well. Nobody has been crazy enough to go all-in with Science though, I'll have to sacrifice myself and try it next game, Portal style haha.
 
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Sgt Pepere
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pinchazumos wrote:
I find strange too that theres no reminder of using those discounts, (the only thing keeping count of each used on a certain turn is your memory), and some friends have had issues remembering that.

I had the same problem and end up with sliding it in the corner too. Sad thing is that I've written to the english and the french publisher, asking them to put a white face on each gem so it can be easier to remember when an infinite gem is used but it wasn't a great idea for them as we can see.

pinchazumos wrote:
-Science tokens don't seem very powerful, specially in comparison with infinite gems. Their benefit is much more situational (I only pass about 2 or 3 times per game) and they have more requirements to score.

Yes but they also count for sets which are 12 points. And if you play some of them, then passing is a very interesting move.

Infinite gems are sure useful but they diminsh the gem pool. And you don't always find a card interesting for you with the discount you need. That said, if I pick an infinite gem at the start of the game, I put for free each time.
 
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Darrell Goodridge
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sgtpepere wrote:

Infinite gems are sure useful but they diminsh the gem pool.


This isn't a negative for the person playing the infinite gem. In my experience that person will also have hoarded as many gems as they could, so lowering the gem pool only benefits them, since it limits the options for everyone else while only increasing their own. ANY free, repeatable gem is amazing, even if you don't use all of them in a given turn. I just don't understand the complaint about "not finding a card to use them with". When you have at least one infinite gem of each color you don't care which card you take. It will have a trivial cost.
 
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Carlos López
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I just don't understand the complaint about "not finding a card to use them with"

Same here. Yeah maybe there might be some turns where you don't find a character whose cost matches your infinite gems, (or those that do don't benefit your strategy) but overall, once you start putting cards on higher levels it gets really easy.
 
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Joshua Wolfe
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In the games I have played, the other players always jumped on infinite gems and I didn't, but I ended up winning anyway. Maybe I am just a better player than they are, but infinite gems aren't necessarily a guaranteed win unless you can line up a scoring strategy.

Getting characters that let you draw more cards is the best. Because of the limited opportunities to draw cards, relying on luck of the draw and auctions to get you the cards you want isn't guaranteed. I think drawing cards is definitely more helpful than infinite gems. Having more cards gives you more options: to get more gems, cards, scoring opportunities, and expand your pyramid.

Science tokens aren't so great, but they give a basic ability plus scoring like swords and shields. Out of the Sword, Shield, & Science trio, Shields seem the weakest to me. Swords serve as bidding insurance. Science serve as passing insurance. Shields are just Sword insurance. If no player keeps Swords until the end of the game, then that ability is wasted.
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Eric Nolan
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sgtpepere wrote:
pinchazumos wrote:
I find strange too that theres no reminder of using those discounts, (the only thing keeping count of each used on a certain turn is your memory), and some friends have had issues remembering that.

I had the same problem and end up with sliding it in the corner too. Sad thing is that I've written to the english and the french publisher, asking them to put a white face on each gem so it can be easier to remember when an infinite gem is used but it wasn't a great idea for them as we can see.


I guess it is better to have double sided gems because it makes it easier to see what's available without having to make sure things are flipped over to the correct side. Having a system where you move a gem to a different part of the card to indicate whether it is used or not is good.

An alternative might be to mark one side of all the gems with a black marker, either an X or something more artistic with the appearance of a crack. The cracked side represents an infinity gem that is used and they change to the other side at the start of the turn.
 
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Rick Janssen
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pinchazumos wrote:

So, if I intended to tweak these things a bit, what would you suggest? Infinite gems don't score? How to improve Science tokens? Any ideas?


I would try making IGs no points at the end and perhaps make Science tokens worth 2x the level they are on?
 
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Rick Janssen
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Cardboardjunkie wrote:

I think one fix is to remove the Viceroys. I believe they are the only IGs above level 2 and are doubles. That alone would remove 8 IGs from play, thus freeing up 8 gems available to players. Then the scoring for IGs would be much lower, making them more "fair" since they support every other strategy.


I played with Viceroys once and immediately removed them from the game. The double wild IG was just way too swingy. And as has been discussed, just because anyone can bid for it doesn't work so well to balancing out these overpowered cards.
 
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