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Subject: A small scoring variant? rss

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Omer Hertz
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Hello all,
I wanted to pick your collective brains for a second to see what you think of a small variant to the scoring that I think makes the deduction aspect of the game (my favourite part, admittedly) a bit more rewarding:
Basically, my suggestion is that prior to the Big Reveal, each player should write down or mark on the ingredient sheet what they think is the correct alchemical for matching each ingredient. Then, during the Big Reveal, any player who got all 8 alchemicals correctly should get a bonus of 5 points.
This came to me because, after playing several games of Alchemists and trying to figure everything out, it became apparent that you can win without knowing what some of the ingredients are (simply which combinations of certain pairs of cards yields a certain potion). This variant is not going to make a player that had played less effectively throughout the game win, but it does allow players that enjoy the deduction part of the game to get a small bonus for knowing all 8 ingredients.
I wonder what you might think of this - did any of you try something along these lines? Did it work? Do you think there's some glaring problem that I am overlooking here?
Let me know.
Thanks,
- Omer.
 
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David desJardins
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I think the game is much better without your variant. The point of the game is to publish and score points, not to figure out the secrets. That's just a tool along the way. In practice, you're usually going to figure everything out, but if you can finish the game and get enough correct theories down without having to do that, so much the better for you.
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Omer Hertz
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Quote:
In practice, you're usually going to figure everything out, but if you can finish the game and get enough correct theories down without having to do that, so much the better for you.

That's interesting but it has certainly not been my experience. In fact, as far as I recall, no-one I had ever played with actually figured everything out during a game except for me (which is why I was bothered enough to try this variant). This isn't a knock against them, since they certainly did well enough anyway, it's just that no-one had ever bothered with it besides me. I would agree that if those were the circumstances, the variant would've been pointless, but as I've said, my experience is very different...
 
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David desJardins
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Even if most people haven't figured everything out for sure from their own information, by the end of the game all theories are going to be published and likely all correct (if some were wrong then they would have been refuted) so by that point everyone is going to be able to guess right in your hypothetical endgame variant, just by looking at the board.
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Omer Hertz
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Again, that's something that had never happened in any of the games that I've played thus far - in almost all of the games I played, there was at least 1 (and usually 2) wrong theories published - since you don't have enough information on your own, it is my experience that you have to rely to some degree on others being right, and that's far from certain. More importantly, perhaps, never once had I seen all 8 theories published in a single game.
 
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Mike B
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hertzomer wrote:
Again, that's something that had never happened in any of the games that I've played thus far - in almost all of the games I played, there was at least 1 (and usually 2) wrong theories published - since you don't have enough information on your own, it is my experience that you have to rely to some degree on others being right, and that's far from certain. More importantly, perhaps, never once had I seen all 8 theories published in a single game.


This will change as your group gets more experienced. And if you are playing expert rules instead of apprentice, there is a lot more incentive to publish early and often, otherwise you take a reputation hit twice during the game.

I've also noticed that player count matters hugely on whether or not you know all ingredients at the end of the game. If there's only 2 players, everyone gets more actions so you can be more certain of everything, but if there are 4 players, there's a lot more guessing.
 
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Jeff Carter
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I generally avoid using a variant that forces everyone to play the same way. Either a) your group's other methods are working fine so there is a variety of ways to win now, but the variant would eliminate that and force them to play your way, or b) their way isn't working and you're winning all the time now, in which case the variant would just increase your lead, so there's no point.
 
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Robert Stewart
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hertzomer wrote:
Again, that's something that had never happened in any of the games that I've played thus far - in almost all of the games I played, there was at least 1 (and usually 2) wrong theories published - since you don't have enough information on your own, it is my experience that you have to rely to some degree on others being right, and that's far from certain. More importantly, perhaps, never once had I seen all 8 theories published in a single game.


In my games, something like 2/3 of the time, the board ends up complete and correct.

My main concern with this variant is that it gives you an incentive to not publish - once you've published your first two starred theories, publishing a third one only gains you 4 points (3 for the star; 1 for the publication) while it gains your opponents 5 points. Without this variant, it's almost worth publishing a 6th theory (if it only cost one additional cube rather than two, it probably would be) - +1 point and possibly a grant.

One of the keys to this game is that it's not about what you know; it's about what you have published...
 
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David desJardins
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hertzomer wrote:
More importantly, perhaps, never once had I seen all 8 theories published in a single game.


Clearly, then, you need to play a lot more before creating variants. You've got to understand the game as it stands before you can modify or improve it, and the way you are playing (or your opponents) is not typical of how people play once they have experience with the game.
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Omer Hertz
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Alright, thanks for the input. It would certainly seem that the way my group typically approaches the game is very different that the "norm", as it were... I honestly don't know why that is.

Quote:
I've also noticed that player count matters hugely on whether or not you know all ingredients at the end of the game. If there's only 2 players, everyone gets more actions so you can be more certain of everything, but if there are 4 players, there's a lot more guessing.


I wholeheartedly agree with that, though I'm not sure I know which is better, honestly...

Quote:
I generally avoid using a variant that forces everyone to play the same way.


Sure, but I honestly don't believe that would be the case here.

Quote:
My main concern with this variant is that it gives you an incentive to not publish - once you've published your first two starred theories, publishing a third one only gains you 4 points (3 for the star; 1 for the publication) while it gains your opponents 5 points. Without this variant, it's almost worth publishing a 6th theory (if it only cost one additional cube rather than two, it probably would be) - +1 point and possibly a grant.


I don't see why that is. The incentive to publish comes from: a) the reputation you'll lose during the game, and b) the points you'll gain at the end. You won't lose anything by publishing because, assuming you're correct and everybody figures it out, everyone's going to get those extra points, so no-one really got ahead on just being passive.

Quote:
Clearly, then, you need to play a lot more before creating variants. You've got to understand the game as it stands before you can modify or improve it, and the way you are playing (or your opponents) is not typical of how people play once they have experience with the game.


Alright, look - first of all, I hate going on the defensive here but this kind of response is really offensive - saying you disagree with me is one thing, and a fine thing as far as I'm concerned, but trying to tell me how me or my group are somehow playing the wrong way or saying that I lack experience (and maybe I do compared to you, I don't know, but I did play the game 8-9 times by now, which seems like enough times to see trends building and form an opinion) is simply a dickish move. Sorry, but it is.
 
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David desJardins
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hertzomer wrote:
Alright, look - first of all, I hate going on the defensive here but this kind of response is really offensive - saying you disagree with me is one thing, and a fine thing as far as I'm concerned, but trying to tell me how me or my group are somehow playing the wrong way or saying that I lack experience (and maybe I do compared to you, I don't know, but I did play the game 8-9 times by now, which seems like enough times to see trends building and form an opinion) is simply a dickish move. Sorry, but it is.


Maybe you're playing a rule wrong. It doesn't seem possible that you could play 8 or 9 games and never have all of the theories published by the end. As others have said---not just me---in a typical game all of the theories should be published by the end, and they should usually all be correct.

If you want to give a bonus to a player who correctly identifies all of the ingredients by the end of the game, and we assume there is at least one such player, then why isn't that player already publishing theories for any ingredients that haven't been published yet, and/or refuting any incorrect theories? That should score him a lot of points as it is.

You might find it "dickish" but I've seen lots of different people play this game and none of them have games like you describe.
 
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Robert Stewart
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hertzomer wrote:
Quote:
My main concern with this variant is that it gives you an incentive to not publish - once you've published your first two starred theories, publishing a third one only gains you 4 points (3 for the star; 1 for the publication) while it gains your opponents 5 points. Without this variant, it's almost worth publishing a 6th theory (if it only cost one additional cube rather than two, it probably would be) - +1 point and possibly a grant.


I don't see why that is. The incentive to publish comes from: a) the reputation you'll lose during the game, and b) the points you'll gain at the end. You won't lose anything by publishing because, assuming you're correct and everybody figures it out, everyone's going to get those extra points, so no-one really got ahead on just being passive.


Publication gets you points in exchange for giving away information about what you know (or at least guess). It's true that if you assume that everyone will know everything at the end of the game anyway, the actual points cost of revealed information is limited to secondary effects - enabling players to sell to the adventurer, for example - but if you make that assumption, then all this variant does is add 40 points to everyone's score.

If this variant is going to be meaningful, then you have to assume that players aren't going to know everything at the end - in which case, publishing does give away information others may not have.

If, at the end of the game, there are 2 ingredients no-one's published about (or which have had correctly hedged publications) then that's worth 10 points to the player(s) who know or guess which way round they are; to get that 10 point advantage over others, by publishing correctly, you'd need to use both your gold seals on them - if the other players are going to trust your publications, then you're better off publishing misinformation (5 points more than everyone else at the end) than using your silver seals (3 points more than everyone else at the end).

My usual goal in Alchemists is to identify 4-5 ingredients, and publish points seals on each of them, and I usually score 30-60 points in a 4-player game.
 
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Kris Boyen
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rmsgrey wrote:
... then all this variant does is add 40 points to everyone's score.


I think you missed the exact suggestion of the OP. He only want's to give 5 points to the player who have all correct, so not 5 for each correct alchemical.

Besides that, I do agree that I don't think this change is necessary. As indicated by David, if you know all the information, why didn't you publish about it. Using all your starred shields, you can get up to 19 points, not including points from gathered grants.
 
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Philip Morton
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One thing that does amuse me somewhat about this idea is that it seems like it would be an incentive to publish deliberately incorrect information. I find the game more interesting when the whole board isn't known and correct by (or two rounds before) the end (and I agree that's the usual outcome of games), and I've had some success generating confusion with deliberate mis-publishes...but I've had no success winning any time I've tried it (it opens you up to having your theories put into conflict just before the conference, for example).
 
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David desJardins
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Chrondeath wrote:
I've had some success generating confusion with deliberate mis-publishes...but I've had no success winning any time I've tried it (it opens you up to having your theories put into conflict just before the conference, for example).


Unless you're going to debunk your own theories before anyone else can, it's too risky to intentionally publish incorrect theories. Someone else is likely to randomly discover (or may already know) that it's wrong and there's nothing you can do about that.
 
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DaviddesJ wrote:
Unless you're going to debunk your own theories before anyone else can, it's too risky to intentionally publish incorrect theories. Someone else is likely to randomly discover (or may already know) that it's wrong and there's nothing you can do about that.

I made a whole thread about it before I tried it in any games; losing direct debunk points isn't that likely, because you publish something you know two colors of and hedge the one that's intentionally wrong, so there's a 50% chance you can't lose points at all and you know how to debunk yourself on the hedged color if it looks like someone else might hit it first. The issue was being behind on conferences due to wasting a publish.
 
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David desJardins
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Chrondeath wrote:
The issue was being behind on conferences due to wasting a publish.


That's what I said. Also, if you've only done a couple of experiments (say, making Red+ and Green-) and you publish a theory that has Red+ and Green+, it's not like the other players won't notice that. So you can only consider this late in the game, which creates even more problems.
 
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Kris Boyen
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DaviddesJ wrote:
Also, if you've only done a couple of experiments (say, making Red+ and Green-) and you publish a theory that has Red+ and Green+, it's not like the other players won't notice that.


Actually, this could be a valid publication with a hedge on blue. Be careful to draw conclusions from this.
 
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David desJardins
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Karian wrote:
DaviddesJ wrote:
Also, if you've only done a couple of experiments (say, making Red+ and Green-) and you publish a theory that has Red+ and Green+, it's not like the other players won't notice that.


Actually, this could be a valid publication with a hedge on blue. Be careful to draw conclusions from this.


One of us is missing something. You can't possibly know that Fern is Green+ after doing two experiments, one of which produced Red+ and the other Green-. You have to be guessing on the Green aspect.
 
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Philip Morton
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DaviddesJ wrote:
Karian wrote:
DaviddesJ wrote:
Also, if you've only done a couple of experiments (say, making Red+ and Green-) and you publish a theory that has Red+ and Green+, it's not like the other players won't notice that.


Actually, this could be a valid publication with a hedge on blue. Be careful to draw conclusions from this.


One of us is missing something. You can't possibly know that Fern is Green+ after doing two experiments, one of which produced Red+ and the other Green-. You have to be guessing on the Green aspect.

You do a test between Fern and Toad and get Red+. Then you do a test between Toad and Flower and get Green-. The only teardrops with Red+ and Green- have small Red, so you know Toad has small Red and Fern must have large Red+, and the only large Red+ options have Green+.
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David desJardins
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Chrondeath wrote:
You do a test between Fern and Toad and get Red+. Then you do a test between Toad and Flower and get Green-. The only teardrops with Red+ and Green- have small Red, so you know Toad has small Red and Fern must have large Red+, and the only large Red+ options have Green+.


Ha! I guess my example should have had Blue instead of Green.
 
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Mihir Shah
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i really like the deduction puzzle and would love some reward for the person correctly knowing the alchemicals for all 8 at the end.
OP suggested 5vp, and after reading all the comments even i feel that is too much, i say how about 2vp?
 
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David desJardins
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jalwaaa wrote:
i really like the deduction puzzle and would love some reward for the person correctly knowing the alchemicals for all 8 at the end.
OP suggested 5vp, and after reading all the comments even i feel that is too much, i say how about 2vp?


In practice, it seems like everyone is going to have the same guesses at the end, because theories about all of them will be published, and if you did know one of them was wrong you would debunk it.
 
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