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Subject: Will bad initial hand ruin game? rss

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Steve S
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I ask this to discuss how great an impact a bad draw will have on one's whole game. I have played the game twice with the same group, and one guy has had bad draws (with different countries) in both games. In the first game, he was Germany, and I don't know the details of his draw. But we discussed his draw in the second game (as USA), and I thought I'd bring up his experience. Note: in my own case, I have played about 5 games, and each time I have had a relatively 'balanced' draw-in other words, I didn't have a perfect hand, but I always had options, and whatever card I was hoping to get (say, Land Battle) came soon enough that I felt the game still 'worked.'

The initial American Draw in the game in question (with the Air Marshal Expansion, so it was 12 cards), was 5 Build Navy, 2 Sea Battle, and 5 other cards (none of which were build army or Land Battle). The game ended up lasting about 10 turns (the Allies lost), and when the USA player checked, his Build Army cards were still 10 cards from the top of the deck. In other words, he had no Build Army Cards in the first 25 or so in the deck.

His belief was that this was simply a gamekiller draw. The USA player needs a relatively balanced Build Navy/Build Army deck to even get in the game-not only because you need Build Army cards to get your Navies anywhere the front lines, but also you need a Build Army card to even occupy the West Coast and get 2 VP as well as even involve yourself in the Pacific at all.

Furthermore, he felt that since he would have had to have burned Build Navy cards in order to dig through the deck to get a Build Army card in time to use it, he would have destroyed his late game (by wasting Build Navy Cards) with the Reallocate Resources action.

What he ended up doing, of course, was playing marginally useful Status Cards or Economic Warfare Cards to stall for time, hoping a Build Army card would come up. it never did, the USA was never in the game in any meaningful way, and the Allies lost around Turn 10. And, as I mentioned, he had a similar experience as the Germans in the previous game, which the Axis lost for similar reasons.

Of course, I don't know his entire hand, and which Status/Bolster/Response cards he had in his hand. But there is a sense that the USA has very specific card requirements to even get involved in the game (for instance: just to get close to the Japanese in the Pacific, he has to specifically have, and play, Build Army (for Western USA), Build Navy (Pacific), Build Army (Hawaii), and Build Navy for somewhere west of Hawaii). All this before he can even impact Japan's forces on the map).

Without getting into the specifics of other cards (since I don't know what they are: I am aware we could talk about 'what about China' What about X card, What about Y card, tangents): what about the general argument? In your experience does a bad initial draw hamper a country (and thus, a side) so much that it can never dig out of that hole, and eventually loses? You can have great hands, and you can have decent hands, which allow you to conduct your plan with a few delays (for instance, I don't quite have the card combination I need, but I can play a Status of Economic Warfare card for one or two turns, and that card will eventually come). This is the experience I have had in my games: I haven't executed what I want perfectly, but I have generally gotten the cards, within a few turns of when I needed them, to compete effectively.

But these last two games have been dramatically different: one nation gets a very bad draw, which effectively removes it from the game. The game is then a battle of two nations against three, and the three have pretty decisively won.


Any thoughts?

Steve
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Paul Schulzetenberg
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Sometimes the luck in this game will be against you, and there's just nothing you can do.

Two rules you don't mention that could impact your play:
1. Are you remembering that you draw 10 and discard down to 7 at the beginning of the game?
2. Don't forget about the discard rule, too. If those status/response/economic warfare cards don't have immediate use, it's probably worth it to just chuck them in order to get to more of your deck.

That said, you still can get into that situation, even if you are using both of those rules. I think there's a couple things that I would have done differently, had I been your friend.

Marginally useful status cards are NOT worth using a turn on. As you get good at this game, you realize that it's a very cutthroat race most of the time, and you don't have time to put out middling statuses. We only play the best ones at this point, lest we risk putting ourselves very behind.

Specifically, if I was your friend, I would have used a build navy in the Atlantic the first turn. With both Britain and the US threatening Western Europe first turn, Germany and Italy are sweating. If UK/US can get a foothold in Europe early, it's game over for the Axis.

Also, the US has the biggest deck for a reason. You can burn through that baby like nobody's business, and if you get a draw like that, you should.

Finally, the Pacific war is less important than it seems, at least in the base game. I usually ignore it completely unless I have some killer cards for it. The analysis about needing very particular cards is correct, which is why it's rarely worth it.

I hope you can convince your friend to give it another try.
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Derry Salewski
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Sounds like the player in question wasn't willing to be very flexible or creative. Yeah, that hand probably wasn't going to take the pacific by storm, but it could help out the atlantic just fine.

Realocating useless cards after a turn or two to grab west usa isn't the end of the world.

I am more suspicious of your player's attitude than I am of the game. A big part is doing what you can with what you get. It's understandable that not everyone gets this right away or likes this, though. Somehow magic, poker, dominion, race for the galaxy, etc manage to thrive, despite the possibility of all sorts of card distributions.
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Björn von Knorring
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In alternate histories there is an added rule that you can make an Mulligan. I e you can discard your whole hand, rshuffle the whole deck (including discards) and draw 10 (12) new cards.

But as other have said; it sounds that the player wasn´t very willing to be flexible with the cards he got. I have seen players who change their gameplan 180 degrees because they didn´t get the cards they needed so they made a new one.
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Steve S
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I'm aware of the possibilities of both of your arguments.

However, remember that in the Atlantic, you still need:
Build Navy (Atlantic)
Build Army (Iceland)
Build Navy (North Sea)

and only then are you able to begin to affect Germany/Italy (and only in Western Europe. If you want to do more, you need more Build army/navy cards to go farther). Landing on the continent requires a second Build Army card. Getting into the Med requires more Build Army (maybe-for North Africa) and Build Navy Cards. And so on.

So the specific card requirements for the Atlantic are pretty close to those for the Pacific.

I'm also aware of the whole 'America has cards to burn' argument (with 53 or so, and only 20 turns, you've got plenty of extras to burn to dig out the specific cards you need). In this case, the difficulty was that of having to burn Build Navy cards to get Build Army cards-so it wasn't only that Build Army cards were buried: it was, in addition, that Build Navy cards had to be sacrificed to dig them out.

Similar things can happen to other countries-ex Japan and Britain simply need a Build Navy card early to get their forces going-regardless of their strategic plans, and almost regardless of what other cards they have (I say almost because Britain has the 'build in Australia' and 'build in India' cards to get out of that bottleneck).

Also: we played the Air Marshal Expansion, which starts with draw 12, and discard 5 (rather than draw 10 and discard 3).

Steve

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Björn von Knorring
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That is incorrect. USA don´t need Iceland. With two Build Navy (Atlantic & North sea) you can start to land battle western europe immediately.
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Steve S
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Ah- I just checked-you are correct.

" Navies have an additional requirement, beyond tracing a line of their own country's pieces: Navies must be adjacent to a land space occupied by an Army from any country on the same TEAM."

I have played, and taught, this as having to be a same-country Army (not same-team Army) each time I've played the game.

We'll see how big of a change that will make in future games.

Steve
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Steve S
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Off Topic, but this game desperately needs some kind of online version. I live in a non-wargaming town, and getting 6 people to play a strategic wargame is pretty tough (I've managed it twice in a year).

Steve
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Björn von Knorring
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Hexwar is developing an app for QMG so be patient
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Mike Anastasia
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myth1202 wrote:
Hexwar is developing an app for QMG so be patient
in the meantime, there is a healthy play by forum community for QMG on this site
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Paul Schulzetenberg
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I missed that you were playing with Air Marshal.

Five of any card in your opening hand, even if you're drawing 12, is exceedingly unlikely. Still, I could play that hand without too much grumbling. This would be my play.
At start: Discard 5 status/econ warfare/response cards, or maybe 4 and one Navy if one was really good.
Turn 1: Build Navy North Atlantic
Turn 2: Build Navy North Sea
Discard my first turn draw if I didn't like it.

By the time turn three rolls around, at least one of the following applies
1) I kept one of my misc. cards because I really like it and it's worth using a turn on.
2) Germany/Italy killed my Navy in the North Sea, meaning I can keep playing (and not wasting) Build Navy cards and replacing them with new draws in an effort to find Build Army/Land Battle.
3) I can battle in the Mediterranean, either because the Axis have not grabbed North Africa yet, or because the British have.
4) I can build in the Mediterranean if the British have taken North Africa and the Axis has not built in the Mediterranean (in which case it's time for Italy to panic -- he doesn't know I don't have land battles or build armies).
5) I'll have at least three draws past my initial imbalanced hand without discarding any build navies (either because I liked my first turn draw and can play it, or because I discarded it).

I'll ditch build navies and sea battles with nearly any country if my hand has a surfeit of them. If I drew five in my opening hand, I'll play two, and if circumstances dictate, I'll discard a third. One Build Navy card rarely makes a difference.

To your point about Japan and Britain:
If Japan has no build Navy cards, they almost definitely have powerful response cards to play. The British can be a tougher nut to crack with no build navies, but they can afford to go fishing as well.

All that said, sometimes it's just not going to work out for you. There's usually some way to roll with the punches, but sometimes you just can't do it. In that case, you just have to take your medicine and ask to play again. Hey, at least the game is pretty quick.
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Derry Salewski
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SDawg wrote:


We'll see how big of a change that will make in future games.



I suspect your allied players are going to start having a little more fun
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Peter Bakija
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SDawg wrote:
what about the general argument? In your experience does a bad initial draw hamper a country (and thus, a side) so much that it can never dig out of that hole, and eventually loses?


You can certainly have bad draws that put you in a hole from the get go. The US draw you describe isn't fantastic, but you can still get a Navy into the North Atlantic, then the North Sea (as you now realize that you can build navies that are next to allies armies, as long as they are otherwise in supply), and then get into the Med if the UK gets into Africa. By then, well, maybe you have found something good. If you are desperate, you can probably find 4 cards to burn to go get a Build Army, say.

The US can often afford to slow play, and the game still can end up in the hands of the Allies, assuming the Axis have any sort of lag or the Soviets and UK are particularly effective.

Generally speaking, yeah, you can have a horrible draw. And you can be fighting up hill from a bad initial draw. But things you can do are:

A) Be ruthless, burn 4 cards, find the card you need to get going, and when you redraw 5 cards at the end of the turn, you are probably going to have useful cards in hand.

B) Use the "Peace Treaty" promo tile rule (it was a kickstarter extra for Air Marshal)--at the start of the game, if two opposing team players agree, they can both reshuffle and redraw their opening 12 cards. If you have a really bad opening hand, it is possible that someone has a less than optimal opening hand and can be convinced to make a Peace Treaty deal.

Like, if Japan or UK don't have a Build Navy in their opening hand? They probably need to burn 4 cards to go find one (Japan can usually wait till T2 to do that, so maybe they'll pick a Build Navy off their 1st turn response play). Being willing to burn 4 cards to get your game moving is something that you need to be willing to do sometimes.
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Jeff Noel
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Steve,

To answer your question (asked elsewhere), the probability of the US drawing all 5 Build Navies in their opening hand of 12 (using the 50 card deck with air marshalls) is 0.037% or 1 in 2,675.

If you narrow that down to hands with 5 Build Navies and no Build armies, it becomes 0.015% or 1 in 6,512.

Of course, if you widen those to include "all hands at least as bad as 5 Build Navies and no Build Armies", you'd probably get something significantly higher. But still pretty bad luck.

Also, the Japan player in that game was pretty awesome. So the US had that going against them too. whistle
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