I've played the game a bunch of times as a 2 player game and I really enjoy it. However when I tried to play in our larger group (4/5 players) the game failed completely with all the new players.
The actual rules are pretty simple to explain, but the problems we had were
1) the new players had no idea how to price the tiles
2) some people had both tiles bought and it felt like they were stuck and losing because of it
3) there seemed to be a problem on each round when everyone had to look at every tile to see who wanted it etc etc.
On (1) I don't know how to help them. It just feels like you have to play the game at least once to get a clue whats going on. We don't and won't play this game enough so every time it will almost be like starting from scratch so we'll always have this problem.
I wonder if there's some simple formula to give as a basis for pricing. e.g. "1st round, you have 5 money so normally people put one gold on tile tile and two gold on the other keeping two coins for buying"
On (2) They were actually losing as one of the scoring tiles was the group of four in a block which does need tiles and so only getting one tile did put them behind and there's no way of recovering and getting an extra tile on a later round to make up for it. We didn't find having extra money for a later round helped much.
I could see that people were just not enjoying the game as it felt like they were just stuck and had no way back.
I wonder if a new mechanism could be employed to help this. I've literally just thought this up so it might be a rubbish idea, but what about letting someone who loses both tiles pick one random tile from the bag as a bonus. They would need to pay for this somehow, and having had both tiles bought the person would have some money so something like round number + 2 gold coins (say) might work. It would be a gamble becuse you might get a useless tile, but at least you'd have two tiles to place?
On (3). This is always going to be a bit of a problem in our group (we have one or two players who do over analyse everything - me included sometimes) I tried basically going round every new tile and stating what it was and which scoring tiles it might be good for. That helped a little but it does seem that there are a lot of things to think about. Of course this is one of the good things of the game - lots of options.
I did wonder is simplifying the purchasing options might possible speed it up. e.g. something likek the 7 wonders rules where you can only deal with the people on either side of you. That would at least make it easier to see the tiles! - with my eyesight reading the tiles on the far side of the table generally means standing up to get a better view :-(
Overall I've tried twice and neither time has the game worked out well at all. If I can't find a good way to make it work then it'll be consigned to the back of the cupboard and only got out for 2P games against my son (who absolutely loves the game BTW)
(1) It should only take one ROUND of the game, not an entire game, to realise you cocked up by over or under-pricing your tiles. That should be an easy thing for people to realise, and correct for the future.
(2) If you've learned to price correctly, then having both your tiles bought should give you a LOT of money to buy tiles yourself on your turn.
(3) You do need to look at the tiles for a while as you're placing your bids, yes. But after a play, you know what symbols/land types you're looking for, so it can become quicker with subsequent plays.
Remember, the crux, and ultimately the fun of the game is trying to price correctly, so if people aren't enjoying the learning process of (1), (2) and (3), then get something else to the table as this game isn't for them.
EDIT: I personally love the hard, crunchy decisions in this game, especially at higher player counts.
- Last edited Thu Nov 10, 2016 2:51 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Thu Nov 10, 2016 2:50 pm
I taught IoS at Gen Con this year and quickly learned a few tricks to make it easier for players to focus on the true strategy, which is pricing their tiles.
First, you want to NOT pick random victory scenarios when teaching the game. I avoid victory conditions that focus on completed areas and use the ones that focus on resources.
So, points for fish. Points for the most money. Points for the most whiskey barrels. Points for sets of buildings and so forth. This way, it's easier on players to look at the tiles and assess their worth. They aren't trying to picture a completed area in their heads. They see fish on the tile, fish are going to score this turn, I am behind in fish.
I also start every tutorial by running through all four victory conditions in detail, running through the entire course of the game in a quick manner. So, explain every victory condition then say "on turn 1 we'll score these conditions, on turn two these conditions, on turn 3 these conditions, and now players who are behind will begin scoring bonus gold."
It only takes a few minutes but it will help give players an idea of the rhythm of the game.
Also, you want to emphasize to the players in the early turns that the key to the game is to buy and sell their land more efficiently than the other players, balancing gold on hand with victory conditions on the board.
As tiles come out in early rounds, break them down for the players. "Ok, so Jill has whiskey barrels. This is a very valuable tile- there's a victory condition for the barrels themselves and for the money they produce. Jill, you want to price this tile very aggressively."
In other words, don't be afraid to hold players' hands for a few turns. This also cuts down on the time players are spending looking at tile, since you're going to know more quickly what matters when you see the tiles come out.
Finally, I'm always careful to point out to players that they can wind up with no tiles. If you go first and you think both your tiles will be bought, then make sure you buy a tile.
It's hard for me to know what's happening, since I'm not at these games, but in my experience, players should certainly have enough money to buy a tile for someone else, or price their own tiles high enough to keep them.
If a player is pricing two valuable tiles at 1gp each, don't be afraid to step in and tell them that's a bad idea and tell them why. IoS is a strategy game, so spend time teaching that strategy. Money is nice, but only as a means to an end.
- Last edited Thu Nov 10, 2016 4:50 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Thu Nov 10, 2016 4:49 pm
I taught IoS at Gen Con this year and quickly learned a few tricks to make it easier for players to focus on the true strategy, which is pricing their tiles. These are all top notch suggestions, great advice (I think you mean sheep, there's no fish on the tiles...lol, mentioning barrels made you think of fish).
The set of tiles shown in the main picture in the rulebook is also a nice balanced mixture among majorities, territory shape and completed areas, it might be a good choice for a second game.
- Last edited Thu Nov 10, 2016 5:25 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Thu Nov 10, 2016 5:23 pm