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Subject: Two games with widely varying enjoyment factors rss

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Norbert Chan
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When I arrived, Don, Trevor, Craig and Ken were finishing up a game of Pax Pamir. I learned the rules while watching them play, since I had played Pax Porfiriana a couple times. In the game I was watching, they were playing at a brisk pace, and Trevor set up Craig to win the game, since Trevor didn’t want to overanalyze the board situation.

I joined in the next game. Looking at the large amount of British cards in the initial market cards I chose my loyalty as the British (I think my other loyalty choice was Russia). It turns out almost everyone else was thinking the same way as me, as Trevor, Craig, and Don also chose British! Ken was the lone Russian. Trevor had the 1 British card and got to go first, followed by Craig, myself, Ken and Don. So how do 4 players pushing one faction play out?

The play certainly wasn’t optimal. But the game moved along briskly as there was a four way tie in loyalty with the British, and the game went on this way for a long time. No one assassinated any cards to get a loyalty, the lone spy that I sent to Ken side of the board was counterespionaged.

The win came opportunistically for Craig. The regime card for economic superiority showed up after Trevor’s turn. Craig got a free action to gift to get his loyalty to 2. Then he toppled for the win, as the British won easily and he had 2 loyalty to the 1 loyalty of Trevor, myself and Don. This game clocked in around an hour, and we had fun with the mechanics.


Craig is orange. The regime card is economic, allowing Craig to gift his loyalty to two, then all he had to do was topple for the British win, and Craig had the most British loyalty for the win.


So we tried another game. This time Trevor was British, Craig was Russia, I was British, Ken was British and Don was Afghan. With 3 British players we were all fighting for loyalty. I was getting mine through gifting, Ken was using spies while Trevor was also using spies. That meant we neglected the tactical part of the board, allowing Don to put 3 armies down and clean out British cubes.

Still, the British tried to out do each other. Ken made a move to assassinate one of Don’s army cards, then changed his mind and assassinated my only blue star card. That meant I could only hold 1 card. So I couldn't draw a card, I had to discard first, and I had to have sufficient money to play a card. To make matters worse, I had no money, I could not tax since I had no cubes on the board, and I did not have any commerce ability. An astute person would realize that I obviously wasn’t playing very well, but still for the next hour and a half, I had no meaningful play left. I couldn’t get a blue card down on the board, and the one time I got up to $2, Craig taxed one of the dollars away.

Worse still, it was a tight defensive game, everyone checking the visible cards to prevent a win by the next player. We ran out of time, and we decided to call it a draw. We were heading down the path where 3 of the topple cards were discarded. We saw the 4th topple was the last card, which likely meant we were going to have to check military strength to see who would win.

Obviously I got crippled with no recourse, and yes, that is my fault, but you can’t always control when you get taxed or assassinated. I didn’t leave myself with cards to rebound. From the other players point of view, the game kept grinding and grinding. Maybe it is supposed to go this way, but I certainly didn’t enjoy it since I was completely out of it.

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Jeremy Martin
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Bummer on that last game! Out of curiosity, how was your financial condition preventing you from playing cards?
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Don Smith
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The last game really bogged down with everyone analyzing the topples and regime change cards carefully so as not to allow a successful topple.

I really enjoy the mechanics of Pax Pamir, and maybe it's just a 5 player game which can degenerate into a static quagmire, but it did put me off the game. Three hours is too long for this game!
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Gerit Driessen
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Quote:
Three hours is too long for this game!


Why?

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Cole Wehrle
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Don Smith wrote:
The last game really bogged down with everyone analyzing the topples and regime change cards carefully so as not to allow a successful topple.


The do-or-die nature of standard victory conditions will make topples like this, espeically for newer players. Either someone pulls the win out of a hat or the AP sets in and the pace grinds to a halt. After a few matches this gets reduced somewhat--or is at least the analysis gets more interesting.

These days when I teach the game I almost exclusively use the Nation Building rules (found in the current living rules here on BGG). The nation building rules stabilize game lenght (usually it will go to 3 or 4 topples), BUT because each topple results in the awarding of VPs and not the figuring the winner/game end, they tend to come and go more smoothly.
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Norbert Chan
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jergarmar wrote:
Bummer on that last game! Out of curiosity, how was your financial condition preventing you from playing cards?


Typically there would be cubes in the territory where I want to play the card, thus you need to pay someone else. But since I had a hand size of one, I could never discard 2 cards to get 1$, and if I wanted another card, I would have to discard the current one in my hand. There wasn't much coins on the cards, since people were using commerce to get the coins off the cards, and I had no commerce ability.
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Jimmy Okolica
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Norbert Chan wrote:
jergarmar wrote:
Bummer on that last game! Out of curiosity, how was your financial condition preventing you from playing cards?


Typically there would be cubes in the territory where I want to play the card, thus you need to pay someone else. But since I had a hand size of one, I could never discard 2 cards to get 1$, and if I wanted another card, I would have to discard the current one in my hand. There wasn't much coins on the cards, since people were using commerce to get the coins off the cards, and I had no commerce ability.


Out of curiosity, did you ask if someone would let you put a card down for free in exchange for using your next X actions helping them? Not sure if your table plays that way, but it's one way to get back in the game.
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Cole Wehrle
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Butterfly0038 wrote:
Norbert Chan wrote:
jergarmar wrote:
Bummer on that last game! Out of curiosity, how was your financial condition preventing you from playing cards?


Typically there would be cubes in the territory where I want to play the card, thus you need to pay someone else. But since I had a hand size of one, I could never discard 2 cards to get 1$, and if I wanted another card, I would have to discard the current one in my hand. There wasn't much coins on the cards, since people were using commerce to get the coins off the cards, and I had no commerce ability.


Out of curiosity, did you ask if someone would let you put a card down for free in exchange for using your next X actions helping them? Not sure if your table plays that way, but it's one way to get back in the game.


I'll second that. In some instances players can be barred from even playing cards. This is usually after many mistakes and missed opportunities. Pamir is a great deal more strategic than people give it credit for and even a players first decision can have big repercussions.

However, if you're in an impossible position, the trick is to realize that:
A. Things are bad.
B. You are going to lose.
C. You have no direct control over your fate.

"C" is critical. If you are going to stage a comeback, or, hell, if you are going to even stage a return to a reasonable degree of control over the game-state, you are going to need someone else to give you a break. Often the best way to do this is to just make yourself someone's patsy, using whatever leverage you have. You will always have access to those zero rows in the market and always will have the ability to play the cards (if they forgive the placement costs). In this sense, you're just a action for sale.

Now, sometimes you might not find a sponsor, but that probably means the game is pretty much over. Pamir was designed to go on just so long as it needs to, so the players holding you down should be able to pull a fast win and y'all can rack em up and try again.

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Norbert Chan
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Butterfly0038 wrote:
Norbert Chan wrote:
jergarmar wrote:
Bummer on that last game! Out of curiosity, how was your financial condition preventing you from playing cards?


Typically there would be cubes in the territory where I want to play the card, thus you need to pay someone else. But since I had a hand size of one, I could never discard 2 cards to get 1$, and if I wanted another card, I would have to discard the current one in my hand. There wasn't much coins on the cards, since people were using commerce to get the coins off the cards, and I had no commerce ability.


Out of curiosity, did you ask if someone would let you put a card down for free in exchange for using your next X actions helping them? Not sure if your table plays that way, but it's one way to get back in the game.


That is a good idea. But we were playing without deals, since we thought that would slow the game down.
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