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Subject: Cannibalism - A Variant rss

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Albert Aligato
Philippines
Quezon City
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My gaming group learned this group this past week, and a question quickly came up while studying the rulebook [non-verbatim, dramatized]:

"Then you have to pay food equal to the number of workers you have. If you can't, you can pay using resources."

"What if I don't have enough of either?"

"Then you ... get -10 points."

"Really?"

"Yeah. I thought it would be something cooler, like one of the workers would die due to starvation."

"Or they would eat one of their own."

"O.O"

Has this variant been discussed before? And if so, what are the findings? We do kind of want to do it (even if none of us have even starved yet).
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Mauricio Montoya
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Medellín
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Yes, it has been discussed as an alternative to prevent the starvation strategy (where you grow your tribe very fast and don't bother to feed them, because the points you can potentially make each round on cards/houses offset the -10 point loss).

The startvation strategy has been accepted by the designer because it's not against the rules and it's not unstoppable if the other players react on time when ythey see it happening, but it's your game, and you can add this very thematic rule and see how it works for you: if you still lose the 10 points AND a meeple (or just the meeple), it makes you think twice before love-shacking like rabbits, right?.
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Alex Drazen
United States
Massachusetts
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demonm13 wrote:
Has this variant been discussed before? And if so, what are the findings? We do kind of want to do it (even if none of us have even starved yet).


Has this variant been discussed before? Endlessly. See any thread regarding "starvation strategy."

What are the findings? Stone Age players are deeply divided about this. Generally people either think the -10 VP is too abstract and not really thematic, or they think that losing people is too steep a penalty to overcome, forces food/farms to be overvalued, and can punish unlucky players too harshly (nothing like a bunch of 1's for your food).

Personally, I think the game is balanced as it is ("starvation" is only a winning strategy when the other players fail to adjust their own strategies to counter it).

But if I had to play a variant, I'd suggest that any unfed tribe member must be placed on the Hunting space to roll to collect food on its next turn. Either that, or each unfed tribe member would get placed on its side and get -1 to all die rolls on the next turn. That would be a penalty, but not so utterly crippling as to completely wreck people.

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Max Jamelli
United States
Chambersburg
Pennsylvania
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alexdrazen wrote:


But if I had to play a variant, I'd suggest that any unfed tribe member must be placed on the Hunting space to roll to collect food on its next turn. Either that, or each unfed tribe member would get placed on its side and get -1 to all die rolls on the next turn. That would be a penalty, but not so utterly crippling as to completely wreck people.



I really like this idea actually.
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Andrew P.
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You could say that a player MUST use excess resources to feed as many people as possible. When someone is going for the "starvation strategy", they would rather take the -10 points rather than use resources. This kind of disincentives the strategy while keeping the game thematic.

The ideas of sending someone to collect food or giving them minus 1 to their rolls the next round is interesting.

All that said, people who are against introducing a rule don't really have a problem with the strategy. People who are in favor of introducing a rule probably won't try to use that strategy anyway.
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Kharagh Green
United States
Nevada
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alexdrazen wrote:
forces food/farms to be overvalued, and can punish unlucky players too harshly (nothing like a bunch of 1's for your food).


This is an odd thing to say about food for people living in the stone age. How could food possibly be overvalued? And if you choose a path that takes you that close to starvation, shouldn't getting unlucky result in a harsh penalty?

I have played this game at least a dozen times and no one I've played with has ever taken the penalty (note: if you regularly put your last person on food, that minimizes the chance of unused tools - and starvation at the same time). Occasionally people will eat a wood, but the point is: it's really not that hard to feed your clan. If the penalty was immediately losing the game, the game would still be perfectly balanced (and no one I've played with would have ever lost from that rule).
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Alex Drazen
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Quote:
This is an odd thing to say about food for people living in the stone age. How could food possibly be overvalued?


The food and farms spaces would become overvalued, throwing off game balance. Even the one foreign-language version that changes the food rules makes it -4 per unfed tribe member, not "lose one."

Quote:
And if you choose a path that takes you that close to starvation, shouldn't getting unlucky result in a harsh penalty?


No, because then the game is shoving you into a funnel and a single strategy, and eliminating interesting decisions. Especially in a four player game. By the 4th round, you have to get food. Average pips are 3.5 so you would need 2 guys on hunting every round, and eventually you WILL roll too low, losing a guy, and the game.

Quote:
I have played this game at least a dozen times and no one I've played with has ever taken the penalty (note: if you regularly put your last person on food, that minimizes the chance of unused tools - and starvation at the same time). Occasionally people will eat a wood, but the point is: it's really not that hard to feed your clan.


You can feed your clan. But it will come at the expense of doing anything else. I don't usually play full-on, don't feed anyone after Turn 3. But most of my games have one turn where a 10 VP penalty is worth whatever else I'm doing (for example, buying a 1-7 hut with a pile of gold and rock). If I had to worry about food, I'm coughing up 30 points; if I had to worry about losing a tribe member, I'm coughing up the game. No thanks.

Quote:
If the penalty was immediately losing the game, the game would still be perfectly balanced (and no one I've played with would have ever lost from that rule).


The penalty of losing one tribesman effectively IS the penalty of losing the game. It is not balanced at all. It forces everyone to play it safe, because the penalty for risk becomes far too steep.

Just because your opponents obsess over food does NOT mean it is the only valid way to play. Almost EVERY game I play sees someone take a 10 VP penalty at least once, because if people are playing at a high enough level, they are taking risks to grind out points.
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