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Subject: denial strategies may be too powerful rss

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John Burt
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My wife and I have been enjoying our plays of Islebound, but recently we played a game where I ended up inadvertently executing a multiple resource denial strategy that more or less blocked my wife from making any progress, which was not very fun for her.

It went like this:

(Note, we were using the advanced board)

First off, I focused on getting some influence, and due to several successful events, island visits and luck I managed to fill in the event track with my markers. I did not immediately use the influence to take over a town, so that prevented my wife from using diplomacy to take any islands.

Meanwhile, I had also been working on a "sea serpent engine" and managed a great combo of buildings and island visits that eventually allowed me to take all of the serpent cards. So now my wife was stuck: she could not easily take over any islands, and I owned the islands I visited so wasn't paying money to the treasure chest, meaning she was impoverished and couldn't buy buildings or sometimes even visit islands, and she had to keep using the search for treasure action instead of doing more useful things.

Eventually, I relented and freed up the influence track and used the serpents (resulting in my owning most of the islands), but the damage was done and she was way behind. So I decided to explore a bit more to give her a chance to catch up. My home island gave me VPs for books, so I figured out a sequence of islands to visit that would allow me to collect a lot of books. By near game end, I had collected all of the books (in the last round, I converted them to VPs, contributing to my crushing score), once again blocking my opponent from a major VP pathway.

So, in just one game, without really intending to, I executed a quite nasty denial strategy, similar in effect to a starvation strategy in Agricola, and then I blocked a VP generation pathway (books). I'd note that the one rule that allows all of this is that all resources are limited.

I'm wondering whether other players have discovered and made use of denial strategies in this game, and whether they might be too powerful (especially against unaware players). Also, if all players go for denial, and/or must try to mitigate it, then I imagine this game could easily turn into a long grim slugfest of offensive and defensive actions. That doesn't sound like much fun to me, and seems to go against the light hearted whimsy of the game.
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Eric Glimme
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I have only played one full game of Islebound. Based on my limited experience, if you managed to fill up the influence track and snag all the sea serpent cards in a 2 player game, you basically already won awhile ago. You can take over a town every turn for approx the next 5-7 turns with those resources, letting you end the game long before you should be worrying about starving the other player of resources.

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John Burt
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Zarel wrote:
I have only played one full game of Islebound. Based on my limited experience, if you managed to fill up the influence track and snag all the sea serpent cards in a 2 player game, you basically already won awhile ago. You can take over a town every turn for approx the next 5-7 turns with those resources, letting you end the game long before you should be worrying about starving the other player of resources.



It's true, this was an exploration game and I wasn't trying to end it fast, but if I recall right, I was able to get the influence surprisingly quickly, and then it was only 3 rounds or so later before I had the serpents. If I'd been playing only to win, yes, it would have been over very quickly, which just raises another critique: should such a big game end so rapidly?
 
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Dan Harrow
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quill65 wrote:
It's true, this was an exploration game and I wasn't trying to end it fast, but if I recall right, I was able to get the influence surprisingly quickly, and then it was only 3 rounds or so later before I had the serpents. If I'd been playing only to win, yes, it would have been over very quickly, which just raises another critique: should such a big game end so rapidly?

It's only a 90 minute game, so... yes.
 
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John Burt
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XeyneGaming wrote:
quill65 wrote:
It's true, this was an exploration game and I wasn't trying to end it fast, but if I recall right, I was able to get the influence surprisingly quickly, and then it was only 3 rounds or so later before I had the serpents. If I'd been playing only to win, yes, it would have been over very quickly, which just raises another critique: should such a big game end so rapidly?

It's only a 90 minute game, so... yes.


That particular game would have ended in 45 min or less, because I had enough money (from taking towns) to quickly rush to 8 buildings (since you can buy as many as you want each turn).

 
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Steve Cohn
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quill65 wrote:
I'd note that the one rule that allows all of this is that all resources are limited.


Except...they are not?

Rulebook p4 wrote:
Note: all components are limited in game by quantity except for coins, books, fish and wood. (emphasis mine)


The manual specifically says that fish, wood, books, and coins are unlimited. Everything else (i.e. pirate, sea serpents, crew) is component limited. If it's a non-renown "goods" token, unlimited. If it's a card or card-like (crew) or renown, limited.

So, knowing that, would that have impacted your game, I wonder?

~Steve
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John Burt
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OchreOgre wrote:
quill65 wrote:
I'd note that the one rule that allows all of this is that all resources are limited.


Except...they are not?

Rulebook p4 wrote:
Note: all components are limited in game by quantity except for coins, books, fish and wood. (emphasis mine)


The manual specifically says that fish, wood, books, and coins are unlimited. Everything else (i.e. pirate, sea serpents, crew) is component limited. If it's a non-renown "goods" token, unlimited. If it's a card or card-like (crew) or renown, limited.

So, knowing that, would that have impacted your game, I wonder?

~Steve


Influence and serpents/pirates are limited, which was how I blocked my opponent. Yes, I missed the rule that books are not limited, which means they cannot be blocked, though I didn't actually try (most were converted into renown next turn if I recall right). Books are a powerful resource on the advanced board, since they can be converted into renown or influence.
 
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Mike Charbonneau
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I need to find a way to block this strategy, VPs for books. In one game a friend got many books, when to exchange at the port town for points and restarted again over and over, all we could do is watch helplessly...how do we counter that?
 
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Dan Harrow
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MercuryMike wrote:
I need to find a way to block this strategy, VPs for books. In one game a friend got many books, when to exchange at the port town for points and restarted again over and over, all we could do is watch helplessly...how do we counter that?

You can start by capturing the towns that he is using, if possible, which will help you a bit by giving you the coins he spends to visit the town. Also, being on either of those spaces at the time he wants to move to them will force him to exhaust his crew to continue his plan -- in the case where someone else wanted to use this same strategy at the same time (there is no limit on book tokens in the game, if you run out of books, use something else in the meantime).

I think the more likely scenario is that if he is using his turns collecting books and generating points, then he isn't buying and buildings, so you can try to end the game when your buildings (especially if you used Build instead of Buy at any time) are worth than his renown points, since he probably won't have many (or any) buildings.
 
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Patrick Moore
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You can only carry a max of 10 fish and/or wood. So "unlimited" seems like an odd phrasing to use for these resources.
 
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Dan Harrow
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Distantbabble wrote:
You can only carry a max of 10 fish and/or wood. So "unlimited" seems like an odd phrasing to use for these resources.

"Unlimited" means that there may not be enough components in the box for every situation and one should use another object to represent that component in the event that the pool runs out. It has nothing to do with what an individual may have during play.

The game only comes with 26 Wood tokens and 28 Fish tokens. If all players are using similar strategies (e.g., Everyone is collecting Wood in a three (3) or four (4) player game), then you might run out if everyone stocks up on the same resource.
 
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