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Subject: Torn after first attempt playthrough rss

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jan w
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Played the full 4 player game yesterday, but didn't finish. Took us 3 hours and we just had to call it quits. What's strange is that a potential win situation emerged as of the 2nd round. At that time I thought: "this is going to end quickly!" But then we started countering each other, and this went on, and on, and on. At some point one player had 2 victory conditions met and we thought this is it (at that point also "finally!"), yet somehow there was one way to break both, and no one won that round.

What astonishes me is that the game has so many built-in mechanics to speed up towards an end-game: almost every round someone will play a land tile and a sanctuary, every round has the potential for players to grab two deeds, players build up armies, necessary for one of the win-conditions, more epic cards make for more unexpected turns, which seem necessary to pull off a win.

All of the above made me believe, on paper, that the game would pick up steam fast, then end in blazing fireball of glory. Yet despite all of the above happening, after 3 hours we were still able to dismantle each other's near-wins.

I'm torn because I feel like this has so much good things going on, but now I'm skeptical that it's too balanced, or requires a miraculous set of conditions to emerge to pull off the win.

I'm curious to play again of course, but I had to get this off my chest for now
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Olli Juhala
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kronik wrote:
Played the full 4 player game yesterday, but didn't finish. Took us 3 hours and we just had to call it quits. What's strange is that a potential win situation emerged as of the 2nd round. At that time I thought: "this is going to end quickly!" But then we started countering each other, and this went on, and on, and on. At some point one player had 2 victory conditions met and we thought this is it (at that point also "finally!"), yet somehow there was one way to break both, and no one won that round.

What astonishes me is that the game has so many built-in mechanics to speed up towards an end-game: almost every round someone will play a land tile and a sanctuary, every round has the potential for players to grab two deeds, players build up armies, necessary for one of the win-conditions, more epic cards make for more unexpected turns, which seem necessary to pull off a win.

All of the above made me believe, on paper, that the game would pick up steam fast, then end in blazing fireball of glory. Yet despite all of the above happening, after 3 hours we were still able to dismantle each other's near-wins.

I'm torn because I feel like this has so much good things going on, but now I'm skeptical that it's too balanced, or requires a miraculous set of conditions to emerge to pull off the win.

I'm curious to play again of course, but I had to get this off my chest for now


So, how exactly did the countering happen, and what was the timing for grabbing pretender tokens?
 
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jan w
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So above I mentioned a lot of design choices that push the game forward. Which is great. What I forgot to mention in the above post, is all of the mechanics that push towards equilibrium.

The worst offender, I felt, was the Geiss card (cancel another action card). There's similar Epic cards that cancel effects, or make people discard their Epic cards, bringing the ever-speeding up culminating forces that drive the game forward to a standstill.

The countering was often a Geiss card being played: against expansion, against movement, against taking a Deed token.

The other counter, of course, was Clash-driven: either moving into areas where a player has few clans in order to wipe them out, or suicide missions in order to make the player winning by being chieftain over 6 other clans lose again.

I don't think the subtleties of the Clashes were well thought through by everyone at the table in this first session though.

The timing for pretender tokens was usually later in the round, but still, every time, someone had an epic card or advantage card that allowed them to counter. I felt at multiple stages in the game that I could have pulled off a victory, but then I got attacked and raided, or that epic card I needed got swiped.

I'm not saying this to say something is wrong with game - I want to get it, I want to love it But it does seem to require a very solid grasp of all the intricacies that can play out at the table, and I wonder how everyone else has dealt with those up till now.
 
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Three Headed Monkey
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Yeah we had a three hour game as well, although we're used to playing games of that length anyway. Perhaps certain groups are harder to close out against.

Have another game with the same people and see if new knowledge of the game helps.

As yiu say the Geis card can slow the win conditions, but only one a turn. It can't stop expansion, sanctuary, emmisaries and new alliance in one go. All of which help get victory conditions.

Timing is everything.
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Three Headed Monkey
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Also remember to pass. If you feel that it will be easy for your opponents to undo your claim, pass a turn and see what happens.
 
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jan w
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Yeah I know, but see, that's what bugs me about the game: you come to this point where everyone wants to slow down the game. So you pass, pass, pass, and it's the same for every other player, so you get this drawn out stalemate situation.

I understand that it's what seems logical, but from a game design perspective it bugs the hell out of me
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Three Headed Monkey
Australia
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If everyone passes in a row the round ends. So unless everyone is happy with that, it will usually continue.
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Ben Rubinstein

Long Beach
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Very disappointed to hear this. I just played a 6 player Cyclades that lasted a perfect 2 hours. I can't imagine a 4 player game going 50% longer. 2 hours is the point at which my group starts to get restless.
 
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Mark Jackson
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You fell in a pit on the first turn. Good job!
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Next game focus more on strengthening your own positions rather than weakening other players positions maybe? If you're fighting to the bitter end to eliminate other people's clans then youre also losing a lot of ground yourself in the process, for example. Hopefully this will lead to players achieving 2 or 3 victory conditions and ending the game, rather than becoming mired in a perpetual death spiral that no one can claw their way out of.
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Matthew Sanchez
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I mentioned this in another thread. This is completely counter to the games our group has played. This is a very fast game. much faster than Kemet and Cyclades (Love both). We had 3 games all with majority new players. Our 3 player game was about 45 minutes. Our first learning game was about 1 hour and 15 minutes (and that includes all of the time reading cards and such) the third game went long at about 90 minutes.


I am wondering (as mentioned by someone else above) if people are getting the end round condition wrong. If all three players pass the round ends and you turn in all but your Red cards. Games are lasting 6 to 8 rounds and most players have 4 to 5 actions per round. Pass Pass Pass Pass ends the round.

Every round there will likely be new regions and new sanctuaries placed on the board. By the 9th turn it would be hard to not get a victory condition. And that's assuming people are not playing the card that allows you to pick up an already played card.

With experienced players I can't see this going over 90 minutes and that would be an extremely long game with a lot of counters. 70 minutes seems tops for a normal game.
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Bart Bartkowiak
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Our first 4 plr game went 2.5 hrs. We tried again it was 45min. Then 30 min. Once you know what's up you know how to swing out. Careful passing and planning is key: waiting till certain actions are out, drafting the cards that can stop you, etc.

Also a big rule that we use is once you play a card and declare a move no take backs. We also declare intent to fight in turn order with no discussion.
 
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Robert McKittrick
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I've played twice and the first game took 90 minutes and the second game took 2 hours, and it ended partially because the group made a mistake. I can easily see this game going 2 and half hours if everyone is on point...

But hopefully I will get to see on the other other hand that you can win faster through superior play. I haven't even really begun to fully grasp the intricacies of the game...
 
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Three Headed Monkey
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I have to say, even though my only playthrough was three hours we still really enjoyed the game.
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Jack Carlson
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Of all these times the game was tied, the Brenn was never among those leading for the tie-breaker? This was our mistake in my group's first play and it's been smooth sailing ever since.

Also, my group find Geis to be undraftable. Maybe pick it if you're pretending in order to protect your victory, but otherwise you're fighting one other player with a counterspell while the other players get to progress their strategies.
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David Cuesta
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ASMPhelddaGriffey wrote:

Also, my group find Geis to be undraftable. Maybe pick it if you're pretending in order to protect your victory, but otherwise you're fighting one other player with a counterspell while the other players get to progress their strategies.


haven't played the game yet, but I would draft Geist if I'm planning to win this round.
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John K
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epilepticemu wrote:
Very disappointed to hear this. I just played a 6 player Cyclades that lasted a perfect 2 hours. I can't imagine a 4 player game going 50% longer. 2 hours is the point at which my group starts to get restless.


This is not usual. I have played 4 times, all under 1.5 hours. I think some people are missing some rules or how the rounds work. I would say it is almost impossible to not have a victor after the 4th season!
 
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Mark Jackson
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You fell in a pit on the first turn. Good job!
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My two 4p games so far (both with new players aside from me) have both lasted almost exactly 1.5 hours. I'm guessing the next time I play with those players it will be at an hour. Having gotten these games under my belt I honestly don't see how you can stretch this game out to those lengths if you're playing the rules correctly...
 
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Three Headed Monkey
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Ah_Pook wrote:
My two 4p games so far (both with new players aside from me) have both lasted almost exactly 1.5 hours. I'm guessing the next time I play with those players it will be at an hour. Having gotten these games under my belt I honestly don't see how you can stretch this game out to those lengths if you're playing the rules correctly...


Well, we were playing the rules correctly. I read the rules through a few times and watched a few reviews that had rules explanations in them too. And to be fair, it seems hard for me to imagine it going quicker! But I assume it must do.

Our long game could just have been an anomaly, I haven't had a chance to get it to the table again. We had players achieve victory conditions about half way through the play, but either they got denied or equalized so the game didn't end. Considering that the game needs a definite winner it is possible that a game can drag out if things are very close and no one can edge ahead. Especially, as it was in our game, that the player who holds the Brenn isn't in contention for victory.

If you want to take a look I wrote out what I could remember from my play through here:
https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1673826/epic-first-play...
 
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Rules Lawyer
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My first playthrough was similar - it took forever and really wasn't satisfying.

I was in contention for the win with six territories, and red was in contention with six sanctuaries. Blue held the capital and the Brenn, but only took the pretender token once and was countered. Every round we'd either tie or the person with the pretender token would be countered.

I think a big part of the reason it played out this way is that the group wasn't aggressive when it came to clashes - each side would lose one or two clans, and then there'd be a retreat or truce. If one person would have gone all in on a battle where a retreat wasn't possible, I think the uninvolved player would have walked away with it.

We ended up just calling it a draw and put the game away. It got to the point where, even if someone had been able to secure a win, it would probably would have taken a well played epic tale card, which would have felt arbitrary (no one wants to win by luck of the draw after strategizing for 2ish hours). Red has no interest in ever playing Inis again. I'd like to try again, but I was hoping for something quick and exciting. The first play was long and plodding.
 
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worm that walks
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Perhaps this is an issue of timing when you make your move to be a pretender.

Our group is very strategic about passing and then claiming the pretender token as late in the season as possible to limit opponents' opportunity to intervene to stop a win.

We had one long(ish) game - about an hour and a half - but mostly because of jockeying for dominance, and very few counters to pretenders. A very intense and enjoyable game.
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Ian Barker
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Rules_Lawyer wrote:


Blue held the capital and the Brenn, but only took the pretender token once and was countered.


Countered as in someone took away his victory condition, or matched number of victory conditions? Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but Brenn breaks ties if they're involved in a victory condition tie.
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Rules Lawyer
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The Brenn's victory condition (be chieftain of six clans) was taken away by me playing the plains card as my last action to take over the capital and become Brenn for one round or so.

Lost of people are talking about strategic timing of taking the pretender token - and while, yes, we generally took pretender tokens late in the round, it was obvious to our play group when a player was going to be in a position to satisfy a victory condition usually by the middle of a round.

Our session was really pretty static. We beach had 9+ clans out for multiple rounds, hunkered down in our own corners of the world. We all felt that there wasn't a good path to make an aggressive play that knocked both the other players down at the same time. The Brenn for most of the game wasn't really in contention and was concentrated sort of in the middle of the map with lots of guys on the capital, but poor access to other territories - migration or something would have left the capital vulnerable, and without her holding the Brenn token the game would have ended, but not in her favor.

Like I said earlier, I think this game would have been a bit better if we had been more aggressive in the early game. It was a first play for all of us though, so we were all biding our time while we learned the cards and the mechanics. The end result though was us all establishing strongholds that we couldn't win the game from and couldn't get out of. I'll give it another shot, but it's left a bad taste in my mouth.
 
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Arnaud MATAGOT
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Fremont
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Rules_Lawyer wrote:
The Brenn's victory condition (be chieftain of six clans) was taken away by me playing the plains card as my last action to take over the capital and become Brenn for one round or so.

Lost of people are talking about strategic timing of taking the pretender token - and while, yes, we generally took pretender tokens late in the round, it was obvious to our play group when a player was going to be in a position to satisfy a victory condition usually by the middle of a round.

Our session was really pretty static. We beach had 9+ clans out for multiple rounds, hunkered down in our own corners of the world. We all felt that there wasn't a good path to make an aggressive play that knocked both the other players down at the same time. The Brenn for most of the game wasn't really in contention and was concentrated sort of in the middle of the map with lots of guys on the capital, but poor access to other territories - migration or something would have left the capital vulnerable, and without her holding the Brenn token the game would have ended, but not in her favor.

Like I said earlier, I think this game would have been a bit better if we had been more aggressive in the early game. It was a first play for all of us though, so we were all biding our time while we learned the cards and the mechanics. The end result though was us all establishing strongholds that we couldn't win the game from and couldn't get out of. I'll give it another shot, but it's left a bad taste in my mouth.


Hello,


I have to say that Inis does have this potential to be "Not great" during the first games. Sometimes they go great, sometimes not so much, usually depending on how much alike the players are. If no one is playing very different from the others, it takes time to see the potential. It really takes time to get the hang of the Game. Once you do it's really in my opinion absolutely fantastic. The experience required is exactly WHY the beginner game was defined as lasting 4 seasons and then stop. The tempo is essential in Inis and you need practice to get it. Also, it is important to remember that tie-breaker with the Brenn means he/she wins. A strong hold over the capital is very key among new players. Less so as experience grows.

Hope that the more you play the more you enjoy it, I've noticed that this was the case, I can only say that once you get hooked it's for good.


Have fun playing,
Arnaud.
 
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Mark Jackson
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You fell in a pit on the first turn. Good job!
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arnaud4matagot wrote:

O

Hello,


I have to say that Inis does have this potential to be "Not great" during the first games. Sometimes they go great, sometimes not so much, usually depending on how much alike the players are. If no one is playing very different from the others, it takes time to see the potential. It really takes time to get the hang of the Game. Once you do it's really in my opinion absolutely fantastic. The experience required is exactly WHY the beginner game was defined as lasting 4 seasons and then stop. The tempo is essential in Inis and you need practice to get it. Also, it is important to remember that tie-breaker with the Brenn means he/she wins. A strong hold over the capital is very key among new players. Less so as experience grows.

Hope that the more you play the more you enjoy it, I've noticed that this was the case, I can only say that once you get hooked it's for good.


Have fun playing,
Arnaud.


Did I miss this in the rules somewhere? I don't remember any beginner scenario, aside from the recommended tile setup for the first game. From this thread and similar ones it seems like it might be a good idea heh.
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Michael Müller
Germany
Karlsdorf
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We had a similar lengthy session lately. It went for 3.5 hours. Though the first pretender token was taken after 40 minutes.
We did the Brenn tie-braker right but made all sure that no contender for the win was Brenn.
We did a lot of passing. One play once still had all four cards when the round ended.
We did smart moves (so we think), but the others were attentively.

I think the problem was that it is too easy to counter a win condition. E.g. I played the Season card Exploration + the Triskel card that let me choose the next active player (me) + the Season card that lets you place a sanctuary and clan. With this move i fullfilled two win conditions at once. As counter only one Triskel card was played that removed two clans from me and both win conditions were gone. It took only one card to deny what took three cards to achieve. We found the counter possibilities are too strong. We also felt that the others would have to do faults for one to win.
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