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Subject: How do you defeat the humans in the 3 player game? rss

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Matthew Robinson
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Just finished two 3-player games back to back and both times humans DOMINATED to a point where we sat for about 20 minutes all discussing what we could have possibly done better to stop the humans -- and came up with nothing that felt it would work without severely hampering our own strategies (and still with a negligible chance of actually beating the humans).

We were playing with the Veteran rules (we are very experienced gamers and always want to play the "real" version of the game although we are admittedly not veterans of this game, as we've played only a handful of times).

Here is the problem I see: humans have a very strong early game and can put down 20-30 points in the first two rounds. They have the skill card that allows them to place a control token in any non-controlled region, so for first two rounds they just drop one in the center trog spots where no one can get to for two rounds and which are worth a combined 7 crystals during scoring.

They also have the default skill of discarding a card to score every region they control. If you (make the mistake) of allowing them to play Enable Scoring they can easily score 20 points in a single round. No other faction can come even CLOSE to that in the first few rounds.

In our second game the human player scored as high as the 4th round event in the 2nd round, while the machine and pilgrim were still in single digits! With only one round left in the game I'm sure you can see why we felt a bit hopeless.

Obviously you can't let the humans Enable Scoring (but that also limits your options as it takes up an action just to prevent them) but you still can't prevent them from playing the skill for two rounds that drops control tokens on the center two regions (7 or so crystal points during scoring) and you can't stop them from scoring every region they control with the default skill card (another 5-7 points most likely from area control).

It seems clear that the Pilgrims can have a strong late game, and the Machines have a more flexible game and can mess with whomever is in the lead, but neither seems to have the strength to overcome the early human game -- and I'm not convinced either can really make a strong push to beat the humans by the late game.

Is this a Chaos in the Old World-Khorne situation in which all other players must spend most of their game locking down the dominant player in order to have a chance ? I can get down with that I suppose (I liked Chaos but I didn't love having to explain to new players "okay so we all have to do everything in our power to beat Khorne or else we all lose").

In a 4 player game I'm pretty sure this isn't a problem as Trogs can spread out so much that humans can't get that big early area control lead, but does that mean the 3 player game is problematic?

I just can't tell yet if we're missing a solid human-stopping strategy in the 3-player game.

Would love to hear from other players and/or the designer on their thoughts.
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Grant Rodiek
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trilamb wrote:
Just finished two 3-player games back to back and both times humans DOMINATED to a point where we sat for about 20 minutes all discussing what we could have possibly done better to stop the humans -- and came up with nothing that felt it would work without severely hampering our own strategies (and still with a negligible chance of actually beating the humans).

We were playing with the Veteran rules (we are very experienced gamers and always want to play the "real" version of the game although we are admittedly not veterans of this game, as we've played only a handful of times).

Here is the problem I see: humans have a very strong early game and can put down 20-30 points in the first two rounds. They have the skill card that allows them to place a control token in any non-controlled region, so for first two rounds they just drop one in the center trog spots where no one can get to for two rounds and which are worth a combined 7 crystals during scoring.

They also have the default skill of discarding a card to score every region they control. If you (make the mistake) of allowing them to play Enable Scoring they can easily score 20 points in a single round. No other faction can come even CLOSE to that in the first few rounds.

In our second game the human player scored as high as the 4th round event in the 2nd round, while the machine and pilgrim were still in single digits! With only one round left in the game I'm sure you can see why we felt a bit hopeless.

Obviously you can't let the humans Enable Scoring (but that also limits your options as it takes up an action just to prevent them) but you still can't prevent them from playing the skill for two rounds that drops control tokens on the center two regions (7 or so crystal points during scoring) and you can't stop them from scoring every region they control with the default skill card (another 5-7 points most likely from area control).

It seems clear that the Pilgrims can have a strong late game, and the Machines have a more flexible game and can mess with whomever is in the lead, but neither seems to have the strength to overcome the early human game -- and I'm not convinced either can really make a strong push to beat the humans by the late game.

Is this a Chaos in the Old World-Khorne situation in which all other players must spend most of their game locking down the dominant player in order to have a chance ? I can get down with that I suppose (I liked Chaos but I didn't love having to explain to new players "okay so we all have to do everything in our power to beat Khorne or else we all lose").

In a 4 player game I'm pretty sure this isn't a problem as Trogs can spread out so much that humans can't get that big early area control lead, but does that mean the 3 player game is problematic?

I just can't tell yet if we're missing a solid human-stopping strategy in the 3-player game.

Would love to hear from other players and/or the designer on their thoughts.


Howdy --

I'll offer some thoughts for you, with one quick caveat - Final deep balance testing was largely handled by the Portal team. I haven't even had a chance to play a game on the final copy yet! I'll bug Ignacy for insight as well.

Round 1, every player has access to only one Region without Trogs. This means the humans can only build in that Region, presumably on Action 2, Round 1, with Action 1 being moving into that Region. Now, the Humans can also use Action 2 to Draw a Mountain card, thereby gaining advantage of more Structure points for a better build.

But, Round 1, if they spend minimum 1 card to Move, 1 card to Build (more likely 2 to Build + Activate), and it's very unlikely they can activate it twice, so that means their round 1 should score very low. And, if they are focused on that, they aren't moving into the interior much, nor will they have cards to defend well or fight much.

If in Round 1, the opponents enter the outer region that connects to the Humans' Trog-Free region, then win that fight, that gives both factions a way to pincer in the humans for the future as needed.

The Machines can leverage their Factory to pour units into the front lines, and their default skill to keep advancing on those front lines. This should aid you in quickly moving into the middle to remove Human control. Furthermore, Machines can leverage Orbital Snipers to make these battles simpler, and Shred Drones to clear out trogs as you move to the interior.

The Pilgrims are not as strong war fighters, but with Teleport, they can pop around very quickly. And early game, with some new Tactics cards, they'll hold their own with the humans, especially using their Faction card draw bonuses AND the fact that if the humans are indeed spamming Airfield + Skill, they won't have the cards to do anything else.

Hope this helps.
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Thomas Leitner
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I've had the same issue. In my first game, a 3P, the humans just ran away with it. They were so far ahead in the early game, there was just no catching them.

I played a 4P tonight, and the humans won again, though it was close. The Pilgrims made a furious push at the end but just could not overcome the huge lead the humans built in the first two rounds.

The human ability to control regions with buildings and then score for control in one action seems too good.
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Grant Rodiek
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MDJD wrote:
I've had the same issue. In my first game, a 3P, the humans just ran away with it. They were so far ahead in the early game, there was just no catching them.

I played a 4P tonight, and the humans won again, though it was close. The Pilgrims made a furious push at the end but just could not overcome the huge lead the humans built in the first two rounds.

The human ability to control regions with buildings and then score for control in one action seems too good.


In 4 player, the Trog player can use Skills to place new tokens, then resolve them to immediately retake the spaces.

Plus tunnels.
 
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Matthew Robinson
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Had to check the card name but it's the Human skill "Scouting" I suppose that is the problem I'm referring to, as it allows the human player to drop a control token in ANY uncontrolled territory once per phase, so they just drop it in the center trog spot or the 5 crystal spot. Are we reading the card wrong?

If we have the card right, then it's quite powerful, especially in combination with Airfield once they get that up and running.

I guess we could consider banning that card in 3 player games... but wondering if there was a strategy we weren't considering that could counter it.

I agree tho, that without that card, the strategy you're talking about could be a lot more feasible.

Also, thanks for being so active on these boards!
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Jerry
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We played two player (Humans and Pilgrims), and the Humans ran away with it in 3 turns. Most frustrating is that I have no idea what the Pilgrims could have done to even make it competitive. I will try it again, but the experience was not enjoyable.
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Jeffrey
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gversace wrote:
We played two player (Humans and Pilgrims), and the Humans ran away with it in 3 turns. Most frustrating is that I have no idea what the Pilgrims could have done to even make it competitive. I will try it again, but the experience was not enjoyable.



You can see the same thing happen in the " Watch it Played" video where his son completely smashes him.
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Grant Rodiek
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queerchameleon wrote:
gversace wrote:
We played two player (Humans and Pilgrims), and the Humans ran away with it in 3 turns. Most frustrating is that I have no idea what the Pilgrims could have done to even make it competitive. I will try it again, but the experience was not enjoyable.



You can see the same thing happen in the " Watch it Played" video where his son completely smashes him.


I wouldn't base the game's balance on Rodney's winning chances

Also, I, one of the designers, haven't had a chance to dig into the final final version. At the end I was focused on rules, card text, things like that. The two Michals and Portal focused on the balance.

Update: my last sentence is confusing. Someone said "the designers [plural] haven't played" and I wanted to clarify that the other two have. Those working at Portal HQ.

 
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Jerry
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The only thing I can think of is to run a guy into each region to cause the Trog tokens to spawn minis, thereby making the regions occupied. But that wastes an least 2-3 actions that do nothing to improve the Pilgrim's position.
 
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lazza zaza
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HerrohGrant wrote:

Also, I, one of the designers, haven't had a chance to dig into the final final version. At the end I was focused on rules, card text, things like that. The two Michals and Portal focused on the balance.

Update: my last sentence is confusing. Someone said "the designers [plural] haven't played" and I wanted to clarify that the other two have. Those working at Portal HQ.



Grant are you saying it's possible that the game isn't balanced since you didn't see the final version before release?
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lazza wrote:
HerrohGrant wrote:

Also, I, one of the designers, haven't had a chance to dig into the final final version. At the end I was focused on rules, card text, things like that. The two Michals and Portal focused on the balance.

Update: my last sentence is confusing. Someone said "the designers [plural] haven't played" and I wanted to clarify that the other two have. Those working at Portal HQ.



Grant are you saying it's possible that the game isn't balanced since you didn't see the final version before release?


Not at all. I'm saying that, other than general advice and strategies from playing various versions over the years, I don't yet feel comfortable giving you strategic advice for this specific case.

I trust the Portal team's efforts on balancing. I'm just not the one to comment here.
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Joe Martineau
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Would be nice if someone in that position would comment. I do like the game, but having this human problem in most games.
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Diederik D.
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I love asymmetrical games, but do not like it when you should follow a certain strategy just to make sure the same faction isn't the runway leader every time you play... Guess I'll be sticking to Kemet then laugh
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Guilly Berto
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If this really is a problem why not just use the other factions for 3 player? I am curious though, to know if this is a game problem or a group problem. I once played Waterdeep with a group of very passive players who explained that the lord with the bonus for building always won when it was in play. Deploying countermeasures was not their play style, so naturally I suggested just removing it.
 
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Joe Martineau
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The 4th faction can only be used in a four player game.

At least, that is how the rules are written. I haven't really thought about the implications of disregarding that rule.
 
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Grant Rodiek
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Guillyberto wrote:
If this really is a problem why not just use the other factions for 3 player? I am curious though, to know if this is a game problem or a group problem. I once played Waterdeep with a group of very passive players who explained that the lord with the bonus for building always won when it was in play. Deploying countermeasures was not their play style, so naturally I suggested just removing it.


In 3 player, you play with all 3 non-Trog factions.
 
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RageGoblin wrote:
Would be nice if someone in that position would comment. I do like the game, but having this human problem in most games.


I'd be keen to hear too.

I've been eyeing this one for a while and watched nearly every interview / video that Grant's done so am very excited about it. But reading this thread is giving me some doubts. Its very expensive to get games in Australia so I want to pick the right one (I only get 1).
 
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Would love to have opinions & solutions to this one too. The game sounds promising but I don't want to waste my time and money to something that needs houseruling right out of the box.
 
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I'll chime in on this. I've played 2 three player games now and the humans have won both. Obviously with only two games played there is certainly some more things that need to be explored in terms of strategy and the like, but I've got some concerns specifically with the Machines.

Right now, the humans seem incredibly straightforward to play and they score points with scouting + their default skill + spamming buildings for quick area control. Enable scoring in one of the early rounds with the middle crystal areas should shorten the game almost guaranteed to four rounds. The humans are also benefited by having free defense of their controlled space due to trog tokens activating if you try to remove their control.

The Pilgrims also have their own engine with their pool of crystals and ability to make more crystals in territory they control. This has in general kept them somewhat on pace with the humans with the two races having some minimal conflict in the latter half as the humans either go for a high crystal pilgrim region or the pilgrims try to reduce human control.

The Machines on the other hand, have no real built in method to farm VP. They have buildings which are designed to kill units but they get no VP from it or benefit other than making potential fights easier. The machines I feel have to constantly be fighting and spreading in multiple directions. My strategy was to take the middle high crystal regions and try to take high crystal Pilgrim regions while limiting human control by targeting their regions over neutral ones if possible, but with the games ending in four rounds I just didn't have the actions needed to really limit the other two races, gain control of the middle (take it away from the humans) and somehow catch up via scoring. I never felt like I had the action to waste to enable scoring for myself and again there isn't a built in VP engine.

Maybe the problem with Humans is that the Scouting skill should not be allowed in a 3 player game but I don't know. I would love to be proven wrong about these initial thoughts and will play test some more to see if there is a way I just haven't seen yet.
 
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Blackspy07 wrote:
I'll chime in on this. I've played 2 three player games now and the humans have won both. Obviously with only two games played there is certainly some more things that need to be explored in terms of strategy and the like, but I've got some concerns specifically with the Machines.

Right now, the humans seem incredibly straightforward to play and they score points with scouting + their default skill + spamming buildings for quick area control. Enable scoring in one of the early rounds with the middle crystal areas should shorten the game almost guaranteed to four rounds. The humans are also benefited by having free defense of their controlled space due to trog tokens activating if you try to remove their control.

The Pilgrims also have their own engine with their pool of crystals and ability to make more crystals in territory they control. This has in general kept them somewhat on pace with the humans with the two races having some minimal conflict in the latter half as the humans either go for a high crystal pilgrim region or the pilgrims try to reduce human control.

The Machines on the other hand, have no real built in method to farm VP. They have buildings which are designed to kill units but they get no VP from it or benefit other than making potential fights easier. The machines I feel have to constantly be fighting and spreading in multiple directions. My strategy was to take the middle high crystal regions and try to take high crystal Pilgrim regions while limiting human control by targeting their regions over neutral ones if possible, but with the games ending in four rounds I just didn't have the actions needed to really limit the other two races, gain control of the middle (take it away from the humans) and somehow catch up via scoring. I never felt like I had the action to waste to enable scoring for myself and again there isn't a built in VP engine.

Maybe the problem with Humans is that the Scouting skill should not be allowed in a 3 player game but I don't know. I would love to be proven wrong about these initial thoughts and will play test some more to see if there is a way I just haven't seen yet.


Machines gain points from newly acquired Territory. I watched a player when I was demoing Saturday basically "lawn mow" his way to gain 4 new Territories -- and all the crystals -- in one turn. It was pretty amazing.
 
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Maybe the question is has anyone won with another faction other than humans in 3 or 4 player games so far? Everyone is reporting humans run away with it?
 
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Thomas Leitner
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HerrohGrant wrote:
Blackspy07 wrote:
I'll chime in on this. I've played 2 three player games now and the humans have won both. Obviously with only two games played there is certainly some more things that need to be explored in terms of strategy and the like, but I've got some concerns specifically with the Machines.

Right now, the humans seem incredibly straightforward to play and they score points with scouting + their default skill + spamming buildings for quick area control. Enable scoring in one of the early rounds with the middle crystal areas should shorten the game almost guaranteed to four rounds. The humans are also benefited by having free defense of their controlled space due to trog tokens activating if you try to remove their control.

The Pilgrims also have their own engine with their pool of crystals and ability to make more crystals in territory they control. This has in general kept them somewhat on pace with the humans with the two races having some minimal conflict in the latter half as the humans either go for a high crystal pilgrim region or the pilgrims try to reduce human control.

The Machines on the other hand, have no real built in method to farm VP. They have buildings which are designed to kill units but they get no VP from it or benefit other than making potential fights easier. The machines I feel have to constantly be fighting and spreading in multiple directions. My strategy was to take the middle high crystal regions and try to take high crystal Pilgrim regions while limiting human control by targeting their regions over neutral ones if possible, but with the games ending in four rounds I just didn't have the actions needed to really limit the other two races, gain control of the middle (take it away from the humans) and somehow catch up via scoring. I never felt like I had the action to waste to enable scoring for myself and again there isn't a built in VP engine.

Maybe the problem with Humans is that the Scouting skill should not be allowed in a 3 player game but I don't know. I would love to be proven wrong about these initial thoughts and will play test some more to see if there is a way I just haven't seen yet.


Machines gain points from newly acquired Territory. I watched a player when I was demoing Saturday basically "lawn mow" his way to gain 4 new Territories -- and all the crystals -- in one turn. It was pretty amazing.


How do they do that?
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lazza wrote:
Maybe the question is has anyone won with another faction other than humans in 3 or 4 player games so far? Everyone is reporting humans run away with it?


Yes I trampled with the Trogs in a 4 player game, next closest score was the Machines, then Humans, then Pilgrims.

Trogs 69
Machines 31
Humans 28
Pilgrims 22
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jmathias wrote:
lazza wrote:
Maybe the question is has anyone won with another faction other than humans in 3 or 4 player games so far? Everyone is reporting humans run away with it?


Yes I trampled with the Trogs in a 4 player game, next closest score was the Machines, then Humans, then Pilgrims.

Trogs 69
Machines 31
Humans 28
Pilgrims 22


I think the main problem is the 3-player games. In the 4-player games, you have the Trog player who can hold the Humans in check.
 
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Jerry
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lazza wrote:
Maybe the question is has anyone won with another faction other than humans in 3 or 4 player games so far? Everyone is reporting humans run away with it?


I think the problem may be 2 or 3 player games. At four, the trog player limits some of the human advantages by having minis on the board, thereby occupying regions. I've heard the trogs are the typical winner with new players in 4p games.
 
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