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Subject: A few questions rss

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Chas H
Canada
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During the Hopewell era if the Ho-Chunk path has a 4 chiefdom in the initial spot, getting that path developed can be a massive AP sponge. Is it a viable strategy to leave that path undeveloped? And wait for a Ho-Chunk revolt or that path to go into decline to colonize it. It seems like the choice is between a quick death or a slow death.

Also, if a few turns into the Mississippi era you have only 4 or 5 trade goods is it still possible to win or should one just throw in the towel? It seems that if I do not have a strong economy of at least 6 trade goods from the start I am doomed.

One more question. If the Black tortoise results in a coup, is there no way to get the Great Sun back other than rolling a 5 in the defence of Cahokia?




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Wes Erni
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Cfh123 wrote:
During the Hopewell era if the Ho-Chunk path has a 4 chiefdom in the initial spot, getting that path developed can be a massive AP sponge. Is it a viable strategy to leave that path undeveloped? And wait for a Ho-Chunk revolt or that path to go into decline to colonize it. It seems like the choice is between a quick death or a slow death.


My first act in playing Mound Builders is to draw the initial Chiefdom for Dickson -- what I get often sets the tone for the entire game. If it is a "4", usually the Ho-Chunk will start the Mississippi Era adjacent to Cahokia, as I have no interest in hurling bushels of AP's north in that case (once, when Dixon sported Obsidian, it took 8! die rolls to succeed). I have more efficient ways to utilize my "expansion energy" in the Hopewell Era, and "engaging the Ho-Chunk from behind the Palisades" is an effective "dodge" to avoid engaging their powerful army (Cahokia has to beefed up pronto obviously). If an early Mississippi Ho-Chunk Revolt helps, I may very well insert a Peace Pipe there and await developments (if the Ho-Chunk go in Decline, I may even go crazy and drive them back to Red Wing via Ambush). The two times I drew Obsidian at Dickson I did Incorporate them (with radically different expenditures) due to the immense strategic value of embracing the "Buzzard Cult" (and the great difficulty in Colonizing, Mounding AND "going Buzzard" at a different location).

If the initial Chiefdom at Dickson is a "2", I am all over the Ho-Chunk -- early in the Hopewell during one of those ubiquitous "Caddo in Decline turns" to "grab and Mound", and later (hopefully after all the Ho-Chunk Revolt turns) to expand vigorously via "Busks". My long term plans will depend greatly on what I "find" on the Ho-Chunk path -- I may make a stand at some strategic point, or just let them slowly advance under my Palisades again (with no "Spanish possibilities" and the least "movement", the Ho-Chunk path is the most often "finessed").

If the initial Chiefdom at Dickson is a "3" I study the whole board to make a decision -- usually I will take some "potshots" at it, but the degree of energy varies greatly on many factors. If I am trying to "fit" a Mound Builders game into a half hour time slot, I often am annoyed by a "3" in Dickson as it "complicates" my Hopewell decision making greatly.

Quote:
Also, if a few turns into the Mississippi era you have only 4 or 5 trade goods is it still possible to win or should one just throw in the towel? It seems that if I do not have a strong economy of at least 6 trade goods from the start I am doomed.


My first "demonstration game" of Mound Builders (in front of several of my bridge and wargame friends), was utterly embarrassing initially -- I managed to Discover only 5! additional Chiefdoms during the Hopewell Era (obscenely bad luck). Luckily there are sufficient "rubber-band" elements to MB that allowed for such terrible luck to eventually triumph -- near the end of that hideous Hopewell, I started doing things that did not require luck...digging in. Fortunately Obsidian was one of the Discovered Chiefdoms, and combining an early Buzzard Cult with an immensely strong Cahokia (which was the frontline on initially 2, and quickly 3 warpaths), slowly turned the tide. It didn't hurt that the early Mississippi Era was festooned with "location" Events (fixed AP's), I enjoyed the Great Sun for 10-11 turns in a row, and even my dice luck "righted". Maintaining a "5" economy was sufficient with 3 enemy armies largely "bouncing off" Cahokia (Great Sun defending) -- I even took the offensive a bit. I was actually quite confident at the dawn of the Spanish Era, and though the Heredia did come within an eyelash of taking me out, I claimed a Minor Victory.

Certainly I would have preferred a bountiful economy, a "strongpoint" dominating each warpath, and plenty of weak superfluous Chiefdoms to serve as "batteries", but there are contingency plans to succeed even in dire straits. Of course as counterweight to this design feature, you are never sure of winning until the final die toss, no matter how much increased skill and experience improves your winning chances. I was more than a little worried that the game would suffer to much from the "runaway winner, fall-away loser" syndrome due to early luck dominating, but the extensive "rubber-banding", multiple "luck-less" actions, and "back-up" lines of play sufficiently compensated. I must admit I get a little annoyed at the characterization of Mound Builders being "all luck", with little decision making influencing game flow -- it is true that Mound Builders was designed "volatile" with 3 "rotors" of random elements, but player actions are much more responsible for success or failure (Morten Pederson eventually increased his win percentage eight-fold from his initial twenty playings).

Quote:
One more question. If the Black tortoise results in a coup, is there no way to get the Great Sun back other than rolling a 5 in the defence of Cahokia?


Yes -- other than getting another Black Tortoise "visit". This is one of the many "annoying" challenges that may occur in Mound Builders, and you just have to shoulder on without the Great Sun. One reason I hope players quickly graduate to the Advanced Game, is that the Basic game is "borderline broken" given the ways players can shape the game flow to exploit the certain knowledge that the "Sun will always be shining". Hopefully, before the players have "cracked" the Basic game, they will be struggling with the extra dimensions and uncertainty of the Advanced game (where my win chances sadly have soared past 70%, but still...not a lock).
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Chas H
Canada
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Thanks so much for your reply. It is great to hear directly from the developer.

I have played various States of Siege games and this game seems to be the least luck-based and most skill-based. I have had success in the basic game but not yet in the advanced game - I need to better optimize my AP expenditures. Plus I roll a lot of 1's.
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Morten Monrad Pedersen
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Cfh123 wrote:
I have played various States of Siege games and this game seems to be the least luck-based and most skill-based.


After having player 14 out of the 16 States of Siege games I fully agree with you.
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