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Subject: Expansion, balance and rules rss

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Henrik Løv
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Hi there, I just acquired the base game, and after just 6 games I am so hooked that I consider buying the expansion. I see alot of different versions of shapeshifters and riverwalkrrs on snellman, and also an updated version of the rule book. So my question is, if I will be purchasing an outdated game that needs fiddling with stickers and whatnot? Is it possible to acquire an updated version of the expansion?
I really dont want to buy a game, where i know beforehand creates more imbalance.
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Henrik Johansson
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You have to fiddle. There is an official update to the expansion, the latest versions on snellman should be used.
The official update was published after a year of playing on snellman, but the official version was not available at snellman at the time of issue. I think it was a good idea to issue a new version after a year, but it should have been announced from the beginning IMHO, in the Expansion box: Something like "In a year from now, version 2.0 of the factions will be officially announced, after corrections of any large imbalances" or some words to that effect. I suggested that to the designer using geekmail in good time before the publishing, and he liked the idea, but the product did not get such text eventually.
Cato the Elder wrote:
Moreover, I consider that Fakirs should be buffed and Darklings nerfed.
 
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James Wolfpacker
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The only factions that really create an imbalance are shapeshifters and riverwalkers and they have been fixed. Shapeshifters are now so weak as to be useless and riverwalkers are about right.

The ice factions are not so different than the original factions in terms of terraforming and are balanced. The volcano ones are very different, but are balanced.

The best thing about the expansion is variable turn order, which you could probably do on your own.

The new map shape, the expansion factions, and the "extra" final scoring tile make 5p games work much better.
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Colin Marsh
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Henrikloev wrote:
Hi there, I just acquired the base game, and after just 6 games I am so hooked that I consider buying the expansion. I see alot of different versions of shapeshifters and riverwalkrrs on snellman, and also an updated version of the rule book. So my question is, if I will be purchasing an outdated game that needs fiddling with stickers and whatnot? Is it possible to acquire an updated version of the expansion?
I really dont want to buy a game, where i know beforehand creates more imbalance.


if you're concerned about balance in the original & expansion game simply play with the race bidding rules introduced in the expansion. i find they are really interesting because they get people to play factions they might not and the players themselves balance the game by bidding victory points at the start.

Here's how it works:

1. you set the entire game up - bonus cards, scoring round tiles, etc.
2. choose a number of races that will be in the game based on your number of players.
3. place all scoring markers for each of those factions at 40 points.
4. determine an opening bidder. They bid a number of victory points to have first choice of faction, you go around in order with players having the option to pass or increase the bid. once you pass you're out of that round of bidding.
5. the winning bidder chooses one of the available factions, deducts his bid from 40. he then choose his turn order on the variable turn order track introduce in the expansion.
6. repeat this process until all factions are selected. the last player to get a faction always starts the game with 40 vp's.

this balances the game regardless of race. for instance, if you really feel the Darklings would be overpowered in the game about to be played you could bid 15 points in the first round and thereby either force someone else to pay even more or start the game with 25 vp's.

as mentioned above the best rule change in the expansion was variable turn order. it removes the luck factor of how frequently the player to your right passes first.
 
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Grant
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colinmarsh wrote:
Henrikloev wrote:
Hi there, I just acquired the base game, and after just 6 games I am so hooked that I consider buying the expansion. I see alot of different versions of shapeshifters and riverwalkrrs on snellman, and also an updated version of the rule book. So my question is, if I will be purchasing an outdated game that needs fiddling with stickers and whatnot? Is it possible to acquire an updated version of the expansion?
I really dont want to buy a game, where i know beforehand creates more imbalance.


if you're concerned about balance in the original & expansion game simply play with the race bidding rules introduced in the expansion. i find they are really interesting because they get people to play factions they might not and the players themselves balance the game by bidding victory points at the start.

Here's how it works:

1. you set the entire game up - bonus cards, scoring round tiles, etc.
2. choose a number of races that will be in the game based on your number of players.
3. place all scoring markers for each of those factions at 40 points.
4. determine an opening bidder. They bid a number of victory points to have first choice of faction, you go around in order with players having the option to pass or increase the bid. once you pass you're out of that round of bidding.
5. the winning bidder chooses one of the available factions, deducts his bid from 40. he then choose his turn order on the variable turn order track introduce in the expansion.
6. repeat this process until all factions are selected. the last player to get a faction always starts the game with 40 vp's.

this balances the game regardless of race. for instance, if you really feel the Darklings would be overpowered in the game about to be played you could bid 15 points in the first round and thereby either force someone else to pay even more or start the game with 25 vp's.

as mentioned above the best rule change in the expansion was variable turn order. it removes the luck factor of how frequently the player to your right passes first.

Keep in mind this only balances anything if ALL the players involved know how to correctly asses the value of each faction relative to the other factions in play, the bonus tiles available, the order of the round scoring, and the additional end of game scoring which was selected (if any).

Otherwise, all bidding does is disproportionately advantage the more experienced players over the less experienced ones.

I'd only recommend bidding for groups of extremely experienced players.
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Robert
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Henrikloev wrote:
Hi there, I just acquired the base game, and after just 6 games I am so hooked that I consider buying the expansion.
Great to hear that you like the game! With just 6 games played, you should be able to have tons more fun with dozens more games using the base rules. Then once you've fully digested the base game, the expansion should give you loads of extra fun.

You can (and probably should) expand your experience with the base game right away using the mini-expansions (new town tiles, new bonus tile, new scoring tile) and VTO (variable turn order). The expansion has a nice board to support VTO, but you can easily play VTO without it, i.e. before you even buy the expansion.

Henrikloev wrote:
I see alot of different versions of shapeshifters and riverwalkrrs on snellman, and also an updated version of the rule book. So my question is, if I will be purchasing an outdated game that needs fiddling with stickers and whatnot? Is it possible to acquire an updated version of the expansion?
I really dont want to buy a game, where i know beforehand creates more imbalance.
I don't know if they printed a revised edition of the Fire&Ice expansion with the updated Shapeshifter/Riverwalker rules. Maybe even your base game still has the original Cultists board, which has also been revised a few months after the base game came out (you know that, don't you?).

So if you buy the expansion, chances are that it comes with the original rules, and you'll have to print out the revised rules yourself. Therefore if you play the Shapeshifters and Riverwalkers "out of the box", they will add imbalance, but you can help that. Either just disallow these two factions (which was the approach taken by the majority of the snellman community before the revised rules came out), or refer to a printout of the revised rules (and maybe print stickers and paste them on the board - mine work like a charm).
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Robert
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My take on Grant's remark on auctions:
grant5 wrote:
I'd only recommend bidding for groups of extremely experienced players.
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Colin Marsh
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grant5 wrote:

Keep in mind this only balances anything if ALL the players involved know how to correctly asses the value of each faction relative to the other factions in play, the bonus tiles available, the order of the round scoring, and the additional end of game scoring which was selected (if any).

Otherwise, all bidding does is disproportionately advantage the more experienced players over the less experienced ones.

I'd only recommend bidding for groups of extremely experienced players.


i don't disagree that knowledge of the game is important for bidding. that said the alternative - picking a race based on player order also advantages experienced players. essentially reading the game setup and understanding what race will excel in that setup plays in both for bidding and the regular setup. at least it seems that way to me.
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James Wolfpacker
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Until a player has 5-10 games played I'd recommend 2-3 factions for a newer player and let them pick from that. I don't recommend auctions until 20+ games played for all involved.
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C TK
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Something that is never mentioned with respect to auction is that it is possible to assess a value of a faction differently depending on who is playing it. This can create an issue where you're forced to either pick an expensive faction you are not good with to deny it to an opponent who does well with them, or let them have it for cheap.

For example, both Juho and SpaceTrucker (for example) do disproportionately well with Witches, while I do disproportionately poorly. I might value them less for me, but more highly for them. Their value is significantly dependent on who plays them, which doesn't work for the auction format. Likewise, most people can't play Alchemists very well. But if you happen to be against Shellstorm or myself (for example), they are quite dangerous. Either we get them cheap or you bid highly and get stuck with an expensive faction you can't play.
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Grant
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CTKShadow wrote:
Something that is never mentioned with respect to auction is that it is possible to assess a value of a faction differently depending on who is playing it. This can create an issue where you're forced to either pick an expensive faction you are not good with to deny it to an opponent who does well with them, or let them have it for cheap.

For example, both Juho and SpaceTrucker (for example) do disproportionately well with Witches, while I do disproportionately poorly. I might value them less for me, but more highly for them. Their value is significantly dependent on who plays them, which doesn't work for the auction format. Likewise, most people can't play Alchemists very well. But if you happen to be against Shellstorm or myself (for example), they are quite dangerous. Either we get them cheap or you bid highly and get stuck with an expensive faction you can't play.

This is a very good point. Very meta, and not something to ignore.
 
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James Wolfpacker
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I'm surprised that CTKShadow didn't mention someone else...

CTKShadow wrote:
Public safety advisory. Do not let mikaeljt pick Engineers in the 4p format.

DO NOT LET MIKAELJT PICK ENGINEERS IN THE 4P FORMAT!!!

4p TEST DIVISION 1, LEAGUE 1

Game 3: shanarkoh mikaeljt CTKShadow surpriz3
Engineers (mikaeljt) 197ish
Nomads (shanarkoh) ???
Cultists (surpriz3) ???
Yetis (CTKShadow) ???

Game 4: mikaeljt TerraTurtle shanarkoh SpaceTrucker
Engineers (mikaeljt) 188
Darklings (shanarkoh) 161
Ice Maidens (TerraTurtle)122
Nomads (SpaceTrucker) 115

Game 5: TerraTurtle BlueSteel mikaeljt CTKShadow
Engineers (mikaeljt) 153
Alchemists (CTKShadow) 148
Nomads (TerraTurtle) 127
Dragonlords (BlueSteel) 119

Game 7: surpriz3 SpaceTrucker BlueSteel mikaeljt
Engineers (mikaeljt) 141
Cultists (SpaceTrucker) 133
Mermaids (BlueSteel) 132
Yetis (surpriz3) 106



J/k Congrats mikaeljt!
 
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Colin Marsh
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CTKShadow wrote:
Something that is never mentioned with respect to auction is that it is possible to assess a value of a faction differently depending on who is playing it. This can create an issue where you're forced to either pick an expensive faction you are not good with to deny it to an opponent who does well with them, or let them have it for cheap.

For example, both Juho and SpaceTrucker (for example) do disproportionately well with Witches, while I do disproportionately poorly. I might value them less for me, but more highly for them. Their value is significantly dependent on who plays them, which doesn't work for the auction format. Likewise, most people can't play Alchemists very well. But if you happen to be against Shellstorm or myself (for example), they are quite dangerous. Either we get them cheap or you bid highly and get stuck with an expensive faction you can't play.


interesting point. i don't think at the level of play my group is at that this is a real concern. we're all pretty good at the game and probably have factions we find a bit easier than others but what we most like about the auction is that if there is an obvious race advantaged by the setup, they will start well behind the other players & it forces us all to try out factions we may not be as comfortable with.

also i agree with the idea that newer players should be limited to fewer factions (i give a new player in an experienced game the nomads near everytime). i agree with DocCool also that while you need to be experienced to use the auction variant you don't need to be "extremely exprienced". i found that it speeds up set up because players don't get AP trying to determine which faction among 20 would be best.
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Henrik Løv
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Are there multiple versions of the game printed?
I am buying the expansion nomatter what, i just don't want to buy the wrong one

Can someone post the link of all the rule changes? I never saw the cultist one.
 
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Henrik Johansson
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Rules update for Cultists
Cato the Elder wrote:
Moreover, I consider that Fakirs should be buffed and Darklings nerfed.
 
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Kester J
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CTKShadow wrote:
Something that is never mentioned with respect to auction is that it is possible to assess a value of a faction differently depending on who is playing it. This can create an issue where you're forced to either pick an expensive faction you are not good with to deny it to an opponent who does well with them, or let them have it for cheap.

For example, both Juho and SpaceTrucker (for example) do disproportionately well with Witches, while I do disproportionately poorly. I might value them less for me, but more highly for them. Their value is significantly dependent on who plays them, which doesn't work for the auction format. Likewise, most people can't play Alchemists very well. But if you happen to be against Shellstorm or myself (for example), they are quite dangerous. Either we get them cheap or you bid highly and get stuck with an expensive faction you can't play.


This is fair, but is it so different to being forced to pick a race you dislike in the original round-the-table system, just to stop someone else having them?

I think there are probably a few biases and distortions that commonly make their way into auction bidding. The most common one I see is underbidding on the best race because one is considering their advantages in a vacuum, rather than factoring the relative disadvantages of the worst race in as well. (If my estimate of the setup is Mermaids +15, Darklings +10, Giants +0, Halflings -10, I should be willing to pay 25 for Mermaids, but in practice they will often go for a bit less.)

But despite any gripes, I still think it's a big improvement on the original system, if only because it generates much greater variety in the games played.
 
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Dániel Lányi
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Henrikloev wrote:
I see alot of different versions of shapeshifters and riverwalkrrs on snellman, and also an updated version of the rule book.


In my experience the official errata does make it balanced

Henrikloev wrote:

So my question is, if I will be purchasing an outdated game that needs fiddling with stickers and whatnot?


I think the changes to riverwalkers and shapeshifters are rather easily memorized so no stickers are needed
 
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Robert
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I strongly feel that the auctioning system in the F&I rules is sub-optimal if you're looking for a "balanced" game. A player can only influence the cost of a faction until he wins a round of bidding - then the relative costs are left to the remaining players. E.g. if you win the first round for 20VP and pick Darklings, you have zero influence on how expensive or cheap the Mermaids or Engineers will be, while you probably can count on the Fakirs going for 0VP. If Mermaids and Engineers go for e.g. 17VP and 15VP, all is great - if they go for 7VP and 5VP you've already lost, even though your bid of 20VP for Darklings compared to Fakirs may have been fully justified.

I prefer a simultaneous auction system like the one mentioned by Juho in an earlier article (which I don't find right now). It goes like this (description is for FtF):

1) setup the game as usual: pick a map, an expansion scoring (or none), scoring tiles for the six rounds, bonus tiles according to player count
2) draw the factions and their start order according to player count - this is what players will bid for; in case of expansion factions, also randomly pick a color (and redraw in case of conflict with already drawn colors). I.e. players bid for a faction/start order combination, which differs from the auction system in the F&I rules, where you bid for the right to pick from the remaining set of factions and a start seat from the set of remaining seats.
Example result from the drawing in a 4p game: seat #1 - Auren, seat #2 - Dwarves, seat #3 - Alchemists, seat #4 - Ice Maidens (brown)
3) every faction/start order combination starts at 40VP: put one marker per used color on the VP track (example: green, grey, black, brown); then put another marker per used color in the middle of the board
4) randomly pick a start player, who goes first; after her, bidding goes clockwise around the table
5) if it's a player's turn
a) and he has a marker in front of him, nothing needs to be done and the player to the left continues
b) and he has no marker in front of him, then he needs to do one of the following:
I) pick a marker from the middle and put it in front of him (which means he bids 0VP for this faction)
II) fetch a marker from another player (who has that marker in front of her) and put it in front of himself, and move the marker of that color on the VP track to a lower value (which meands he bids at least 1VP more for that faction than the previous bidder)
6) the bidding ends when no markers are left in the middle and every player has a marker in front of him/her - that's the faction each player will play; the VP track now shows the starting status with at least one faction marker still on 40VP while others will be lower (representing the successful bidding amount)

It's not super-hard to translate this into a bidding in chat in an online game, though the VP subtraction and player order need to be done after the auction by the admin.
 
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Kester J
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DocCool wrote:
A player can only influence the cost of a faction until he wins a round of bidding - then the relative costs are left to the remaining players. E.g. if you win the first round for 20VP and pick Darklings, you have zero influence on how expensive or cheap the Mermaids or Engineers will be, while you probably can count on the Fakirs going for 0VP. If Mermaids and Engineers go for e.g. 17VP and 15VP, all is great - if they go for 7VP and 5VP you've already lost, even though your bid of 20VP for Darklings compared to Fakirs may have been fully justified.


I've thought a bit about this as well. I came to the conclusion that this scenario relies on one player valuing all of the races correctly, while all of the other three value two specific races wrongly (the middle two) but correctly value the best compared to the worst (or they wouldn't have driven you up to 20VP for darklings). In that light, while it's undesirable, I suspect it doesn't really happen that often in practice.


Quote:
I prefer a simultaneous auction system like the one mentioned by Juho in an earlier article (which I don't find right now).


This is an Amun Re/Vegas Showdown/Evo style bidding system, right? I think that should work fine.

It doesn't totally solve your problem above, but it does ensure that you're one of the two people who benefit (i.e. you end up with Mermaids or Engineers, but only pay what the other three thought they were worth, even though you know better). Two people do still benefit compared to the others though.
 
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Robert
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Kester wrote:
I've thought a bit about this as well. I came to the conclusion that this scenario relies on one player valuing all of the races correctly, while all of the other three value two specific races wrongly (the middle two) but correctly value the best compared to the worst (or they wouldn't have driven you up to 20VP for darklings). In that light, while it's undesirable, I suspect it doesn't really happen that often in practice.
In the auctions I did with this system, it did happen. Different players evaluate different factions differently (which may even mean that they outbid you, and then don't pick the faction you were aiming at ), and the issue is that you don't know how they evaluate the other factions if the current bidding is clearly for one particular faction (in my example: Darklings). In the simultaneous bidding, you influence the delta between all factions, e.g. if you feel that Darklings should be worht just 5VP more than Mermaids, you should not bid 20VP for Darklings if the Mermaids were still available for 7VP - you'd either bid 12VP for Darklings, or -if Darklings are already at 13VP, you'd bid 8VP for Mermaids. After all, I'm not hell-bound to get Darklings, just to get a faction at a cheap (or at least fair) price.

Kester wrote:
DocCool wrote:
I prefer a simultaneous auction system like the one mentioned by Juho in an earlier article (which I don't find right now).


This is an Amun Re/Vegas Showdown/Evo style bidding system, right? I think that should work fine.
AFAIK Amun Re doesn't allow to increase your previous bid, while I allow it (e.g. if you had 13VP for Darklings and another player bids 14VP, you can bid 15VP and take back the black meeple). I don't know Vegas Showdown, but a quick look at the relevant rule section (courtesy of BGG users ) looks similar. Now that you mention EVO, I remember that it was the game Juho gave as an example for this kind of bidding.

Kester wrote:
It doesn't totally solve your problem above, but it does ensure that you're one of the two people who benefit (i.e. you end up with Mermaids or Engineers, but only pay what the other three thought they were worth, even though you know better). Two people do still benefit compared to the others though.
*IF* I really know better. These other people will feel that the prices were fair (plus/minus one VP, since my or their ideal VP amount was already bid by somebody else), or even think they got a benefit because I'm paying too much.

If all players have the exact same evaluation of the relative VP values, the bidding will result in exactly these amounts (maybe +/- one VP); all would consider this a fair game then. If players have a different evaluation, then they stop bidding earlier/bid more for a faction than another player, and both will feel they actually got the better deal, because "I got this cheaper than I thought" resp. "she paid more for it that it is worth".
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Matthias Reitberger
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DocCool wrote:
If Mermaids and Engineers go for e.g. 17VP and 15VP, all is great - if they go for 7VP and 5VP you've already lost, even though your bid of 20VP for Darklings compared to Fakirs may have been fully justified.


It may happen that mermaids and engineers go for more than 20vp, wich is fully justified anyway. An auction isn't an evaluation, it's a game of its own where you want to bluff your opponents and get an advantage by that.
 
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Juho Snellman
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1869 wrote:
It may happen that mermaids and engineers go for more than 20vp, wich is fully justified anyway. An auction isn't an evaluation, it's a game of its own where you want to bluff your opponents and get an advantage by that.

The F&I auction is indeed a separate game where players try to gain an advantage by manipulating an opaque system and other players. But I'd argue that's not a good thing. The effect is that increases the likelihood that the actual game of TM (which will take 20x as long as the auction) is unbalanced and thus less interesting. What you want is to for the auction system to stay out of the way and distort the actual game as little as possible.

I'll just paste this here, since I'd end up repeating the whole post otherwise: https://boardgamegeek.com/article/19097108#19097108
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Robert
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Good stuff from Juho - it also allowed me to find his description of an EVO-style auction again: Re: Some exercise in auctioning

IMHO the auction should be a tool which allows a game with fresh/unusual faction combinations giving all players an equal opportunity to win IF THEY HAVE SIMILAR SKILLS IN PLAYING TERRA MYSTICA.

The auction should allow us to play an interesting game of TM, and not to win because of bluffing/auctioning skill.
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