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Subject: Handicap Table rss

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Alexandre Rivaben
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Continuing trying to improve this almost perfect game...

Being a huge Nations fan, I have been thinking maybe it would be nice to create a handicap table here, similar to the one Nations has.

My point is: why not make the game more accessible (and less punitive) to newcomers and still be a good challenge to more expert players?

So I came up with this idea: in the beginning of the game everybody decide which level they would be. I will create fancy names for the levels (similar to Nations), however, for the sake of simplicity, I will stick with numbered levels:

1 - This will be the "friendly" one. You will have the following benefits when playing in this level:

a) your own personal market which you can trade goods in a 3:1 proportion
b) ability to store 2 goods in your first city, despite the saint you are following
c) you only pay 1 pollution per city

2) - Less friendly

a) your own personal market which you can trade goods in a 3:1 proportion
b) ability to store 1 good in your first city, despite the saint you are following
c) you only pay 2 pollution per city

3) - Neutral

a) your own personal market which you can trade goods in a 3:1 proportion
b) ability to store 1 good in your first city, despite the saint you are following

4) - Almost there

a) your own personal market which you can trade goods in a 3:1 proportion

5) - Normal rules

I am not sure about the amount given in each level and if the benefits are good enough (I've never played using this, but I suffered a lot without a market in one of my first games so I think it will be nice to have this benefit to everyone).

Also I am not sure if it would be even nicer to have more levels (we can add harder ones where the rules are change for the worse).

Anyway, do you guys think it is a good idea? Do you think it makes sense?

If yes, can you help me to improve it?
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David Gibbs
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I tend to personally recommend to people learning the game that they select Santa Maria as their saint. They may not win, likely they won't, but they are far less likely to have their nation enter a death spiral of one sort or another. Just right there, that's usually enough to get people over the hump of learning the game.
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Andy Mesa
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The game already has a handicap: go for Santa Maria. That's what I do when I play with new players and it works well.
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Alexandre Rivaben
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Andy Mesa wrote:
The game already has a handicap: go for Santa Maria. That's what I do when I play with new players and it works well.


I have never thought about Maria as a handicap. It's definitely an option, however, I don't know if I like it.

IMHO, the problem is, if you use Maria as a handicap, you are forcing the new player to stick with only one strategy (and, in my newbie experience, a hard one!). I feel you are denying the newcomers one of the best part of the game: choosing you saint and even change it on the way...
 
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You can't handle the truth?
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Rivaben wrote:
Andy Mesa wrote:
The game already has a handicap: go for Santa Maria. That's what I do when I play with new players and it works well.


I have never thought about Maria as a handicap. It's definitely an option, however, I don't know if I like it.

IMHO, the problem is, if you use Maria as a handicap, you are forcing the new player to stick with only one strategy (and, in my newbie experience, a hard one!). I feel you are denying the newcomers one of the best part of the game: choosing you saint and even change it on the way...
I think he is saying that the new player can pick whomever they want. You, as the experienced player, pick Maria, to handicap yourself.
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Murr Rockstroh
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Having only played this a handful of times, what I have done when introducing a new player to the game, is I play the full game, and they play the introduction version of the game (ignoring Famine and Pollution) and I don't stomp over and start throwing population all over their territory. That way they can get used to how to build up and see what I'm going through and how I'm working to deal with the Famine and Pollution.
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Alexandre Rivaben
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crambaza wrote:
Rivaben wrote:
Andy Mesa wrote:
The game already has a handicap: go for Santa Maria. That's what I do when I play with new players and it works well.


I have never thought about Maria as a handicap. It's definitely an option, however, I don't know if I like it.

IMHO, the problem is, if you use Maria as a handicap, you are forcing the new player to stick with only one strategy (and, in my newbie experience, a hard one!). I feel you are denying the newcomers one of the best part of the game: choosing you saint and even change it on the way...
I think he is saying that the new player can pick whomever they want. You, as the experienced player, pick Maria, to handicap yourself.


Ok, I got it. Even though I don't think I like it to much because you, as the experienced player, will be restricted to Maria, so you won't have the option to show some tactics to the newbie. Also, the newbie can face tough times regarding storage and wood usage, for instance.
 
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Alexandre Rivaben
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Murr wrote:
Having only played this a handful of times, what I have done when introducing a new player to the game, is I play the full game, and they play the introduction version of the game (ignoring Famine and Pollution) and I don't stomp over and start throwing population all over their territory. That way they can get used to how to build up and see what I'm going through and how I'm working to deal with the Famine and Pollution.


I liked your suggestion, but I was thinking in some middle levels, not so beginner and not so experienced.

Take me, for example, I can play a regular game, but I lose every game I play on the Internet with more skilled players. A small twist would make the game more fun for me and more challenge to my opponents.
 
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Andy Mesa
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crambaza wrote:
Rivaben wrote:
Andy Mesa wrote:
The game already has a handicap: go for Santa Maria. That's what I do when I play with new players and it works well.


I have never thought about Maria as a handicap. It's definitely an option, however, I don't know if I like it.

IMHO, the problem is, if you use Maria as a handicap, you are forcing the new player to stick with only one strategy (and, in my newbie experience, a hard one!). I feel you are denying the newcomers one of the best part of the game: choosing you saint and even change it on the way...
I think he is saying that the new player can pick whomever they want. You, as the experienced player, pick Maria, to handicap yourself.

This.
 
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David Gibbs
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Andy Mesa wrote:
crambaza wrote:
Rivaben wrote:
Andy Mesa wrote:
The game already has a handicap: go for Santa Maria. That's what I do when I play with new players and it works well.


I have never thought about Maria as a handicap. It's definitely an option, however, I don't know if I like it.

IMHO, the problem is, if you use Maria as a handicap, you are forcing the new player to stick with only one strategy (and, in my newbie experience, a hard one!). I feel you are denying the newcomers one of the best part of the game: choosing you saint and even change it on the way...
I think he is saying that the new player can pick whomever they want. You, as the experienced player, pick Maria, to handicap yourself.

This.


I think you people are missing the point/problem for an utter newbie to Antiquity. It isn't that they won't win. It is that they are far too likely to see their nation fall apart/die under the weight of pollution and/or graves. I am suggesting that a newbie choose Santa Maria because it makes it far less likely their civilization will fall apart:

-- unlimited storage means no manning a storage, easier to have food to prevent famine, and don't have to plan everything just right on making stuff, easy to just save up for one more turn if they calculated wrong.
-- re-arranging means they don't have to get their lay-out right
-- cheap people means they power-up production/actions faster
-- a few extra food means more people/less famine/other good stuff

Sure, it may be harder to win with Santa Maria, but it is far less likely to end up with a failed civ, too, and for true newbies I think that is more of a worry. Also, if they create a productive civilization, even if not a winning one, it will create a more positive experience and they're more likely to want to play again.
 
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Roel van der Hoorn
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I always play games with the normal rules, even with new people. 18xx, games by Splotter, games like Pax Porfiriana, Age of Steam, etc.

First of all, I don't want people to experience an inferior game. I want them to experience the real thing, so they'll know why the game is fun. I tell them the game is harsh, so they'll know that it is. The harshness is part of the game and what makes it enjoyable: choices are hard and choices matter a lot.

Secondly, I find that people learn better when they experience their mistakes. It doesn't matter that they lose; it's a game after all, not real life. New players make mistakes, it hurts and so they learn. Next time, they'll be better prepared.
 
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You can't handle the truth?
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dagibbs wrote:
Andy Mesa wrote:
crambaza wrote:
Rivaben wrote:
Andy Mesa wrote:
The game already has a handicap: go for Santa Maria. That's what I do when I play with new players and it works well.


I have never thought about Maria as a handicap. It's definitely an option, however, I don't know if I like it.

IMHO, the problem is, if you use Maria as a handicap, you are forcing the new player to stick with only one strategy (and, in my newbie experience, a hard one!). I feel you are denying the newcomers one of the best part of the game: choosing you saint and even change it on the way...
I think he is saying that the new player can pick whomever they want. You, as the experienced player, pick Maria, to handicap yourself.

This.


I think you people are missing the point/problem for an utter newbie to Antiquity. It isn't that they won't win. It is that they are far too likely to see their nation fall apart/die under the weight of pollution and/or graves. I am suggesting that a newbie choose Santa Maria because it makes it far less likely their civilization will fall apart:

-- unlimited storage means no manning a storage, easier to have food to prevent famine, and don't have to plan everything just right on making stuff, easy to just save up for one more turn if they calculated wrong.
-- re-arranging means they don't have to get their lay-out right
-- cheap people means they power-up production/actions faster
-- a few extra food means more people/less famine/other good stuff

Sure, it may be harder to win with Santa Maria, but it is far less likely to end up with a failed civ, too, and for true newbies I think that is more of a worry. Also, if they create a productive civilization, even if not a winning one, it will create a more positive experience and they're more likely to want to play again.
My first game of Antiquity led to my loss by being unable to place the new graves which I had to. It was an utter failure. Immediately after the game, we played again, and I did a lot better. Failure is a wonderful teacher, and failure is something to be embraced.

I guess if it helps, you can call the first game a "learning game". People tend to feel like that means it's okay to fail then. (Even though there's no real difference, but wow, mentally, people are so much happier, because they feel like it didn't count, which I do agree with, but only because no game play ever really counts for anything. It's just a fun way to pass time)
 
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Alexandre Rivaben
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dagibbs wrote:

I think you people are missing the point/problem for an utter newbie to Antiquity. It isn't that they won't win. It is that they are far too likely to see their nation fall apart/die under the weight of pollution and/or graves. I am suggesting that a newbie choose Santa Maria because it makes it far less likely their civilization will fall apart:

-- unlimited storage means no manning a storage, easier to have food to prevent famine, and don't have to plan everything just right on making stuff, easy to just save up for one more turn if they calculated wrong.
-- re-arranging means they don't have to get their lay-out right
-- cheap people means they power-up production/actions faster
-- a few extra food means more people/less famine/other good stuff

Sure, it may be harder to win with Santa Maria, but it is far less likely to end up with a failed civ, too, and for true newbies I think that is more of a worry. Also, if they create a productive civilization, even if not a winning one, it will create a more positive experience and they're more likely to want to play again.


I think exactly like you. However, I think forcing them to go with Santa Maria could make them less aware of other strategies and nuances of the game. That's why I am tending to start using a handicap table (I am still not sure what benefits I would give, but I truly believe it would make the game more pleasure for beginners).
 
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Alexandre Rivaben
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RvdH83 wrote:


First of all, I don't want people to experience an inferior game. I want them to experience the real thing, so they'll know why the game is fun. I tell them the game is harsh, so they'll know that it is. The harshness is part of the game and what makes it enjoyable: choices are hard and choices matter a lot.


I agree with you and my main reason to try a handicap table is to make them feel how good the game is. I am trying to avoid a frustrated first experience where they don't even feel the game and this harsh choices that you meant.

RvdH83 wrote:

Secondly, I find that people learn better when they experience their mistakes. It doesn't matter that they lose; it's a game after all, not real life. New players make mistakes, it hurts and so they learn. Next time, they'll be better prepared.


I totally agree. But I think the game can be mean and not everybody is expecting this meanness.

In one of my first games, for instance, I simply forgot to plant wood and spent all my wood with other things. I had only one city, it was in the beginning of the game... so yeah, I was stupid, I was a terrible player... I didn't pay attention... anyways, my game fell apart, there was nothing I can do to have fun anymore. I was simply playing, turn after turn, adding new graves to my city... Was it fun? No. But I know the game is pretty fun, actually it's my favorite nowadays.

I didn't give up the game because of this frustration but I think other players could do. So my point is: try to make the game more accessible then, when everybody is on the same level, trash the handicap table an play a regular game!
 
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Roel van der Hoorn
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Rivaben wrote:
In one of my first games, for instance, I simply forgot to plant wood and spent all my wood with other things. I had only one city, it was in the beginning of the game... so yeah, I was stupid, I was a terrible player... I didn't pay attention... anyways, my game fell apart, there was nothing I can do to have fun anymore. I was simply playing, turn after turn, adding new graves to my city... Was it fun? No.


In our group, if a new player was out of wood, we would come up with some kind of solution. "You're out of wood? That's not very smart. You lost the game right there. Instead, let's pretend you didn't build that mine you spend your last wood on and instead built a forest." And continue...

We're not going to help you with all the choices and we're not going to save all your mistakes, but if you make such crippling moves that it would mean you have no reason to play anymore, then that would be our mistake. We want you to enjoy the game's harshness, not a boring defeat.
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Rob Steward
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Hmm... reading through all this, what came to mind was this:

HANDICAP: Inexperienced players may declare for any saint, but they get the benefits of all the saints (as if they'd chosen Santa Maria).

This gives them the ability to store, rearrange, occasional fish, cheap men/houses... but they still have to work toward the specific victory condition of their saint.

I'd probably say for absolute beginners, let them have all the saint benefits from the beginning of the game. Otherwise, maybe they only get the saint benefits after building a cathedral.

...just my random thinking. I'm not expecting to play this with any newbies, so I'm just musing.
 
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