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La Isla» Forums » Rules

Subject: I just got lapped... rss

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Armand
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Are we doing this right?

My gf picked up two quick animals to match her starting animal tile.

She got the special ability to move a marker when she got a certain cube. She got the one that lets you move any marker instead of the matching one. She got the one that lets you move a marker for placing in an area.

She was moving her starting animal's marker twice and even three times on some turns, and scoring 4pts each time.

Basically she only played things that let her boost her starting animal. She didn't bother collecting any other animal. I conceded when she was up 50 to 20.

So, by catching only two animals and spamming those 'move a marker' cards, she was able to get her animal's marker up to level 4, which means in a 2p game that nothing else is getting above level 2.

I know I played badly, but did we play it right?

If so, it seems like you:

a. can't surround anything but 2pt animals
b. must start in the middle bc those overlap and are quickest
c. must spam the hell out of marker advancing cards

I hope that isn't the case!
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Dan Boyle
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Sometimes in this game, like many, luck plays a factor. Sometimes as you suggested, you are able to focus in on your starting animal and you receive cards that play well into that and you just ride it all the way to the end and declare yourself the master of the universe. Other times you swear at the dang card luck because each hand they are terrible and you go nowhere fast.

Personally I do find in a 2 player game it is often a good strategy to focus in on one animal and try to do the majority of my scoring that way, especially if you can find an area that has a good concentration of one species (say 2 or 3 right next to each other). It doesn't mean you completely ignore other species, but you only take them if it doesn't take a lot of additional effort in turns/resources. But don't forget that you can pick up 10 extra points at end game for each series of animals (a series being defined as one of each of the five, and your starting animal counts as two so two complete series can be doable depending on the set up).

I think from reading your description that you played correctly, but make sure that your girlfriend was replacing a card in the A phase every turn. Sometimes you start with great cards but starting with the fourth turn you will need to be replacing one of your great cards with something that could be much worse (absent additional card slots from other cards of course). This is an opportunity for you to mount a comeback at times as well, because while she may have had a significant lead, perhaps her engine falls apart with some poor draws in the late game. The other thing I'm not sure if I read correctly is if she really only captured two animals total, or just two types of animals. If she focused just on the dodo and the pika for instance, this can definitely work if she can consistently score/capture this animal. But if she literally only captured two tokens, I find it hard to believe her scoring was this consistent so there may have been a misapplication of a rule there.

Regarding your three suggestions at the bottom, I would actually disagree with A and B, while C is often still a good idea as mentioned above. Surrounding 2 point animals is certainly good, but surrounding the 4 point animals is a solid strategy, since you are most of the time surrounding two 2 point animals as well. And of course there is nothing wrong with 3 point ones as well - points are points. The key is to not be jumping around too much - you don't want to surround a 2 on one side and then go clear across the board to grab another 2. There are certainly times to do this, but if this is your main strategy, you are missing the opportunity to use all of your explorers to capture multiple animals in fewer turns by working together. Starting in the middle indeed can be a nice strategy since it's quick, especially if there are several of the same species and you can spam them quickly. But what do you do once you hit each of the five spots? You need an exit strategy to figure out how to continue to pick up species and points. You can just as easily pick up points by starting in the middle ring and working on the 2 and 4 point animals at the bottom and circling around the board. And if your opponent starts in the middle too, you're going to be competing for the same spots.

I would encourage you to give it another shot, because I find it to be a pretty rewarding game once you figure out how to combo the cards. Should you care to try online, Yucata has a wonderful implementation that is free and would help you to understand the rules better. I play pretty consistently and would join you in a game if it helped. Hopefully these ramblings were helpful somewhat!
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Maarten D. de Jong
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doctoryes0 wrote:
She was moving her starting animal's marker twice and even three times on some turns, and scoring 4pts each time.

Well, at some point some of those cards would have to be covered by others. You must do this as part of phase A, you cannot just discard here. Unless of course she also had a card which extended her tableau: then you can use that to dump cards you don't really need, and keep the good ones.

Also, keep in mind that the cards that let you move any marker is only valid for the depicted animal or cube.

If you played this correctly, then she was just exceedingly lucky with her cards. There really is little to be done about this; the game offers no real mitigating mechanisms apart from having so many cards that the chances of it happening in the first place are very slim indeed.

Quote:
If so, it seems like you: [...] I hope that isn't the case!

La Isla is a game with a strong random nature. Sometimes cards fall luckily, and on many other occasions they don't. The points you mentioned are only valid for a scenario like you encountered: things are quite different if the overlap between cards is not as good. Then there is the layout of the animals to consider. Sometimes there's a much better 'clump' of 'em to be found out to the edge of the playing field. Making your cards work each and every time is the charm of the game.
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Damian
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Dan, Nice job !!!
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Armand
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Thanks very much for the responses. I'm glad to hear we're scoring correctly, even if that means 2-3 times per turn.

I forgot one very important point! We were experimenting with a variant where everyone starts with 4 cards and has one in hand at the end of every turn. I thought it would increase the decision points without unbalancing the game. Maybe it just makes it easier to pull off the - I'm going to say it - dominant strategy.

The best way to playtest that theory would be to make all cards available each turn and try different strategies. I think it's pretty obvious that collecting sets for the ten point bonus will fall far behind maxing one type, particularly when pushing the marker with A's bc it rushes the endgame so effectively.

I will update this thread with further results, but frankly I'm worried. Playing A cards that save you a cube, for example, gets you half a placement, which translates to .125-.25 pts. Moving a marker is 2-? pts based on # of animals, so always several times more.

(edit: it's more than that, of course, when you add endgame scoring.)

We'll see...
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Maarten D. de Jong
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doctoryes0 wrote:
I forgot one very important point! We were experimenting with a variant where everyone starts with 4 cards and has one in hand at the end of every turn. I thought it would increase the decision points without unbalancing the game. Maybe it just makes it easier to pull off the - I'm going to say it - dominant strategy.

Drop. That. Variant. Immediately.

Seriously.

I repeat, La Isla is a game with a strong random nature. The idea is that you make do with a wildly fluctuating bunch of cards; in this it's quite like its spiritual predecessor game Bruges. Contrary to Bruges however La Isla gives you some control by means of the 'wallet' in which you can store cards you find useful for whatever reason. Allowing people to keep cards on hand results in far too much control, and thus destroys the balance which is more or less guaranteed by the randomness of the card draw from a very, very big pile.

Put more bluntly: If you don't like the idea of making do with what you draw, then you need to move on to a different game. La Isla will not meet your requirements, ever. Not even with variants like the one you attempted.

Quote:
I will update this thread with further results, but frankly I'm worried. Playing A cards that save you a cube, for example, gets you half a placement, which translates to .125-.25 pts. Moving a marker is 2-? pts based on # of animals, so always several times more.

Yes, obviously. But the cards are very situational in their use. If you don't have the appropriate animal, and no means of easily capturing a few, then the marker cards are worth 0 VP to you. Since you don't have any cards on hand, you cannot plan for the eventuality either.

That is why, in effect, the cards which allow you to extend the 'wallet' are amongst the most powerful in the game, especially early on.
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Armand
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It shouldn't break the game to start with 4, especially since it's perfectly possible for a player to draw the +1 card right off the bat. If the 4th card is game-breaking it shouldn't be a possibility at all. I assumed that playing 4 cards against your opponent's 5 (if they draw the +1) would be preferable to playing 3 against 4.

(Unfortunately I am seeing some similarities to Bruges, which I believe I have rated at a 3, or a 2 with the expansion. After having played 440 games in the bgg top 4000 and every Feld except It Happens.., it stands out as having one of the worst 'style/substance' ratios I've seen. If it was designed by anyone without Feld's cache I think it would be averaging a low 6, if that.)

Back to La Isla however, clearly Feld borrowed heavily from Pfister's Mombasa, and I think that was a good choice for him. It's certainly a step in the right direction and a pared down Mombasa definitely has a place in my collection. If, that is, it doesn't end up being broken, and utterly dependent on a lucky, 'fair' distribution of cards from a completely unbalanced pool.

Thanks again for your input.

 
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Maarten D. de Jong
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doctoryes0 wrote:
It shouldn't break the game to start with 4, especially since it's perfectly possible for a player to draw the +1 card right off the bat. If the 4th card is game-breaking it shouldn't be a possibility at all. I assumed that playing 4 cards against your opponent's 5 (if they draw the +1) would be preferable to playing 3 against 4.

I really don't see the use of a variant where you start off with 4, then discard everything, and continue with the rules as written. As I understand it the variant always has you selecting from 4 cards, one of which carries over to the next round. That will make a difference.

Quote:
(Unfortunately I am seeing some similarities to Bruges, which I believe I have rated at a 3, or a 2 with the expansion. [...] If it was designed by anyone without Feld's cache I think it would be averaging a low 6, if that.)

I think this way of rating things is quite confusing. But it's your way of rating of course, not mine. I also confess myself surprised that you bothered with La Isla at all given that you dislike Bruges so intensely. Surely the similarities were obvious from the first round onwards?

Quote:
If, that is, it doesn't end up being broken, and utterly dependent on a lucky, 'fair' distribution of cards from a completely unbalanced pool.

When I read this I can't help but wonder if you really are going to bother playing La Isla anew. Instead of recognising that you got hosed by extreme coincidence, you seem to be turning matters around by stating that a perfectly normal distribution of cards is 'lucky' because the pool is 'completely unbalanced'. Oh well.
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Bryan Thunkd
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doctoryes0 wrote:
I forgot one very important point! We were experimenting with a variant where everyone starts with 4 cards and has one in hand at the end of every turn.
The challenge of La Isla is that you are so constrained in figuring out what to do with your cards. Allowing players to keep a card from round to round and having a choice of four cards every round really removes the force of that constraint. I can only imagine that the game is going to be much easier in terms of setting up combos like the one you saw in your play.

I think this variant really makes the game worse. I'm not surprised you had a bad experience. I would never play it that way.
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Armand
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Thunkd wrote:
The challenge of La Isla is that you are so constrained in figuring out what to do with your cards. Allowing players to keep a card from round to round and having a choice of four cards every round really removes the force of that constraint. I can only imagine that the game is going to be much easier in terms of setting up combos like the one you saw in your play.

I think this variant really makes the game worse. I'm not surprised you had a bad experience. I would never play it that way.


Yeah, that definitely makes sense. It makes me wonder about the card that does exactly that, though. Lack of playtesting?
 
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Kathy Sheets
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I think you might be better off just giving up on La Isla. The beauty of it and Bruges is being able to cope with the randomness of the cards and to do it better than your opponent(s). This drives some people crazy (apparently you're one of them) and others love the challenge (that would be me).
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Bryan Thunkd
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doctoryes0 wrote:
Thunkd wrote:
The challenge of La Isla is that you are so constrained in figuring out what to do with your cards. Allowing players to keep a card from round to round and having a choice of four cards every round really removes the force of that constraint. I can only imagine that the game is going to be much easier in terms of setting up combos like the one you saw in your play.

I think this variant really makes the game worse. I'm not surprised you had a bad experience. I would never play it that way.


Yeah, that definitely makes sense. It makes me wonder about the card that does exactly that, though. Lack of playtesting?
If memory serves, that card only lets you draw an extra card each round, not keep a card round to round. And while it removes some constraint by giving you more choices of what card to play, it also imposes a new constraint by taking one of your card spots. So that card is different than your variant.

Your variant is just bad.
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Chris Johnson
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doctoryes0 wrote:
It shouldn't break the game to start with 4, especially since it's perfectly possible for a player to draw the +1 card right off the bat. If the 4th card is game-breaking it shouldn't be a possibility at all. I assumed that playing 4 cards against your opponent's 5 (if they draw the +1) would be preferable to playing 3 against 4.


Why otherwise intelligent people think they are more able than professional designers and developers (especially ones like Feld and Brück), particularly on early plays never ceases to amuse me.

Play the game by the rules in the box. You're not going to immediately "fix" anything until you understand the game (and this thread clearly indicates that you do not, yet).

Quote:
Back to La Isla however, clearly Feld borrowed heavily from Pfister's Mombasa, and I think that was a good choice for him. It's certainly a step in the right direction and a pared down Mombasa definitely has a place in my collection. If, that is, it doesn't end up being broken, and utterly dependent on a lucky, 'fair' distribution of cards from a completely unbalanced pool.


You *might* want to check on publication dates on these games...you're not doing your case for being perceptive any favors here...
 
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