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Subject: Victory points pool and cards that deplete it rss

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France
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Hi, I'm a european crested tit, and a very small punk rocker!
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Hi.

I've played a demi-dozen of games now, and have been enjoying everyone of them except for our sole three players game where half of my turns consisted of two cards, and I spoiled as soon as I revealed a new card, which made me realize the game is too random to my taste. (The kind of random where one player just sits waiting for the game to end, not being able to play at all).

But my main concern with Mystic Vale is that I feel the cards that generate victory points are way too powerful, due to how small the VP pool is. There has been some games where I have been able to cancel out most of my decay symbols and buy massive amounts of Vale cards, because no Hulking Thornhide, Hawk or Stag showed, but when they do, the games tend to be very short, and the player who bought them had such a lead that there was no way for the other player to catch up. It was even worse during the three player game.

I am quite hesitant about adding VP to the pool, as I fear it will make the game too long and boring, and even more unbalanced (meaning I think it is unbalanced now towards VP generating cards).

I'm okay with these cards being strong towards the end of the game, and a well-built card netting 10 VP on itself in late game is perfectly fine. But gaining 4-6 points early is quite a huge lead. It's made even worse when one of the players just doesn't have access to a VP generating card.

Now, I LOVE that not all the cards are worth VP at the end of the game, contrary to Ascension: Deckbuilding Game, and that utility cards are just that, and are usually worthless at the end of the game. But it doesn't help balance this out, unfortunately. The risk/reward is very interesting, and I would like that it was applied to Ascension as well, but I believe it is once again harmed by how small the VP pool is.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you think the VP pool is too small? Do you add more VP at the beginning of the game? Or do you think the VP generators are well balanced enough that the game is fine as is through hundreds of plays?

I'm asking this as someone who won 99% of the game he played, so I'm not writing this out of frustration, but as a genuine concern about the balance of the game.
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Christina Crouch
United Kingdom
Tadley
Hampshire
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My friends who I have played the game with felt that the game can end very abruptly due to the limited VP pool - we certainly felt this. As you say its a balance between the game going on forever and a satisfying end. A lot of the vale cards don't have that much VP on them, so agreed, I think a larger VP pool might favour the VP generating cards.

In terms of ending the game though, the last game we played, the end scores were 21, 21, 30. Us two losers had neglected the vale cards and taken just VP scoring cards. The winner had managed to do that and get vale cards, so the vale cards won the day here.
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France
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Hi, I'm a european crested tit, and a very small punk rocker!
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I mistakenly added 5 VP to the pool in our 3-player game yesterday (33 instead of 28). It gave us one more round, which was mostly to my advantage, but it really felt that much better.

Each player had enough time to develop their deck to its potential, with me discarding and negating decay into buying a lot of high value Vales (3 VP, 6VP and 7VP) and generating 4 VP during some turn, second player generating like 15 manas per turn and buying a lot of utility Vales (1 or 2 Mana, 1 animal spirit, 1 pay 2 to turn a spirit symbol into a wild). The third player bought a lot of VP generating cards but kept on spoiling or doing nothing because she couldn't cancel her 12 decay symbols.

I would still have won with -5 VP, I think. But the game would have felt maybe 1 turn short, so that was an interesting honest set up mistake. I might reiterate in later set-ups
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Game Guy
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I am inclined to agree that the high VP cards, when they appear early, are overpowered. They give a short-term lead and shorten the game. If one player starts to gain VPs early, the others can just pack it in. The game engine makes no allowance for comebacks.

There are a few potential fixes. One is to simply remove the per-play VP generators and go with just the Vales and cards with endgame VPs. Another is to make every card which generates VP tokens an automatic decay. This would mean that players would need to restrict how many they put in their decks and would reduce the chances of cashing in more than one at a time. Another would be to use a Tap/Un-Tap system with the Vales. So each VP card only activates if the player has an un-tapped Vale. If the player has no Vales, they get no VPs. If they only have tapped Vales, the next VP card un-taps a Vale. Tapped Vale cards still work as usual. The last would be a variant of what has already been suggested: Add VPs to the pool. Since that reduces the portion of VPs on Vale cards, make each Vale Card worth +1 VP at the end of the game. The last one has he advantage that it does not change the the content of the decks or the rules of play. You just add the extra VPs at the beginning and then count your Vale cards and add that to your total at the end.
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G C

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Having played this game about a dozen times, I don't find the point-generation cards to be that unbalanced.

There are generally 3 strategies to the game: focusing on VP cards, focusing on vale cards, and focusing on eliminating decay. These can be combined, obviously, depending on which cards you snatch up.

Point cards tend to have ruin symbols on them, so that strategy runs antithesis to the other two strategies, which synergize to some extent. So it can be frustrating if you're going for a 'long game' strategy and someone gather sup points as much as possible. But since points cards tend to have ruin, it's a riskier way of playing, and very often the person will get points, but have such a small hand they won't be able to buy cards or vales.

I recently played a game where someone got a +4 VP card very early on because he lucked out with one awesome hand. However, for the rest of the game, his turns were lackluster due to the excess ruin in his deck, and because of that it took longer for him to get around to that +4 VP card. Meanwhile, I focused on making a great deck with fewer ruins, more discards, and with a lot of vale purchasing. I also eventually picked up the card that gave me points for hand size. As a result, I actually ended up with more of the blue tokens than he did, because my last few turns involved at least half my deck.

It's just a different strategy that may or may not work out, but feels unsatisfying to lose to. It's akin to facing someone in Starcraft and dying to a zerg rush. It's no less viable than the long game, it just feels worse to lose to.
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Michael Callahan
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I feel that adding tokens to the VP pool does balance things out a bit; gives more time for longer strategies to play out; and in the end, is a more satisfying experience. When playing with the standard allotment; if felt like that game could end very abruptly.

You would build your deck to the point that you would get a couple of good advancements; and then the game would end before you could really take advantage of the good cards that you were just building.

We played a 2 player game today that used all of the VP tokens in the box. It ended 111 to 110; while it was not an all out VP scoring strategy for me, I was shifted that direction in the second half of the game when a great combo was available to me,... Alternatively; my son was all about spirit symbols early on, and was buying up vale cards like they were made of gold.

In the end,... the game felt epic! We still had plenty of empty spots on our cards, and even a couple of totally empty cards. I don't know what the sweet spot is,... but we like the longer game.
 
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Irvin Khaytman
United States
Brooklyn
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I just discovered the game today; my friends and I played three 3-player games, and we all agreed that we need more VP. The problem is that the game escalates way too quickly, once you get a decent deck going, you get one or two turns to enjoy it before game end. Most of the fancy expensive cards we bought, we only got to use once (or not at all). Next time we play, we're definitely adding VP.
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Herman Mannt
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I agree it would generate less average frustration around the table to add VP's, because you'd at least get to see your deck in action once mature, even if someone else out-smarts / out-lucks you somehow.
Having said that, the question that remains is - how many more VP's? I've seen "5" and "all" in this thread so far. Are there other opinions?
(I guess in a 4 player game, you don't want to add too many VP's in order to limit the game duration, as Razoupaf suggested... So it should probably scale depending on number of players? 8 for 2p, 5 for 3p, 2 for 4p?)
 
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Edd Allard
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Colorado Springs
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I've had the game for over a year, and have purchased two expansions. We feel the VP token pool is good for two players, but too small for three or four. Our solution is simply to add tokens as follows. For each player, add 10 tokens plus that player's position in the game. So the first player adds 10+1, the second adds 10+2, the third adds 10+3, the fourth adds 10+4, etc. This results in 23, 36, and 50 for a 2, 3, or 4 player game. The game is very satisfying at these levels, does not go too long, and seems well balanced.
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