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Subject: Bad Reviews and Misconceptions rss

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Simon Maynard
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I noticed the reviews for this game are very mixed. Some people hate it but it seems to me that some of the time (at least) the dislike of the game is based on misconceptions and misunderstandings of the rules.

For instance: http://www.miniaturemarket.com/reviewcorner/peloponnesthecar...
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You see, there are five catastrophes that will happen during every single play and players’ options to survive any of them are purposefully limited in such a way that they would be very fortunate to defend against even one or two of them, primarily because all the other players are trying to do the same thing.
...
Each cataclysm has its own track, so you can see which one is more likely to occur in future turns, so the only real player interaction is having protection against a catastrophe, and buying a card which triggers it, thereby laying waste to your opponents while you sit back and smirk as their people, buildings, and resources are swamped, swallowed by the earth, or otherwise laid waste to.


I've had three games now and have yet to play a game in which all the catastrophes are triggered. And I don't know what the guy above is on about with triggering the catastrophes by buying cards?

Yes, the game can be quite punishing but there are things you can do to avoid or minimise the effects of the catastrophes. In my last game for instance, the first two cards both caused the 'earthquake' to advance so I made sure I avoided buying any buildings until it happened.

Mind you, in my previous game, the drought was triggered at the same time as a supply phase, wiping out my field supplying +5 grain! cry
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Francois L-C
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Yes there is a lot of misconception and bad rule interpretation (or rules that are not followed at all: just look at the number of rule questions that you can find on BGG that the answer is straight in the rule book).

I didn't played this game much (6 times), and from my experience around 4 out of 5 catastrophes will hit in a game (I don't recall having seen all 5, but remember one time only 3 of them hits), and player are able to avoid some of them with experience (my first game I remember building stuff that were destroyed 2 turn later, but then we learn how to plan our game according to the most likely catastrophes to hit.)

And yes, the part of buying a cards to trig a catastrophe is wrong. But again, there is a lot of review with wrong info in them, that's why I always recommend people reading a lot of different reviews (including negative reviews) to make an idea of the game by themselves.

That being said, this game still get mixed reviews because of player preferences. To like this game, you MUST love punishing games. And that is the part I really don't like enough to really like this game (I like if the game is a bit punishing or force you to adapt your strategy, but this one feel like I have to play a certain way according to the catastrophes). I thought that the card game being less punishing than the board game could help me like the card game version, but it's not enough for me. I also prefer game where you can build an engine, but in this one your engine is always slowed down, so the result is more linear than exponential in possibilities.

Here's what I have written in my comments for this game:

thumbsdown NEGATIVE POINTS:

-- I don't have a sense of having build something great at the end of the game (it feel long for just a few card played).
-- Catastrophes sometimes hit really hard and it's sad to see the little we manage to build being destroyed.
-- The round phases are not intuitive (and a summary card for this could have been really helpful).
-- The card design is somewhat confusing at first.
-- The art is really so so. At least it's a style I don't like.

So this is why, Peloponnese the Card Game (or the board game) is not a game for me. But it's still a good game, that some people will like for sure!
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Simon Maynard
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I wonder how many of those that don't like the game because of the punishing nature of the catastrophes would have a different view if it was the players punishing each other (through direct attacks)?
Quote:
I don't have a sense of having build something great at the end of the game (it feel long for just a few card played).

I wonder, have you played Race for the Galaxy? Without the catastrophes, there is a strong similarity with that game. The game ends when someone has 12 card in their tableau or depleted the victory chip pool. One could say that one doesn't really have a sense of building something great, just playing a few cards.

Come to think of it, playing RfTG with the Invasion module (in the "Xeno Invasion" expansion) makes the game even more like this as your worlds can be destroyed (although it does at least allow you to recover your worlds before the end of the game). In this you're simultaneously trying to build up your engine whilst being prepared to ward off the Xeno attacks.
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Kevin B. Smith
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I loved the original Peloponnes, including the fact that it was brutal. I replaced it with the card game, and plan to stick with the card game, but it hasn't entirely won me over. So far, the card game seems more brutal than the original, and more random. I think I would be happier if I had a bit more control over my own destruction.

But I generally agree with the OP, as well as Cerberus. It's a solid game design, and people get some rules wrong, and not everyone appreciates misery.
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Francois L-C
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Fried Egg wrote:
I wonder how many of those that don't like the game because of the punishing nature of the catastrophes would have a different view if it was the players punishing each other (through direct attacks)?


I'm sure that yes, people would see this different, because I see this different (although I'm not one that really enjoy a game with a lot of negative direct interaction between players (attacks) as I mainly play with my wife). The way I see it is while you try to beat you opponent at the game, the game itself plays against you too, in a really impactful way. That's maybe why people that are approaching this game don't see that "negative point" before playing it (people check if their next game will have a lot of PvP negative interactions, but sometime miss that the game itself can be really punishing).



Fried Egg wrote:
I wonder, have you played Race for the Galaxy? Without the catastrophes, there is a strong similarity with that game. The game ends when someone has 12 card in their tableau or depleted the victory chip pool. One could say that one doesn't really have a sense of building something great, just playing a few cards.

Come to think of it, playing RfTG with the Invasion module (in the "Xeno Invasion" expansion) makes the game even more like this as your worlds can be destroyed (although it does at least allow you to recover your worlds before the end of the game). In this you're simultaneously trying to build up your engine whilst being prepared to ward off the Xeno attacks.


Yes I have played Race for the Galaxy a few times (maybe 4-5 times), and for now, I don't enjoy it that much because I'm still learning this game. But I have played a lot of games of San Juan and like it a lot. But there is a major difference between Peloponnese and San Juan: although you do finish the game with just 12 cards, it's a race to reach those 12 cards, instead of having a fixed number of rounds where you buy your cards. Although in the end it could seem similar, the path to get there is not.

Anyhow, tastes and preferences are personal matters, and for some reasons some people don't like some games that others loves, and other times, some people loves some games that the rest hate. That's life!
 
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Francois L-C
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peakhope wrote:
I loved the original Peloponnes, including the fact that it was brutal. I replaced it with the card game, and plan to stick with the card game, but it hasn't entirely won me over. So far, the card game seems more brutal than the original, and more random. I think I would be happier if I had a bit more control over my own destruction.


Interesting. I thought that the card game was less punishing since the catastrophes are not certain to hit (like said earlier, on average 4 out of 5 usually hit in the card game instead of all 5 in the board game).
 
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Kevin B. Smith
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Cerberus777 wrote:
Interesting. I thought that the card game was less punishing since the catastrophes are not certain to hit (like said earlier, on average 4 out of 5 usually hit in the card game instead of all 5 in the board game).

With the original, knowing that all the disasters would hit made planning a bit easier. And generally 1-2 of them ended up having little or no effect on me. Although there is another way to avoid disasters in the card game, the disasters seem to cause more damage to me when they hit.

EDIT: But I played the original a LOT, and have only played the card game a few times so far. So my thoughts might change over time. I definitely want to play the card game a bunch more.
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Simon Maynard
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I should point out that I've never played the board game so had no expectations on that front.

Are people much more prepared to tolerate punishing games when they are solo or are co-ops? Consider games like Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game or Ghost Stories. Both desperately punishing games (more so than this by far) yet they are both very popular.
 
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Bernd Eisenstein
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Hello!

I follow your interesting discussion.
I know some people have a problem with the catastrophes in the card game.
They can hit very hard, if the wrong will come at the wrong time.
Yes - it is more random, but in this case more thematic and more "play".
In several matches I only see 2 of the 5 catastrophes.

The new Patronus Expansion helps getting stronger with the protection, but you can also use the variant of a guy here: put in the catastrophe marker, if the catastrophe takes place for the first time. That gives more space to the outbreak.

Greetings
Bernd
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Francois L-C
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Fried Egg wrote:
I should point out that I've never played the board game so had no expectations on that front.

Are people much more prepared to tolerate punishing games when they are solo or are co-ops? Consider games like Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game or Ghost Stories. Both desperately punishing games (more so than this by far) yet they are both very popular.


For my part, I would definitely say yes, I don't mind a coop game being punishing, in fact it must be, as an easy coop game is not fun. Players must struggle together in order to have fun in a coop. But this is not always true in a competitive game, as your focus is playing against your opponent(s) not the game itself in that case.
 
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Simon Maynard
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Cerberus777 wrote:
For my part, I would definitely say yes, I don't mind a coop game being punishing, in fact it must be, as an easy coop game is not fun. Players must struggle together in order to have fun in a coop. But this is not always true in a competitive game, as your focus is playing against your opponent(s) not the game itself in that case.

Would you say then that this game works better as a solo game then? It's punishing nature more palatable and desirable when you're not competing at the same time with other players?

I need to play more multi-player games, especially with more than two, because my early impressions are that I like the challenge of having to cope with and manage the threat of looming catastrophes. It presents a really interesting challenge that so far I'm really loving.
 
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Francois L-C
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Fried Egg wrote:
Would you say then that this game works better as a solo game then? It's punishing nature more palatable and desirable when you're not competing at the same time with other players?

I need to play more multi-player games, especially with more than two, because my early impressions are that I like the challenge of having to cope with and manage the threat of looming catastrophes. It presents a really interesting challenge that so far I'm really loving.


I have never played it solo, so I cannot say. I'll have to try. But, to be honest, at first a lot of thing about this game was intriguing me, as I loved the idea of building a civilisation that can be destroyed by catastrophes. The problem I think was only in the number of game needed to be able to "grasp" this game, and then it's not among my best games that I want to put on the table over and over (I'm the kind of gamer that like to play his game 20-30 time each). So this one now sit on the shelf.

But don't get me wrong, it's not a bad game, it's still a decent game, not a great one IMO. And I'm happy to be able to discuss this matter and I see that you really want to try to understand what people think about it. And I'm fine stating my cons about the game even though I know the designer is reading this. In fact, I'm glad that he reads my complains about his game as it will offer him precious feedback to make his next game better. I always found that constructive negative reviews are a good thing, as it's in these that you can find what to improve and what to change. But for now, it's just one opinion, so it's not really significant.
 
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Kevin B. Smith
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Different people have different tastes.

In competitive games...
Some people don't like to get beaten down in a game, whether by the game itself, or by another player. Some are OK being beaten down by the game (because it's impersonal) but dislike being attacked by opponents (because it feels personal). Some are OK being attacked by opponents (because that's part of competing to win), but dislike being attacked by the game (because that tends to be random and tends to affect different players differently, which can be seen as unfair). EDIT: And some are fine being punished by the game or other players.

Meanwhile, in solos/co-ops...
Most people expect the game to "fight back" in some way, because without tension, there would be no point in playing. Some people want the game to win most of the time--75% or even 90%, while others prefer to win half of the time or more. Some people enjoy struggling against a really punishing game, while others dislike that feeling. As an alternative, for example, they might prefer to have to optimize in order to build as much as possible, rather than struggling to survive.

Personally, I like competitive games where the players don't attack each other, and I'm indifferent about whether or not the game should punish the players. Thus, I enjoy Peloponnes (and the card game), Walnut Grove, and World Without End, all of which are too punishing for some. But I also very much enjoy a wide range of non-punishing games.

In co-ops, I prefer the game to be much less punishing, and easier to win. So (to pick a classic example) I doubt I would enjoy Ghost Stories. But I really enjoy Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords – Base Set, which is considered far too forgiving by many people. And I enjoy Witch of Salem, a co-op considered by many to be incredibly hard to win, because I play it with a house rule allowing communication, which has the side effect of bringing our win rate into the 50% range.
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Francois L-C
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I totally agree with you Kevin. There are as many different tastes as there are people. But being able to articulate why you really like a game and why you don't like a game is really enlightening, and that's why I like this kind of conversation. I had one similar a few days back as to why I don't enjoy playing Concordia (a high-ranked game here on BGG). At first I wasn't able to exactly pin point what I dislike about this game as so many things was like other stuff in other games that I seemingly like. But by trying to explain why it didn't like it, I finally found out why.

But I would like to ask you a question since we are on the subject of game being punishing. A lot of people say that Agricola is punishing, that you have to do certain thing in a certain order or time to be able to thrive instead of just struggling to feed your family. Where would you place Agricola compared to Peloponnese the card game? Because this statement about Agricola has always stop me from buying this game.
 
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Kevin B. Smith
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Cerberus777 wrote:
A lot of people say that Agricola is punishing, that you have to do certain thing in a certain order or time to be able to thrive instead of just struggling to feed your family. Where would you place Agricola compared to Peloponnese the card game? Because this statement about Agricola has always stop me from buying this game.

I'll arbitrarily say there are 2 kinds of punishment that competitive games can dish out to players: Feeding rounds, and random events. (That's a ridiculous over-simplification, but I think it will work for this conversation.)

Agricola and Walnut Grove (and other games) force you to feed your population from time to time. If you fail, you'll lose them (and/or face other penalties). That's a constant pressure that some people dislike. But it is predictable, and hits everyone around the table evenly, which I suspect makes it more palatable to many.

I should also mention that feeding rounds can have different levels of severity. Feeding your tribe in Stone Age is rarely painful, for example. In Agricola, as in PCG, it is something you really do have to worry about, and go out of your way to prepare for.

PCG has feeding rounds, of course, but it also has the disasters. World Without End is another example of a game that dishes out punishment based on random events (and it also has feeding rounds). Even if the event causes the same direct effect on everyone, it can have radically different outcomes. Losing one piece of stone might not hurt you at all, or might ruin your big strategic plan. Or getting hit with an earthquake when you have no buildings is much different than getting hit when you have 2.

I think people who dislike that form of brutality find it capricious and unfair. You don't know what's coming at you, or at least not exactly when it will hit. So you can't prepare. Personally, I still enjoy that, but I can understand why many people don't.

So I would say that if you enjoy the feeding rounds of PCG but dislike the disasters, you might still enjoy Agricola. I'm not a huge fan of Agricola for different reasons, but I think that's a good first cut.

I can't find the geeklist that I think I remember that covered games with feeding/supply/upkeep costs. But here are some other geeklists that might contain comparisons that will help you:
The real deal: Really Unforgiving games
Glutton for Punishment: Games that punish you for playing
Punishment Mechanisms
Board Games for Gluttons for Punishment
You can't stop running, even for a second. The most amazingly brutal games.
Games with Survival / Taxation / Feeding / Destruction Mechanics
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Francois L-C
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Thanks a lot Kevin. A really comprehensive read. I'm sure then that I would like Agricola, as I don't have issues with the feeding your people thing and other upkeep.
 
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Simon Maynard
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Kevin wrote:
PCG has feeding rounds, of course, but it also has the disasters. World Without End is another example of a game that dishes out punishment based on random events (and it also has feeding rounds). Even if the event causes the same direct effect on everyone, it can have radically different outcomes. Losing one piece of stone might not hurt you at all, or might ruin your big strategic plan. Or getting hit with an earthquake when you have no buildings is much different than getting hit when you have 2.

I think people who dislike that form of brutality find it capricious and unfair. You don't know what's coming at you, or at least not exactly when it will hit. So you can't prepare. Personally, I still enjoy that, but I can understand why many people don't.

It's not entirely true that you can't prepare or to some extent predict. Indeed, trying to do that is exactly one of the things I really like about this game.

There are a fixed number of symbols corresponding to each catastrophe in each phase. Two of the catastrophes are slightly less likely to be triggered over the length of the game. Watching the symbols as they come out can give you a clue as to what might strike and when. For instance, if two of a particular symbol appear on the first turn (but not the in the first two drawn) you can know with certainty that that particular catastrophe will not occur until phase B at the earliest.

Early on if you think a catastrophe has a strong likelihood of occurring you can avoid certain power cards until either it has occurred or you have gained immunity. I have managed to avoid being damaged by Droughts, Tempests and Earthquakes in this way.
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Kevin B. Smith
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Fried Egg wrote:
Kevin wrote:
PCG has feeding rounds, of course, but it also has the disasters.
...
You don't know what's coming at you, or at least not exactly when it will hit. So you can't prepare. Personally, I still enjoy that, but I can understand why many people don't.

It's not entirely true that you can't prepare or to some extent predict. Indeed, trying to do that is exactly one of the things I really like about this game.

I agree that it's not completely random. Importantly, each disaster can only happen once, so after that, you can freely ignore it for the rest of the game.

You can sort of see the disasters coming, but you sort of can't. A disaster could have 2 symbols in the first round, but then not have any more the rest of the game. Or it could get 3 in a row in the C round. You can plan and predict, but not with certainty. Like you, I also enjoy that.

You're also correct that as you get to know the game better, you can watch the symbols that didn't trigger, and use that information for more accurate predictions. Honestly, I haven't played enough to reach that level yet.

And you're right that mitigation by not making yourself vulnerable is a big part of the game.

Thanks.
 
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