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Subject: Runaway winner in two-player game? rss

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Matt F
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Just finished my first two-player game of Kingdom Builder, and I enjoyed it quite a bit.

However, though the final score wasn't all that lopsided, it still seemed like one path to victory was a little too easy, and a little too difficult for an opponent to overcome.

I'm wondering if this is an issue with certain combinations of Kingdom Builder cards/special actions in the game,in general (which should be avoided), or if my inexperience has me missing out on an obvious answer to this (or maybe I played a rule wrong!)

What happened was:

One of the Kingdom Builder cards in play was the "Knights," which gives TWO points for each settlement on a given horizontal line. Two of the special actions available were the Tower (add one settlement to the edge of the board) and the Tavern (add one settlement to the end of a line of at least three). You can probably see where I'm headed...

I gained both the Tower and Tavern, and began a line of settlements along the edge of the board. Each turn, I could add at LEAST two more settlements to this line (with my special actions), and up to five (if my terrain card matched one of the edge terrains)! And it would have been even worse if I had gained additional copies of the Tower and Tavern - this would have allowed me to add at LEAST four and up to SEVEN tiles to my single horizontal line each turn! (Plus any additional tiles gained via other special actions!)

Of course, my opponent could have done the same thing, but 1. It doesn't seem that fun to just race to build a long line along the edge, and 2. Luck of the draw will determine who can get those two special actions first, and thus, start the "race" first and "win the race."

Another thought was, well, my opponent could focus on scoring via the other two cards, since I was neglecting those as I built my long line. However, those each awarded only one point per settlement (we had Fisherman and Hermits out), which makes it hard to keep up with a card that awards two points per settlement.

Yet another thought was, well, my opponent could try do block my progress by splitting up my line and occupying those edge hexes. This is probably the most feasible response, but it seems like it would require a lot of resources to do so, and would probably hurt my opponents chances to score themselves. Plus, I'm building that line so fast that it will likely be too late by the time they can "block" me.

Again, just thought this was a little too easy of a path to victory, and wondering if it's just that I'm missing something, or if certain Kingdom Builder cards and special actions shouldn't be combined.

Thanks!

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Russ Williams
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Part of the game is identifying such combinations and exploiting them, or blocking/hindering them, certainly. I don't see that as a problem.

In any case, I wouldn't judge the game too much based on only one play; every setup brings different effects, and the example you give (Knights along the edge with 2 Tower actions and 1 Tavern) is a kind of unusually potent example.
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Matt F
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russ wrote:
Part of the game is identifying such combinations and exploiting them, or blocking/hindering them, certainly. I don't see that as a problem.

In any case, I wouldn't judge the game too much based on only one play; every setup brings different effects, and the example you give (Knights along the edge with 2 Tower actions and 1 Tavern) is a kind of unusually potent example.


I was hoping that this was the case - that my inexperience just made this particularly potent combo seem even more powerful than it actually is.

I'm sure once my wife and I get better acquainted with the game, blocking/hindering will become easier to execute, and that most sets of cards/special actions will be a bit more balanced.

Thanks
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Ben Kyo
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What were your final scores?

Scoring high for one card is usually not enough to win a game. 15-30 points for each card and 9-18 for castles is what I'd usually be aiming for in the base game.

40 points for knights might well be game-winning, but only if it is supplemented by decent scores in the other categories.

I haven't actually played a game with a straight 20-hex run along one edge of the board. There's always been some water in the way. It might just be possible that you missed the rule that you cannot build on water (except via the harbour action)?
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Matt F
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Benkyo wrote:
What were your final scores?

Scoring high for one card is usually not enough to win a game. 15-30 points for each card and 9-18 for castles is what I'd usually be aiming for in the base game.

40 points for knights might well be game-winning, but only if it is supplemented by decent scores in the other categories.

I haven't actually played a game with a straight 20-hex run along one edge of the board. There's always been some water in the way. It might just be possible that you missed the rule that you cannot build on water (except via the harbour action)?


It wasn't one continuous group of settlements; I think there was one or two breaks. But use of the Paddock special action made it easy to continue on the other side of barriers, and fill every single legal hex along the one edge.

I think I won by about 20 points; I scored some points from the other two cards, and a couple castles, but the bulk of my points were from the Knights.

I just wanted to check to see if maybe I missed something, but it's looking like it was just a combination of 1. Finding a particularly powerful combo and 2. Not being familiar enough with the game yet to counteract that combo.

I look forward to exploring this game more - I'm definitely not judging based on this one play.

Thanks



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Ben Kyo
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Ah, OK. Tower, Tavern, AND Paddock, and a nice straight run.

Sounds about right.

Getting all three is the trick. If you manage that in your first game, you are playing well. It's not just spotting "a combo", it's obtaining and using all but one of the powers available on the board to score. Once you've got all three, of course you are going to have a wealth of scoring options available.
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that Matt
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Also note that this was not a runaway winner situation, where the leading player's success compounds itself. You simply pursued a good strategy on the board.

Racing to horizontal line may not "seem that fun" to your opponent, but remember that said line only involves half of the available settlements at most. That scoring exhausts itself. And even if your opponent largely ignored Knights, the other best strategy on the deal is hopping like mad around the board with Paddocks leaving Hermit Fishermen and castle-dwellers everywhere. That doesn't sound too terrible.
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Carthoris Pyramidos
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A Hermit-Fisherman is worth the same 2 points as a Knight.
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Chris Schumann
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Knights can score at most 20x2 or 40 points. Hermits or Fisherman can each score 40, too. Hermits is much harder to get to 40, though, but Paddock helps with that one quite a lot.

My point is that each of those cards has the potential for the same range, and it looks like you found a good way to go. Lesson learned for both you and your opponent and hopefully the next game will be more competitive.
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Matt F
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Whizkid wrote:
Knights can score at most 20x2 or 40 points. Hermits or Fisherman can each score 40, too. Hermits is much harder to get to 40, though, but Paddock helps with that one quite a lot.

My point is that each of those cards has the potential for the same range, and it looks like you found a good way to go. Lesson learned for both you and your opponent and hopefully the next game will be more competitive.


Carthoris wrote:
A Hermit-Fisherman is worth the same 2 points as a Knight.


Yes, you are all correct, thanks! This interaction wasn't a problem per se, just a surprisingly fast/easy way to score, compared to other scoring paths that seemed to be available to us newbies. (You certainly could score as many points with Hermit-Fisherman, but it seemed like it would take many more turns).

I think the main takeaway is that, had we had this combination of special actions/Kingdom Builder cards after, say, 10 plays, it would have been more of a fun challenge for my opponent to try and creatively score in other ways, instead of just feeling that I was demolishing her using an almost "unfairly" powerful tactic.

Like I said, I think this game will get a lot of play, though, so I look forward to figuring it all out as we go along.

I'll mention, the reason I jumped on here so fast with this question (after just one play) is that my wife doesn't give games a very long leash, so I wanted to make sure right away that we were doing everything "right" and that there weren't certain setups to avoid for an enjoyable time. We made this mistake with SmashUp, which DOES seem to have combinations for newbies to avoid, and our first play was TERRIBLE. Didn't want KB to have the same fate.

Thanks again!
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Whizkid wrote:
Knights can score at most 20x2 or 40 points. Hermits or Fisherman can each score 40, too. Hermits is much harder to get to 40, though, but Paddock helps with that one quite a lot.

My point is that each of those cards has the potential for the same range, and it looks like you found a good way to go. Lesson learned for both you and your opponent and hopefully the next game will be more competitive.


Hermits is quite impossible to get to 40 (KB is usually 10 turns or less... maybe it is possible if getting quickly 2 paddock and/or other moving power,... and get nice startting-places and the field-cards that allow to start many small groups at the begining)

It really seems to be one of the less interesting cards in any case (but maybe I'm wrong in particuliars setups ?!)
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Matt F
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A follow up:

We played again, with much more naturally balanced results. The combination of special powers/Kingdom Builder cards allowed for some very interesting and diverse strategies for scoring.

My wife probably would have won, even, had I not been using one of my powers incorrectly for half the game!

To me, this is a truly fascinating game, and I can't believe all the hate it seems to get.

I look forward to exploring more card/special action combos in the future. Thanks for all your reassurances!
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