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Subject: Not an engine builder? rss

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Dan Grant
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I've just recently played a solo learning game of this and discovered that it surprisingly doesn't feel like an engine builder.

Generally, all of Uwe's games that I've played ramp up towards the late game, allowing you to take advantage of synergies you have created throughout the game but it doesn't seem to be the case with this one. This is especially noticeable in how you automatically receive more with later harvests and receive more people.

I mostly just felt like pointing this out because I assume most people, like myself, would assume this game was similar to games like Agricola, Caverna, Le Havre, and Ora et Labora in establishing an engine to later accrue points when that isn't the case.
 
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Allen Cordell
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ChrRome wrote:
I've just recently played a solo learning game of this and discovered that it surprisingly doesn't feel like an engine builder.

Generally, all of Uwe's games that I've played ramp up towards the late game, allowing you to take advantage of synergies you have created throughout the game but it doesn't seem to be the case with this one. This is especially noticeable in how you automatically receive more with later harvests and receive more people.

I mostly just felt like pointing this out because I assume most people, like myself, would assume this game was similar to games like Agricola, Caverna, Le Havre, and Ora et Labora in establishing an engine to later accrue points when that isn't the case.


I would say the engine building aspect is implicit in its design and the challenge is in utilizing it effectively.
 
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Geeky McGeekface
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I would agree that this is much less of an engine builder than most of Rosenberg's designs. There's a little preparation necessary for a career as a whaler or a pillager, but that's most of what we've seen. Then again, I've only played this twice, so maybe there are aspects of the game I haven't considered yet. Plus, the Occupations cards can change everything.
 
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Dan Grant
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alphasixty wrote:
I would say the engine building aspect is implicit in its design and the challenge is in utilizing it effectively.


I agree with this. I suspect the game will still fall between Caverna and Ora et Labora in challenge to play optimally, although I assume the scores will generally be closer in this game since you can't really fail to create an engine like you could in something like Agricola.
 
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Jeremy Avery
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ChrRome wrote:
alphasixty wrote:
I would say the engine building aspect is implicit in its design and the challenge is in utilizing it effectively.


I agree with this. I suspect the game will still fall between Caverna and Ora et Labora in challenge to play optimally, although I assume the scores will generally be closer in this game since you can't really fail to create an engine like you could in something like Agricola.


I have found quite the opposite (re: engines and score differentials)! The engine is more in setting up your strings of tiles for upgrades, and cleverly puzzling for bonus goods. A good player should be steamrolling at game-end with bonuses and income; a struggling player...well, struggling. I've finished the game with 3 Exploration boards basically full, and nearly all my negatives covered on my player board. We've had games score 136-77-67 in a 3p game, and 97-77 in a 2p game. Sometimes the engine-building is more integrated into your own play (especially Occupations), other times it is more worker-place dependent.

Am I maybe misunderstanding how we are using the term "engine-builder" here?
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ChrRome wrote:
alphasixty wrote:
I would say the engine building aspect is implicit in its design and the challenge is in utilizing it effectively.


I agree with this. I suspect the game will still fall between Caverna and Ora et Labora in challenge to play optimally, although I assume the scores will generally be closer in this game since you can't really fail to create an engine like you could in something like Agricola.

Once players are experienced, maybe. New players can definitely get horrible scores unless they pick everything up very quickly. I've seen scores ranging from 8 to 60 when people are new.

Also, some engine-building can come from bonus tiles and occupations. I saw one game where a player kept doing a cycle from orange to red to a big green tile because their occupation let them do a certain operation. In another game, you might rush an exploration board and surround a particular bonus so you can build off it every turn.
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Dan Grant
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I suppose you are right regarding the income which I hadn't really thought of for some reason. I guess I took it for granted since I figured that increasing income and surrounding bonus tiles would just naturally happen during the course of the game without being deliberate about it.
 
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Geeky McGeekface
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Jeremy, by "engine building", we mean a game where you acquire certain abilities mid-game that makes it easier for you to do things for the rest of the game. I don't really think there's that much of that in Odin. Yes, you can place your tiles so that you get a small number of bonus tiles each turn, but that's a fairly small effect and one that many players will achieve. Now it does sound as if some Occupations cards can provide an engine. Hopefully, I'll see that in more of my games, because I think it will make things more interesting and focused.
 
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Jeremy Avery
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Larry Levy wrote:
Jeremy, by "engine building", we mean a game where you acquire certain abilities mid-game that makes it easier for you to do things for the rest of the game. I don't really think there's that much of that in Odin. Yes, you can place your tiles so that you get a small number of bonus tiles each turn, but that's a fairly small effect and one that many players will achieve. Now it does sound as if some Occupations cards can provide an engine. Hopefully, I'll see that in more of my games, because I think it will make things more interesting and focused.


Okay, then we are discussing the same thing. I find that the engine very much comes from Occupation cards. Sometimes they won't gel well, or there will be several yellow/green cards that don't constitute an engine, but most of my games (perhaps 14 out of 18), I've had blue/red cards that allowed engine building, with the fuel of many of those engines coming from the bonus goods. Without a particular board or two providing extras of those goods, there would be enough fuel to fire the engine.

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Ben Bruckart
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I agree it seems there are maybe two dominant paths but none pertain to so much engine building.

I've seen wins through Pillaging with some emigration.
I've seen wins through Whaling with some emigration.
I have yet to see a win through cattle and milking/sheering. (Though this is my next area of exploration!)

In all my games, the original boards are nearly covered. In some circumstances, someone misplayed and didnt cover it but most everyone else has. I have seen two islands bought but never fully covered, just minimially or partially covered, and rarely for anything except income.

 
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Jeremy Avery
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brbdc wrote:

I have yet to see a win through cattle and milking/sheering. (Though this is my next area of exploration!)

In all my games, the original boards are nearly covered. In some circumstances, someone misplayed and didnt cover it but most everyone else has. I have seen two islands bought but never fully covered, just minimially or partially covered, and rarely for anything except income.



Just for some alternative perspectives:

I've taken three Exploration boards twice and managed to score very well.
74 boards points - 30 for 44 points from boards
80 boards points - 22 for 58 points from boards


I've done done two Exploration boards many times.

Emigration seems to have been as good a strategy as any of my other strategies, but not especially powerful. I've had some of my best scores using only one Emigration.

I found a Cattle/Sheep strategy that worked well for me, but I don't want to spoil it if you'd prefer to experiment yourself.
Spoiler (click to reveal)
I got Cattle and Sheep going as quickly as possible, for breeding. I 1-milked cows once, and 3-sheared sheep once or twice, then I started upgrading the livestock to greens/blues, always leaving the pregnant/breeding pair alone, and using the upgrade as soon as I could). Since Livestock are such large tiles, they make excellent cover on boards. I used the 4-space that gives Spices/Wool/Milk/4 Silver once as well. The cover that the upgraded Cattle provide (Clothing/Hoard) was amazing.



In my opinion, there are much more than two strategies. (I won't count a single Emigration as an Emigration strategy.) But they are difficult to delineate because of factors like Occupation card enablers and hybrid strategies.

Suffice it to say that Emigration player have lost games at my table, and high scores often only have one Emigration (although one of the higher scores did have four Emigration). I've seen :
- high scores from two Exploration boards, three Exp boards, and hybrid Exp/House strategies.
- strong Shipbuilding/Knarr strategies (in hybrid)
- livestock/crafting strategies
- Income/silver strategies (in hybrid)
I have seen excellent scores that didn't use much Whaling/Pillaging. (Remember that those grey tiles can be forged or bought as well.)

In fact, the only things I haven't seen work yet is a Houses-only strategy. I tried that. It was miserable.


More to the point of this thread, in most of those games, the strategies for high scores were fueled by Occupations.

Again, just my experience, but thankfully I am having these experiences, which is allowing me to enjoy the game even more!
 
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Jennifer Schlickbernd
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Larry Levy wrote:
Jeremy, by "engine building", we mean a game where you acquire certain abilities mid-game that makes it easier for you to do things for the rest of the game. I don't really think there's that much of that in Odin. Yes, you can place your tiles so that you get a small number of bonus tiles each turn, but that's a fairly small effect and one that many players will achieve. Now it does sound as if some Occupations cards can provide an engine. Hopefully, I'll see that in more of my games, because I think it will make things more interesting and focused.


Hmm, disagree. Income building is huge in the game and so is getting mats 'for free'.
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Andrew Brooks
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brbdc wrote:
I agree it seems there are maybe two dominant paths but none pertain to so much engine building.

I've seen wins through Pillaging with some emigration.
I've seen wins through Whaling with some emigration.
I have yet to see a win through cattle and milking/sheering. (Though this is my next area of exploration!)

In all my games, the original boards are nearly covered. In some circumstances, someone misplayed and didnt cover it but most everyone else has. I have seen two islands bought but never fully covered, just minimially or partially covered, and rarely for anything except income.



In the 4-player games that I've played so far I have been the most experienced player and scored well (130+) by grabbing exploration boards and some combination of hunting/whaling and pillaging. I've managed to fill 3 exploration boards (they fuel each other) but I don't think any player should manage to get three in a competitive game. I hardly ever grab livestock due to the hit (action and money) you take getting them going. I've managed to do ok with livestock in a solo game but it doesn't seem like a dominant strategy, mostly supplemental.

I will note that I did zero emigration in those games. It can be useful but I hate taking the early hit to actions and money that are used to optimize filling my boards (same issue as with livestock). While I'm fairly certain getting at least one exploration board or possibly a building is mandatory for playing well I'm not convinced emigration is.

I'll also note that I place most of my silver on my boards in order to increase my income and get bonuses as quickly as possible. This snowballs very effectively. More income + bonuses lets you place more silver and tiles which increases income. This is why I consider exploration so strong and think exploration boards should be prioritized and split between players. From my experience, players that are not keeping up with board development will fall behind.

Solo is a whole different beast.
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Jeremy Avery
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dotKeller wrote:
brbdc wrote:
I agree it seems there are maybe two dominant paths but none pertain to so much engine building.

I've seen wins through Pillaging with some emigration.
I've seen wins through Whaling with some emigration.
I have yet to see a win through cattle and milking/sheering. (Though this is my next area of exploration!)

In all my games, the original boards are nearly covered. In some circumstances, someone misplayed and didnt cover it but most everyone else has. I have seen two islands bought but never fully covered, just minimially or partially covered, and rarely for anything except income.



In the 4-player games that I've played so far I have been the most experienced player and scored well (130+) by grabbing exploration boards and some combination of hunting/whaling and pillaging. I've managed to fill 3 exploration boards (they fuel each other) but I don't think any player should manage to get three in a competitive game. I hardly ever grab livestock due to the hit (action and money) you take getting them going. I've managed to do ok with livestock in a solo game but it doesn't seem like a dominant strategy, mostly supplemental.

I will note that I did zero emigration in those games. It can be useful but I hate taking the early hit to actions and money that are used to optimize filling my boards (same issue as with livestock). While I'm fairly certain getting at least one exploration board or possibly a building is mandatory for playing well I'm not convinced emigration is.

I'll also note that I place most of my silver on my boards in order to increase my income and get bonuses as quickly as possible. This snowballs very effectively. More income + bonuses lets you place more silver and tiles which increases income. This is why I consider exploration so strong and think exploration boards should be prioritized and split between players. From my experience, players that are not keeping up with board development will fall behind.

Solo is a whole different beast.


Interesting. I'm also the most experienced player in my group, and have scored 115-139 lately. I agree completely that you need at least one Exploration board to win, if only to slow down the other player who might want three. But I haven't found things play exactly that way.

I find that Occupations matter a great deal, and Emigration before Round 6/7 can be helpful to free a player up to grab another Longhouse for the 17 points (usually -2 or -3) to dump the extra reds and oranges on. I sometimes use silver to cover aggresively, but not always, maybe not even often. Usually I use it only to snag bonus goods of decent color and size. One or two to snag one bump in income. I find that low income strategies can work with the right Occupations as well.

As a counter-point, I've had high crafting games that utilize livestock (shear/milk, breed, upgrade) that have been among my highest scores.

I'm hoping to get a combo of Occupations that allows me to really go hard into resources and crafting, but lack confidence without Occupational support.


(Andrew, you and I are the highest logged players of this game at this point, by the way! Nice to hear your thoughts! I suspect you are the better strategist of the two of us, but I'll be curious to see if you do have some successful livestock games when the Occupations align.)
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Andrew Brooks
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familygaming wrote:
I'm hoping to get a combo of Occupations that allows me to really go hard into resources and crafting, but lack confidence without Occupational support.


Most of my experience is from solo and it's hard for me to figure out what will translate well from solo to multiplayer. I've had success with livestock and crafting, both utilizing synergy from early occupations. In that respect I believe your early occupations can have a big effect on how good the various actions are for you (great design). My best solo game yet (163) was based on Emigration (Refugee Helper). As I mentioned before, I don't generally emigrate but this occupation made it a much more powerful action and I based my strategy around it. Ignoring your starting occupation (unless you draw a better one early) seems like a very bad idea. I'm curious to see if a building/livestock strategy can be strong enough to completely ignore ships, that would make me very happy. I've tried it once (Princess) and it didn't work very well but I'm going to explore that path more.

It does seem like there are actions which are always good (exploration, whaling/pillaging) and things that are good with synergy (everything else?). This is fine by me since it means the always good actions will be contested (I've seen this) and the other actions can be taken (or blocked) by players that can take advantage due to occupation cards. There are also a bunch of good utility or decent scoring actions that can be taken to supplement any strategy, they aren't overpowered but provide good options when the action board clogs up. It seems most decent spots will net about 3 points per worker, dice/ship based ones will yield higher (setup/risk-reward) and food based ones generally yield lower. There are plenty of spots that are conditionally powerful (upgrades being the obvious example) which is also good because it makes it hard to determine the "best actions".


familygaming wrote:
(Andrew, you and I are the highest logged players of this game at this point, by the way! Nice to hear your thoughts! I suspect you are the better strategist of the two of us, but I'll be curious to see if you do have some successful livestock games when the Occupations align.)


At least among those that record plays I've got the exploration based strategy down pretty well so I'm going to start branching out by picking my starting occupation. As I mentioned above I had my best game so far with a strategy I don't normally pursue (emigration) and am excited to try some other strategies. There will be abuseable edge cases in solo (particularly based around occupations) that won't translate to multiplayer but that's really neat to me.
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Matthias Reitberger
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My strategy up to now was filling up my board to generate income first half of the game and then utilizing the 4 worker spot to create both a house and a boat for 2 wood and 2 stone. The boats sooner or later where used for emigration while the houses were easily filled up with yellow and red tiles. This together with a huge income (12 in midgame, 18 in the end) lead to about 130 points. That was enough to win a 2 and 3 player game.

The engine building is increasing income combined with occupations that fit in.
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