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Subject: Banned Combinations rss

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Xris Wraith
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I just saw the man vs meeple review. In the comments below Roxley says there are banned combinations. What made me think "what is needed to make a combination of gods banned?
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chicagopsych

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So there are moves that the players will have to memorize that will be banned from play?
 
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Russ Williams
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chicagopsych wrote:
So there are moves that the players will have to memorize that will be banned from play?

"Combinations" meaning "combinations of gods" i.e. "don't play with gods X and Y", I think, as opposed to meaning "move sequences".
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James Mathias
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There are a few combinations of god cards that either cancel each other out, or cause one player to auto-win, or auto-lose depending on your POV.
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Paul Saxberg
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jmathias wrote:
There are a few combinations of god cards that either cancel each other out, or cause one player to auto-win, or auto-lose depending on your POV.


This is a good summary of it.

Certain specific gods, when matched up with other specific gods, produce game interactions that are either bad game experiences or just don't work. (The rules team did an amazing job of minimizing these, and the base game has no banned combinations in it.)

This is denoted by one of the gods having the banned opponent listed in small print near the upper right border of the card.

One example off the top of my head:

Pan's power is that he can also win by jumping down two or more levels.

Hades' power is that his opponent is never allowed to move to a lower level.

Hades' advantage directly cancel's Pan's so it's not a good play experience.
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Michael Van Biesbrouck
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The retail game without the expansion has no conflicts between powers. Expansion powers do cause conflicts, but there aren't many of them. The excluded combinations are there as a service to players so that they have a good time without going online to consult a FAQ or including details in the rules/power explanations that will confuse people who don't need to know about some obscure interaction.* Hard work by many people reduced the number of banned combinations to a small set while simultaneously improving power balance. I have to be careful writing about banned combinations because it would be easy to forget about combinations that are no longer banned.

You are welcome to try the banned combinations; the advanced rules have one player pick a pair of powers and the other choose who gets which. If you pick a banned combination and your opponent figures out why, then you will need to take your lumps. More generally, this method discourages you from picking lopsided match-ups unless you are a stronger player.

As Paul and James said, there are combinations that don't work due to a power conflict. Around the time the game is released, I intend to have a list of tweaks to resolve the issues. The guiding principle from Gord! (the designer) is that powers shouldn't nullify each other. For example, 'Against Hades, Pan may step down to win'.

Some combinations are excluded due to piece limitations. For example, Tartarus, Hecate and the Moerae all use the shield and mini-map to keep secret information. Moerae work with both of the others if you just record their information on paper, very much like the classic Cosmic Encounter power Terrorist. Hecate and Tartarus don't work together because Tartarus depends on seeing the opponent move.

There are a few combinations excluded because people would probably find them confusing. I will create some examples for them. The most extreme case is Hecate vs Hecate -- you need the shields/maps from two sets and to allow players to move onto spaces occupied by their opponents or use a moderator (it might even be fun!).

Some powers don't play well with others. Nemesis is an example, at least if all players don't have exactly two workers. It is easy to word the power to work with varying numbers of pieces, but then the power is either too easy or too hard to use. She is banned against powers that don't have exactly two workers or that can remove workers from the game. With the obvious changes she might actually be balanced against some of these powers. It is possible to determine which ones are roughly balanced using the Santorini AI; another task for my todo list. (I think that tried it right after implementing Nemesis in the AI, but I don't recall the results and the AI is much better now.)

The last area of banning is in multiplayer games. Many powers are banned in 3p games. Sometimes this is to maintain fun, but others are banned because they can combine with two other powers to make bad stuff happen. These interactions are a real challenge to spot. Another area for some commentary in case people want to use more powers in 3p games.

Unfortunately, one area does not have bans. If you want to play a power against itself (not officially supported), that can be an interesting variant or an unfun experience. I created a recommendation list which I will edit and post.


*: I love Cosmic Encounter, but I recall a 10-minute argument about whether I could UnZap an UnZap. Normally this issue doesn't come up because there was only one copy of the card in the Mayfair edition we were playing, but a power allowed me to pick up the UnZap from the discard pile as soon as it was played. The fate of the game hinged on this issue. In case you are wondering, an UnZap is not a Zap, so it wasn't legal to make this play. Thank-you BGG of yesteryear for resolving this issue.
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Péter Muhi
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mlvanbie wrote:
(...)

1.) "More generally, this method discourages you from picking lopsided match-ups unless you are a stronger player".

(...)

2.) "Unfortunately, one area does not have bans. If you want to play a power against itself (not officially supported), that can be an interesting variant or an unfun experience. I created a recommendation list which I will edit and post."

1.) Lopsided, ah, that's the word I was looking for. I'm not so worried about clearly game-breaking and officially banned combinations, but about the number of those that are allowed, but one side still has a clear advantage when using them. I guess it's inevitable that those combinations 'happen'. This could be a good thing in some cases, though, when one of the player is better at the game than their opponent.

2.) I was wondering about that the other day. Playing against the same god as yours, at first glance, seems like an interesting, balanced way to play the game, but I guess it's not always good idea.
 
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Michael Van Biesbrouck
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Mohasz wrote:
1.) Lopsided, ah, that's the word I was looking for. I'm not so worried about clearly game-breaking and officially banned combinations, but about the number of those that are allowed, but one side still has a clear advantage when using them. I guess it's inevitable that those combinations 'happen'. This could be a good thing in some cases, though, when one of the player is better at the game than their opponent.


As long as you don't play with Chaos, Hecate or Tyche, the optimal strategy will not be randomized. Given perfect play, one side will always win. For even the most balanced pair of gods (or a power against itself) either first or second player will win. Fortunately, humans (and AIs) can't see far enough ahead to make things uninteresting. As long as you try different good approaches, you will get different results in most match-ups.

Over all power combinations, most powers seem to have a 40 to 60% win rate. (Aphrodite was higher, but she was changed to bring her win rate down a bit and decrease the number of combinations that needed to be banned.) Some powers have a rock/paper/scissors thing going between them so powers aren't strictly inferior to others. If a combination turned out to have a strategy that made it totally one-sided instead of an uphill battle then either the combination was banned or the powers were tweaked.

That said, players don't differ just in absolute ability, but in play style. I seem to play a strong denial game, so my opponent might wish to deny me access to Aeolus, Aphrodite, Athena and several powers that don't begin with an 'A' (not that I recommend using Athena against me if you ever want to use her power). Some people might be best with movement or build powers. Each victory condition power probably takes some effort to learn either how to use it or how to defeat it. Each pair of people that play together regularly will have a different feel for what will give even odds and which combinations will force a player out of his or her comfort zone. (You can just assign players random powers, but Santorini is better with the metagame.)

Mohasz wrote:
2.) I was wondering about that the other day. Playing against the same god as yours, at first glance, seems like an interesting, balanced way to play the game, but I guess it's not always good idea.


Some people only want to play that way, and there are at least a couple dozen ways in which it will be enjoyable. Probably another dozen in the 'try it once' category. Later, look for the list of suggestions which will also include a poll so that more opinions get included. I call this the 'Narcissus' game but it could be the 'Monotheist' game (other versions are 'Atheist' and 'Polytheist').

There are power restrictions for the Golden Fleece variant (marked on the cards) that overlap with the Narcissus game since both players have access to the same power. However, the powers need to support being disabled and component limitations while having a different concept of what would be fun. This list should be correct. It is also a pretty good list if you want to play the Zeus power that was in the campaign.

The list of powers for Chaos could be extended.

Yet another list of powers for me to revisit are those where you can take two powers and use them for different workers. (For example, the male worker might build twice and the female one move twice.) This was the 'Caduceus' variant.
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Simon R
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Mohasz wrote:

1.) Lopsided, ah, that's the word I was looking for. I'm not so worried about clearly game-breaking and officially banned combinations, but about the number of those that are allowed, but one side still has a clear advantage when using them. I guess it's inevitable that those combinations 'happen'. This could be a good thing in some cases, though, when one of the player is better at the game than their opponent.


As someone who (along with Michael and others) helped with editing the rule book/god powers, my personal opinion is that you shouldn't worry too much about this.

It was quite an effort to balance them as they are now (read: we spent ages on it). Many of the god powers went through multiple iterations until they were finally all broadly equal with each other.

There are numerous different styles of gods. To name a few: those that build faster, move more freely, impede opponents more, provide extra workers, have more win conditions, kill opponent workers (if their not careful), etc.

So there will probably be some gods you particularly like to play with, or really dislike playing against; which might make them seem lopsided. But there will always be a viable tactic to counter any power.

No (allowed) god matchups are so unbalanced that you already know who has won before the game starts. It is just a case of identifying each gods strengths and weaknesses, and exploiting them to your advantage.

For example: Terpsichore: "All of your Workers must move, and then all must build."

Strength: Your opponent is effectively getting two turns every turn. If played well this is obviously incredibly dangerous.
Weakness: Your opponent HAS to take two turns every turn. They can't ever stand still. So IF you can reduce their options then you can end up forcing them to help you.

Is the strength greater than the weakness? or vice versa? Its going to depend on how well you both play, more than what other power is involved in the game, because that other power will have its own strengths and weaknesses.

Another example of this is Pan. Someone during the kickstarter mentioned that it didn't matter if they played with or against Pan, they always lost. You will find that you adapt to some powers better than others.

I honestly believe though that the best player will more often than not find a way to win (nobody being 100% perfect).
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Paul Saxberg
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Thank you Michael for that very detailed and intelligent answer

(Everybody else: This is the level of thoroughness that went into the rule set. We could never have made it as good as it ended up without the help of Michael and the rest of the team.)

mlvanbie wrote:
As long as you don't play with Chaos, Hecate or Tyche...


Tyche was unfortunately cut from the game at the last minute, due to restrictions on how many of the good ideas we could include. However, all may not be lost on that account. Watch for an update from us soon. whistle

Mohasz wrote:
2.) I was wondering about that the other day. Playing against the same god as yours, at first glance, seems like an interesting, balanced way to play the game, but I guess it's not always good idea.


Aphrodite would be an annoying one to play that way!

mlvanbie wrote:
The list of powers for Chaos could be extended.


I would suggest a good starting point would be to include all the Golden Fleece compatible ones. There's probably still some tweaking to do at that point, but that will remove most of the things that would break it (unusual number of workers, extra components, etc.)

mlvanbie wrote:
Yet another list of powers for me to revisit are those where you can take two powers and use them for different workers. (For example, the male worker might build twice and the female one move twice.) This was the 'Caduceus' variant.


I hadn't known this was already created! Two kids independently created something similar to this at ThunderCon recently; I have been calling their version "Lovers' Santorini", with the idea that I might pick a famous pair of mythological lovers to name it with in the future... in our version, players chose a male and a female god, and at the beginning of their turn, selected one. They got that god's power until the beginning of their next turn, and had to move and build with a builder that matched that god's gender.
 
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Paul Saxberg
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UnspeakableGamer wrote:
Someone during the kickstarter mentioned that it didn't matter if they played with or against Pan, they always lost.


Thaaaaat might have been me.
 
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Simon R
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mind_ranger wrote:
UnspeakableGamer wrote:
Someone during the kickstarter mentioned that it didn't matter if they played with or against Pan, they always lost.


Thaaaaat might have been me.


I can see how that might happen. Because apart from his extra win condition, he has no advantage, so you could get steamrolled if you don't keep them on their toes trying to stop you win.

On the other hand... if you can keep them focused on stopping you winning, then your controlling the game and forcing it in the direction you want it to go.

It just depends if you can do that or not. And whether they can utilise their power (whatever it may be) to a greater extent than you can utilise yours.
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Gavan Brown
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UnspeakableGamer wrote:
mind_ranger wrote:
UnspeakableGamer wrote:
Someone during the kickstarter mentioned that it didn't matter if they played with or against Pan, they always lost.


Thaaaaat might have been me.


I can see how that might happen. Because apart from his extra win condition, he has no advantage, so you could get steamrolled if you don't keep them on their toes trying to stop you win.

On the other hand... if you can keep them focused on stopping you winning, then your controlling the game and forcing it in the direction you want it to go.

It just depends if you can do that or not. And whether they can utilise their power (whatever it may be) to a greater extent than you can utilise yours.


From what we've observed, Pan is utterly balanced, but he is the hardest for new players to play against. Kinda like new Starcraft player can't counter a Zergling Rush, or a new Street Fighter player can't figure out how to get past E.Honda's Hundred Hand Slap.

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Paul Saxberg
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I think the Hundred Hand Slap would be an EXCELLENT counter to a Zergling Rush!
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Mike Beiter
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Even veteran SF2 players can not defeat my 100 hand slap!
 
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Michael Van Biesbrouck
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mind_ranger wrote:
mlvanbie wrote:
Yet another list of powers for me to revisit are those where you can take two powers and use them for different workers. (For example, the male worker might build twice and the female one move twice.) This was the 'Caduceus' variant.


I hadn't known this was already created! Two kids independently created something similar to this at ThunderCon recently; I have been calling their version "Lovers' Santorini", with the idea that I might pick a famous pair of mythological lovers to name it with in the future... in our version, players chose a male and a female god, and at the beginning of their turn, selected one. They got that god's power until the beginning of their next turn, and had to move and build with a builder that matched that god's gender.


I was more than ten years ahead of them: Castor & Pollux vs Nyx & Eos vs Artemis & Apollo. If you look at older versions of the rules doc, I had labeled powers with a 'C' for Caduceus if they worked one per figure. However, our variants are a bit different in that I assumed that powers would always be active, but must be innate to the workers (so Hades can't play, but Aphrodite is always on for one of your workers). For your version you probably want to look at the Golden Fleece powers since they are interruptible.

People obsessed with the Hundred Hand Slap should be thinking up powers for the Hundred-Handed Ones: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hekatonkheires

If you are interested in Pan's victory condition, don't forget to look at the heroes Bellerophon (once, step up two levels) and Achilles (once, build before you move). You can use these powers at any time, but if they were only legal on a winning turn then they would be about as powerful as Pan. If needs must, they can also give up their powers to block their opponents (for example, Achilles could raise two spaces to level 1 to block Pan's attempt to jump down).
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Michael Van Biesbrouck
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mind_ranger wrote:

mlvanbie wrote:
As long as you don't play with Chaos, Hecate or Tyche...


Tyche was unfortunately cut from the game at the last minute, due to restrictions on how many of the good ideas we could include. However, all may not be lost on that account. Watch for an update from us soon. whistle


Presumed update: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1669562/new-promo-man-v...
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