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Subject: Four Player Slugfest rss

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Mus Rattus
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Recently I had the opportunity to introduce the game to three new players. I'd only played it twice before myself, and was eager to try again. With four players the only faction not in play was Rusviet. I don't recall how things went turn-by-turn, so I'll just give a summary of what each player did.

The Nordic player spread out their workers to achieve an objective, but I think this left them with too few resources of any one type to do many bottom row actions.

The Crimean player also went around the board to achieve an objective, but I think they may have had slightly more useful production.

I played Polania and brought out a lot of workers and buildings. I found it difficult starting out without a nearby mountain. I also forgot to use my faction ability for my one encounter. Looking back, I probably should have built my mine first, or traded for metal to produce a river-walk mech and gone off for more encounters.

The Saxony player cranked out a bunch of workers, then started building mechs. They grabbed a factory card, and started getting into fights. Saxony made good use of their power by ending the game quickly with two objective stars and four combat stars.

In the end, Polania (me) had no stars, Crimea and Nordic had an objective star and 1-2 combat stars each. Saxony ran away with it with ~40 points, the rest of us had ~20 or so, I think one of us had ~30. Everyone was in the bottom tier of popularity, except for Nordic who had reached the second.

Impressions from other Players: Bottom row actions seemed very expensive and not worth doing (except for deploying mechs). Combat and objectives seemed far easier to achieve than any of the others. Saxony seemed really strong for being able to get extra of the easy stars. The Saxony player really saw the importance of producing extra workers as soon as possible.

My Impressions: This is the second game I've played and it unfolded much like the first, only with even more combat. I see how the popularity loss is intended to discourage combat, but almost all of the new players have taken one look at the popularity track and concluded they would never be able to make their way up it and that there was no penalty to dropping to 0 popularity. People say that "Scythe isn't a wargame, combat rarely happens", but this time there was combat almost every turn (once things got going) and this game and the last time I played, the winner was one of the most aggressive players.

Next time I teach the game, I'll try to give a little more advice on combat about not spending too much, and not leaving units in range of the enemy when at 0 power.

As to the popularity track, I find it disappointing that players don't interact with it as much. It would be a big part of the game, but is effectively taken out when everyone lets it run to 0. I can think of two ways I might try of changing that:
1. Start them off in the second tier (5 + player mat starting popularity). This way, players would actually feel like they're losing points when the get into combat.
2. Have players lose coins when required to lose popularity at 0. This might be too punishing.
Maybe both.

Also, I'll mention that I really dislike teaching the enlist mechanic. First, the name is confusing. "Enlist, is that how you put workers on the board? No? Is it mechs?"
The process is confusing, even more than upgrading. I almost wish the one-time benefits weren't part of the game. And the long-term benefits are difficult to foresee, so players rarely end up taking it.

Anyways, I hope to be able to play more games to see how things go. Might give Automa a shot.
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Greg
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Seems like the players were more interested in fighting and encountering than in taking the time in building an engine in order to pay for the bottom row actions easier.

The key to making the bottom row actions cheaper is by upgrading, so that makes it easier to build, deploy, upgrade or enlist.

Did anybody focus on the Bolster top row action in order to give them more power to either get a star, or to scare off Saxony from attacking them?

The one-time benefits for enlisting are nice and you don't really need to foresee too far ahead. But if you are wanting to get up the power track faster to get that star, or at least to be able to have a good bit for combat, then take the power benefit. If you are short of money, then the money benefit is good, and it is at least points for the end game scoring. Popularity is nice to get you up higher on the track to either propel you to the next tier, or to get you a few numbers higher on the 2nd tier to feel comfortable in being able to lose the due to an encounter card option or via sending opponent workers home. The combat card is mostly good if you are needing them when you are wanting to get into combat for a star, or to deter someone from attacking you. But for Crimea, the combat card is a wild resource that can be used to make paying for a bottom row action easier.

Hopefully that was a good learning game for the other players to perhaps adjust their play style in order to get more points.

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Mus Rattus
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The bolster action was being taken, but I don't think anyone reached above 5 or 6 combat power. It was being spent as fast as it came in. The Crimean player hoarded combat cards to use with their faction ability, but didn't have the mechs to use them in combat effectively.

I guess I could have been clearer (and have edited my post a little). The long-term benefits (that trigger when you or your neighbors take the action) are difficult to evaluate (especially for new players, I would imagine) and certainly don't have the immediately obvious benefit of a new mech or structure, or offer the control and customization of upgrading.

The one-time benefits are handy, to be sure. I just find that what they add to the game is not entirely worth that extra bit of time it takes to explain them.
 
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Danwarr
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The Enlist feature is extremely powerful, especially for factions like Crimea or the Rusviet Union, or if you have a faction mat where you can chain two actions you use frequently, together.

For Crimea, the one time Enlist bonus is especially good because it can open up 2 combat cards on turns 2 or 3 and then just spits out combat cards every time you Enlist thereafter.

I do agree that the term "Enlist", as well as the one time bonuses, can be confusing at first, but the strategy of using them becomes more clear over a number of plays.

I did have one question about your game regarding combat: Were you giving out combat cards to the loser of each fight? If players are getting into a number of combats early, the winners tend to be low on combat card rather quickly which tends to open things up.
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Greg
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Danwarr wrote:
The Enlist feature is extremely powerful, especially for factions like Crimea or the Rusviet Union, or if you have a faction mat where you can chain two actions you use frequently, together.


My one daughter is big into using Enlist. She always ends up getting all 4 out and is smart enough to choose the ones that will get used the most from her and her neighbors. She always gets a bunch of free stuff from them.
 
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Brett Baumgarten
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This sounds like a case of groupthink. Players see one strategy working (combat), and figure that's the best/only way to win. If someone were being aggressive like that, you could focus more on your home territories and building your popularity. Find other ways to put out stars besides combat. You could also use your workers as your first line of defense, keeping your combat units away. I just feel like the best way to incentivize the popularity track is to show how powerful it can be and win that way.
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Chris Laudermilk
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I kind of am of the same opinion as Brett. Not that it's necessarily a bad thing, it just sounds like your group's play style is a bit different than most who have played this game. It is interesting to read about a combat-heavy game & shows a different way to play and to win.
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Mus Rattus
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Yes, we were giving combat cards to the loser.

There will probably be changes in strategies over time as we play more games, but it does seem like popularity loss isn't "doing its job" of discouraging combat when players are happy to let it drop to 0.

I don't mean to say that Enlist isn't powerful.
What I mean is that it doesn't *seem* powerful to new players when I've taught them, and they rarely take it.
So it's a pain to teach, and then they end up never doing it, so that annoys me.

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Greg
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A first game is a learning game. Thus isn't Love Letter or something as light as that. Anybody sitting down to play a game with decent amount of complexity should understand that they aren't going to be playing perfectly. They should expect to just be able to learn the game and apply what they get from that first game to becoming better in the next game.

As a teacher of a game, I like to point out certain things after the game that players could have done better, or the importance of certain things. Certain aspects of this game don't seem overly important at first, but you learn over time.
 
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Chris Laudermilk
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MusRattus wrote:
There will probably be changes in strategies over time as we play more games, but it does seem like popularity loss isn't "doing its job" of discouraging combat when players are happy to let it drop to 0.

I imagine that will change quickly when someone gets to tier 3 in the multipliers and obliterates them in endgame scoring.
 
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Tod Andrew
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If a player's popularity is at zero does that mean she can no longer start combat? Or does the -1 to popularity simply not occur?
 
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Chris Laudermilk
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They cannot start a combat with an opponent's worker in the hex because they cannot pay the penalty. If there is no worker, then yes, they can.
 
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Trevor Schadt
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claudermilk wrote:
They cannot start a combat with an opponent's worker in the hex because they cannot pay the penalty. If there is no worker, then yes, they can.
Jamey, is that correct? I didn't think that was the case, and in fact, have seen multiple strategy posts talking about the fact that if you're at 0 popularity, you can start combat and not worry about the popularity loss."
 
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GAF Blizzard
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claudermilk wrote:
They cannot start a combat with an opponent's worker in the hex because they cannot pay the penalty. If there is no worker, then yes, they can.

I don't think this is correct. I'm going to make a thread asking about it.

The rules don't explicitly say about combat, but page 11 covers the case of moving a character/mech onto unguarded workers: "(in the case that you cannot reduce your popularity any further, the workers are still forced to retreat)".
 
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Greg
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There's nothing saying that you need to have the amount of popularity to be able to lose when winning a combat where opponent workers are at.
 
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Chris Laudermilk
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GAFBlizzard wrote:
claudermilk wrote:
They cannot start a combat with an opponent's worker in the hex because they cannot pay the penalty. If there is no worker, then yes, they can.

I don't think this is correct. I'm going to make a thread asking about it.

The rules don't explicitly say about combat, but page 11 covers the case of moving a character/mech onto unguarded workers: "(in the case that you cannot reduce your popularity any further, the workers are still forced to retreat)".


Check pg 22-23 for combat rules. The only mention of popularity is under "Winning" on page 23, where it states:
Quote:
If the winner was the attacker, they lose 1 popularity for each worker they forced to retreat by initiating and winning combat.


I read that as if there are no defending workers present, then there is no popularity cost involved regardless of outcome.

I know Jamey has stated in other questions that if you cannot pay the cost you cannot do the action. Though that pg 11 rule does seem to contradict that. I'll be interested to hear his take on this one.
 
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GAF Blizzard
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claudermilk wrote:
GAFBlizzard wrote:
claudermilk wrote:
They cannot start a combat with an opponent's worker in the hex because they cannot pay the penalty. If there is no worker, then yes, they can.

I don't think this is correct. I'm going to make a thread asking about it.

The rules don't explicitly say about combat, but page 11 covers the case of moving a character/mech onto unguarded workers: "(in the case that you cannot reduce your popularity any further, the workers are still forced to retreat)".


Check pg 22-23 for combat rules. The only mention of popularity is under "Winning" on page 23, where it states:
Quote:
If the winner was the attacker, they lose 1 popularity for each worker they forced to retreat by initiating and winning combat.


I read that as if there are no defending workers present, then there is no popularity cost involved regardless of outcome.

I know Jamey has stated in other questions that if you cannot pay the cost you cannot do the action. Though that pg 11 rule does seem to contradict that. I'll be interested to hear his take on this one.

Finishing up this discussion, Jamey already replied in the rules thread saying you can attack in this situation with 0 popularity.

It's considered a consequence rather than a cost. Costs are always paid up front. Consequences are negative things that MIGHT happen (if you win).
 
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Trevor Schadt
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I think it boils down to the difference between the word "lose" and the word "pay." (Which basically follows GAF's delineation between "consequence" and "cost.")
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Chris Laudermilk
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OK, yes that was specified in the other thread. My initial take was indeed incorrect.
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Klaus Kristiansen
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If no-one takes bottom row actions, enlist is not worth much, obviously. Yesterday I played my second game. I was the only one who had played before. There were several cases where a player understood "recruit" on an encounter card as "worker".
 
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